Starling Marte opened the third with a bunt single; he was tossed out trying to steal on a nice throw and tag combo by the Braves. Neil Walker took one off the foot to reach first. Gordon Jones hit a pop fly that again challenged the Atlanta outfield, but BJ Upton gloved it. He had Walker doubled off first, but airmailed his throw to the bag. The Kid headed to second as the ball caromed off the wall straight to Brian McCann backing, and his strike to second beat Walker. But the ump missed the call, maybe a little out of position, and the Bucs took advantage when Gaby one hopped a ball off the track and into the seats in center to put Pittsburgh up 1-0. AJ tossed a clean frame.
The Bucs went down quickly and quietly in the fourth. AJ did neither, losing his cool after being squeezed all game long by plate ump Dan Iassogna. He walked Freddie Freeman with a couple of piches looking on the black and fell behind McCann in roughly the same manner, causing AJ to stare in. He fed the Bravo catcher heaters, and eventually gave him one down the middle that he lined over the right field wall to make it 2-1. Chris Johnson doubled, Iassogna squeezed him a little more with Medlen up and viola - Russell Martin, who was just walking toward AJ, got tossed; maybe he muttered something under his breath, but he sure looked innocent on the tube. Clint Hurdle came out yapping; he got tossed. Burnett calmed down after that and closed the frame, but with a pitch count of 81.
He took it out on Medlen, dinking a soft liner to lead off the fifth. Marte reached on an infield knock and the Bucs were in business...well, maybe not. Walker popped out and Medlen went soft on Garrett Jones, getting a two strike 3-6-3 DP off his bat. AJ self destructed in the Bravo half without any help from the ump.
Andrelton Simmons opened with a weak roller to the left side that he legged out for a knock, followed by Heyward turning on a curve that AJ didn't get inside enough and lining it inside the right field foul pole for a two run blast. J Upton went the other way for a single to right, and Freddy Freeman took a heater that was high and away in the strike zone over the 380' mark in left center, another opposite field rip. A couple of ground outs sandwiched around a double by Johnson, who was erased trying for three by a Marte-Walker-Alvarez tag team, ended the frame. AJ went five, giving up six on eight hits (three HR), three walks and five K after tossing 102 pitches. Sheesh, we hate the opening games of series!
The Pirates went down 1-2-3 in the sixth. Jared Hughes took the bump. He put up a zippo, with a couple of hard hit balls. One was by Medlen, who got a first pitch fastball down the middle and roped it to right, and the other was to Heyward, who smoked a sinker to center that Marte tucked in his basket.
Pittsburgh was retired in order. Mike Zagurski came on in the seventh, and looked as nervous as a cat in a roomful of Rottweilers, all fidgety and cap-tugging. He walked J Upton and got Freeman on strikes. McCann hit a soft liner just over Pedro's head to put runners on the corners, and Johnson's liner to Snider in left brought in the seventh run. Back-to-back walks concluded the Z Man's outing. Ryan Reid was waved in to make his MLB debut with the bases loaded to face Reed Johnson, hitting for Medlen. Reid got Reed on a soft chopper to Pedro; El Toro made a nice play when the chop took a super-ball hop on him.
Rookie Alex Wood took the ball in the eighth, and he mowed down the Bucs without missing a beat. Reid did the same. His rep is as a ground ball guy, and so far all four Bravos have hit the horsehide into the dirt. The Bucs got a run off Wood on a Gaby knock, Pedro walk and Barmes double to make the final 7-2.
Well, first game of the series...bad thing. Scoring behind AJ...bad thing. Ump squeezing the plate and Bravo batters getting balls over the dish...very bad thing. And three bads don't make a good.
Jeff Locke goes against Mike Minor tomorrow night.
- The Pirates, for reasons unknown, are now 6-13 in the opening game of a series.
- Fox Sport's Ken Rosenthal presents the Buc FO's argument that the pen isn't being overwhelmed...yet.
- Mike Zagurski has walked eight batters and thrown three wild pitches in 3-1/3 innings.
- Brian McCann got his 1,000th hit off Zagurski in the seventh.