Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bucs Take 4-2 Win; Bedard Hurt

It was a dark and rainy night...but hey, that didn't stop the Bucs and Nats from getting it on at PNC Park. Hard to top Erik Bedard's start - five pitches and back to the dugout. Cutch singled up the middle against ground ball specialist Ross Detwiler with two away, and Pedro almost got the Bucs ahead, but his long fly to the Notch was hauled in by Bryce Harper on a nice running catch.

The second didn't start out so well; Bedard was wincing after the third pitch and was trundled off to the locker room. The Pirates quickly reported that he was suffering from back spasms (it was a good night to get the shakes), so we'll see where that leads.

Brad Lincoln got the early wake-up call. After loosening up, Bad Brad finished the K on Adam LaRoche, who was behind 1-2, and got a bounce out and another K to end the inning.

Casey McGehee chased Harper to the wall in straight-away center, and so far Detwiler has dodged a bullet, having given up four hard-hit balls to the first five hitters. Yamaico Navarro used the opposite tack, and dropped a bunt for a knock. A fly out later, he was nailed stealing, and it's scoreless after two.

Lincoln made a nice play on a dribbler tapped by Tyler Moore, and McGehee made a sweet pick of the low throw. A grounder and K later, it was the Bucs turn again.

With one out, Lincoln struck out on a wild pitch in the dirt, but scooted to first while Wilson Ramos chased the ball down. JT singled off Detwiler's glove, and Lincoln motored into third to set up The Kid. he rolled a sinker to right, scoring Lincoln and sending Tabata to third. Cutch lined the first pitch he saw into right, plating JT and shipping Walker to the hot corner. El Toro got ahead 2-1, and hit one sharply to third, and Walker was caught in a rundown and tagged out.

McGehee picked him up when his roller to short was thrown home by Ian Desmond, who couldn't nail Cutch flying down the line; it was ruled an infield single. It was a maestro demonstration by McCutch. He was on second when Desmond backhanded Jones' ball, and then faked as if to throw behind McCutchen. Cutch hesitated and then turned on the jets to score, making it 3-0.

Desmond tried to make amends by driving one deep to left to open the fourth, but Navarro pulled it back in from over the fence. The Nats clamored for a review, hoping a fan touched it; they got one and Desmond was still out. Harper walked to become the first Washington baserunner.

After a K, Alvarez booted a ball hit by Adam LaRoche (he was playing short right in the shift) to put Nats on the corners with two away. Lincoln got ahead of another ex-Bucco, Xavier Nady, 0-2, and then threw him a pair of balls down the middle. He fouled the first one and lined the second into right to make it 3-1. The Pirates went down in order.

Clint Hurdle allowed Lincoln to bat (he said afterwards that he didn't want to burn a position player that early), and then brought in Jared Hughes to work the fifth. Lincoln was just at 40 pitches. But the skipper must have known something; Hughes struck out the side on 13 pitches.

JT started the fifth by bunting into an out; that's at least four times the Bucs have dropped a pitch down (Harrison tried it twice, fouling it both times). With two away, Detwiler tossed an 0-2 pitch down the middle to Cutch, who lined it into center for his third knock. Pedro again almost made them pay, flying out to the track in center to end the inning.

Hughes faced the top of the order in the sixth, and Desmond rolled his first pitch into center. With two away, Desmond stole second and went to third when Barajas' throw was off line and skipped into center behind the sliding runner. LaRoche walked semi-intentionally; he was put aboard after getting ahead 2-0. Nady grounded out, and it remained 3-1. Pittsburgh went down in order.

Hurdle put on his thinking cap, and brought Juan Cruz in. Alex Presley went to left to replace Navarro, and Clint Barmes took over at short for Harrison. After all that work, Danny Espinosa led off with a double. After a fly out, a wild pitch moved him to third and a walk put runners on the corners. Chad Tracy did a good job, taking an outside 1-2 pitch to left, and the sac fly cut the edge to 3-2, the first run Cruz has surrendered this year. It was a medium depth fly; Presley may have had a play at the plate, but opted to keep the tying run on first.

Detwiler was done and Craig Stammen claimed the mound. Presley tried to bunt his way on - you think they'd be on to that by now - fell behind 0-2 and flew out to short right. Barmes K'ed looking, and JT popped out. Jason Grilli came out for the eighth to face the brunt of the Nat order.

After retiring Harper on a long fly to left, Zimmerman doubled the opposite way. LaRoche was walked intentionally, and lefty Roger Bernadina replaced Nady in the batter's box. Hitting .187, Grilli lost him on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. He fell behind Espinosa 3-1, but came back to get him swinging, as did Ankiel, and the Bucs held on to their the 3-2 lead.

Stammen stayed on. He got Walker on a tapper, but the red hot Cutch took a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall, giving the Bucs a big insurance run against the resurgent Nats. Joel Hanrahan, who will leave the club tomorrow to join his family for his grandmother's funeral, took the ball.

With one away, he plunked pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi. Desmond followed with a double to put runners at second and third, and Hurdle let him stay in to face Harper. Hanny got him to pop to short. He fell behind Zimmerman 3-1, but came back to get him swinging, ending what had to be an emotionally trying day.

Washington stranded ten while the Bucs, except for McCutch, put their bats away after the third. The Pirates were efficient, though. They were 3-for-5 with RISP, and only left four runners. The get a chance to break out the brooms tomorrow night. Stephen Strasburg and Kevin Correia hook up for the series capper.

  • Sad news: Joel Hanrahan is taking a bereavement leave following the death of his grandma, who passed away at the age of 92. The funeral is Saturday, so he'll be out from tomorrow until at least Sunday, and may miss the remainder of the home stand, which ends Sunday afternoon. Our condolences to Joel and his family on their loss. Bereavement leave can last up to a week, and the team can call up a replacement. They'll need one after the pen picked up eight innings tonight.
  • Brad Lincoln was credited with the win, his second of the year.
  • It'll likely be a couple of days before the severity of Bedard's injury will be know. Sometimes the back relaxes after 48 hours or so, but he did miss nine days in 2008 with the same injury.
  • The Bucs drew 11,478 who braved a couple of afternoon storms to catch the game.
  • Tonight marked the first two game win streak for the Bucs since April 17-18th at Arizona.
  • More on bunting: David Mandel on his High and Outside Baseball blog looks at the NL teams that most use the tactic, and yep, the Bucs are the leaders. That leads us to the question "Does Clint Hurdle use the bunt more because his club is so challenged at bat, or do their offensive totals reflect the many conceded outs and missed opps?" Probably a bit of both.
  • SS Jordy Mercer has a ten-game hit streak now going on at Indy after a slow start at the dish to open the year. You can catch him on TV tomorrow, as Indy's 11:05 a.m. game will be broadcast nationally and live on the MLB Network.
  • Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror reports that "The Pirates are planning to move Curve RHP Tim Alderson into the rotation soon. He's been a reliever the past year but is getting stretched out to start."
  • Paul Maholm threw seven shutout innings against the Braves today. His Cub record is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA. Chicago made a classy move during the pre-game by presenting Chipper Jones with the Brave pennant that flew at Wrigley to mark the NL standings as a memento of his last series in the Windy City.


WilliamJPellas said...

In general I am a fan of "small ball" tactics, particularly in the National League, but the bunt is just one part of small ball, and it does seem to me that Hurdle uses it too often. I'd rather see more hit and run plays and basestealing and squeeze plays.

Ron Ieraci said...

I'm personally more of a hit-and-run fan myself, Will, especially toward the top of the order. For me, the circumstances have to be aligned just right to give up an out.

I know where Hurdle is coming from, with no speed or production from the lower end of the lineup. And I suspect the bunt-for-hit tries are probably the hitters' idea, not the skippers.

Still, I agree with you that he does overuse it, at least in my book.