Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bucs Outlast Cubs 7-6

Guess the Cubs forgot to tell Edwin Jackson he was a Bucco killer. Starling Marte opened with a double to left on the first pitch, and an out later Cutch walked. Pedro smacked a two-bagger to right center gap to make it 2-0, and Russ Martin paid the price by getting plunked.

The Kid knocked Pedro home and chased Russ to third; Travis Ishikawa's fly brought him in to make it 4-0. Mercer dropped a soft single to right before Ground Chuck stopped the merry-go-round. The Bucs pushed it on the basepaths, and their aggressiveness paid off this frame. An even better omen was Morton retiring Emilio Bonifacio, albeit via a liner. With two down, he ran into a small jam, walking Anthony Rizzo followed by Nate Schierholtz reaching on a Marte muff after a long run. But a whiff tucked the Chi-towners away.

The Bucco happy feet cost them in the second, when the inning ended on Pedro's single to short right; Cutch, had singled before him and was cut down going to third. Charlie was in a pickle again when Starlin Castro rolled ball four through the right side and Ryan Sweeney singled off Mercer's mitt. Morton got two outs, but that dang Bonifacio singled up the middle to make it 4-1. A little more worrisome is that Morton is already up to 40 pitches.

The Bucs went quietly in the third, not so Chicago. A couple of singles and a Castro blast to left (on a 1-2 sinker) that was just inside the foul pole made it 4-4. Charlie's location hasn't been sharp at all tonight. His sinker has great movement, so much that it appears Morton doesn't know where it's going when it leaves his hand. So it's a new game.

With two down in the fourth, Jackson walked Marte and Travis Snider to get to Cutch. Oddly, that ploy didn't work. Andrew's single on a 2-0 slider plated Marte to make it 5-4. Morton got through the frame in good shape. Bonifacio singled again, but was wiped out on a nice unassisted DP by Ishikawa.

Martin opened the fifth with a double off a 3-2 fastball. He moved to third on a fly by Neil Walker and jogged home after Ishi's stand-up triple to right to make the score 6-4. Mercer was walked intentionally and bunted up by Morton. Rod Beck took the hill to face Marte, and got him on a bouncer to third. Morton is back on track; he got two grounders and a K to close out the fifth.

Brian Schlitter worked a 1-2-3 sixth for the Cubs. Castro cut the lead to one with another homer, this time off an 0-2 hanging curve. Charlie was up in the zone all day, but he'll leave after six innings and 102 pitches with the Bucs ahead and leave the last mile to the bullpen.

Justin Grimm took over for the Windy City crew. Martin and Walker greeted him with ground ball singles, but the bottom of the order, with JT pinch hitting, couldn't cash them in. Tony Watson took the bump, and gave up a leadoff ground ball single to Bonifacio *sigh* who was bunted to second. He stole third and tied the game when Rizzo followed with a single.

Rick Renteria called on Pedro Strop for the eighth. Snider looked at three pitches, all strikes, but Marte stole second to make it somewhat productive. Not surprisingly, Cutch walked. LHP Jim Russell took the ball to face Pedro. He lost Alvarez on a 3-2 pitch; he tossed him nothing but sliders and couldn't get El Toro to chase. Martin lifted a fly to right to score Marte and put the Bucs up by a point, 7-6. Mark the Shark swam out of the tank. Working his fastball more than the bread-and-butter cutter, he tossed a 1-2-3 frame, using nine pitches and picking up a K.

Jose Veras took the mound, Chicago's seventh pitcher. He put the Pirates down in order; the only excitement was Renteria getting tossed by plate ump Jeff Nelson for arguing a borderline call. Jason Grilli came in looking for the save. He got it in 1-2-3 fashion, even retiring Mr. Bonifacio as the Bucs held on for a roller coaster 7-6 win. Tony Watson got his second W, Jason Grilli his second save and the Bucs remain tied with the Brewers on top of the Central at 5-2.

Between Chalire Morton and 11 stranded runners, it was an ugly victory. But there's nothin' that says ya gotta win pretty, just as long as ya win. Wandy Rodriguez and Jason Hammel hook up tomorrow night.
  • Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli both picked up their first strikeout of the season tonight.
  • Cutch was walked twice; he now has been given free passes eight times in seven games. Guess the league finally figured out he's the MVP.
  • Clint Hurdle claimed his 250th win as Bucco skipper.
  • Tony Watson allowed an earned run for the first time since Aug 6th, 2013, a span of 22-1/3 IP, thanks to Emilio Bonifacio, who is 14-for-21 against Pirate pitching.
  • Tonight was Starlin Castro's first multi-homer game. And he did off Charlie Morton, who had given up just one HR in his last 14 starts.
  • Christina Kahrl of the Sweet Spot thinks Jameson Taillon's surgery will hurt more in the post season than during the year.
  • The Brewers have taken four in a row on their current road trip and are now 5-2. Ryan Braun hit three homers and had seven RBI in today's win.
  • Indy is off to a blazing start; the Indians were 5-0 before losing the second game of a DH tonight. Gregory Polanco has a  five game game hitting streak and is 9-for-17 with a 2B, HR, 5 runs scored & 3 RBI during the span.
  • Didja know there's a fake Pedro running around PNC Park? Charlie Dietch of the City Paper does.

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