Monday, April 15, 2013

Bucs Can't Overcome J-Mac Meltdown, Lose 10-6

James McDonald got lucky in the first inning, but it sure caught up to him in the second. He opened the game by giving up a couple of soft singles, then Matt Holliday ripped one to center. For some reason, the Cards held up after advancing a base, and Holliday was thrown out when he steamed toward an already occupied second base. A grounder scored a run, but a potential big inning fizzled in a most un-Cardinal manner.

The Bucs tied in their half when Starling Marte does what he does; doubling to lead off the game and coming around, this time on a Garret Jones single. But the next frame...ugly.

With Redbirds on second and third and two down, J-Mac was ahead of Jon Jay 1-2. He fed him a changeup that he smashed just foul outside third, and came back with another that he roped into right to score a pair. After a walk, Holliday hit a weak roller to short. Barmes threw it a little high and wide, and it tipped off Jones' mitt as he tried to hold the bag to end the inning.

That unleashed the floodgates; every Card crushed the ball after that. Three liners later, Justin Wilson trotted in to take the ball with the Bucs down 8-1. J-Mac went 1-2/3 frames, surrendering eight runs (five ended up unearned) on eight hits, two walks and a wild pitch after 46 tosses. His curve and fastball were both up in the zone.

More worrisome was his heater that sat between 88-90 MPH, down four or five ticks from last year, and he didn't toss his slider at all. He only threw four changeups, and three of them were to Jay. Ray Searage is gonna have to sacrifice a chicken or two to get J-Mac back into the groove.

Wilson, coming in cold, wasn't much sharper. He walked the pitcher, Lance Lynn, and then Jay in the third, and both scored on a two-out Holliday double. Lynn apparently had taken a quick nap while his club was piling up the runs, and the Bucs put together a three spot on a Travis Snider single, Cutch double and Neil Walker blast to make it 10-4 after three frames.

The fourth and fifth went quietly enough, with Wilson settling in and Lynn dodging a couple of minor Buc threats. Joe Kelly took the ball from Lynn in the sixth. Clint Hurdle starting mixing it up then, too, bringing on the battery of Bryan Morris and Mike McKenry while sitting Pedro and sending Russell Martin to third.

Morris worked three scoreless, walking three and whiffing one. Kelly lasted until the eighth when Marc Rzepczynski climbed the mound. The Bucs tacked on a couple of more runs, with McKenry and Marte driving home JT and Martin to make it a 10-6 game. Tony Watson worked a scoreless ninth. Rzepczynski got the hook when he walked Jones to open the Bucco half, replaced by Mitchell Boggs, who finished out without much problem.

The Bucs go after them again tomorrow night with Jonathan Sanchez taking the hill.

  • Starling Marte keeps on trucking. He had three more knocks tonight, and he now leads the NL in multi-hit games with eight. JT and Neil Walker had two hits apiece.
  • The top of the Bucco order has come around, but the bottom is still out to lunch - Pedro is batting .073, Russell Martin .086 and Clint Barmes .121.
  • The Bucco sweep of the Reds didn't exactly lead to a box office smash. Tonight's attendance was 10,539.
  • Francisco Liriano worked perfect three innings at Bradenton tonight, whiffing six. He was tossing a sharp slider and a fastball that was sitting at 93-94, so good first outing for him. Jose Contreras was rusty; after getting through an inning, he gave up a couple of runs in his second frame.
  • Stetson Allie was named the Sally League Player of the Week after going 15-for-31 with three doubles and four homers.

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