Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bucs Take Series With 4-2 Win

Nice first inning for the beleaguered Jonathan Sanchez. After an out, he lost Ramiro Pena after a 3-2 count, and then went full on Justin Upton. He and Russell Martin teamed up for the ol' strike 'em out, toss 'em out DP when Upton missed a heater and Pena was caught heading to second.

Starling Marte started the Bucs off by roping a shot the opposite way, but unfortunately right at Reed Johnson. Travis Snider drew a 3-2 walk and Cutch singled him to second, but Kris Medlin handled Garrett Jones and Neil Walker easily on a foul pop and whiff to keep the first frame scoreless.

The Bravos put Sanchez in a second inning jam when Chris Johnson rolled a ball through the right side and Reed Johnson bounced another through the left side with an out. Gerald Laird softly grounded another one through the dirt into left field, and it was 1-0 Atlanta. Andrelton Simmons got a 2-2 slider that hung and lined it into right to make it 2-0 with Johnson barely sneaking in ahead of Snider's throw home. Medlen bunted the runners over, but Sanchez got BJ Upton on strikes to limit the damage. He's already at 50 pitches.

The Bucs answered quickly. Pedro singled up the middle and came home when Martin drilled a 2-0 sinker to the Notch for a double. Clint Barmes lined a fastball to right, and it was 2-2 just that quickly. Sanchez wasn't having a good day; he fouled off two bunts and then dropped one right in front of the plate for a force at second. Didn't make a lot of diff as Marte was plunked following him. Snider went down looking, and Medlen escaped when Cutch's drive was hauled in on the track in front of the 389' marker.

With an out in the third, Justin Upton walked on a 3-2 pitch and went to second as a slider got through Martin. Evan Gattis drew another base on balls after five pitches. Chris Johnson flew out deep to right, moving Upton to third. Reed Johnson went down swinging at a 3-2 fastball, and Sanchez was done. He went three, giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and five K while tossing 73 pitches and not doing much to help his cause.

The Bucs went quietly, and Jeanmar Gomez took over in the fourth. He gave up a walk and single with two down and fell behind Pena 3-0 but got him to bounce out. Medlen was back in the groove, working on a streak of eight straight Buccos down. The fifth went quietly for the Braves, which stranded another runner at second after a leadoff walk and steal. Marte opened the Buc half by reaching on an error, but was quickly erased trying to steal second. Snider worked a long at-bat finished by a double to right. He was stranded.

The Bravos 7-8 hitters opened the sixth with back-to-back singles, but Medlen hurt himself by failing to get a bunt down. That was it for Gomez as Clint Hurdle waved for Justin Wilson, who served a 6-4-3 DP to BJ Upton to end the frame. Walker started the Bucs off with a knock. Pedro took the next pitch to the wall in left where Justin Upton made a leaping grab, with The Kid going to second. After a groundout moved Walker to third, the Braves decided to pitch to Barmes. He crossed their wires by hustling out an infield bleeder to bring home the go ahead run.

Given the lead, Wilson promptly walked Pena to open the seventh. Martin did it again; Justin Upton struck out on a 3-2 foul tip and Pena was tossed out stealing to clear the bases. Good thing, too, as Gattis doubled the opposite way two pitches later. Hurdle went to the well again and brought in Jared Hughes. The righty-on-righty match worked; Hughes whiffed Chris Johnson.

The Bucs added another run to their lead. Luis Ayala took the bump, gave up a single to Marte, and was yanked for LHP Luis Avilan. Snider singled off him. Cutch squared up on anther drive to left, but it didn't carry quite enough and was a loud first out, with both runners tagging. Garrett Jones banged one to third; either Marte had a brain cramp or was going on contact, and was run down for the second out. Walker drew a 3-2 free pass to juice the bases for Pedro. He managed a weak pop, but Avilan tossed one away two pitches before that to plate Snider and make it a 4-2 game.

With Mark Melancon on ice today, Tony Watson took the setup call and worked a clean frame. Avilon gave up a leadoff single to Martin and Cory Gearrin took over. Barmes bunted Martin to second, but the Bucs couldn't cash him in. Jordan Schafer worked Jason Grilli for an eight pitch walk to bring up the top of Atlanta's order.

No prob - it took a few tosses, but Grilli got a pair of called K and retired Justin Upton on a long fly just short of the right center field track for save #7, with Justin Wilson getting the W. The Bucs are now 10-8 after taking 3-of-4 from Atlanta and going 7-2 during the homestand.

The Bucs leave the friendly confines to visit Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park for a four game set. AJ Burnett is due to toe the rubber for the Bucs while the Phillies' pitcher is TBA. It's the first leg of a ten game road trip.

  • Travis Snider has an eight game hitting streak and Russel Martin's is at six.
  • Clint Barmes collected his 800th MLB hit in the second; the knock also drove in his first RBI of the year.
  • Something you rarely see at PNC Park: the usually top flight grounds crew had to redo the batters boxes between the first and second innings, as they were off center.
  • Francisco Liriano at Indy and Jonathan Sanchez in Pittsburgh are on the same pitching schedule. The Pirates hope Liriano is ready after two more starts, so that may be the timetable of Sanchez's Pirate career.
  • Gerrit Cole had all kinds of command issues for Indy today. He went  four innings, giving up no runs and just a hit but walking five while whiffing a pair after throwing 85 pitches. The Tribe won 2-1
  • Neal Huntington told Dejan Kovacevich of the Tribune Review that Luis Heredia, now working out in Pirate City, will report to West Virginia "... in a month or so." The Mexican righty is just 18; the FO is keeping a tight limit on how many innings of work he gets each season. He tossed 66-1/3 frames at State College last year, so we'd assume the goal this year is 100 innings or less. 
  • The GM added that Bryan Morris is stuck in the minors because the Pirates need long men in the pen during this stretch.

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