Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bucs Pack Up Bats Early, Lose 4-0

Ryan Vogelsong mowed down the Bucs in the first; AJ returned the favor to the Giants. The Pirates went down in order again in the second, but the Bay City made a little noise. Brandon Belt banged a double off the brick wall in right to open, jumping a two strike fastball. After a K, Pablo Sandoval dropped a pop in no mans land , too short for Cutch to reach and a step away from the twisting Jordy Mercer to put runners on the corners. But Roger Kieschnick grounded sharply to Neil Walker, and the 4-6-3 quieted the frame.

Andrew Lambo led off the third with a single to center. He made it to second and no further; Vogelsong has three K, two looking, as the Bucs are early on giving on on his pitches, which are running back over the corners. With two down in the SF half, Gregor Blanco drew a walk and went to third on a hit-and-run when Brandon Crawford smacked a 3-1 pitch to right. Buster Posey grounded a ball toward the second base hole, and it got over a diving Walker's mitt (he was cheating to the middle) to make it 1-0 Giants.

Pittsburgh went down in order again in the fourth, but at least were squaring up, as Cutch and Pedro both roped at 'em ball liners to left and right. AJ tossed a clean frame. Lambo drew a two out walk in the fifth, but was easily gunned trying to steal second. Burnett had two out woes again; Blanco singled and Crawford was HBP in the lower leg, setting up Posey again. A curve ball in the dirt got away from Russell, moving the runners up a station, and Posey, behind 1-2, coaxed a walk to bring up the hot Belt. AJ got ahead of him 1-2, couldn't get him to chase as he ran the count full, and challenged him with a heater down the middle that Cutch hauled in at the track in center to end the inning scorelessly.

Mercer opened the sixth by taking one for the team. AJ tried to move him up, but dropped a bunt right in front of the dish to start a 2-6-4 DP, and JT tapped out to end the frame. Pence fell behind 0-2 but walked; AJ is chewing up a lot of pitches against a team that's pretty patient at the plate. An out later, he stole second, but never got past the mid-way station.

With an out, Cutch reached second when Panda made a diving stop of his ball but airmailed the throw. No diff; he stayed there as Pedro hit a soft liner to right and Martin whiffed. AJ tossed a clean frame.

A whiff looking, a hot shot to second and pop to right took care of the Bucs in the eighth. With a day off tomorrow, the heart of the order up and AJ at 106 pitches, Clint Hurdle made the curious decision to give him another inning. It was a bad decision. A pair of ground ball singles around an out put Giants on the corners. Panda crushed a triple to deep right center - and it is deep at AT&T Park - to end AJ's day. Tony Watson came on, too late. The infield played in, and stopped one run on a grounder, but Joaquin Arias hit a ball inside the third base line past Pedro - he was cheating toward the SS hole - and it was 4-0.

Sandy Rosario took the ball in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single to Felix Pie, and then shut the door.

After a promising 4-1 start to the road trip, the Bucs stumble home with a pair of losses. No point in muttering about the offense; it is what it is, and unless somebody joins Cutch - Pedro, Jones, The Kid - and heats up in September, the daily grind will continue for the next five weeks. Vogelsong worked the black and got some help from plate ump Lance Barksdale, but the zone was the same for both teams all game; the players have to adjust, not the guy in blue.

The Bucs are off tomorrow, then welcome the Brewers and Cards to town. September is gonna be one hot baseball month in Pittsburgh for a welcome change.

  • The Pirates missed a golden opp today, as both the Cards and Reds lost.
  • It's gonna get interesting now. The Cards play 13 games in 14 days against the Bucs and Reds.

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