Monday, May 26, 2014

Bucs Rally To Batter the Bullpen In A 5-3 Win

With an out in the first, The Kid singled off rookie Jacob deGrom, and Cutch followed with a knock to left. Ike walked to juice the bases for Russ Martin. After a visit to the mound, deGrom was next visited by a pitcher's best friend, an around-the-horn DP on a 3-2 sinker to escape the frame. Juan Lagares bunted his way on to open against Brandon Cumpton and went to second when Pedro airmailed the throw to first. He made his way to third two outs later, but a Curtis Granderson K stranded him. 11 pitches, 11 sinkers for Cumpton; meanwhile deGrom showed five different pitches in his inning.

Pedro singled to center to open the second and Starling Marte followed with a walk. Jordy Mercer was late on a fastball and flew out to medium right, runners holding. Cumpton couldn't bunt them over; made no diff as Josh grounded out to short. Early on, the Bucs are touching all the bases except the one that counts. After a line out, Lucas Duda singled to left. Cumpton cleaned up quickly as Wilmer Flores bounced one to Pedro, who made a nice pick on a short hop to start a 5-4-3 inning ender.

Cutch walked with an out in the third, and that was all the damage Pittsburgh could muster. deGrom singled off of Walker's glove with one gone; he's 3-for-4 so far this year, befitting a converted college shortstop. Lagares banged one to short; Jordy booted it to put Mets at first and second. Try, try again; Cumpton got Daniel Murphy to roll another one to short, and this time Mercer started the 6-4-3 to finish the frame.

Pedro opened the fourth with a two-bagger. Marte bounced out to third, Mercer lobbed one softly to second and Cumpton flew out to right, so Pete never got to step off the sack. With two gone in the Met half, Bobby Abreu lined a single to center and stayed there. The Bucs are 0-for-7 with RISP over four frames, and NY is 0-for-4 with a combined nine runners stranded, even with three DPs.

deGrom almost had the first 1-2-3 half inning of the game in the fifth, spoiled when Cutch beat out an infield single with two down after rolling over on a 3-2 slider. Ike put a charge into a change up, but lined it right into the mitt of Duda at first. With the first two Mets tucked away, Cumpton delivered the first pitch down the middle for deGrom, who banged out his second single, followed by a walk to Lagares.

With an 0-2 count, he fed Murphy a center cut sinker and the results were predictable; he drilled in a run, although the back runner was cut down at home Harrison-Pedro-Martin, to put NY up 1-0. Hmmm - not so fast; the umps are reviewing it to see if Russ blocked the plate. After a long look, Lagares was ruled safe on the blocking violation, and it was 2-0. Don't ask us; we've never fully understood the rule ourselves; we're guessing his extended leg was the culprit. We do know that a decent throw by Josh from right (who ended up charged with an error on the play after the out call was reversed) would have made the whole thing moot.

deGrom may be a rookie, but he did what good pitchers do after taking the lead; he shut down the Bucs in the following frame. Abreu, who's hit the ball hard every at-bat, doubled with an out in the sixth, but was stranded. Pinch hitter Travis Snider walked with one away in the seventh after falling behind 0-2, and went to second an out later when The Kid drew another free pass. After 122 pitches from deGrom and Cutch up, the Mets called on Jeurys Familia, who froze Andrew on a 3-2 slider to end the inning. Jared Hughes came on and worked the first clean half inning for the Bucs, withstanding a Met challenge on the third out call.

Lefty Scott Rice took the ball in the eighth. Gaby hit for Ike, and did he ever, pounding his fifth HR of the year to left. Russ almost followed suit, with his drive hauled in at the 404' mark in dead center. After Rice got Pedro on a grounder to second, righty Jose Valverde took the bump. Marte banged a double on his first pitch, a heater, and JT grabbed a bat to hit for Jordy. Tabata came through; he punched an outside fastball into right, and it was 2-2. Clint Barmes hit for Hughes. JT swiped second, but Barmes fly to right left him on.

Tony Watson climbed the hill in the eighth. With two outs, he walked Granderson, bringing up the hot Abreu. Tony slipped past him with a popout, and on to the ninth.

Valverde was still on the hill, and retired Josh, who popped out trying to bunt his way aboard. The Kid followed with a flare single to center. Cutch walked, and Gaby followed with a single to left. Both runners scored and Gaby ended up on third when Granderson missed on his throw home and the ball skipped past the catcher. That was it for Jose; Carlos Torres answered the call. he had a nine-pitch battle with Russ; Martin won by doubling home Gaby. The Bucs eventually loaded the bases with two down, but Barmes' fly to center ended the fun.

The Bucs finished up by dancin' with Melancon. He did something that happens to him once a blue moon; looking to pump in a first pitch strike, Duda took him long to make it 5-3. But a fly ball and two whiffs later, it was all over. Mark the Shark had his 10th save and Tony Watson claimed his fifth victory.

Pittsburgh overcame some shaky fielding and decidedly unclutch hitting by getting into the Met bullpen, and give the Pirate bench all the props for this comeback - Gaby had a pair of big knocks, and JT drove in a two-out run as he seems to be settling into a fourth OF'er role pretty well.

For Cumpton, it was a strong opening bell response, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits through six innings in a very solid and efficient outing, using 86 pitches. Questions still remain after the order comes around for the third time; he really needs to use and command his secondary stuff to keep guys off balance as the game deepens. But he's certainly an upgrade over Wandy.

Edinson Volquez takes on lefty Jonathon Niese tomorrow night.
  • Duda's homer off Mark Melancon snapped the longest run without giving up a long ball among current MLB pitchers at 86 IP.
  • The Met bullpen has nine blown saves, second in the majors only to the Pirates' 11. So don't leave for the fridge in the late innings.
  • Neil Walker has a five game hitting streak, and eight multi-hit games in May.
  • Tony Watson, batting because the bench was used up in the ninth, grounded a ball through the shortstop hole for his first MLB hit.
  • Jordy Mercer has fallen under the Mario Mendoza line at .197, with his partner, Clint Barmes, is hitting .200 on the dot. We believe that if Josh keeps raking, he'll get some games at short, even as a sub-par defender, and third after Gregory Polanco arrives.
  • Ex-Bucs: Looks like Robbie Grossman is getting his shot at everyday play for the Astros.
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