Saturday, July 7, 2012

McDonald Masterful In 3-1 Win

As Dexter Poindexter would say, it was hot, hot, hot in Pittsburgh (99 degrees) when J-Mick took the mound.  McDonald handled the G-Men easily. The Bucs got a one-out, opposite field ground rule double from Neil Walker off a Ryan Vogelsong slider, but The Kid would move no further along than the hot corner.

No problems in the second, either, as McDonald picked up Ks number two and three. With two down in the Bucco half, Mike McKenry spanked a fastball off the bullpen fence in left center for a two bagger, but stayed there as Clint Barmes bounced out to first.

The G-Men collected their first hit when Brandon Crawford's grounder to short wasn't handled cleanly by Barmes, and ruled a hit. He was bunted to second and went no further as McDonald recorded punchouts four and five.

J-Mick led off the Bucco half by drawing a 3-2 walk, getting the benefit of a couple of close decisions. With an out, Walker banged a fastball for his second double, this one toward the Notch. The Giant outfield didn't play the ball very smoothly, and McDonald scooted home. Cutch lined out, and the rains came as Garrett Jones was at bat. Big crowd, and probably happy to have some rain to cool them off. Hopefully, it's a short enough delay that J-Mick can return in the groove.

They started back up 27 minutes later with Jones flying out to right. Ryan Theriot started the fourth by reaching down and dropping a curve softly into center for a leadoff knock. Melky Cabrera banged a heater on one hop to short, and it was quickly turned into a 6-4-3 DP. Buster Posey hit a slider pretty well, but Pedro was up to the task, backhanding the ball at the bag and throwing across the diamond to end the frame.

Vogelsong got Casey McGehee and Alvarez both looking on balls that may or may not have caught the black. Then he left a 1-1 change on the outer half of the dish and away to The Fort, who turned on it and drilled the ball into the left field seats to make it 2-0 Pirates after four. It was a quiet fifth for San Fran; two grounders and another K. J-Mick led off with a bloop single to left, but Drew Sutton whiffed and Walker lined back to the mound. Vogelsong made the grab and doubled McDonald off first.

J-Mick K'ed the first two Giants in the sixth, then left a heater up to Greg Blanco, who singled into right. He got ahead of Ryan Theriot 0-2, then wasted three pitches. One was in the dirt; Theriot barely checked his swing as the ball bounced off McKenry, and the short wild pitch allowed Blanco to reach second. That cost the Bucs a run when a 3-2 fastball, up in the zone, was banged back up the middle by Theriot to plate a run. McDonald rallied, getting Cabrera swinging at a slider to end the inning.

The Bucs answered. Cutch singled to open the frame, but a pair of foul pop outs left him at first. Pedro got ahead of Vogelsong 3-0 before the count went full. Vogelsong had been working the corners, but put his heater down the middle, and Alvarez missed a homer by an architectural quirk. The padding in left field has a short riser to protect a runway, and his ball nicked that extra bit of fence. Still, it was good enough for a double and a 3-1 Pirate lead, as Cutch was off and running on the pitch, scoring easily.

J-Mick led the Bucs into the seventh inning stretch with a 1-2-3 frame. He went seven innings, giving up a run on four hits with 10 K and no walks, tossing 106 pitches. Vogelsong got through the Pirates half, yielding a two-out double to Sutton. The ball went to Jason Grilli for the eighth, and struck out the side, just like the ol' Grilled Cheese. Clay Hensley retired the Bucs routinely, and it was Hanny time.

Didn't start off so good; Blanco laid down a bunt and McKenry threw the ball away to put a the runner at second. Clint Barmes showed his value; he may not be hitting but made back-to-back big league plays in the hole behind Hanny, the first saved by a great pick by McGehee at first. Posey hit a soft, slicing liner to right and Jones was there for the running grab. Hanny saved his 23rd game as J-Mick picked up win number nine.

McDonald is something to behold when he has control of his pitches, and he was in complete control today. If The Fort blocked a ball in the dirt, he would have had a shutout. Another good one is on tap tomorrow afternoon when AJ Burnett goes against a struggling Tim Lincecum.

  • James McDonald is first Pirates pitcher since Jason Schmidt on 9-23-96 to work at least 7 innings, get at least 10 strikeouts and not yield a walk. Schmidt, btw, struck out 11 and went the distance, losing to the Cubs 4-3.
  • Ryan Vogelsong hadn't given up more than three extra-base hits in a game this season; the Bucs had six off him in seven innings.
  • The Pirates had their ninth sellout of the year, playing in front of 37,543 today.
  • Guess Rod Barajas is feeling better. INF/OF Matt Hague has been recalled from Indy and C Eric Fryer has been optioned back to the Tribe. Some thought 1B Jeff Clement might get the call, but he's not on the 40 man roster, and the Bucs opted to keep Fryer on it.
  • Neil Walker has an eleven game hitting streak that he kept alive with a first inning double.
  • As Greg Brown of Root Sports pointed out, the Pirates had eight catchers last year who combined hit 13 HR the entire season. Mike McKenry and Rod Barajas have 14 just past the halfway mark of 2012.
  • This day in history: The Pirates hosted the first of two 1959 All-Star games at Forbes Field, with Smoky Burgess, Elroy Face, Dick Groat and Billy Maz repping the Buccos. The NL won 5-4.

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