Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can't Hit, Can't Field, Can't Win - Bucs Fall 4-1

The Astros started the festivities by honoring some forty old timers. Not sure if the Pirates would have a better chance against them (heck, most of them are in their fifties and sixties) or the current team. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Dallas Keuchel gave up a single to Starling Marte to open the contest, and The Kid followed with a bunt single. Cutch threw some cold water on the start by banging one to third for a 5-4-3 DP, and Garrett Jones provided the ice bath by going down swinging. Can't say that's a very promising start.

Jose Altuve started off against Kevin Correia by reaching on an infield knock. Then, praise the Lord, he was gunned stealing on the next pitch. He shoulda been more patient; Scott Moore then doubled to left two tosses later and went to third on a wild pitch. Brett Wallace had a rip at a 3-1 pitch and knocked it to center to score Moore. KC whiffed the next pair of 'Stros, but the Bucs are starting in a familiar hole 1-0.

Gaby Sanchez took care of that quickly enough. He took Keuchel's first pitch of the second down the middle for a strike, and mashed a center-cut changeup yard to left. Pedro flew out, and The Fort grounded out to first. It was an odd play; the first base ump called The Fort safe, then they had a conference and decided he was out. That set off Clint Hurdle, and he was given the heave-ho; the replay showed that the first base ump's call that the pitcher was off the bag was right, but Keuchel may have tagged him. Barmes bounced out, and it was 1-1.

After collecting his third straight whiff, KC was touched for another infield single, this one by Matt Dominguez. No prob; he retired the 8-9 batters to keep the score knotted. The Bucs went down quietly in the third, as did Houston.

GI Jones walked with one away in the fourth. After a Gaby force out, Pedro reached on an infield single; did someone water the Minute Maid infield? The Fort bounced out as none of the Bucs can square up on Keuchel's changeup-fastball repertoire. KC mowed down the Astros, and has gotten his pitch count well under control in the past couple of innings with 54 servings even with 6 K.

Pittsburgh went down in order in the fifth. After knocking down nine straight Astros, KC gave up a one out single to Jason Castro. Keuchel swung away, and his weak roller to second moved Castro up a station. Altuve drew a 3-2 walk after being in a 1-2 hole. KC ran the count full on Moore, and with the runners going, got him swinging at a changeup in the dirt to keep the game at ones.

The Pirates were chopped down in order again in the sixth, with Cutch and Jones going down swinging. Keuchel is doing a good job of keeping the ball down, but he's been in the middle of the plate and the Bucs just can't barrel up. KC fanned another pair during his 1-2-3 frame. He's also keeping the ball down, but doing a nice job of moving it around and changing pitches. Like the Bucs, the Astros can't do anything with balls in the hitting zone.

The Bucs went down without a peep again in the seventh; Gaby has the only hard hit ball of the game, and that was in the second inning. Lowrie opened the Houston half with a knock to center, and Tyler Greene came in to run for him. Dominguez banged a DP ball to short; Barmes booted it. Castro tried to bunt and fouled it off. With a 2-1 count, he swung away and yanked a changeup barely into the right field stands; Jones almost pulled it back in.

That was it for KC, who shouldn't have had any runners on when he faced Castro. He went 6 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with a walk and nine Ks, tossing 97 pitches. Tony Watson took over and walked Brian Bogusevich, who went to second on a wild pickoff toss. Altuve bunted him over. Watson K'ed Bradon Barnes and got Wallace on a long fly to left. The Astros have four runs; the Pirates have four hits.

Hector Ambriz climbed the hill for Houston in the eighth. Barmes struck out swinging at a pitch so bad that he reached first on a wild pitch. Alex Presley got ahead 3-0, watched two strikes, and then bounced into a 4-6-3 DP. Marte grounded out. Hanny got the call for the Astro half; there probably won't be many save opportunities for him for over the next 11 games. Greene singled with two outs, stole second and went to third when McKenry's throw missed the mark. Hanny decided to take matters in his own hands and whiffed Dominguez.

Wilton Lopez looked for another save, and had it three batters later.

Four hits. Three errors. Any wonder that their September record is 4-16? AJ Burnett takes on Jordan Lyle tomorrow afternoon.

  • The Holy Grail quest: The Pirates need to finish 8-3 to get to 82 wins.
  • Kevin Correia tied his career high with nine strikeouts. It was his third career nine-strikeout performance, and the first since July 18th, 2010 against San Diego.
  • Scott McMurty noted that "James McDonald has exact same ERA (4.21) in exact same number of innings (171.0) this year as he did in 2011. Can't make this stuff up."
  • Root Sports won the Mid Atlantic Region Emmy for live coverage of a sporting event for their telecast of the McKenry HR game July 8th, 2011 when he hit a three run dinger with two outs in the eighth for a 7-4 win over the Cubs and Carlos Marmol at PNC Park.
  • The Reds clinched the Central Division with a 6-0 win over LA.

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