Saturday, July 9, 2011

Correia Clocked 6-3

It's a hot one in the 'Burgh tonight, and the Bucs are looking to keep their hot streak going, too. They're playing in front of a full house, and for a change, most are there for the baseball, not the post-game concert.

It wasn't a very auspicious start for Kevin Correia, who was behind in the count much of frame. He walked Kosuke Fukudome on a 3-2 count. KC got ahead of Starlin Castro 0-2, then laid a curve over the middle of the plate that he banged on the base of the wall in left to put runners on second and third.

Correia caught a break when Arimis Ramirez drilled a scorcher to third; Josh Harrison knocked it down, looked back the runner, and got the out. Carlos Pena struck out on a curve, but Houdini had left the building. An infield knock just past Harrison by Marlin Byrd - he's been on all five at-bats so far against the Bucs in this series - plated one, and a wild pitch that popped out of Mike McKenry's webbing brought home another. It was 2-0 before the Bucs got back to their dugout.

For Pittsburgh, it was another of those hair-pulling innings. Alex Presley doubled, and Chase d'Arnaud singled to right. Presley was waved home, the throw from Fukudome was on target, and Koyie Hill blocked home, turned and tagged Presley, who had beaten the throw but couldn't get his toe on the plate. Good execution by the Cubs, iffy baserunning decision by Nick Leyva with no outs.

Neil Walker then singled to put runners at first and second. With both runners on the move, McCutch offered at a high heater and popped out. Lyle Overbay K'ed on a curve, and three straight hits netted the Bucs nada.

KC gave up a single up the middle to Darwin Barney with an out, and Ryan Dempster bunted him over. Falling behind Fukudome again, Correia fed him a 3-1 fastball down the middle that he whacked into left to score Barney. Correia has been masterful at stranding runners this year, but the Cubs have brought home three with two outs tonight. Dempster gave up a two-out infield knock to McKenry, and after two it was 3-0 Chicago.

Correia continued to struggle. Ramirez and Pena both took elevated pitches away and lined them the opposite way. There was a brief reprieve when Byrd bounced into a force at third, but Alfonso Soriano lined a shot to left to bring another run in. Hill drilled a changeup, but right at Overbay, who turned it into an inning ending 3-6-3 DP. Still, 4-0 Cubbies, who are using KC for BP in the early going.

The Pirates got a run back when The King smacked a curve into right center; it took a huge hop, bounced off the railing, and Presley had a triple. An out later, Walker rolled a ball to the right side to score him. McCutch drew a 3-2 walk, but Overbay popped out to end the inning.

Barney golfed a looper into right center to open the fourth, and was moved along by Dempster. A bouncer got him to third. Another one got him in when Castro hit a hopper that carried Harrison into foul territory; his throw took a hop and Overbay couldn't pick it, making it 5-1. That third out has been elusive for KC tonight. Chris Leroux came on to get the final out. Correia went just 3-2/3 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits with a walk and 2 Ks. He threw 66 pitches.

Pittsburgh kept plugging. Jones walked. Harrison hit a ball into the right center gap, but Byrd ran it down. The crowd then went crazy (and demanded a curtain call, the second in as many nights) as the scoreboard announced that McCutch had been named to the All-Star team as McKenry batted; he drilled a double inside third while the cheering was going on to set up Matt Diaz (part of a two-fer with Leroux), who poked an opposite field ground rule double to make it 5-3. Presley flew out and d'Arnaud hit a rocket to third, but right at A-Ram.

Leroux did something KC couldn't; he put up a zero. It wasn't easy. Carlos Pena started off by rolling one up the middle. An out later, Soriano took one off his shoetops and lined it softly over the head of d'Arnaud. But Leroux pitched out of it in style, K'ing Hill and Barney.

Walker led off by drawing a 3-2 walk, but didn't advance past second. Dan McCutchen of the rubber arm was called on again. He outdid Leroux by putting Chicago down in order. That was it for Dempster, who got into a shouting match with manager Mike Quade in the dugout after being removed for a pinch hitter.

Jeff Samardzija came on and got the first two Bucs before Diaz rolled a double into right. Presley slapped one to Soriano to end the frame. At this point, the Bucs are 2-for-11 with RISP; they're getting them on, but not in. After six, it was 5-3 Chicago.

D-Mac kept dealing. After a lead off single by Ramirez through the shortstop hole, he got a K and two soft rollers to close out the frame. Samardzija followed roughly the same script, allowing one runner, McCutch, who reached on a two out error. On to the eighth, and Danny Moskos. Three bouncers, three outs.

Kerry Wood came on to work the eighth for the Cubbies. He put the Bucs away 1-2-3. The Pirate hitters have been a lot less disciplined against the hard throwing Samardzija and Wood than they were against Dempster; it's tough to check off those 95 MPH offerings.

Moskos got in quick trouble in the ninth, giving up a double to Fukudome and a line single to left by Castro to put runners on the corners. In came Tony Watson. He K'ed A-Ram swinging, who threw the bat in disgust. He drew a chorus of deserved boos; the Cubs are not behaving very well tonight. Pena drove one to the track in left to bring home Fukudome, and the frame ended with  Byrd's shot to the wall in center run down by McCutch.

Carlos Marmal came on to finish up. Presley drew a hard earned walk with one away, but d'Arnaud bounced into a DP thanks to a generous Cubbie call at first.

Hey, Kevin Correia can't count on seven runs every game, and he labored the short time he was in tonight. Still, a stop sign at third base, a pick at first, and a couple of better executed two out pitches would have made it a much different game. But it wasn't to be, and the Cubbies, even whose outs were hit hard, pounded out the win. And they are a dangerous team with the lumber, even with their record.

Ramon Ortiz takes on Paul Maholm tomorrow afternoon as the Bucs try to take the rubber match.

  • McCutch was named to the All-Star team today after much huffing and puffing. He replaced Ryan Braun, who is suffering from a calf injury. The Pirate PR people did it right. They didn't release the news to the assembled media until after it was announced to the fans, who may have known before even McCutch did (EDIT - they didn't; he was told in the dugout beforehand).
  • The Pirates drew 39,235 fans tonight, their tenth sellout of season. That's most sellouts in single year since PNC Park opened in 2001 when there were nineteen full houses.
  • Jeff Karstens was in the bullpen tonight and will be there tomorrow. No, he hasn't been demoted. With the All-Star break coming up Monday, he's just a extra arm for Clint Hurdle if needed.

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