Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Buc Bats Clutch In 5-3 Win; Wandy Hurt

The Pirate sticks were hot - at least for an inning - and another stellar effort from the bullpen was enough last night for the Bucs to take a 5-3 victory from the D-Backs in the desert.

Starling Marte greeted Trevor Cahill with a single to right to open, and after The Kid lined out, Cutch drilled a double inside the line at third to plate Marte, who scored easily even with a little hesitation rounding second. With two down, Russell Martin and Pedro drew full-count walks to juice the sacks. Travis Snider followed with a bouncer up the middle, and the Bucs had a 3-0 lead.

Arizona got a run back in the second. Paul Goldschmidt doubled to lead off and touched home two outs later when Wil Nieves went up the middle for a knock. With one away in the Arizona third, a couple bad things happened at once.

Pedro booted a grounder, and Wandy Rodriguez limped off the mound. The lefty had felt some tightness in his hammy above the knee the inning before, and though he went through an impromptu stretching routine on the mound that would have made Jillian Michaels break a sweat in an effort to loosen up, he was done for the night. Jeanmar Gomez, just recovering from a bruised chest suffered a couple of nights ago, came in cold and looked it.

Martin Prado singled and Aaron Hill walked. Goldschmidt launched a bomb to left, but his bid for a grand salami fell just short and his loud out went into the books as a sac fly. Alfredo Marte singled in the tying run (it was his first MLB hit), and it was 3-3 after three and not looking so good. But the Bucco arms had another level in them.

Gomez got through the fourth, helped mightily by a poor bunt against the Bucs' wheel play. After giving up back-to-back knocks to open the frame, Cahill rolled a sac try back to the box, and Gomez got the lead runner at third. That was big, as Gerardo Parro's fly to right moved Nieves to third instead of scoring him, and the game remained tied.

The Pirates used the M&M boys to regain the lead in the fifth. Marte tripled to left with one away, and Cutch's sac fly brought him home barely ahead of Parra's throw in a match-up of great speed v a great arm. Justin Wilson came on, and it was pretty much all Pirate pitching after that. The lefty didn't get the win or save (for that matter, not even a hold), but facing a lot of RH hitters, he cruised through the lineup.

Wilson twirled three almost perfect frames (he plunked Parra), whiffing a pair of D-Backs with 96-97 MPH cheese. He handed the ball off to Mark Melancon in the eighth with a 5-3 lead, thanks to a Jones homer in the top of the frame off Josh Collmenter. Melancon tossed a perfect round, striking out a pair.

The Bucs tried to add to the cushion in the ninth with two-out walks to Gaby Sanchez and Marte, but a Walker pop out set the stage for Jason Grilli. He earned his second save easily, striking out AJ Pollack and getting a couple of balls hit in the air to close out a 1-2-3 inning, and the Bucs had stopped the bleeding for a night.

The Pittsburgh bullpen worked five strong frames against the hottest hitting club in the NL, and came away with a much needed W. The prognosis on Rodriguez is iffy; he said he was gonna ice his hammy and see what happens, so we'll find out if he has to miss a start down the road a bit later. The Bucs have Thursday off, so they can work around a missed start if he needs a little recovery time. While way too early to speculate, if he does have to sit for awhile, both Gomez and Wilson in the bullpen are starters by trade.

The Pirates bats didn't exactly reawaken memories of the 1927 Yankees. They were held to five hits and K'ed twelve times, but three of the knocks went for extra bases and Arizona helped the cause with six walks and a beaned batter.

James McDonald faces Brandon McCarthy today.

  • Coincidence? Cutch tweeted he was bring back the Zoltan and flashed the Z during the game. Somewhere in Japan, Casey McGehee is smiling.
  • This was the first time this season that Arizona never had the lead at some point during the game. It's also the sixth time in seven games the D-Back pitchers have notched double-digit strikeouts.
  • Indy won 3-1; Phil Irwin went six innings surrendering a run on four hits with five K and Bryan Morris got the save, going two innings of perfect ball. One name under the radar you may want to follow is Adalberto Santos at Altoona; the kid can hit, and as a 1B-3B-OF type could make the show as a corner utility guy in a couple of years.
  • Paul Maholm is off to a hot start. The lefty is 2-0 for Atlanta and hasn't given up a run in his 12-2/3 IP, surrendering seven hits with 13 strikeouts.

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