Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cold Bats + Clutch Boots = Bucco Loss, 3-1

OK, the ol' businessman's special. And today's business is to sweep the Reds.

Chris Heisey led off against Jeff Karstens, and rolled one to Chase d'Arnaud, who threw the ball away. Heisey settled in at second, and a bunt and sac fly later, it was 1-0 Reds. The Bucs went down in order against Johnny Cueto.

Jay Bruce drew a 3-2 walk to open the second. After a long fly out by Ramon Hernandez to straight center, Bruce swiped second. Jonny Gomes lined a single to left to put runners on the corners. Miguel Cairo whacked another sac fly, and the Reds had small-balled their way to a 2-0 lead; in fact, they have more runs than hits to this point. Pittsburgh went down in order again.

Heisey started the third with an infield single to short. Edgar Renteria pulled a slider to short, and the Bucs turned a 6-4-3 DP. Votto bounced to second, and JK had a quiet inning. Karstens broke Cueto's streak of retired Bucs at eight when he smacked a two-out double to right; Presley followed with a single. d'Arnaud flew out, and that ended that threat; Chris Snyder may be able to outrun JK.

With one away, Bruce singled to right. Hernandez rolled one to d'Arnaud, and another inning ended with a 6-4-3 DP.

Walker got plunked to open the Bucco fourth. The pain went away when he was driven home by McCutch when he banged an elevated heater of the top of the right center field wall for a double. It snapped an 0-for-18 string. Overbay wasted his dibs when he grounded out to third, and McCutch had to hold. Jones rolled out to first, McCutchen going to third. Wood popped out; at least the Bucs halved the lead to 2-1.

Nothing is ever easy. With two away in the fifth, Cueto bounced one to short; d'Arnaud booted it. Heisey hit a ground ball single through the left side; so did Renteria, and it was 3-1. With two outs, Presley walked and d'Arnaud legged out an infield hit. But Neil Walker bounced out softly.

With one away in the sixth, Bruce singled but was erased when Hernandez rolled one up the middle. Walker, shifted toward the middle, gloved it behind the sack, dove on second and threw to first from his knees for the twin killing, the Bucs' third of the day. That's helped JK; his pitch count is just 68. Jones drew a two out walk off Cueto. Wood was ahead in the count 3-0, swung at ball four, and eventually flew out to short left. Cueto is up to 97 pitches and due up next inning.

Cairo drilled a one out ground rule double to left, advanced to third, and was left there. Bill Bray took the hill for Cincy and the Bucs tried to squeeze out some points. McKenry got aboard on a boot by third baseman Scott Rolen; Diaz followed with a bloop knock to right. Clint Hurdle had Presley bunting, and he rolled the ball right back to Bray, who got the lead runner.

That brought on Logan Ondrshek. He got d'Arnaud to fly out and whiffed Walker. That also brought on D-Mac to pitch the eighth. Karstens went seven innings, giving up three runs (one earned), seven hits, a walk, and a whiff while throwing 77 pitches.
McCutchen gave up a two out single to Rolen, and wild pitched him to second. With first base  now open, the Bucs walked Bruce to face Hernandez, who grounded out.

Ondrushek got McCutch on a bouncer. Then lefty Aroldis Chapman came on; he got Overbay on a grounder and K'ed Jones. Jose Veras worked the ninth for Pittsburgh, and retired the Reds 1-2-3. Now it was up to the bottom of the Pirate order, and they weren't equal to the task. Francisco Cordero coaxed three bouncers, and the Reds salvaged the third game 3-1.

Well, the Pirates scored four runs in 27 innings against the Reds and still took 2-out-of-3, so not bad. But the Pirates need McCutch to get back on track and a couple of sticks to pencil into the lineup. The Pirates started five players today, not counting the pitcher, who were hitting between .236-.209.

The Pirates are off tomorrow, and then host the Cards for a three-game set over the weekend.
  • Neil Walker's twelve game hitting streak ended today.
  • Todays attendance was 25,207, a very large turnout for a Bucco weekday get-away game.
  • Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review tweeted that the Pirates are "mulling (a) possible swap with (the) A's for LHP Craig Breslow and OF Josh Willingham." Breslow is a LHP with a line of 0-2/3.24 in 40 appearances as a middle man, while Willingham is a RH OF'er hitting.244/12/46. Breslow could be swapped out with a largely ineffective Joe Beimel, and Willingham would have to replace Matt Diaz in RF, giving up some average for some pop. However, Buster Olney of ESPN reports Willingham isn't part of the talks - yet.
  • Jose Tabata was removed from his rehab game in Bradenton when he felt more left quad tightness. Doesn't seem like a very smooth recovery.
  • Jason Jaramillo was taken off the minor league DL; he's back at Indy to catch some innings and at bats as a roster player to get him ready for the call to PNC Park. He could be here for the Cardinal series. Wyatt Toregas was sent to Altoona to clear a spot for JJ.
  • The Pirates' August 13th game in Milwaukee has been moved to 4:05 PM and will be shown as the Fox national broadcast.

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