Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cole, Bucs Smoke Angels 5-2

Jered Weaver put the Bucs away in the first, touched by Cutch for a two-out double. Gerrit Cole started his homecoming off well, with a 1-2-3 frame capped by a K of Albert Pujols. But the Bucs went to work in the second.

Pedro opened by taking a 3-2 heater long to right, losing the ball fifteen rows into the seats in right. With an out, Travis Snider roped a single to right, and Jordy Mercer followed El Toro's act by banging another heater yard, this one to left, and the Bucs had a 3-0 pad early. Cole retired the Halos in order, finishing with his second K, this one of Alberto Callaspo.

Pittsburgh tried to conjure some two out lightning in the third. Garrett Jones doubled the opposite way and Pedro legged out a well-placed single to second, but Gaby banged into a force to end the fun. The bottom of the Angel order made some noise when Hank Conger rolled LA's first hit up the middle and Peter Bourjos dropped a single into center with an out, but a pair of flies kept them anchored at first and second.

The fourth began with Neil Walker getting plunked with a pitch; two outs later, the baseball gods intervened on the Buccos behalf when Starling Marte's skied fly was lost by Bourjos and fell for a triple to make it 4-0. Cole kept on mowing down Angels.

Mike Trout saved a run for Weaver in the fifth when with two outs and Jones on second with a two-bagger, he launched himself fully extended in the left field corner to snag a liner by Gaby. Cole put the Angels away 1-2-3 again; we guess he's liking home sweet home Orange County.

The Bucs kept getting guys to second; Mercer singled with two gone and swiped second, but Marte's fly left him there. Cole had another clean frame in the sixth, ending it with a whiff of Mike Trout. Billy Buckner took the hill to replace Weaver and tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for the Halos. Coles night, though, wpuld come to an end.

Pujols parked a fastball off the youngster to make it 5-1; it's not a Pirate game if Sir Albert doesn't belt one sometime during the match. Mark Trumbo walked on four pitches, and Howie Kendrick banged one off Cole's thigh, going for a 1-6-3 force. Clint Hurdle and the trainer came out and Cole shooed them away, but a following single by Callaspo plated Trumbo and brought on Vin Mazzaro, who got the next two outs, with Conger's fly hauled in on the track by Snider. Cole went 6-1/3, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and five K, tossing 88 pitches.

The eighth went by uneventfully, and the Bucs tacked on one more in the ninth. Mercer singled with one down, went to second on a ground out, and following a Russell Martin walk, came in on a Cutch double. Jason Grilli got back on the bike and put away LA with a couple of K for his 26th save of Cole's third win.

Cole looked the best he has in his brief career, mixing in a breaking ball and change the second time through the order and hitting the century mark on his heater a handful of times, topping out at 101 (actually, 101.88). He had movement on his two seamer and sat at 96 throughout the contest. So it was all good last night, made even better by the Cards and Reds losing, with the Bucs now in second three games back.

Francisco Liriano and Jerome Williams face off tonight.
  • Jordy Mercer had three hits last night and is batting .290, with a homer, two RBI and two runs from the nine-hole. The middle of the order - Cutch, Jones, and Pedro - were cooking, too. They each had a pair of hits to go a combined 6-for-12 with a homer and three doubles.
  • Jose Tabata was heard finally from; he went to Indy to begin his rehab stint and went 1-for-3 in five innings of play.
  • The Pirates signed eighth-rounder Neil Kozikowski and 22nd-round pick Henry Hirsch, both RHP.

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