Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lincoln, Cutch Tame Tigers 4-1

This will be a tough day for Tiger starter Max Scherzer, no matter the result. His brother died three days ago, apparently as the result of suicide. Scherzer returned to the team today and is sticking to his routine rather than dwelling on the tragedy, and we hope it helps get him through it.

Bad Brad had to battle the first two hitters deep into the count, but ended up with a 1-2-3 start to the game. Scherzer did the same; JT lined a single with one away, but was easily nailed trying to steal second on a perfect throw by Alex Avila. The caught stealing was sandwiched between an Alex Presley bounce out and Cutch K, so it's 0-0 after a frame.

Lincoln K'ed the first pair of Motown hitters fishing for the hook. That gave him three whiffs, all on curves set up by fastballs. He lost Avila on a 3-2 pitch, and ended the inning when Jhonny Peralta flew out to Cutch on the center field track. Neil Walker drew a free pass with one away, and Pedro spanked a two strike change up the middle. Unfortunately, it was right to SS Peralta, who was cheating toward the bag, and it ended up an easy 6-3 DP.

The Bucco righty was feelin' it the first time through the order; it was another three up and down frame in the third with his fourth strikeout. So was Mad Max; he faced the bottom of the order and fanned a pair. Detroit went down like house tabbies in the fourth, even with the guys getting their second look at Lincoln. The Bucs had better luck with their second go-around.

Presley started with a nine pitch at bat, finally dropping a 3-2 heater into right center and easily legging it out for a double. JT tried to bunt his way aboard (we think) and got smacked in the wrist for his effort. With two on, Scherzer got ahead of Cutch 0-2 on sliders and then tried to sneak a high heater past him. McCutch was all over it and dropped it six rows deep over the 383' mark to put Pittsburgh up 3-0.

Lincoln did what he was supposed to after taking the lead. He put away the Tigers in order, capped by a nice backhand stop and throw by Josh Harrison at short to retire Peralta. Schertzer put the Pirates' bottom three away, surviving a loud foul by Barajas that landed outside the foul pole by a few feet and a lineout by Harrison.

Ramon Santiago ended Lincoln's streak of ten straight outs when he rolled Detroit's first knock of the game past a diving Walker into right through the second base hole. He was bunted to second, and there he stayed. Scherzer was sharp, too, putting the Bucs down 1-2-3 and running his whiff count up to seven after six frames.

Lincoln got ahead of Miguel Cabrera 1-2, missed with a couple of curves downstairs, then zipped a heater down the middle that the third baseman roped a couple rows deep in right center over the Xfinity sign. Clint Hurdle wasted no time bringing in Juan Cruz. Bad Brad went six, giving up a run on two hits with a walk and seven K, tossing an efficient 79 pitches. He threw 21 straight strikes at one point, kept the ball down and got his hook over enough today to keep the Tigers at bay and just may have earned another start on Thursday.

Prince Fielder took a hanging Cruz change and poked it the opposite way for a two bagger with the Bucs OF shifted. Delmon Young bounced out to short, freezing Fielder at second with one away. Hurdle tapped his arm again, bringing Tony Watson into the fray. He got the lefty Avila on a grounder that moved Prince to third, and had a hold you breath moment when Peralta drove a ball to the bullpen fence in right center, but Cutch was there to end the inning.

Lefty Phil Coke came on, and the Bucs went to work. Casey McGehee hit for Garrett Jones and drilled a fastball into right center for a double. Coke got ahead of The Kid quickly, throwing nothing but off speed stuff. After falling behind and then spoiling a couple, Walker golfed an ankle high hook softly to left to bring home Casey. Pedro followed with a two strike knock to right to put runners on the corners, and Jimmy Leyland had seen enough. He reached for the phone and called for former Bucco Octavio Dotel.

Barajas popped out on the first pitch. Then with a 2-1 count, Hurdle put on a straight squeeze. Harrison got a fastball down the middle, but lunged after it and dropped the bat below the ball; Walker was DOA. He struck out a couple of pitches later, hitting into a delayed DP of sorts without ever leaving the box. Jason Grilli mounted the bump for Pittsburgh in the eighth with a 4-1 lead. He tucked the Tigers away quietly, K'ing a pair.

Dotel, with help from Hurdle, pulled a rabbit out of his cap in the bottom half. Clint Barmes, in as part of a two-fer, punched a pitch away into right for a knock. Presley pounded a ball off Santiago's chest to put runners at first and second. Here's where Hurdle came to the rescue; he had JT sacrifice the runners over. The ol' skip gave up an out and predictably, Cutch was walked intentionally, so he also took the bat out of his best hitter's hands. McGehee and Walker both had long at bats against Dotel, and both ended up K'ing. Casey went down trying to push inside deliveries into right, and Walker was caught looking at a 3-2 curve after six straight heaters.

At least it left Hanny with another save opp. He got the first two hitters on flies. Fielder took the first pitch he saw the opposite way again for a knock; he must be getting tired of hitting into shifts. Young drew a 3-2 walk to bring up the tying run in Avila. Avila was looking fastball; he got three straight sliders down and in and swung over all three to end the game. Lincoln is now 4-2 and Hanny picked up his nineteenth save.

The Bucs make it hard on themselves sometimes; they blew three shots in the last two innings to bring home a runner from third with less than two outs, foiled by a bunt that worked and one that didn't. But hey, raise the Jolly Roger. Justin Verlander will take on Kevin Correia tomorrow. The Bucs will have their work cut out for them if they want to broom Detroit.

  • The Bucs guaranteed a winning record against the AL this year; now they're 10-7 against the Junior Circuit with just tomorrow's game left on the interleague sked.
  • Wonder why Cutch sees so many sliders? Root Sports showed his fastball stats - .588 BA, with 12 of his 13 homers coming off a heater.
  • Brad Lincoln set his career punchout record for a game today with seven.
  • JT is now tied with Starlin Castro for the league lead in times caught stealing with eight; he's 8-for-16 in 2012.
  • Not much of a surprise, but Pittsburgh is shopping RHP Kevin Correia, as confirmed by Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review.
  • The Pirates had their sixth full house of the year today, drawing 38,734. Lots of Detroit fans in the stands again today. The Pirate faithful are easy to spot; they're wearing black/yellow tees and caps with a Gatorade cup stuck on top, a meme of a dugout prank pulled on Lincoln a couple of nights ago that the TV cameras caught.
  • Yay, PennDOT. With a sellout crowd expected, the North Shore exits were closed today for roadwork. Might be a late arriving crowd.
  • Upper St. Clair's Sean Casey was inducted into the Reds HOF today. Congrats to The Mayor.

No comments: