Friday, September 20, 2013

Mercer Error Opens the Floodgates; Reds Win In Ten 6-5

After a ground out, Francisco Liriano lost Brandon Phillips on four pitches and a heartbeat later, he swiped second. Joey Votto tapped out, moving Phillips to third. Frankie fed Ryan Ludwick back-to-back changes, and he took the first, then lined the next into center to put Cincinnati up 1-0. Bucs and walks just don't

The lead didn't last long; JT took a heater, inside corner and at the knees, and knocked it into the LF stands. Neil Walker got a heater for the first pitch; he dropped it over the CF Heinz ketchup sign. Cutch didn't go yard, although his first swing-and-miss was out of his shoes, but did walk, and Justin Morneau followed with a single through the right side. Marlon Byrd was a buzzkill, bouncing a 1-2 fastball to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Pedro grounded out, robbed of an RBI knock on a sweet play by Phillips.

The Bucs answered the bell and were up 2-1. With the lead, The Cisco Kid found his rhythm and spun a 1-2-3 frame. Latos' fastball was still up, but Russ Martin and Jordy Mercer both flew out to right before Frankie bounced out. The third was another clean inning for Liriano. As it was for Latos, who is keeping the ball away now and got two more flies to right, along with a diving grab of a foul in front of the Buc bench by Todd Frazier; the Reds can play some defense.

Frankie needed just six pitches to put away Bruce, Votto and Ludwick in the fourth. The Pirates added on. Morneau's bid for a hit was run down by Bruce, making an over the shoulder grab at the track. The Byrd walked, and Pedro singled him to second. Martin dropped a ball down the left field line for a double, scoring Byrd and chasing Pedro to third. With the pitcher behind him, Mercer fought off some pitches, then hit a soft chopper down the left side. Pedro scored - he was off on contact and it finally worked - and Mercer legged it out for an infield RBI knock. But Martin took a nap at second, and was rudely awakened when Devin Mesoraco picked him off. Frankie K'ed, but the Bucs were up 4-1.

Make that 4-2; leadoff hitter Frazier dropped a ball into the center field shrubs. After a soft liner that hung up for Byrd, Mesoraco doubled off the Clemente Wall. Francisco tightened up and whiffed Latos and then Choo to keep it at 4-2. It stayed that way after five. After a pop up, Walker lined one to Votto, then Frazier made a nice barehanded play on Cutch's tapper to retire the side.

After an out in the sixth, Votto walked. This one was handled much better, though, as The Cisco Kid turned a comebacker into a 1-4-3 DP to end the Reds' at-bat. Cincy returned the favor. With an out, The Byrd and Pedro hit back-to-back singles, but Martin banged one to short, and the 6-4-3 DP sat Pittsburgh down.

Liriano ran into two out control problems in the seventh, walking Zack Cozart on a 3-2 pitch after being ahead and falling behind Mesoraco 3-1. But he got the Punxsutawney-bred catcher to fly out to center.  Logan Ondrusek took the ball from Latos. Mercer greeted him with a single up the middle. Frankie bunted him to second, and JT's bouncer into center gave the Bucs another run. Starling Marte came in to run for Tabata, and Dusty Baker called on Manny Parra to calm the waters. he did. The Bucs ran into another unforced out on the bases when Marte was nailed trying to steal on the first pitch from Parra, and The Kid went down looking on an off speed pitch that ran back over the corner.

Liriano was on the hill again in the eighth, and at just 80 pitches. He punched out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning. Sam LeCure came in for the Reds. He hit Cutch high, behind the shoulder, on a 1-2 pitch, getting glares from the dugout and Clint Hurdle ejected. The Bucs eneded up leaving a pair on after a walk, but had a three run lead and Mark the Shark circling.

And it went south again. There was a runner on first with two outs, and Todd Frazier's one hopper to Mercer was tossed into the seats instead of  icing the game. A run scored on the error with Frazier going to second. Cozart dropped one just over Walker to put runners at first and third, and Billy Hamilton came on to run. He stole second, and Mesoraco, fighting off several deliveries, hit one sharply to the left of Pedro; he deflected it away from Mercer, and the game was tied like that. Tony Watson came in, and Xavier Paul greeted him with a double to put Reds at second and third. He got Choo barely, chasing down a ball that he knocked down and just nosing the sliding Shin-Soo, but the Bucs have a new game on their hands. JJ Hoover made sure it went into extras with a 1-2-3 frame.

Kyle Farnsworth took over; we have to wonder if Justin Wilson, with Bruce and Votto due up, is injured rather than fatigued.. After a soft fly to right, Kyle fell behind Votto 2-0, and Joey took a pitch the opposite way, up the left field line, and it dropped just over the short fence and into the first row to the right of the 325' marker. Ludwick blooped a single to center. Walker made a diving, bare hand stop of Bruce's ball up the middle and got a force. Farnsworth walked Frazier, and that brought on Bryan Morris. He got Hamilton on a chopper, and it was Aroldis Chapman time. Two fly balls and a K later, the Reds had stolen game one from the Bucs.

It was a team effort. The Reds flashed leather all over the lot; the Bucs had two chances to wrap up the ninth and couldn't make the play. Pittsburgh lost two runners on the bases; the Reds tied the game with Billy Hamilton scoring from second on an infield hit (that was probably an error on Pedro). You have to point to the Cutch beaning turning the game around. There was a long pause before Melancon got in (and Hurdle had him up, so he was coming on no matter what), and if Clint hadn't been ejected, one could reasonably assume that Clint Barmes would have been at short. Clocking Cutch seems to be Dusty Baker's strategy against Pittsburgh - and it works.

It's water over the dam now. We'll see if the Pirates are tough enough to recover from a brutal loss on the heels of Wednesday's San Diego defeat tomorrow. AJ Burnett and Homer Bailey take the bump tomorrow night.
  • When Francisco Liriano K'ed Chris Heisey in the eighth, it was not only his 1,000th strikeout, but set the team record for K's at 1,193, breaking last year's mark.
  • Today was the fourth time in club history the Pirates have hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game. The last time was 4/17/11 at Cincinnati (Cutch and JT off Edison Volquez).
  • Big game? Governor Corbett was at PNC Park, joining 37,940 fans at tonight's contest.
  • The Martes welcomed their first child into the world, son Smerling. Congrats!
  • Michael Keaton wears his colors on his sleeve for ESPN.

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