Monday, July 22, 2013

Bucs Hang On 6-5; Grilli Hurt

Nice start against Dan Haren. Jordy Mercer fell behind 1-2, spoiled a couple, and worked a nine pitch walk. Cutch fell behind 0-2, took a ball, fouled one off, then lined a heater barely over the wall in right center, and the Bucs were up 2-0. Charlie Morton walked Bryce Harper, then got a couple of grounders, the second a 6-4-3 DP, to clean up. Both pitchers tossed a clean second frame.

Marte got conked with a 2-2 heater with one away in the third; the kid is a ball magnet. After Mercer flew out fairly deep to left, Andrew got a 2-1 cutter just above the belt and dropped it over the CF fence. Cutch is happening today, and it's 4-0 Buccos. Ground Chuck got three rollers to retire the Nats.

Russ Martin opened the fourth with a knock through the left side. Garrett Jones took a ball at the knees and lined it into right for a double to put Bucs at second and third. Gaby didn't have much of an at bat, fishing for a pair of cutters off the dish, but with the infield back, he did manage to roll one to short to plate Martin, so it ended up a productive visit to the plate. A Barmes grounder moved Jones to third, where he stayed as Morton K'ed. Charlie did OK at his day job, though, picking up a pair of K to go with a tap out.

With one gone in the fifth, Mercer banged one off the left field fence for a double. But Haren came back to K Cutch and Pedro to keep it at 5-0. Cutch got a couple of good balls to hit but fouled them off, swinging through a splitter, while El Toro missed a meatball and then fished for a pair.

Charlie had a rough frame. Adam LaRoche drilled a homer into right on a sinker that ran back over the plate. After a couple of hard hit outs, Denard Span poked a pitch away into left and Wilson Ramos pulled a pitch to put Nats at first and second. Lefty Roger Brenardino came up, and got ahead 3-1 with Harper on deck, but helped Morton out of the jam by swinging through a pair of balls of the plate, so he escaped with a 5-1 lead.

Craig Stammen came on in the sixth. Martin singled to left and stole second; three shots at RISP! Jones almost came through as Anthony Rendon made a diving stop of his hard hit ball to the right side that took a nice hop for the second baseman, moving Martin to third. Sanchez popped out with the infield in, and Barmes was worked carefully, drawing a walk. That left it up to Morton, who rolled one softly to second, and the Bucs, even with five runs, are 0-for-8 with RISP. Harper opened by banging a 3-1 pitch into center, but Ground Chuck got a one hopper to Pedro from Rendon to start an around-the-horn DP. Morton showed Zmmerman the hook a couple of times and got him swinging; it's a pitch he should go to a little more often.

With an out in the seventh, Mercer, after hooking a ball a few feet outside the foul pole, lined a single to left. He was erased trying to steal; Wilson Ramos, who has had his troubles with larcenists, tossed a perfect strike to beat Mercer by a hair. Cutch bounced out to end the frame.

Morton struggled. He hit LaRouche, then spun an offspeed pitch down and tight to Jason Werth, who hammered it into the stands in left center. After two ground outs - one on a great stretch and pick by Gaby - Ramos singled up the middle. That was it; Clint Hurdle called on Bryon Morris to face lefty Chad Tracy. Oddly, no lefty was loose, though it didn't make a difference as Tracy grounded out to first. But at 5-3, the game is still in the balance. Charlie went 6-2/3, giving up three runs on six hits, a walk and five K, tossing 102 pitches.

Ian Krol took the ball for Washington in the eighth. Pedro dropped a soft liner into left, and Martin followed with a walk. JT hit for Jones, and bunted them up a station. Doug Storen climbed the hill, and got Gaby to hit a short fly to left; there was no chance for Alvarez to score against Harper's arm. That brought up Barmes. The Nats got a break when a wild pitch went to the wall and bounced straight back; catcher Ramos had the ball before El Toro could advance four or five steps. But two pitches later, Storen tossed another one to the backstop; Alvarez and the ball reached home at the same time, but Petey's headfirst slide knocked the ball from Storen's mitt for a run. Barmes walked, and pinch hitter Travis Snider popped out.

Tony Watson came in with a 6-3 lead as Mark Melancon had the night off after back-to-back outings. Rendon dropped a soft single into center with an out, but Tony came back to get Zimmerman to hit a tapper to short. Barmes charged the ball, made a nice turning feed, and Mercer made the turn quickly to get the Bucs third DP of the night.

Fernando Abad worked a clean ninth inning, thanks to nice play in the hole by Ian Desmond to deny Mercer and a drive to right by Cutch that died at the track. Jason Grilli toed the rubber and opened by walking LaRoche. He trotted home when Werth smackd his second homer, and fourth in two days, to make it 6-5.

He K'ed Desmond, but fell behind Span 3-1. Looking dead red, Span drilled one heater just outside the foul pole and lined the next into the RF corner for a double. Grilli whiffed Ramos on a hung hook; the catcher was looking fastball all the way. But Jason had been clenching his right hand during the at-bat, and after getting a foul from Steve Lombardozzi, called to the bench and was replaced by Vin Mazzaro, who got a grounder to earn the save, his first ever, for Charlie Morton's second win..

We're surprised that with his lack of command that Martin or the bench didn't pick up on his condition sooner, but Grilli does work up in the zone and has a good game face. Now we'll have to wait it out; he could have hurt his elbow or just had a cramp that wouldn't work out. Then again, this may be something that's been developing. Grilli's given up eight runs and three homers in his last eleven appearances, and maybe it wasn't all due to regression.

The Bucs are deep in bullpen options and don't have to go beyond internal choices to fill his spot if he lands on the DL. They would certainly slide Melancon to closer and have a choice of eighth inning bridges, with a Wilson/Morris tag team likely. They also have a back ender in Vic Black with Jared Hughes and Ryan Reid at Indy; we'd look for Hughes if Grilli's spot comes open. Still, let's knock on wood that it's not anything major. The Bucs said after the game that it was "forearm discomfort" which in Pirate talk is almost always an elbow injury of some kind. A trip to the DL would keep probably keep him out of action until at least late August or into September.

As for the Bucs, they were 0-for-10 with RISP; Cutch played home run derby well enough to cancel the three Nat bombs. The Pirates are 6 for 59 with RISP in their last seven games; we can't wait for that regression correction. Maybe it'll start tomorrow when Gerrit Cole takes on Taylor Jordan.

  • Tonight was Andrew McCutchen's first multi-HR game of the season. His pair of two-run shots broke a string of 11 solo shots.
  • Neil Walker will be back in the lineup tomorrow as the Bucs wanted to give him a day off after his Indy rehab. He'll replace either Josh Harrison or Brandon Inge. There's some debate about whether Mercer or Barmes will get the SS job with walker back in, but we're guessing Mercer will see at least the major portion of playing time with Clint getting spot starts. Barmes, btw, played in his 1,000th MLB game today while Jordy extended his hitting streak to eight games.
  • Scratch Matt Garza from the Bucco fantasy list: he went to the Rangers for 3B Mike Olt, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP CJ Edwards and a PTBNL. Olt is a Top 50 prospect ala SS Alen Hansen, Grimm is roughly equivalent to Brandon Cumpton and Edwards is a Nick Kingham/Tyler Glasnow type prospect; no word on the player to be named. That's quite a price for a mid-rotation rental, though it may be that the Rangers believe they can sign him after the season (not that the option didn't exist no matter where he went now.) 
  • Indy's LHP Kris Johnson has allowed just 10 runs over his last 11 games (59-2/3 IP) to lead the International League with a 1.51 ERA
  • Ryan Braun accepted a 65 game PED suspension from MLB; too bad for that guy that collected his specimen last year who got axed when Braun wriggled out a drug jam on a technicality that he didn't 'fess up then.

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