Monday, May 27, 2013

Bucs Run Out Of Rallies In 6-5 Loss

Wow; pretty good start for the Bucs. Neil Walker drilled a one out triple to deep center - and it is deep at Coamerica - and came in on a Cutch sac fly, barely beating a sick spin-and-fire move by Torii Hunter, and the Pirates were up 1-0 on Justin Verlander. Francisco Liriano liked it; he put the Tigers away in order.

Pittsburgh got a leadoff knock from Russell Martin, who stole second easily with two down, but Verlander whiffed the next trio, helped by a couple of generous calls on a ball away and a check swing for third strikes. With two down, Liriano ran into a bump. Jhonny Peralta slapped a 3-2 heater softly into right center for a knock, and Matt Tuiasosopo drew a full count free pass on a breaking ball that stayed up. Brayan Pena popped out to close the frame.

Verlander sat the Pirates down quietly in the third. The Cisco Kid got the first two guys routinely, but gave up an infield knock to Hunter when Gaby, with the infield shifted left, roamed far to his right to field a ball that Walker could have handled, and Francisco got to first too late. He escaped when Miggy lined a ball right at Clint Barmes to finish the frame.

Garrett Jones rattled a fastball into the right field corner with one away in the fourth and Martin drew a four pitch walk, but Verlander K'ed Pedro and Gaby again. The Tigers opened their half with three consecutive smoked hits by Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Peralta, all on well-located fastballs after Liriano fell behind. With a run in and runners on second and third after a swinging bunt, the Cisco Kid got a pair of weak grounders to ease out of the inning with the score knotted, some pretty nice clutch hurling.

The Bucs got a two out single from Travis Snider, whose grounder was knocked down by Fielder but rolled away from him. The Kid went down looking; Tony Randazzo seems to like ringing up Pirates on very borderline calls, and that's nine K for Verlander. The Tigers hit one ball hard in their half, but came up with a big frame.

After a one-out walk, Fielder popped an 0-2 slider away into left; the Pirates were in a shift or it would have been a routine grab for the SS. With two strikes on Martinez, Liriano tried to sneak a heater in on him; Martinez turned on it and lined it into left past a diving Inge. For the second day, the box seats jutting into the field bit the Bucs; it kicked off them and allowed Fielder to score to make it 3-1. Peralta hit a broken ball squibbler just past first for a double; it too was against a shift and plated another run. It's looking like a guy that likes to work the outside corner and a shift don't work well together, at least this inning.

Cutch walked to open the sixth and stole second. Verlander had the answer; he K'ed Jones on a hook. Cutch stole third; Verlander K'ed Martin on another hook. Pedro rolled out as Verlander kept dealing. Mike Zagurski took over, and pitched a pretty routine frame, just surrendering a two-out walk.

Liriano's line was five IP, eight hits, four runs, two walks and three K after 90 pitches. He threw better than his stats, but worked from behind more often than not and didn't move the ball around, living down and away.  Still, he only had a handful of balls hit hard by a strong lineup, and was eventually done in by a couple of bloops.

Gaby opened the seventh with a double. Two outs later he was still there when Snider golfed a change deep to right center; it came within a few feet of leaving the yard, hitting the wall where it juts away from the field. He ended up with a triple, and came in when The Kid pounded a fastball up the RF line for a double to make it 4-3. Verlander stayed in and worked the count to 3-2 on Cutch. He tried a 96 MPH heater that Cutch turned on to bounce foul, and came back with a change in the dirt that got Cutch waving. But it's a ballgame again.

Jose Contreras took the ball, ran full counts on Miguel Cabrera and Fielder, and lost them both. The Bucs caught a break when Martinez's liner was an at 'em ball to Cutch, then got a bad break when Peralta's roller up the middle went off a diving Walker's mitt and into short center to allow Miggy to score. Contreras walked Don Kelly to juice the sacks, and missed on four straight pitches to Pena to bring in another. Tony Watson stopped the bleeding, getting a liner to Barmes and K'ing Omar Infante. Contreras performance makes you wonder why Morris was sent down; must be that "asset allocation" the Bucs FO loves.

Joaquin Benoit was greeted by a Jones double when he rolled a routine grounder into left; this time the Tigers were bit by the shift. Martin smacked a shot just under Fielder's mitt to plate Jones; Prince was given an error on a play that could have gone either way.

Hunter made up for the misplay by making a nice running catch of a slicing Pedro liner to left. Gaby lined a two-strike double to left, just past a diving Kelly; the flop allowed Martin to score from first. Harrison came up to pinch run, and that's where the wheels fell off; he was picked off, and Inge took the next pitch, a heater down the middle, for strike three. But it's a game again as the clock winds down.Watson stranded a leadoff double, so it's the Bucs versus Jose Valverde.

Snider kept the Bucs alive with a one-out single, but Valverde cruised out, getting a first pitch pop out from Walker and striking out Cutch on a 3-2 pitch without throwing him a strike. The Bucs ran out of rallies, but not from trying. They went 2-for-12 with RISP, and that's attributable to 15 strikeouts. The Tigers rode seven walks to victory - three scored and one brought home a run.

Jeanmar Gomez takes on Rick Porcello tomorrow.

  • The Buc lineup was shook up close to game time when Starling Marte bowed out with a migraine. With JT on the DL now, Travis Snider slid to left, Garrett Jones to RF and Pedro became the DH, with long-time Tiger Brandon Inge manning the hot corner.
  • The Pirates had 10 hits today; five were doubles and two went for triples for a season high seven extra base knocks.
  • The Pirate streak of holding teams under five runs ended today at 12 games.
  • The Buc pitching wasn't all bad; Miguel Cabrera struck out three times for the first time this year.

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