Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Burnett Outduels Cueto 2-1

Beautiful night for a ballgame. Cincy enjoyed it in the first. Zack Cozart started out by bouncing a double over the wall, and when Pedro booted the following bunt attempt by muffing a barehanded try, the Reds had runners on the corners without an out against AJ Burnett. An out later, a sac fly brought Cozart in to make it 1-0. The Bucs managed Jordy Mercer's first MLB hit, a single off Johnny Cueto, but he never advanced past first.

The Reds went down in order in the second. The Bucs got an opposite way, one-out triple off Garrett Jone's bat when the ball took a crazy kick off the wall. Matt Hague became a key out when he hit a weak roller to third to freeze Jones. Rod Barajas was walked intentionally and Burnett accidentally to load the bases, but JT rolled the first pitch he saw - it was down the pipe - to second to end the frame.

Burnett kept dealin', and had retired nine straight Reds after three. The Pirates went down on three grounders. AJ put the Reds down in order again; his off speed stuff and fastball location are on so far. Pittsburgh hit a couple of balls hard, but were put away 1-2-3, as Cueto now has seven ducks in a row.

AJ is cookin'; after five, he's downed fifteen consecutive Reds. Burnett is doing it all; with an out, he blooped a single into short center, and was forced out by JT. Tabata was caught leaning and dead to rights on Cueto's pick-off throw to first, but Mike Constanzo lost the ball on the tag, allowing JT to get to second. Mercer paid the price; Cueto K'ed him on three pitches.

With two away in the sixth, the Reds broke their runnerless streak when Drew Stubbs was issued a five-pitch walk. Jay Bruce shot a grounder past Neil Walker - he short armed it and was charged with an error - to put runners on the corners. Brandon Phillips drilled a hot shot to third, and Pedro played the shorthop cleanly to get the out and keep the game 1-0.

The Bucs followed the same template, and went one better. With two away, the batters started to show some patience, and Walker drew a free pass. Jones bounced a seeing-eye single into right on a 3-2 pitch, chasing The Kid to third. Hague, who had stranded Jones in the second with one away, came up big when he spanked a 2-1 fastball off the Xfinity sign in right center to bring both runners home - Jones was chuggin' - and put Pittsburgh up 2-1 after six. Gorkys Hernandez entered the game, going to left while JT went to right, ending Jones day.

Burnett was wearing down, but gutted out the seventh. Chris Heisey opened the inning with the Reds' second hit, a liner into center. A roller up the middle by Todd Frazier was gloved by Mercer, who made a high flip to Walker on the pivot, getting The Kid upended after the relay, but it still worked for a 6-4-3 DP. Costanzo walked after a seven pitch at-bat, and pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan got ahead 2-0. It took AJ seven pitches and a talking to by Barajas to finally get him on a routine fly to left.

Burnett was done after that, having gone seven innings and giving up an unearned run on two hits with two walks and three Ks after 103 pitches. Cueto put down the Pirates; he went seven also, giving up two runs on five hits with four walks and four whiffs, throwing 105 pitches.

More wheels turned; Casey McGehee took over at first for Hague and Jason Grilli climbed the bump. After two outs, he walked Drew Stubbs after being ahead 0-2. But he came back to blow a heater past Jay Bruce, his second K of the frame.

Lefty Sean Marshall came on; after a one out walk to Walker, he was yanked for righty Logan Ondrusek. He got Hernandez to roll into a force. Gorkys stole second, but McGehee popped out foul behind the plate. It was Hanny time.

He was back to adding a little drama. With an out, Chris Heisey bounced a ball past Pedro, whose dive couldn't get to the hole from his no-doubles spot on the line. Joey Votto came off the bench and sliced a single the opposite way into left. The Cincy excitement ended when Miguel Cairo swung through a high heater and Hanigan missed badly on a slider. Hanrahan had his 13th save, and AJ Burnett his fourth win.

Nice game, won by some sweet pitching and a two-out, two-run double from a guy that was Indy last week. The Bucs are back at .500 and have an off day before traveling to Milwaukee to take on the Brew Crew Friday.

  • Tonight's attendance was 16,782. Except for the Cub series, nada going on  for the Bucco gate this homestand, even with their surprising 25-25 start. Wonder if all the negative coverage of their hitting woes is affecting the fans, or if it's just the usual pre-June blahs. And it's not all bad - the Bucs are getting 22,000+ per game in 2012, up from about 19,000 last year at this time.
  • Matt Hague has a six-game hitting streak after tonight.
  • AJ Burnett's single was his first hit since 2005 as a member of the Marlins.
  • Joey Votto was off tonight after starting 176 straight games for the Reds. Dusty Baker looked to get a two-day break for his ironman star as tomorrow is an off day, but had to use him in the ninth to pinch hit.
  • While scoring more, the Bucs hit just .211 in May, coming into tonight's ballgame.
  • Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk takes notice of James McDonald. Seems like a long time since we've seen a national article on the Pirates that didn't involve Cutch or losing baseball.

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