Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reconstructed Pen Fizzles, Bucs Fall In Ten 7-5

Hey, it was time for the ol' AJ magic dust to waft over those unbeatable (to the Bucs) Padres. But there was no Tinkerbelle to the rescue as Burnett continued his rough August and the revamped bullpen couldn't finish off the game. And as is becoming commonplace, the Bucs were 1-for10 with RISP and had 12 more whiffs, all combining to a gut wretching 7-5 loss in 10 innings.

It started off badly from the git go.The Bucs stranded a runner at second in the first and the Padres plated a pair. Everth Cabrera and Will Venable led off with ground ball singles. The Pirates staved off the first effort at scoring, throwing out Cabrera at the plate. It was a short reprieve; Carlos Quentin blasted a heater to right for a double that chased both Friars home.

The second was quiet enough, and the Bucs got on the board in the third. JT and Travis Snider hit back-to-back singles and a Cutch force out brought Tabata home. With runners on first and third and tow down, McCutch was caught stealing to end the frame. The Padres had their chance to get it back, loading the bases on a bunt single, ground knock and walk, but AJ got Yonder Alonso to bang into an inning ending 4-6-3 DP.

The Bucs returned the favor in the fourth when Garrett Jones was thrown out cleanly at home on a two-out Clint Barmes double, probably worth rolling the dice with that part of the lineup. The Pirates got a walk and hit batter in the fifth, but couldn't do anything with them. The Friars were frustrated, too, leaving the bases juiced after a double and two walks. It was not a very pretty game through five.

The Bucs caused some damage in the sixth, primed by Jones' one out blast to right off a Marquis slider. A walk and single ended the night for Marquis; Nick Vincent took the bump and was greeted by a Hot Rod Barajas double, plating a run. AJ K'ed, JT walked, and with the bases jammed, Snider bounced out. But the Bucs were up 3-2.

San Diego tied it quickly with three consecutive singles and a Jones error. AJ hung tough, fanning Headley on a 3-2 slurve and coaxing an around-the-horn DP from Quentin. Brad Bach took the hill in the seventh, and stranded two runners by whiffing Barmes. AJ, who was running on empty, loaded the bases with an out, and Tony Watson came on, giving up a sac fly to give SD the 4-3 lead. AJ went 6-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on a dozen hits and five walks with seven K on 110 pitches.

The Bucs went down in order to Luke Gregerson, the first 1-2-3 inning for either team, in the eighth. The Friars padded the lead off Chad Qualls, who gave up a leadoff double to Venable. He scored a classic small ball run, moving to third on a grounder hit behind him and a sac fly.

The Bucs still had some magic left, though. Dale Thayer came to close it out. Cutch was on first with two outs when Thayer fell behind Jones 2-0, came in with a two-seamer and watched it get absolutely crushed over the center field wall to tie the game. Jason Grilli worked the ninth, getting the first two batters routinely before giving up back-to-back hits, the latter a bloop into left. JT made a late throw to third (good decision, btw - the runner behind him going to second made no difference), but Grilled Cheese shut the door. Well, actually Cutch did, with stunning running grab of a Cabrera shot to right center to take the game to overtime.

Miles Mikolas replaced Thayer, and got through the tenth with just a Barajas knock. Daniel McCutchen, freshly recalled from Indy, took the hill. Venable walked on six pitches and stole second. D-Mac fell behind Headley 3-0, and ran the count full instead of walking him with an open base as logic would demand. McCutchen dropped a 3-2 meatball change up over the dish - at least, that's what we'd call an 84 MPH offering that was exactly in the middle of the plate. Headley's eyes lit up and he pounced, cranking the delivery 426' over the right field wall, and the Padres had the Bucco number again.

Why no Joel Hanrahan against the meat of the order? Hey, don't be silly - Hanny doesn't appear on the road unless it's a save situation. We think it's part of his contract.

The Bucs were more bitten by bad karma than bad swings tonight. Pittsburgh hit the horsehide fairly well, even with the whiffs, and had more than their share of at 'em balls. On the other side of the coin, SD found several holes with their grounders; AJ was, despite the hit total, still getting balls beat into the dirt. That's how it seems to go against the Friars.

But there's no sense in ignoring the obvious. The Pirates aren't playing with their best dozen pitchers for whatever reason. Ever since they traded Brad Lincoln and added KC, Chad Qualls and now Daniel McCutchen - and we'd take Juan Cruz over that trio in a heartbeat - the relief corps has been in an state of chaos, entirely self-created by the FO. There's really no point in developing a minor league system if you don't have the confidence to use it.

SD called up Andrew Werner, who's slash is 5-10/3.70, split between AA and AAA, to take on James McDonald Wednesday afternoon.

  • Jamison Taillon had a pretty sharp debut at Altoona. He went five shutout frames, giving up four hits and K'ing six after tossing 67 pitches.
  • On Wednesday, August 29th , the Pirates-Cards will be the ESPN game.

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