Carlos Carrasco starting off dealing. He retired the top three of the Buc order on eight pitches, with only Xavier Paul's liner to right making any noise. Paul Maholm wasn't equal to that task.
He got ahead of Grady Sizemore 1-2, then brushed him on a 3-2 pitch. Michael Brantley tapped one back to the mound. PM had a play at second, and even looked that way, but went to first. Asdrubal Cabrera lined a single to right to put runners on the corners, and Carlos Santana lofted a sac fly to make it 1-0. Cabrera stole second, and Shin-Soo Choo walked on four badly off the mark pitches. PM got Orlando Cabrera on a soft liner to center, but it was an uncharacteristically rocky frame.
Carrasco has his sinker working; he walked Lyle Overbay with two away, but otherwise has gotten five of his six outs on grounders. at least he had to work a little; it took him 23 pitches to sit down the Pirates in the second.
Maholm let the leadoff hitter on again in the second when Austin kearns rolled a 3-2 fastball into right. A bouncer moved him to second, and a nice play on a slow roller by Josh Harrison got Maholm within an out of sitting down. But it wasn't to be; Sizemore bounced a double off Overbay's mitt, and it was 2-0.
The Bucs went down 1-2-3 in the the third, with two more ground outs. PM got the first two outs routinely, then lost Choo on a 3-2 slider. He stole second; both steals have featured big jumps - the Indians are going on Maholm's first move - and the ball popping out of McKenry's glove while he tried to get it from mitt to hand. It didn't matter as Orlando Cabrera popped out. What does matter to a beat-up bullpen is the pitch count, and after three, Maholm has tossed 57 pitches.
The Bucs went down in order again. This inning, Carrasco left some pitches up, but the Pirates couldn't do anything with them. Maholm again got the first two batters when Lou Marson lined a single past Overbay, who is a half step behind everything hit today.
Carrasco had the Pirates eating out of his hand in the fifth; PM settled in and got the Tribe to do the same.
Pittsburgh woke up a bit in the sixth. Mike Mckenry led off with the first hit, a liner over the head of second baseman Orlando Cabrera. He went up for the ball, but it hit off his heel and dropped for a single. Hurdle had Ronny Cedeno bunting; after two fouls, he hit a soft pop to right. JT bounced a single to the left side, up the line. Jack Hannahan dove to his right, but could only knock it down.
Carrasco tightened up; he got Xavier Paul swinging on a 3-2 changeup and McCutch on a 3-2 slider; both were probably ball four if the Bucs weren't looking dead red. Give Carrasco credit; he hasn't given in, and the Pirates haven't adjusted to a steady diet of quality off-speed stuff.
The Bucs did all that work for naught; with one away, Orlando cabrera showed them how easy it was to score by yanking one over the wall. Kearn followed with a bad hop infield single, but Maholm got the next pair. Still, 3-0 looks like a huge lead right about now.
Garrett Jones started the seventh with a double off the wall , a grounder to first by Neil Walker moved him to third. carrasco left a change up, and Overbay banged it into right to end Carrasco's scoreless streak at 21-2/3 innings. That also brought out Manny Acta, who called on Joe Smith. The sidewinder got a pair of easy bouncers to end the frame.
The Indians wasted little time getting the run back. Sizemore tripled off the yellow line at the 400' mark to open the seventh; McCutch almost made the grab, but he leaped a count too soon to reach the ball. Brantley dinked one into left. Tabata made a diving catch and popped right back up, making a fairly strong throw, but had no chance to catch the speedy Sizemore, who tagged and scored standing up.
That brought on Tony Watson. It was a so-so start for Maholm, who struggled with his control. He went 6-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, walking two, hitting one, and striking out three while throwing 101 pitches. Asdrubal Cabrera greeted Watson with a single. After a K, Cabrera stole second with another big jump - shouldn't lefties be able to hold runners? - and came in on a Choo single through the left side when JT's throw home hit his leg. That's about all she wrote; it's now 5-1.
Smith gave up a leadoff 3-2 walk to cedeno, just missing, and caught the corner against Tabata and Paul, catching both looking. McCutch tapped out to second, and after eight, the Bucs had just four hits. Jose Veras finally got a chance to work in a low-leverage situation against the bottom of the order, and got a K and two weak grounders.
Tony Sipp came on to finish up. He got Jones on a fly to left, whiffed Walker swinging, and struck out Overbay, who didn't swing at a single pitch. Oh well, at least Donny Iris is on deck.
Jeff Karstens will try to salvage a win tomorrow against Justin Masterson.
- Going into tonight's game, Carlos Carrasco had won back-to-back 1-0 games.
- Josh Harrison was riding an eight game hitting streak, the second longest current string among NL rookies, until going 0-for-3 tonight.
- Clint Hurdle told the beat gang that he and GM Neal Huntington talk almost daily on how to improve the team, short and long term, and what moves should be internally and where they need outside help.
- John Dreker of Pirates Prospects reports that the Pirates have agreed to terms with 32nd round draft pick David Jagoditsh. He is a 6'7", 230 lb. RHP out of Pima CC, and is expected to report to the GCL squad.