Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Buc Streak Ends 3-1

Brandon Cumpton was working on a pretty efficient inning in the first, with a bouncer, walk and K, then plate ump Jerry Meals squeezed him on a couple of pitches. It didn't cost him a run, but it did lead to a 12 pitch at-bat before he got Ryan Howard to roll out, and that may take a toll as the game goes on. Jonathan Pettibone was helped by a stumble. Starling Marte led off with a single through the left side, and went to steal second, but lost his footing and dove back to first. A couple of pitches later, he took off again, and Russell Martin's liner up the middle ended up in Jimmy Rollin's glove as he hustled to back the bag for an easy DP. A walk and bounce out ended the frame at zeroes.

Domonic Brown started the second with a single to right. Travis Snider misplayed it, caught between hops, and had trouble picking it up after he ran it down, but it ended up all good when his relay to Walker was zipped to third, where a quick tag by Pedro erased him. A grounder followed by a nice running grab by Marte tucked the Phils away. Pedro and The Kid went down fishing; Jordy Mercer hit a one hop smash to Michael Young at third to end a quiet frame.

Cumpton got the first pair of outs routinely in the third. Michael Young had an extended appearance, and dribbled the ninth pitch of the at-bat 50 feet on the third base grass for an infield knock. A bouncer ended it, and even with two long at-bats, Brandon is at 47 pitches, not too heavy a load yet for a guy the Bucs don't expect to get real deep into a game.

The Bucs made noise, but couldn't dent the plate in their half. With an out, Cumpton sliced a soft liner to right, and Delwyn Young dropped it. BC was washed out on a force by Marte, who stole second. Martin walked, and a fortuitous big hop on Cutch's ball up the middle allowed Chase Utley to dive and keep it in the infield to load the bases. Pettibone reached back and threw three heaters past Jones to end the threat.

The Phils went down 1-2-3 in the fourth when Brown's drive to the center field track was nestled by Cutch. Pettibone put down the Bucs in order. Cumpton retired the first pair of Phils before plunking Carlos Ruis on an 0-2 pitch; he got Pettibone a couple of pitches later to end the inning. Pittsburgh was tucked away easily; it's starting to look a lot like Sunday's game.

The third time through the lineup caught up to Cumpton in the sixth. A couple of soft hits - a roller up the middle by Young and a one out fisted bloop into right by Utley - set the stage. Howard, who at 0-for-22 was due, lined a single into left center to plate a run; Brown drove a 3-1 pitch to the track for a sac fly. Young doubled into The Notch, and it was 3-0 and hook time for Cumpton; the last three Phil hits were all ripped. He went 5-2/3, giving up three runs on six hits with a walk and three K after 88 pitches. Justin Wilson got the last out, but now the Buc bats have to wake up.

Martin opened with a walk. The Phils don't shift against Cutch, and it paid off as he shot a hot grounder to second for a 4-6-3 DP. But Jones, who K'ed last at bat swinging through high heat, caught one down the middle and dropped it into right center over the Heinz ketchup bottle to make it 3-1. That was it for Pettibone; lefty Jake Diekman came in. The sidewinder walked Pedro, but caught Walker looking at a backdoor curve.

Wilson had an easy time in the seventh, and the Phils sent out Phillippe Aumont. He must have a horseshoe hung above his locker. Mercer opened by drilling a ball down the line; Brown cut it off but was heading toward the railing with his back to the infield. He made a 180 in foul territory and threw a perfect one hop strike to second to just beat Mercer's slide. Travis Snider lined a knock off the right field wall, but was held to a single thanks to a clean bounce back to Young. Gaby pinch hit and launched one that was run down deep on the track at the Xfinity sign. Marte didn't square up, but his bloop into right was shoestringed by the usually defensive-challenged Young. Coulda, shoulda, wasn't for the Bucs.

Bryan Morris took the bump. The only runner he allowed was Howard, who bounced a swinging bunt to the left side against the shift. CJ Ramirez took the ball, and walked Martin. Cutch flew out just to the track in center, and the Phils called on lefty Antonio Bastardo with Jones, Pedro and Walker due up. Hurdle's bench is short today, but that didn't stop him from sending up Brandon Inge, who worked the count full before striking out on a slider that was ball four. A walk to Pedro and a line drive single to left by Walker on an 0-2 pitch - Martin had no chance to score - loaded the bases for Jordy Mercer, who faced righty Justin De Fratus. He got him to chase a slider down, and the Bucs left the bases loaded for a second time tonight.

Marte gave the Phils some help when he went into a slide to corral John Mayberry's liner; as he and his glove went down, the ball went over his mitt for a double. Martin cleaned that up. After a bunt was missed, he picked off Mayberry at second. It was big, as Ruiz singled with two down, but a K ended the frame. Now the Bucs had to face Jonathan Papelbon, and he had an easy time of it in the ninth.

Well, it had to end sometime, and give the Phils credit. They made some nice plays behind their pitching, and Pettibone is a fastball-changeup guy, the kind that give the Bucs fits. And twice the Pirates had the sacks loaded; both time the Phils came up with a K.

An observation: We understand why Hurdle likes to bunch Jones-Pedro-Walker against righty starters, but their last two at-bats always seem to be against lefties. It's probably time to hit Walker second against RHP and Martin fifth. That emphasizes the need for another RH bat or two; it's hard for Clint to match up with McKenry (.200), Barmes (.204) and Inge (.202) as his bench.

Jeff Locke takes on John Lannan tomorrow as the Pirates look to start another streak.

  • The rotation against Philly has been set. It's Jeff Locke tomorrow and Gerrit Cole on the Fourth, with Jeanmar Gomez in the bullpen. When Brandon Cumpton gets sent back down following tonight's spot start, the smart money is on JT being recalled.
  • David Todd of KDKA was told by Clint Hurdle that if AJ feels good tomorrow and doesn't want to go on a rehab assignment (which he can decline) he probably will start July 7th or 8th.
  • 30,301 came out tonight at PNC Park, the seventh straight 30 K + crowd.
  • Starling Marte is the fifth player to have eight homers, eight triples and 22 stolen bases by July. The first was Willie Mays in 1957.
  • The Buc winning streak started May 20th against the Reds, when Brandon Cumpton made his first MLB start (although he didn't get the decision.) Guess it's fitting that he was on the mound at its end.
  • Stolmy Pimentel rebounded nicely after a poor outing for Indy last time on the hill. He went seven innings, giving up a run on two hits with no walks and two K on 81 pitches, winning 4-1.
  • Jameson Taillon had another so-so outing at Altoona. He went 4-1/3 IP, giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and four K, throwing 91 pitches. Taillon did come in on an off day, after a rain delay scratched the original starter Nick Kingham after just one out.

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