Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It Wasn't Easy, But Bucs Get Locke A Win 6-5

"Hello, Chris Archer, I'm Gregory Polanco and you really don't want to walk me." Well, maybe El Coffee didn't really say that, but he should have given Archer a warning. A four pitch walk, stolen base with the throw going into center and a Cutch chopper to short made it 1-0 Buccos.  Jeff Locke missed the memo, too, walking Desmond Jennings to open the game, but Ben Zobrist banged a ball to Josh at third for a quick 5-4-3 twin killing, followed by a K.

The Bucs went down in order in the second - Archer already has four whiffs to go with the walk - and Locke turned the same trick. He gave up a one-out knock to James Loney, but a 6-4-3 ended the frame with the minimum.

Pedro opened the third by drawing a free pass, and Jordy followed with an infield knock on a high chop to the left side. Polanco bunted them up, and Starling ripped one through the right side to plate Pedro. A short wild pitch moved Marte to second. Cutch flared a full count slider to center to bring home another tally. The Kid fell behind 0-2, but hung in there to lift a sac fly to right. Russ singled to right before Ike flew out, but Pittsburgh was up 4-0.

With two gone, Jose Molina banged an 0-2 heater on the inside corner through the infield for a knock and Jennings followed by turning on a 1-2 heater and lining it to left. Locke worked Zobrist in, too, and got him to hit into a force, 5-4. The Bucs went down in order in the fourth, with Pedro losing a line shot to the shift. Locke tossed a clean inning, too.

El Coffee led off the fifth with an infield bleeder. Then another bit of oddity on the bases; Marte lined out to Loney, but Polanco was called out for interference and Starling got the base. It looked like Loney stepped into Gregory, but the fielder gets the benefit. Anyway, the game went on with one fast guy taking another's place, though we're unsure exactly why. Marte was caught stealing, going headfirst and taking a knee to the noggin in the process. He was helped off the field, and you have to consider a concussion as a very real possibility. Cutch K'ed, and one very awkward inning ended.

Travis Snider went to left. With two gone, Logan Forsythe tripled to right on a short fly that El Coffee misplayed; he may have lost it in the lights. It cost Locke when Molina drilled a first pitch change at the knees and down the middle past 3B for a double to make it 4-1 after five. Four of Tampa's five hits have come with two outs.

Ike doubled with two away in the sixth off a 3-2 slider, and Josh brought him home on the next pitch, a slider down the pipe that he roped to left, taking second on a thankfully very off-line throw to the plate. Pedro's not having much luck against the shift, bouncing out, but the Bucs did answer Tampa's run. And with three full counts in the frame, they ran Archer's pitch count to 92. Locke lost Evan Longoria with two away, but no damage came of it as Loney grounded out to short on a nice play by Jordy to snag his ball up the middle.

Jordy whiffed to open the seventh, chasing a slider in the dirt. El Coffee flew out and Snider looked at strike three in an easy frame for Archer. With an out, Jeff plunked Sean Rodriguez and gave up a knock to Forsythe. Locke settled down after a visit by guru Ray Searage and closed out the frame.

Brad Boxberger took the bump in the eighth.he got two outs on four pitches; his sixth was a fastball to Russ, inside half at the knees, who yanked it up the line and out of the yard. Ike looked at three strikes, but it was now 6-1 with six outs to collect.

With an out, Locke gave Brandon Guyen a back door curve; he got enough to ground it into right for a double. Logoria took a fastball that was inside and at the knees and golfed it over the wall in left center; those insurance runs sure look good now. Jared Hughes got the call after the blast. After a long at-bat, Loney poked ball four into left for a knock. Lefty Kevin Kiermaier grabbed some wood, and Tony Watson was waved in. He got a whiff and pop out to bail Jared and Jeff out of the frame.

Juan Carlos Oviedo came in to work the ninth. The Bucs went down 1-2-3 and Mark the Shark took the horsehide. Forsythe singled to open, his third hit of the game. Matt Joyce flew out to right, and Jennings went the opposite way for another knock; Melancon's cutter is catching more plate than corner. Zobrist flew out to left. Mark uncorked a wild pitch on an 0-2 curve to Guyen. On a 2-2 pitch, another cutter stayed in the middle of the dish and Guyen banged it to right to make it 6-5. Lonoria was the man of the hour, but his fly to left center gave the Shark his 13th save and Locke finally got a win.

Game thoughts: Maybe the Bucs are the reincarnation of the lumber company; maybe Jeff Locke has figured it out, and maybe the Bucs should hire a scientist to clone Tony Watson.

Charlie Morton takes on ace lefty David Price tomorrow afternoon.
  • The Jose Tabata move in a nutshell: he already cleared waivers (he's out of options and was placed on waivers for trade purposes earlier in the year), then was outrighted to Indy and removed from the 40-man roster. He could have declared for FA rather than report to Indy, but he does have a contract through 2016 worth about $10M, sooo...
  • With the win, the Bucs went over the .500 mark (39-38) for the first time this season since April 15th (7-6).
  • Gregory Polanco has reached base in all 14 games he's played either by hit or walk.
  • Starling Marte is being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms; he may end up on the 7-day DL.
  • OF Josh Bell, 21, was selected for the US squad of the Futures Game. His slash at Bradenton is .335/.385/.518 with 9 HR & 47 RBI.

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