Friday, April 27, 2012

Walks, Brave Leather Whip Bucs 6-1

First innings have suddenly become quiet. The Pirates went down in order against Tommy Hanson, and after a lead off knock, AJ Burnett whiffed the next three Bravos. The second was also pretty calm, with Alvarez lining into a DP after a Neil Walker knock. In the third, the Bucs had Alex Presley and Casey McGehee at first and third with two away, but Clint Barmes popped the second pitch to first to end the frame.

Atlanta struck first in their half. Tyler Pastornicky drew a five pitch walk to open, and a bunt and bouncer moved him to third. Martin Prado lined a heater into right, and it was 1-0 Braves.

The Pirates tied it in the fourth, but left a lot on their plate. Cutch singled, stole second, and came in on Garrett Jones' knock to right. After an out, walks to Pedro Alvarez and McGehee juiced the bases, but Rod Barajas spared Atlanta any further damage by grounding into a custom-made 5-3 DP on the first pitch, a slider that Hanson hung and got away with.

Atlanta regained the lead in their half. With two outs, Jason Heyward walked after falling behind 0-2, stole second and came home on Pastornicky's single with the pitcher due up next. The Bucs failed to answer in the fifth. Presley had a one-out bunt single, but was nailed trying to steal when the Braves' pitched out.

Burnett got into a fifth inning jam. Michael Bourn singled and Prado walked after Burnett was ahead 1-2 on him to start the inning. He got a line out to right, with Jones diving to make the grab, and bouncer to Walker, moving the runners to second and third for Dan Uggla. Burnett caught him looking at a sinking fastball, and it remained 2-1.

Both sides stranded a runner in the sixth. That would be it for Hanson, who left for a pinch hitter after throwing 102 pitches. Ditto for Burnett, who gave up a pair of runs on six hits and three walks with 8 K after 94 pitches. A good outing, but he hurt himself with walks and the bottom of the order.

Dipping into the pen isn't a break for either club; both relief corps are tough. Kris Medlen took the bump in the seventh., and survived Barajas taking another hanger to the wall and a Nate McLouth parachute that was speared by a diving Uggla. Tony Watson came on for Pittsburgh.

Watson had a tough outing. Bourn flew out to the track, Prado singled through the hole, and then Watson issued back-to-back walks. Evan Meek surprisingly came on in a high leverage situation, inheriting a fire. It quickly became an inferno when Uggla dropped a looping double into center and Chipper Jones lined a knock the opposite way to make it 6-1.

Medlen and Meek stayed on for the eighth and put up zeroes, with both surviving a couple of rocket outs. Medlen got to work a third frame, and outside of a two-out walk to Alvarez, the Bucs didn't make a peep.

Atlanta banged ten hits of the Bucs, but the only extra-base knock was well placed rather than well hit. But Burnett and Watson walked five Bravos, and four of them scored.

The Pirate walks were only one side of the equation; the other was Atlanta's infield. Chipper Jones may have turned the game around when he turned Barajas' one hopper over the bag into an inning-ending DP with the bases loaded in the fourth and also stabbed Cutch's liner on a diving play in the eighth. Dan Uggla made a leaping grab of Alvarez's liner in the second to turn a DP and robbed McLouth in the seventh with a skidding catch.

Erik Bedard takes on Randall Delgado tomorrow night. Bedard has struggled some, but kept the Pirates in games (2.63 ERA); Delgado so far has just struggled (5.74 ERA), although he is 2-1 behind the NL's top offense.

  • Alex Presley now has an eleven game hitting streak when a hard one hopper to second bounced of Dan Uggla's chest and was ruled a single. He also bunted for a knock.
  • AJ Burnett has over 1,800 K in his career. Root Sports noted that he's twice whiffed four men in one inning. AJ has also tossed a pair of 14-K games.
  • OF Josh Bell underwent surgery today on the meniscus in his left knee. He's expected to return later this season after injuring his knee while running the bases earlier this week. The 19 year old was the Bucs' $5M second round pick from last year, a high school kid with power who was hitting .274 with a homer, five doubles and 11 RBI in 15 Class A games. He also K'ed 21 times in 62 AB. He should miss just  a few weeks.
  • Thank God that five run thingie has finally ended. Now if the Pirates can only break the ceiling, too...

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