Saturday, July 2, 2011

Back-To-Back Blasts Boost Bucs To 5-3 Victory

OK, let's play two!

The King started out with a line single to center off Livan Hernandez. He was erased on a force, with Chase d'Arnaud barely beating the throw to first. He used his wheels again to swipe second. It paid off when Garrett Jones roped a single to right to bring him home. McCutch ripped a double into right center, chasing Jones to third. Neil Walker lifted a sac fly to right to make it 2-0, continuing their success in opening frames..

J-Mac apparently enjoyed his early support. He cruised through the first 1-2-3, and only used 10 pitches. Hernandez had his way with the bottom of the Buc order, K'ing a pair.

McDonald couldn't stand success very long.  After K'ing Laynce Nix, Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa both drilled singles into right. Pudge roped the Nat's third straight single, this one into center, and it was 2-1. J-Mac helped his own cause, though, by picking off Espinosa on second. That calmed things down, and he whiffed Ian Desmond looking at a hook to close out the frame.

Presley rolled a heater into center to start the third with his second knock. d'Arnaud got ahead 3-1, and then looked at two strikes to become the first out. Presley was caught stealing, which of course was followed by a Jones double to right. He went to third on a wild pitch, but was wasted there as McCutch flew out to the track in center. McDonald put down the Nats in order.

It was the Bucs turn to go down 1-2-3 in the fourth. Ryan Zimmerman walked to get the Nats started. Two outs later, Espinosa rolled a single through the left side to put runners on the corners. No problem; J-Mac struck out Ivan Rodriguez swinging at 96 MPH heat.

McKenry started the fifth with a little hump-backed liner than deflected of Espinosa's mitt for a leadoff knock. J-Mac bunted him over, and Presley followed with a five pitch walk. d'Arnaud lined out to short on a 2-0 pitch, and Jones hit a shallow fly to left to strand the pair.

Desmond began the frame by bouncing a ball up the middle for a knock, and Hernandez bunted him to second.  Roger Bernadina walked. Ray Searage had a little chat with J-Mac as Jayson Werth stepped to the dish. He bled an infield single to short to load the bases. He came in on Zimmerman, who popped out to first. J-Mac got Nix swinging at a curve; McDonald's been tough when it's on the line so far today.

For the Bucs, it was three batters, three grounders, three outs in the sixth. The Nats went down in order, too. McDonald has been pretty tidy today in the 91 degree heat; he's at 84 pitches.

With one out in the seventh, McKenry drew a 3-2 walk. J-Mac whiffed trying to bunt him over. It didn't make much difference; Presley went down looking, Hernandez's sixth K. He had 9 in his last start against the White Sox; maybe he's reinventing himself yet again

J-Mac K'ed Desmond. He got ahead of pinch hitter Rick Ankiel 1-2, wasted a couple, and gave him a 3-2 curve that he golfed over the right center fence to tie the game, only his second of the season. Bernadina walked on five pitches, and it was hook time for J-Mac. He went 6-1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with three walks and seven K's, throwing 97 pitches. It was a solid outing for McDonald.

Jose Veras took the ball. Werth flew out to left. Presley hit d'Arnaud at short, he wheeled to Walker at second, and Bernadina was out trying to tag up and get into scoring position. The Bucs aren't the only team that shoots itself in the foot with aggressive baserunning.

Sean Burnett took the hill for Washington. d'Arnaud hit one on the nose, but Ankiel gloved it in center. Garrett Jones hit one hard too - hard enough that it flew over the center field wall, Jones' ninth longball of the year to retake the lead 3-2. McCutch also squared up on a pitch, and his left the yard in left center for his twelfth homer of the season. Walker tagged one fairly well, but his was caught in front of the track in right. Overbay flew out to medium left, and it was 4-2 Pittsburgh going into the bottom of the eighth.

Veras stayed on the hill - he only threw three pitches in the seventh - and Xavier Paul went into right. JV walked Zimmerman on five pitches. Matt Stairs, last night's hero, stepped up to the dish. Veras got him to fly out to McCutch.

Morse smacked a heater that was below the knees and bounced it into center to put runners at first and second. Espinosa caught one at the knees and launched it into center; McCutch hauled it in at the wall, making a sweet leaping grab. Pudge hit a comebacker, and the Bucs were three outs away.

Todd Coffey came on to work the ninth. Wood drew an opening walk and McKenry laid one down to move him up a base. Matt Diaz pinch hit, and rolled a fastball through the right side to score Wood. Presley singled to right to put runners at first and second. That brought on Ryan Mattheus.

He got d'Arnaud swinging at a 3-2 fastball that was easily ball four. He went full on Paul too, and got him swinging at a slider.  On came Hanny to finish the job.

Joel Hanrahan struck out Desmond. Ankiel drilled a single into right; he's been killing Bucco pitching from off the bench so far this series. Bernadina grounded to Overbay, who got the lead runner. He went to second on defensive indifference; the indifference made a difference when Werth lined a single to right to bring him home. Zimmerman hit one back to Hanny to end the contest. Hanrahan saved his 24th game while Jose Veras picked up his second win of the year.

Garrett Jones does make a difference in this offense when he's on. And the Bucs did do a little better job of staying on pitches today, squaring up much better than last night. But they still have a couple of guys that are gingerly feeling their way around at the plate. The one-through-four hitters had eight of the ten Pirate hits and scored four of the five runs, with Presley and Jones with three knocks apiece and two hits for McCutch.

And no, we don't have a problem with Hanny coming on with a three-run lead and a another game minutes away. Worry about the next game when it's played, not before.

Brad Lincoln goes against John Lannan in the nighcap.

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