Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bucs Hang On 7-6

Hey, the Bucs are north of the border to meet their old amigo, Joey Bats, and introduce their new leadoff man, Alex Presley. The old and new meet.

No action in the first; Jo Jo Reyes put down the Bucs in order and Kevin Correia did the same to the Blue Jays. The second wasn't much livelier. Matt Diaz had a two out single for the Bucs and Adam Lind's leadoff single was negated an out later 1-6-3 on a very nice turn by Ronny Cedeno.

Cedeno started the third by dropping a knock into right. An out later, Presley smacked one over the right field wall for his first MLB dinger and it was 2-0 Buccos. With two away, Chase d'Arnaud walked and got to third on a wild pickoff try, but to no avail as McCutch popped out. Edwin Encarnacion cut the lead in half with a solo dinger of his own; the score was 2-1 Buccos after three.

Lyle Overbay opened the fourth with a rope into center. He came around when Matt Diaz tripled to right center on a ball that took a turf bounce past the OF, then Diaz plated on Garrett Jones' infield knock. Jones stole second, and RC blooped a single to right to put runners on the corners. After an out, Presley followed up with a lobbed knock to center to bring home Jones. With two away, Neil Walker singled, and Reyes called it a night; Luis Perez came on. It was 6-1 Pittsburgh when the smoke cleared.

Toronto didn't mail it in, though. A leadoff knock by Eric Thames was followed by Jose Bautista's 24th long ball of the year. KC settled in and got the next three guys routinely, but the Jays were hangin' around at 6-3.

Both sides got a runner aboard in the fifth. Pittsburgh got a one-out single from Diaz while the Jays had JP Arencibia get plunked with two away. Neither player made it to second.

Perez was keeping things in hand; he struck out a pair in the sixth. Thames got the Jays rolling with an opening triple to right center. Bautista hit one to third; the hop came up and d'Arnaud botched the ball, allowing the run to score and Joey Bats to reach. Lind walked on four pitches, and things didn't look so bright for the Bucs, especially when KC fell behind Juan Rivera 2-0. But he came back to get him on a pop. Aaron Hill banged a slider to Cedeno, and the 6-4-3 DP bought the Bucs a reprieve.

The Pirates added another to the tally in the seventh when McCutch jumped a curve and sent it over the left field wall for his 11th homer of the campaign. An out later, old bullpen bud Octavio Dotel took the hill for Toronto, and he got the 3-for-3 Diaz to fly out to shallow center.

Tony Watson climbed the hill for Pittsburgh. KC went six innings, giving up four runs on five hits with a walk and three K's; he threw 94 pitches. Corey Patterson greeted him with his sixth home run of the year on an elevated slider he yanked over the right field fence. Encarnacion followed with his fifth homer on a 3-2 changeup, and it was a game again at 7-6. Enough of that, said Clint Hurdle. On came Chris Resop.

He walked Arencibia on four pitches, not a particularly auspicious start. CR fell behind Yunel Escobar 3-1, and he lined a double off d'Arnaud's mitt to put runners at second and third. Thames struck out on three pitches, and Joey Bats was walked intentionally. That brought up lefty Lind with his 16 homers and .319 BA, and Jose Veras got plopped into the fire.

He fell behind 2-0, came in with a two-seamer at the knees, and Lind hit a soft liner to first. Overbay gloved it and stepped on the bag for the inning-killing DP, just like Hurdle drew it up. Circle that at-bat; it would end up the biggest of the night.

Shawn Camp took the ball in the eighth. With an out, Cedeno walked. The next toss home was a pitchout; Cedeno was going and nailed trying to swipe second. Four pitches later, Mike McKenry singled to right. Presley lined out to third, and the Buc pitchers had two more frames to navigate.

Veras retired the Jays routinely in their half, and did his job of handing over a lead to Hanny. Jon Rauch joined the Jay's pitching parade in the ninth, and another familiar face, Rajai Davis, took over in left.. Pittsburgh went down in order, and it was Hanny time. Xavier Paul also came on to play right.

There was still some drama left; Escobar legged out an infield single to the left side with two away. Thames was up with Joey Bats on deck. That would be a dramatic stare down, but one the Bucs' would rather not face. They didn't. Thames struck out swinging at a 98 MPH heater, and Hanrahan earned save #23; KC picked up his 10th win.

It wasn't pretty, but there have to be nights when the Bucco bats carry the load. Remember the stretch when the pitching was brilliant but the run support wasn't there? Time for a little payback.

And some great damage control and timely D saved the win just as much as the lumber and Hanny the Hammer did. KC danced out of a two-on, nobody out jam with a pop out followed by a 6-4-3 DP. Chris Resop got a K with runners on second and third and no outs. Jose Veras finished the job when he got a one-out, bases loaded DP off a soft liner that found Overbay's glove. So it is possible to give up four home runs and still have some very clutch work from the mound.

Paul Maholm faces Brandon Morrow tomorrow.

  • Kevin Correia became the first Bucco pitcher to win ten games before the All-Star break since Bob Walk last did it in 1993.
  • The Bucs finally broke their thirteen game interleague road losing streak, which dated back to 2009.
  • It's official; JT is on the 15 day DL and Josh Harrison is back in Pittsburgh.
  • The Pirates sent Josh Rodriguez to Altoona rather than Indy as we first reported. He's missed a lot of the season with a groin problem, so he'll have a chance to get into playing shape.

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