Sunday, April 8, 2012

Comeback Kids Rally For 5-4 Win

The Bucco D hurt a struggling J-Mac in the first. Garrett Jones had a possible DP ball hit to him with one away, but didn't make a play on Shane Victorino at second and took the out at first. McDonald then hung a curve to Hunter Pence, who roped into left to make it 1-0.

The Bucs tried to come back. A one out single to right by Jose Tabata followed by a stolen base and Cutch walk set up the middle of the order, but Neil Walker lined out to third and Garrett Jones bounced a slider to second to end the threat.

The second went quietly. A one out walk by J-Mac to Freddy Galvis was erased on a DP comebacker, and Mike McKenry spanked a two-out knock to turn the order over for the third. Didn't help; both teams went down in order the next frame.

The fourth inning wasn't so kind. Pence crushed a hanging curve over the wall in straightaway center to give the Phils a 2-0 lead. Walker lined a knock to start the Bucco half, but a Jones 3-6-3 (the play he couldn't turn) emptied the sacks. In the fifth, Pedro Alvarez, ahead 2-1 in the count, went yard to right to bring the Bucs within one, blasting the ball an estimated 430'.

The Phils threatened in the sixth, when Juan Pierre dropped a leadoff bunt single, stole second and was moved to third. But J-Mac was equal to the challenge, K'ing Jimmy Rollins, intentionally walking Pence, and then whiffing Jim Thome who looked at a nasty curve. That would be the end of his day, finishing with a line of six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts after 82 pitches.

Cutch tried to rally the Bucs with a double to right with one out, but Walker lined out - the third time today he's scorched the ball - and Jones bounced out. Jared Hughes took the hill in the seventh.

He walked Ty Wiggington, and Galvis dropped a bunt. Walker, covering first, missed the catch and set up a second-and-third, no out situation when he interfered with Galvis. Hughes came within a strike of getting out of it.

Hughes got a line out and grounder with the infield in to freeze the runners. He got ahead of Pierre 1-2 throwing sinkers, and tried to sneak a four seamer past him. It was a mistake pitch served right down the middle, and Pierre lined it into right to score a pair. Victorino walked on a 3-2 pitch, and then pulled off a double steal with Pierre, but Hughes got Rollins swinging on a foul tip. But the damage was done, and the score was 4-2 Philly.

Mike Stutes took the hill, and K'ed Barmes and Alvarez on pitches in the dirt. Barmes was thrown out at first; Alvarez made it safely, thanks to a dropped throw by Wiggington. It paid off an out later when Casey McGehee doubled off the Clemente Wall to make it 4-2. Presley made it 4-3 when he got a 3-1 heater down Broadway and lined it into right to drive home McGehee. He stole second, but after a long at-bat, Tabata flew out to right.

Evan Meek set down Philly in the eighth, and the Bucs tied it up of Kyle Kendricks. Cutch led off with a single, and stole second an out later, followed by a Yamaico Navarro walk. (McLouth had come up to pinch hit, but when Manuel went to the lefty Antonio Bastardo, Navarro grabbed the bat) With two away, Matt Hague collected his first MLB hit and RBI when he singled McCutchen home with a soft liner into short left.

Hanny took over, and struck out two of the three Phils he faced. David Herndon worked the ninth. McGehee bombed his second double of the day to lead off, and was replaced by Josh Harrison on the sacks. Presley bunted him to third, but Herndon recorded a big K against Tabata. Cutch was clutch, though, driving a 3-2 sinker over Victorino's head and midway up the wall after falling behind 0-2, capping a great at-bat and another improbable win by the Bucs.

Charlie Manuel is sure to take more heat over this loss. Like many managers, he won't use his closer, Jonathan Papelbon, unless he has the lead on the road; Hurdle heard many of the same complaints last season. But even Clint used his closer in a tie game in both Bucco wins.

Thanks to Manuel's strategy, the Pirates pulled out a pair of walk-off wins without ever facing Papelbon on the hill. It may just be delaying the inevitable, but it's tough to lose in the late innings with your silver bullet left unfired. Especially with two outs in the eighth and the lead...

The Pirates are off tomorrow, with a nine day West Coast swing ahead of them. Kevin Correia, the only Pirate pitcher not to appear in the Philly series, takes the hill against Clayton Kershaw in LA on Tuesday at 4:10. The Cy Young winner had his opening day start cut short by the flu, but expects to be ready for the Dodger's home opener.

  • The Easter crowd was about half of the opening pair of games at 19,856. The family holiday and Philly fans heading home hurt the gate. Still, 97,620 fans for the three day set is a good start.
  • The Bucs cranked out 11 hits, three by McCutch and two more from McGehee. Every position player except for Jones and Barmes reached base today.
  • McCutch, Presley and Tabata had stolen bases today.
  • Yesterday's tenth-inning, two-out infield single was Alex Presley's first walk-off hit in the show.
  • On his Sunday morning radio show, Neal Huntington said that AJ Burnett was on a 65-70 pitch count during his Friday rehab start. His next outing will be Wednesday, with a 80-85 pitch limit, stretching him out to eventually reaching 100 pitches. He could return before May.
  • Root Sports has taken to a center field camera angle this season. It sure removes a lot of the mystery regarding the strike zone if you're watching on the tube.
  • RHP Stetson Allie will miss his next start at West Virginia with elbow tightness.


WilliamJPellas said...

Great opening series for the Bucs. Barmes' slow---nonexistent, really---start at the plate is disappointing, but he's a veteran with a respectable body of work who's still only 33. Other than that, the team has shown something. If they can get through the opening stretch against the better teams with a .500-ish mark, hmmm....

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, three games is too soon to spot any trends, Will. But 2-1 against Halladay, Lee and Worley is OK. Of course, I'm not sure whether that has more to do with the Buccos ability to pitch and grind or the Phillies inability to stroke w/o Utley and Howard. Boy, the middle of their order was bad. Now to see what the left coast has in store...