Saturday, April 6, 2013

Grienke Stifles Bucs 3-0

Well, the string of frustration continues for the Bucs. Zack Grienke spun a two-hit shutout during the 6-1/3 frames he worked and the LA pen shut the Pirates down the rest of the way as Pittsburgh fell to LA 3-0.

Jonathan Sanchez kept the Bucs in it until the sixth. It was 1-0 at that point, compliments of an Andre Ethier bomb in the second inning when he lifted a elevated two-out, 2-2 heater over the right field fence. The Pirate lefty worked out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth when he got Carl Crawford to chase, stranding the pair.

He had help containing LA that frame from Starling Marte, who made a nice snag of one dying liner and aggressively charged a Grienke single to hold AJ Ellis at third. But no such heroics were in store the following frame.

He lost Mark Ellis on a 3-2 pitch to open the inning, and that was followed by back-to-back doubles by Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez off changeups to put the Dodgers up 3-0. That brought on the last guy to make the cut at camp, Jeanmar Gomez, and he was rock steady, working three innings and giving up just a hit. A caveat; he was brushed by a liner in the eighth, and is supposed to have precautionary x-rays, per Rob Biertempfel of the Trib.

Sanchez's final line was 5IP, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts. The only ominous sign was that his fastball lost a couple of ticks during that fateful sixth frame, indicating his arm isn't quite stretched yet. He tossed 88 pitches, which is not many for June but maybe a couple more than he's ready for in April.

As for the Bucs, all they could manage against Grienke was a Garrett Jones single that took a bad hop off of Ellis' mitt to roll into right and a Cutch knock up the middle in the seventh. At one point he retired 14 straight batter, and had a four-Bucco whiff streak. Cutch's single knocked out Grienke after 92 pitches, but didn't do much else - he was caught stealing (he has the green light, but when you're down by three late in the game, maybe a stop sign would have been more in order) and reliever Paco Rodriguez punched out Pedro.

Kelly Jansen walked a guy in the eighth, and closer Brandon Teague worked a 1-2-3 ninth as the Bucs never threatened.

In justice, the Bucs at least looked professional; they ran several deep counts off Grienke, though none resulted in a walk, and hit a few balls on the nose. He worked off a 90-ish fastball, never leaving a fat one. But right now, they'd probably be happy with a couple of bleeders to replace those loud outs.

Through four games this young season, the Pirates have scored six runs and gotten 15 hits, and none of those knocks has exited the yard yet. Hopefully this won't morph into a repeat of last season when it took the boys a few weeks before they figured out which end of the bat to hold. The Buc pitchers have held up their end of the deal, giving up just nine runs on 18 hits so far.

And mea culpa on yesterday's report; the Bucs will, as logic dictates, skip Jeff Locke's first turn and send AJ Burnett to the hill tonight to take on Clayton Kershaw.

  • Russell Martin returned to the park that he made his MLB debut in back in 2006 and celebrated by throwing out his first base stealer as a Bucco, Carl Crawford. Martin is 1-for-4 so far on the season on swipe attempts.
  • RHP Jameson Taillon makes his 2013 Altoona debut tonight against Erie. Gerrit Cole didn't fare so well in his opener yesterday, giving up three runs in four innings on five hits with a pair of K.
  • The Pirates haven't won a series in LA since 2006.
  • As to be expected in a pitching battle, the 40,607 fans got to go clubbing early. The game lasted just 2:37.
  • Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are in the bullpen for LA, which surprisingly never moved them during the off season. And Ted Lilly is working minor league rehab now and should return to action shortly.

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