Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bucs Phrustrated 5-4

JT started it off for the Bucs by taking one for the team, as Vance Worley smacked him in the hand on the second pitch. After a visit by the team sawbones, he was off to first. Neil Walker drew a four pitch free pass, and the Bucs had a little something going. Cutch fell behind, and softly rolled a grounder to short, moving both runners up. Garrett Jones took a first strike heater, swung and missed another, and tapped back to the box. Tabata, off on contact, was nailed at home. Casey McGehee bounced out to short, and the Bucs blew their first opportunity.

After a pair of two pitch groundouts, Erik Bedard gave up a triple to Bucco killer Hunter Pence on a ball that gave Cutch fits. Erik got ahead of Carlos Ruiz 0-2, then caught too much dish with a hook that he grounded into left to make it 1-0. Shane Victorino followed with another knock, but he got Ty Wiggington to hit one in the dirt to Walker to end the frame.

The Bucs answered. Pedro led off with a double to center off a 3-1 heater. Clint Barmes bounced out to move him up a base, and Mike McKenry's sac fly tied the game. The tie didn't last long. With an out, Mike Fontenot got a 2-0 sinker and took it up the middle. Worley bunted him to second followed by Jimmy Rollins walking on four pitches. Placido Polanco fell behind 0-2, took a low hook, and then drilled a changeup into left. Fontenot scored as Rollins was gunned out trying to get to third, Tabata-Alvarez-Barmes. That third out is awfully hard to come by for Bedard in the early going.

The top of the Buc order went down quietly in the third. With one away, Ruiz rolled the first pitch into right for a knock. With two down, Bedard ran the count full to Wiggington after getting ahead 1-2, hung a change, and Wigs took it over the wall in left center to make it 4-1 and keep the two-out Philly lightning cracklin'. All the RBI hits came off slow stuff with the batters behind in the count, two of them 0-2.

Jones struck out on a 3-2 fastball that was outside to open the fourth. McGehee grounded out and Alvarez went down swinging. The Phils went down in order, and after four it remained 4-1. After an out in the fifth, The Fort doubled into the left field corner on a first pitch fastball, and Bedard bunted him to third; we'd be tempted to let him hack away. It was immaterial, as JT grounded out to second to end the frame.

Polanco led off with a knock up the middle, and Bedard lost Pence on a 3-2 count. Ruiz was jammed on a 1-2 heater and flew out to right. Then Victorino was caught looking as Bedard fed him fastballs. Wigginton got a mix of both the curve and the two seamer, and bounced out. Good job by Bedard to keep the Bucs within hailing distance in an inning that could have easily gotten away from him.

Walker got ahead 2-0 to open the sixth and got a heater to drive, but it fell short in left, hauled in on the track. Cutch got a fastball down the middle and shot a double to right center. Jones bounced out to first and Cutch took third. McGehee was served a 2-2 fastball on the outside half and lined it into right to cut the Philly lead in half at 4-2. Bedard put the bottom of the Phils' order away neatly.

Worley did the almost impossible to start the seventh; he walked Barmes on a 3-2 pitch (but not until Clint fouled off the first ball four). He fell behind McKenry 2-1, and The Fort knocked a fastball up the middle to put runners at first and second. Drew Sutton grabbed a stick for Pittsburgh to hit for the pitcher. Bedard went six, giving up four runs on eight hits with two walks and three K, tossing 92 pitches.

Sutton got a low fastball and blooped it into left for a double, plating Barmes. That did it for Worley; Mike Schwimer climbed the hill to face the top of the order with runners on second and third with no outs. He got JT on a comeback tapper, freezing the runners. Walker lifted an 0-2 fastball to medium left; McKenry tagged and was tossed at home on a close play (he may have gotten under the tag, as replay showed, but the ball beat him, making it an almost automatic out call) to end the inning. Cutch was in the on deck circle, but rest assured they would have worked around/walked him. Tabata's at-bat killed the inning, not the tag call.

Juan Cruz took the ball for Pittsburgh and put the Phils down as they stood. Antonio Bastardo took over for Philadelphia. McCutch kept the flame alive, leading off the eighth with a first pitch double. Why does Clint Hurdle insist on bunting with a runner on second? We dunno, and neither does Josh Harrison, who pinch hit and popped out to the catcher trying to sacrifice. It was a totally wasted at bat not only tactically but because, well, Harrison can't bunt worth a lick. McGehee popped out and Pedro K'ed on a 3-2 slider in the dirt to complete the frustration.

Even more frustrating, Ruiz led off the bottom half crushing a homer off Cruz, turning on an 0-2 cutter. Victorino followed with a five pitch walk, and Wiggington singled up the middle. In trotted Tony Watson. John Mayberry K'ed as Victorino stole third, but Wigs didn't take off from first. That helped; Hector Luna Bounced into a DP to end the frame. But the Phils got an insurance run and are up 5-3.

Jonathan Papelbon took the bump to face the bottom of the Bucco order. After a Barmes K, The Fort put an exclamation point on his day. He whacked a 2-2 fastball over the left center wall for his third hit of the night. Alex Presley, pinch hitting, put a charge on the fastball, but it was a loud out to left. JT went down swinging, and the Bucs fell 5-4 in a game that was there for the taking.

Hey, leave runners all over the place (Pittsburgh was 2-for-13 with RISP) and you lose, pretty simple. And when the other club plates 4 of its 5 runs with two outs, that doubles down the feeling. Maybe if Eric Bedard had gone to his fastball a little earlier in the game or the Bucs got a call at the plate, it might have been different, too. There were a lotta little pivot points to tonight's loss.

James McDonald is on the mound tomorrow against Raul Valdes, who has made just one other start in his 63 MLB appearances back in 2010. And with J-Mick and AJ due up next, the Bucs can still earn a split of the series.

  • Mike McKenry was 3-for-3 with a sac fly and 2 RBI , a triple short of the cycle. His average is now .224, up from .192 before the night began.
  • There were 45,096 fans at Citizen's Ball Park, the Philly's 243rd consecutive regular-season sellout.

No comments: