Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bucs Rock 'N' Roll In Cleveland, Beat Tribe 9-2

Well, typical Bucco start. Ubaldo Jimenez K'ed Alex Presley, even though he only threw him one strike. Walker went down swinging on three pitches. Cutch had the patience to take a couple of balls and banged a 2-0 heater into left. Garrett Jones must have taken notes as he walked on four pitches. Casey McGehee took it to extremes; he never moved the bat off his shoulders, and was called out, frozen by a 3-2 curve after seeing sliders and heaters.

It must be contagious, as AJ Burnett missed high with three straight fastballs to Shin-Soo Choo, but found the strike zone and got him to bounce out. He looked like he had Asdrubal Cabrera struck out on a 1-2 curve, but didn't get the call. He came back with a heater up, and watched it sail into the right field stands. Jason Kipnis knocked the next offering up the middle for a single. Carlos Santana got ahead 2-0, but flew out. Kipnis stole second with Michael Brantley up, who walked on five pitches. Plate ump Fieldin Culbreth has a fairly tight zone, but both pitchers are just flat out missing in the early going. Johnny Damon, first pitch swinging, popped out on a nice running over-the-shoulder grab by Walker, and it was 1-0 Tribe after an inning.

Then a funny thing happened. Pedro got ahead 2-0 in the count and lined a knee high, down the middle fastball 375' over the right field fence to tie the game. The next three batters went down routinely, and it was 1-1. Shelly Duncan, today's token Tribe righty, drew a 3-2 walk to open the second. Casey Kotchman went down swinging at a Burnett slurve. Lonnie Chisenhall rolled over on a fastball on the outside black and ended the second inning with a 4-6-3 DP.

Presley tapped back to the mound on a 1-1 pitch; none of the three was a strike. Jimenez hung a change up to The Kid, and he roped it into center for a knock and stole second. Cutch beat out a ball hit to the left side to put Buccos on the corners. Jones fell behind 0-2 and then golfed a low change up softly into right to plate Walker, with Cutch hitting the brakes at second. McGehee ended the party. Ahead 3-0, he took a strike and then grounded a fastball to short to start a 6-4-3 DP. Burnett tucked the top of the order away in the third.

Alvarez fell behind 0-2, but wouldn't bite as the next four offerings missed the plate to draw a leadoff walk. JT flew out to center on an 0-2 curve. Rod Barajas also found himself in an 0-2 hole, popping out. Clint Barmes did marginally better, finding himself behind 1-2 before K'ing. It was another perfecta for AJ in the fourth.

The Bucs returned the favor in the fifth. The Tribe evened the score with one away when Kotchman crushed a first pitch heater up and turned it into a souvenir for the fans in right to tie the game. Jones opened the sixth with an opposite field slicer that fell in, almost getting by Duncan. The next pitch was a spinner that hung at McGehee's letters, and he jumped it, hitting a towering 380' fly into the left field seats to make it 4-2.

Cabrera and Kipnes opened the sixth with back-to-back ground ball knocks. Burnett got the next two outs routinely, but lost Damon on four pitches to load the sacks. Duncan went after the first pitch, and popped to short to keep the Bucco lead at two.

Tony Sipp came on in the seventh for Cleveland. He struck out Barmes on five pitches; one was a borderline strike. Presley worked the count full after being down 0-2, and lined a fastball just barely over Choo's mitt and into the right field seats to put the Bucs up 5-2. Walker drew a five pitch free pass, and Manny Acta brought on Joe Smith. He got Cutch on a force and Jones on a soft flare to right.

With an out, Chisenhall doubled to right center. With two down, Cabrera drew a walk on five pitches. That was enough for Clint Hurdle; he summoned Jared Hughes. AJ went 6-2/3, giving up two runs on six hits, fours walks and a pair of K. He tossed 96 pitches, ending a streak of six 100+ pitch outings. Hughes faced Kipnes and threw two pitches to get him to fly out.

McGehee walked to start the eighth; Alvarez forced him at second on a nice backhand play and throw from the hole by Cabrera. JT rolled one into right, but the Bucs couldn't move them along. Tackleberry lost Santana on four straight balls, but the catcher never made it past second in the Tribe half.

Nick Hagadone took the hill for Cleveland, and the Bucs broke it open against him. He walked The Kid, sandwiched around a pair of outs. Hague pinch hit and singled to left, taking second when the throw to third skipped past the hot corner. Then Jones hit a parachute to right that Choo misread and let drop, plating a pair. It would prove an even more critical miscue a batter later when Pedro clobbered the next pitch halfway to Lake Erie. Instead of the inning being over, the Bucs were up 9-2. Then Hagadone completely lost the strike zone, walking the bases full before finally escaping.

Doug Slaten came in to wrap the package, and dropped the Indians in order to ice AJ's seventh win. It was an odd juxtaposition, as Progressive Field at the end was filled with cheering black-and-gold Bucco fans who had made the trip west after the Tribe's backers left the yard in droves during the eighth. It was almost like a Steeler or Pen away game.

Get shutout one night and hit four homers the next. Cie l' vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell. Brad Lincoln goes against Jeanmar Gomez tomorrow afternoon as the Pirates try to clinch the series.

  • AJ Burnett became the first Pirate to win six consecutive starts since Doug Drabek in 1990 and six consecutive decisions (over eight starts) since Zach Duke in 2005.
  • Pedro Alvarez had his first multi-homer game since July 21st 2010 against the Brewers. If you recall, he had a pair of homers against Milwaukee the day before, too.
  • Casey McGehee had 4 RBI, his most productive day in a Pirate uniform.
  • The difference a little discipline makes: when ahead in the count, the Pirates hit .301; when behind, the BA drops to .156, and .164 with two strikes.
  • Clint Hurdle told the media in the pre-game presser that he expected Jeff Karstens to be ready to rejoin the club around July 1st and and Chris Leroux by late June.
  • Johnny Damon's walk was the 1,000th of his career.
  • Michael Brantley's hitting streak ended at 22 games.
  • Stephanie Liscio, writing in ESPN's Sweet Spot blog, thinks it's time that MLB encouraged a Bucco-Tribe rivalry. She posts that " hopes that the Indians and Pirates both have bright futures ahead of them. It would be the ultimate interleague battle for the pair to meet up in October a few years down the road."
  • If it weren't for bad luck, Jay Bay's bod would have no luck at all. Bay suffered a possible concussion crashing against the wall last night, and was put on the DL again (7-day concussion). He's had broken ribs already this season, and suffered a confirmed concussion in 2010 to go with his bum knees.
  • The Mariners called 30 year old Ollie Perez back to the show. Like Freddy Kruger, it seems like there's always another Ollie sequel.

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