Sunday, August 4, 2013

AJ's Complete Game, Russ' Bomb Lead Bucs To 5-1 Win Over Rox

AJ avoided his usual extended early first inning today. Corey Dickerson led off by singling through the right side. JT made a nice running catch of a ball that was slicing away from him in right off the bat of DJ LeMahieu. Martin tossed out Dickerson stealing easily, and Carlos Gonzalez whiffed, so it was a nice quiet frame. Marte's wheels carried the Bucs to their first run. He singled into right center and didn't stop until he was at second. Neil Walker flew out to left center; Marte tagged to third and came in on Cutch's liner to right. Juan Nicosia K'ed Pedro and Russ Martin swinging, but the Pirates were up 1-0.

The Rox went down without much ado in the second, drawing just a two-out walk to Todd Helton. The Pirates made some noise, but couldn't cash in. Garrett Jones walked and an out later Jordy Mercer dropped a flare into center. AJ showed bunt, then pulled back and chopped the ball to third. The Rox were in a standard bunt D; the runners moved up as Burnett was thrown out. Marte rolled out to second to end the action.

Jonathan Herrera opened the third with a soft liner to center; Cutch got caught between going all out and playing the hop, and the ball bounced off him, moving the runner to second. Nicasio bunted him over, but AJ picked up his CF'er, getting a punch out and easy grounder to second to keep the zeros in line.

The Bucs set up shop in the third. Walker doubled up the 3B line and Cutch lined a knock to center to send him to third. Pedro walked to juice the sacks. Martin hit a one hopper to third, and DJ LeMahieu stepped on the base and went home. The C, Yorvit Torrealbo ran Walker back to the bag, tagging him and Cutch. Cutch had already been rung up, resulting in the bases still loaded but with an out. The mental miscue paid off after a Jones sac fly. JT tried to add to the damage, but his liner was an at 'em ball to Helton at first.

CarGo opened the fourth with a bunt single. Two grounders answered that, the first a chopper for a force and the second a 6-4-3 DP. The Bucs went down in order; what success Nicasio has been with high fastballs, the MO used by Friday's winner, Jhoulys Chacin.

AJ worked out of a tight spot in the fifth. With an out, Torrealba dropped a single to left, and Herrera's chop to second hit where the grass and dirt meet, taking a big hop over Walker and landing in short right. Nicasio's bunt forced the runner at second, and Burnett escaped with a Dickerson roller to second. With an out in the Pittsburgh half, Cutch fell behind 0-2 but worked a long at-bat for a walk. Pedro had the green light on a 3-0 pitch and lined ball four into left for a single. Nicasio got the hook after that knock at 103 pitches and Manny Corpas came on. His first pitch was a hung breaking ball, and Martin lined it a couple of feet inside the LF foul pole to make it 5-0 Bucs.

Burnett came out in the sixth and tossed a shutdown inning; he's at just 65 pitches, even with six K. The Bucs went down quietly, with Marte reaching on a two-out bobble by Corpas. Colorado got on the board in the seventh. Cuddyer singled on a ball hit off the plate that hopped over Pedro and went to second on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Herrera punched a single into right to plate him. Josh Outman came in for the Rox, and put the Bucs away.

AJ tossed a 1-2-3 eighth, and at 99 pitches, no one is up in the pen, either. Matt Belisle took the bump for the Rox and faced three batters, thanks to a Mercer 6-4-3 DP. AJ started the ninth with a K and got ahead of Cuddyer 0-2, but he spanked a heater up the middle. That got Mark the Shark loosening, but no need. A couple of pitches later, Helton rolled one to short for a 6-4-3 DP, and Burnett had the Bucs' second complete game of the year.

Nice line for AJ: nine innings, one run, one walk, nine strikeouts and 110 pitches. Pretty sweet when you can follow Francisco Liriano with AJ Burnett, and then follow Burnett with Jeff Locke. The Bucs are off tomorrow, and will face Miami Tuesday for a three game set to close the home stand.

  • Starling Marte has an eight game hitting streak.
  • Today's attendance was 37,980 for sellout number 12. The total crowd for the series was 113,891, the third largest in PNC Park history for a three-game set.
  • Francisco Liriano has an MLB high four games this season in which he has gone at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer hits.
  • James McDonald is scheduled to start throwing bullpen sessions tomorrow. Meanwhile, Jason Grilli, per the team, was reevaluated by doctors this week and continues in the treatment and rest phase

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