Friday, June 8, 2012

Bucs Jump Out Early To Take 4-2 Win From KC

It didn't take Erik Bedard long to relive his sucessful AL days. He whiffed the first pair of KC Royals before losing Billy Butler on a 3-2 count. Mike Moustakas popped out, and it was the Buccos turn to take their hacks at Luke Hochevar. Neil Walker singled to right center on a soft liner with one away, and come home an out later when Garrett Jones drilled a heater that was up and out in the strike zone off the Xfinity sign for a two-bagger.

KC went down in the second, mustering a walk and a K. The Royal shuffle to keep DH Billy Butler in the lineup misfired. Rod Barajas lined one to right that Eric Hosmer, usually the first baseman and playing his first game in the OF, misread and then had clang off him for a single and error. Clint Barmes followed with a lob into left center. Jeff Francoeur fielded the ball on one hop and his throw home easily beat Barajas, but was up the third base line. Barajas dove from outside the third base line to the lefty batter's box to evade the tag, and than swam to the plate before Humberto Quintero could find him.

Barmes took second on the throw, and Bedard bunted him to third. Alex Presley bounced out to first to freeze him, but The Kid spanked one toward the first base hole, and a diving Yuniesky Betancourt had the ball come up a little on him and off his mitt into right to make it 3-0.

The walks finally caught up to Bedard. With one away, he lost Alex Gordon on four pitches and Betencourt doubled him home on a ball that Cutch almost came up with at the wall. After a Butler fly out, Bedard was up 1-2 on Moustakas, shook off Barajas and tossed a high and away fastball that MM took the opposite way to chase home Betancourt, making it 3-2.

Pittsburgh got a run back, little league style. Pedro lasered a one-down double off the 399' mark, and went to third on JT's infield single that Hochevar tried to barehand, but just knocked into no-man's land. After a pitch, JT took off, and Hochevar had him picked off. During the rundown, Alvarez scored without much notice by the Royal infield, which couldn't even muster a play at home, making it 4-2 and letting JT jog to the dugout smellin' mighty lak a rose.

Bedard almost had a clean frame. After getting the first pair of outs routinely, Alcides Escobar grounded one toward Jones. He tried to backhand the ball, and it stayed down and rolled under his glove into right. No biggie; Hochevar flew out to right on the next pitch. The Bucs went down in order, with Alex Gordon making a nice sliding catch of a sinking liner by Presley to put a bow on the inning.

Gordon led off the fifth by lining a single to right a step beyond Walker. Pedro followed with a sweet diving stop and spin-a-rama bullet to first, and a nice stretch by Jones nailed Betancourt. Butler K'ed looking and Moustakas popped out to keep the lead at a pair. Walker led off with his third knock, another roller just past Betancourt, but three weak grounders ended the frame with The Kid stranded at third.

Hosmer drove a ball past Barmes with one away in the sixth. Jones made back-to-back nice plays to ice the inning, making a diving stop on Escobar's hard shot and then making a sweet pick on a one-hop throw from Alvarez to end the frame. JT led off with a knock up the middle, but was easily erased stealing when Barajas swung through a hit-and-run. He limped to the bench, and the Bucs limped through the inning.

Bedard finally got his clean frame in the seventh, getting three routine outs before calling it a night. He went seven, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks with five K after tossing 99 pitches. Hochevar was gone now, too, replaced on the hill by lefty Tim Collins. He put the Buccos down without any trouble, and Jason Grilli took the bump for the eighth. Par for the course, he drew the 3-4-5 hitters, and he put them away 1-2-3 with a K. Louis Coleman took the ball for the Royals, and put up a zero, giving up a one-out knock to Casey McGehee.

It was Hanny time, and he provided no drama tonight. He put down the Royals in order, capped with a K of Clint Robinson, in line to become the next big thing for KC. For Hanny it was save #16 and Bedards' fourth win.

It wasn't the pitching or hitting that won tonight's game, but the glovework. The Pirates made a couple of exceptional plays and all the routine ones, save one. KC played an out into a double that scored, missed a grounder that drove in another, and allowed two Pirate baserunning blunders to turn into runs. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Vin Mazzaro takes on James McDonald tomorrow night. It should be a sellout, with Boyz II Men and fireworks on the card after the game. Hopefully, the Bucs will hold up their end of the bargain, too.

  • Garrett Jones has a seven game hitting streak, pretty impressive considering how often Casey McGehee comes in defensively for him late in the game. Cutch's streak ended at six.
  • Neil Walker went 3-for-4 tonight and is 12-for-23 in the last five games.
  • The Bucs drew 36,069 thanks to a great walk-up crowd while competing with the Arts Festival and a Wailers' concert at Point State Park.
  • Jeff Karstens had an MRI today. His shoulder is fine, but he was pulled from what was hoped to be his last rehab start yesterday after feeling tightness in his groin. Kristy Robinson of Pirates Prospects reported that the MRI showed a mildly strained hip flexor, thought to be a day-to-day type injury.
  • Bruce Kison, now an Oriole scout, told Root Sports that he isn't surprised that Erik Bedard is having a solid year. Buster claims that there's a dearth of guys in the league who can hit a curve, and Bedard throws a good one.
  • BTW, Bucco top pick Mark Appel lasted four innings in the CWS super-regionals and left behind 7-1. His coaches let him throw 48 pitches in his last inning. Maybe they're trying to push him out of college.
  • We'd expect the Bucs to announce some draft signings on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

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