Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bucs Look For Sweep After 4-2 Win

Hey, the only thing sweeter than taking the opener is to take the next game, too. And the Bucs did that against the Reds in front of a rollicking sellout crowd of 37,388, equally pumped for the Pirates and Pittsburgh fav Steve Miller.

It didn't start off the Buccos' way; a pair of first inning doubles made it 1-0 against Bad Brad Lincoln in a heartbeat. But the Pirates nibbled back.

In the second, Ryan Ludwick walked, went to third on a Jason Jaramillo two-bagger and touched home on a Ronny Cedeno sac fly. In the third, they took control.

Josh Harrison started it off with a triple (he would end the night a homer short of the cycle) and a McCutch sac fly plated him. Derrek Lee singled and Neil Walker doubled, setting up the Bucs third straight sac fly, this one from Ludwick. Walker scored when JJ came through with a two-out knock to make it 4-1.

It stayed that way until the fifth, when Lincoln's control deserted him. He gave up walks to two of the first three hitters, and one scored on Joey Votto's double. Lincoln worked out of harm's way by getting Punxsutawney's Dave Mesoraco (who had a noisy cheering section of hometowners) to fly to center with the bases juiced.

Lincoln lasted one more batter, when a leadoff double chased him to the showers in the sixth. He gave up two runs in five innings on six hits and four walks (one intentional) with four K's. After that, it turned into a battle of the bullpens, neither one allowing another run. Jason Grilli got the save, as Hanny had the night off after a 31-pitch outing yesterday, his third in the MLB and first since 2009.

Tonight was a game that could have provided plenty more fireworks. The two teams combined to strand 20 runners and go 5-for-28 with RISP. The Pirates had eleven hits, and nine were collected among three players: Harrison (4), Walker (3), and Jaramillo (2).

And the go-go Bucs were back in stride with four steals, highlighted by Neil Walker stealing second and third in the fifth frame.

Dontrelle Willis faces James McDonald in the Bucs final home game this afternoon. The finale's lineup will be: Alex Presley LF, Josh Harrison 3B, Andrew McCutchen CF, Derrek Lee 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Ryan  Ludwick RF, Chase d'Arnaud SS, Mike McKenry C, James McDonald P.

  • Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review has a piece on what a McCutch contract might cost the Bucs. We lean toward the 6 year, $50M or so range with an option as a fair deal. But just in case, he also looks at center field options. 
  • Jose Veras made his 80th appearance, second in MLB to Atlanta's Johnny Venters. He only worked 48 outings last year, so potential pitching burnout isn't just limited to the rotation. It's the first time Clint Hurdle has ever called on a reliever that often.
  • Neil Walker may not have great range, but when he gets to a ball, he catches it. He ran his errorless streak to 52 games last night, and his .992 fielding percentage is the NL's best.
  • The Pirates are 9-9 at home when they play in front of a sellout crowd.
  • Pittsburgh is 38-38 against Central Division opponents, with today's game against the Reds and three more at Milwaukee to go. They haven't had a winning record in the division since 1992.
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