Thursday, May 30, 2013

Six Buc Pitchers Combine To Stop Tigers 1-0 In Eleven on Martin Walk-Off.

Jeff Locke retired the first pair of Tigers routinely, and even got two strikes on Miguel Cabrera before he sliced a double to right on a hook that took a quick turn into the seats, over the short railing. No prob; Locke got Fielder swinging at a 3-2 heater at the knees. With an out, Doug Fister decided not to screw with the hot swinging Neil Walker; he plunked him in the back of the calf. Then he got down to business, getting Cutch and Garrett Jones swinging.

The Tigers went down quietly in the second. Fister struck out the first two Bucs on his way to a 1-2-3 frame; hopefully Pirate batters will do a little better job after they've seen that big breaking slider the second time around. Locke got three groundouts in the third; Fister got three punch outs. Sheesh.

Miggy doubled with an out in the fourth, stretching a single by catching Cutch by surprise; his throw was just late at second. A Prince Fielder grounder moved him to third, but Locke froze Jhonny Peralta with an inside corner heater to close the frame. The Bucs opened with three straight singles off Fister, but Walker was caught stealing. Two batters later, Cutch and GI were on the corners. Martin needed to put a ball in play, but he whiffed waving at a spinner in the dirt and way off the plate. Travis Snider shot a liner to left, but Matt Tuiasosopo.was there to haul it in and leave the Bucs at zero.

Detroit upped the ante; they got four straight knocks without scoring in the fifth. Tuiasosopo rolled one into right with two strikes followed by Brayan Pena bouncing one past Jordy Mercer. Avisail Garcia hit another grounder, this one through the second base hole, and Snider came up throwing, catching Tuiasosopo at home. On a 3-2 pitch, Fister swung away after two bunt tries and grounded another past Brandon Inge, who was even with the bag, looking for the sac try, to load the bases. Omar Infante hit a chopper to third; Inge went up for it and got the force at home, and Dirks bounced out to Walker to end the frame. Lotta action, but still no scoring. The Pirates went down without a peep.

With one away in the sixth, Fielder fisted a pop into short left center just over Mercer's glove for a knock and Ramon Santiago walked on five pitches. Hurdle figured that Locke was gassed - and probably rightly so - and called for Vin Mazzaro. Locke went 5-1/3, giving up seven hits and a walk with three K; he was at 96 pitches. Good move; Vin K'ed Tuiasosopo and got Pena on a weak grounder to third. Fister and Fielder combined on a nice play to retire Marte, who tried to bunt for a hit. An out later, Cutch walked, but Fister got his tenth K, getting Jones to swing at a back foot hook.

Detroit kept coming. A leadoff walk, sac bunt, and single to left put Tigers on the corners. Mazzaro got Dirks to pop out into short left to Mercer, and Miggy banged the next pitch to second to strand their ninth runner of the night. Fister struck out two more, but is at 116 pitches after seven.

Tony Watson celebrated his b-day with a routine eighth frame, giving up just a two out, 3-2 walk. Joaquin Benoit took over, and Josh Harrison greeted him with an 0-2 dinker into right. He was bunted to second. The Kid flew out to shallow right, and Cutch ripped a 3-2 pitch toward the hole, but Miggy made a run-saving diving stop and his throw closed the frame. Justin Wilson took the bump; it looks like Grilli will have tonight off after pitching 3-of-4 games, including the last two, so Mark Melancon will be the high leverage guy.

After two ground outs in the ninth, Infante lined a 1-2 hook over Inge's head for a double. Dirks followed with a drive to right center, but Cutch ran it down on the track by the Xfinity sign. Phil Coke tossed for the Tigers, and gave up a bad hop single to Martin but had an otherwise uneventful frame. With Miggy and Prince up in the tenth, Hurdle waved in Melancon. It took him eight pitches to set the Tigers down. Luke Putkonen also tucked the Bucs away without any ado, and Bryan Morris came on for the eleventh.

Like MM, he was efficient; it took him seven tosses to retire the side. Putkonen was in trouble quickly; Walker singled hard to right, Cutch walked on four pitches and Gaby hit a seeing eye bouncer into left to load the bases. Russell Martin played up the drama, going 2-2 before drilling a fly that hit the track in front of the Notch for the walk off single, and the Bucs had their second 1-0, 11 inning win over the best offense in baseball.

The Bucco pitchers may be sabermetric pariahs, but the sure do put up some nice counting numbers. The Reds lost, so Pittsburgh is in second now. And the beat goes on - Wandy Rodriguez and Johnny Cueto open the three game Cincinnati series tomorrow night.

  • Jeff Locke now has gone 19-1/3 straight innings over three starts without giving up a run. That's the longest scoring streak since Charlie Morton tossed 24 zeroes in 2011.
  • This is the fourth 1-0 win for the Pirates in 11 games - they did it twice against Detroit, once against the Cubs, and once against the Astros. The Pirates held the Tigers scoreless for 31 of the final 32 innings of the series.
  • Bryan Morris picked up two wins in 24 hours, working two innings and throwing 19 pitches.
  • Buc batters have struck out 11+ times in five straight games for the first time in club history. (Milwaukee K'ed a dozen Pirates before the home-and-home set with Detroit.) Pittsburgh was punched out 65 times in the five games.
  • Even though it was a split home-and-home set, this was the fifth time this year (in five series) that the Pirates have lost the first game of a four game series and then won the next three games.
  • Doug Fister was the only Tigers starter without a ten strikeout game this season until tonight. He whiffed 12 Buccos; his season high had been eight.

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