Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bucs Blow 3-0 Lead, Strand 15 & Lose 4-3 On Infield Single

Well, the first three frames went quickly and quietly enough as Wandy Rodriguez and Mat Latos put up goose eggs. Wandy went nine up, nine down. Latos whiffed Pedro swinging at three soft serves to wriggle out of a two-on jam in the first set up by an Alex Presley knock and Cutch walk.

The fourth was another matter. A Cutch homer opened up things, a heater in that he lined to left center. A Barajas bloop and a swinging bunt to third by Wandy with the bases juiced - Pedro and Clint Barmes walked around a JT ground rule double - made it 3-0. The Reds' Chris Heisey answered by smacking Cincy's first knock, a solo bomb that made it 3-1 and ended Rodriguez's scoreless run at 16-1/3 innings.

The Bucs went down quietly in the fifth, and ditto for the Reds. The only Buc damage in the sixth was a one out JT walk; with two outs Hot Rod put a charge in a ball the opposite way, but it dropped short of the fence where Jay Bruce wrapped leather around it. Latos left after 90 pitches as Miguel Cairo grabbed a stick. He's was the only Red not to fan as Wandy tossed another 1-2-3 frame.

Jose Arredondo toed the rubber in the seventh. He got Wandy on a comebacker, survived a Holt liner to first, and then brushed Presley on a 1-2 pitch. Cutch squared up on him and belted a ball to deep center, but the park held the drive and Heisey hauled it in. The Bucs had a couple at good at bats, but no payoff. Votto led off with a single to right, just the second knock off Wandy. Bruce hit one weakly for a the force at second; Bruce hit into another force, barely beating the relay to first. Todd Frazier also hit one soflly, but he reached on an infield knock to the right side.

That was it for Wandy, though we're not sure why after coaxing three straight weak grounders and the eight hitter up. He went 6-2/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits with a walk and five whiffs, serving 89 pitches. Jared Hughes climbed the bump. Clint Hurdle's probably not sure about the quick hook in retrospect, as Dioner Navarro doubled them both home on a knee high heater down the middle. Xavier Paul stepped into the box and grounded out, but it's a new game.

The Reds trotted out Sean Marshall for the eighth. He got the first two outs easily before JT banged a 3-2 single. Jeff Clement grabbed a stick for Barmes, and Jonathan Broxton came in from the pen. The Buc lefty had the green light on a 3-0 pitch, but bounced out to first to end the frame, swinging at a knee high fastball on the outside corner and rolling over on it. Jordy Mercer came in to play short.

With an out, Hughes plunked Brandon Phillips, causing a little trash talking between the principals. Heisey went down swinging as Phillips stole second. Myabe not a bright move; Votto was intentionally walked to get to Ludwick. After fouling a couple of low heaters, Hughes went upstairs for the swinging K. Phillips was still jawing as he left the field, this time at Cutch.

Broxton stayed on for the ninth. After fanning Hot Rod, Starling Marte, in for Presley, fell behind 0-2, then rifled a double to the opposite field. Holt bounced out, rolling over on a slider down and away, with Marte taking third. Travis Snider pinch hit for Hughes, who was in the two spot after a double switch, and went down swinging.

Tony Watson took the bump for the Bucs, and lost Bruce on four pitches. After falling behind Frazier 2-0, Watson came back to blow some gas past him. Didi Gregorius went down swinging too. Denis Phipps hit for Broxton and bounced out. It's on to extra innings.

Aroldis Chapman trotted in from the bullpen; as fate would have it, he faced Cutch, who he beaned last time the pair met. This time around, he lost him on five pitches. Then Jones walked on four pitches in the lefty matchup; Chapman is only hitting 93-94 and been down with his pitches. d'Arnaud came in to run for GI, though he was the back runner. He pumped it up for Pedro; after hitting 97, he fanned him on a slider. JT got good wood on a heater on the outside half, but lined out to Bruce in right.

Gaby Sanchez came to the plate for Jordy Mercer. The runners moved up on a passed ball, and a pitch later Gaby drew a free pass to juice the bases. That spun a couple of wheels. The Fort grabbed some wood, and Dusty Baker waved in Sam LeCure to face him. McKenry looked at two fastball strikes, took a chase pitch, and then rolled over on a slider down and away to ground out to third.

Chris Resop climbed the hill. Ryan Hanigan took a 3-2 heater to left past d'Arnaud for an opening knock; Drew Stubbs ran for him, and Phillips bunted him to second. Heisey fell behind 1-2, but eventually walked on a full count pitch he got a call on; there goes the open base for Votto. No diff; he walked him on four pitches to put the winning run at third. Resop got ahead of Ludwick 1-2, ran the count full with a pair of curves in the dirt, but escaped when he banged a heater to Gaby, who got the force at home. Resop blew a 2-2 heater past Bruce on his 31st pitch of the frame; both sides left the bases jammed in the tenth.

LeCure K'ed rooks Marte and Holt looking. Josh Harrison hit for Resop and went down looking, too, a couple of pretty bad at-bats. Marte's whiff was a bad call, but Holt and J-Hay had pitches that were right there. Hanny finally got his turn in the eleventh. He walked Frazier on five pitches, and Gregorius dropped one to move him up a station. Henry Rodriguez stepped up, and after falling into an 0-2 hole walked on the next four pitches, including a wild pitch to move Frazier to third. Devin Mesoraco went down swinging through a slider in the dirt. Phillips lined a heater to right, but JT was there to make a sliding shoe top grab, and the Bucs improbably were still alive.

JJ Hoover got the call for the twelfth and put the Bucs down in order. Pedro K'ed swinging for the last out, tossing his bat in disgust after a couple of terrible strike calls put him in the hole; ump Phil Cuzzi's strike zone has been huge for both teams tonight and expanding as the innings roll on. Chris Leroux received his invite to the dance. He got Heisey on a fly that Marte covered some acreage to grab. The next pair of outs were routine, and the thirteenth loomed.

Hoover was back on the hill. With two down, The Fort lived up to his Scrappy-Doo image and worked a ten-pitch walk. Marte went down on three pitches away and off the plate in a not very good turn at the plate. Leroux nailed the first two outs before Gregorius singled to right, the first Reds' hit since the ninth. Scott Rolen, on the bench with back spasms, came to the dish and bounced out to short.

Alfredo Simon joined the parade of pitchers in the fourteenth. Holt caught a heater away and took it to left for a double off the wall. Eric Fryer, the last Bucco bench player - only Walker was left on the pine - came to the plate and drew a 3-2 walk when he was trying to bunt. Cutch legged out an infield knock to jam the sacks. d'Arnaud went after the first pitch and sent it to center, but too shallow for Holt to tag. Pedro also chased the first pitch, and bounced it to first for a force at home. That left it up to JT, who looked at a pair of strikes before grounding out to first, the second time the Bucs have left the bases loaded in extra innings. Fryer stayed in the game, moving to right as JT sat down. Now five Pirates starters are out of the game.

And now Rick VandenHurk, a starter at Indy, was on the mound, though he's relieved during his MLB career. Mesoraco ripped one to the track in left, but being the epitome of a catcher, was happy with a single rather than challenge Marte's arm. Phillips dribbled one in front of the plate, and reached safely as the throw to second was late. Heisey lined out to Marte in left. In a big matchup, RVH blew a 95 MPH heater past Votto. He threw a slider away while facing Ludwick, moving the runners up a base to second and third. Ludwick banged one to short and d'Arnaud couldn't finish a diving stop, losing the ball as he popped up, to give the Reds a 4-3 win.

It was SOP for the Pirates. They stranded 15, were 2-for-14 with RISP, and lost on a wild pitch and poorly played infield single. The Bucs blew some glorious chances and had some pretty terrible at-bats, but Clint Hurdle's overmanaging didn't help. The Bucs finished with five starters on the bench; somehow Chase d'Arnaud, with 34 extra base hits in 427 minor league PAs, ended up at SS as the clean up hitter and Eric Fryer in RF. He traded his four hole man for a pinch runner in a spot where Jones wasn't the lead runner.

For all the grief Dusty Baker takes, he only pulled one starter, his catcher, during the 14 innings. The brainstorming started when the skipper pulled Wandy and snowballed from there. Hey, Hurdle didn't choke with runners on, but he sure didn't have his best guys at the plate, either, unlike the Reds. So it was a team loss in every sense.

Kevin Correia takes on Mike Leake tomorrow.

  • Brock Holt extended his hitting streak to 6 games.
  • The Pirates are 2-14 in games decided by two runs or fewer since the trade deadline, and have lost 21 of their last 30 games.


WilliamJPellas said...

Back to back epic collapses to finish the year are the type of happening that gets a lot of managers fired. I am beginning to get the sense that Hurdle is on the hot seat. Your thoughts, Ron? Of course, the other side of him getting Ye Olde Boote is, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it! In other words, is there anyone else out there who is objectively better and who would take the Pirates job over any other opportunities? I'm not sure that there are.

Ron Ieraci said...

Oh, I think he'll get his last season in, Will. But the great motivator might want to make sure that he doesn't lose his team, especially the vets. After all, he brought most of them in. He's never been a great x and o guy from what I've seen.

But he had a system that everybody knew their place in the pecking order, which hasn't been the case in the past few weeks, and he has been doing some under-the-bus tossing instead of sucking it up and mouthing the ol' "we gotta coach 'em up better" cliche.

My guess is that the Bucs might look at Jeff Banister if there is a switch.