Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Takes All Night, But Bucs Win Behind Pitching & The Kid 1-0

It was a dark and stormy night in Detroit, with a 50% chance of rain and strong boomers expected about nine. Could be a long night if the weather doesn't cooperate; this is the Bucs last date in the Motor City, so the umps will push to get the contest in the books. Still, the tarp going down at seven when the rain began to fall didn't make the evening look all that promising. The game started after about an hour and 15 minute delay, so we'll see if playing cards in the locker room keeps a pitcher's arm loose.

After an out in the first, Rick Porcello left a heater over the plate with two strikes on The Kid, and he roped it into center. After working Cutch down, he got him swinging at a 94 MPH heater up and away, followed by a Garrett Jones tapper back to the hill. After two routine outs, Jeanmar Gomez worked Miguel Cabrera tight, and Miggy lined a single to left. He came back to get Prince Fielder to top a sinker for a swinging bunt out.

Porcello struck out the side in the second; he's thrown five different pitches, tossing strikes, changing speeds and moving the ball around. After a pair of soft outs, Alex Avila drew a 3-2 walk on a 50-50 call, and left him there. Porcello kept dealing in the third, getting three groundouts. Gomez got three fly outs, along with another two out knock, a bleeder on the left side by Torii Hinter.

The Tiger hurler's command hasn't been as sharp the last two frames, but the Bucs aren't taking much advantage. In the fourth, Cutch got a bad hop single and a couple of flies landed just short of the track as Pittsburgh put up another zero. Gomez pitched a clean inning, and this is his best start as a Buc, keeping the ball down and moving it in and out. The Pirates went quietly in the fifth. Avila opened with a single to center, but a fly and 6-3 DP cleaned that up nicely. Jeanmar has been quite efficient too, at just 56 pitches.

Porcello picked up his seventh and eighth K's in the sixth. The Pirates are taking fastball strikes and chasing offspeed stuff in the dirt or rolling over; they've hit one ground ball the opposite way so far tonight. But Jeanmar's hanging tough, getting three more quick outs. Two more Bucs K'ed around a rope by Jones that went straight to Hunter in the seventh; tonight is the first time Porcello has hit double digit strikeouts in his career. Gomez matched him again, helped by a nice running grab of a Prince Fielder liner by Cutch.

The Tigers got a break in the eighth. Pedro singled and an out later Travis Snider walked. Harrison came in to run, and Porcello tried to pick him off, but his throw hit him. The break was it kicked straight to the right, to Fielder. And with runners at first and second instead of second and third, Clint Barmes' first pitch one hopper to third became an easy 5-3 DP.

Gomez was lifted after seven shutout innings, giving up three hits, a walk and whiffing a pair after 73 pitches. Justin Wilson climbed the hill. Barmes was having a tough frame; with an out, he one hopped a throw into the stands to put Omar Infante on second. But the uh-oh moment passed as Wilson got a grounder and K to close the inning. Joaquin Benoit took the ball for Detroit.

He followed Porcello by striking out two of the first three Bucs. In between, Walker stroked a two strike slider to left. With Jones up, he stole second and went to third when the throw got through the SS, but GI popped out to end the threat. Wilson got the first two outs routinely. Fielder slapped a single to right center, staying back on a hook after seeing a 96 MPH heater. Then Victor Martinez ripped a fastball to left center, but Marte was there, just in front of the wall, to haul it in.

Jose Ortega was greeted by a Martin laser to center in the tenth; Harrison bunted him to second. Sanchez froze on a third strike hook, and Snider was walked intentionally. Jordy Mercer pinch hit, looked at two strikes and reached to hit a weak pop to center to end the frame. Mark Melancon took care of the tenth, stranding a pair of runners. Jhonny Peralta started off with a single, and went to second on a chop to third; Harrison, now at the hot corner, never looked at second for a possible force. A walk made things dicey, by MM came up with a whiff and broken bat roller to finish the frame. As an added factor, the rains were returning.

But not enough to stop the game, and good thing. The one guy who was squaring up, Walker, caught a hung breaking ball on the inside half from Ortega and dropped it over the right field wall for the game's first run. Jason Grilli had the lead, and the 2-3-4 hitters to face. And in a night of impressive pitching, he saved the best for last, striking out Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder swinging for his 21st save and Melancon's first Bucco win.

Well, they say you win by pitching, and the Bucs sure did tonight. And Jeanmar Gomez is making that final rotation spot a battle now; his ERA is 2.30 and the Bucs have won all six of his starts. We can't say much about the Bucs approach at the plate, except for Neil Walker and Travis Snider, but they do get into these funks every so often when they get pull and fastball happy. Hopefully, they'll get over it soon.

Anibal Sanchez and AJ Burnett open the Tiger set at PNC Park tomorrow; it never seems to get any easier for AJ.

  • Neil Walker had three of the Bucs six hits, while Travis Snider, who drew a pair of walks, was the only starter that didn't whiff.
  • The Bucs went down on strikes 14 times, making it 29 K over the two days. Tonight was Andrew McCutchen's first three strikeout game since September 8th against the Cubs. He's gone down five times in the two Detroit games. Gaby had three whiffs too, and five for the set.
  • The last time the Pirates were scoreless through 10 and won was on August 8th, 2008 at Philly, a game they won 2-0 in twelve. The last 1-0 extra inning game was September 13th, 2010, when they lost to the Mets in 10 frames.
  • Well, that explains it. Jose Contreras was placed on the 15 day DL with lower back inflammation, and Bryan Morris was recalled a day after he was sent down. Because it's an injury replacement, Morris didn't have to serve the usual ten-day roster period at Indy.
  • The Pirates haven't lost consecutive games since May 8th-9th to the Mariners and Mets. They've only had two other losing streaks, of two and four games, both in April.
  • Bradenton SS Alen Hanson was named the Florida State League Player of the Week after batting .429 (9-for-21) with two doubles and two triples, joining Matt Hague and Stetson Allie as Bucco farm hands winning player of the week awards this week.
  • Dr. Lewis Yocum passed away today. Along with Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. James McAndrews, he was part of the holy trinity of sports surgeons whom pro pitchers entrusted their arms and careers to when injury struck, from second opinions to TJ surgery to rehab.


Anonymous said...

sweet game last night in the motor city, boy this is fun!

Amateur draft next week - word on the street in my Cincy suburb is the bucco scouts are looking hard at a local product. Lets see if they can land this high school kid - he is awesome!


Ron Ieraci said...

Cincy - whassup? Yah, it is fun so far. And I'm guessing you're talking Trey Ball from New Castle; word here is also that he's in the mix for Pittsburgh on draft day.

Anonymous said...

not Trey Ball. http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130528/SPT0301/305280149/


Ron Ieraci said...

Interesting, Cincy - we heard that they were looking to stock up on position players. Wonder how much it'll take for Benintendi to pass on his scholarship.