Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bucs Bounce Back 6-2

OK, the handful of fans here seem intent on making Lyle Overbay's - pronounced Over-boooooo in Toronto - life miserable. Let's see if the Bucs can do the same to the Jays.

Started off sweet enough; Alex "The King" Presley led off with a triple. Chase d'Arnaud bounced out to third, and that didn't chase him home. McCutch hit a roller a bit more softly, though, and that ground out did. Matt Diaz singled with two away - it's good to see him heat up, now if some power comes next - but was left standing. 1-0 Buccos out of the box.

It didn't look good for Jeff Karstens at the outset. He gave up a pair of roped singles to Yunel Escobar and Eric Thames to put runners at the corners. But all's well that ends well; Jose Bautista bounced to first, Overbay went down to dig out the smash, rifled the ball home, and Escobar, trying to go backdoor, was out. Adam Lind banged one to Josh Harrison at second and he started a 4-6-3 DP to clean up the early mess.

Brett Cecil put the Bucs down in order in the second, K'ing a pair. Karstens didn't whiff anyone, but he did have a clean frame. Presley drew a one-out walk in the third, and would be the only Bucco runner. Escobar rapped his second hit, a two-out bloop to center and was likewise stranded. Still 1-0 after three innings.

The Pirates got a two out walk from Cedeno. The Jays got a lead off walk to Joey Bats, who went to second on a Lind comebacker that bounced off JK's leg, but would get no further. Lotta pitching going on in the early stages of this one.

Harrison showed off his great wheels by getting to second on a dink to center to start the fifth, and Mike McKenry bunted him to third. Why not? The King was up, and he lofted the first pitch into the left field corner for a sac fly. Gotta love it when the guys manufacture a run. d'Arnaud doubled with two away, and McCutch was semi-intentionally walked. But the Bucs couldn't add on as Diaz flew out to medium right.

With one out, JC Arencibia took a 3-2 fastball yard for his twelfth dinger of the year. Pity, too - it looked like he was struck out two pitches prior, but got a call to keep his at-bat alive. With two away, Escobar yanked an elevated changeup over the left center wall for his ninth homer. That's 16 homers surrendered  in 14 starts for JK, and all but one have been solo shots. So after five, it was deuces wild.

Overbay led off with a popup with eyes; he hustled to second as it dropped in among three Jays and kept on trucking to third when Escobar's throw got away. Cedeno smacked a changeup into right center for a double, and the Bucs regained the lead at 3-2.

The good times kept rollin'. Brandon Wood popped a sinker delivered down the middle and under the letters over the left center wall, his third long ball, and the Pirates were having themselves an inning. The next trio went down routinely, but Pittsburgh was up 5-2. JK did his part, getting Joey Bats, Lind and Edwin Encarnacion with no trouble.

With one away, McCutch caught a changeup left much in the same place as Wood's and banged it off the wall in nearly straightaway center for a double. That was enough for skipper John Farrell; Octavio Dotel took the ball. He threw Diaz four straight cutters that were up and over the middle. Diaz fouled off the first three and sent the fourth into right on a rope to bring home McCutch. The next two Buccos bounced into forces, but the lead was now 6-2.

JK mowed down the Jays, and at 88 pitches, he should still have some gas left in the tank. Marc Rzepczynski - and that's the first and only time this poor Italian-Irish blogger will type that name - came on to work the eighth. He put down the Bucs in order on a pair of long flies and a bouncer to short.

Hurdle decided to go with Chris Resop in the Jay's half of the frame. We'd guess that after a 109 pitch outing last game, the ol' skipper didn't want to risk wearing out Karsten's arm. JK's line was seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits, a walk, and two K's. With one out, Escobar worked his way from a 1-2 count to a walk. No sweat; Resop K'ed Thames and Bautista swinging, blowing heaters past them.

Shawn Camp got the horsehide in the ninth, and he put the Bucs away in order. Tony Watson climbed the hill for Pittsburgh. He got Lind to pop out, and with the lefty out of the way, Jose Veras took the mound. JV got a pop up, but with two strikes on Aaron Hill, he hung a curve that was drilled into right center for a triple. Corey Patterson lined a sinker to first; Overbay gloved it and the Bucs took a road interleague series.

Hey, baseball is a funny game. Yesterday, the Pirates didn't look like they knew what end of the bat to hold; today they were 3-for-7 with RISP while seven of their nine hits went for extra bases. What a difference a day makes.

The Bucs go to Washington tomorrow. Charlie Morton takes his spot in the rotation after a rest and will go against old Bucco Tom Gorzelanny.

  • The series win against Toronto was the Pirates first interleague road set taken since 2003, when they beat Tampa Bay (John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus has the '97 lineup that pulled it off). They also ended up 8-7 in interleague play, matching their best ever record against the AL, done twice before since interleague play started in 1997.
  • The Pirates are two games behind the division-leading Brewers, and only one behind in the lost column. And yes, tomorrow is July 1st. They were 27-51 at this time last season; they're 41-39 today.

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