Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bedard Battering + Blown Chances = 5-4 Loss

Boy, those first innings. The Bucs went down to Lance Lynn, who had been having his own opening act blues, but Erik Bedard couldn't return the favor. Raffy Furcal led off with a double and came in on Matt Carpenter's single, and it was 1-0 after two batters. After a K of Matt Holliday, Allen Craig singled. But Bedard came up with a big pitch, getting David Freese to bounce to third for a 5-4-3 around the horn twin killing to shut the door on the inning and keep it at 1-0.

Both sides were quiet in the second frame. The Bucs got the run back in the third. Clint Barmes singled with an out. With two down, Staring Marte got clipped with a pitch, and Jordy Mercer followed with a knock to left to bring home Barmes. Bucs were on second and third after the throw home, but Cutch K'ed swinging. With two down in the Card half, Holliday took a first pitch hook into right for a knock, but Bedard got Craig to pop out.

After a Garrett Jones whiff to open the fourth, Travis Snider drew a full count walk, getting nothing but soft stuff.  Pedro didn't bite on hard stuff away and was issued a four pitch pass. After a visit to the mound that apparently had little effect, Lynn lost Rod Barajas on a 3-2 heater to load the sacks. But he did find the dish against Barmes, striking him out looking at a curve. He got Bedard looking on three pitches, and the Bucs let a chance go off the boards. Lynn has eight K after four; so far it's been a swing-and-miss pitcher doing his thing against a swing-and-miss team.

It must be contagious. Freese opened the Card half with a five pitch walk. Yadier Molina cranked a heater to left, and the Cards had runners at second and third. Shane Robinson poked a curve to right that Snider couldn't corral after a bad hop for another two bagger, and it was 3-1 Red Birds. Ryan Jackson helped the Bucco cause when he lined a 2-2 pitch to the box; Bedard gloved it and spun to second to double off Robinson. Lynn K'ed to end the inning.

Marte opened the fifth with a bunt single to the left side. Mercer took advantage by drilling a curve to left for a double, bringing home Marte. Cutch popped out, and that would be Lynn's last hitter; Barret Browning came on to face Jones. He wild pitched Mercer to third, and Jones lifted a sac fly to right to tie the game. Snider went down swinging, but it was a new game.

Furcal led off the Card half by knocking a curve into center for a single. Matt Carpenter banged a long fly to center, but Cutch had it covered. Holliday went down looking at a fastball. Allen Craig spanked a 3-2 heater to center, putting Cards on the corners. The bases were juiced after Bedard lost Freese on five pitches. Hurdle let the lefty go on, and Molina took a first pitch heater to right for a ground rule double; the two out lightning put the Cards up 5-3.

That was it for Erik, who went 4-2/3 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits with three walks and four K, tossing 81 pitches. Jared Hughes came on a batter late, and Gaby Sanchez went to first in the two-fer, with Jones moving to right and Snider sitting down. Robinson struck out swinging to end the frame, but St. Louis was up by a pair again.

After whiffing Pedro to open the sixth, Browning was given the hook for smoke thrower Trevor Rosenthal, who tucked away Barajas and Barmes. Yamiaco Navarro went in to left between innings; Marte felt some discomfort in his right side. Hughes put the Cards away in order.

Edward Mujica climbed the hill for St. Louis in the seventh. Sanchez clubbed his first pitch heater to left for a lead off double. Navarro bounced out to second on the next pitch, moving Gaby to third. Mercer's fly to center, also on the first pitch, wasn't deep enough to bring him home. Cutch tried to hit the first pitch, too, but swung through it. He flew out to right, and the Bucs continued to be less than clutch today. Hughes kept on dealing; he's thrown a clean 2-1/3 frames, using just 21 pitches to go through the Red Birds.

The Cards sent Mitchell Boggs out for the eighth, and Jones greeted him with a single to right. Josh Harrison broke an 0-for-16 streak with a single to left, putting Bucs on first and second. Pedro went down swinging on three pitches. Barajas fouled off a handful of heaters, but he went down swinging too. Mike McKenry came up to take some cuts; at least he hit the ball, flying out to left. The Bucs are down to three outs, and have nobody left on the bench but Neil Walker and his dislocated finger. Harrison stayed on and went to second, with Mercer sliding over to short.

Juan Cruz took the ball from Hughes. With one gone, Molina singled and Robinson followed with an infield knock. Carlos Beltran grabbed a stick; he didn't need one as he went down swinging at some gas. Jon Jay was plunked to load the sacks. Furcal popped out, and it was last at-bat time - and Pittsburgh is sending up Sanchez, Navarro and Mercer to battle Jason Motte.

Gaby singled to center to open the ninth. Navarro smacked a ball to thrid; Freese muffed it, and the Bucs were in business (of course, they were last inning, too). Mercer got hit with a pitch, and the bases were jammed for Cutch. He bounced into a force, scoring Sanchez and leaving Bucs at the corners. Jones got ahead 3-0, but three fastballs later sat down, swinging through 99 MPH heat. Harrison bounced out, and the Cards nailed down the 5-4 win.

It's pretty simple. A bad start by Bedard - the Pirates should be going to a three man rotation, not six - and blown chances by the bushel load (1-for-14 with RISP today, 2-for-22 in the series) handed a big game to the Cards. It would help if the bench was deeper; it seems like the Pirates are always playing short handed. And 15 K didn't help; it's not like they were facing Randy Johnson. If a couple of those whiffs had turned into fly balls, the Bucs might be celebrating now instead of St. Louis. Tomorrow is the rubber match, and it's a pretty big game for both sides.

Jeff Karstens takes on Jaime Garcia tomorrow.

  • Jordy Mercer hung in there after getting hit by a pitch in the ninth with the bench empty, but is having his hand examined after the game. Let's hope another one doesn't bite the dust.
  • Pittsburgh is 29-20 against the Central Division.
  • Last night was the second time this year Pittsburgh scored less than two runs on the road and came away with a win, first doing it on April 18th at Arizona.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was suspended for two games for going off on ump Angel Campos Thursday in Pittsburgh.

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