Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cabrera Boots, Alvarez Bombs Lift Bucs To 9-5 Win

Jeanmar Gomez had a relatively easy first frame. Other than a one-out knock by Neil Walker, the Bucs went down routinely. Not so for Brad Lincoln. With two away, Jason Kipnis hacked away, fouling off a couple of pirches before getting what he wanted,  a fastball he could handle, and he dumped it over the centerfield wall to make it 1-0 after an inning.

The Bucs opened the second with a knock off Casey McGehee's stick. It went for naught as an out later Matt Hague bounced into a 6-4-3 DP. Lincoln had more problems in the second, again with two outs. He gave up three consecutive singles, the RBI coming on a ball that Walker bobbled in short right playing a shift, to make it 2-0.

The third was even less promising at the dish; the Pirates went down in order. Asdrubal Cabrera and Kipnis started the Tribe with back-to-back line knocks. Jose Lopez and Michael Brantley both went after first pitch fastballs; Lopez popped his up and Brantley took Cutch to the fence in center to haul in his shot with Cabrera moving to third after the catch. Then Kipnis stole second. But Jack Hannahan bounced to first, and Bad Brad moved on to the fourth.

McCutch singled to the opposite field with one down in the fourth. Garrett Jones rolled into a force. The Bucs got a break when McGehee's grounder to Cabrera was thrown away, putting runners on second and third instead of ending the inning. Pittsburgh cashed in big time when Pedro lined a 1-0 heater delivered down the middle over the right field fence to give the Bucs a 3-2 lead. Hague followed with a single. Clint Barmes ended the frame with a pop out, but thank you, Asdrubal.

Johnny Damon answered the bell, driving a 1-1 fastball up in the strike zone into right for a double to greet Lincoln. With an out, Lou Marson walked on a full count. Both runners scampered home on Shin-Soo Choo's seemingly catchable double to left that Presley took a tortured route toward and let get away. That was it for Bad Brad, who went 3-1/3 frames, giving up four runs on eight hits, a walk and two K. Seriously, FO, you're ruining a competent back end reliever; get him out of the rotation and back in the pen. Tony Watson stemmed the bleeding, but the Tribe was back on top 4-3.

Not for long, though. With one down, Presley made up for his circular chase of Choo's ball by going yard to right center on a hung 3-2 change up to tie the game. Walker drew a five-pitch free pass. Cutch, probably the last guy Gomez wanted to see, drilled a first pitch slider that stayed over the plate to left for a ground rule double. Jones drew an intentional walk to juice the sacks.

Gomez went after McGehee with his sinker, hoping a ground ball. He got one too, but Cabrera got the rare double error on the catch and then the throw (he tried to bat the bobbled ball to second) on what should have been an inning-ending DP. Two runs scored, and that was it for Gomez, even though so far Cabrera is having the worse game by far. Esmil Rogers came in, and he tried to work Pedro down and in. The first pitch was tight, and the second caught the inside corner - and the head of El Toro's bat, who bombed it over the right field wall curling inside the foul pole to make it 9-4 Buccos. He closed the gate after that, but the cows were gone.

After that burst, neither team had more than one runner aboard in any inning but the seventh, when the Tribe added another run off Jared Hughes, who gave up a pair of singles and a two out double to Brantley to bring home Cleveland's fifth run. That frame was noteworthy in that it had the makings of blowing up, but JT threw out Cabrera at second trying to stretch a single into a double while the Tribe was down five runs. Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan finished out the contest, both get some work and put a bow on the win.

Not much to say about today's game. Cabrera's bad day at the office, Pedro's bat, and another great job by the rock-steady bullpen (one run in 5-2/3 innings) did the job. And though Neil Huntington said on his pre-game radio show that Lincoln would soak up the starts until Karstens is ready, we'd expect to see Rudy Owens or one of the Indy lefties join the rotation and Bad Brad rejoin the pen.

Tony Watson, who worked 1-2/3 frames giving up a hit and a K, got the win, his fourth. The Bucs are off tomorrow, then host the Twins and Tigers for three game sets.

  • Alvarez's six RBI is his personal best. It's also the fourth multi-homer game during his career, and they have come in back-to-back games. He almost had three; an opposite field drive in the seventh bounced high off the 18' fence in left for a double. The last Bucco to drive home a six pack was Andy LaRoche, who did it on September 28th, 2009, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • With the win, Pittsburgh has taken six of their last seven series.
  • Bill Brink of the Post Gazette reported on the Buccos' mystery man: "Rule 5 pick Gustavo Nunez had to have pins removed from bone in ankle, set back his rehab. Pins became an irritant." Guess the shortstop's ankle was kinda beat up.
  • The Pirates are still four back. The Reds won again today, and are on a six game unbeaten streak. But they are right in the wildcard race, two games behind the Giants and 1/2 game behind the Braves for the second spot.


WilliamJPellas said...

Revisiting the Headley discussion, if I'm not mistaken he played some outfield for the Padres in addition to third base. If by some miracle Pedro's weekend outburst is the start of a legitimate major league season---and I am still skeptical on that score---but even if he gets it together, Headley is precisely the kind of productive, not-yet-outrageously-expensive young veteran the Pirates should be targeting in trades. Getting a guy like him is essentially a "back door" free agent signing, because he'll soon be arb eligible---but of course that gives us exclusive negotiating rights in the short term, and thus we are more likely to get him and other players like him to buy out their arb years. Yes, yes, yes to Headley regardless of whether Alvarez gets it together or not. Headley can always play outfield to light a fire under Presley and Tabata---or replace them.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, whether Headley or someone else, I hope they pick up a competent player with some team control so they actually plug a hole for awhile rather than slap a bandage on it.