Friday, July 20, 2012

Bucs Overtake Marlins For 4-3 Win

Not a very hot start for ol' Kevin Correia. His second pitch to Jose Reyes was a slider up, and it was shipped over the wall in right center. He got to seven pitches for Emilio Bonifacio before he lined a fastball into left for a knock. Then he stole second. And third (barely). And then he came in on a grounder to make 2-0 before the Bucs met at the bat rack.

Ricky Nolasco walked Alex Presley on a 3-2 pitch to open the Bucco half. Neil Walker followed by dumping a soft liner into center to put Bucs at first and second. Cutch struck out on three off speed pitches, but Garrett Jones picked him up by banging a ground ball past first into right to plate The King and send the Kid to third. Nolasco reached back for some more soft serve and got Casey McGehee swinging at a change. With Pedro up, a short passed ball moved Jones to second, but Alvarez went down swinging at a 2-2 splitter. After one, it was 2-1.

KC went seven pitches to Greg Dobbs and got him to roll over on a change, but he rolled the pitch into right for a lead off hit. The next grounder worked better; Omar Infante knocked it to Pedro, who started an around-the-horn DP featuring a sweet turn by Walker. Good thing too, as John Buck smacked a heater into center for a two bagger. Nolasco hit a comebacker, and KC escaped the second. Nolasco had no trouble putting away the bottom of the Pirate order.

Reyes opened the third by knocking a 3-2 slider into right. KC fanned Bonifacio and Carlos Lee, but Logan Morrison extended the frame by beating out an infield single despite a strong play by Clint Barmes. Reyes once again stole third; this is getting kinda silly. Correia took matters into his own hands by K'ing Justin Ruggiano on an eight pitch at bat by blowing a heater past him. KC doesn't have much longer to enjoy his evening even with striking out the side; he's at 73 pitches.

The top of the order was up in the Pittsburgh third. Presley and Walker bounced out to first. Cutch kept the inning alive by legging out an infield single on the left side, but Jones went down swinging at a curve, set up by splitters, Nolasco's most effective pitch so far tonight.

After an out, Infante lined a heater into center for a knock. Buck followed with another rope to left, turning on a slider that was down but over the plate and sending Infante to third. Nolasco was down to his last strike, but laid down a successful suicide squeeze to make it 3-1 in the fourth. It's not really all that high risk of a call; the only bad outcome for the Marlins would be if he whiffed on the pitch.

With an out in the Pirate half, Pedro fell behind 1-2, then caught hold of a hook and dropped it over the right center field fence to cut the Fish lead to one. Rod Barajas followed with a ground rule double to left off a heater, one of the few Nolasco has left over the plate. Barmes went fishing for a curve on the first pitch; Nolasco tried it again two pitches later and caught the dish this time. Barmes softly lined it over short to score Hot Rod, who had a great read on the ball, to tie the score.  KC moved him to second, but Presley K'ed to end the frame. After four, it's anybody's game at 3-3.

Correia did his job in the fifth, pitching his first clean frame and picking up another pair of whiffs. The Kid did his, too. After falling behind 0-2, he took a couple of balls and then launched a curve over the Clemente Wall to give the Bucs the lead. Cutch followed with a ground knock into left on the first pitch. A Jones fly to right and a 4-6-3 DP by McGehee, who was jammed on a running fastball, ended the frame but the Bucs were up 4-3.

That was it for KC, who went five, giving up three runs on eight hits with five K, tossing 94 pitches. Chris Resop climbed the hill for the sixth, and put the Fish away routinely. the only noise Miami made was from Ozzie Guillen, beefing about a call at first. Nolasco also had a clean inning of work.

With an out in the seventh, pinch hitter Donovan Solano grounded a 3-2 heater up the middle, and Reyes followed by banging another grounder into right to put Fish on first and second; both pitches were pretty much down the middle. Clint Hurdle waved in Jared Hughes to take Resop's spot and completed his two-fer by inserting Jordy Mercer at short. Hughes bounced his first three sinkers to Bonifacio in the dirt, caught the corner with the next, and got some help when Bonifacio grounded ball four to short for a force. Lee knocked the next pitch to right center where Jones tucked it away to end the frame without any damage.

Mike Dunn climbed the mound for Miami. Mercer fell behind 0-2, looked at a couple of waste pitches, then lined a 95 MPH heater into the left field corner for a double. Presley struck out swinging on a 3-2 fastball after trying to bunt for a base hit on the prior pitch, probably not a very good decision with a runner on second in a one run game and in a hitter's count. Walker bounced out and Cutch was walked intentionally to get the lefty-on-lefty matchup with Jones. It almost backfired as Jones ran the count to 3-2 before swinging at a heater in the dirt to end the inning; Dunn threw him one strike during the at bat.

Jason Grilli climbed the bump in the eighth and Gorkys Hernandez came in to play right for GI Jones. With an out, Ruggiano lined a single to left. No problem; three pitches later Dobbs bounced one to Walker, and the tag 'em out, throw 'em out 4-3 DP closed out the frame (though The Kid may have missed the tag). It was a five pitch outing for Grilled Cheese. Edward Mujica took the ball for the Marlins and struck out the side.

Hanny came in looking for his 27th save, facing the bottom end of Miami's order in the ninth. Infante opened by banging a 1-1 heater down the middle into center. Buck helped the cause by popping up a bunt attempt to McGehee for the first out. Austin Kearns grabbed some lumber and knocked the first pitch up the middle to put Marlins on the corners; Hanley Ramirez came on to run for him. Hanrahan K'ed Reyes on a slider in the dirt for the second out. Ramirez stole second with Bonifacio up, and stayed there as Hanny blew a 96 MPH fastball past him for a three pitch K.

The KC wins keep coming. Correia has his fifth straight W, a career high, and his record is 7-6. Buc homers, strong D and lights out pen carried the day again, despite 12 of their 24 outs coming on whiffs and giving up four more stolen bases. Heck, seems to be working, so why quibble?

Miami's Carlos Zambrano will face A.J. Burnett tomorrow night.

  • The Pirates last four wins have been comeback victories. Their total of 27 rallies is second in MLB. At 52-40, they're 1/2 game behind the Reds in the division and lead in the wild card standings, 1-1/2 games ahead of the Braves.
  • Pittsburgh has the best home record in MLB (30-14) and have gone 19-4 in their last 23 games on the banks of the Allegheny. Tonight's gate was 37,193, the tenth sellout this year; maybe that crowd energy is part of the reason.
  • How good has the bullpen been? The Pirate relievers have allowed a Major League low 17.0 % of their inherited runners to score (18-of-106), stranding the last nine guys on base.
  • The Bucs have gone deep in 10 straight games after tonight's Pedro blast. It was his 20th; the last time the Pirates had two or more players with 20 or more homers was in 2008 when Nate McLouth (26), Adam LaRoche (25) and Jay Bay (22) provided the oomph.
  • Looks like no Hanley Ramirez this series. Dayn Pery of the blog Eye On Baseball reports that his "recent clubhouse temper tantrum -- a snit that ended in his punching a cooling fan -- has landed him in the hospital with an infected hand, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post tweets. Ramirez developed an infection where he received stitches and is likely to miss at least the next few games." He came in as a pinch runner tonight.
  • This day in history: In 2010, The Pirates scored nine runs in the first inning and hung on for an 11-9 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park. The scoring was highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam. 

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