Sunday, May 18, 2014

Game #2: Bucs Chip Away For 5-3 Twinbill Split

The lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Gaby 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Jose Tabata RF, Tony Sanchez DH and Chris Stewart C.
The pitchers: RHP Gerrit Cole (3-3, 3.76 ERA) vs. LHP Vidal Nuno (1-1, 6.43 ERA).
The Bucco action in the first against Vidal Nuno was just another Cutch walk. The Yankees made it exciting when Brett Gardner opened with a triple, played rather leisurely by Cutch (it's the third time in three games Gardner has hustled an extra base against ho-hum outfield play), but was picked off by Chris Stewart an out later to quell that fire.

A couple of Yankee errors put the Bucs in business in the second, and they managed to scratch out a run. Stewart was again the man of the hour with a two out single to plate Starling Marte. But Bucco happy feet cost them again as JT was thrown out at third with the Pirates up 1-0. Travis Snider took his place in right, with the cover story being a leg injury (he did pull up a bit rounding second) but perhaps the real reason was base running brain cramp.

Yangervis Solarte opened the Yankee half with a single to right. With two outs, John Ryan Murphy, the reserve catcher, lined one to right; the single went off Snider's glove and allowed Solarte to come around and tie the game on the error. Cole didn't help his cause any by throwing away a bunt by Brendon Ryan, allowing Murphy to plate. A visit to the mound didn't seem to cool him off as he walked Brett Gardner. Cole balked them up a station by stopping in mid-motion before getting Brian Roberts to fly out with NY up 2-1.

Nuno had a 1-2-3 third, and Cole returned the favor. The Bucs all grounded out to short in the fourth; Cole surrendered a single to Ichiro Suzuki.

Snider opened the fifth with a flare single to right but some more happy feet cost the club again. Josh Harrison doubled, stumbled making the turn, and was run down without Snider scoring. The Bucs challenged and lost; he appeared to have beat the tag but also appeared out of the baseline. Of course, if Tony Sanchez and Stewart hadn't struck out ahead of him, it might be a tie game now. Cole gave up a single, but erased the runner on a 3-5-3 DP (Teixiera hit a grounder into the shift with 3B Harrison playing in the middle).

With one gone in the sixth, Cutch blooped a single to right. Gaby just missed losing a ball, flying out to the wall in center. Starling Marte didn't; he pounded one over the fence in RC to put the Bucs up 3-2 as the Pirates cashed in on the friendly confines of New Yankee Stadium. Mercer singled, but that was the end of the damage. The lead didn't last long; Solarte cranked a solo shot off a fastball with an out to knot the score.

Alfredo Aceves took over in the seventh, and with two outs, Josh Harrison joined the home run parade by taking a ball over the LF fence. Marte left the bench between innings, apparently injured, so Josh went to left and Pedro claimed his spot on the hot corner. Bryan Morris climbed the hill for the Pirates and got two quick ground outs, then Clint called on Tony Watson to match up with lefty Gardner, who won the battle by looping a soft single to right after a long at-bat. Roberts followed with a double to put Yanks at second and third. Tony hung in and got Teixiera to pop out to end the frame.

After getting two outs in the eighth, Aceves was relieved by Matt Thornton to go lefty mano-a-mano against Pedro. He poked a slider to deep left, as it is, but not far enough and the Bucs were done in their half. Derek Jeter led off and smacked Watson's 11th pitch to him into center for a single. Solarte hit one on the button, but Josh made a diving save of the liner in the corner. Alfonso Soriano grabbed some lumber - lots of firepower on that Yankee bench - and went down swinging through high heat. Suzuki went down swinging too, so there's one mile left to go.

Jordy opened with a double off Thornton in the ninth and was bunted to third nicely by Snider, a true rarity for Pirate baseball. Preston Claiborne came on to meet the righty Tony Sanchez. Ike Davis was sent up, and was intentionally walked. After fouling off a safety squeeze, Stewart continued his good day against his old mates by lifting a sac fly to right to make it 5-3; the Bucs can manufacture runs, after all.

Time for Mark the Shark to get back on the bike. He got Jacoby Ellsbury on a 3-2 comebacker. Ryan got ahead 3-0, but eventually flied out. Gardner tried to bunt his way aboard, but Gaby would have none of it as the Bucs salvaged game three 5-3.

Unlikely heroes Chris Stewart and Josh Harrison came up big today. The Bucs don't make it easy, with boots, mental lapses and base running blunders, but they found a way to win this afternoon. They've still got a ways to go; the team didn't give away games last year, and they have to get back to that type of mindset and performance soon.

The Pirates are off tomorrow and then entertain the Baltimore Orioles at PNC Park Tuesday night.

  • Pirate starters are 5-19; Cole has four of those wins. Frankie, Charlie and Wandy have yet to win a game.
  • JT left the game officially with right hammy tightness. Starling Marte left with tightness in his left hammy.
  • This is the first game Pittsburgh has won at Yankee Stadium, old or new, in 54 years.
  • Vidal Nuno played six games for the Washington Wild Things in 2011.
  • Russ Martin's plan is to come off the DL Tuesday, serve his suspension, and be ready for action Wednesday. The Bucs still want Jason Grilli to throw back-to-back sessions before clearing him for a roster spot, which he's expected to do Tuesday and Wednesday at PNC. Stolmy Pimentel is doing some throwing, though he's not near returning yet.

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