Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bucs Lose HR Derby 12-8

The Bucs had a great opportunity in the first to give J-Mac some working room early, but did minimal damage. Starling Marte doubled and back-to-back knocks by Russell Martin and Cutch scored him. Garrett Jones swung at ball four, producing a weak roller that put runners at second and third; they were juiced after Gaby drew a 3-2 walk. But Pedro popped out behind first and Brandon Inge looked disinterested at the dish, taking two strikes and then missing a hook in the dirt. Guess there are worse things than scoring an opening run and getting Marco Estrada to use up 28 pitches, but still...

McDonald opened well. After a fly out, he lost Jean Segura on five pitches, but Clint Barmes made a nice play on Ryan Braun's ball headed up the middle to retire him, and Gaby followed by spearing a one-hopper bounced to him by Pedro on Jonathan Lucroy's chopper to third.

The Bucs went down quietly in the second; the Brew Crew did not. After starting with back-to-back walks, J-Mac gave up a one out, two run double to Martin Maldonado, a one hopper over third that got under a diving Pedro. Estrada followed with a single that rolled up Garrett Jones arm, allowing Maldonado to score. Norichika Aoki drilled one to the left center gap, but Cutch outran it. Segura walked, then McDonald recovered to punch out Braun swinging at a heater. After two, it's 3-1 Milwaukee.

The Bucs had an answer. Cutch singled with an out, and Jones followed by banging a hard one hopper to Ricky Weeks at second. But a poor feed and hustle up the line by Jones prevented the DP, and Gaby rewarded him by taking the next next pitch, a heater up and away in the strike zone, the opposite way for a game tying homer. It was quickly unknotted. With an out, Weeks and Carlos Gomez banged back-to-back doubles, both on pitches down, and the Brew Crew was back up 4-3 after three.

Estrada put away the bottom of the Buc order in the fourth while the Brewer party continued. With an out, Segura took a curve on the elbow. He took off from first and Braun rolled a single to left to put runners on the corners. Luckroy lined a single to left and ended up on second when Marte's throw went to third. It cost a run when Weeks lined a knock up the middle to plate two more, and the tally was 7-3 Brew Crew after four, with J-Mac at 90 pitches.

Pittsburgh wasn't mailing it in. Martin and Cutch crushed consecutive homers in the fifth to make it a 7-5 game, and McDonald tossed his first 1-2-3 frame. Estrada was out; Brian Kintzler climbed the hill. The Bucs got consecutive one out singles from Brandon Inge and Clint Barmes; JT pinch hit and hit a broken bat roller up the middle that should have been two but for a generous call at first, and one that would pay dividends for Pittsburgh. Burke Badenhop took over for Kintzler in a case of too much managing by Ron Roenicke. Marte took Badenhop's first pitch deep to give the Bucs the lead.

Clint Hurdle warmed up Jared Hughes, then Bryan Morris. With the lead, he instead brought in Vin Mazzaro, whose first offering was hammered out of the yard by Segura to tie the game. Braun lined a single to center, and then Luckroy banged one off Mazzaro's foot; whether it would have finished up the middle or a DP we'll never know; it kicked toward short for an infield hit. Morris came in with no outs and two aboard. He got Weeks to ground sharply into a 4-3 DP and then lucked out as Gomez's rope was hauled in by Gaby. So after 2-1/2 hours and six innings, we're back at square one.

Tom Gorzelanny took the ball for Milwaukee. Cutch and Jones greeted the former Buc with back-to-back singles, but a Gaby K and Pedro DP kept the Pirates off the board. Morris left a fastball up on the outside part of the plate, and Yuniesky Betancourt took it deep to right center to make it 9-8 Brewers.

John Axford escaped the eighth frame. He gave up knocks by Barmes and Marte, but got Martin on a bouncer to strand them. The big play may have been against Inge, leading off, when Belancourt got a nice hop on a diving stop of Inge's ball headed through the hole to get the first out. Down a run, Hurdle opted to send Tony Watson to the bump.

Didn't work out so well. With one away, he gave up a Baltimore chop single to Braun, walked Segura and fed Weeks a 1-2 fastball that stayed up and over that he knocked over the right center field fence. Then he drilled Gomez in the leg, maybe trying to get inside, maybe frustrated, and Jared Hughes got his number called. Gomez must of been honked about the HBP; he stole second, then third base. He did get a little carried away, though, being thrown out at home on a grounder to Pedro. A walk and whiff ended the frame.

Brewer closer Jim Henderson came on with a four run lead and 1-2-3'ed the Bucs; the only solid contact was a line out to center by Cutch. The Pirates are off Thursday and then again Monday; maybe Clint Hurdle someday will use his hammers to keep a game close.

The Bucs hit four homers and lost. Wandy and J-Mac were battered, and the Bucs are coming back with Jeanmar Gomez, hoping to salvage a game at Miller Field against Hiram Burgos.

  • The Martin/Cutch back-to-back homers in the fifth were the first since July of last season when Garrett Jones and Neil Walker took the Astros' Jordan Lyles deep. J-Mac was on the hill for the Bucs that night, too. Marte's homer in the sixth was the first three-run blast by a Bucco this year.
  • Russell Martin was 2-for-2 against wannabe larcenists. It's the first time since 2010 a Pirate catcher has thrown out two baserunners in a game twice in a season.
  • Cutch had four hits tonight. Last season, he had six four-hit games, and the Bucs won them all.
  • The Bucs DFA'ed Jonathan Sanchez and called up Bryan Morris. Morris may be around just for the Brewer series as all indications are that Jose Contreras will join the staff in Pittsburgh on Friday (we thought he'd get the call today) for the Washington series. And if you think it's convoluted now, wait 'til Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton are ready.
  • Speaking of Liriano, he went six innings for Indy today, giving up a run on four hits with nine K and no walks. He's slated for at least one more start before being stretched out and MLB ready.

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