Friday, June 3, 2011

Bucs Outpitch Phils, Win In Twelve 2-1

Ah, typical Bucco-Philly match; the joint is rockin', seats almost all full and half the stadium is filled with fans from across the state. Might be more action in the stands than in the field tonight.

That's for sure over the first three innings. Cole Hamels has put the Pirates down nine up, nine down, while Jeff Karstens has allowed but one hit, a leadoff infield single, and a bopped batter; both pitch counts are in the thirties. The fourth also went quietly, with McCutch tallying the Bucs first hit, a two-out knock into center, ending Hamels' streak of eleven Buccos down.

The Phils were 1-2-3'ed in the fifth, with Domonic Brown's long loud out to center making the only noise, for 13 straight outs. Chris Snyder drew a walk with one away on a 3-2 pitch; Lyle Overbay banged into a DP to end that mild threat.

Sixth inning is red flag time for JK, though he's only at 60 pitches now. And on cue, Hamels slapped a single the opposite way into left to end Karsten's string. Jimmy Rollins followed with a ground ball single to right, just past a step-slow Overbay. Both hits were on 1-2 counts, both were low and away, pretty nice hitting by the Phils.

Placido Polanco fouled off a pair of bunt attempts. PP worked the count full, then lined an inside corner ball to Josh Harrison at third; he went to second to double up Hamels. Rollins stole second on a swung-through hit and run, just beating Ronny Cedeno's high tag according to ump Angel Hernandez, and it was a tough call even on replay.

It was a big ninety feet; he came around to score when Chase Utley softly bounced a 3-2 pitch served down the middle into right to score JR, again just past a diving Overbay. Cedeno barked at the man in blue afterward, still steamed at the bang-bang safe call on the steal.

Karstens was now at 81 pitches, another red flag, but Clint Hurdle sent Ray Searage out to chat and left him in against Ryan Howard. It worked; Howard flew out to short right center. But the Phils broke the ice and were up 1-0.

Cedeno led off with a four pitch walk; three of the pitches just missed the zone. Oddly, after last inning, Hurdle sent Karstens to the dish, to bunt we'd suppose. He did, and moved RC to second. Even better, a wild pitch moved him to third. JT did the rest, he sent one to the track in right center at the 399' mark for a game-tying sac fly.

Harrison reached when his dribbler was mishandled by catcher Carlos Ruiz; he went to second on a balk. But there was no two-out magic this inning; McCutch bounced out to third on a nice play by Polanco. Still, 1-1 after six, not a bad place to be.

Karstens remained on the hill as Hurdle apparently felt that none of the balls last inning were particularly well hit, just well placed. After a pair of routine ground outs, Brown fouled off six straight pitches before lining out to first. Hurdle's gut call on JK proved right.

With two away, Snyder walked for the second time. Overbay K'ed to end the frame. Evan Meek climbed the hill for the eighth, and Xavier Paul went to right in one of Hurdle's two-fers. JK went seven innings, giving up a run on four hits with 2 K's on 97 tosses, a great outing for the Bucs' fifth man in the rotation.

After an out, Hamel got his second knock of the night, rolling a knee high 93 MPH heater up the middle. With two away, Polanco grounded a single to right to put runners on the corners. But Meek got Utley to ground out to first to end the rally.

Cedeno flew out deep to left to open the Bucs half of the inning. Paul grounded out, and Tabata took another ball to the track, where it was hauled in by Brown. Hamel had given up one hit and been strong; he's changed speeds while working the ball in-and-out, up-and-down, and hasn't been hurt by the couple he's left over the dish.

Hurdle brought in Joel Hanrahan to work the ninth, even though Meek only threw 10 pitches in the eighth. We'd guess he's not sold on Meek's arm strength quite yet after the stint on the DL by the way he's been using him since his return.

Hanny got a pair of routine ground outs before walking Raul Ibanez. No problem; he K'ed Brown swinging at 98 MPH heat. Jose Contreras came on for Hamels, who left after a one-hitter through eight and 98 pitches, walking three and whiffing four.

Harrison squibbed one to Howard for the first out. McCutch rolled a single into left on a 3-1 pitch; he has both Pirate knocks. But it was short lived; McCutch was nailed stealing on a close play, drawing the ire of the crowd; he looked like he was popping up before the mitt hit him. Rollins' quick tag sold the call to Angel Hernadez, who is probably not on many Bucs' Christmas card list by now. Walker kept the inning alive with a walk.

Garrett Jones got the call to bat for Hanny. The Phils countered by bringing in lefty Antonio Bastardo to face him. They also called on Ben Francisco to play right, just to double up the pot. The book says to stay outside on Jones, and Bastardo did for his first five offerings, but he walked him with a 3-2 count, trying to sneak his last pitch in on his hands.

It didn't help; Snyder bounced into an easy force at third to end the frame. Daniel McCutchen took the ball for the tenth. He walked Ruiz to open the frame, and that hasn't worked out so well for the Buc bullpen of late.

Francisco bunted him over to second. He fell behind Rollins 2-0, but got him to ground out on a nice diving stop by Overbay, moving Ruiz to third but saving a run. Polanco bounced out to Walker, and it stayed 1-1 into the bottom of the tenth.

Bastardo remained on the mound to face Overbay; he lost him on a 3-2 pitch. The seldom seen Pedro Ciriaco came in to run. Cedeno bunted him up a station, the book call against a lefty. X-Man bounced out to second, moving PC to the hot corner.

With the lefties done and JT up, Charlie Manuel called on Michael Stutes. Tabata hit a swinging bunt to third to end the inning on a strong throw by Polanco and nice dig by by Howard, keeping the Bucs off the board. Brandon Wood put on a first baseman's mitt for the ninth time in his five-year MLB career. The Bucco bench now consisted of Dusty Brown, the back-up catcher.

D-Mac took the hill for his second inning of work, and he retired the heart of the Phillie order 1-2-3. The Bucs sent up their 2-3-4 hitters in the eleventh, Harrison, McCutch and Walker to work against Stutes.

Harrison flew out to left center, and McCutch grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch. Stutes worked carefully to Walker, keeping everything down, and walked him on five pitches. Hurdle fired his last bullet, bringing Dusty Brown in to pinch hit for McCutchen. He came through, lining a 3-1 heater into center to put runners at first and second for Snyder.

The catcher hit a 2-0 fastball to center where Shane Victorino had plenty of room to make the grab, and it's on to the twelfth. Danny Moskos took the ball. He got the first pair of outs easily, Walker-to-Wood. Ruiz took him deep to center, but McCutch snagged it at the wall. It was Danys Baez's turn to have a go at the Pirates.

He got the first two hitters he faced. Wood grounded out to third on another nice play by Polanco and Cedeno K'ed looking. But it takes three.

Paul lined a single to center, and stole second. Tabata bounced a 3-1 heater off Utley's mitt - actually, the ball looked like it went through him as he dove - into short right, and the marathon was over as Paul beat the high throw home with a hard slide that chopped down Ruiz. It was a grinding, hard earned win to start the homestand, and the boys should sleep well tonight.

It was Danny Moskos first MLB win; he and Daniel McCutchen deserve big props for shutting down the Phils in overtime, following the usual good stuff from Evan Meek and Hanny. Jeff Karstens gets love too for matching Cole Hamels pitch for pitch in the early going. Give not only Hamels but Placido Polanco credit for the Phils hangin' around. He made a handful of outstanding grabs at the hot corner, especially in the clutch, saving a couple of runs.

Kyle Kendrick goes against Charlie Morton tomorrow night.

-- The Bucs had just five hits, but were patient enough to draw seven walks. They stranded nine runners. The Phils were equally as challenged with the lumber, collecting only a half dozen knocks.

-- Josh Harrison went 0-for-5 to end his three game hitting streak; it was the first collar of his career.

-- Thanks to the influx of Philly fans, the Bucs drew 33,861 to the ballyard tonight.

-- Cesar Valdez has been named Indys' player of the month for May. In 13 appearances, he's struck out 16 and posted a 1.00 ERA with an overall 2.64 ERA. Valdez was the return for Zach Duke from the D-Backs.


WilliamJPellas said...

Wow. This was as terrific a win as the Pirates' last game against the Mets was a terrible loss. One extreme to the other!

This was as well pitched a game as the Pirates have shown us in a long, long time. Great win against one of the real National League heavyweights. Very encouraging!

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, I'll say this for Hurdle: he keeps them going a game at a time. I thought that six game losing streak would burst their bubble, but they've come back from that abyss. As long as the pitching holds up, they'll be competitive.

Too bad about the black holes at first, third, and right. It'll be nice to get Pedro and Pearce back sometime and get Presley in the show.

WilliamJPellas said...

Hmmm, you've obviously closed the book on Garrett Jones. Given how little he's played of late, I'd say Hurdle has had enough of him, too. A shame, and Jones will go down as one of the all time great minor league free agent signings ever, but as you say, it appears that the league has caught up with him and that he doesn't have an answer.

As for Pearce and Alvarez, believe it or not I have more confidence in Pearce right now than in Pedro. I think Pedro was rushed to the bigs and that he's simply not ready. The best thing for him would be to go back down to Indy, play every day for 6 weeks, get into a groove, then come back to Pittsburgh and hit the ground running after Overbay is traded at the deadline.

Ron Ieraci said...

Not entirely, Will. But as the pitchers adjust, he has to adjust. And he's not doing it, so.....

Pedro probably could use some AAA time, but with the O as is here, he's not likely to get any. Maybe the time in Florida will help him get his swing back in sync.