Sunday, July 22, 2012

Karstens Brooms Marlins 3-0

Jose Reyes fell behind 0-2, took a couple of balls, and then hit a swinging bunt single up the third base line. Forunately for the Bucs, he had happy feet - who could blame him the way Pirates throw out base stealers? - and Jeff Karstens picked him off.  Emilio Bonifacio followed with a bunt single, pushing the ball past the mound, and Carlos Lee drew a 3-2 walk; the last two pitches could have easily been called strike three.

Logan Morrison rolled a grounder to first, but the Bucs could only get the force at second. JK missed the dish badly with Justin Ruggiano up. Though he helped by fishing some, Ruggiano drew a 3-2 walk. Greg Dobbs flew out to right, and in the first JK had an ugly frame but escaped without a run, but at the cost of 28 pitches.

Alex Presley greeted Anibal Sanchez with a knock the opposite way. Walker worked eight pitches from Sanchez, but the Marlin won, freezing him on a strike three heater on the inside corner. Presley stole second and scored when Cutch caught a center cut 3-1 slider and sent it into center for a single. McCutch tried to steal second but was gunned out, and Jones went down swinging at a slider. 1-0 Buccos after a frame as the brooms began to flutter all around the park.

JK tossed a clean second frame. With one down, Pedro took a cutter to left for a single. An out later, Jordy Mercer lined a double into the left field corner, but Pedro had to hit the brakes at third. JK couldn't help the cause, going down swinging. It was three up, three down for Karstens in the third. Sanchez did better, striking out the side; he has 6 K in three frames.

With one out in the fourth, Ruggiano fought off an 0-2 heater and rolled an infield knock up the left side; none of the three Fish knocks have left the infield. No sweat - Greg Dobbs rolled over on a fastball away and banged into a 4-6-3 DP. Sanchez had another clean frame. Both guys are doing a good job of staying out of the middle of the plate, changing speeds and locations, and mixing pitches. Sanchez is effective today as the Bucs are in one of their swing away moods and chasing pitches out of the zone, especially with two strikes.

Karstens tossed another perfect frame in the fifth, picking up a pair of whiffs. Sanchez kept mowing down Bucs; Mercer was the only Buc to square up on him, but lined out to right. The top of the Marlin order was tucked away quietly by JK in the sixth. The top of the Bucco order was up for their third go-around at Sanchez.

The Bucs shot themselves in the foot in their half of the inning. Presley was ahead 3-1, and bounced out on a borderline cutter. The Kid had Sanchez in a 3-0 hole, took a couple of strikes on the outside black and then got a heater down the middle that he rolled to second. Cutch rifled a liner into center for a knock, but Jones hit a first pitch change to first to end the inning. So after six, it's a bona fide 1-0 pitcher's duel.

LoMo got the first Fish hit to leave the dirt when he bounced a 1-2 hook into right to lead off the seventh. Ruggiano fought JK for eight pitches before striking out on a curve. Morrison stole second, already on the go with a 3-2 count. Dobbs singled to left; LoMo had to freeze at second to make sure it had dropped after a great diving effort by Presley. The umpires, with Ozzie Guillen's help, met and correctly ruled it a trap. No biggie; Omar Infante grounded the next pitch to El Toro, and he started a 5-4-3 around-the-horn twin killing to snuff out the threat.

Sanchez left a 2-2 heater up to McGehee, who belted it into right for a double to open the Pirate half. He snapped an above-the-knee curve to Pedro that caught too much plate, and he crushed a liner into the seats above the Clemente Wall to make it 3-0. Sanchez handled the bottom of the lineup, including pinch hitter Josh Harrison, but the Bucs finally had a net under them after walking the tightrope for six frames.

Karstens called it a day. He left after seven innings of shutout ball, giving up five hits with two walks and three K, throwing 92 pitches. Gorkys Hernandez joined the contest as Jared Hughes toed the rubber in the eighth and put down the Fish 1-2-3. Mike Dunn took over for Miami. After he K'ed the first two Bucs, Ozzie called on Steve Cishek to face Cutch; he didn't want the lefty Dunn to take his chances. It worked; he got Cutch swinging. Hanny came on for the ninth, and put the Fish out their misery.

JK won his third while Hanny picked up his 28th save.

Not much brain churning today. The pitching was great, the defense sound, and a timely longball came along, although the 11 K's continue to be a concern. It may have been that the crucial play was Karsten's pick-off of Reyes in the first that kept Miami off the board. Anyway, it sure looks like time for the Marlins to become sellers and the Bucs buyers as the late July mists clear.

The Cubs come to town tomorrow as Jeff Samardzija faces Erik Bedard.

  • Jeff Karstens now has 20 consecutive scoreless frame at PNC Park, and this was his fourth straight start of 7+ IP.
  • Today's attendance was 34,203, and the Bucs drew 110,807 fans for the three game Marlin series.
  • Pirate trade rumors per Nick Cafardi of the Boston Globe: "Justin Upton hasn’t drawn as much interest as expected. One team very interested, however, is the Pirates, who thought the Diamondbacks’ asking price was prohibitive. They may also be interested in B.J. Upton. The Pirates have also tried to pry Billy Butler from the Royals and Shane Victorino from the Phillies."
  • Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review tweeted that "I've gotten indications that the Pirates front office has asked for - and received - permission from owner Bob Nutting to raise the team's payroll budget if necessary at trade deadline." Well, guess that's the upside of not having to spend money on a first round pick. 
  • Scratch OF Carlos Quentin from the Bucco wish list. He signed an extension through 2015 with an option year today with SD. It was a front loaded $27M deal.
  • After today, the Pirates play the Cubs and Astros for ten straight matches, followed by a series against the Reds. The Bucs are well positioned to make their move if they can take TCB the Central division bottom dwellers before squaring off with Cincy.
  • Bill Brink of the Post Gazette posted that to keep arms fresh during the dog days, Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington have both discussed skipping starters in August when the Pirates have a 20 game stretch with no off days. Huntington said that Brad Lincoln, Jeff Locke, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson are all candidates for spot starts.

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