Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bucs Flattened 9-2

Michael Wacha got the start he wanted; Neil Walker and Garrett Jones came up hacking and were routine outs, while Cutch worked him before hitting a liner right at Matt Carpenter. Charlie Morton didn't. A pair of soft singles to center put Redbirds on the corners. A walk loaded the bases, and a sac fly brought in a run and moved another Cardinal to third. Yadier Molina hit a DP ball to Neil Walker; he stepped on second and threw a one hopper to first that Morneau couldn't handle, and it was 2-0. Morton's breaking stuff was missing, and a tight strike zone didn't help; Russ Martin might have gotten a couple calls that John Buck couldn't.

It took Wacha ten pitches to retire the Bucs in the second. It got worse for Morton. He opened the frame by serving a meatball to light hitting Pete Kozma; he lined it into left center for a double. He was bunted to third, and after a long at bat by Matt Carpenter, the Card sliced a 3-2 sinker at the knees the opposite way and legged it into a double. Jon Jay took an 0-2 pitch that was up the opposite way also, and dumped it just inside the line left field line for the third St. Louis double of the frame and a 4-0 lead.

Holliday flew out to right, with Jay taking third. That paid off when Morton bounced a 3-2 pitch past Buck for a walk, wild pitch and another run. That brought out Clint Hurdle and the trainer; Morton was escorted to the clubhouse, although nothing obvious seemed to be paining him (it was later diagnosed as "discomfort in the left foot."). Stolmy Pimentel took the ball and K'ed Molina, but again, the Pirates find themselves in a deep hole early.

In the third, Jordy Mercer got the Bucs first knock with a one out double that kissed the RF line and hopped into the stands, a break for the Cards as Jordy was set up for three bases if it bounced into the corner. Pimentel chopped him to third, but Walker K'ed, taking a couple of fastball strikes and then swinging over a change. Stolmy got a couple of routine flies to left, then lost Kozma on a 3-2 pitch. He came back to K Wacha.

The Bucs continued to sputter in the fourth. Cutch walked with an out, and Morneau promptly banged into a 4-6-3 DP. Stolmy worked a clean frame, aided by Mercer's fine backhand stop and throw to get Matt Holliday. marlon Byrd walked to open the fifth. After an out, Buck worked the count full, fouled off ball four and then banged into a 4-6-3 DP; it's been a pretty depressing couple of days for the Bucs at the dish. Not for the Cards, though. Stolmy's pitches were up, and Beltran banged a double into the corner to open the Redbird half. An out later, Freese fought off some pitches and lined a single to left center to make it 6-0.

That brought in Vin Mazzaro. He had the double whammy of leaving some balls up over the plate and bad luck. Matt Adams grounded a single through the right side, and Kozma followed by cuing a ball off the end of the bat and having it drop into short left. Wacha hit one up the middle; it rolled inches past Mercer's mitt for a hit instead of a DP. After a battle, Carpenter K'ed on a foul tip, but Jay drew a walk, and that rang the phone for Jared Hughes. Holliday singled on a roller to right before Hughes got Beltran on a grounder. It's 9-0, and that was the wrap.

The Bucs tacked on a couple of feel-good runs in the ninth on a double by Jones and a Gaby sac fly to make the final 9-2. The games are dwindling down now; the Pirate pitching needs to catch a second wind and the sticks have to square up; that's what pennant races are about. The high stakes continue tomorrow at Texas where Gerrit Cole takes on MLB strikeout king Yu Darvish.

  • Cutch has a seven game hitting streak going on.
  • Charlie Morton was sent to Pittsburgh for evaluation of his foot injury; it was reported that he felt a pop as he backed a base.
  • The Pirates have lost the last game of a series eight straight times after today's defeat.
  • Pittsburgh is 1-1/2 games back; a Cincinnati win against the Dodgers later will tie the Reds with the Pirates.
  • If you don't think it's about the pitching, consider this: the top five NL teams in ERA are the five that will be in the playoffs.

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