Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bucs Batter Blue Jays Bullpen, Rally Again For 8-6 Win

It opened with a boot, when Jose Reye's grounder was thrown astray by Pedro. But Francisco Liriano worked out of beautifully, ending the frame with a 6-4-3 off Joey Bats. After a couple of routine outs, Cutch singled and Pedro walked against knuckler RA Dickey, but Gaby ended the frame with a fly poked to right. Frankie worked a quiet second with a couple of K. Clint Barmes singled after a long at-bat with two down to turn the order over for the third.

Oh, those Buc fielders. Steve Tolleson K'ed on a slider in the dirt; Tony Sanchez airmailed the ball into right for a two-base error. Josh Thole followed by slapping a ball the opposite way for a knock, but Starling Marte made things right by throwing out Tolleson at home with Thole taking second. He went to third on a grounder to second and came in on Reye's double, so the error did hurt, and it was 1-0 Jays. The Pirates went down in order with a pair of whiffs; Dickey hadn't been getting many swings-and-misses until now.

Bautista singled to open the fourth; the Jays leadoff man has been aboard three times already. Encarcion walked to stir up some trouble. It got worse when Brett Lawrie turned on a slider and doubled to left, bringing home a run. Colby Rasmus singled in another score, and it was getting ugly; all the hits were pretty well struck. Liriano got Tolleson to roll into a DP, and that made it 4-0.

Thole added an infield hit that was challenged but stood, tho it looked like the ball beat him. When you're hot... Anyway, the game went on, and Dickey reached when Barmes misplayed his grounder. That was followed by a walk to load the bases, and then another walk on four pitches, making it 5-0 with the bases loaded for Joey Bats. That brought on Jared Hughes, who closed out the frame with a force out.

The Bucs tried to claw back. Pedro singled and Gaby walked. An out later, Tony Sanchez singled to load the sacks. Dickey helped the cause by launching a wild pitch, scoring Pedro and moving up the other guys. A tapper by Barmes brought in a second tally. JT grabbed a bat and grounded out to end the frame at 5-2.

Vin Mazzaro climbed the hill in the fifth. A single by Lawrie and a two out walk to Tolleson brought on a Ray Searage visit. Didn't help; he walked Thole on four pitches. He's not getting any help from plate ump Adam Hamari, who's called a squeaky tight zone all night. But he got the pitcher to fly out to end a 34-pitch inning. Pittsburgh went down in order, thanks to a Cutch DP. Vinsanity was a pitch away from working through the top of the Jay order in the sixth, but Joey Bats spoiled that by crushing a two-strike heater into the left field stands. The Bucs got another walk off Dickey in their half, but that was it.

Jeanmar Gomez got the ball in the seventh, with Ike Davis going to first on a double switch. Jeanmar worked a clean frame.

Barmes opened with a double on Dickey's 105th pitch, and that brought on lefty Aaron Loup to work on Ike. He bounced out, moving Barmes up a bag. Josh Harrison rolled a ball inside the third base line for a two-bagger, making it 6-3, and Walker followed with a single to center after failing to bunt to put Bucs on the corners. Why would you bunt three runs down?

Cutch walked - the only strike was when he fished for a changeup - and up came Pedro. He rolled over on a slider and tapped out to first, scoring Harrison and making it 6-4. Jordy Mercer stepped in, battling a huge slump, but proved clutch by banging an 0-2 heater over Colby Rasmus' head for a game-tying double. Marte beat out a slow roller to put Bucs on the corners, but it ended when Tony Sanchez chased after a 3-2 changeup that ended up in the other batting box.

Bryan Morris climbed the hill in the eighth. After an out, he plunked Chris Getz, who was trying to bunt, to bring up the top of the Jay order. Morris made up for by picking off Getz with the Grade A move after several tosses to first. It was challenged (Davis made an awkward swipe), and this call stood, too. He got Reyes to pop up, and the Bucs have another crack at the Toronto bullpen.

Ex-Buc farmhand Todd Redmond took over (he was traded early in the Huntington era for Tyler Yates). With an out, Ike beat out a weakly hit ball rolled to short and Harrison singled him to third. Just as the rain began in earnest, Walker lifted a changeup high off the wall in center for a two base knock, scoring both Ike and Josh, and the Bucs had the lead and an insurance run. Redmond dodged another bullet when Cutch lined out to third. Pedro was intentionally walked to get to the pitcher's spot, and Travis Snider strolled to the plate. He was walked, too on a pretty disciplined at-bat to juice the sacks. Redmond finished up without any more damage as Marte lined out.

It was time for some dancin' with Melancon, who was facing the 2-3-4 hitters for the Jays. After an out, the Bucs committed their fourth error of the game (and second for Pedro) when he made a bad peg to first on Joey Bat's grounder. With two down, Lawrie beat out an infield single; not a lot of luck comin' Mark the Shark's way this frame. But Melancon jammed Rasmus with a two strike cutter and got a ground out to first to earn his a save to go with yesterday's win as the Bucs rallied again for an 8-6 victory over Toronto.

Couple of things to take away from this game. First, is Frankie reverting to his good year- bad year pattern, or is he just not very good in cool weather? Remember, he was still in Florida at this time last year, so that will be an interesting - and crucial - sidebar for the season.

And we have to wonder what John Gibbons, Blue Jay manager, is thinking. He didn't work matchups at all against the Bucs, letting a lefty work to both Cutch and Mercer and leaving his guys to twist in the wind during tough innings. Can't tell if he has no confidence in his pen or bad scouting.

Tomorrow afternoon's game will feature Edinson Volquez and Dustin McGowan as the Bucs look for the sweep.
  • Jordy Mercer ended a 0-for-25 slump with his double in the seventh; it was just his second extra base hit of the year.
  • With tonight's win, the Pirates have snapped a six-series losing streak.
  • Jose Bautista hit his first PNC Park homer since 2008, when he was still a Pirate. Of course, it's his first visit back since then, too. He also has a 13 game hitting streak and has been on base every game this season.
  • Toronto has yet to win this year when their pitchers give up four or more runs.
  • Nice crowd again of 31,439 as the announced attendance, with more than a few Toronto fans in the stands.

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