Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bucs Blast Five Homers, Still Lose 7-5

It was kinda like the start last week when Jason Hammel and Wandy hooked up. Hammel 1-2-3'ed the Bucs in the first. Emilio Bonifacio hit a one hop single past Neil Walker to open the Cub first and came around when Justin Ruggiano pulled a fastball down the middle into left to plate him. Wandy threw a lot of fastballs, and his velo was 87-88.

Six up, six down for Pittsburgh. Rodriguez got through the bottom of the order with just a walk. Hammels mowed down the Bucs again in the third; Wandy gave up a single through the hole to Starlin Castro and a dink over Jordy Mercer's head by Anthony Rizzo, but no damage came of them and it was still 1-0.

The Pirates squared up on a couple in the fourth, but to no avail. marte was robbed on a diving stop and laser throw by Castro and Cutch lined out to the track in center. Wandy got into a jam, giving up a line single to Welington Castillo that dropped just in front of Marte and walking Darwin Barney on four pitches. A bunt moved them up, but Rodriguez K'ed the red hot Bonifacio on a high heater.

Pedro ended the perfect game. With an out and two strikes, Hammel tried to zip a heater away to El Tore; it tailed over the plate, Alvarez got it up into the wind and dropped it a few rows over the left field wall to tie the game. Walker tried to follow, but his fly to left center was hauled in a step or two short of the ivy.

Wandy couldn't hold the lead. With two down, Rizzo dropped a fly between Marte and Cutch, something that occurs bur rarely. Then Mike Olt got a fastball at the knees but down the middle, and lifted a fly to left that carried in the wind and dropped into the basket for a homer. Junior Lake got a center cut heater, too, and his was a no-doubt smash, clearing the seats and landing on Waveland Avenue. A hung curve was dropped into the right field corner by Castillo. An intentional walk was followed, thankfully, by a K of Hammel, but is 4-1; Rodriguez's location was non-existent in the second half of the frame. 

The Bucs didn't get a ball out of the infield in the sixth, and Jeanmar Gomez took over on the hill. The Cubs pounced on him. Bonifacio doubled off the wall and went to third on a sharp grounder to Mercer, who had a play on him but chose to go to first. A walk was followed by a barrage of line drives, and the way the inning was going, the Cubs even won an appeal at first on what would have been an inning-ending DP. When the smoke cleared, it was 7-1.

Travis Snider put one in the netting in center and Russ Martin banged one halfway up the stands in left; all three hits off Hammel have left the yard, but that outburst still left the score 7-3. Gomez worked a quiet seventh, and Hector Rondon came on for the Cubbies in the eighth, yielding just a bloop single to Mercer. Justin Wilson took the bump, and after retiring the first two batters, gave up a double to Rizzo. It was a grounder to third, but against the shift. No damage came of it.

Pedro Strop climbed the mound in the ninth, and survived back-to-back homers by Pedro and Martin (his survived a review) to finish up with a 7-5 Chicago win. It's not often that a team hits five homers and loses, but Pittsburgh managed it tonight by banging out five solo shots.

Wandy's hook is still all that, but his fastball is straight and in the 86-88 MPH range. He needs it to set up the curve and change that he occasionally mixes in, but when he loses its location, it's a BP pitch. So that will be a checkpoint for his effectiveness this year.

And they may want to tweak their shifting package. Anthony Rizzo went 4-for-4 against it, every hit going the opposite way. The Pirate staff may have to adjust to guys that are willing to take what they're given.

Gerrit Cole (1-0, 2.57 ERA) takes on Travis Wood (0-1, 4.26 ERA) tomorrow afternoon. Wood will become the first lefty starter the Bucs have faced in 2014.
  • Per David Manel of Bucs Dugout: The Pirates have only lost 3 times in which they've hit five or more homers. The last time was 2007 vs. the Reds. Other two were in 1961 and 1949.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney had a cliched answer for Vin Mazzaro clearing waivers: he stood to be paid nearly twice ($950 K) the league minimum salary. "Once you go to spring training, you’ve spent almost all the money you’re going to spend," a general manager told Olney. "There aren’t many teams with a lot of extra money lying around." Sounds a little lame to us - maybe his 6.00 ERA in September and an overall 4.00 xFIP devalued him at that cost.
  • Jeff Locke made his first rehab start tonight with Bradenton v Palm Beach. His line was 6 IP, 5 H,  2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR on 82 pitches.
  • Cutch came in third on The Sporting News ranking of MLB's Top Fifty players.

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