Sunday, June 26, 2011

Walks, Boots Cost Bucs 4-2 Loss

Hey, it's a sunny Sunday. Kids run the bases and adults wave brooms; let's see how all that pans out. J-Mac has had control issues lately, and putting Boston into hitters' counts will bruise some baseballs. We'll see how that pans out, too.

Started out OK - Jacob Ellsbury lined out. Dusty Pedroia followed with a ground ball single through the left side and stole second. Slugger Adrian Gonzalez tapped one to Walker for an infield hit as Pedroia went to third. Kevin Youkilis hit a soft liner to d'Arnaud at third and J-Mac caught JD Drew looking (he left the game after that with an eye injury suffered during BP for Darnell McDonald), so some smoke but no fire for the Bosox.

Jose Tabata started things rolling for the Pirates on the first pitch from Andrew Miller with a bunt down the left side for an opening knock. May not have been such a great idea in hindsight. JT pulled up lame, rolled on the ground in pain, and was taken off on a cart. When it rains...

Life goes on; Garrett Jones replaced him. Chase d'Arnaud cranked a fly to the deepest part of the park and it was hauled down short of the track in front of the Notch. McCutch went down swinging on a slider in the dirt. Neil Walker squared up on a pitch and lined it to right where JD Drew hauled it in. Jones went to right; Matt Diaz moved to left.

Jarrad Saltalamacchia walked to open the second. Josh Reddick flew out to center. Marco Scutaro hit into a short-to-second force, and Miller K'ed. After Diaz and Lyle Overbay ground outs, Ronny Cedeno roped a single to center off a 3-2 heater. In his first big league at-bat, Eric Fryer flew out to right. No score after two.

With two outs in the third, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis both smoked line singles. J-Mac faced his cousin Darnell McDonald, and claimed family bragging rights by striking him out. Miller struck out McDonald and Jones, but his easy inning was ruined when Josh Reddick muffed Chase d'Arnaud's fly for a two base error. The Bosox got away with it when McCutch bounced out to second.

Salty started of by doubling to center. Reddick flew out to center. Salty tagged, and McCutch's airmailed throw flew over the hot corner, allowing him to trot home. Pity; the 8-9 hitters were up next, and McDonald got them on a pop and K. Boston was up 1-0.

A slider conked Walker on the foot, sending him to first. Diaz smacked a ball to short and it was booted by Scutaro. The Bucs were in business with runners on the corners. Overbay flew out to medium center, not deep enough to risk Walker. Cedeno tried to bunt on the first pitch and fouled it off; hasn't this guy ever heard of a sac fly? He did eventually lift a fly to center, not much further than Overbay's, but far enough to bring home Walker to tie the game. After four frames, it was 1-1.

J-Mac pitched a clean fifth, the last out being a Gonzalez belt that was gloved at the wall by Diaz, but is up to 86 pitches. He'll start the sixth for sure; he led off and drew a walk. Jones bounced a ball into right to put runners at first and second. d'Arnaud bunted to move them over, and beat out the sac for an infield knock to jam the sacks.

McCutch fought off three fastballs and rapped a slider into left for an RBI, but Jones was caught after a wide turn at third for the first out when Nick Leyva failed to give him a sign coming around. Walker K'ed looking at a couple of borderline calls and Diaz flew out to right. The Bucs had a chance to tack on a couple, but didn't answer opportunity's knock. Miller is in worse shape than J-Mac; he's tossed 91 pitches, and it's 2-1 Pittsburgh after five.

McDonald walked Youkilis on four pitches, not a very good sign. Cousin Darnell tapped back to the mound; J-Mac threw the ball away going to second to put runners on the corners. He reached back to strike out Salty. Reddick took a pitch just off the plate and lifted it the other way, plenty deep enough to score Youkilis and tie the game. Darnell tried to steal second, and Fryer nailed him. It's 2-2; easy come, easy go.

For the Bucs, it was easy go; they managed a two-out walk by Fryer.

Tim Wood took the hill in the seventh. He walked Scutaro on four pitches, and Big Papi grabbed a stick. Danny Moskos came on, and walked him on a 3-2 pitch after watching a drive just sail wide of the foul pole. Jacoby Ellsbury bunted; Moskos mishandled the ball, and the sacks were juiced with nobody out.

Chris Resop took over the mess. Resop had Scutaro 0-2, gave him a fastball that caught the plate, and he bounced one toward the middle that left Cedeno only the play at first; Boston regained the lead. Gonzalez was walked intentionally. Youkilis lifted the first pitch into right, and David Ortiz came sliding home with an insurance run as both runners moved up a station on Jones' throw. Resop got the last out on a pop up that he could have used sooner. Boston, without a hit, added a pair in the seventh to take a 4-2 lead.

Alfredo Aceves took the mound for Boston. Three up, three down, and now the shoe is on the other foot. The Red Sox hold a two run lead with six outs to go.

D-Mac put the Bosox away in order in the eighth. Daniel Bard took the ball for Boston, and the Pirates went down 1-2-3 again.

Ellersby rolled an infield single with one out in the ninth. With two outs and the runner on second, Gonzalez was walked intentionally. Youkilis bounced one to third; d'Arnaud's throw to second for the force was wide, and the bases were jammed. McCutchen got McDonald on a roller to short to keep the game in hand.

Jonathan Papelon took the ball, and walked Cedeno on four pitches. Fryer went down swinging. Xavier Paul stepped up to the plate, and flew out to right. Jones gave the fans a quick shot of hope with a long fly to left center, but it was put away short of the track by the bullpen fence. Hey, even the big boys gotta win once in a while, right?

If you want to win in MLB, you can't run your way out of your only potential big inning, can't walk six guys, and certainly can't commit four errors. And with all that, it was still just a two-run game. The series showed that Pittsburgh just may have enough pitching to make the second three months of the season interesting if the team brings its gloves to work everyday and keeps on grinding on offense.

And it'll be interesting in more ways than wins and losses. Injuries may have hit the team hard, but it's a good time to see what guys like Chase d'Arnaud, Eric Fryer, Josh Harrison, Alex Presley, and company bring to the table. It's mostly been good for the bullpen pups; we'll get a peek at the position players now.

The Bucs are off tomorrow. They play next on Tuesday at Toronto.
  • Within an inning of JT's leg injury, OF Alex Presley had been pulled from Indy's lineup, presumably to join the team beginning with the Toronto series Tuesday. All that was officially announced was that JT was diagnosed with a left quad injury, and he'll be examined again tomorrow. As we know from Pedro Alvarez, those are injuries that can last weeks.
  • 39,511 fans came out today, the largest crowd ever in PNC Park history, breaking yesterday's short-lived record. A combined total of 118,324 showed up for the Boston set, which is the largest three-game series attendance for the ballyard, breaking the old mark of 113,144 set in 2001.
  • Been a busy five weeks at Indy. Nine players have been promoted to the big club since May 21st - SS Pedro Ciriaco, LHP Daniel MoskosINF Josh HarrisonDusty Brown, Wyatt Toregas, RHP Tim Wood, LHP Tony WatsonINF Chase d’Arnaud and Eric Fryer, notes Tribe broadcaster Scott McCauley in his blog Is This Thing On?. And there should be more in the very near future.

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