Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cueto Cuts Down Pirates 4-0

Johnny Cueto downed the Bucs 1-2-3 in the first. Not so for Francisco Liriano, who walked leadoff man Billy Hamilton, who promptly stole second. Liriano then threw a wild pitch - actually, a ball in the dirt than Tony Sanchez blocked, but didn't come up with cleanly -that allowed Hamilton to get to third (he's kinda fast, if you haven't heard), then walking Joey Votto, the second hitter. Another wild pitch brought in the first run; Frankie can't find the dish and Sanchez isn't helping him any. He righted the ship after that, with the Reds up 1-0.

Six up, six down for the Bucs. Frankie was sharper, giving up just a weak ground single to Brayan Pena. Tony Sanchez led off the third with an infield single, but that was it. Liriano put the Reds away in order, picking up a couple of K. Cutch doubled with an out in the fourth, But Cueto whiffed Pedro and Gaby, both looking. He has five whiffs, and four were called, so he's getting a break on the black.
Liriano has four K after that rough start, and knocked down the Reds again for eight outs in a row.

Buc bats aren't helping; the Pirates had to get a call overturned for their third hit, an infield single by Jordy Mercer, which at least turned the order over.

The Reds half started with JT crashing into the LF fence to make a fine grab; Marte had to come in to replace him, as Tabata exhibited some mild concussion symptoms. Zack Cozart grounded to third and got the single-and-error to second when Pedro airmailed the toss. Cueto bunted, and was called out for interference when he didn't get down the line and out out Sanchez's way. Good thing; Hamilton beat out an infield single to Neil Walker and then stole second, but Frankie whiffed Joey Votto for the second time.

The Bucs went down in order again in the sixth while the Reds made some noise with two outs. Chris Heisey doubled and Ryan Ludwick walked and Heisey stole third; the Reds have been running fools against the Buc batteries. Liriano K'ed Brayan Pena to strand two more.

Pittsburgh failed to make a peep in the seventh. The Reds again prove to the Bucs that if you can't get the ninth guy out, you'll pay. Cueto blooped one into center, and after a Hamilton forceout, Joey Votto went deep to make it 3-0. Both innings the Reds have scored have been after Hamilton reached base; we have to wonder how big a distraction he was to Frankie.

It was another 1-2-3 frame for Cueto in the eighth. Francisco was pinch-hit for, and his line ended up 7 IP, giving up three ER on six hits, three walks, two wild pitches and seven K after 95 tosses.

Stolmy Pimentel got the ball, and wasn't sharp; it was only his second call this season from the pen. After an out, a hit batter, single and double (on a ball misplayed by Snider, who came in on a ball over his head) made it 4-0. A bouncer got the lead man tossed out at home; it was reviewed by the umps themselves (seems like every tag Sanchez makes is reviewed) and upheld; Tony had the ball before crunching the runner.  A soft grounder ended the frame. Stolmy's velocity was down, working at 88-91 instead of his usual 94; can't tell if that's because of lack of work or something more sinister.

Cueto came out to finish what he started, and he did, ending up with  a three-hit shutout and a career high 12 K. Not hard to figure this one out; Johnny Cueto didn't drop the ball today.

The Bucs take on the Brewers in a four-game set starting tomorrow at 7:05. Yovani Gallardo (2-0, 0.96 ERA) and Edinson Volquez (0-0, 1.29 ERA) will stage a rematch.

The Bucs went 3-5 on this road trip; hopefully they'll find some mojo on the Allegheny shore. The fielding was bad and the pitching not up to Bucco standards while the club was away, and hopefully some home cookin' can straighten those issues out.

  • Votto's homer was the first Liriano has surrendered to a lefty as a Pirate.
  • The Pirates have the same record they did at this time last year, 7-8. Last year's Bucs never fell under .500 after that, winning 8-of-10 and never looking back.

1 comment:

WilliamJPellas said...

Cueto is just about invincible against the Pirates. He's a good major league pitcher anyway, but he's absolutely Cy Young against Pittsburgh---with the exception being the playoff game from 2013, and really, that's probably because Cueto was hurt last season. I don't know why he has such total mastery of the Pirates, but I wish they'd figure something out against him.