Sunday, September 1, 2013

Johnson Bombed As Bucs Fall 7-2

Kris Johnson got a lesson in the first - falling behind 2-0 or worse to big league hitters, as he did with five of the eight Cards he faced, is not a good thing. And John Buck had a ball bounce off him and another go through him for wild pitches; he's learning that Bucco pitchers bounce a lot of pitches to the plate, whether they be young Mr. Johnson or Francisco Liriano. After three hits, two walks, two wild pitches and a sac fly, St. Louis finally sat down, up 3-0. The Bucs tried to answer. Neil Walker hit a three-hopper into right for a single. After a soft line out by Garrett Jones, Cutch legged out a tapper up the third base line. But Joe Kelly was the one with the answer, getting Pedro and The Byrd to fly out, both  to opposite fields.

He does learn; Johnson got ahead of three hitters in the second and got ground outs; he fell behind another and gave up a hit. That's a hit more than the Bucs got in their half. Allen Craig bounced the first pitch of the third into center, then Yadier Molina singled through the right side. David Freese banged a double into the Notch, making it 5-0 and time for Jeanmar Gomez. Johnson kept everything up, unlike his last outing, and he paid the price. Gomez got three routine outs to end the onslaught. Kelly was dealing; he's struck out four of the last five Pirates, with ump Scott Berry blurring the black a bit.

The Cards went down without a peep in the fourth. The Bucs had walks issued to Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau after two were down, but the third newcomer, Buck, couldn't conjure up any two-out magic and whiffed. Both sides went down quietly in the fifth.

With two down in the sixth, the Bucs couldn't quite make a play. Kelly, who had fouled off a couple of Justin Wilson heaters, got a hook that he fought off and dropped into short right. Matt Carpenter lined one to first; and it just ticked off Morneau's mitt for a single. Shane Robinson walked on a 3-2 pitch; the ball was across the knees but Buck carried it below the zone to lose the call. Then Matt Holliday, who the Pirates insist on playing straight up even though he makes a living going the opposite way, rolled a ball softly through the right side for a two run knock. Pittsburgh got a run back. Cutch singled, went to second on a ground out and came home on Byrd's two-down single up the middle. Morneau followed with a knock, but Buck is still looking for that two out mojo, fouling out to right field.

Bryan Morris toed the rubber, and except for a two out bouncer that was just beyond Jordy Mercer, pitched a clean frame. Seth Maness came in for the Redbirds and mowed down Pittsburgh, with a pair of K. Tony Watson allowed a two-out single in his inning.

Kyle Farnsworth made his Pirate debut in the ninth, and picked up a couple of K sandwiched around a web gem grab by Walker of Molina's liner. Edward Mujica came in to mop up; he gave up a double to Byrd and Buck singled him home before Mercer's 6-4-3 DP closed it out.

Johnson never gave the Bucs a chance; Kelly has been a quite excellent, if under the radar, pitcher. And if today is any indication, John Buck isn't quite the same class as a receiver and framer of pitches as Russ Martin, Tony Sanchez or for that matter, Mike McKenry. He lost several calls carrying the ball out of the zone; it may be that the Met staff just doesn't have guys that use the slider/sinker combo the Bucs use. But two out of three against your top competition is fine, and Thursday they'll do it again in St. Louis.

Charlie Morton takes on Tyler Thornburg at Milwaukee tomorrow afternoon. Happy Labor Day!

  • Today's attendance of 37,912 is the 18th sellout of PNC, and the series is the third largest attendance draw for a 3-date set in PNC history with a total of 115,452.
  • Root Sports noted that Marlon Byrd has seven hits, five RBI's and four runs scored in his first five games as a Pirate.
  • Today's outing by Kyle Farnsworth was his 850th MLB appearance.
  • How quickly did the game get out hand? By the second inning, Florida State and Pitt fans were having a chanting war at PNC in preparation for tomorrow's kickoff.
  • Alex Presley is settling in for Minnesota. He's playing center field and batting lead off today.

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