Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bucs Blistered 7-1

Ah, the Bucs. Going against a sub pitcher who has just lost his spot in the rotation in Jake Arrieta, they managed a Cutch two-out knock in the first.

Kevin Correia gave up a one out single to JJ Hardy, fell behind Chris Davis 3-0, and fed him back-to-back fastballs. He whiffed on the first one, and launched the second into left for a two-bagger to score Hardy easily as the Alex Presley couldn't field the carom cleanly. Then Adam Jones drew a five pitch walk. Matt Wieter got ahead 3-1, and KC caught a break when he rolled over on a hung change away and banged it to Casey McGehee at first, who started an inning-killing 3-6-1 DP to keep it 1-0.

McGehee opened the second with a double over the third base bag after starting in an 0-2 hole. The next three Bucs also began their at-bats 0-2, and all three K'ed, chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Arrieta has five whiffs already.

KC's fastball was BP in the second. Mark Reynolds greeted him with a jam-job bloop for a knock and scored when Wilson Betemit lined one to the wall in right center for a double. Steve Pearce followed with another rope up the middle, and that made it 3-0. A failed drag bunt and a fly to short center put two away. Hardy hit a hopper to third that fell out of Pedro's glove, but he recovered quickly and caught Pearce in no-man's land, tossing to Walker for the tag to end the frame.

It was 1-2-3 for the Bucs in the third, featuring another swinging K and a nice running grab of Presley's gapper by Ryan Flaherty. The Orioles went down in order, too.

Arrieta shot himself in the foot in the fourth, but the Bucs couldn't cash in. With an out, Garrett Jones hit a one hopper than clanged off Jake's mitt for a single. McGehee lined a single to center to put runners at first and second. Alvarez reached for a fastball away and tapped to the mound, but Arrieta ho-hummed the possible DP ball into a force. JT walked to juice the sacks, but Clint Barmes finished the frame with first pitch grounder to short.

The Os took advantage, though, of a Bucco boot. Reynolds started off the frame with a double and went to third when the ball kicked past Presley. Betemit hit a fly to fairly deep right; Reynolds beat a strong throw home from JT to make it 4-0. Pearce bounced to third; McGehee had to come off the bag to take the throw and make the tag, getting spiked slightly in the process. Another grounder ended the frame as Baltimore kept adding on against KC.

Presley doubled with one away in the fifth, but stayed anchored as Walker K'ed chasing a curve that bounced off the plate and Cutch went down swinging at a fastball away. KC got through the Oriole half with just a single yielded to Hardy.

Arrieta put the Bucs away easily in the sixth, tying his career high with his ninth K when McGehee swung through an 0-2 fastball down the middle after seeing a couple of hooks. With two down, KC hung a curve to Betemit, who dropped it into the right field seats. The Birds followed with back-to-back knocks, but a fly finally put them away, up 5-0 after six.

The Bucs broke through in the seventh, even though just one ball left the infield. JT started off with a swinging bunt single to the left side. An out later, Mike McKenry got nicked with a pitch, and Presley followed with a liner to center that got to the fielder in a hurry, loading the bases. Walker bounced out to first; Reynolds took the out and then barely missed getting a sliding Tabata at home. With runners at second and third, Cutch hit a routine grounder to short to end the frame with the Os lead now 5-1.

That was it for Correia, who went six, giving up five runs (four earned) on ten hits with a walk and K, tossing 94 pitches. Tony Watson was summoned. He fell behind Hardy 3-1 and gave up a rope to center. Chris Davis got a second life when his foul pop was short-armed by Pedro after a long run. He put it to good use by drilling a broken bat - it snapped completely in two, with the head landing in the O's dugout - homer to right center. Watson recovered to K two of the next three Birds, but the damage was done.

Troy Patton worked the eighth, and the Bucs went down in order. Hanny - Hanny? - climbed the hill for Pittsburgh. After a ground single by Betemit to open the frame, he was back on his game, K'ing two of the next three Birds. Pedro Strop came on to put the final nail in the Bucco coffin.

JT got ahead 3-0, and two pitches later drilled a fastball of the right center wall for a double. Josh Harrison followed with a four pitch walk. Then the wheels fell off. McKenry was rung up on a curve that stayed high, losing the call when he spun and ducked on the pitch. Presley dropped a short pop into left that fell between three Orioles, but Tabata was caught retreating to the second base bag and was an easy force at third, drawing a sadly shaken head by Hurdle in the dugout. Walker grounded out, and the Bucs were bombed by Baltimore 7-1.

No need to take to the bridge yet. Interleague is set up to the home team's advantage, and the Bucs did send out the back end of their rotation against a club that can put up some points. But the need for another professional bat or two is obvious; it's tough to win under AL rules when your lineup includes three guys hitting under the Mendoza Line in mid June.

Arrieta was decent tonight; he told the Baltimore media that the mental prep part of starting was his biggest problem, and maybe an emergency start without too much think time was just what the pitching doctor ordered for him. The Pirates, though, are the cure for many pitchers, especially on the nights when they show no discipline or recognition at the plate.

By now, the FO should be deep into setting up their pitching going forward. Lincoln and his two pitch repertoire needs returned to the pen where it plays better, and Correia needs lifted; he's not a part of the future. Rudy Owens and Jeff Locke are available for a look, and  it may be time to see if they can fill in the backside of the rotation. Neither Karstens nor Morton are ready yet, and it's past time to replace them.

Erik Bedard faces Tommy Hunter as the Bucs try to salvage a game from the Orioles tomorrow night.

  • All nine strikeouts recorded by Jake Arrieta were swinging, most at chase pitches.
  • Last night was Neil Walker's first three RBI game since last year, also against the Orioles on June 21st at PNC Park.
  • The Pirates officially announced the signings of eight draftees this afternoon.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs uses the Pirates as his poster child in the article "Controlling The Running Game Is Highly Overrated." And no, that 8% caught stealing percentage is not a misprint.

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