Saturday, July 14, 2012

Late Slam Drops Bucs 10-7

Zack Greinke pitched a typical first inning against Pittsburgh: out, out, Cutch single, out, while J-Mick had the two out blues against the Brewers.

After a couple of routine outs, Ryan Braun took a 1-2 slider yard over the right center wall. Aramis Ramirez walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Corey Hart flicked an 0-2 curve into left for a soft single. Ricky Weeks grounded a 2-1 fastball up the third base line for a two-bagger. A-Ram scored and Hart followed when Drew Sutton couldn't come up with the ball. Not exactly a sterling start here in Milwaukee; the Bucs are down 3-0.

The Bucs went down quietly in the second. The Brewers threatened again. Martin Maldonado fell behind 0-2, and battling through 11 pitches, he found one he liked and lined it into center. Greinke bunted him to second. Norachika Aoki walked on four wayward heaters. Nyjer Morgan bounced into a force, and Braun then walked on four pitches to load the bases. A-Ram banged one to short to end the frame without any more damage.

The Bucs accepted a gift run in the third. With an out, McDonald walked on five pitches. Sutton doubled to put runners at second and third, but Neil Walker couldn't do anything with them, K'ing on three pitches. Garrett Jones looked like he let Greinke off the hook, but his hopper to second took a bad hop and the resulting Ricky Weeks' boot cut the lead to 3-1. Hart led the Brew Crew off with a single, but an out later a DP started quite nicely by Clint Barmes ended the inning.

The Bucs blooped and blasted their way to the lead in the fourth. With an out, Rod Barajas and Barmes flared soft knocks. J-Mick K'ed, alternating between bunts and swings. Sutton brought in the first run on a parachute double to left. Walker made amends for his last at-bat by blasting a curve over the center field wall, and the Pirates were up 5-3.

The Brewers answered. Maldonado singled and with an out, Aoki walked, the recipe that fed the second inning uprising. Morgan hit into another force, as the Bucs can't quite turn two against the speedster. Braun made them pay with a knock up the middle to make it 5-4. Greinke struck out the side in the fifth - almost. After his first two whiffs, Pedro crushed a cutter yard to right center to make it a 6-4 game.

McDonald continued having problems. He got a strikeout, but then lost Weeks after being up in the count 0-2. Another K was followed by a third Maldonado knock, and that was it for McDonald. Jared Hughes came on to face pinch hitter Travis Ishikawa, who singled into left on the first offering to make it a 6-5 score after five. McDonald went 4-2/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits with five walks and two whiffs, tossing 109 pitches. Grienke was gone too; some duel this ended up being.

Old buddy Jose Veras climbed the bump in the sixth and retired the Bucs in order. Hughes was done too; Brad Lincoln took the ball, and started off by plunking Nyjer Morgan with a 2-2 hook. He wasn't on first long; Nymo was caught stealing on a nice throw by Hot Rod with Braun up, thank you kindly. Braun got ahead 3-0, took a fastball and then lined a second center cut heater the opposite way for his second tater of the night. After an out, Hart had an eight pitch at bat that he ended by knocking a curve up the middle.

The Brewers were taking the first strike against J-Mick and are doing the same to Bad Brad; he's been behind 2-0 to every hitter this inning. He did finally throw a first strike to Weeks, and eventually got him to pop out, but it was a 28 pitch frame for Lincoln and it's now a 6-6 contest. Manny Parra came in for Milwaukee.

Walker opened up the seventh by drawing a five pitch walk. Cutch punched a 2-0 heater into left for a knock; lefties have been murdered by him this year. But Parra handled the next three Buccos easily with a combination of soft stuff and some fishing, particularly from the two lefties, Jones and Alvarez. That's not a surprise; he holds LH to a .192 BA with a 34% K rate throwing cutters, curves and changes.

Lincoln fell behind Cody Ransom 3-0, but came back to get him on a pop. Maldonado collected his fourth hit, going the opposite way to roll a fastball into right. He went 2-0 on pinch hitter Jeff Bianchi, but rallied to K him on a 3-2 heater. With Aoki up, Maldonado, the catcher, swiped second, his first stolen base of the year. After being up 0-2 on Aoki, the count went full, and he bounced out to short to end the frame.

It was Francisco Rodriguez's turn to toss in the eighth. Barajas worked an eight pitch walk off him, and Gorkys Hernandez came in to run. Barmes, who may be the team's most frustrating bunter, fouled off a pair of sacrifice tries before striking out.  The Fort grabbed a bat, and while he was up, Gorkys was picked off first on a bang-bang call; that failed bunt was especially painful now. Maybe not; McKenry went down looking. Tony Watson answered the bell for Pittsburgh.

With an out, the red hot Braun got an infield single on a roller to the shortstop hole. Watson kept jamming A-Ram, and he kept fouling the sinkers off until on the ninth pitch he got one down the middle and rolled it into left to put runners at first and second. Hart struck out as a double steal went on; Weeks was up with two down and runners at second and third. Though he's hitting .200, he was intentionally walked to get to Cody Ransom, also a righty. Watson fell behind 2-0, got a strike, and then gave him two sinkers down the middle. He fouled the first off, then ripped the next over the left center wall for a grand salami and a 10-6 Brewer lead. Watson threw 35 pitches that inning; three were sliders and the rest sinkers.

John Axford climbed the mound to tie the ribbon. After two were away, he tried to pump a 3-2 heater past Cutch; he lost it in the left center field seats. Jones followed with a single; at least Pittsburgh isn't going gently into that good night. Whooops...spoke too soon. McGehee went down looking at a 3-2 fastball after fouling off ball four, a spinner in his eyes, two pitches earlier. That ended the longest game of the year, three hours and fifty minutes. We would have liked an extra couple minutes to see Pedro bat; that would have been interesting, but unfortunately not in the cards.

Mama said there would be games like this. The two teams combined for 17 runs on 25 hits with 10 walks and two errors on the 376 pitches tossed. Pittsburgh needs to do a better job of getting more of those pitches over the plate; the Brewers are too dangerous to keep in hitter's counts all night. Even an ace like J-Mick can't get by working out a hole all night.

Kevin Correia will take on Marco Estrada tomorrow night.

  • Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 13 games - on Friday the 13th!
  • The Reds beat the Cards, so Pittsburgh is in a first place tie for the NL Central lead.

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