Hey, it's another huge crowd, and it looks like today Bucco fans actually outnumber the Phillie followers this beautiful Sunday. That's a good start.
The Phils first was quiet, spoiled only by a two-out Chase Utley single. The Bucco first was started off with a Xavier Paul knock. Josh Harrison bunted him over, but McCutch bounced out to short.
Neil Walker took a pair of strikes, both off the plate (Angel Hernandez has a floating outside corner today). The third was outside too, although Doc Halladay didn't think so. He finally threw one over the dish, and The Pittsurgh Kid knocked it out of the yard for his eighth homer of the year. After the inning, Halladay was still barking at Hernandez.
Philly went quietly in the second. Garrett Jones led off with a knock, but Wilson Valdez made a great grab of a Brandon Wood bloop and caught Jones off first for the DP.
James McDonald again nailed the first two hitters, and then gave up a single to Shane Victorino, who went to second on a wild pitch. But J-Mac got Polanco to ground out. McDonald opened the Pirate half with a single, was bunted to second, and died there.
Trouble stirred in the fourth when J-Mac walked the first two hitters. A passed ball moved them up, and a sac fly brought a run in. A bopped batter put runners on the corners, and Domonic Brown lined a ball off the ump at second. It was ruled a hit, but the runners were held at their bases. McDonald took advantage by getting Valdez on a 4-6-3 DP. The Bucs went down in order; it was 2-1 after four frames.
McDonald's meltdown continued in the fifth; he walked the bases loaded on twelve pitches with no outs to bring on Chris Resop to face the middle of the Phils order. He got Utley to ground into a force at home. He went 3-2 on Ryan Howard, who spoiled eight pitches, all heaters on the outside corner, before taking the thirteenth pitch of the at-bat to the wall in center for a game-tying sac fly and moving everyone up a station.
Ibanez was intentionally walked to load the bases for Carlos Ruiz and a righty-righty matchup. Bad choice; Resop hit him with a pitch, the second time today Ruiz has been beaned, to put the Phils ahead. Brown grounded out after hammering a ball just foul into the stands, but Philadelphia was ahead 3-2, scoring twice without a hit. They have just three hits, but have drawn six walks and been hit twice.
For J-Mac, the line was four innings, three runs on three hits, five walks, a hit batter, tow wild pitches and three K's.
Halladay, now with the lead, looked locked in and mowed the Bucs down, whiffing a pair. Evan Meek came on. With one away, Halladay rolled a single into right. Victorino nubbed a ball, a was thrown out by Meek as Doc ambled to second. That swinging bunt led to a run when Polanco dumped a 1-2 slider softly into left to plate Halladay. Utley bounced a single into right to put runners on the corners.
Hurdle came out and got Meek. He wanted Danny Moskos to face the lefty Howard. The big guy swung through two fastballs out of the zone, and took a borderline slider as Utley stole second. Two pitches later, Howard swung and missed another slider to end the Phils frame; they were now up 4-2.
McCutch drew a two-out walk off Doc; Walker was called out looking at a nasty 3-2 cutter to end the inning. The good news is that Halladay is at 97 pitches, and the Bucs have had some success against the Phillie pen so far this series.
After getting the first pair of Phils, Brown hit one off the right center wall off Moskos, good for two bags, on an 0-2 pitch over the plate. It was close enough to be reviewed, but was ruled as it was called, a double, not a four bagger. Moskos intentionally walked Valdez to get to Halladay. It took eight pitches, but Moskos finally K'ed Doc.
The Bucs got a two-out single from Wood in the seventh. Matt Diaz pinch hit for Brown, and singled softly to third for an infield knock; Wood went to third when Howard's throw behind him got away. Jose Tabata grabbed a stick, and drilled the first pitch on a rope, ticketed to right. But Utley made a terrific diving snag to save Doc's bacon.
It must have taken the heart of the Hurdle. He brought in Jose Ascanio for the eighth. After a ground out, he gave up three straight knocks and a run; in came Jose Veras, who should started the inning.
It got worse; Ibanez poked one to Overbay, who booted the play to load the sacks. JV hunkered down and got Ruiz on a foul pop and Brown swinging to end the threat. Jose Contreras came on in the eighth to relive Halladay.
After a Paul groundout, Harrison greeted him with a leg double toward the Notch. McCutch got a 2-1 heater above the belt and spanked it into left to score Harrison. That was it for Contreras; lefty Antonio Bastardo got the call. He got Walker on a short fly to center, followed by an Overbay infield single on a squibbler toward short. Jones went down swinging to end the rally.
Daniel McCutchen came on to work the ninth, becoming the seventh Buc hurler of the game. Valdez started off by lining a heater into center. Ben Francisco grabbed a stick, and rolled an 0-2 fastball over the plate into right to put runners on the corners. Victorino blooped a 1-2 changeup well off the plate into center to score Valdez.
Polanco flied out to center for the first out. Utley flew out to left, but Howard drilled a knee high 2-0 heater into right to bring in another run. Ibanez bounced out, but it was 7-3.
Ryan Madson took over in the ninth. Wood singled off Polanco's glove, followed by a Chris Snyder pop out. Ronny Cedeno took his turn at the dish, and was caught looking at a 95 MPH hetaer; ditto for Xavier Paul.
The Phils attack was bound to break out; they banged out 14 hits, and were helped mightily by seven walks (two intentional) and two hit batsmen. They scored seven and stranded 16. So hey, two out of three against one of the NL's elite teams ain't bad.
One thing we did notice is that they didn't come out with a Sunday or get-away day lineup; they had the regular squad in their usual spots. The Bucs sat a pair of regulars. And the Phils play tomorrow while Pittsburgh is off. But the Pirate FO team will still be in action; they'll be busy drafting somebody or other.
-- Today's attendance was 35,505. The series against the Phils attracted 108,807 fans, the fourth largest crowd for a three-game set in PNC Park history.
-- It's been mentioned here and other places that the best twenty-five should be in the show. Jose Ascanio certainly can't be one of those twenty-five. And why does Clint Hurdle continue to use him late in games that are still competitive instead of as a mop up man?
-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette is convinced. He tweeted that "Morton and Halladay are officially the same pitcher: Both 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H."