Sunday, June 8, 2014

Breaks Go Brewers Way In 1-0 Loss

It was a pretty threatening looking afternoon as the Bucs and Brewers looked to decide the series, but Jeff Locke took the hill as scheduled and worked a 1-2-3 opener. With an out, Yovani Gallardo plunked 2014's ball magnet, Neil Walker. Cutch saw nine pitches before he lined a single off Ricky Week's leather to put Bucs at first and third. Gaby lined a hung curve to right; Braun made the catch and then threw out Walker at home to keep it scoreless after a frame. The play required an ump review to make sure Jonathan Lucroy wasn't blocking the plate. Hurdle didn't challenge the call after the review, though it appeared The Kid got in under the tag.

Locke pitched a quiet frame in the second. Gallardo struck out the first two Bucs before Starling Marte reached on a boot by Jean Segura. It didn't hurt as Jordy flew out to center. It was three-up, three-down for the Brew Crew again in the third. Locke led off with a knock, and an out later The Kid drew a free pass. Gallardo pitched Cutch tough, painting the outside corner before getting him to pop out on the ninth pitch, a curve. Ed Hickox, the plate ump, missed ball four on Gaby, who trotted toward first, and then rung him up on the next pitch, which was ball five. It's good to be king.

With two gone in the fourth, Lucroy showed some good catcher wheels, singling on a tapper to the left side that hugged the line and then stealing second. He went to third on Gomez's bloop that Walker couldn't corral. Locke worked out of it, getting Bucco-killer A-Ram on a fly to short center. So far, so good. Russ opened the Buc half HBP, but was quickly erased when Pedro hit one back to the mound for a DP. Marte K'ed to end the frame. It's an awkward game to put him back in; usually an ump that's bad is bad both ways, but Hickox is giving Gallardo a cushion on both sides of the plate, so discipline isn't a good thing right now.

After a K, Locke missed the dish badly against Weeks, walking him on five pitches. Jeff took care of that, catching him as he broke to steal, and another K ended the frame. Locke's not only pitching tough, but is at just 59 pitches after five IP. Gallardo worked his first clean frame. Locke kept dealing in the sixth with another routine frame. Yovani is in his groove now. He whiffed The Kid and Cutch swinging, both fishing for two strike sliders outside the zip code, and got Gaby on a grounder, the 11th straight Buc he's retired.

Lucroy, who gets our vote for the Brewers best player, led off the seventh with a ground rule double on a liner to left. He may have been held to a single, but a fan interfered with the play at the railing and the umps awarded him second. Carlos Gomez's fly to Cutch moved him to third, and a soft A-Ram roller to Gaby made it 1-0 Milwaukee.

Martin opened with a single for the Bucs, and Pedro reached when Ramirez's try for a force at second was late. Marte fouled off a pair of bunts before flying out to right, moving Russ to third. Mercer fouled off a safety squeeze attempt. He tried it again, dropping the ball softly up the third base line; Martin couldn't score with the ball in front of him, but Jordy made it safely to first to load the bases. JT pinch hit for Locke, and battled some before K'ing on the eighth pitch, missing a heater under the letters. Again Yovani came up tough; he didn't give Tabata a pitch anywhere near the middle of the plate but worked the edges. On his 121st pitch, he got Josh on a pop up. From the fourth inning on, he's been dealing.

Tony Watson came on in the eighth; Locke tossed a three-hit, five K outing to get his foot in the door again. Tony tossed a clean frame, as he almost always does. Rob Wooten took the bump for the Brew Crew. With an out, Cutch banged a two-strike curve to The Notch for a double. Gaby got a fastball down the middle, and scorched it, but right at Weeks for a 4-3, with Cutch taking third. Francisco Rodriguez then came in to face Russ, and caught him looking at a 3-2 curve. Russ didn't think so and tossed his bat and banged his helmet to the ground . He was ejected; Clint came out to get his two cents into the ante and joined Russ in the clubhouse parlor. The pitch itself was a little off the black, but probably too close to take.

Grilli came on for the ninth, and gave up a two-out ground rule double to Lucroy, who's done it all this game, but left him stranded. After an out, Starling kept the Buc hopes alive by drawing a walk after falling behind 0-2, a good sign for the struggling youngster. Ike grabbed a stick for Jordy. As he hit, Marte was caught stealing. The call was challenged by the Pirates; Starling looked like he beat the rap on replay, and he did - the call was overturned. Ike then did what he does best - he walked. Travis Snider hit next, and he was robbed by Segura on a smash headed for center; the shortstop managed to get a force on the play. Josh stepped up, and hit a short fly to center, run down nicely by Gomez, to end it.

Lotta ifs in this one. If plate ump Hickox doesn't keep Gallardo around in the early frames with his gracious strike zone; if Hurdle challenges the call at home in the first inning; if the fan in the first row keeps his hands to himself; if Weeks and then Segura don't come up with smoked balls with runners on; if Pirates could only bunt...but most of all, if the Bucs don't go 1-for-11 with RISP, the results are reversed. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, the Pirates wasted a rare strong outing by a starter and a chance to pick up a game on the division leading Brewers.

The Pirates are set to begin a four-game series with the Cubs tomorrow night. Charlie Morton is slated to go against Edwin Jackson.
  • Tony Watson worked his 19th straight appearance without allowing a run.
  • Josh Harrison has a ten game hitting streak ended and JT snapped a five-gamer.
  • When asked about Josh's role when Gregory Polanco is called up, Neal Huntington told the media that "Josh can play second, short, third, left, right. He's earned the opportunity to stay in lineup." Clint has compared Harrison to super-sub Chone Figgins, so he appears to be in their plans down the road as the odd-lot guy, which could make Clint Barmes excess baggage. Harrison rates almost exactly at  league average in the field at all five of those spots this year. It also gives the skipper an option at leadoff if he doesn't want to throw Polanco right into the fire.
  • Clint Hurdle told the media that the latest player to get unplugged would be Ike Davis. He said that Gaby would get at least the next three starts at first.
  • Today's attendance was 35,002, for a crowd of 109,071 for the Brewer series..

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