Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bucs Blow 8-2 Lead, Lose 11-10 in Thirteen Innings

Jeff Locke opened by giving up a ground ball single to Angel Pagan. He whiffed Hunter Pence and then picked off Pagan breaking for second too soon. But two outs and the bases empty didn't help. Buster Posey punched a single into right and Michael Morse hit one up the 3B line for a double; Posey scored when the ball died in the corner. Hector Sanchez took an 0-2 breaking pitch that was over the dish and drove it to right for a knock and 2-0 lead; Josh Harrison's throw home wasn't very pretty, but he is Plan C in RF.

Harrison opened the Bucco half with a bloop single off Yusmeiro Petit. Neil Walker rolled over on a high heater and banged into a 4-6-3 DP, then Cutch K'ed. Locke settled down in the second against the bottom of the order, getting the G-Men in order. With an out in the Bucco half, Starling Marte singled and stole second; Ike walked behind him. No damage done, as the next two guys flew out harmlessly to right.

Locke was in a ground ball, 1-2-3 groove in the third. Hit machine Harrison again opened with a knock, and stole second three pitches later. The Kid yanked a grounder into right, and it was 2-1 as Harrison's slide beat Pence's toss home. Cutch followed with a single up the middle to put Buccos at first and second. Pedro was ahead 3-1, got a fastball down Broadway and bombed it into the bullpen to make the score 4-2. The Bucs lucked out; the 3-0 pitch was ball four, but the ump rang it up.

Marte was plunked and stole second. The call was challenged; it looked like Marte slipped his hand in ahead of the tag after neatly lifting it over the glove, and NY agreed. All it did was prolong things; a pop out and K - Tony Sanchez has apparently never seen a slider he could lay off - ended the frame, and it's been 70 minutes gone since the opening pitch for three innings. It was another clean frame for Locke in the fourth. After two outs, Harrison fell behind 0-2 - and drew a walk! When you're hot...but he was caught stealing to end the frame.

Locke ran his out streak to 13 straight; after a rough beginning, he's back to nicking the black. With an out, Cutch scorched one up the line that was called foul tough it appeared to hit the chalk; the Pirates challenged and upon review, Andrew was awarded a double. Pedro dropped a flare into center, and Cutch read it all the way to score. Marte followed with a two-strike double to center off a curve to put Bucs at second and third, and Ike was intentionally walked to get to Tony Sanchez.

Jake Dunning took the ball from Petit. He tried to get Tony to chase with two strikes, and ended up tossing a wild pitch to score a run and move the runners up 90 feet; Sanchez drew a walk to load them again. Dunning tossed another wild one with Clint Barmes up to let in another. Kinda odd at bat; he lined out to center; Davis scored, but Sanchez was thrown out at third after the run crossed, so it's 8-2 on the sac fly DP.

Pagan broke Locke's streak with a leadoff single to start the sixth and Pence followed with a knock to right to put Giants on the corners. Posey made it three hits in a row, and that got Bryan Morris up; the last two hits were on a line. Locke froze Morse with an 0-2 heater for the first out, but Sanchez lined the next pitch to center to make it 8-4.

Locke got the hook as Jordy Mercer came in with Morris in a two-for-one. Pablo Sandoval rolled his first pitch into left to load the bases. Brandon Hicks ripped a 2-0 cutter served right down the middle for a double, and it was suddenly 8-6 with Justin Wilson throwing in the pen. A sac fly made it a one run game, and Cutch had to make a sweet dive to grab that ball. Another fly ended the inning.

Juan Gutierrez climbed the hill, and Mercer greeted him with a double. Harrison missed a pair of bunts - why not, he's only 2-for-2 with a walk - and flew out to right, moving Jordy to third. Mercer plated when Walker tapped weakly to the left side, leaving Gutierrez with only a play at first and getting the lead to 9-7.

Justin Wilson took over in the seventh. With an out, Pence rolled a single into left off a pretty nice hook and went to second on a wild pitch. Posey walked on four pitches, and Tony Watson was waved in, along with Travis Snider in another two-fer. Morse got a hanging change and doubled in a run; Sanchez singled in the game tying tally as Watson was catching too much plate. But before things turned entirely black, Tony induced a 6-4-3 DP from Kung Fu Panda to keep the game at nines.

With two gone, Davis walked and Tony Sanchez singled, bringing in Jeremy Affeldt. JT hit for Snider, and softly rolled a grounder up the middle that Brandon Crawford gloved. He was late trying for a force at second and Davis steamed home, through a stop sign, to put the Bucs up 10-9.

Watson returned for the eighth. After two grounders, he gave up an infield single to Joaquin Arias, but struck out Pagan; he worked his frames efficiently, using just 20 pitches. With two down, Cutch tripled to right off Affeldt. But Pedro couldn't bring home the insurance, grounding out. He was looking to go opposite way against the shift, but the 3B'man had the SS spot covered.

So it's up to Mark the Shark against the 2-3-4 hitters for SF. Pence opened with a single to right and went to second on a wild pitch. Posey poked a cutter that was off the plate into right, and it was tied again. Morse grounded into a force. Sanchez rolled another ground single to right; Tabata, who had just made a weak throw home, this time cut down pinch runner Ehire Adrianza. Brandon Belt grounded out, and it was the Bucs turn against Santiago Casilla. He put Pittsburgh away in order with a pair of K.

Jeanmar Gomez took the ball in the tenth, with Chris Stewart taking over the catching duties. Crawford singled with an out, but it ended well with a caught stealing and ground out. Tabata opened the Buc half with a K; he never saw a strike during the at-bat. Mercer caught a fastball and sent it to right center, but it was just a loud out. Stewart drew a two-out walk, and a wild pitch moved him to second. In the midst of a long at-bat by Walker, a passed ball moved Stewart to third. But Casilla won on the 14th pitch, throwing a fastball past The Kid. It was a battle, but Casilla only threw three clear strikes during the entire at-bat

Pagan began the 11th with a single into center and stole second. He was still there with two outs as pitcher Madison Bumgarner (.364 with a homer) came up to bat for Casilla. But Jeanmar retired him on a soft comeback liner that he had to climb the ladder to grab.

Jean Machi toed the rubber. Cutch pushed a change up away through the right side for a leadoff knock. Pedro swung through three straight change ups for the first out. Marte tapped back to the mound, but Machi's throw to first was off (tho he got a break as it hit the ump, which ended up big) and the Bucs were in business with Ike up. It was a short rally; Davis banged into a 6-4-3 DP off the second fastball Machi threw that inning; everything else was a change up. He hit the ball hard up the middle, but right into the shift.

With one down in the 12th, Belt singled to right. With two outs, he stole second - on a pitchout - and LH Crawford was intentionally walked. It worked out as planned; Arias hit the next pitch to third for a force. Gerrit Cole grabbed a bat to pinch hit for Gomez, and singled on a deflection off the pitcher. JT fouled off a pair of bunt tries - we think they do it on purpose - and K'ed. Mercer followed Cole's lead, and he bounced one off Machi for another knock. But it didn't help; Stewart got a fastball down the middle and bounced it to short for another 6-4-3 DP; the few heaters Machi throw seem to find their way to Crawford.

Jared Hughes took the hill, leaving only Vinsanity in the pen. With an out, he walked Pence and then plunked Juan Perez (.059 BA). Machi bunted; Hughes threw the ball away, and the Giants were up with runners on the corners. With two down, Machi jogged into second thanx to defensive indifference. Belt was walked intentionally. A K ended the frame with San Francisco up 11-10. A walk, a HBP and a botched bunt gave the Giants the lead.

Sergio Romo took over for the Giants. He got ahead of Walker 0-2, then tried to come inside and hit him (or more correctly, The Kid leaned into one for the team).  Cutch took a shot at ending it, but his fly to center was short of the track for the first out. And that was it; for the third straight frame, the Bucs got the leadoff guy aboard but banged into an inning-ending DP; Pedro grounded into the shift and a 4-6-3 DP.

Blame the bullpen, which has been beat up lately? Yah, some. But the fault lies with the starters. They haven't gone six inning in seven or eight straight games now, and you can only expose your mid-inning guys so much before it catches up. And while you can't gripe about a team that scored ten runs, five DPs is a soul crusher; there's blame enough to go around.

Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.17 ERA) takes on Charlie Morton (0-4, 4.21 ERA) tomorrow night.
  • Pedro has a seven game hitting streak. 
  • Cutch had four hits tonight and was a homer shy of the cycle.
  • The Giants had four hitter with three or more hits.
  • The Pirates have only five saves in 13 save opportunities. To make matters worse, Bucco starters are 3-15/4.75 ERA.
  • Rumor du jour: Andrew Lambo is not playing tonight, and may be on his way to Pittsburgh, presumably in a swap with Jeff Locke. The Pirates have an off day Thursday, so they can get away with four starters in the short term. The question is will he play in RF, 1B, or mix-and-match?
  • The Pirates announced that Wandy Rodriguez's rehab start tomorrow will be at Altoona. Indy is at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and the FO probably wanted to keep him closer to home.

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