Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bucs Unravel In Ninth To Lose 4-3

After a nice ceremony held through a steady drizzle to celebrate the Great One's 3,000th hit, collected on this date in 1972, Wandy Rodriguez went to work to see if he could reverse his first inning mojo.

He got off on a high note, whiffing Brandon Phillips, but Wilson Valdez followed with a knock. The umps stopped the game then, calling for the tarps; two minutes later, they decided to play ball, so the teams suffered through a four minute rain delay, maybe a new record (it wasn't). A Joey Votto roller moved Valdez to second, and Todd Frazier popped out to get Wandy off to a strong start. Johnny Cueto routinely retired the first two Bucs, then lost Cutch on five pitches. Jones went down swinging after fouling off three straight fat offerings, and it was scoreless after a frame.

The second batter again got to Wandy. After a pop out, Miguel Cairo singled to center. An out later, Ryan Hanigan spoiled enough deliveries to earn a nine-pitch walk and turn the order over as Cueto went down swinging. Cueto had a quiet start to the Bucco second. Pedro flew out to left and Travis Snider went down looking without ever offering at a pitch before Clint Barmes beat out an infield knock. In a Ripley's moment, Hot Rod Barajas hustled out an infield single of his own. Wandy fouled out to end the frame.

After catching a call on an 0-2 pitch just off the black, Phillips opened the third with a single. Valdez followed with another knock to put Reds on the corners. Votto added to the woes when he went the opposite way on a 2-2 pitch for a ground rule double that a fan touched. A Todd Frazier ground out to short brought in a second run. Chris Heisey whiffed after a pesky, eight pitch at bat and Cairo flew out, but the Reds were up by a pair.

The Bucs went to work. Alex Presley got to second on a boot by Votto, but was caught trying to go to third a batter later on a Josh Harrison comebacker. Cutch launched one deep to center, but the park held it in for Stubbs. It couldn't hold Jones' fly, as he banged his 26th to right to tie the game, a no-doubter that splashed down in the Allegheny. Pedro followed with a knock, but Snider went down for a second time. After three, it was 2-2.

Wandy put away the bottom of the Cincinnati order in the fourth, as Cueto did with the Bucs 7-8-9 hitters. Rodriguez was dealing now; he got a pair of whiffs and ran his consecutive out streak to nine after five. Presley opened the Buc half with a double, and was bunted to third by J-Hay. He touched home after a Cutch liner dropped in left. Cutch reached second an out later when a pick throw went astray, but died there when Pedro popped out. Still, 3-2 Buccos after five.

Wandy's streak ended at eleven in the sixth when Cairo spanked a two out double to the opposite field. He came back to fan Stubbs. That should be it for Wandy, who went six innings, giving up a pair of runs on six hits with a walk and seven whiffs, tossing 105 pitches. Cueto put the Bucs down quietly.

Tony Watson toed the rubber in the seventh, and punched out two of the three Reds he faced. Cueto batted; Cincy is hoping to get him his twentieth win, and he is at just 88 pitches so far. And looking good; it took him ten pitches to retire the Bucs in their half.

Jason Grilli took the bump, and Starling Marte was sent into left. Valdez went down on three pitches, but Votto banged a single to center. Frazier was punched out, and so was Jay Bruce. It was an emphatic recovery from yesterday's blown hold. The Reds opted to keep Cueto fresh for the playoffs and sent Sam LeCure to the hill. He K'ed Cutch, who never offered a swing. Gaby Sanchez batted for Jones; Sean Marshall was waved in for LeCure. Marshall got Gaby to fly out and Pedro on a bouncer, and just like in the old days, it was Hanny time.

Ugh. Pinch-hitter Xavier Paul caught an elevated 0-2 heater away, leaned out and took it yard to right. After a pair of infield outs, another pinch hitter, Ryan Ludwick, rattled a double to left. What is it about these guys that turn them into mashers once they leave town? Zack Cozart doubled him home before Hanny could get a Valdez bouncer. Now it's the Bucs that are down to their last three swings.

JT led off with a four pitch walk against Aroldis Chapman. Chapman went to first, and threw the ball away, fortunately for him. Tabata easily got to second; he continued on to third, waved on by Nick Leyva, where he was out. To make it worse, Barmes followed with a five pitch walk, and Hot Rod singled him to second. The Fort went down looking, Marte swinging, and the Bucs lost 4-3.

It was kinda a microcosm of the season; try as they may, nothing quite works out at the end. Well, three to go.

Tomorrow night, the Braves' Paul Maholm, who is 1-1 against his old mates, takes on Jeff Locke, looking for his first big league win. As an added incentive, the series will be last regular season appearances for Chipper Jones.

  • BTW, for those of you wondering what Wandy's real first name is, wonder no more - it's Wandy. And he did pitch as advertised. As a Bucco, he was 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.267 WHIP, with 50 K in 75 IP.
  • The Bucs drew a very nice crowd of 32,814. The sun's out now, but at game time it was chilly and rainy. Looks like Clemente and fan appreciation giveaways trumped the clouds.
  • Tom Singer of noted that rookie Kyle McPherson might have earned a new nickname, as "McFear" signs were spotted in the PNC Park seats last night. After all, K-Mac is pretty generic.
  • Oh, and yes - it is now officially 20 consecutive losing seasons.

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