Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Morton Stops Giants, Slide 5-0

The Pirates struck out three times in the first inning, but between whiffs scored twice. Garrett Jones doubled on the first pitch of the at-bat. Neil Walker doubled, also on the first pitch, and scored Jones. Ryan Ludwick's two-out single tallied Walker to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Nothing like a quick jump from the box, especially against Ryan Vogelsong, who has been lights out at home.

Charlie Morton's sinker was nasty; he got three ground ball outs in the first inning on just eight pitches.

The Bucs went down in order, and then the G-Men made a run with a pair of knocks to open the second.  But the runners never got past second, and it was 2-0 Buccos after two.

McCutch bunted for a base hit (there's a plan!) to start the third inning and went to second on Jones' single. A Walker roller moved the guys up a station. Vogelsong intentionally walked Ludwick to get to Pedro Alvarez. He walked him unintentionally on four pitches for the easiest RBI El Toro will ever pick up, and that made it 3-0.  The Giants went down in the third with just an Andres Torres single off Brandon Wood's glove.

The Pirates went down in order in the fourth; San Fran's Aaron Rowland got a leadoff walk, but was erased two batters later on a weird DP; he went on a ground ball to third and was tagged out by Pedro, who went to first to complete the twin killing.

The Bucs added on. Jones singled and stole second to open the frame. He scored on Ludwick's RBI single, again with two away, and put the Pirates ahead 4-0. Alvarez lined a knock to right and Brandon Wood dropped a single into center to score Ludwick, and the Pirates led, 5-0. Vogelsong was done after that. He gave up five earned runs for just the second time in 21 starts this season.

With an out in the Giant fifth inning, Mike Fontenot slapped a single and Torres walked. But Morton had the answer against Jeff Keppinger, who rolled a sinker back to the box to start a 1-6-3 DP to end the frame.

Guillermo Mota struck out the side in the sixth. Morton got the first two outs, then Nate Schierholtz banged a changeup for a ground rule double. No problem; he stayed there as Orlando Cabrera grounded out.

In the seventh, Derrek Lee, who had three K's in his return to the lineup, crushed a one out triple to center, but Ludwick and Alvarez couldn't bring him home. CM again got the first two hitters before walking Fontenot, and again he stranded the runner.

Santiago Casilla took the hill in the eighth, and pitched a clean frame. Mark DeRosa became the first Giant to reach third in the Giant half. He got aboard on a Wood throwing error, moved to second on a grounder and to third on a wild pitch, but no further.

Charlie Morton pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing six hits and three walks, striking out four while throwing 115 pitches.  And as usual, LH batters did all the damage, collecting each and every hit and walk that Morton surrendered in the outing.

The Bucs looked like they had something going in the ninth when a McCutch double and Jones single put runners on the corners with no outs. Then the Bucco baserunning clinic began. Walker bounced to second and Jones was tossed out; McCutch hesitated and then tried to sneak home on the force and was gunned at the plate. The Pirates tried a steal next; Walker was tossed at second. Holy Keystone Kops!

Jose Veras took over in the ninth and sealed the shutout with a walk and a K.

Hey, it's nice to break up the 10 game losing streak. Pitching is why the team was losing; pitching is why they won tonight. Pretty simple analysis.

James McDonald takes on Madison Bumgarner tonight.

  • Charlie Morton has now pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest streak by a Pittsburgh pitcher this season.
  • Garrett Jones went 4-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. Ryan Ludwick went 2 for 3 with two RBI.
  • The Bucs moved LHP Justin Wilson to the bullpen at Indy. His ERA is 4.14; the Pirates want to work on his mechanics.
  • State College C Samuel Gonzalez and OF'er Carlos Mesa were named to the New York-Penn League all-star game. Gonzalez is batting .319. Mesa, 23, who signed with the Pirates last winter after defecting from Cuba, is hitting .287.

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