Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bucs Back In First After 7-1 Win

AJ opened the game with a nice and easy 1-2-3 inning. Lance Lynn gave up a one out single to Neil Walker, and that was it for the opening round. Allen Craig slapped an elevated fastball away into right to open the second. No prob. An out later, Jon Jay drilled a liner to short, Clint Barmes climbed the ladder to glove it and tossed to first for a DP.

Marlon Byrd started off the Buc half by banging a double down the line to left. He moved up a base on a grounder, and the Bucs had the corners covered when Russ Martin walked. Byrd was cut down at home on Clint Barme's grounder to third (welcome to the Pirate baserunning club); why can't these guys hit fly balls? But AJ took matters into his own hands and bounced a single to right to make it 1-0. JT followed by rolling an inside half heater the opposite way for another knock, and it was 2-0. A wild pitch moved the Pirates to second and third. Walker, behind 0-2, worked a walk, likely not Lynn's plan with Cutch on deck. But he survived, as Cutch popped a 3-2 heater on the hands to second, and the Bucs missed an opportunity to break away early. Still, 2-0 ain't a bad way to start.

Kolten Wong led off the third with a single to right, and Matt Carpenter walked two outs later. It hurt, as Carlos Beltran pulled a heater over the plate into right to cut the lead in half; AJ has left some pitches at the belt in the early going. Burnett worked Holliday over with knuckle curves down and away, and got him swinging. Pedro started the third with a double off the CF wall and scored when Byrd's single chased him home. Jones followed with a four pitch walk. Lynn fell behind Martin, gave him a fastball down the middle, and he dropped it into the right center stands to make 6-1. After Barmes and AJ both lined out softly to the outfield, JT singled off Lynn's mitt. He came around when Beltran short-armed The Kid's drive to the wall in right center, allowing it to fall for a triple. Cutch K'ed chasing two-seamers away, but up 7-1, he's allowed to have a day off.

AJ put away the Cards in order in the fourth; his major concern is pitch count, as he's at 56. Lynn kept the Bucs off the board, giving up a two out infield knock to Jones. Descalso singled with an out in the fifth and died at second. Seth Maness took the bump for the Redbirds, and Barmes greeted him with a double to center that ticked off a diving Jon Jay's web. A passed ball moved him to third. AJ whiffed, and with the infield in, JT hit one to short and Barmes, off on contact, was easy pickings at home. It's one thing for the contact play to be on with runners at the corners, but in that situation with the top of the order up...? Walker singled Tabby to third, but Cutch K'ed for the third time, missing a changeup.

The Cardinals went down quietly in the sixth. Kevin Siegrist came on, and escaped with hard hit outs by Pedro and The Byrd. Gaby gapped one to left center for a double, but died at second as Martin flew out to right center. AJ kept dealing in the seventh; he's retired 13-of-14 Cards. John Axford made his first St. Louis appearance, and retired the Bucs in order for the first time in the game. AJ was done after seven, giving up a run on four hits with a walk and six K, tossing 92 pitches.

Vin Mazzaro toed the rubber in the eighth, and had some help. Walker made a diving stop up the middle and a strong throw to get the call on a bang-bang play at first, followed by Cutch running down a shot just short of the bullpen in left center. A single and a K ended the frame. Fernando Salas pitched a clean frame for the Cards. Vin closed out the win, giving up a meaningless single.

So hey, the Bucs are back in first. The lineup looks solid; the addition of Byrd really helped the pieces fall together as far as closing up the holes in the order went. And those quick leads in the hands of veteran guys are like gold - Frankie and AJ went 15 innings, giving up a run on six hits as they could be aggressive from the get go.

Tomorrow afternoon's starters are expected to be Kris Johnson and Joe Kelly, although Tyler Lyons has also been mentioned as a possible starter for the Redbirds.

  • Neil Walker had three hits tonight, while Marlon Byrd and JT added a pair each.
  • Tonight's attendance of 39,514 is the largest of the season and 2nd largest all-time at PNC. 
  • One thing worth noting about recent pick-ups Byrd and Morneau; going into tonight, they each have 74 RBI, the same as Cutch and behind Pedro's 86. No other Pirate has reached the 50 RBI mark yet (EDIT - Martin did tonight; he has 51). 
  • The Pirates ended with a 14-14 August  record; there are 27 games to go.
  • Lance Lynn's even earned runs surrendered tonight ties a personal career high. he went four innings; Shelby Miller went 4-1/3 last night. It's a good thing for the Card bullpen that tomorrow is September first.
  • Jason Grilli tossed his first rehab inning at Altoona. He gave up a hit and struck out a batter, using 13 pitches. 
  • Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror reports that Gregory Polanco has been promoted from Altoona to Indy for the playoffs.
  • Tom Singer reports that "According to sources, the second player (for Justin Morneau) will be RHP Duke Welker."
  • If you didn't watch the game, you missed Greg Brown and Steve Blass on the watch for Justin Morneau's flight; it was like the Santa's sleigh tracker on Christmas Eve. He made it into the dugout in the sixth inning.

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