Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bucs Take Series In 19 Frames 6-3

Welcome back, JT. He led off the game with a liner to center for a knock. But Jamie Garcia didn't let that bother him. He didn't throw a strike to Josh Harrison, but fanned him swinging on three pitches. Cutch fouled off a boatload of offerings, and then he went down swinging at change up. Gaby Sanchez joined the crowd, swinging over another two-strike change. Jeff Karstens didn't follow the usual Pirate pitching philosophy; he tossed a clean first frame.

Travis Snider led off the second with a knock to center. Mike McKenry went down looking at a cutter that ran back over the dish. Pedro looked at a pair of heaters to fall behind 0-2, then rolled one to second for a 4-6-3 DP to close the frame. JK cruised, too - three up, three routine fly balls.

Garcia had no trouble with the Bucs in the third, picking up another pair of K. He's got six now after the Pirates went down 15 times on strikes yesterday. With an out, Karstens shot himself in the foot. Raffy Furcal bunted back to the mound, but JK bounced the easy pitch-and-catch into right, allowing Furcal to scoot to third. Garcia hit a soft liner to Harrison with the infield in for the second out, and Karstens escaped when Jon Jay bounced to first. It's still scoreless after three.

Pittsburgh went down without a peep in the fourth. Not so the Cards. Allen Craig singled softly to right, followed by Matt Holliday walk. Carlos Beltran doubled them both home, banging a belt-high slider to right. Freese bounced out. Molina had the mother of all at-bats, finally grounding out on the fourteenth offering after fouling off ten pitches. Skip Schumaker went down swinging with Beltran at third, but the Red Birds drew first blood, on top 2-0.

The long break didn't bother Garcia a twit. He put the Bucs away in order with another pair of whiffs, running his total to nine. Garcia is throwing a big running cutter, basically a slider without the dip, and drop change, baffling Pirates at bat; they look like the April/May club at the dish. JK's mojo was back; he tucked away St. Louis in their half, and his hook has been on all day.

The Bucs rallied, although the only two balls hit hard were outs. Clint Barmes got an infield knock on a chopper that got past Garcia and died on the grass. Karstens bunted, and Garcia whiffed on the bouncing ball to put runners at first and second. JT bunted them up, and a Harrison fly to center plated Barmes and moved JK to third, pretty good base running for a pitcher. Cutch hit a weak hopper toward short and legged out the hit, tying the score. Sanchez ended the frame with a one hop shot to third, but it was a new game at 2-2. Karstens tossed a tidy half against the Red Birds.

Snider opened the seventh with a line knock to right center. He didn't have a long shelf life; The Fort banged one sharply to Furcal, starting a 6-4-3 DP. Pedro popped out to short center, and Garcia had another goose egg. JK was groovin' too - he tucked in the Cards, and is on an eleven straight outs streak.

Garcia tossed another 1-2-3 inning. Karstens was done for the day after being lifted for a pinch hitter. he went seven innings, giving up two runs on  two hits with a walk and four whiffs, serving up 91 pitches. Jason Grilli took the mound for Pittsburgh in the eighth. he tossed a neat frame, punching out a pair.

Jason Motte worked the ninth for the Cards. After Harrison took hm to the fence in right center, he settled in a fanned Cutch and Gaby. The Bucs sent Garrett Jones to first and Kevin Correia to the mound to face the Red Birds' 2-3-4 batters. Worked, too. Craig started off with a single, but it was a routine grounder that made it through because Pedro was on the line, playing no doubles D. Holliday and Beltran popped out, and KC got Freese to fly out to the track in right.

Mitchell Boggs took the bump, and after two were out, threw eight straight balls, walking Pedro and Barmes. He threw five more to Jones, but got the K. GI fished for a couple, and then was rung up by ump James Hoye on a pitch that was off the dish down and away, maybe a little payback for Hurdle barking at the man in blue the inning before when Sanchez was rung up on a pitch that looked low. KC got a pair of Cards before Furcal slapped a soft single to center. Shane Robinson bounced out, and it was on to the eleventh.

Edward Mujica took the ball. After an out, Josh Harrison took a pitch the opposite way to right; Beltran couldn't dig it out of the corner and Josh had a triple. Cutch was walked intentionally, and The Kid, bad finger and all, came out. But no heroics today; he chopped a ball to third and the Cards turned a nice DP, just edging Walker at first.

Chris Resop pitched a clean frame; so did Joe Kelly for St. Louis. With two down, Resop was ahead of Molina 0-2, wasted a couple upstairs, then came back with a curve that was slapped the opposite way for a knock. No problem; Chris whiffed Schumaker on another hook, this one in the dirt.

Kelly struck out the first two Pirates before JT coaxed a 3-2 walk. With Harrison up, Tabata faked a run to second; Molina threw behind him and picked him off. In the thirteenth, Resop gave up a two out knock to Jay; Kelly did the same in the top of the fourteenth, to Jordy Mercer, but both finished out the frame with routine outs.

Hanny came on for the bottom half, and after two were gone lost Carlos Beltran on four pitches, and he went to second on a wild pitch that almost decapitated Yadier. Molina walked, with Beltran moving to third on a slider in the dirt, credited with a stolen base. Hanny has been wild; The Fort has had to block a handful of balls in the dirt. But he found the zone against Schumaker, who fell behind 0-2 and popped a ball foul by the left field railing that JT made a long run to grab.

The Bucs went down in order to Kelly, who had his bacon saved by Jay. The center fielder gloved a McKenry shot at the wall in center; a little lift, and it would have been yard. Kelly has no trouble working multiple innings. He started 12 games for the Cards, being the guy that replaced Jaime Garcia, today's starter, when he went on the DL in June. This, in fact, would be his regular day to start. Jared Hughes put up a zero in the Card half, giving up a hit.

Jones led off the sixteenth with a double, but was nailed at third on a bunt try by JT; why does Hurdle bunt with a runner at second, no outs, and a position player up? JT was caught on an aborted hit and run, followed too late by a Harrison single. Cutch went down again, and on we go. Hughes put the Cards away 1-2-3 in the sixteenth.

With one down in the seventeenth, J-Mick pinch hit for Hughes and lined a single to center, barely eluding Jay's dive. An out later, Pedro was walked intentionally after a wild pitch moved McDonald to second, and Barmes took a first pitch curve for the team to load the bases. Lefty Marc Rzepczynski was called in to face Jones. He got ahead 1-2, then Jones hit a comebacker off Rzepczynski's foot, and the ball died between the mound and second for an infield knock and a 3-2 Bucco lead. JT worked the count full and lined one the opposite way, but Schumaker stabbed it before it could get to the outfield. Now it was up to Juan Cruz.

Molina opened the frame with a knock to right. Cruz was ahead of Schumaker 0-2, wasted a couple, and then watched him bloop a ball to center. Cutch tried to shoestring it, but it short hopped his mitt and went just enough past him to get pinch runner Ryan Jackson to third. After a line out to second, Tony Cruz grabbed a bat; the first pitch he saw was up, and he lifted a sac fly to knot the score. Jay singled, but Cruz got Descalso on a pop.

Fernando Salas came on for the Red Birds. He fanned the first pair of Pirates, then Jordy Mercer fought off an inside pitch, looping it over third and legging out a double. The last player on the bench, Rod Barajas, grabbed a bat, and popped out on the first pitch.

In an interesting but probably his only move, Hurdle sent out tomorrow's scheduled starter, Wandy Rodriguez, to face the Cards. He whiffed Holliday, and Beltran rolled over on a pitch but grounded it through the SS hole. He stole second as Freese struck out; a poor throw by The Fort (who has to be one tired cowboy by now) let him get in under Mercer's tag. He went to third as pinch hitter Adam Wainwright walked on defensive indifference, but Schumaker fanned to end the frame.

Barret Browning was the next soldier to enter the breach. He got The Fort on a fly, but not Pedro, who knocked his 23rd of the year over the right center fence on a 1-2 breaking ball. Barmes singled, but Jones flew out. JT doubled to left and Harrison walked on five pitches to fill the bases with Buccos. Cutch got ahead 3-0, took a strike, and then lined a sinker above the belt and away to right to knock a pair home, and the Bucs had some breathing room at 6-3.

Wandy put away the Red Birds 1-2-3, helped by a leaping catch and face plant into the wall in right by Harrison. If you're gonna play 6 hours and seven minutes, ya might as well win, right? Giving up his start tomorrow and then winning the game today (tonight?) just gave Wandy a sudden burst of clubhouse cred after a slow start. It was, btw, his first relief appearance since 2006.

So hey - a nineteen inning loss spun the Bucs into a death spiral last year; it'll be interesting to see what a nineteen inning win does to them this season. The Bucs will jump their jet to San Diego without a starter, guys limping around wrapped in ice all over the locker room, and a bullpen that's just worked 12 innings. It's the only way to fly.

Tomorrow, Edinson Volquez will go against...well, who knows? We expect someone from Indy will get the call, maybe Justin Wilson who's OK to pitch (Jeff Locke started for Indy today), and bet there will be a bunch of roster shuffling going down in the wee hours.

  • The last time the Pirates won a 19 inning game on the road was August 25th, 1979 at San Diego.
  • According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates are first team to score 3+ runs in 19th inning or later since the Expos did it against the Astros on July 7th, 1985, when Montreal scored three in the nineteenth.
  • Jason Grilli set a new personal season high by reaching 70 K with his two punch-outs in the eighth. His previous best of 69 was set in 2008, when he pitched for Colorado and Arizona.
  • Of course, not every stat is roses: Michael McKenry was the first Pirate player to go 0-for-8 or worse in a game since Johnny Ray did it in a 16 inning loss to Phillies on June 21st, 1985. The Fort did hit a couple of nice shots, though, with one being taken off the fence.
  • In the wild card, the Bucs hold a one game lead over San Francisco and a two game lead over the Cardinals for the second slot.
  • The only road series the Bucs haven't homered in was back in May against Philadelphia, though it did take awhile for one this set.
  • Jaime Garcia set a personal high with 10 K in a game. He's the first Card lefty to reach single game double digits in whiffs since Mike Mulder fanned a dozen Dodgers in 2005.

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