Saturday, July 2, 2011

Walks, Misfires Cost Bucs In 4-3 Loss

Bad Brad gets his first start for Pittsburgh in 2011; let's see what he can do with it.

The first two Bucs rolled out; McCutch lined a triple into right that rattled around long enough for him reach the hot corner. Garrett Jones bounced one to short to end the frame. Lincoln 1-2-3'ed the Nats.

John Lannan kept the ball down; the Bucs kept pounding it on the ground, bouncing out three more times in the second. The Nats struck first. Jayson Werth walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Rick Ankiel rolled a single through the second base hole on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. With Ankiel going, Wilson Ramos hit a soft roller to short; d'Arnaud's only play was to first, and it was 1-0 Washington.

In the early going, it sure seems as if the Nats game plan is to run all day on Lincoln and his battery mate Eric Fryer.

The Bucs answered. Fryer singled, his first MLB knock. Bad Brad bunted him to second, and Presley's grounder to second got him to third. Chase d'Arnaud brought him home when his one hopper to short skipped over Ian Desmond's glove for his first MLB RBI. With two away, McCutch continued his torrid hitting, sending a fly off the right field wall and just out of the grasp of Werth to bring d'Arnaud home. The Pirates were up 2-1.

A one out walk did Lincoln in again. He lost Roger Bernadina on a 3-2 pitch, and Danny Espinosa singled on a hit and run through the right side to put runners on the corners. Ryan Zimmerman hit a tailor made DP ball to second. Walker fed d'Arnaud, but his relay was high and took Jones off the bag, allowing the run to score. Bad fielding hurt that frame, but Lincoln has to get aggressive in the strike zone, too, and quit nibbling.

The Bucs went down in order in the fourth. It looked like the Nats would, too. But with two away, Wilson Ramos hit one to the gap in right center; after a long sprint, McCutch couldn't come up with the grab after running Matt Diaz off the ball. Lincoln intentionally walked Desmond, and got Lannan to pop out.

Lannan pitched another clean inning; he's retired seven Buccos in a row. Lincoln again had one away problems as Espinosa ripped a double into right center. Zimmerman hit the next pitch on a rope to left, but Presley was there for the grab, and a bouncer ended the frame.

Lannan kept dealing, knocking out the Bucs in order again. The only hard hit ball was a liner up the middle by McCutch that caught Lannan's foot and dropped right in front of him. Lincoln matched him, getting the middle of Washington's lineup 1-2-3.

That would be it for Bad Brad, who went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits with three walks (one intentional) and 4 Ks, throwing 95 pitches. After the third, he looked fine on the hill, going after guys and mixing his curve and heater nicely.

Matt Diaz and Neil Walker ended Lannan's ten-in-a-row streak with back-to-back knocks. Walker's was on a hit and run that moved Diaz to third, and Josh Harrison's DP scored him. The Bucs had the lead, 3-2, going into the bottom of the seventh.

D-Mac came on, and got the first two outs routinely. Bernardina drew a walk after a pesky at-bat, and Espinosa followed with a five pitch walk of his own. McCutchen fell behind Zimmerman 2-0, but came back to feed him three straight strikes to catch him looking.

Ryan Mattheus came on, and got the first two Pirates without a sweat. Then d'Arnaud rolled one up the middle and McCutch followed with a shot up the line that Zimmerman gloved, but threw high to first with his new sidewinder motion. Jones worked the count to 3-2, the runners were going, but he got under a heater and popped out to end the frame.

Chris Resop took the ball. He plunked Michael Morse in the left forearm; he left the game and Brian Bixler went to first. Werth flew out to right, and Clint Hurdle call for Tony Watson with Ankiel due up. He walked him on five pitches. With Wilson Ramos up, Bixler broke late for third. A good throw had him easily, but it wasn't to be. Fryer's toss bounced behind Wood and off his mitt, and the game was tied as BB trotted home.

To add insult to injury, Watson walked Ramos on a 3-2 pitch. He struck out Desmond, but Pudge lined a single to right. Paul came up throwing and his one hopper would have been a bang-bang play at home, but it bounced off Fryer's glove and the go ahead run was in. Tough inning for Fryer; that happens when your fifth string catcher is behind the dish.

Drew Storen came on in the ninth. He got a Lyle Overbay ground out, caught a call on a Walker grounder at first (Bixler's foot was off the base), and then gave up a two out single to Xavier Paul. Fryer was the last out on a bouncer to short and the Nats salvaged the gift-wrapped nightcap.

All four runs that scored for Washington were put aboard by Pirate pitching on three walks and a hit batter. Three of those runs came in because the Pirates couldn't play throw and catch. Washington only had five hits, but seven walks and a hit batter gave them plenty of runners.

It was game for the taking, and the Pirates couldn't. The bright side is that Lincoln settled in pretty well after a tentative start; maybe it was just the butterflies getting the better of him.

Kevin Correia goes against Jason Marquis in the series finale tomorrow afternoon.

  • McCutch ran his extra base streak up to seven tonight before spoiling it with a single. That's the longest extra base string since Jay Bay did it in 2008.
  • If you're wondering about Clint Hurdle's mixing and matching of relievers, we suspect that Joel Hanrahan would have come on in the ninth if the Bucs were ahead after an eleven pitch outing in the first game. Him or Danny Moskos, anyway. We'd bet on Hanny.

No comments: