Friday, August 31, 2012

Karstens Reinjured and Ripped; Bucs Go Down 9-3

Mark Rogers didn't have much problem in the first frame; after a fly out, he fanned JT and Travis Snider fishing for sliders. Nyjmo gave Jeff Karstens fits. After fouling off some balls and laying off high waste heaters, he poked one the opposite way for a double. Ricky Weeks followed with a first pitch knock to right, and there were Brewers at the corners in a hurry. Ryan Braun whiffed as Weeks stole second. It was a short reprieve as Aramis Ramirez singled them both in. He got ahead of Corey Hart 1-2, left a meatball down the middle, and Hart cranked it over the left center wall to put the Brewers up 4-0. Jonathan Lucroy followed with a knock; everything JK is tossing is down the middle this inning.

That was it for Karstens; the Bucs sent out the trainer and Kyle McPherson got the call. JK maintained all week that his groin was OK; apparently that wasn't the case, or it maybe popped again. K-Mac toed the rubber, and though he paid some attention to Lucroy, he still stole second, his third swipe of the year. It seems the Brewers have gamed for a go-go night, or inning at least. The Fort threw away a pickoff toss; The King booted the backup try and Lucroy galloped to third. Carlos Gomez K'ed; Jean Segura walked - and stole second. Geez. Rogers rolled out on a 3-0 pitch. Just another nightmare inning at Miller Field - four runs, five hits, three stolen bases.

It was another 1-2-3 frame for Rogers in the second, with another K. Nyjer Morgan had a pesky at bat, fouling off a half dozen McPherson offerings before taking an outer-half ball the opposite way for a knock. Weeks got hit with the next pitch. After an out, A-Ram reached on a 3-2 walk; K-Mac's breaking ball hasn't come near the plate so far tonight, and as a result, he's tossed 31 pitches to get three outs. To help matters, McKenry whiffed on the next pitch, letting a run in and advancing the other guys 90'. Hart got bopped with the next delivery, loading the bases again. It took nine more pitches, but Lucroy went down swinging at 95 MPH heat and K-Mac punched out Gomez on three more heaters, hitting 96. It was 5-0 after two innings that took over an hour to complete.

Josh Harrison dropped a bloop hustle double into center on an 0-2 pitch to open the third. Two outs later, Presley joined him on the basepaths after a five pitch walk. JT tapped back to the mound to end the first mild Buc threat. K-Mac had staggered through his outing, and it was Kevin Correia's turn on the hill. We can't draw much off McPherson's outing; we're sure he wasn't mentally or physically warmed up for a first inning call. Our bigger question is why he batted with a runner on second and a full bench (if Walker is available) if he was gonna get yanked? With two outs, Nyjer Morgan collected his third hit, the opposite way, natch. It took four pitches, but he stole second. KC whiffed Weeks to leave Nyjer there.

GI Jones pumped a little life into the Buccos in the fourth when he belted a 2-0 pitch yard to right, landing in the second deck. Pedro followed with a knock to center. The Fort dropped a two-bag flare to left, putting Bucs at second and third. A fly or better yet, a hit, would make it interesting, but Harrison popped out in a pretty undisciplined at-bat in a key situation. Clint Barmes couldn't pick him up, fouling out behind the plate. It's not the bottom of the order for no reason.

A-Ram knocked a 1-2 pitch to center in the Brew Crew half after a long fly out by Braun, followed by a Hart single. Lucroy bounced out, moving the runners to second and third. KC caught Gomez looking. The pen has done a good job, but so far its four innings, three pitchers and 105 pitches during just under two hours of play. They may have to call up all of Indy's staff after tonight.

After KC flew out to open the fifth, Presley singled, moving to third on a ground out and wild pitch. Snider waged a nine pitch battle, but flew out to center to make the Pirates 0-for-6 with RISP after five. Correia was close to working the first clean inning for the Bucs, but lost Morgan on a 3-2 pitch with two down before getting Weeks on a roller.

Pedro drew a one out walk in the sixth after falling behind 0-2. That was it for Rogers. He was at 106 pitches, and Kameron Loe got the call from the pen. He caught a call against The Fort, who was rung up on a pitch closer to hitting him than the plate. Harrison bounced a comebacker, and the Bucs put up another goose egg. The Brewers put on a two-out runner against KC again when Hart singled. He cleaned up with a Lucroy grounder.

With one away in the seventh, Gaby Sanchez came off the bench and banged a double, moving to third on a wild pitch. Presley bounced out to second, bringing him in to make it 5-2. Jared Hughes climbed the hill as the Bucs shifted people around. Sanchez went to first, Jones to right, Snider to left and JT to the pine. The two down karma continued. after a pair of ground outs, Travis Ishikawa singled. The Bucs could have used one of those two out knocks. Morgan grounded out, and the Pirates were down to six outs.

Jim Henderson took the ball for the Brew Crew. Snider opened with another long at bat, but he was caught looking on a 3-2 pitch that just caught the inside black; gotta protect. After Jones flew out, Pedro singled the opposite way. The Fort looked at two pitches down the middle and swung through one above the letters.

Hisanori Takahashi  took over the pitching duties in the eighth. He gave up a one out infield knock to Braun. Takahashi came inside to A-Ram with a heater, and Ramirez iced the game, crushing it out of the park off the CF scoreboard. He whiffed Hart, and then lost Lucroy on four pitches. It cost when Gomez rattled one off the wall in left center, plating Lucroy, on a ball that Snider misjudged, the downside of switching guys all over the lot. Segura singled him in, followed by another four pitch walk to Jeff Bianchi. Nyjmo fanned to bring the frame to a merciful conclusion.

Harrison singled to open the ninth off Jose Veras. Barmes whiffed swinging through a high heat.Gaby grounded out to third. J-hay moved to second, and Presley singled him in. Jordy Mercer grabbed a bat for Takahashi, and was called out on a pitch that was way tight; after three hours and forty minutes, even the umps were ready for the hot water.

The offensive struggle was predictable with both Cutch and The Kid on the bench. But Karstens has to take the blame for this runaway; it's hard to believe he didn't know he wasn't 100% while warming up. We understand the warrior ethos; we also understand that if you're injured and take the field, you both hurt the team and turn nagging injuries into trips to the DL. It seems to be an ongoing problem for the medical staff that the players either give them bad info or talk Hurdle into letting them play. Remember Snider's hammy tweak and the early indecision on Marte's oblique injury? Someone has to be the grownup.

KC probably would have absorbed this start if JK begged off, and he worked four scoreless innings in relief. It might have been an entirely different game, but...

AJ Burnett takes on Marco Estrada tomorrow night.

  • Jeff Karstens left the game because of right hip flexor discomfort. 
  • Pedro and J-Hay remained hot; both had a pair of knocks tonight. Alex Presley also added a pair of hits.
  • Jones' homer was number 22 this season, a single-season career-high. He hit 21 in both 2009 and 2010.
  • The Bucs missed a golden opportunity to gain some ground; both the Cards and Braves lost while LA was down.
  • The Pirates signed ex-Phil IF Hector Luna and assigned him to Indy. Luna, 32, has a career .262/.314/.385 slash  in 794 big league at-bats.

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