Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bucs Stymie Phils 2-0

Two lefties in search of their mojo, Jeff Locke and Cole Hamels, took the hill tonight; it turned into quite the pitchers duel for awhile, thanks to decidedly unclutch hitting.

The Bucs left a pair aboard in the first; the Phils did the same, stranding guys at second and third. Pittsburgh left a runner at second in the second; the Phils again got runners to second and third, but no further. The Pirates left two aboard in the third, although Locke hurled a 1-2-3 frame.

The Pirates scored in the fourth when The Kid singled and scored on a Brandon Inge double to the wall in right center; he, of course, was stranded. The Phillies outdid themselves in their half. With runners on the corners to open the frame, John Mayberry got tossed out at home on a grounder to third and Eric Kratz followed with a DP ball.

In the fifth, the Bucs stranded Gaby Sanchez at second as the 17th Bucco LOB and making them 0-for-13 with RISP; the Phils again went down in order. Hamels struck out the side in the sixth; Locke answered by whiffing a pair of his own, for a 1-0 game after six frames.

Locke ended up pitching pretty darn well after a bumpy start; giving up two hits and two walks with six K, although he's at 96 tosses and done for the night. He did it with the Bucs making an error behind him when Starling Marte botched a ball, and one of his two hits was a fly misplayed by JT in right. It was easily the best outing of the year for the young lefty, who retired the last eight batters in a row. The only downside was that 41 of his pitches were balls, mostly in the early going.

It was the Bucs turn to go down 1-2-3 in the seventh, with Tony Watson toeing the rubber in the Phillie half with Jared Hughes and Vin Mazzaro both off for recovery days. Couldn't ask for a better bridge; he put down the 6-7-8 hitters in order with a couple of K, though he did have to sweat a couple of long, loud fouls by Erik Kratz.

On his 103rd pitch, Hamels finally slipped by leaving a 2-1 heater up to Gaby, who took it the opposite way for a homer a few feet inside the pole, adding a big insurance run in the eighth. Russell Martin followed by rolling a single to left. He was left there, but barely as Neil Walker's fly was hauled in by the 381' mark in left center. Hamels saved his bullpen; he went eight and used 118 pitches, but held Pittsburgh to a pair on seven hits, a walk and six K.

Mark Melancon climbed the bump. Lance Nix fouled off four balls before finding one he liked, and he lined it to right for an opening knock. After getting two quick outs, Michael Young bounced one through the left side to put Phils at first and second to bring up lefty longball threat Ryan Howard. MM worked him hard inside and got a grounder to Gaby to put up another Philadelphia zero.

Phillippe Aumont scaled the hill for Philly in the ninth. He nailed the Bucs in order, and it was time for Jason Grilli. He earned his 8th save, tops in the NL, with a clean inning, punching out a pair of lefties to close the game and ice Jeff Locke's second win. Locke's now 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA.

 Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Halliday get it on tomorrow night.

  • Gaby Sanchez (2B, HR) and Starling Marte (1B, 2B) had a pair of knocks for the Bucs.
  • Mark Melancon is the poster child for tossing strikes; he hasn't walked a batter in 12 IP this year.
  • Every Pirate starting position player left a runner on; six left two or more stranded, led by Russell Martin with five LOB.
  • Martin extended his hitting streak to eight games.
  • Jared Stonesifer of Yahoo Sports wonders if Mike McKenry doesn't deserve more PT.
  • Charlie Morton's rehab start at Altoona went well. He worked four innings, with no runs on one hit, two walks and three strikeouts, throwing 69 pitches.
  • Chris Leroux is taking his talents across the Pacific to play for the Tokyo-based Yakult Swallows of the Nippon (Japanese) League, where he'll join Lastings Milledge.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Grilli has 18 saves considering we have only played 20 games and won 11. Would be very impressive but ...

Ron Ieraci said...

Oooops - thanks; late night happy fingers strike again. He has been good, but you're right; that's pushing it a little, lol.

WilliamJPellas said...

Great to see Grilli getting it done. It bears repeating that this was not a guarantee coming into this season. Historically, there have been a number of really good setup relievers who for whatever (psychological?) reason(s) just couldn't cut it once they were The Man at the back of the 'pen. Grilli was, I think, a better bet than most to make the transition from elite setup man to closer simply because he's seen it all, and because he's had to fight through so much adversity just to get on the mound at all. His career has nearly ended at least a couple of times due to significant injuries.

WilliamJPellas said...

Re: McKenry getting more PT, I'm not convinced. The backup catcher is like the backup quarterback: they are always everybody's favorite player until they get in there on a regular basis. Then, "familiarity breeds contempt". Or so I have observed.

McKenry does have good pop, and I could see him getting a few more appearances than most other number twos, but there's no way---none, zero---he should ever start over Russell Martin unless Martin completely loses it. McKenry is horrible at throwing out baserunners, and yes, I stand by that statement because with the same pitching staff (or nearly the same) as McKenry was working with last year, somehow Martin is keeping enemy baserunners a lot more honest. True, Martin's plunging batting average is cause for concern and definitely brings him back down closer to where McKenry is, but again: with his defense and throwing, even if they are now more or less comparable with the bat (and I still think Martin is better in that dept), you HAVE TO go with Martin as the starter.

Of course, prior to Brandon Inge coming up as Pedro's apparent platoon partner at third, having Martin play some games at the hot corner would have been an ideal way to get both Martin and McKenry in games at the same time. If Inge still has anything left in the tank, he will presumably be the platoon 3B, which returns us to the start of the discussion: McKenry's power is interesting and so maybe he gets 250 at bats instead of 175-200 like most number twos. But that's absolutely as far as I go with him, and if he keeps getting abused by enemy basestealers, he'd lose playing time if it were up to me.

Ron Ieraci said...

Will - I didn't write the article, lol. I agree that the Fort shouldn't be exposed too much; his D is pretty average and last August/September was a warning of what happens if he's overexposed (.195) at the plate.

My ire at Inge isn't directed at him so much as at the Bucs FO. The team has no lefties on the bench (when a RHP starts) and two infielders that can't hit as reserves. You know my rants about constructing a club and how the FO doesn't seem to have a care or a clue, and this just feeds into my peeve.

Grilli and Melancon are bringing it. I thought they'd be a good duo, tho that little voice never quite shut up. They still have a lot of games to ice, but certainly os far, so good.