Friday, May 17, 2013

Xmas In May; Bucs Get Gift Wrapped 5-4 Win

Houston didn't look all that harmless in the opening frame against Jeanmar Gomez. Robbie Grossman started it off by doubling to left center, digging out a 1-2 slider that was down and away. A bunt and sac fly just short of the track in center brought him home. Chris Carter lined a two-out single to keep it going, but Gomez got a pop to short right to end the inning with the 'Stros up 1-0.

The Bucs had a chance for a big frame against Jordan Lyles, but settled for a run. Marte was hit by a pitch, but tossed out stealing; he beat the tag by a hand, but lost the call. Travis Snider bounced out. Then Cutch lasered a heater above the belt into the Bucco bullpen 437' away to knot the score. Lyles went full to Garrett Jones, Neil Walker and Russell Martin. He walked the first two but retired Martin on a soft chopper after a pretty undisciplined at-bat; the Pirate catcher hacked away at three or four balls well off the plate. Still, Lyles is already at 32 pitches.

Gomez settled down in the second; it took him seven pitches to dispatch Houston. So did Lyles; he escaped an at 'em liner to right by Pedro, then K'ed Clint Barmes on a hook in the dirt and Jeanmar looking. The 'Stros went down in order in the third, and Lyles returned the favor. Both guys have knocked down seven straight batters after some bumps in the first.

Houston was put away quietly again; Jason Castro scorched one, but it was into a shift and just a quick, loud out to Pedro. In four frames, Gomez is sitting at 36 pitches. Baseball's a funny game; Jones crushed a rope to center and Grossman took a step and it was in his mitt. With two down, Martin and Pedro hit weak rollers; both ended up knocks to put Bucs on the corners. Houston took their chances with Barmes, and he lined a shot to center that Grossman corralled after a short jog a step from the track.

The wheels fell off for Gomez in the fifth. After an out, Matt Dominguez turned on a heater inside and caught just enough to drop it into the first row in the left field corner, the ball falling just wide of a leaping Marte's glove. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single. With two down, he lost Grossman on a 3-2 slider. Jake Elmore singled in a run, and then the Bucs played Keystone Kops. Elmore broke to second; Russell's throw was right on the base - and off Barme's glove. Grossman bolted home, and Walker's one hop throw got away from Martin for an E6-E4 on the same play, where both runners were DOA if executed cleanly.

Gomez walked Castro, and Vin Mazzaro got the call after Jeanmar had tossed virtually the same number of pitches in the inning (34) as he had prior in the game, with Jordy Mercer coming in as part of a two-fer. Vin struck out Carter, but Houston had a 4-1 edge. Lyles did his job, tucking the Bucs in 1-2-3.

Mazzaro put up a goose egg in the sixth, and the middle of the Pirate order was up to face Lyles. Houston's Carter helped start things off by butchering Cutch's fly to left, turning the first out into a hustling three base boot. Jones followed with a double over first base, and Lyle was done after 89 pitches, replaced by lefty Travis Blackley. Walker quickly deflated the inning by, off all things, bunting. He rolled it back to the mound and Jones was easy pickin's at third. Martin singled to put runners at first and second, then Pedro went down, chasing high heat. Righty  Paul Clemens took the ball to face Gaby, who he walked. Mercer ended the threat with a pop to right; the Bucs let yet another golden chance swirl away.

Tony Watson's number was called. He had an easy frame. Trevor Crowe started off by fisting a bloop single to center off the heel of Cutch's mitt, but Mercer gunned him out at second. Walker's tag was high, but the ball beat him and that iced the call. Two weak ground outs finished the frame. Clemens got a pair of ground balls before Cutch doubled inside third with two down. Lefty Wesley Wright came on to face Jones; Brandon Inge batted for him and grounded back to the hill.

Watson broke his streak of six outings scored against in the eighth, but it wasn't easy. A walk and single had 'Stros aboard, and Dominguez battled through a nine pitch at-bat before swinging through a fastball. Walker led off the Pirate half with a knock to left; that brought on righty Hector Ambriz. Walker went to second on a wild pitch and third on a line out in front of the Buc bullpen by Martin. His next pitch was clobbered by Alvarez, who one hopped the ball off the River Walk 462' away and into the Allegheny to tie the game.

Justin Wilson took over in the ninth. After an out, he walked Crowe on a 3-2 heater that looked a lot like strike three. No diff; he picked off Crowe trying to steal second 1-3-6 and K'ed Grossman looking. And oh, geez, Astros.

Edgar Martinez took the ball, and gave up a check swing pop single to Marte. A Snider check swing ended up a force. Cutch ripped a single to right to put Bucs on the corners; the bases were loaded when Martinez bobbled Inge's tapper, checking third to see if the runner was coming home, then dropping the ball as he looked to make the play at first.

The Kid, who is fabulous with the bases loaded, choked this time. He fished for a swinging second strike and then watched the third sail by him. That left it up to Martin; he ran the count full, then popped up to short right. The 2B Elmore waved for the ball, got under it, and then dropped it as Jimmy Paredes, who just entered the game as a pinch runner in the top half, crashed into him. A walk-off is a walk-off; it's good to see Houston again.

AJ Burnett takes the bump against Erik Bedard tomorrow.

  • Cutch kinda had a cycle tonight. He singled, doubled and homered, plus got aboard on a three base error.
  • The Bucs didn't get their first walk-off win of the year until Tuesday; today is their second in four days. It's also their fourth straight win, their season high.
  • Jared Hughes is back for a bit to replace Jose Contreras, who is on the bereavement list after a death in the family. Houston's 2B Jose Altuve is also on the bereavement list after his grandmother's death, and is expected back tomorrow.
  • Tonight's attendance was 29,743.
  • Russell Martin, in an interview about framing pitches, tells Ben Lindbergh of Grantland that " goal is not to steal strikes, it’s to keep strikes strikes."
  • Chris Resop (1-1, 6.00) was DFA'ed by the Athletics.

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