Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bucs Even Series 6-4

Well, good enough start for Marco Estrada - he struck out the side. Kevin Correia was no slouch either, retiring the Brew Crew in order.

The Bucs started the second in better shape when Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee led off with back-to-back knocks to put runners on the corners with no outs. But they wouldn't touch home; Pedro Alvarez and Mike McKenry went down swinging, and Clint Barmes popped out. The Bucs have been playing well, but they've left way too many of these opps go by. The Brew Crew jumped on KC quickly. Aramis Ramirez doubled, Corey Hart tripled, and a grounder made it 2-0 after two frames.

The Pirates flashed some two-out lightning in the third. After a pair of K - plate ump Vic Carapazza's zone is all over the place, so we won't bash the batters tonight though he did tighten up a bit as the game went along - Neil Walker somehow managed a free pass. Cutch fell behind 0-2, and Estrada tried to blow one past him. Bad idea; McCutch drove it way out over the center field fence to tie the game.

The Bucs gave the lead right back. Norichica Aoki led off with a single, and Ryan Braun drew a one-out walk. Pedro let a grounder get through him; it allowed a run to score and move Braun to third, where he plated on a sac fly. The Brew Crew picked up a pair of unearned tallies to jump back ahead 4-2.

Both sides went down 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Bucs cut the lead to one in the sixth. Walker legged out an infield single to start the frame, and with an out, a Jones knock put runners on first and second. McGehee rolled one up the middle to score The Kid; Jones took third and Casey alertly moved to second on the throw home. But Pedro K'ed looking at a pitch that wasn't a strike, and The Fort flew out against Kameron Loe; another chance went by the boards for the Bucs.  KC tossed another clean inning; it's been a pretty good outing for him.

The Pirates weren't done. Barmes led off with a liner to center, going to second on a Braun mishandle, and was bunted over by Josh Harrison. He came around to score when Loe's throw to first was off target, and Harrison reached first.  With an out, Walker rolled a ball to right with Harrison on the move to put Bucs on the corners. Cutch walked on four pitches after a 3-0 passed ball scored Harrison and moved Walker to second. Manny Parra came on, and made a big play by picking off Walker, who was his way to third. Matt Hague pinch hit, and lined one up the middle that Parra stabbed to end the frame. Both teams were sloppy, but the Bucs took a 5-4 lead.

Kevin Correia went six frames, giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits with a walk and six K after 93 pitches, finishing up by sitting down 11 straight Brewers. Chris Resop scaled the bump in the seventh, and gave up a leadoff single to Martin Maldonado, who was bunted to second and moved to third on a ground out. Aoki then walked on five pitches, but Resop got Travis Ishikawa to fly out.

Tyler Thornburg took the ball in the eighth, and was greeted by a McGehee bomb to left center on a fastball to up the Bucco lead to 6-4. Jason Grilli climbed the mound for Pittsburgh to face Braun, A-Ram and Hart. Braun started off by being issued a 3-2 walk. With an out, Hart dropped a slider to right in front of Sutton - he was deep, playing no doubles D - to put runners on first and second. No prob; Grilled Cheese punched out Ricky Weeks and got the pesky Maldonado to fly out to Cutch, who made a sweet sliding grab, to keep the lead at two. It's hard to understand how McCutch's defensive ratings are so low; he makes web gem catches every game. Just another Sabermetric mystery; what you see and what's on the database are two different animals.

Pittsburgh sent the top of the order up in the ninth.  Sutton led off with a walk. Two outs later, after Sutton and Cutch exchanged places on a force out, pinch hitter Rod Barajas was plunked by a pitch. They were left there as McGehee went down swinging, seeing nothing but curves. It was Hanny time.

With an out, he lost pinch hitter Nyjer Morgan on four pitches; that's a big no-no with a two run lead and the bases empty. It did focus him against Aoki. He filled up the strike zone against him, getting a pop out. Nymo went to second on defensive indifference during the at bat. There he sat as Hanny whiffed Ishikawa looking on a thank-you call, and the Bucs evened the series with a 6-4 win. Hanrahan picked up his 24th save while KC evened his slate at 6-6.

Both teams left a lot of ducks on the pond; together they were 2-for-18 with RISP and stranded 15 runners.  It's good to see the Pirates hang tough at their old haunted house, Miller Park. The Brewers are now eight back and a win tomorrow would open a pretty fair gap between Milwaukee and the front runners.

AJ Burnett takes on Yovani Gallardo tomorrow afternoon in what should be a top flight matchup for the rubber match.

  • Andrew McCutchen is the first Bucco to homer in three straight games since Garrett Jones hit four straight in 2009.
  • Neil Walker's hitting streak keeps on going; he's up to 14 straight. 
  • KC won his fourth consecutive decision, tying a career high.
  • The Pirates have only had three losing streaks longer than two games this season and seven winning streaks of three games or more.
  • The Reds beat St. Louis today, so the Bucs are still in a first place tie for the NL Central lead with the Cards 3-1/2 games back.

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