Friday, June 14, 2013

Locke Downs Dodgers 3-0

Yasiel Puig began the game by pushing a bunt past Jeff Locke for a knock. The lefty came right back, getting two quick strikes on Nick Punto before he rolled into a 6-4-3 DP; one more grounder and it was a clean frame to open. Stephen Fife started off pretty well, too - he walked the second batter, Russell Martin, and K'ed the other three.

Locke gave up a one out single to Mark Ellis and routinely retired the rest of the Blue in the second. Neil Walker singled the opposite way and Pedro walked to open, but the bottom of the order lived up to its name; a force, a K, and a tapper ended the inning harmlessly. LA went down 1-2-3 in the third.

The Bucs had a chance for a big frame. Alex Presley and Martin started with soft singles, but there was nothing soft about Cutch's double down the right field line, plating them both. Garrett Jones smoked a shot to first, moving Cutch to third. With the infield in, Walker hit a one hopper to short; Cutch was thrown out at home. Unless the contact play was on, that was bad base running - and if it was a contact play, it was bad coaching. Pedro banged a pitch away over the left field wall for a ground rule double, a break for the Dodgers. They walked Travis Snider to load the bases for Clint Barmes, and got another break; a wild pitch hit the granite wall and ricocheted straight back to the catcher, freezing the runners. Barmes swung at ball two, then flied out to medium left. It was 2-0 Bucs, and should have been more.

Punto started off the fourth with a walk and was erased at second on a force that Barmes made a nice stretch to complete. Locke fell behind Hanley Ramirez 3-0; he had a green line and lasered a one hopper to Barmes, who made another slick play to start a 6-4-3 DP. Clint giveth away, Clint taketh away. Locke opened with a knock up the middle and was forced by Presley. The King was thrown out stealing; AJ Ellis' throw was on the wrong side of the bag, but Ramirez made a quick strong swipe to get the out. Another bouncer ended the frame.

The fifth was 1-2-3 for both sides. Locke retired the Dodgers cleanly again in the sixth (that's seven batters in a row and 66 pitches), and lefty JP Howell came on for LA with Pedro and Snider due up. He put the Bucs away without a problem. The Dodgers were mowed down again, aided by a long running grab of Ramirez's shot by Snider in front of the Xfinity sign. The Bucs squared up on a couple of Howell pitches to no avail. Bradon Inge's drive to the wall in right center was hauled in by Andre Ethier, who banged into the fence and Puig to make the catch, and 3B Punto snagged a shot from Martin.

Clint Hurdle pulled Locke, who went seven scoreless, giving up two hits and one walk with five strikeouts after 75 pitches. We know he has confidence in Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli to close a game and likes them to start an inning with a clean slate, but a little confidence in your starters would be nice, too. And there is the fact that a rookie is making his MLB debut against a Cy Young winner tomorrow.

Melancon had a nervous eighth. A one out bad hop single by Ethier was followed by a two out double by Jerry Hairston; Presley cut off the ball before it could get to the wall to stop Ethier at third. With pinch hitter deluxe Juan Uribe up, MM bounced an offspeed ball well in front of the plate; Martin blocked it and kept it close enough to hold the runner. Melacon then K'ed Uribe on another ball in the dirt, and it stayed 2-0 thanks to some good glove work by the Bucs.

Matt Guerrier took the bump for LA. Cutch rolled a single to left and Gaby followed with a bloop to center. Cutch took third by a hair; it was close to being a base running blunder, but worked out by a gnat's eyelash. The Blue went to southpaw Paco Rodriguez with Bucs on the corners. The Pirates used a set play to score; Walker hit a foul pop into short right; Adrian Gonzalez made an over the shoulder catch, and both Pirates tagged. Gonzalez opted for home - the sure out at second would have conceded a run - but his throw was way wide of the mark, and Cutch scored standing. Rodriguez K'ed Pedro and Snider; he's murder on lefties, but it's 3-0 and Grilli time.

And more Maalox moments were ahead. A chopper and a bunt single that died exactly on the line put the first two Dodgers aboard. Grilli went 3-2 to Adrian Gonzalez, and got him swinging at high heat. He went 3-2 on Ramirez, and got him to pop out behind the plate on high heat. Mark Ellis ended the game; he fouled off a couple of pitches after falling behind 1-2, and went down swinging at, of course, high heat. Grilli earned his 24th save and Locke took home his sixth win.

Nice win and a nicely played game by two teams that did little things well, except for that pesky clutch hitting thing. Now to see how Brandon Cumpton does in his MLB debut against Clayton Kershaw.

  • The Pirates have a league high 11 shutouts; Locke has started five of them. Two were 1-0 wins and another was 2-0.
  • There was a crowd of 36,878 at PNC Park tonight, the first sell out since Opening Day..
  • AJ Burnett has a tear in his calf. He hopes to miss just the two weeks he has to spend on the DL, but he's in a boot now, so we'll see...
  • The Pirates announced that they've signed five more picks - LHP Blake Taylor (2nd round), SS Trae Arbet (5th round), RHP Shane Carle (10th round), 1B Danny Collins (13th round) and C Max Rossiter (15th round).

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