Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Snider's Slam Drops Cubs 5-4

Quiet start to the game. Wandy put away the Cubs in order; Matt Garza walked Neil Walker but otherwise iced the Bucs, thanks to a fence-crashing catch of a Cutch shot to the bullpen by Julio Borbon. The second, well...

It went single, K, single, K, single, and that made it 1-0. With the pitcher Garza up, the rhythm should have continued with another K, but instead he doubled to right center on a ball right down the middle, and it was 3-0, all the runs plating after two were down. Garza celebrated his knock by striking out the side. In the third; the Cubs got a two-out single, which was one hit more than the Bucs could come up with in their half.

Wandy limited the damage to a two-out single in the fourth. Walker drew his second walk to open the Pittsburgh half. He was forced by Cutch, who went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a grounder, but no further. The Cubs were retired in order - bet Wandy would like that fat two seamer to Garza in the second back - and the Pirates got a one out walk from Gaby. Clint Barmes singled him to second with the Bucs' first hit of the night. Wandy bunted them up, but a JT grounder that he almost legged out left them stranded.

Chicago was retired on five pitches in the sixth. The Bucs got some good news; Garza, who was on an 85-90 pitch count, was gone after 82 pitches, replaced by RHP Hector Rendon.

Walker greeted him with a double to right off a 2-0 heater. After Cutch bounced out to third, Garrett Jones dropped a single to left to put runners on the corners. Russell Martin fell behind 1-2, but worked a bases-jamming walk off Rendon. With Pedro up, Dale Sveum called on lefty James Russell for the matchup. El Toro laid off three sliders to get ahead 3-0, battled through four heaters to run the count full, and then checked off another slider in the dirt for the RBI walk.

That was the night for Russell; righty Shawn Camp came on. He got Gaby to fly out to left, not deep enough to test Alfonso Soriano's arm. Travis Snider grabbed a bat to hit for Barmes. He got ahead 2-0, fouled off a change and then belted a second into right center into the first row for a grand slam, earning him a curtain call from the crowd.

Jordy Mercer hit for Wandy and smacked the first pitch to left for a double. JT picked up an infield knock to put runners at the corners. The Kid walked on four pitches, his third free pass of the night, to juice the sacks. Cutch scorched a liner to left center, but right at Soriano to end the frame with Pittsburgh now up 5-3.

Justin Wilson took the bump. Wandy went six, giving up three runs on six hits with five K; he was the 8-9 hitters away from a shutout. With an out in the seventh, Wilson gave up back-to-back ground ball singles into center; he's getting a little squeezed by plate ump Tim Timmons, who won't give him the inside corner. He tightened up and got Borbon swinging and Starlin Castro on a bouncer to short.

Carlos Marmol took over for the Cubs. Starling Marte greeted him with a pinch single, but was quickly erased trying to steal second on a strike by Wellington Castillo. Martin got aboard after a nine-pitch battle on a gift when Soriano dropped his fly to left, ending up on second, but the Bucs couldn't take advantage.

Mark Melancon climbed the hill in the eighth. He struck out the first pair before David DeJesus singled off him, then survived a scare as Castillo took one to the track in center for the third out. That out wasn't the only loud thing at PNC; the thunder and lightning are all around the park now. Kevin Gregg took his turn for the Cubs. He gave up an infield knock to Mercer as he otherwise put the Bucs away.

Jason Grilli toed the rubber. He gave up a one out triple to Barney on a ball bounced over third and into the LF corner that Marte couldn't handle cleanly. After a pop out, Borbon walked; Grilli has been deep in counts to all the Cubs and is at 26 pitches this inning. Castro went with a slider away and blooped it into right to score Barney and put Cubs at the corners. Grilli came back to nail Anthony Rizzo, getting him swinging at a slider to claim his 18th save in defense of Wandy's fifth win.

We doubt Grilli will be available tomorrow after 35 pitches tonight. That's OK; he and Travis Snider provided enough to propel the Bucs to the win.

Pirate killer Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.49) takes on Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64) tomorrow night.

  • Walker reached base four times tonight with a double and three walks; Mercer had the Pirates' only multi-hit outing, singling and doubling in his two appearances.
  • Snider's grand slam was the first of his career. It was the first Bucco pinch hit grand salami since Jason Michaels banged one in 2008 against the Cards.
  • Charlie Morton went 4-2/3 IP for Altoona, giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and two K, tossing 80 pitches. 
  • Andy Oliver was cruising, but gave up a four spot in the fifth and was chased after surrendering three more runs in the seventh for Indy. His line ended up 6-2/3 innings, giving up nine runs (seven earned) on six hits with seven walks and eight whiffs. And in more bad news, Vic Black left the game after facing two batters with an undisclosed injury. Indy fell 9-8 despite homers by Jerry Sands, Tony Sanchez and Jared Goedert. Sands, Matt Hague and Josh Harrison had three hits apiece.

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