Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bullpen Brilliant, Jones Splashes Down As Bucs Win In Eleven 5-4

Jeanmar Gomez is a guy that depends on control to get through innings, and he sure didn't have much in the first. He drilled Shin-Soo Choo in the leg with a 1-2 pitch, and laid the next down the pipe to Zack Cozart, who lined it to The Notch for a triple. Jeanmar then walked Joey Votto on five pitches. He got the next two guys to roll over on pitches, but Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier both found holes to make it 2-0 and juice the sacks. Xavier Paul lined a knock to right, and it was 3-0 without an out and the bases still loaded. Gomez escaped about as well as possible, giving up a sac fly and getting a 4-6-3 DP, but four runs down is quite a mountain to climb for the recent Pirate offense.

Mat Latos got the first two outs routinely, then drilled Neil Walker with the first pitch; we suspect that was a payback for Brandon Phillips last night rather than for Choo, who has been plunked a league-leading 16 times, and so by our count makes the beanball wars even. Then he whiffed Cutch, and it was on to the second. Vin Mazzaro took the hill for Pittsburgh; Gomez left with forearm tightness, though he only threw 23 pitches in his rocky frame.

Vin didn't look sharp after his early wake-up call and having worked last night. He walked Choo with an out, who was erased trying to take second. Good thing; Cozart bounced a ball up the middle and Votto followed by dropping a soft liner over short. He fell behind Bruce 3-1, but rallied to get him on a grounder to second to close the inning without any damage. Pedro got the Bucs on the board when he lined a fastball over the Clemente Wall with a pair down to make it 4-1 after two.

Mazzaro rubbed the sleep out of his eyes in the third and retired the Reds in order. With two down, Starling Marte walked and stole second by a hair; he stumbled a bit getting out of the blocks and was saved by a wide throw. The Reds had Cozart playing the middle in a shift against Walker, and it saved them a run as his soft, slicing liner just to the right of second was hauled in by the SS.

Choo was plunked again with two down in the third, on a 3-2 slider by Mazzaro that caught his back foot. Cozart rolled out to end the frame. Latos worked a clean frame, keeping everything down and on the right side black of the dish.

Bryan Morris took the bump in the fifth. His inning was clean except for a two out boot by Pedro, who dropped a broken bat roller, maybe distracted by the flying lumber. Latos worked another 1-2-3 frame, surviving a long shot to straight center by Pedro that Choo settled under. Morris retired the Reds quietly in the sixth, and the Bucs had a golden opportunity to do some damage in their half.

Presley led off with a ricochet single; it went off Latos' mitt to short, and the throw went off Votto's mitt. Marte walked, but Walker swung at three pitches, none of which were strikes, and sat down. Cutch singled through the hole to plate Presley and put runners on the corners, but Jones K'ed  and Russell Martin bounced out. Cutch's hit was the Buc's first with RISP since Thursday and made it 4-2.

Morris worked around a two out error by Cutch, who dropped a fly that looked like a miscommunication between he and Marte converging on the ball. Manny Parros came on for the Reds, and got an out before Votto dropped his throw on a Mercer dribbler. That brought on lefty JJ Hoover, who got pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez looking at a hook and Presley on a heater that caught the corner.

Mark Melancon alternated runners and outs in the eighth. Frazier singled to right; Paul struck out. Mesoraco dropped a soft single to center; Cesar Izturis grounded out weakly. Donald Lutz walked; Choo whiffed. It ended up a zero, and that's what counted. Say this for the Bucs; they do keep coming...

Jonathan Broxton took the ball. Marte got a reprieve when his foul fell between Votto and Bruce, and then he got plunked in the upper arm. He didn't last long as Walker smoked a one hopper to second for a 4-6-3 DP. Cutch kept the inning alive with a broken bat grounder that didn't stick in the mitt of Frazier, who dove to knock it down. Then Garrett Jones launched a ball into the Allegheny 463' away, the first Pirate to ever splash down on the fly. Martin tried to follow, but his drive landed in Choo's glove a step from the track in dead center. Still, tie game, and that's far from where the Pirates started.

Jason Grilli was pumped; he struck out the side in the ninth. Alfredo Simon worked the ninth, and almost had it ended at one batter, but Pedro just got under a slider and flew out to the track in center again. With two outs, Travis Snider singled, but a roller up the middle by Presley became an easy inning-ending force.

Justin Wilson climbed the hill and worked a clean tenth with a pair of punch outs. Simon hit Marte on a 3-2 pitch in the arm to open the Buc half, but caught him stealing on a 1-0 pitchout that he came close to beating. Walker bounced out weakly and Cutch went down on three pitches, so let's hope the eleventh is the Bucs lucky inning again.

The Reds got a single from Lutz, but that was it against Wilson. Aroldis Chapman was loosening with Jones and Pedro due up, but Dusty Baker stuck with Simon. Thank you, Dusty.

Cozart climbed the ladder to take in Jones' soft liner, but gave it back with a wide throw on Martin's grounder. Pedro walked, and Mercer flew out to medium left. Snider reached out to stroke a pitch down and away into short right center; Bruce came up throwing, but his aim was off and Martin slid home, swiping the plate with his hand as the Bucs won in eleven 5-4.

Ten shutout innings with just five hits surrendered by the bullpen. Four runs scored with two outs. They may be doing it with pixie dust, but it sure is a nice ride with the little team that could so far this season. AJ Burnett goes against Kris Medlin tomorrow at Atlanta, and the bullpen may consist of Tony Watson, Mike Zagurski and Brandon Inge - it's the one spot he hasn't played, so he's about due - tomorrow (although we suspect a move or two before the game to remedy that situation). But who cares today?

  • Jones' splash-down homer was only the second ball to reach the river on the fly - Daryl Ward of the Astros did it in 2002 - and he became the first Bucco to reach it.
  • Cutch and Snider had two hits apiece.
  • In spite of a pretty poor outing by Jeanmar Gomez, the Pirates are now 7-0 when he starts.
  • The Bucs and Reds are tied for second now, 2-1/2 games behind the Cards.
  • 29,407 showed up at PNC Park today.
  • Charlie Morton pitched at Indy today, so he matches up in the rotation if Jeanmar Gomez's injury lands him on the DL.

No comments: