Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Little Things Bite Bucs In 2-1 Loss

Well, J-Mac didn't have the usual Bucco first inning blues. After getting Marco Scutaro to fly out, he blew heaters past Tyler Colvin and Carlos Gonzalez.The Pirates fizzled too, but in an entirely different manner.

Alex Presley lined a single the opposite way and held as JT flew out to the track in right. He went with Cutch at bat, but an easy pitch to handle and bad jump combined to nail him at second. The Bucs are now just 11-of-19 in stolen base efforts. McCutch doubled to right center, but the inning ended on a Neil Walker swinging K. Lotta smoke, no flame.

The game settled down after that. McDonald allowed his first runner with two away in the third when he walked Nicasio on a 3-2 pitch; the Rox hurler never offered a cut. J-Mac countered by slapping an infield single in his at-bat.

The Pirates tried to catch some two-out lightning in the fourth. Casey McGehee legged out an excuse me bouncer and after falling behind 0-2, Pedro Alvarez lined a rope to left, but it was run down at the track. Both guys were dealing at this point. J-Mac had 4 Ks and Nicasio had 5, both using their off-speed stuff with great success.

McDonald started off the fifth with some control issues. He plunked Jason Giambi and walked Michael Cuddyer on four pitches to open the frame. But a quick DP and swinging strikeout of Chris Nelson calmed the waters.

The Pirates again got two hits in the sixth without scoring. JT singled to left center to open the frame, but was thrown out trying to stretch it on a play so close even the replay camera couldn't make the call. With two outs, Walker legged out an infield single, the third of the game for the Bucs, but was left stranded.

The Rox started to work it in the seventh. A four pitch walk to Cargo was followed by the first Colorado knock, a grounder by Troy Tulowitzki that glanced off a diving Alvarez's mitt. J-Mac crossed up McKenry, and the result was a wild pitch, moving the Rockies up 90'. Giambi had the green light on a 3-0 pitch, and drove it to the track in center, bringing in a run and moving Tulo to third.

He came back to get Cuddyer and Wil Rosario on strikes. J-Mac went seven, giving up a run on one hit and three walks with eight Ks, tossing 101 pitches.

Like yesterday, the Rox lead was short-lived. Alvarez led off the seventh by shipping a change up over the wall in right center that left PNC in a hurry. Clint Barmes followed by golfing a knock into left with two strikes.

But he was on base for just two pitches; he was caught stealing on a pitchout on another play that was bang-bang. He may have sneaked a toe in under a high throw, but was rung up and become the third Pirate tossed out on the bases. With two away, Yamaico Navarro walked and went to second on a wild pitch, but Presley was caught looking on a back door curve served by reliever Matt Reynolds.

Chris Resop climbed the hill. After a K, speed burner Eric Young walked into a curve, taking it on the elbow. Scutaro followed with a knock into left center, putting runners on the corners and bring on Tony Watson with two lefties due. Colvin lifted a ball into medium right; Young scored under the tag when JT's two-hop throw was slightly up the third base line and McKenry was well in front of the plate, regaining the Rox lead at 2-1.

Esmil Rogers made the Bucs look bad in the eighth, striking out the side. Cutch and Walker went down swinging at balls in the dirt, and neither made an effort to jog to first, a sure sign of frustration from two of the team's leaders. Jared Hughes worked the ninth and put up a zip, overcoming a pop double by Dexter Fowler that fell among three Bucco fielders. Rafael Betencourt earned his sixth save by putting down the Bucs in order easily in the ninth.

Pittsburgh did all the little things wrong, and it cost them the game. The winning run scored on a poorly played pitch-and-catch play at the plate. The first run was set up by a walk and wild pitch. The Bucs had nine knocks, but lost three guys on the basepaths, continued to pull outside pitches and K'ed ten times.

Charlie Morton takes on Jhoulys Chacin in the second half.
  • The Pirates lead the league in infield hits, so they're not at the bottom of every offensive category. 
  • Alex Presley's first inning knock stretched his hitting streak to nine games.
  • J-Mac joined Kevin Correia as the only Pirate pitchers to throw a clean opening frame this season.
  • SS Alen Hanson at Class A West Virginia extended his hitting streak to 15 games this afternoon.

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