Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bullpen Falters Once Again, Bucs Drop 6-5 Decision To Reds

Billy Hamilton chopped a ball over a drawn in Pedro and didn't stop running until he hit second. Brandon Cumpton caught his breath after Todd Frazier popped up trying to bunt his way aboard. No diff; Hamilton stole third on a bang-bang call; Clint opted not to burn his challenge. Joey Votto singled, and it was 1-0 in a hurry. Brandon Phillips lined one, but Jordy was there for the grab, and Jay Bruce bounced out. Johnny Cueto, par for the course, retired the Bucs in order.

Ryan Ludwick opened the second with a single to center. Some liners are better than others; Brayan Pena roped one to Ike, who beat Ludwick back to the sack for a DP. Zack Cozart smoked the third ball of the frame, but Starling Marte had it measured in left center. With one gone, Russ drew a walk. An out later, Josh nailed a fastball delivered down the middle and doubled to center to tie the score. Jordy beat out a left side tapper to put Bucs on the corners. Jordy stole second before Brandon bounced out after a nine-pitch at-bat.

With an out in the third, Hamilton tapped a swinging bunt to reach. He stole second and went to third on a bad throw. Cumpton got Frazier to chase a slider for strike three and then Votto swung over a sinker to strand Hamilton.

Gregory Polanco opened with liner to center for a knock, and was forced by Marte. Cutch rolled a double up the LF line to put Pirates at second and third. They were loaded after Ike walked. Russ got ahead 3-0, ran the count full, spoiled a couple and finally worked a free pass to make it 2-1 Buccos. Pedro flew out to short center; Cutch tagged and was nailed at home on a nice play by Pena to get the tag on him. The throw was up the line and Cutch tried to get under but he wasn't quite low enough.

The Reds came right back in the fourth; Phillips singled and went to third of Jay's double. Ludwick singled everyone up a station to knot the score, and every hit has been nailed on the screws. A force put the Reds up; Pedro had a play at home but was probably thinking two with the catcher running. Cozart then rolled one into left. After whiffing Cueto, Cumpton lost Hamilton on four pitches to load the bases. He got Frazier to fly to right to end it. For the Bucs, Mercer singled with an out and was bunted to second, where he died.

Cumpton worked a 1-2-3 fifth. With two down for Pittsburgh, Ike doubled to right off a cutter that didn't get in on him enough. Russ walked for the third time. Pedro swung at everything and bounced out softly to third (well, short with the shift); he's left six runners aboard so far tonight.

With two down in the sixth, Pedro threw away another ball (and Ike isn't helping him out much) to allow Cozart to reach. Cueto bounced out, but the order was turned over. Josh opened with a knock. Jordy fouled off a pair of bunts, worked the count full and then whiffed chasing a slider down and away. The good news was that Harrison, off on the pitch, stole second. Not that it did much good. JT pinch hit and bounced to short; Josh was caught going to third on a play that was in front of him. JT was then caught stealing as the Bucs continue their base path follies.

Justin Wilson came on in the seventh as the game was turned over to the bullpens. Hamilton greeted him with a bunt single, followed by Frazier singling off Harrison's mitt to put Reds on the corners. Frazier stole second and Votto singled on the ninth pitch of his at-bat, a fastball down the middle, to score them both. Two outs later, Jeanmar Gomez took the bump after Wilson ran up 29 pitches, and ended the frame with a walk and grounder. Sam LeCure took the ball for Cincy.

After a Polanco lineout, Marte singled and Cutch walked A short wild pitch put Bucs at first and third. Ike singled home Marte, Cutch holding at second. Russ ran the count full, and this time he rolled a single up the middle to plate Cutch. Lefty Manny Parra took the ball, and Gaby hit for Pedro.

Clint's managing to try to win this one with that move. Gaby didn't make him look good, swinging at splitters that weren't even in the zip code for a four pitch whiff. Logan Ondrusek got the call to face Josh, who lined an 0-2 heater just below the knees into center. It scored Ike while Russ and Josh moved to second and third on the throw home. Jordy drilled an 0-2 cutter to right, but Bruce hauled it in. It's a brand new game at fives.

Clint Barmes went to second, Josh to third and Gaby stayed in at first as Mark the Shark answered the phone for the eighth.  It took him 17 pitches, but he worked a clean frame. El Coffee walked after a Barmes pop out and Marte singled to left. Cutch came up empty, swinging for the fence at three cutters. It took eight pitches, but Ike whiffed too. Pittsburgh has stranded 11 and lost a trio on the bases.

Jason Grilli took the bump. Frazier got a 2-0 fastball and dropped it into the batter's eye in center. Votto lined out and Brandon Phillips roped a single to left; the Red bats are firing a lot of bullets today. Bruce banged one into the shift for a DP to put out the fire with the Reds up 6-5.  Aroldis Chapman came in for the save. Chris Stewart, the last bench guy, drew a one out walk and Josh singled him to second. Jordy became the second K of the inning, missing a heater that tracked at 102. Barmes almost became the hero, blasting a slider to the wall, but it was hauled in just in front of the 389' mark to end the game.

Lets see...make two errors, strand 13 runners, lose three more on the bases, give up three runs in three innings of relief and lose by a run. Man, if these guys could just do a couple of the little things right on a nightly basis...but they don't, and that's why .500 is proving so elusive. Brandon Cumpton is running out of chances, and if Clint isn't thinking of closing with Melancon and using Tony Watson in the eighth, well, he surely ought to be.

Alfredo Simon goes against Edinson Volquez tomorrow night.
  • Cutch now has a 12 game hitting streak, and Gregory Polanco's string is at seven contests.
  • Josh Harrison had his third career four-hit game.
  • In the last 12-2/3 IP, the Pirate bullpen has leaked 14 runs, 12 earned. And if you take away Jeanmar Gomez's four innings of shutout ball Friday, then it gets really ugly.
  • Brandon Cumpton came into tonight with a 30.4% line drive average by opponents, and by MLB.com's count, he gave up 10 more ropes to the 27 batters he faced (37%) tonight. The Pirate staff's LD average coming into the game was 19.5%.
  • Travis Snider was out for today's game; he ran into a travel snafu taking care of personal business during yesterday's off date.

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