Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pedro's Blast Propels Bucs To 6-3 Win

The tarp didn't come up at 1:15 at PNC Park; the game is in a rain delay. It's pretty gray out and supposed to be that way all day, although the Bucs would like to get this Fathers' Day clash in - it's LA's last scheduled visit to Pittsburgh this season. The first pitch was backed off to 3, the sun came out and it was showtime.

LA apparently saw that Gerrit Cole likes to pump fastballs early and were swinging, but the Bucs flashed some early leather to claim a clean frame. Pedro cut off Skip Schumaker's gentle roller and his throw edged him at first. Jordy Mercer snared a soft liner and Alex Presley camped under a ball on the track in the LF corner.

Presley greeted Zack Greinke with a knock up the middle and went to third on a well executed hit and run by Mercer. With runners on the corners, Cutch banged one to third; Presley apparently thought Luis Cruz would go for two, but he went home instead, and The King was easily out even on a wide throw. Garrett Jones made it academic, though, by ripping a double that one hopped off the Xfinity sign to plate a pair and put the Bucs up 2-0.

LA cut into the lead in the second when Yasiel Puig started with an infield knock that a diving Mercer stopped, but had no play on the speedy Cuban. He stole second on The Fort, whose toss almost went into right center, moved to third and then scored on a pair of groundouts. For the Bucs, Mike McKenry singled with an out, went to second on a wild pitch and then was caught trying to get to third on a short passed ball. Cole bounced out, and that's two outs on the basepaths in two innings for Pittsburgh.

Cole retired the Dodgers in order in the third. Presley opened with a bloop single that Andre Ethier misread, and went to second on a swinging bunt by Mercer. An out later, Jones walked and The Kid was nicked in the ankle by a slider to juice the bases for Pedro, who bounced out weakly to first, getting way ahead of a curve. The Bucs still refuse to cash in, but the good news is that Greinke, who is having tons of location issues, is up to 65 pitches.

Blue tied the game in the fourth. Nick Punto led off with a single, and after Adrian Gonzalez flew out to the LF fence for the second time (they have an infield shift on him, but work him away), Puig chopped one beyond Pedro that went for an infield knock. Ethier hit a soft liner that cleared Mercer; Punto was going hard and when Presley misplayed the ball, he came home. Tim Federowicz hit a broken bat roller to short, and the Bucs cleaned up the frame with a 6-4-3 DP. Don't know what it is about these West Coast teams; they don't dazzle you with liners, but just keep bleeding and blooping hits out.

Travis Snider singled to open the Bucco half. The Fort smoked one, but right at Cruz; the hot corner is busy today. Cole bunted into what should have been a DP, but Snider got to second on a bad toss, with Cole, who took a few steps before he decided to run, out by a half step. No diff; Presley bounced out. The Pirates have had a runner on second every inning, but only took advantage once.

Cole tossed a clean fifth. That was almost true of the Bucs, but with two down, some lightning struck. Jones lasered a single to right, Walker drew a free pass, and Pedro dropped a 3-2 curve that hung into the batter's eye shrubbery to make it 5-2 Bucs.

The Dodgers answered with some two-down mojo of their own in the sixth. Gonzalez finally had some luck going to left, doubling to The Notch. Puig lined a ball into center to put runners on the corners, and Ethier, with a nice bit of batting and some luck, held back just long enough on a change up to roll it softly through the second base hole into right to make it 5-3.

That was it for Cole, who was getting into trouble this inning by falling behind batters. Justin Wilson came on, with Starling Marte coming in to play left in the two-fer. He went 5-2/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with a K. He threw 80 pitches, and 65 were heaters; he's gonna have to start banging that slider and change over the plate one fine day. Wilson walked the first Blue batter to juice the bases, but punched out Cruz to limit the bleeding.

Matt Guerrier took the ball for LA. He hung a two strike curve to McKenry, who watched it float by for strike three. He hung a two-strike curve to Marte, who swung through it. He hung a first pitch curve to Presley, and he banged it into the right field seats to get back that run. Mercer followed with a ground rule double up the left field line, but Guerrier escaped any more damage, keeping it at 6-3. Wilson gave up a one-out walk in the seventh, but followed with a 6-4-3 DP, while Guerrier had better luck bouncing his curves instead of hanging them, tossing an empty frame with a couple of K.

Mark Melancon took the bump in the eighth, and sat LA down. Ronald Bellisario took over for the Blue and worked a clean frame. It was Jason Grilli in the ninth. He walked a batter with two down, but just so he could fire up the crowd by striking out Hanley Ramirez to notch his 25th consecutive save, this one in support of Gerrit Cole's second win.

Some day Cole is going to need his off speed stuff, but that day hasn't come yet. The Bucs now have a big four game set in the Queen City with Francisco Liriano taking on Mike Leake.
  • The Bucs snapped a six-series losing streak to the Dodgers.
  • Alex Presley and Jordy Mercer did a nice job at the top of the order, going 5-for-8. So did the 4-5 hitters of the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier.
  • Today's attendance was 37,263, PNC's third sellout in three days.
  • Russell Martin was a late scratch after being penciled in the original lineup with "lower body soreness." Sounds like a normal R&R day. And good news on the Marte front; he came in and played as part of a switch later in the game, so it looks like he'll be ready to go for the Reds.
  • Gerrit Cole was the Bucs' 10th different starter with Brandon Cumpton the 11th used this year, and it's only mid-June. The team used 10 starters all of 2012.
  • Neal Huntington said on his Sunday radio show that they'd like to sign RHP Jose Contreras again if he clears waivers. He thinks the team was forced to call him up too soon, and JC needed more AAA time to recover from his 2012 TJ surgery. He also made it pretty plain that nobody on the DL is on a fast track to return and that J-Mac is on quite thin ice.
  • John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press noted that "Brandon Inge...already has surpassed Clemente, Waner and Traynor in one narrow and intriguing category: getting the Pirates’ only hit of the game."
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted that the Bucs inked second round pick Blake Taylor, prep LHP, for $750K. The slot amount was $1,065,400, so Taylor left them some play money in the pool.
  • Happy Father's Day!

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