Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bucs Lose 3-2 As the Fundamentals Elude Them...

Not a brilliant start to this one. Yovani Gallardo 1-2-3'ed the Bucs; Carlos Gomez took the third pitch from Edinson Volquez, a 2-0 heater down the middle, out of the yard to make it 1-0 Brewers. The Bucs got a Pedro walk to open the second; a Russ Martin 4-6-3 squelched that frame.

Milwaukee added on in a very frustrating second inning. Pedro booted Khris Davis' grounder, and with two outs, Scooter Gennett routinely bounced a two-strike pitch into left as Pedro was playing the lefty well toward the hole. Then Russ Martin let a two strike breaking ball in the dirt ricochet up the third base line, and Davis scored the unearned run to make it 2-0.

Pittsburgh tied it by scoring the first two runs of the year off of Gallardo. Travis Ishikawa doubled over Davis' head in left, and Jordy Mercer followed with a knock up the middle. Volquez bunted Mercer up, and Starling Marte's two-strike grounder brought home a run. Travis Snider worked the count to 3-1, got a fastball and lined it into right center to tie the game. Cutch singled to left and stole second, but Pedro, who has been patient most of the year, chased a couple and K'ed. The Brew Crew went down in order.

Martin opened the fourth with a single up the middle, but an out later, Ishi rolled into an inning-killing 4-6-3 DP. The only damage inflicted on Volquez by the Brewers was a one-out single by Jonathan Lucroy. Gallardo struck out the side in the fifth. Inexplicably, Volquez lost Gallardo on four pitches with an out, but otherwise tossed a routine frame.

Cutch doubled to left with an out in the sixth, but couldn't get past third. Ryan Braun led off with a single but was erased on the next pitch on a 1-4-3 DP ball bounced to the hill by Aramis Ramirez. It's 2-2 after six. Gallardo was done after 96 pitches and Zach Duke took the hill to turn The Kid around. He got him, then Gaby Sanchez grabbed a bat for Ishi, and out went Zach and in came Tyler Thornburg. He got Gaby swinging at  high cheese and Mercer to fly out just short of the track in right.

The Brewers got a break when Cutch had a fly to medium center pop off the heel of his mitt, followed by a walk to Mark Reynolds, who refused to chase a pair of two-strike change-ups. Gennett laid down a two-strike bunt to move the Brewers up a station. Hurdle came out to get Edinson, who pitched a gem of a game and left after 90 pitches; his D let him down today. Lyle Overbay came up to hit as Tony Watson got the call. Ricky Weeks replaced Overbay and hit a flare to left; Marte caught it on the run and Khris Davis on third apparently thought it would drop; he left the base early, had to retreat back and had no shot at tagging. Gomez rolled out softly to Mercer, and the Bucs dodged some raindrops.

Jim Hederson came on and gave up a one out single to Marte. While on the way to stealing second, Snider rolled one through the 2B hole to put Bucs on the corners; curiously, Milwaukee covered the bag with their second baseman, though a lefty was up. Cutch got under a fastball and popped out foul behind the plate; Snider tagged and headed to second; when the throw went there, Marte tagged from third. The ball beat him home, though he appeared to get his foot under the pitcher's tag. Hurdle apparently argued the unreviewable blocked plate ruling, but didn't challenge the call. Guess his video guy had a glitch or Clint figured he was out. (EDIT - after the game, Clint told reporters that he thought Marte was "clearly out," so that's the answer.)

Mark the Shark took the hill. He wasn't hit hard, but enough to give the Brewers the lead. Braun hit a soft liner that barely cleared Walker's leaping try, and A-Ram dumped a single to left to put runners at first and second. Lucroy had a huge hole on the right side with The Kid shaded near the bag and bounced a routine bouncer the opposite way into right. JT made a poor throw home, high and up the line, and Braun got under Martin's lunge. Melancon did a good of stranding Brewers at second and third, but it was 3-2 Milwaukee.

Francisco Rodriguez came on and lost Pedro on five pitches; Josh Harrison came in to run. Martin came up swinging from the heels, and after two strikes bounced one to third for a 5-4-3 DP. Hurdle challenged that one - Gennett's relay throw was wide, and Reynolds fell off the base making the grab, but clearly kept his foot on the bag through the catch. The Kid rolled out to second, and the Brewers had their eighth win in a row and at 9-2, the best record in baseball.

They deserved the win; the Bucs didn't. Milwaukee played more soundly in the field while the Pirates gave up two runs on a boot/wild pitch and weak throw, and maybe lost a run when Clint kept a challenge in his pocket. That was more than the difference. So it's back to fundamentals and on to the rubber match tomorrow afternoon, with Charlie Morton facing Kyle Lohse, who is 9-2 against the Pirates in his career.

  • Edinson Volquez may end up being another feather in Ray Searage's cap. The key to his turnaround and Frankie's last year was control, and wild child Volquez has walked three batters unintentionally in three outings covering 14 IP.
  • The Bucs are starting to get pull-happy at the plate again. It may be that playing at Miller Park and having a rare burst of power has gotten them out of their all field approach.
  • Yay for roofs! It was pouring rain in Milwaukee during the game, but dry inside, with the exception of a leak or two.
  • Gregory Polanco went 4-for-4 today. He's now batting an even .500 for the season.
  • Luis Heredia left the West Virginia game today after one pitch with right shoulder discomfort, and will be reevaluated during the week. Young Pirate pitchers are becoming a fragile breed.
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