Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bird Bombs Bedevil Bucs 8-4

The rains stopped and hour or so earlier than predicted, and the game in Baltimore got off just as scheduled. Wei Yin Chen took the hill and got two quick outs. Cutch singled, stole second, and watched Casey McGehee walk on four pitches. The Bucs' kept rolling when Matt Hague rolled a single up the middle to plate McCutch. He and Casey ended up 90' closer to home when Adam Jones' ill-advised throw home was airmailed straight to the back wall. But a big inning was missed when Alvarez K'ed looking against the lefty.

Brian Roberts greeted Brad Lincoln with a knock. After a line out, Bad Brad cleaned up with a 3-6-1 DP to get out of the first with a 1-0 Pirate lead. JT led off the second with a single and stole second eventually, but three fly outs took care of the frame. Jones led off with a double off a 2-1 fastball, and was standing at third with two away. Lincoln fell behind Mark Reynolds 2-0, and spun a third straight hook to him; this one hung on the inside half of the plate and disappeared over the left field wall to make it 2-1 Birds.

The Bucs were quiet again in the third, getting a two-out walk from McGehee. The Orioles added on when with two away, JJ Hardy, Chris Davis and Adam Jones hit consecutive singles, Jones bringing in the run with a broken bat bloop to center. A walk loaded the sacks, but Lincoln K'ed Wilson Betemit for the second time to escape down 3-1.

The Pirates went down in order in the fourth. The Orioles tacked on a pair of singles, the first with one out by Steve Pearce and the second with two away by Roberts, but they were left stranded. In the fifth, the Pirates got a two-out two bagger from Neil Walker, who was left aboard after a Cutch fly out to right.

With an out in their half, Jones got up on Lincoln 2-0 and clobbered a fastball high and deep over the wall in left to make it 4-1. Juan Cruz got the call after that shot. Lincoln went 4-1/3, giving up four runs on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts, tossing 87 pitches. Cruz sandwiched a walk between a fly out and whiff to end the inning.

The Bucs got a leadoff homer from Casey McGehee, who took a 2-1 fastball over the opposite fence in right. JT added a two-out knock, but was left on. The Bucs had new life, down 4-2.

Chris Resop came on, and the Bucs lost that life in a New York minute. Pearce reached on Clint Barmes' first error in 31 games, and Resop threw away Endy Chavez's bunt, ruled a single and error, to put runners at second and third. A sac fly and ground single to right plated Pearce and Chavez. Chris Davis hammered a first pitch heater into the seats in right center, and just like that it was 8-2. Two hard hit outs ended the sixth.

Barmes singled and Alex Presley doubled to open the seventh, putting runners at second and third. A Walker bouncer brought in a run and moved The King to third. Luis Ayala came on to face Cutch; the lefty Chen was at 103 pitches and Buck Showalter called on a righty to face the Bucs' southpaw smacking machine.

It worked for both sides, as McCutch hit a sac fly to right that defensive sub Ryan Flaherty made a sweet diving play on to make it 8-4 (in fact, there was a small flap as to whether Presley left third too soon, thinking the ball had dropped). McGehee singled - he has two knocks and two walks from the clean up spot tonight - but Hague went down, looking at one heater and coming up with nothing but air on the next two.

It was Doug Slaten's turn on the bump. He missed badly with his first four pitches, walking Robert Andino. Reynolds followed by rolling a 3-2 fastball into left to put runners at first and second. Pearce helped him out, grounding a 3-1 fastball to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Flaherty rolled over on a slider away and bounced out to second to end the frame with some smoke, but no fire.

Ayala put the Bucs away handily in the eighth, notching a pair of swinging fan jobs. Roberts led off the Baltimore half against Slaten with a liner to left for a knock. After a force and pop out, Jones singled off Pedro's glove to put runners at first and second. They stayed put as Matt Wieters bounced out.

Kevin Gregg took the ball in the ninth. Presley drew a free pass with one away. Walker caught a 1-1 slider away and parked it the opposite way into the left field stands to make it 8-6. That brought a call for closer Jim Johnson. He got McCutch on four pitches, swinging through high heat. McGehee banged one to third, and that was the game.

You have to wonder what the outcome might have been if Barmes had fielded the ball cleanly in the sixth and Flaherty missed the web-gem catch in the seventh; even slugfests sometimes turn on defense. Another thing that it may be time to consider is using Lincoln full time from the pen, where his fastball/curve combo works better without showing it a couple of times through the opponent's lineup, rather than as a swingman. Oh, and maybe rethink using Pedro against lefties while he's in his funk; Chen K'ed him twice.

Kevi Correia is on the hill tomorrow against perhaps Brian Matusz, who was scheduled. Matusz bunted a ball off his beak yesterday, ala AJ Burnett. It's just a bruise, not a break, but he's questionable for the start.

  • The Orioles were 5-for-8 against Brad Lincoln with two outs tonight. That's not exactly finishing out innings.
  • After more than a year away due to concussion-related symptoms, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts returned to action tonight and went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly.
  • Chris Leroux tossed another goose egg during his Indy rehab, going a frame with a beaned batter.
  • Rick VandenHurk threw seven shutout innings for Indy. The free agent, who has worked parts of five MLB seasons with Florida and Baltimore, is 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA. 
  • Whatever OF Robbie Grossman did, he's finally served his time and turned the page. He was benched for a week, but is back in the Altoona lineup tonight.
  • Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror tweeted that the Pirates' back burner young gun, 17 year old RHP Luis Heredia, will start the year at State College after spending last season in the rookie GCL. SC plays in a mainly college league and is quite a jump for the youngster. He'll join 18 year old high school catcher and second round pick Wyatt Mathisen there, forming a Bucco battery on the fast track.
  • Steve Pearce has caught on with the O's. Since coming aboard, he's started five games, all in the outfield, and is hitting .235. He started tonight and went 1-for-4.
  • OF Brandon Moss was called up recently by the As, and hit his second home run tonight. He has three hits in six games, and two have gone yard.
  • The day in baseball history: In 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated at Cooperstown, N.Y.

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