Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pirates Pummeled 9-3, Walker Hurt

Well, the Pirates broke up from their player's only meeting, took BP, and gave the ball to Wandy Rodriguez. Shane Victorino hit a roller to third; Josh Harrison threw it away for a single and error. Mark Ellis singled weakly to right, breaking his bat, and it was first and third, no outs. Matt Kemp banged a possible DP ball to second, but Neil Walker went down completing the turn. He collided with a sliding Ellis (who may have been safe) at the bag, going down in a heap while holding his right hand, and went off to the bench. So it's 1-0, one out, runner at first, and The Kid is gone with a dislocated pinky finger. Sheesh, these first innings.

Hanley Ramirez banged into a force out, and Andre Ethier singled him to third. Juan Rivera grounded out, so with all the ado, it's just 1-0 , but the Bucs are starting in a hole for the ninth straight outing - and against Clayton Kershaw. He struck out the first two Pirates and put Pittsburgh away in order. Just the start the doctor ordered, hey?

Wandy faced the bottom of the order in the second, his bugaboo of late. After getting two easy outs, he gave up a knock to Kershaw. Victorino lined out to third; Rodriguez has been having problems locating his heater in the early sledding. Gaby Sanchez led off with a ground rule double that hopped the fence in left, the first good news the Bucs have had tonight. The Fort lifted a shot to center, and Sanchez tagged to third. Garrett Jones knocked another ball deep to right, and that brought home Gaby after the catch as the Bucs manufactured the tying run, a nice job by GI against a top shelf lefty.

Mark Ellis opened the third with his second hit, a knock to center. With an out, Ramirez fell behind 0-2 but coaxed an eight pitch walk out of Wandy. Ethier smacked a single to right to juice the sacks. Rivera took a first pitch hook that stayed up to medium right for a sac fly as Jones' throw home was a little off line on a bang-bang play, and Blue was back on top 2-1. The Bucs went down without a peep.

With one down in the fourth, Kershaw collected his second knock, a single to left center. That was followed by a single to right by Victorino. A Mark Ellis grounder mover them up a station. Kemp got a 1-2 hook down the middle and drilled it into right for a two-bagger, and the Dodgers were starting to pull away at 4-1. Ramirez doubled off another curve to plate Kemp, and Wandy was serving meatballs to LA tonight; that's five runs on 10 hits after four frames.  After an out, Cutch caught a hanging slider and dropped it over the fence in center, lining it into the batter's eye greenery. The Bucs still have a pulse at 5-2.

LA went down in order in the fifth, though two batters reached a three-ball count; Wandy is up to 89 pitches. He's due up fourth, but there are only three guys left on the bench. No prob; the Bucs went down 1-2-3.

The first two Blue went down, but Wandy hit Ellis with a 1-2 pitch. That was it; Clint Hurdle brought in Chris Resop and flipped Clint Barmes and Mercer at short, with Barmes batting ninth and the pitcher eighth. In 5-2/3 frames, Wandy gave up five runs on ten hits with a walk, beaned batter and K, tossing 105 balls. Resop got Kemp to ground out and prevent any further damage on the scoreboard.

Barmes battled and finally found a pitch he liked, leading off with a knock into center. Marte was having a forgettable day at the dish; after K'ing twice, he bounced into a 6-4-3 DP. Pedro's having a worse day; he's 3-for-3 in whiffs, just three strikes from the Golden Sombrero.

Ramirez opened the seventh with a knock, and Ethier followed with a single to put Dodgers on the corners. James Loney pinch hit and kept the dogies rolling with a knock up the middle, scoring H-Ram with Ethier stopping at second. Luis Cruz took a fastball the opposite way to right for a ground rule double, making it 7-2. AJ Ellis lifted a ball to center, plating Loney and moving Cruz to the hot corner. Kershaw flew out to left, and Cruz trotted home to make the score 9-2; so much for a pulse. Oddly, after that, Chad Qualls got the call for Resop. Victorino doubled off his first pitch, but Mark Ellis flew out after getting ahead 3-0.

After a Cutch fly out, Sanchez doubled to the Notch, but was stranded there. Juan Cruz climbed the bump for the eighth and threw a clean frame. With an out in the Pittsburgh half, Travis Snider hopped off the bench and doubled. Too bad the Bucs are out of lefty sticks to throw at Kershaw. Barmes singled him in; Snider crossed the plate daintily, nursing his hammy. Sorta curious of Hurdle to bat him in the eighth inning of a 9-2 game. Barmes went to second on defensive indifference (or disbelief). No diff; Kershaw has schooled Marte and Pedro all night. They have eight trips to the plate, K'ing seven times and hitting into a DP.

Tony Watson toed the rubber and tucked LA away. Brandon league came in to finish; Kershaw was at 108 pitches. He lost Cutch on five pitches. Sanchez banged into a 6-4-3 DP and The Fort grounded out, and that was all she wrote, thankfully.

Gotta pitch to win, and the Buc arms simply haven't been strong for awhile. The Dodgers had as many hits with RISP as the Pirates had hits with six. August hasn't been very kind to Pittsburgh pitching in the past couple of seasons.

AJ Burnett takes on Joe Blanton tomorrow at 4:05.
  • The Kid's dislocated finger may well land him on the DL, pending further examination. That will put a hole in the lineup that Clint Hurdle will be hard pressed to replace. Not only did Walker slide between the 2 and 5 holes, but was an iron man, playing 159 games last year and 111 of 117 games this season. 
  • Tonight was LA's ninth straight win over Pittsburgh.
  • Cutch set his personal season high in HRs tonight when he launched his 24th to dead center.
  • Tom Singer of noted that the Pirates had allowed 5+ runs at home seven times in 50 games prior to hosting the West Division clubs; during this homestand, tonight was the ninth straight game it's happened. 
  • Tonight's crowd was 26,522.
  • Wandy has had big time trouble getting swings and misses. He was at just 7% entering tonight, and by David Manel's count, he got two swinging strikes out of 105 pitches against LA. David's a professor, so he counts pretty good.
  • Interesting sidebar from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. He wrote after the Bombers picked up Derek Lowe recently that "Lowe and the Yankees held extensive talks during the 2008-09 winter; as a matter of fact, the Yankees preferred Lowe to A.J. Burnett. But the negotiations with Lowe proved difficult, and since the Yankees held concerns about their infield defense, with Lowe relying so heavily on a sinker, the Yankees opted to sign Burnett." Guess who's getting 56% of his outs on the ground now?
  • The Pirates have traded Indy's RHP Daniel Cabrera, 31, to the Arizona Diamondbacks and have signed Dallas McPherson per Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects. Cabrera, a six year MLB vet, was 6-6 with a 4.58 ERA for the Tribe. McPherson, 32, is a corner infielder with parts of five seasons in the show, putting up a .241/18/45 slash in 386 at-bats in a career hard-bitten by the injury bug. He was released by the White Sox AAA Charlotte team, where in 260 AB his line was .253/12/47.

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