Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bucs Walk Off With A 5-4 Win

AJ Burnett was seeking a bit of redemption after being used for BP in his last outing, and started off on a mission. He K'ed Ian Desmond to open tonight's game and got a pair of bouncers afterward to toss a 1-2-3 first. Edwin Jackson, who said thanks but no thanks to the Bucs during free agency, got into a jam when Neil Walker doubled with an out and Cutch followed with a walk, but escaped the frame without a run.

No one got aboard in the second, and the Nats opened the scoring in the third when Wilson Ramos took a fastball deep to center. They added another in the fourth. Byrce Harper doubled to lead off and went to third on a one-out knock by Adam LaRoche. Following a K, Ricky Ankiel rolled a single to right to make it 2-0.

The Bucs came back when Cutch bombed his first homer of the year into the hedges in straightaway center 425' away. With two gone, Garrett Jones followed with a towering shot over the Clemente Wall for his fourth dinger. Both were on two-strike fastballs, inner half and belt high, and made the score two-all.

Jackson singled with an out in the fifth; he was erased on a DP while the Bucs went down in order. Washington managed a two out walk in the sixth. The Bucs went down in order with two tappers back to the hill and a Cutch fly to the track in center.

Burnett was feelin' it, striking out the first two Nats and capping the frame with a comebacker. He has 8 K on 81 pitches through seven frames. Jackson was strong, too. He put the Bucs away 1-2-3 for 10 in a row, sitting at 94 and touching 96 with his heater after 91 pitches. It would be his last frame though, going seven and giving up two runs on three hits with two walks and five K.

The Nats went down in order in the eighth as Burnett collected another pair of whiffs. Tyler Clippard took the ball for Washington. With one away, Nate McLouth hit for Burnett, who finished the day with eight innings, allowing  two runs on six hits, one walk, and ten strikeouts after 93 offerings. McLouth walked, ending a streak of 11 Pirates down.

The Nats gave the Bucs a big break when Desmond whiffed on JT's grounder with McLouth on the move, putting runners on the corners with an out for The Kid. Walker took a first pitch change into right center, plenty deep enough to plate McLouth and give the Bucs a 3-2 lead. JT went to second when Harper's throw went home. After falling behind Cutch 3-0, Clippard intentionally walked him. He got Pedro swinging, and it was Hammer time.

He faced the 3-4-5 hitters in the ninth, while Clint Hurdle pulled Jones, putting McLouth in left and moving JT to right. Ryan Zimmerman greeted him by turning on a two-strike heater that he lined to left to open the frame. He fell behind LaRoche 3-0, worked the count full, and then fed him a heater down the middle that he crushed into the right center seats to give Washington a 4-3 edge.

After Hanny finished off the next pair of hitters and ran his pitch count to 18, Hurdle brought on Tony Watson to face lefty Ramos. For Hanrahan, it was his first blown save of the year in six opportunities. Ramos rolled a single the opposite way, but Watson whiffed Roger Bernadina.

Nat closer Henry Rodriguez (Drew Storen is out after April elbow surgery) climbed the hill. Casey McGehee took a 98 MPH heater just short of the right field track for the first out. Alex Presley grabbed a bat and kept the Bucs alive by dropping a soft single into center. Yamaico Navarro hit for Clint Barmes. A pair of wild pitches moved Presley to third during the at-bat, but Navarro went down swinging at heat.

In about as unlikely a finish as you'll see, Rod Barajas and his .127 average stepped to the plate. The first pitch he saw was the nearly the same one Navarro K'ed on, but the catcher turned on it and popped it out of the yard inside the left field foul pole for his first homer of the year. It earned him a post-game group hug and pie-in-the-puss during his interview. In a non-battle of the closers, the Bucs walked off with a 5-4 win.

Who'd of thunk that the Pirates could score five runs on just five hits? Or hit three homers in the same night, for that matter? Ripleys material or not, they needed it all to win the opener.

Give Burnett a lot of credit. After the fourth, he went to his curve and off-speed stuff after seeing his fastball was up in the zone, and shut down the Nats from that point forward. It's veteran pitcher, veteran catcher kinda stuff that's a welcome lesson for the Bucs.

Erik Bedard takes the bump tomorrow against Ross Detwiler.

  • Tonight's attendance was 10,323 after a day of rain capped by a five PM downpour.
  • McCutch was back in full force tonight after a bout with a stomach virus that cost him eight pounds and a couple of starts during its visit.
  • Tonight marked the 20th time in his career that AJ Burnett has K'ed 10+ batters. he's averaging a touch over 10 K per 9 innings as a Pirate.
  • The Pirates won the first game of a series for only the second time in ten tries this year.
  • Adam LaRoche, a notoriously slow starter when a Pirate, is hitting .323 with 5 homers and 19 RBI with Washington after tonight.

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