Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bucs Hang On 5-4 To Earn Split

Well, tough to get off to a much better start. Drew Sutton began with a pinball infield single off pitcher Kyle Kendrick's mitt that ricocheted to short. Neil Walker drew a four pitch walk. Cutch flew out, but Garrett Jones lined the next pitch to right to bring home Sutton. KK got ahead of Casey McGehee 1-2 and tried to polish him off with a sinker; instead, the ball got launched over the wall in left center to make it 4-0. It got better. Pedro also fell behind 1-2, and then Kendrick tried to get him fishing at a changeup. El Toro fished all right, lining the horsehide over the right field fence. 5-0 is a pretty fair start.

AJ Burnett gave up a two out bloop single to Shane Victorino in the first. The Bucs couldn't repeat the action in the second, getting a Walker knock with two away. The Phils, though, chipped back. Ty Wigginton singled with one away, and an out later one of the Bucs old catchers, Erik Kratz, sent an 0-2 fastball out of the yard in center.

The Pirates went quietly again in the third; the Phils managed another one out knock, this one by Juan Pierre. Both sides went down in order in the fourth and fifth. It'd be nice to see the Bucs add a couple on to give AJ a little cushion. It wouldn't be in the sixth, although McGehee did draw a walk.

The Phils kept plugging. With an out, Victorino took a 3-1 heater into center and Hunter Pence roped the next pitch to right to put runners on the corners. AJ got ahead of Placido Polanco 0-2, and he rolled a slurve to third, where the Bucs got a force but couldn't turn the DP, allowing Victorino to plate. Wigs walked on four pitches, but AJ got Mike Fontenot to ground out. It's 5-3 Bucs after six.

Mike McKenry led off with an infield knock to the left side; AJ blew that up when he bunted barely in the field, allowing C Kratz to start a DP.. Sutton drew a five pitch walk. Walker ripped a sinker to left, but Pierre was there, and the Pirates goose egged another frame. Burnett K'ed the first two Phils, but after a five pitch walk to Jimmy Rollins, Clint Hurdle called for Jose Cruz. AJ went 6-2/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits with two walks and seven K after 101 pitches.

Cruz threw a little gas on the fire, walking Pierre on four straight pitches away. He fell behind Victorino 2-1, but he couldn't lay off an iffy change and flew out to left to leave it 5-3. Brian Sances took the hill for Philly, freshly recalled from AAA Lehigh Valley.

He got Cutch on a hard shot to short, then Jones banged one into right center for a two bagger that was an ump's review away from being yard. McGehee ripped one to center that Victorino ran down in front of the wall; the Bucs are squaring up on everything he's throwing, but can't get a break. Jones went to third on the play. The Phils elected to intentionally walk Pedro to get to Clint Barmes and keep a righty-righty matchup. Good call. Barmes saw nothing but sliders - eight, to be exact - and went down swinging. So much for the streak of well struck balls.

Jason Grilli climbed the mound. Not a good beginning; Pence cranked a slider out of the house to left, and Polanco got plunked to put the tying run aboard with no outs. He K'ed Wigginton, but Fontenot followed with a liner at the box that Grilli knocked down, leaving runners at first and second. Jim Thome and Carlos Ruiz were at the bat rack. Thome went down swinging on three pitches, while Ruiz fell behind 0-2 and popped out foul to first when McGehee gave up the body and flipped into the stands to make the grab.

Jeremy Horst, a lefty arm added to the Philly roster today, took the ball and walked The Fort on five pitches. Defensive sub JT bunted him over as the Bucs played for an insurance run. Alex Presley worked to draw a nine pitch free pass. Walker was jammed and popped out to first, then Cutch K'ed, making it Hanny time.

Rollins led off with a ground ball knock up the middle and Pierre bunted him to second. Victorino K'ed swinging at a back foot slider while Rollins stole third. Pence flew out to straight center, and the Buccos hung on to take the 5-4 win and salvage a split of the series.Win number nine for Burnett and save #20 for Joel Hanrahan; pretty handy pair to have around.

Good game, although the Bucs could have made it easy on themselves by adding; after the sixth hitter of the game, no Bucco crossed home. But the pitching was good enough, even if regressing a bit, and its off to St. Louis, the onlt NL Central team with an edge (4-2) on the Pirates so far this season.

Kevin Correia goes against the Cards Adam Wainwright tomorrow night at Busch Stadium.

  • Eight straight winning starts for AJ; next in line is Dock Ellis' 1971 mark of ten straight, whose 1974 string of wins was tied by Burnett today.
  • Whassup with JT? Karen Price of the Tribune Review talked to Clint Hurdle, who believes that Tabata still has his hammy injury lingering in his mind. He also intimated that JT best get over it or pack his bags for Indy.
  • With the pool money being managed pretty well this draft - the Bucs are $609,000 under the cap - Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted that the Pirates can pay Mark Appel $3,837,575 w/o losing a 2013 draft pick And they may, but we think the FO is still looking more at a $3.25-3.5M slot. Then again, the difference may not be enough to matter. We'll see; it's only a couple of weeks until the July 13th deadline is here.
  • The Pirates inked their 26th round selection, 2B Jimmy Rider from Kent State University and Peters Township HS. His signing was a little delayed by that CWS thing.

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