Monday, June 13, 2011

Bucs Look Sharp, Win 3-1

Nice, fall-like night at the ol' ballyard. It's kinda like playing in October, not that we'd remember.

Anyway, Paul Maholm started by playing toss with his brand new battery mate Mike McKenry. With one out, he walked Justin Turner, though he didn't miss by much on all but one of the pitches.  No trouble; two pitches later, Carlos Beltran banged into an around-the-horn DP, started by a nice diving stop by Brandon Wood.

JT was jammed by Mike Pelfrey, but fisted a bloop into right for a lead off knock. Xavier Paul followed with a rope to center, and JT was awarded third on SS interference when Jose Reyes cut him off. Walker drilled one into center, and it was 1-0 Bucs. The inning went downhill quickly after that; Paul was picked off second, Garrett Jones flew out to right center, and Lyle Overbay went down swinging.

Jay Bay fell behind 0-2 but eventually walked on a 3-2 pitch with one down. Daniel Murphy caught an 0-2 pitch that found too much of the dish and bounced it up the middle to put runners on the corners with two outs. Ruben Tejada flew out to center to quash the threat. The Pirates went down without a peep.

Maholm returned the favor in the third. The only concern at this point is that the Mets are being quite patient at the plate; they've already tickled a pair of walks and 48 pitches out of PM. The Pirates went 1-2-3, with the last out sent to the left center track by Paul. That's nine in a row since Walker's first inning knock.

The Mets were retired in order again in the fourth. Walker led off by flying out to the track in front of the bullpens. Jones had the green light on a 3-1 pitch and lined out to center. Overbay bounced out, and it's a dozen consecutive Buccos down. They've been much more disciplined tonight and squared up a few balls, but don't have much to show for it.

With one out, Murphy lined a curve into center for a single. Tejada spoiled a couple of two-strike pitches and rolled a single into left. The Bucs caught a break when Pelfrey bunted through a pitch and McKenry gunned the pill to second. Murphy was too far off second on his break and he was tagged out after a rundown. Pelfrey grounded out to end the frame.

Wood started off the fifth by banging his second homer off a 2-1 heater into left center. McKenry bounced out, Cedeno drilled one to left center that Bay hauled in, and Maholm K'ed, but it was 2-0 Pittsburgh.

With one away, Turner rapped a swinging bunt, and Maholm botched it to let him reach first. No sweat; it took him three pitches to get the next pair of outs. He's now sitting on a pitch count of 88 after six. The Bucs went three-and-out.

Maholm is on a roll; he took out the Mets in order on seven pitches in the seventh. The Bucs tested Bay in their half. Jones flew out short of the track and Overbay took him to the wall before Wood poked a fly to medium right. On to the eighth.

So much for the rest; McCutch came in to play center. Paul moved to right and Jones moved to the bench.  And Jose Veras came on to work the eighth; we thought PM might get another frame in. His final line was seven innings, three hits, two walks and four K's on 95 pitches.  It was a strong showing tonight.

Not good; JV walked the eight hitter, Tejada, to start the frame. He fell behind pinch hitter Lucas Duda 2-0 and watched him rolled a ball into right to put runners on the corners with no outs and the top of the order coming up. Hurdle wasted no time yanking Veras and calling on Tim Wood.

Wood's first pitch was a 95 MPH heater, wide and high. Reyes hit a soft looping fly into left and JT made a sweet sliding catch of the bloop. Tejada tagged and scored, and the relay was cut by Brandon Wood. He whipped the ball across the diamond and caught Duda, who was off at the crack of the bat, before he could get back to first. Yep, a sac fly DP. Turner flew out, and it was 2-1, bottom of the eighth.  Manny Acosta came on for the Mets.

With one away, Cedeno lined a single to right. McCutch, called into duty on his day off, extended his hitting streak to an even dozen when he shot a single into right, with RC holding at second. JT legged out a soft grounder up the left side to load the bases.  That was it for Acosta; lefty Tim Byrdak took the ball.

He made Paul look bad, striking him out on three sliders. The Pittsburgh Kid worked the count to 3-2, fouled off a couple to stay alive, and drew a big insurance RBI when he was rewarded with a walk. That brought on DJ Carrasco to face pinch hitter Matt Diaz, who flew out to right.

Joel Hanrahan took the mound. He challenged Beltran with all heat, and got him to bounce to Walker.  Pagan K'ed on three more fastballs. Bay flew out to the fence in left on the next heater, and Hanny notched save #17.

It was a great ballgame to watch. The pitching was mostly outstanding, the defense behind them was terrific, and the offense eked out enough runs.

The Pirates finished their homestand 6-4. Now they head to Houston and Cleveland for a six game road trip. Jeff Karstens will face Bud Norris tomorrow night. 

  • Since he imploded last week against NY, Paul Maholm has tossed 13 scoreless innings. His ERA is down to 3.12, even if his record is just 3-7. 
  • McCutch's day off was planned in advance, Clint Hurdle told Jen Langosch of The skipper wanted him to have a night game off after a day contest to maximize the effect. Guess Neil Walker and Lyle Overbay are next. But hey, as as they say, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Josh Harrison still isn't taking BP.  An oblique injury often requires a lengthy rest period and a couple more days of inactivity may cost him a trip to the DL. They'll check him out Wednesday before making a decision. Chase d'Arnaud is one likely call-up possibility if Harrison is DL'ed, as is Alex Presley. d'Arnaud plays SS and so is more likely to get the nod, although Presley, an OF'er, has been killing the ball all year at Indy. Presley's problem is that he would be a sixth outfielder, leaving Hurdle with only Pedro Ciriaco left on the bench to cover the infield and an at-bat problem with his pasture crew.. 
  • Evan Meek was examined by Dr. James Andrew's today, and he agreed with Dr. Patrick DeMeo's tendinitis/labrum tear diagnosis and rehab plan. The team hopes for his return sometime in late July.
  • Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reports that the Bucs have agreed to terms with 10th round pick Taylor Lewis, a speedy OF'er from Maine.  He's the sixth selection to sign a deal so far.

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