Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bucs Win Home Run Derby 6-5

Ah, the Bucs and baserunning. After an out, The Kid doubled off a 2-0 Mike Fiers heater that was bounced over the CF wall, and Cutch followed with a line single to put runners on the corners. In one at-bat, the wheels fell off as Cutch was caught stealing - Martin Maldonado may not hit much, but he has a cannon; McCutchen had a decent jump - and Garrett Jones went down swinging.

With one away in the Brewer first, Nyjmo reached on Clint Barmes' boot. He stole second an out later and trotted in when Taylor Green drilled a 3-2 heater on the outside black into the left field corner for a two bagger. Ricky Weeks followed with a first-pitch knock into center, and it was 2-0. Weeks has reached base all five times he's been up so far this series. J-Mick K'ed Cody Ransom, but an error set the table for a Brew Crew two-out jolt and 2-0 lead.

Pittsburgh got a run back when the Mendoza Line boys teamed up. Casey McGehee doubled off the wall in left center with an out, and went to third on a Rod Barajas fly to right. Clint Barmes chased a curve off the dish, but caught it on the end of the bat and dropped a parachute into no-man's land in short right to make it 2-1. Even with his average, it's a mystery why the Brewers didn't pitch around Barmes to get to J-Mick, who fanned. But he's paid to pitch, and put down Milwaukee 1-2-3 in the second.

JT K'ed swinging for the second time; Fiers has been successful working him soft and away. Walker banged a single into right. The Brewers put their shift on against Cutch, leaving the right side of the infield virtually vacant. Perhaps trying to go that way, McCutchen popped out behind first base. Garrett Jones looked at a hanging curve, swung through a cutter and then tapped back to the mound on an ankle-high changeup. McDonald put up another clean frame, with seven Brewers up and down.

The Bucs got a one-away McGehee walk in the fourth, and he never moved off first base. The Brewers went down in order, with a couple of long fly outs. J-Mick finally stopped the red-hot Weeks, K'ing him swinging at a slider. Seven of the first ten Milwaukee outs have been in the air, and a couple were hit pretty well.

The Pirates got to Fiers in the fifth, and J-Mick led the assault when he fisted a soft lead-off knock into short center. JT and The Kid went down quietly, but not so Cutch. He battled Fiers for nine pitches, taking a slider over the left center wall into the Brewer bullpen to give the Bucs the lead. Jones followed by golfing a curve over the center field fence, and Pittsburgh had a 4-2 lead. McDonald kept dealin', and has put down a baker's dozen of Brewers since Week's first inning single. Ron Roenicke helped, letting Fiers bat even though he was getting yanked; his bench today pretty much consists of two players.

Kameroe Loe came on for Milwaukee, and Barajas kept the long balls raining down on Miller Park when he went down to connect with a sinker, dropping his fifth dinger of the year into the bullpen area in left center to make it 5-2. Nyjmo broke up J-Mick's streak at 14 when he turned on a fastball well inside and lined it a few feet inside the right field foul pole to make it 5-3. Corey Hart dropped a surprise bunt for a knock, and Green walked on five pitches. J-Mick gathered himself and K'ed Weeks and Cody Ransom, but was at the end of his leash. He went six, giving up three runs (one earned) on four hits and walk with eight strikeouts on 100 pitches.

Walker singled with an out - sound familiar? - and Loe froze Cutch with a strike three curve. He took a seat for lefty Juan Perez, who won his matchup with Jones, getting him to pop foul to third. Juan Cruz took the hill for Pittsburgh, and gave up Maldonado's first MLB homer, a ball that barely cleared the fence and Gorky Hernandez's leap to make it a 5-4 game after seven innings.

Francisco Rodriguez came on in the eighth and had an easy time with the Bucs. Jason Grilli took the bump to face the middle of the Brew Crew attack. After a pair of fly outs, he lost sight of the strike zone and walked Green and Weeks on nine pitches. The stadium roared as Ryan Braun grabbed a bat in what may be the game's deciding moment. He drilled a first pitch heater to the track in right just short of the fence, where JT tucked it away.

John Axford came on, and the Pirates added an insurance run when Barmes smacked a two-strike heater to left center that hit the yellow padding and bounced over the wall for his third long ball of the year. JT walked, went to second on a wild pitch and tagged to third, but was stranded. It's Hanny time.

There's always drama. Brooks Conrad took a heater over the wall in right center, making it a 6-5 game. With an out, Hanrahan walked a gimpy George Kottaras on five pitches; pitcher Randy Wolf came on to run. Norichika Aoki got ahead 2-0, took a strike and then spanked a heater to Walker to end the game on a 4-6-3 note.

The ball was flying out of Miller Park today and several of the outs were pretty loud, too. The bullpen was staggered, but didn't break, and the Bucs are 27-26 with a day off (tomorrow starts the draft festivities) and a three game set with the first place Reds beginning Tuesday at the Queen City.

  • James McDonald had his streak of scoreless innings snapped at 13 when the Brew Crew plated a pair of unearned runs in the first frame.
  • Today was the Pirates first 4 HR game since May 28, 2011 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
  • Pittsburgh is 14-9 in one run games, 18-2 when scoring 4+ runs, and 11-0 with 10+ hits.

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