Thursday, August 9, 2012

It Was A Dark & Stormy Win...

It was a dark and stormy night, the kind only Edward Bulwer-Lytton could love. The Pirates played the field much like Igor last night, but between the suddenly invincible Kevin Correia and the hitting heroics of Neil Walker, they held off the Snakes 7-6.

It started off not so well for Kevin Correia, the red-haired stepchild of the Bucco rotation. Stephen Drew led off with a double and Willie Bloomquist dropped a bunt for a knock. Chris Johnson singled softly to right to plate one run, and Paul Goldschmidt's sac fly brought home another to stake the Snakes to a 2-0 lead.

Ian Kennedy got a taste of Pittsburgh lightning a couple hours before Mother Nature's show; he tasted the two-out variety. After fanning the first pair of Pirates, Cutch and Garrett Jones produced back-to-back singles. Their knocks were followed by Neil Walker's bomb over the Clemente Wall off a hung 2-2 change up. It was 3-2 after an inning, and the fireworks were just starting.

Starling Marte’s fourth homer to right center in the third put the Pirates up 4-2. The Pirates loaded the bases in the third with two outs thanks to a couple of walks and a Travis Snider single, but a Rod Barajas K took care of that threat.

KC, as per his SOP, settled in after a rough start and retired eight in a row and 12 of 14 D-Backs. Then came the fifth.

The Diamondbacks scored twice in the fifth. It started off with a pair of walks sandwiched around a bunt. A Bloomquist double tallied one and planted D-backs at second and third. KC looked like he slithered out of it, K'ing Johnson and getting Goldschmidt to chop to third. But Pedro couldn't handle the grounder, and his boot gave up another Arizona run, making it a 4-4 game.

The Pirates had an answer. Snider lined a single to center. Cutch chopped one up the middle; Stephan Drew gloved and shoveled the ball to second for the force, perfect except that Bloomquist dropped the perfect fed. Jones hit a rocket into center to juice the sacks. Walker doubled to left-center Notch, plating two runs and leaving Bucs at second and third with no outs. Big inning on tap? Uh, no.

Kirk Gibson replaced yanked Kennedy at replaced him with Matt Albers. Abers threw a wild pitch to El Toro, but came up roses when then ball hit the stone wall behind the plate and bounded straight back to the dish, making Jones' dash home a suicide run. Alvarez and Barajas whiffed, and say bye-bye to that big inning. Still, 6-4 after five is a promising start.

Jordy Mercer faced Josh Collmenter in an at-bat he'll remember. Collmenter gave him a cutter high - we're talkin' at the shoulders - and Mercer turned on it, dropping it a few rows deep in left for his first MLB yard ball and a 7-4 Pirate lead.

KC called it a day after that, going six innings, allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and five whiffs on 90 deliveries, not a bad job considering the circumstances. Chris Resop climbed the hill, and could have taken the Buc infield to court for non-support during a glorious lightning storm (we always thought the clubs were sent to the dugouts in those situations; guess we were wrong) and fairly heavy rain.

Resop hurt himself by losing Drew on a 3-2 pitch. Bloomquist reached when Jones muffed a throw from Pedro. A K and sac fly allowed one run in to make it 7-5, and then the Bucs reverted to their little league days. Mercer charged a ball, but his throw to first was high and drew Jones a smidge off the bag. Then GI kicked a grounder and fell down trying to recover, loading the bases. Clint Hurdle mercifully pulled Resop and brought in Tony Watson, who K'ed Chris Young looking. The first two pitches were perfectos, called strikes that were knee-high and on the inside black He caught a call on the third in the same zone. Young wasn't amused.

He had beefed to ump Larry Vanover about the strikes that were, so you can imagine his reaction to one that wasn't. Off went the helmet, the bat went airborne, and tough guy Gibson had to do his best bouncer imitation, wrapping up a frothing Young in a bearhug and dragging him to the bench. Justin Upton fired a helmet and couple of observations at the umps, although from a distance. Like Young, he was given an eviction notice after first base ump Alfonso Marquez noticed him (although Upton did go out in the field in a "Who, me?" moment). Nothing like surviving a six-out inning and getting the other team's outfield tossed in one same fell swoop.

The physical errors were replaced by a mental one in the eighth. Chad Qualls came on (Jason Grilli was unavailable tonight after working to games) and got Gerardo Parro to bounce to first. Gaby Sanchez, a defensive replacement, looked to toss to Qualls, but he was late covering the sack and Sanchez lost the footrace. Two outs later, he came in on a Bloomquist single to make it 7-6.

The game thankfully cooled down at the end. Joel Hanrahan, usually the director of dramatic finishes, instead zipped through the Snakes, striking out the side on thirteen pitches. He got all three D-Backs swinging at sliders; Hanny was all that last night for save #33 for KC's ninth win.

Four errors usually guarantee a loss; three homers usually guarantee a win, so it balanced out to close game. Let's hope the glovework was an aberration. A good hunk of the pitching success of the season is due to the solid work in the field behind the mound. But hey, an ugly win or two is a welcome thing of beauty over the grind of the season.

  • The Kid's 13th homer set a personal high for bombs; he's hit a dozen in each of the past two seasons. He's now tied with Arizona’s Aaron Hill and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips for the most dingers by a NL second baseman this season.
  • KC now has a seven game win streak, the longest in the NL. As Jim Rosati of the North Side Notch noted "Since the All-Star Break, Kevin Correia has more wins than the Astros."
  • Pedro Alvarez committed his 18th error of the season, the most he's ever booted in a season and the most in MLB at 3B.
  • The attendance was 25,175 (at least before the storm.)


WilliamJPellas said...

I'll tell you, Ron, when he is not on one of his infrequent-if-very-impressive hot streaks, Pedro is VERY hard to watch. I mean, he is BAD. It's painful. I still say the jury is still out with him.

Ron Ieraci said...

His eye has gotten a little better, Will, but his aggressiveness is closer to lamb than lion. He also has a problem in that he seems to have the widest strike zone in the league.

But I agree - he is nowhere near being an everyday MLB player.