Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pirates Take Series 3-2

Well, Matt Harvey and Jeanmar Gomez know where the bottom of the strike zone is; both tossed a clean opening frame with every hitter grounding out. In the second with two down, Pedro roped a double to the gap in right center, his first of the year, but stayed put as Mike McKenry popped out to short right.

Gomez got the first out in the second, fell behind Luke Duda 3-1 and left a heater up that left the yard. John Buck followed by dropping a parachute in front of Cutch, and then adding insult to injury by stealing his first sack of the season (and first since 2009), getting a good jump on Gomez and drawing a double-clutched, high throw from The Fort. Mike Baxter worked Jeanmar some and drew a 3-2 walk. A force left Mets on the corners, but Gomez whiffed Harvey on three pitches to escape the jam.

The Bucs, like the Pens last night, had a quick response. Clint Barmes ran into a 94 MPH heater and dropped it into the seats in left. Gomez tried to join the act, but his soft liner was snagged on a sweet play by Juan Lagares, who has made a living taking away hits this series. Starling Marte walked on four pitches and went to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Travis Snider, who sent a soft liner through the vacated SS hole. Cutch walked on four pitches to load the bases, and Garrett Jones medium fly to right scored Marte, who outran a strong throw by Baxter to make it 2-1 Pirates. Gomez did his part, retiring the Mets in order.

The Bucs went quietly in the fourth, with McKenry taking one for the team, allowing the order to turn over. Gomez got another pair of ground outs and K'ed John Buck. He's at 54 pitches while Harvey has tossed 62. Pittsburgh was retired without problems in the fifth while Jeanmar diced the bottom of NY's lineup to run his skein to ten straight outs.

Harvey mowed the Pirates down in the sixth, and Clint Hurdle then pulled the plug in Gomez at 65 pitches. Jeanmar had been smacked in the calf in the first inning on a grounder, and it tightened on him. He went five, giving up a run on two hits with a walk and three whiffs; Vin Mazzaro took over to face the top of the order.

Mazzaro got ahead of Tejada 1-2, but lost him. He got the lefty Murphy swinging at a back foot curve and Wright on a liner to Marte. With Davis up, Hurdle went to the pen again for Justin Wilson and brought Inge in to replace Mercer in the two-fer. Collins let Davis bat in the lefty-lefty match, and Wilson struck him out on four pitches.

What would a Pirate game be without a baserunning blunder? Barmes led off with a single and was on second with two down. He watched Travis Snider swing through a high fastball, and caught flatfooted, was picked off second by Buck. Mazzaro got away with a walk last inning; Wilson didn't in the seventh. With one out, he missed badly on a pair of curves to walk John Buck, and a wild pitch put him on second. Baxter fought off a 1-2 pitch and flared it into shallow left, softly enough to score Buck without a throw. He stole second and third, but was left there two K's later.

Harvey was out after 101 tosses, and lefty Scott Rice took his place on the bump. Cutch walked with an out; Hurdle sent up righty Gaby Sanchez to hit for Jones. Collins brought in righty Brandon Lyons to counter. Gaby walked too, getting a couple of generous calls. JT grabbed a bat and whiffed, swinging through an 88 MPH pitch right down the middle, a mistake pitch that worked for Lyons.

With Pedro up, Collins called for another lefty, Bobby Parnell. This time the Bucs won as Pedro went with a 1-1 slider down and away and lined it into left center over a leaping Tejada. Cutch scored and the runners moved up a station when the ball went through Lagares. Parnell escaped when The Fort lined one to center that hung up for Lagares. Now it's time for the Back End Boys to do their thing.

Mark Melancon took the ball. With an out, Murphy stroked a belt high, outer half two-strike slider the opposite way into the left field corner for a double, and a couple of pitches later a ball got through McKenry's five hole to put him third. Wright walked on four pitches. Ike Davis K'ed chasing a ball in the dirt; Wright had been off on the pitch and got to second easily with two down. Duda hit a sharp grounder up the line; it hit first base and kicked away from Gaby, but ricocheted to a hustling Inge, who tossed to MM to end the inning. Whew!

Pittsburgh tried to add on in the ninth. With two away, Marte drew a 13-pitch walk off Parnell, and on the next pitch scooted to third on a hit and run single by Snider (not exactly as drawn up as the ball went through the right side, but hey, it worked). They were left when Cutch also jumped the first pitch, but sent a bouncer to short. Jason Grilli came on, and it took him eight pitches to retire the side, even with a pair of K.

Grilli collected his 15th save, and Wilson is now 3-0 on the year. Nice win against a top pitcher; the Bucs roll into Pittsburgh on a high note after stumbling a bit prior to the New York trip. AJ Burnett takes on Marco Estrada tomorrow night at PNC Park.

  • Maybe they have figured it out. The Pirates are now 11-9 on the road.
  • Mark Melancon's walk of David Wright was his first of the year; he had gone 18-1/3 frames without issuing a free pass.
  • The Fort is becoming Rod Barajas deja vu all over again; he's 1-of-18 in tossing out baserunners.
  • The Bucs had Tony Sanchez in the house in case Russell Martin's neck turned into a long term issue. Apparently it hasn't. Sanchez wasn't added to the roster and is on the way back to Indy, meaning no trip to the DL for Martin.
  • Clint Hurdle has broadly hinted that Jordy Mercer will be sent down when Neil Walker returns, as has Neil Huntington. If he was going to be buried on the bench here, that's a good decision; it all depended on how Hurdle was willing to use him.
  • Jeff Karstens is back in the saddle; he's slated to pitch for Bradenton tomorrow. If Charlie Morton gets through tomorrow's side session without any tightness, he's scheduled to hit the hill at Altoona on Thursday.
  • Steve Blass hasn't reconsidered his Root Sports travel ban. He was on the air in NY this weekend to replace Bob Walk, who was attending his son's wedding.

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