Monday, September 16, 2013

Cashner Faces Minimum; Bucs Go Down Quietly 2-0

AJ Burnett and Andrew Cashner showed a whole lotta arm in the first; both pitched 1-2-3 frames with a K. AJ gave up a two-out poke into left to Kyle Blanks, the came back to whiff Ronny Cedeno to end the top half of the second. The Bucs went down in order in their half, with Cashner showing a nice running fastball/slicer combo in the early going.

Burnett is throwing nice and easy while burying strikes at the knees; he whiffed the side and has five K through three. It's nine up, nine down for Cashner - and both guys are in the mid-thirties for a pitch count. Aj ran into a two-out bump in the fourth. Chase Headley hit a grass burner up the middle and Tommy Medica drew a walk. A pair of short wild pitches put Friars at second and third, but Burnett notched another K when Blanks couldn't check his 3-2 swing to escape. Lotta pitches, though, as the Padres laid off heaters just off the outside black and off speed deliveries in the dirt. Cashner mowed down the top of the order and has faced the minimum over four.

Clint Barmes made a nice spinner-ama move to retire Cedno, but ran out of luck when he dove for Rene Rivera's ball ticketed for center but drew Justin Morneau off the bag with the hurried throw. Cashner bunted into a force, but made up for it by stealing second easily, catching the Pirates in nap mode. Will Venable banged a liner to center, but Cutch roamed back and pulled it in to finish SD in the fifth. The Bucs kept on the schneid; Cashner has allowed three balls to leave the infield so far.

AJ got himself into another jam in the sixth. He walked Alexi Amarista and after a K, he stole second. Another walk followed by a slow chopper put Padres at second and third with two down, but Burnett got Blanks again, this time on a sharply hit comebacker to keep San Diego at zero. Cashner remained perfect. Barmes has squared up twice with no luck; he hit one that deflected off the pitcher to second, and this inning, lasered a bullet to Headley at third. Other than Pedro's liner to center, the Bucs haven't been able to lay any wood on the ball through six.

Burnett finally was splattered by a raindrop or two. A Baltimore chop over third put Ronny Cedeno on and a single to right put Friars at first and second. Cashner's bunt resulted in a force at second, then Will Venable lifted a fly to not very deep center. Cutch didn't set up very well, his throw hit the side of the mound, and Cedeno scored standing up as the toss took a right turn. Amarista was drilled in the leg on a 3-2 pitch after fouling off a couple, and Jedd Gyorko rolled a single into left to score Cashner from second. Vin Mazzaro came on and got Headley on a fly to left, but two runs - heck, two hits - look like a mountain. JT broke up the perfect game in the Bucco half, lining a single inside first, but a pop to left by The Kid and a 6-4-3 DP by Cutch put a quick kill on the frame.

Jason Grilli came in to work the eighth. With an out, Blanks softly lined a single over Barmes and Cedeno chopped another single, this one to right over the head of Morneau, who was holding the runner, and the Padres had men on the corners. Then Cedeno stole second, this time off Russell, who made a way wide throw. But a bit of the old Jason showed up; he K'ed the 8-9 hitters, and the Bucs still have a pulse. Cashner didn't miss a beat, putting away the Bucs like little leaguers, going more to his off speed stuff as he approached the finish line.

Jeanmar Gomez took the ball in the ninth, and pitched a clean frame with a pair of whiffs. Cashner cruised, getting a pop and two grounders, and that was it for the Buccos.

As a converted bullpen guy, Cashner works a heater/slider to righties and heater/change to lefties, and likes to stay away. The Bucs only hit a handful of balls hard, a testimony to changing speeds and staying out of the hitting zone. AJ did well, too, leaving two runners on for three consecutive innings before San Diego broke through; Clint probably, as is his wont, kept him in a hitter too long. Pitching is the coin of the realm, and San Diego had it tonight.

Jeff Locke and Eric Stolts meet in game two tomorrow night.

  • Tonight was Cashner's first complete game in the majors. Then again, it was only his seventh MLB start. 
  • If the name Jedd Gyorko sounds familiar, it's because he was born in Morgantown and played for WVU. His older brother Scott was a linebacker for the Mountaineers.
  • Per Elias Sports Bureau, Justin Morneau's recently ended (yesterday) streak of 13 games without an RBI was the second-longest of his career.
  • San Diego has never lost a series at PNC Park since it's opened; they're 29-10 here.
  • The Pirates named OF Andrew Lambo their minor league Player-of-the-Year and Tyler Glasnow minor league Pitcher-of-the-Year for the 2013. Lambo hit a combined .282 w/ 24 doubles, 32 HRs, 99 RBI, & a .574 slugging % in 120 games between Altoona and Indy. West Virginia's Glasnow went 9-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 24 starts with 164 Ks in 111-1/3 IP (13+/nine), which was the most by a Pirate farm hand since Tom Gorzelanny fanned 167 in 2004.

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