Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bucs Coast For Eight And Hold On In The Ninth For 8-6 Win

Randy Wolf tamed the Bucs in the first, surviving a monster shot by Cutch to right center that the huge Miami field somehow kept in front of the fence and knocks by Starling Marte and Gaby. Charlie Morton got off to his usual start, plunking Reed Johnson on a two-strike pitch and then losing Giancarlo Stanton on a full count after an out, but he got Casey McGehee to bang into a 4-3 DP on a ball up the middle.

In the second, Jordy didn't miss, spanking a hanging hook barely over the wall in center, about a mile away. Pedro and Chris Stewart followed with singles. Ground Chuck bunted himself a base hit when no one covered first after he dropped the ball down. Gregory Polanco bounced into a force to bring a run home. Marte's grounder didn't have the same outcome; he banged into a DP. So the Bucs have been pounding Wolf but haven't been able to deliver a big blow, even though it is 2-0.

Garrett Jones opened with a bloop single and Marcell Ozuna walked. But Ground Chuck lived up to his moniker, and a DP and bounce out ended the frame quietly.

Cutch singled to start the third, and Gaby drew a walk. Josh popped out to center and Jordy flew out to right, moving Cutch to third. Pedro whiffed, and the Bucs continued doing a good job of keeping the Marlins in the game. Pittsburgh has seven hits, but is 1-for-7 with RISP and have left five men on base, with a DP, already. Wolf led off with a rope to center, and Rafael Furcal forced him at second. Morton worked Johnson tight this time without hitting him and was rewarded with a swinging K. Stanton went down on a fly to short right.

Stewart went the other way and singled to right to begin the fourth. He was bunted to second, followed by a walk to El Coffee. Marte went down swinging at three heaters that were high eighties and down the middle. Cutch took care of that by hammering a hung curve over the left center wall at the 386' mark, and the Bucs were finally beginning to pull away. Gaby hit one 400'+, but to straight center for the final out.

After a K, Jones walked after a long at-bat and came home when Ozuna got a heater down the middle and tripled to right on a grounder past the first base bag and into the corner. JT Realmuto bounced out, bringing home Ozuna. Adeiny Hechavarria singled to right before pinch hitter Donovan Solano bounced out. The Bucs will miss Wolf, and at 5-2, it's still a game.

Kevin Slowey took the bump in the sixth, and gave up an opening knock to Josh, who was doubled home on the next pitch by Jordy. Pedro moved him to third on a ground out, then Stewart was plunked. A squeeze by Charlie brought home Mercer - it finally worked - and moved up Stew. That helped as Polanco singled him home and then went to third on a Marte dink into right. They were loaded after Cutch walked, but Gaby flew out to short center to end the parade at 8-2 Buccos. The Fish went down in order, with Cutch robbing Furcal of a lead off knock with a sliding grab.

Josh is back, opening the sixth with a single to right, the fifth straight leadoff batter to reach against Miami. He didn't last long as Jordy turned on an inside sinker and hit into an around-the-horn DP. Pedro singled, but Stew ended the frame with a pop to right. Charlie worked a 1-2-3 frame, but is at 98 pitches.

The Bucs got to see old bud Bryan Morris in the seventh. Morton lined out to the mound, ending the lead off streak. Polanco beat an infield knock, but Morris whiffed Marte and Cutch swinging. Charlie came out, and Realmuto dropped a soft shot into left for a knock.  A whiff and a 6-4-3 cleaned that up, Morton's third GIDP served today.

Josh rolled with a knock up the middle with one gone in the eighth. Jordy took one to the track by the 386' mark for a loud second out. Pedro whiffed, and Stolmy Pimentel came on to pitch, his first outing since being recalled from the DL, which he went on May 1st. He tossed a 1-2-3 frame.

Mike Dunn got the call for the ninth. Stewart hit a pop fly single that dropped in, but he stopped running between the bases; maybe he thought it been caught. The ball wasn't, but he sure was. The next two outs were routine.

With an out and McGehee on first with a single, Pimentel fell behind Ozuna 3-1 and gave him a fastball down the middle, which got lost in the right center seats. The pitch wasn't much of a surprise after yesterday's walk-a-thon almost cost the Bucs a game, but geez, these ninth innings. An out later, Hechavarria singled and went to second on defensive indifference. Stolmy hung a 1-2 slider to Jeff Baker, and he turned on it to homer to left.

Jason Grilli climbed back on the bike, and got ahead of Furcal 0-2. Grilled Cheese just missed getting strike three on a pitch on the corner, and with the reprieve, Furcal singled to right. Johnson popped out on the next pitch, and the Pirate nation can exhale.

Two four-run ninth innings against the bullpen, and the Pirates still won both games. The lineup is pretty solid now with Polanco and Marte at the top; we can only imagine what it will be like when The Kid returns. But with all the Polanco-mania sweeping Pittsburgh, remember that the offense is being driven by Cutch, who is sure making a run at repeating as MVP. His hot stick, fewer holes in the order and some decent starting pitching are carrying the Bucs back into contention.

Vance Worley and Henderson Alvarez go tomorrow afternoon.
  • Cutch has a ten game hitting streak. He also has seven game multi-hit string, the longest by a Pirate since Barry Bonds had a seven-game run in 1992.
  • Josh had three hits today after a 3-for-25 slump entering the game.
  • Every Pirate starter, including Charlie Morton, had a hit in the first five innings. Four batters - Starling, Cutch, Jordy and Stew - had a pair of knocks. By the end of the game, seven of the eight starting position players had multi-hit games - and Gaby, who didn't, was lifted for Ike after going 1-for-3.
  • The top of the order was on its game again today. They went 6-for-14 with two walks, two runs scored and five RBI.
  • The Pirates banged out a season game-high 18 hits, the most in a game since last year on June 12th against the Giants, when they also collected 18 hits.
  • Believe it or not, the Pirates three DPs in the field today are a season high.
  • The Pirates are 34-34 after today, the first time they've been at .500 since April 17th.

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