Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wandy, Walker Lead Bucs To 3-1 Win

Wandy made it through the first, giving up a two out two bagger to Ryan Braun but stranding him. No surprise in the Buc half: Yovani Gallardo put the Pirates away in order, and Cutch squared up for another loud out, lining to A-Ram at third.

With an out, Wandy fell behind Carlos Gomez 3-1 and CarGo banged the ensuing heater through the left side for a knock. Rickie Weeks tapped out softly to third, moving the runner up a notch, and a comebacker finished the frame. With two away in the Bucco second, Russell Martin walked, but Gallardi got Inge fishing.

Norichika Aoki slapped a one out single to left to open the third. After a Jean Segura K, Braun walked on four pitches that were well off the mark, we're guessing it was a work-around. If so, it succeeded barely as Ramirez lined out to Starling Marte after a long run. Wandy is over 50 pitches now, not good news for a pen that ate up six frames last night. Jordy Mercer led off for Pittsburgh by smacking one up the middle and going to second on a bunt. Marte whiffed, followed by JT drawing a four pitch walk. Cutch bounced to third, Ramirez stepped on the sack and it remained scoreless after three.

Jon Lucroy got ahead 2-0 and ripped a fastball to right center; it tipped off JT's glove and ended up a leadoff triple. Wandy got CarGo and Weeks to pop out. He worked on Alex Gonzalez with Gallardo on deck, and it paid off when he bounced out to Mercer at short in a very nice piece of work by Rodriguez. With one down in the fourth, Gallardo dodged a bullet when Neil Walker's opposite field shot was hauled in on the track by Braun. Martin hit one smartly, but Segura gobbled it up and it's still zeroes at PNC Park.

With an out in the fifth, Aoki rolled one into right; he may be the world's peskiest batter. Segura followed by bouncing into an around the horn DP to end the frame as the bottom of the Buc order headed to the bat rack. Gallardo made quick work of them, retiring the side on six pitches.

Wandy answered with a clean sixth. Marte fell behind 0-2 to start for the Bucs, but caught an outer half heater and doubled into right center. After a JT whiff, a wild pitch moved Marte to third as Cutch was being unintentionally intentionally walked. McCutchen swiped second and Gaby drew a free pass to juice the sacks. Walker then softly lined a slider to center, scoring a pair, but losing Gaby who was thrown out at third when the relay was cut. Martin K'ed but the Pirates were up 2-0.

Wandy's job in the seventh is to get it to the Back End Boys. CarGo gave the fans a jolt when he drove one to straight center, but Cutch clutched it on the track. No such luck with Weeks; he drove a first pitch changeup over the left field wall to make it 2-1. Wandy finished strong by whiffing Gonzalez and getting Yuniesky Betancourt on a tapper to the hill. Wandy went seven, giving up a run on six hits with a walk and five K, tossing 97 pitches.

Burke Badenhop climbed the hill for Milwaukee. Inge led off by drawing a full count free pass, and a Mercer bunt advanced him. The rally was short circuited when Inge was caught trying to advance on a short passed ball; he was never tagged out, but the ball beat him for the automatic call. Jones went down, and the margin remained at one.

Mark Melancon took the bump, and Travis Snider replaced JT in right. MM was on against the top of the Brew Crew lineup, notching a pair of whiffs and a comebacker. With an out, Snider singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Cutch bnaged one back to the box; Snider was caught off second and tagged during a lengthy rundown, allowing McCutchen to get to second in his place. Gaby walked on a 3-2 slider while Cutch stole third, and that short nap cost Milwaukee.

Michael Gonzalez took the ball from Badenhop to turn The Kid around. It almost worked; Walker drilled one to Weeks, who made a diving stop but a bad throw from his knees to let Cutch score and put runners on first and second. John Axford came in to face Martin. He got away with an 0-2 mistake fastball that Martin fouled off, then came back to retire him on a slider bounced to third.

Jason Grilli has a two run net under him now for the ninth. He almost needed it as A-Ram took a ball deep to center, but Cutch was under it; PNC Park isn't Coor's East like Miller Field. With that out of the way, he K'ed Lucroy and got CarGo on a soft roller for save #16 and Wandy's fourth win.

Good win, but we wonder if Clint Hurdle didn't out think himself and make things a little more difficult by benching Jones, Alvarez and Snider against a struggling righty. We know he has numbers to support his case, but those are based on a dozen or two at-bats, and that's really not much of a sample size to use as a basis for a lineup. But it worked, and maybe now he's got it out of his system.

Hiram Burgos faces Francisco Liriano tomorrow night in the finale; the Bucs are looking for the series winner. It would be the fourth time they've taken a four game set after losing the first round this season if they can bring home the W.

  • Neil Walker's bases loaded hit in the sixth broke an 0-for-23 with RISP streak by the Bucs against the Brew Crew. That made Pittsburgh 1-for-7 with RISP tonight.
  • Pittsburgh only had four hits against the Brewers. The three starting righties - JT, Gaby and Inge - that are usually platoon guys went 0-for-6, though they did draw four walks
  • Last night was Cutch's fourth career walk-off homer, tying him with Willie Stargell and Richie Hebner for the team high during the divisional era. It was the team's first walk-off win of the year.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates have gone at least 50 seasons (since 1964) without winning a game when going hitless in at least 15 at bats with RISP, as they did in yesterday's contest. The last time a team won a game after going 0-for-15 or worse with runners in scoring position was Colorado (0-for-16), in a 4-3 victory over the Reds, also in 12 innings. And hey - the Rox were also managed by Clint Hurdle.
  • Ump Fieldin Culbreth was on the field today at third base, so apparently he was just bruised by the foul he took to the shoulder last night.
  • Stolmy Pimentel had another tough night at Altoona. He went six, giving up six runs on ten hits with a walk and two K.

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