Sunday, July 14, 2013

Buc Bats On Break Early; Mets Take Finale 4-2

Well, the Bucs are facing a situation they haven't seen for awhile - a deep first inning hole. Eric Young started off by hitting a one hopper off Jones mitt for a single; it would be routine for a RH fielder, but Jones had to dive and reach, and couldn't field it cleanly. After a fly out, Gerrit Cole got ahead of David Wright 1-2, then ran the count full. As Young took off, Wright rolled one through the right side to put runners at the corners. Then he got ahead of Marlon Byrd 1-2 and hung a slurve that he one hopped into the left field seats for a ground rule double. Josh Satin walked on a 3-2 pitch that just missed the inside corner. John Buck fell behind 1-2, then fought off a fastball that ran inside and punched it into right, plating a pair as JT's throw home was up the line, and it was 3-0. Maybe Cole should look for the K a little more; he sure had the counts this frame. Dillon Gee worked a quiet opening frame.

The Cole karma returned in the second as he tossed a clean inning. Pedro lined a shot back to the box that found Gee's glove, much to his surprise. JT got aboard when his grounder to the right side stayed down on Daniel Murphy and went under his glove. Tabata stole second an out later. The Bucs flashed their warning track power; Jones hit a towering fly just short of the CF track and Mike McKenry lined one to the track in left. So three balls hit pretty well, and three outs to show.

In the third, Byrd and Satin singled with an out, but a K and bouncer took care of the Mets. The Bucs got a thank you run in their half. With one gone, Cole hit a dribbler up the third base line that Gee fielded. he rushed his throw - unnecessarily, as Cole was jogging to first - and it went wide, with Cole going to second. Starling Marte tuned on an inside heater and roped it into left, bouncing into the stands for a ground rule RBI double. But no further damage occurred; Jordy Mercer popped out and Cutch bounced to third.

Omar Quintanilla opened the fourth with a walk. Gee K'ed on a foul bunt third strike, and that cost the Mets as Young rolled one up the middle for a 6-3 DP. Cole is struggling with command; maybe the big guy isn't used to hot and muggy Pittsburgh afternoons. Gee isn't having many problems; he gave up a two out knock to Jones before sitting down Pittsburgh in their half.

The Mets went down in order in the fifth; Cole may be laboring, but he's more than done his job after a rocky first. Gee had a couple of hard hit balls, but the only hit he surrendered was a softie to Marte, who dropped a two-out bunt single up the third base line. Cole was done, going five, giving up three runs on six hits with two walks and five K, tossing 89 pitches. Jeanmar Gomez took over in the sixth, giving up just a two-out knock to Buck through the SS hole. Gee worked a routine frame to tuck away the Bucs.

Gomez was touched for a run when Young singled off Mercer's glove with an out and Murphy followed with a triple. Pedro made a heads up play to prevent another run when he snagged Wroght's grounder and caught Murphy off the base. The Bucs chased Gee in their half. With two down, Clint Barmes rattled a double in the RF corner and Travis Snider drew a pinch hit walk. That was it for Gee, and Scott Atchinson, fresh off the DL, came on to face Marte. Starling got a call when it was ruled he checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch - he didn't -  but made up for it by freezing on the following slider that was right there.

Vin Mazzaro got the call in the eighth, and worked a 1-2-3 frame. LaTroy Hawkins took the ball for the Maets and got in hot water immediately. Mercer sliced a soft single to right and Cutch lined a two bagger off the Clemente Wall, barely beating Byrd's throw into second. Pedro was looking for a bomb, and Hawkins was up to the challenge. He blew two heaters past him, one at the letters and the next at the knees that Pedro couldn't catch, and caught him looking on inside heat that just nicked the corner. El Toro was steamed at the ump, but the ump didn't miss the first two fastballs. JT fought off a heater inside, where he's been getting worked lately, and bounced to second to score Mercer. Jones went after the first pitch and popped out foul to Young in short left. That makes them a not-too-unusual 1-for-8 with RISP.

Quintanilla walked to open the ninth. Vin fed a DP ball to pinch hitter Ike Davis, who has become a train wreck lately, and got another grounder to keep the margin at two.  Bobby Parnell came in to close. After an out, Barmes singled through the SS hole and PH Russell Martin dropped a soft liner into center. But Parnell got Marte and Mercer on soft flies, and the Bucs dropped the final 4-2.

Raise your hand - how many thought the game was over after the first when it was 3-0? The Pirate pitching has a very thin margin to work with. It's not that the Bucs don't have chances to score, but they were 1-for-10 with RISP, and if there was such a thing as an unproductive out-ometer, the Pirates would have it redlined.

But hey - the Bucs are 56-37 at the break and in a good place. The pitching may regress, but as Cole makes his rounds and Morton gets stronger, they should remain strong barring injury. As for the sticks, they could use a LH bench guy and something that works at first. That's Neal Huntington's worry; let's enjoy the first half ride and the ASG.

  • Pedro's hitting streak ended at 10 today, his career longest.
  • Today's sellout crowd, the ninth of the year, was 37,490. Pittsburgh drew 115,699 for the Met series, second-largest for a three-game set at PNC Park.
  • Mark Melancon was named to the All-Star team today. It's the first time since 1972 that five Buccos have repped the NL.
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN reports the Bucs are looking for a middle-of-the-order bat and Kendrys Morales is on their radar.

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