Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bucs Fire On All Cylinders, Romp 9-1

Pretty good start for James McDonald. He K'ed two of three Twinkies on curves in the dirt, giving Rod Barajas a little jump on loosening up his arm with tosses to first to complete the strikeout. Liam Kendriks started off with a comebacker by Alex Presley, a 3-2 heater that Neil Walker drove to the 389' mark before it was hauled in, and then a triple to right center by Cutch on a fastball away. Garrett Jones rolled an infield single off a diving 2B Alexi Casilla, and the Bucs were up 1-0. Casey McGehee bounced a 2-0 heater down the middle into center to put Buccos on first and second. The inning ended with Pedro swinging through a hook.

Justin Morneau fell behind 1-2, then got a heater up and over the outside of the dish that he lined the opposite way into left for a leadoff double. A grounder to short nicely played by Josh Harrison froze him, and he went to third on a long loud out by Dewey on a shot to left center. Another grounder put the Twins away without a run.

With one away, Harrison lined a knock to center. J-Mick misfired on a bunt attempt, forcing Josh at second. Presley spanked a 3-2 heater into center for a single, McDonald pulling up at second. SS Brain Dozier booted Walker's grounder to load the bases. Cutch made the Twins pay in blood for the error when he drilled a fastball above the knees and down the middle into left for a bases-clearing two bagger. Jones squared up on a curve, but lined it right to second to end the frame with the Pirates on top 4-0.

After two down in the third, Denard Span rolled a heater up the middle. Ben Revere was ahead 2-1 and got the heater he was looking for. He drove it deep toward the notch, where Presley tucked it in to end the frame. Hendriks nailed the first two Bucs on three pitches, then plunked Barajas. Harrison got a heater on a 3-2 delivery, but was a little late on it and flew out to right, ending the streak of two-out lightning.

J-Mick hit Josh Willingham with a first pitch slider to open the fourth, and fell behind Morneau 3-1. With the green light, he bounced a fastball at the knees to short to start a 6-4-3 DP. Good thing; Trevor Plouffe ripped a first pitch double to the wall in center and came in two pitches later when Dewey rolled a knock into right. Dozier got ahead 2-0, but finished the frame with a pop up. It was now 4-1 Pittsburgh. Hendriks had an easy inning, sitting down the Pirates routinely.

With one away in the fifth, Hendriks reached on Harrison's error. Span hit the next pitch to the track in right where Jones tucked it away. Revere tried to bunt his way on, dropping the first pitch down, but Barajas was on it quickly and nailed him. After five, J-Mick is in control, with just 66 pitches used so far on a muggy night. Hendriks looked sharp now, too. He K'ed Cutch on a curve foul tip, jammed Jones on the hands to get a pop out and K'ed McGehee swinging on a slider just at the knees and on the black, a perfect pitcher's pitch.

Willingham got ahead 2-0 and whacked an elevated heater, but it dropped short of the track in left for out number one. It was J-Mick's turn to get ahead of Morneau 0-2, but he tossed a hook that caught too much plate and it was roped into right for a knock. Plouffe lined a slider to left, and Presley was there for the grab. With Doumit up and two away, Morneau stole second. J-Mick threw a 2-2 offspeed pitch into the dirt; Morneau was caught in no mans land between bases and was run down 2-6-5 to end the Twin sixth.

El Toro opened the Bucco half by lining a 3-2 fastball into center. Hendriks hung a slider down the middle of Broadway to Barajas, and he bombed it over the wall just beside the Notch to make it 6-1. That was it for the rookie; Alex Burnett got the bullpen call. Longballs had been Hendriks' bane, and one finally caught up to him tonight. With two down, Presley legged out a weak 0-2 roller down the right side for an infield hit and stole second. Walker grounded a 3-2 heater on the outside black to third to end the frame, but the Pirates had a comfortable five run lead with nine outs to go.

Make that six; J-Mick put away Minnesota in order in the seventh. Jeff Manship came in for the Twins, and Cutch greeted him with a single to left off a 3-2 hook. Jones saw a 2-1 two seamer that was up, and dropped it into the Clemente seats; the rout was officially on with GI Jones' birthday bomb. An out later, Pedro crushed his 13th into the right center night skies to make it 9-1, blasting a changeup 435' and bouncing it out of the house. Barajas had the dinger fever, but went down swinging without ever seeing a strike. Harrison bounced out to end a productive frame.

McDonald iced the Twinkies in the eighth, without a ball leaving the infield. Jeff Gray climbed the mound for Minnesota. The Bucs went down in order, and Cutch, who was on deck, lost his chance for the cycle, falling a homer short.

It took J-Mick eight pitches to get the first out in the ninth, and we'll see how short a leash he's on as he goes for his first complete game. His pitch count is at 112. Chris Parmlee hit a ground ball single into right, and Plouffe flied out to left. He got Dewey to line out to right, and notched his longest outing at 120 pitches and first MLB complete game, good stuff from the Pirates emerging ace.His final line: nine innings, one run, six hits, five K.

Hey, they did it all today. But the Tigers will throw Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the Buccos against Brad Lincoln and Kevin Correia, a pair of tough matchups. Hopefully, the guys make hay tomorrow when Doug Fister takes on AJ Burnett.

  • Casey McGehee has a nine game hitting streak that he extended with a first inning knock.
  • Pedro Alvarez's last five games: 9-for-17, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
  • The Bucs have won seven of their last eight series.
  • RHP Daniel McCutchen has been recalled from his rehab assignment, reinstated from the 15-day DL and optioned to Indy.
  • GW may have been a little harsh on the Bucco batters when they were shutout 2-0 by Cleveland's Justin Masterson last week. He struck out nine with no walks and allowed a lone unearned run on three hits in a complete-game win over Cincinnati last night. And to beat our DH dead horse a little longer, the Tribe was swept by the Reds in Cincy, but took all three in the rematch at Cleveland.
  • In his first Class A start, 17 year old Luis Heredia went 4 IP, with no runs, giving up 1 hit and 2 walks with 4 K on 48 pitches (he was on a 4 inning/65 pitch limit). And sandwich pick Barrett Barnes, making his pro debut, had three hits.
  • A blast from the past: The Braves signed reliever D.J. Carrasco to a minor league deal after the Mets released him in early May.
  • Cash Kruth of has a piece about the Moonlight Grahams of baseball; the three dozen guys who since 1901 appeared in only one game and never stepped up to the plate.

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