The next few innings were quiet. The Mets had a pair of hits and a walk, with no one getting past second. The Bucs had a lot of nothing, and that carried a rapidly played game into the sixth. Young fought off an inside pitch and banged one barely past Pedro, getting into second a heartbeat ahead of Starling Marte's throw from the corner. With two gone, another jam shot scored him when David Wright fisted a bloop to plate Young, with both hits going the opposite way. The Bucs got a runner aboard finally when Marte doubled with an out, but he was caught between bases on a JT grounder to short and the inning ended routinely on another grounder, with the Bucs still up 2-1.
With an out in the seventh, Morton fell behind Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2-0 and tried to pump a heater past him; he lost it in the RC seats just over the short fence to tie the game. Chuck came back to strike out the next pair of Mets, but it was a new ball game.Hefner worked a 1-2-3 frame; he's at just 78 pitches through seven frames.
Morton went seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits with a walk and four K, tossing 93 pitches, as Mark Melancon took the bump for the eighth. The Mets pinch hit for Hefner (yay for the NL!). After a pair of whiffs, Daniel Murphy bounced a grounder through the left side. JT made a diving grab of Wright's drive to end the inning. David Aardsma took the ball for NY, and the Bucs went down in order.
Jason Grilli climbed the mound in the ninth.With two gone, Nieuwenhuis walked on five pitches, but Anthony Recker looked at three straight strikes to end the inning. The Pirates had the top of the order up against Aardsma, and Marte opened by spanking a two strike splitter into left for a leg double. JT bunted him to third. Cutch was intentionally walked, and Terry Collins brought in lefty Scott Rice to match up against Pedro.
Rice left him a couple of sinkers down the middle, but El Toro watched one and fouled another, then K'ed chasing a slider. RHP Greg Burke was called to take on Martin, who walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the sacks for Jones. Collins waved in lefty Josh Edgin; Clint Hurdle countered by sending up Gaby. Sanchez got ahead 2-0, but bounced the next pitch, a heater down the middle, to first to end the frame. The key play in hindsight may have been taking the bat out of JT's hands with Marte at second.
Tony Watson took over in the 10th. With an out, Juan Lagares picked a sinker off his shin and dropped it softly into right. Young bounced into a force after getting ahead 3-0, which prevented what could have become a messy frame if Watson had given in and lost him. Murphy went the other way for a ground single through the left side to put Mets at first and second, and Hurdle got on the phone to dial up Bryon Morris to face David Wright. The count went full, and Wright roped a slider to center, but it was right at Cutch, who cradled the ball to keep the score knotted.
With an out, Clint Barmes slapped a heater into right for a knock. Josh Harrison moved him to second on a tapper to short, and Marte was walked intentionally (his first in MLB) to get to JT. The lefty worked him carefully, falling behind 3-0, then running the count full before getting him on a bouncer to short. The Bucs have stranded five in the last two frames.
Vin Mazzaro answered the bell in the 11th, and punched out a pair in a clean frame. Gonzalez Germen checked in for the Mets, making his MLB debut (he wears #71) against a couple of All-Stars in Cutch and Pedro. The rook lost Cutch on five pitches. Pedro helped the kid, looking at a pair of strikes, then chasing a 2-2 change up off the dish. Cutch stole second on the K, and Martin was walked to get to Gaby. Sanchez got ahead 3-0, but watched a couple of called strikes before whiffing, swinging through a change. The recently frigid Jordy Mercer was up, and he became the hero by rolling a soft single up the middle to score Cutch, and the Bucs ground out another win.
The Bucco bullpen put up four scoreless to follow up Ground Chuck's strong outing, giving the sputtering bats enough time to finally plate someone. One fine day the Bucs will hit a fly ball with a runner on third or get a clutch hit off the bench. Until then, it's the daily grind, which, we hasten to add, has worked out just fine so far and hasn't shown any signs of wearing down the club.
AJ Burnett faces Carlos Torres tomorrow night.
- Pedro is now tied for third with Ralph Kiner for the most HRs hit before the break (24). Willie Stargell hit 30 before the break twice, in 1971 & 1973. He also extended his hitting streak to nine games.
- Starling Marte is the first player in Pirates history to have at least 32 extra base hits and 25 SB’s before the All-Star break
- Pittsburgh's starting pitchers have been charged with three earned runs or less in 25 of the last 26 games. And that game, they gave up four.
- One reason the Pirates are so inept at driving in runs: their 12 sac flies are dead last in MLB. They haven't hit one since June 4th, five weeks ago.
- 39,036 were on hand for the seventh sellout of the season, the biggest crowd since Opening Day. The Bucs had averaged 33,183 fans for their last 13 home games.
- Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated looks at some possible moves that may be in the Pirates future.
- RHP Stolmy Pimentel tossed eight shutout frames of two-hit ball with a walk and five K for Indy tonight in a 1-0 win. The Tribe have 12 shutout wins in their first 93 games of the season for the first time since 1968.