Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bucs Rebound Behind AJ 4-2

A rainbow broke out over PNC Park as the game began; let's hope it's a good omen. If so, it wasn't apparent in the first. After an out, Brandon Phillips bounced one up the middle, and Joey Votto walked. It called for a ground ball, and Ryan Ludwick hit one sharply to short; Clint Barmes missed the shorthop on the backhand and it went into left for an RBI single. Jay Bruce got with the program and rolled one to Neil Walker for the 4-6-3 DP, but a batter late as the Reds broke on top 1-0.

JT opened off Homer Bailey with a Baltimore chop single over the mound. Both Neil Walker and Cutch tried out Jack Hannahan at third; he back handed both their bullets, leading to a force and an around the horn DP to close the frame.

Zack Cozart ripped AJ's first pitch of the second, a heater on the inside half, over the fence in left; this one isn't starting off very well. After a K, Burnett walked Ryan Hanigan; he's not having much luck getting the outside corner called his way so far tonight. No matter; he whiffed Bailey, who was trying to bunt, and Derreck Robinson. Justin Morneau opened the Bucco half with a walk, but Marlon Byrd followed by banging a fastball right down the middle to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Pedro hopped one to Votto; he dropped the ball on the transfer and never could find the handle for an error. A costly one at that; Russ Martin got the same pitch Cozart did earlier in the inning, and did the same thing with it, losing it in the LF stands to tie the game.

In the third, AJ gave up an opposite way bloop single to Votto that JT got a slow break on, sandwiched around a couple of whiffs, and retired Bruce on a liner to second - to Pedro, who was shifted there against the lefty. Pittsburgh went down in order, without a ball exiting the infield.

The Reds went down 1-2-3 in the fourth. Bailey struck out the Pirate side, interrupted only by a two-out Byrd single. AJ tucked Cincy away quietly in the fifth, and except for inexplicably walking AJ, Homer had an easy frame. The beat continued for Burnett in the sixth; a couple of strikeouts and a grounder, although a walk and wild pitch did allow Ludwick to get to second with two down. Bailey's control hurt him badly in the Bucco half.

After an out, he walked Cutch, and a pickoff toss went between a diving McCutchen and Votto. The ball got away, and the Pirate CF ended up on third. Morneau walked behind him to put runners on the corners, and The Byrd came through, lifting a fly to center that was just a step from the fence, scoring Cutch and moving Justin to second. That was big when Pedro, now facing Zach Duke, lined a 3-2 slider that stayed over the plate into left to chase Morneau home. JJ Hoover got Russell on a bouncer, but the Pirates were up 4-2.

AJ put Cincinnati down without a peep in the seventh, his last frame. Burnett went seven, giving up two runs on four hits, three walks and a dozen K, tossing 107 pitches. Alfredo Simon took to the hill for Dusty Baker. With two down, JT chopped a single to third that Hannahan could only knock down. Starling Marte came on and stole second ahead of a walk to The Kid, but Cutch popped out to take the game into the eighth and Bryan Morris.

He got a ground out to third, followed by a walk to Phillips. That brought in the well rested Justin Wilson to face Votto. The count ran 3-2 when a grounder to short started a 6-4-3 DP close out the frame. Heckuva a time for Clint to start playing match-up with his pen with Mark the Shark and Tony Watson available, but it worked this inning. And the rest seemed to work for Justin; he was rusty but hit 98 on the radar again.

Sean Marshall threw a clean eighth, and on came Jason Grilli to reclaim his closer role. Ludwick poked a two strike slider, down and away, into left to start the inning and stir up some bad memories. But Grilli got Jay Bruce to bounce one softly to second, and the Bucs turned the 4-6-3 DP. With two outs, a grounder was rolled to short by Cozart, and this time the connection clicked as the Bucs rebounded with a 4-2 win.

AJ was masterful with a nasty hook working today, and a different look bullpen saved the day. Russ Martin's homer was huge. And give The Byrd big props; his deep sac fly not only scored the winning run, but set up the insurance score; not every hit has to fall to be productive.

Jeff Locke takes on Bronson Arroyo tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match.
  •  AJ's dozen strikeouts are the most he's had in a game since 2009 (as a Yankee v Texas), and puts him at 203 this season. He became the first Pirate RHP ever to pass the 200 mark, overtaking Marcus Baldwin's mark of 197 set in 1891.
  • Jason Grilli's save was his first in exactly two months. The last was on July 21st, and it was against Cincinnati, too.
  • Tonight's crowd was 39,425, the 22nd sellout of the season.
  • Cutch is calming the beanball seas. He told the media about yesterday's plunking that "He (Sam LeCure) wasn't trying to hit me," though he did mention earlier that he was tired of being beaned by the Reds. And Hurdle said his beef last night was that if the ump thought Cutch was being thrown at, he should have ejected the pitcher instead of issuing a warning that only served to inhibit his pitchers from working inside.
  • Everything old is new again. Jason Grilli is back as closer (in pencil), with Mark the Shark returning to his setup role.
  • Next Saturday's Pittsburgh - Cincy game at the GABP has been changed to 1:05 from 4:05. It will be the Fox national broadcast.


Anonymous said...

great win last night, one of the biggest of this fantastic season. Grilli back in the saddle is huge!
Hurdle has a legitimate beef regarding the ump warning in game 1. So far Morneau has not been much better than Jones/Sanchez while Byrd is the word!

And how about JT? he was almost forgotten at times this season.

Dave - Cincy

Ron Ieraci said...

JT has earned the spot, Dave. Grilli has been a little stronger; he's almost caught up with his velocity, though his command is a bit rusty yet. And Morneau, as you note, is due; his stats are pretty much empty for a clean up guy.

A week to go. Now if Pedro only gets hot...