Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bucs Win Wild One In Cincy 5-4

Mike Leake got out the gates in a sprint. He put the Bucs away 1-2-3 on nine pitches with two K. Kevin Correia started out en fuego, too, getting the first two outs on three pitches. He left a 2-2 heater down the middle to Joey Votto, and he one-hopped it off the wall in center for a double. Brandon Phillips fell behind 0-2, worked the count full, and lined a single to right. JT came up hard and fired a one-bounce strike home to nail Votto and keep the first scoreless.

It took Leake twelve pitches to put away the Pirates in the second. KC's first pitch of the frame to Jay Bruce was a running heater; it didn't run fast & far enough, and Bruce lined it into the seats in right center to make it 1-0.

The Bucs went down in order again, either whiffing - Leake has five so far - or pounding his off speed stuff into the ground. Plate ump Bill Welke has a pretty wide zone, so the Pirates need to get aggressive instead of climbing out of a hole every at-bat. Correia joined in the fun and put away the Reds in the third; he even has 3 K.

The alarm clock rang for Pittsburgh in the fourth. Alex Presley softly lined a high and tight 2-2 pitch to right and kept chugging into second with a leg double. The next four Buccos all went after the first offering, and banged the ball. The Kid traded places with The King, doubling to right. Cutch lined a knock over the SS's head to put runners on the corners. Garrett Jones roped a sac fly to right center, and Pedro knocked a ball up the middle. JT got ahead 2-0, but bounced to short to end the frame with a 6-4-3 DP, leaving the Bucs
up 2-1.

Correia retired the first two Reds routinely. He was ahead of Bruce 1-2, but lost him. No prob; Todd Frazier lined out to right to end the frame. Leake recovered his mojo against the bottom of the order in the fifth, retiring them on seven pitches. The first pitch KC tossed to Ryan Ludwick was a high hung curve that the short-time ex-Bucco drilled into the left center seats to tie the game.

Presley opened the sixth with an opposite field knock and went to second after Walker bounced out on a hit-and-run. Chris Heisey made his second great play in two nights, diving to take away an extra-base gapper by Cutch in right center. But Jones came to the rescue, slapping a two-strike outside cutter into left to plate Presley and give the Bucs a 3-2 edge.

KC's luck ran out in the sixth. Votto, Phillips and Bruce all dropped soft singles on pitches out of the strike zone, and Clint Hurdle called for Jared Hughes. Correia went five, giving up three runs on eight hits with a walk and four K after serving up 71 pitches. Hughes came on with runners on the corners and no outs. he got a grounder to third; Pedro held the runner and got a force at second. Ludwick struck out, and Davin Mesoraco flied to center. Nice job by Hughes to keep the game knotted at 3.

JT's wheels must be feelin' OK; he ran the Bucs into the lead. He led off by beating out a two-hopper over the second base bag. Clint Barmes bunted him to second, and when Phillips, who made a long run to cover the base, turned his back and took a couple of slow steps toward the coaches' box, Tabata took off and slid into third, hanging on by a fingernail from falling off the base. Mike McKenry then bopped a plenty long fly to right center, and Pittsburgh was back on top 4-3. Juan Cruz climbed the hill.

He got Miguel Cairo to softly line a 3-2 pitch to short. Zack Cozart walked on four pitches, and Cruz fell behind Chris Heisey 2-0 before coming back to K him. Hurdle tapped the left arm after that, calling on Tony Watson to go lefty-to-lefty against Votto. Watson won, whiffing him on a slider.

Sean Marshall put the Pirates away routinely in the top of the eighth. Jason Grilli got the call for Pittsburgh and returned the favor on five pitches. Jose Arredondo tucked the Bucs in to open the ninth, and it was Hanny time.

Ludwick was sitting on a heater, and got one on the first pitch, 96 MPH, belt high. He crushed it 430', and it was a tied game and Hanrahan's third blown save of the year. But hey, even Superman has an off day.

Aroldis Chapman proved that in the tenth. Barmes gave him a battle, fouling off heater after heater. Chapman threw a tight slider, and Barmes bounced it into the left center batter's eye for a ground rule double. McKenry fell behind 0-2 - he fouled a bunt on the first pitch, thank goodness - took a ball and then smacked a gapper to right center to chase home the first earned run that Chapman has surrendered this year. The two guys who blew up Chapman, btw, ended the game still below the Medoza Line. Go figure.

Josh Harrison had a chance to get another man aboard after getting ahead 3-0, but his natural instincts kicked in, and he swung at everything Chapman tossed toward the plate regardless of area code and K'ed. A pop out and K ended the frame.

Chris Resop, the only reliever left standing for Pittsburgh, came on to face the heart of the Reds' order in the tenth. Ya know there will be some drama, right? Votto started it off with a two bagger, splitting Cutch and JT despite the no double D. Phillips grounded out to short; Barmes held the runner and threw a one-hopper to defensive replacement Casey McGehee, who picked it like he's been there forever. Bruce was intentionally walked, a call we can't argue with even though it put the winning run on base.

Frazier popped out, bringing up Ludwick, who already has a pair of long flies tonight. Resop got ahead 0-2 on heaters, and then fed him a pair of hooks. Ludwick just kissed the first one to stay alive, and managed to check off the second. Apparently he was looking for a third, taking a fastball down the middle to end the game. Resop saved the game for Hanny, just to prove those blown saves do sometimes have positive unintended consequences.

This was easily the most entertaining game of the year, and a sweet win for the Bucs. It had a little of everything from guys being thrown out at home and mad dashes to third along with dramatic homers and two strike clutch hits. The Jolly Roger is blowin' in the breeze as the Pirates come home to host Kansas City after taking two-of-three from the division leading Reds 5-4. Luke Hochivar will take on Eric Bedard tomorrow night at PNC.

  • Garrett Jones has put together a six game hitting streak.
  • Jayson Stark noted that the "Last time Chapman gave up hits to back-to-back hitters: Last Aug. 20! Also vs Pirates. Took 160 more hitters until he did it again."
  • The Pirates have taken their fourth straight series and are two games behind Cincy.
  • Jeff Karstens left his rehab game in Indy with an unspecified leg injury in the sixth.

No comments: