Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wandy, Pedro Tag Team Cards 5-0

Hey, must be a big game; ESPN is here and there's not a football in sight. And except for Jon Jay, Wandy seemed to like the spotlight; he walked him to open the game and then with two outs in the third.  It was quite a battle both times; Rodriguez used up 19 pitches on him in the two at-bats. The second one caused some consternation when Carlos Beltran singled him to second. But he got Matt Holliday to fly out to to the opposite field, so he had his third goose egg on the board.

The Bucs drew first blood when Garrett Jones doubled off the Clemente Wall in the opening frame, driving home Travis Snider, who had doubled up the third base line off Joe Kelly an out earlier. Snider scored easily thanks to Kelly's indecision. After Lunchbox's two bagger, Cutch hit a comebacker. Kelly had a shot at Snider going to third, but took the sure out. Cutch's wheels may have brought him in after GI's double, but a slow jog home by Snider beats a mad sprint by Cutch any day.

In the second, the Bucs wasted a Rod Barajas knock. With two down in the third, Snider walked, stole second, and that was followed by another free pass to Jones, both on four pitches. Kelly fell behind Pedro 3-1, gave him a curve and watched it disappear into the City twilight, landing in the top row of right field just missing the Pirate Charities sign. You think after Alvarez's showing last night that he'd see another one wide with J-Hay on deck; another bad decision by Kelly. Well, maybe not; Harrison singled. Hot Rod flew out, and after three, the Buccos were up 4-0.

Freese got the second knock off Wandy, an infield single, with one down in the fourth. No prob; Wandy got a pair of routine outs to tie up the inning. The Pirate action consisted of a two out walk to JT, but no fireworks followed like last inning.

After Houston went down in the fifth, Cutch opened the Bucco half with a knock. GI went down swinging at a 3-2 change up, and with Pedro up, Cutch was caught stealing. Bad move in front of El Toro; Alvarez bombed a double to right on a 2-0 meatball heater. But it wasn't wasted; Josh singled him home, and took second on the throw to the plate. 5-0 after five has a nice rhythm to it.

With two down in the sixth, one compliments of a nice McCutch grab on a Holliday drive, Freese collected his second hit, a single to center, and stayed there as Skip Schumaker flew out. Trevor Rosenthal took the bump for the Red Birds. Clint Barmes greeted him with a single, slapping a 2-0 fastball to right. That was it for Wandy; Jeff Clement batted for him and rolled a ball to the right side, moving Barmes up 90'.  Another bouncer got him to third, and the next grounder sent him to the dugout. Wandy tossed six goose eggs, giving up three hits, three walks and notching three Ks on 96 pitches, leaving with a 5-0 lead.

Tony Watson jogged in from the bullpen to face the bottom of the Cardinal order in the seventh. Tony Cruz opened with a knock to center. It was elementary for Watson after that; he got a fly out and fanned a pair. Rosenthal had the same results. With an off day coming up, why not work the big dogs? Jason Grilli took the hill in the eighth, and a couple of K and a long fly to right later, the Red Birds were down to three outs.

Rosenthal got three routine outs in the ninth. He's a kid who has yo-yo'ed back and fourth from AAA, but give the devil his due: after three frames, he was still bringing it at 97-98. And it was Hanny time at PNC Park. With two down, Cruz disappointed the fans, who were on their feet, by legging out an infield knock. But they were satisfied plenty when Raffy Furcal flew out with a full count; Hanny has to provide just a little drama.

Winning baseball is keyed by good starting pitching, and the Bucs had their first back-to-back shutouts of the season against the Cards, putting together 21 consecutive goose eggs. They were much more disciplined at the plate, and of course The Bull is on a rampage. And guess what? The Bucs will enter September playing games that count instead of being a spoiler. Cool.

The Bucs are off tomorrow and get it on again Friday at Milwaukee.

  • Pittsburgh took the series from St. Louis 8 games to 7, the first time they've won the season set from the Cards since 2008 and only the second time this century. Their last plus series before that was in 1999.
  • Steve Berthiaume of ESPN noted that Pedro Alvarez's 7 HR and 23 RBI vs the Cards this season is the best showing against them by a Bucco since Ralph Kiner had 9 long balls and 23 RBI against them in 1950.
  • Pedro, GI Jones and McCutch are the second NL trio with 70+ RBIs; the Cardinals have four. 
  • Neil Walker is in the clubhouse and feeling better, but he hasn't taken a swing yet. His achy back is still inflamed and a couple-to-a-few days from recovering after tightening up on Monday. There is no point in DL'ing The Kid with IF Chase d'Arnaud now in the dugout and the rosters expanding Saturday. Josh Harrison, subbing at second, has been 6-for-14 starting the last four games and turned a pair of DP yesterday, so the club hasn't missed a beat yet.
  • Tonight's attendance was 19,398. 
  • More interesting news: the Bucs have promoted Gerrit Cole from Altoona to Indy according to the Altoona Mirror's Corey Giger. That gets him some high level playoff experience and provides an arm to replace whomever the Bucs call up Saturday. 
  • Yadier Molina said that he felt J-Hay banging into him at home last night was a "clean play," and that he thinks he'll be back Thursday or Friday. That's good news; for our money, he's the NL's top guy behind the plate, although Buster Posey has got his foot in the door.
  • Joey Votto played his first rehab game last night. Cincinnati expects to reactivate him Saturday, September 1st to both give him an extra day or two and save some paperwork headaches.

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