Sunday, June 30, 2013

Break Out The Brooms - Bucs Win 2-1

The first frame went quietly enough. Carlos Gomez singled and stole second with two outs against Charlie Morton, but was left stranded. Neil Walker drew a one out walk, but never advanced against Kyle Lohse.

Clint Barmes got the start to shore up the D behind Ground Chuck, but instead cost him a run in the second when he booted Yuniesky Betancourt's one out grounder. A roller by Martin Maldonado just got past Gaby, who was holding the runner, to put Brewers at the corners, and a safety squeeze past the mound by Logan Schafer brought the run home.

The rain started with the Bucs at bat, hopefully not as an omen, and after two outs, the tarps came out while boomers echoed and the fans scattered to the concourse. It took awhile, but at 4:25, the sun came out, the field was mopped up and the game went on, minus, of course, the two starters, hors d' combat after the 2:20 delay. Tyler Thornburg caught Mike McKenry looking to end the frame, and Vin Mazzaro took the hill for Pittsburgh.

Vin retired the Brew Crew in the third on three balls in the dirt. Too bad Charlie Morton was done; a soft infield would be his ideal milieu. Thornburg needed just seven pitches to put the Bucs away. Mazzaro retired the Brewers in order in the fourth; he's tossed just 13 pitches to get his six outs. Pittsburgh got a walk from Cutch, and that was it.

Milwaukee sat down quietly in the fifth as Mazzaro has retired nine in a row on 26 tosses. The Bucs squared up on Thornburg, but it didn't help. After a pair of line outs, Barmes doubled to left. Mazzaro worked to count full and slashed a soft liner to right; Barmes had to hold at third as Norichika Aoki was playing shallow and had the ball coming home after a hop. Starling Marte sliced a shot to right, but Aoki was there just in front of the track to haul it in.

The Brewers went down routinely again in the sixth. The Pirates went 1-2-3 also, with a Cutch rope to right the only loud out. Mazzaro ran his streak to 15 straight Brewers down in the seventh, the last one retired on a shoestring grab by Marte on a sinking liner.

Since his first time around the order, when the Bucs tried to pull everything, Thornburg has been getting hit, but very little has found grass. It continued when with an out, Gaby drilled a ball to left; Schafer climbed the fence and pulled it back in the yard. But after he hit The Fort, a call to the pen brought out John Axford. Thornburg threw 82 pitches, and the Brewers got all they could from him. Axford faced Barmes and struck him out.

Justin Wilson came in for the eighth, and gave up a leadoff  leg double to Maldonado, who just beat the tag at second after the ball took a wide carom off the RF railings. But a bad bunt and two grounders left him stranded, still 180' away.  Jim Henderson, the Brew Crew closer, came on in the Buc half. With an out, Marte reached on a bad-hop single smoked at Jean Segura. He went to second on a tapper by Walker, and came in when Cutch lined a singe to left. McCutch was nailed trying to get into second on the throw, but did his job.

Bryan Morris came on; Clint has been using his bullpen somewhat curiously today. Segura spanked one up the middle; The Kid made a diving stop and threw him out from his knees. The Brewers protested, but replayed showed it to be basically a tie, one that the Bucs won this time. The next pair of outs came routinely. Mike Gonzalez worked the ninth. After two soft outs, a walk to Gaby, a bloop single by The Fort and another walk to Jordy Mercer jammed the bases. Brandon Inge ran the count full, fouled one down the middle, and then swung through ball four to end the frame.

Jason Grilli came on for the 10th, with Mercer going to short and Josh Harrison, who had pinch hit, moving to right. He got two quick outs when Maldonado collected his third knock; all have been between Walker and the first base bag, so maybe they should quit working him away. Just a bump for Grilli, though, as he got Schafer swinging. Brandon Kintzler put away the Bucs easily.

Mark Melacon came on for the 11th and it was three Brewers, three grounders. The Bucs followed suit, and it was on to the 12th. Tony Watson tucked away the Brew Crew, and Kintzler put away the Bucs. The Fort tried to get things going, missing the RF foul line by five feet in a bid for a double, then flying out to the track in straight center; the next pair of outs were routine.

Francisco Rodriguez came on, and the Bucs let him off the hook. Marte started off with a leg double on a soft liner to left center and went to third on Walker's grounder to second. Cutch was walked intentionally and Harrison unintentionally to bring up Pedro with the bases jammed. The Brewers had a five man infield, with CF Gomez playing third; the left side in and the right side normal. And Pedro played right into their hands, rolling over on a 2-0 fastball and bounced into a 3-6-3 DP when all that was needed was a fly.

Milwaukee's first two hitters went down easily, the Segura reached when Pedro's throw took Gaby off the bag. Watson picked him up by catching Segura on a break toward second, picking him off 1-3-4 to end the inning. The Bucs finally figured a way to score. With an out, Gaby singled off Week's glove and surprised the entire park by stealing second. Mercer walked, and Hurdle called on his last bench player, Russell Martin. He rolled one up the middle and Gaby chugged home, sliding under a high and wide throw. It was a long time coming, but the Pirates won 2-1.

The Shark Tank was absolutely unbelievable in their duel against the Brewer pen, which unlike its rotation is pretty darn good. Pittsburgh relievers tossed 12 IP, giving up two hits and striking out seven; the Bucs went all 14 innings without issuing a walk. They deserve a day off, which they'll get tomorrow. Philadelphia comes to town on Tuesday for a three-gamer.

  • The Cards and Reds lost; the Bucs are 51-30 and have a two game cushion in the NL Central.
  • The last time the Pirates pitching staff didn't issue a walk in a game of at least 14 frames was on 5/22/76 vs. the Cubs in a 4-3, 16-inning win at home
  • In just 18 IP, Charlie Morton already has the team lead in unearned runs at six; he's only given up five that were earned. 
  • Vin Mazzaro's five inning relief stint was the longest by a Pirate since Daniel McCutchen went 5-1/3 frames during the Jerry Meal game in July, 2011.
  • Today's attendance was 35,351, snapping the five-game sell-out string.
  • Update on Wandy - he didn't get a cortisone shot yet, as we jumped the gun and reported earlier, but may later in the week after the Buc docs evaluate his condition.
  • The Bucs have won a season-high nine straight games, 10 of their last 11 and 11 of their last 13. This was the third straight series they've swept.
  • Pittsburgh has won five straight games and eight of its last nine contests against Milwaukee. It's the first five game streak against the Brew Crew since August, 2002.
  • 10 of Starling Marte's last 12 hits have been for extra bases.

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