Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bucs Lose Ugly 4-3

The Bucs tried to give Tim Hudson a warm welcome back to the hill in the first but fell short. With one away, a Jose Tabata knock and Cutch HBP set up the Pirates, but they were stranded. Road warrior Kevin Correia gave up a leadoff single to Michael Bourn, but a quick DP erased him and so the opening frame was quiet.

Pittsburgh did get on the board in the second. Pedro Alvarez led off with a knock, and an out later, Mike McKenry followed suit. KC mover them up a base. Alex Presley walked and JT rolled a two-run knock into right to put the Bucs up 2-0. The Braves mustered a one-out single. So far, all seven batters have hit the ball on the ground for Atlanta, a good sign for Correia.

Neil Walker chipped in a one away double in the third, but Hudson got Alvarez and Clint Barmes swinging to keep him there. The Bucs took the field, but forgot to bring their gloves with them.

After a ground out, Tyler Pastornicky got aboard when Cutch dropped his fly into center, and Michael Bourn drew a walk. Martin Prado spanked a possible DP ball to Alvarez; he booted it to load the sacks without a hit and the meat of the order coming up. Freddy Freeman got good wood to the ball, and his deep fly to center plated a run and moved the other runners up a notch. It was a big out for KC. He had fell behind 3-0 and it took eight pitches to retire Freeman. Brian McCann drilled the ball hard, but right to short and KC escaped with just a run.

The Bravos tried to make up when Mike McKenry got aboard on a boot, but he died at second. Atlanta scored with two away to knot the score.

A leadoff walk to Dan Uggla cost KC when he eventually came around on Pastornicky's double. The Bucs keep working on the rookie SS, and he's come up strong for the Braves so far this series out of the eight hole. That's the second time in three games that he's driven in a two-out run with first base open. And worse news; Correia is already at 77 pitches, so it looks like no rest for the pen today.

Jones doubled with an out in the fifth, and Walker battled Hudson for a walk. Alvarez bounced out to first to move the runners up a station. Barmes pulled a 3-2 curve that was outside to third to end the inning. The Pirates have already stranded 8 and are 1-for-10 with RISP.  Hudson, like KC, has tossed a lot of baseballs. His pitch count is up to 96.

Bourn led off with a single, and a walk to Prado brought Ray Searage to the mound for a visit while the pen heated up. He again retired Freeman on a long fly to center. McCann walked on five pitches; the last two appeared over the plate but didn't get a call from Doug Eddings. Clint Hurdle let KC in to face Uggla. On his 101st pitch, he walked him to gift the Bravos a run. That run is probably more on Hurdle than KC.

Brad Lincoln climbed the hill to face Chipper Jones, and Josh Harrison went to short in the inevitable double switch. Corriea went 4-1/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on four with five walks and no K. Lincoln caught Jones looking at a heater, and Jason Heyward bounced out to second to limit the damage. It's now a 3-2 Atlanta lead. The Bravos have had their chances, too, stranding seven and 1-for-8 with RISP. They've scored three runs on four hits, two errors and five walks through five frames.

Chad Durbin took the ball for Atlanta; the Pirates haven't dented the Braves bullpen yet in this series. They still haven't. The Bucs went down in order on nine pitches. Bad Brad returned the favor, though it took him eleven tosses. Eric O'Flaherty shut the Bucs down in the seventh, and the Braves added an insurance run when Prado led off with a dinger off Lincoln. Tony Watson closed the inning out against the lefties Jones and Heyward.

Johnny Venters took the bump in the eighth. Alvarez hit a one-away opposite field double, and McKenry laid off enough to draw a walk with two down. Venters never threw Harrison a strike, and still got him swinging to end the frame.

Evan Meek's number was called. He put away Eric Hinske and Wilson, but Bourn followed with a single. Meek had trouble finding the dish against Prado, but he hacked his way into a swinging K. Meek's velocity is returning. At 93-94, it's not quite there yet, but it is building.

Closer Craig Kimbrel took the horsehide in the ninth. After K'ing Presley, JT punched a running heater into right for a double. Cutch tapped back to the hill. Jones swung at a wild pitch that may have hit his foot. The bad news was that it was strike one; the good news was that JT scored to make it 4-3. No matter; that's how it ended.

It wasn't a very pretty game from either teams' perspective. For the Pirates, it was a case of walks, errors, spotty umping and lost opportunities costing them a winnable game. But the Bucs can take solace in that JT and Pedro have started swinging the bats; they had five solid hits between them. Now if the rest of the team can join them.

James McDonald faces Mike Minor in the series-ender tomorrow.

  • Alex Presley's 12 game hitting streak ended this afternoon.
  • Justin Wilson, Juan Diaz, and Doug Slaten combined to throw the Indy Indians first no-hitter since 2005. Wilson went 7-1/3 innings giving up two walks and K'ing nine.
  • Bradenton's Jameson Taillon had a nice outing too, going six shutout frames while giving up three singles, a walk, and fanning four.

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