With two down in the second, Yadier Molina knocked a full count single to center, but J-Mick left him stranded as he punched out David Freese. Josh Harrison opened the Bucco half with a 3-2 knock to left. Clint Barmes fouled out to first, and McDonald laid one down to move him to second. JT singled to right, on one hop to Carlos Beltran who fired the ball home on the fly.
In a play-off worthy crash at the plate, Molina held his ground to tag out Harrison after a shoulder to the noggin, looking a little worse for wear. Josh might have a better chance going down under the throw instead of plowing home full steam ahead. But Molina got the out, and that's what counts. The crowd and J-Hay applauded the Card catcher as he wobbled to the bench. But Tony Cruz came on to catch; Yadier still had cobwebs.
It was another clean frame for J-Mick in the third. After Snider whiffed looking at a borderline strike, Cutch sent a slider off the wall in left for a double. GI bounced out, but Pedro made up for McCutch's near miss by taking an inside sinker yard the opposite way, over the Notch 422' away. The Fort grounded out, but the Bucs were on top 3-0.
McDonald kept dealing, putting the Cards away on two grounders and a K in the fourth. The Red Birds apparently thought J-Hay's collision at home was clean; they pitched to him instead of at him, as Westbrook retired him on a 3-2 grounder. Barmes lined out to first, and J-Mick kept things alive with a 3-2 walk. Westbrook went full on JT, and he walked. Snider flew out the opposite way to end the frame. Both sides are seeing a lot of pitches; Westbrook is already at 77.
Beltran drew, what else, a 3-2 walk to open the fifth. Cruz banged the second pitch to short, and a 6-4-3 DP cleaned the base paths for McDonald. David Freese drove a ball to deep left, but it was hauled in by Tabata a step from the fence to end the inning. Cutch and GI hit back-to-back singles; Pedro doubled a run in on a two-bag blast off the Clemente Wall. The Fort kept it going with a single through the left side, with another run scored and their Bucs on the corners.
Josh got banged with a pitch to load the sacks, causing quite a bit of yapping from the Buc bench, especially Hot Rod Barajas and Clint Hurdle. The ump warned both benches, again like at Cincy when the Pirates hadn't plunked anyone. Anyway, Barmes answered best by singling a pair home. J-Mick bunted with two strikes, moving the runners over to second and third. JT bounced out freezing them, but Snider walked to load the sacks with two down. Cutch bounced out to third, and the Pirates were done after running up a 7-0 lead.
With two down in the sixth, Jon Jay doubled the opposite way to left. No prob; J-Mick whiffed Skip Schumaker looking on three pitches for his sixth K; he got a call on the third strike. Brandon Dickson took the ball for the Red Birds. After a fly out by Jones, Pedro got a heater and launched another bomb, this one 469', earning a curtain call and stepping out of the dugout flashing the Z. The Fort singled to left center, but his happy feet carried him a little too far as he was tossed out at second trying to stretch it. Harrison provided no drama this at bat, grounding out to short.
The Cards were sat down in the seventh by J-Mick. The Cards officially raised the white flag, taking out Raffy Furcal, Matt Holliday and Beltran. Jeff Clement, with one down, reached on a boot. An out later he scored on Snider's triple, making it 9-0.
J-Mick went seven scoreless frames, giving up two hits, a walk and collecting six K using 97 pitches, and Chris Resop toed the rubber in his stead. Cruz and Freese welcomed him with back-to-back singles. Resop bore down and got Matt Carpenter swinging. Dickson batted for himself, and dribbled an infield knock to juice the sacks. Resop got ahead of Jay 0-2, wasted a pitch and got him to bounce to Pedro to start an around-the-horn DP; El Toro is doing it all tonight. Dickson struck out the side swinging in the eighth; looks like the Bucs are ready to enjoy their post game brew a little early.
Hisanori Takahashi trotted in from the pen for the coup de grace. Delivered it nicely, too, striking out the last two batters to send the scattered few and proud fans home happy.
J-Mick tossed seven scoreless frames while Pedro went 4-for-5 with two homers, three runs and four RBI and every Pirate position player had at least a hit with one of their more disciplined games at the dish of the season. That sure provides a pulse, hey? And if that's not enough, how about a playoff run sweetened by a little bad blood with the last game of the season series show nationally on ESPN? Good times.
Joe Kelly goes against Wandy Rodriguez tomorrow night. It's time the lefty to show why the Bucs traded for him.
- Pedro's sixth inning bomb measured at 469', the longest ever blasted by a Pirate at PNC Park and the fourth longest ever. Sammy Sosa launched a 484' drive in 2002 off Dave Williams. The previous Bucco big belt was Matt Lawton's 463-foot blast against the Colorado Rockies on May 20th, 2005 off Jamey Wright.
- The diagnosis on Yadier Molina is an upper-back/left shoulder/neck strain. He's considered day to day, although the Cards pulled their AAA catcher mid-game tonight.
- 17,492 fans were at PNC Park tonight; we'd expect tomorrow to be a good crowd.
- Steve Pearce went to the Yankees, where he'll bat cleanup tonight, sheesh! And to make room, the Bronx Bombers sent Casey McGehee to the minors.