Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pirates Mistake Get-Away Day For Give-Away Day In 3-2 Loss

Henderson Alvarez got the first two Buccos handily, then Cutch lined a single to right. Ike bounced out, and it was Vance Worley's turn on the hill. Vanimal also retired the first pair of Fish routinely before Giancarlo Stanton rolled one up the middle. He got Casey McGehee to pop out to end a quiet first.

Russ got plunked on the catching hand to open the second. Pedro whiffed on three pitches; it took five offerings to put Josh away on strikes and four to sit down Jordy. No fielders needed this frame; Alvarez's 89 MPH change is nasty right now. With two down, Adeiny Hecchavarria sat back on a curve and doubled the opposite way to right, but a quick fly to Starling Marte ended the frame.

After an out in the third, Polanco beat out a grounder to second, and Starling doubled him home, going to third on the throw. Alavrez had gone 23-2/3 IP without issuing a walk, but Cutch was up, and took first on five pitches. Smart move, too, as Ike flailed at a couple of shoe-top changes before rolling into a 4-6-3 DP. Two things: Maybe Cutch should look to run more in those spots, and that four hole has to be on The Kid's wish list when he gets off the DL. Ike needs to be lower in the order, for Cutch's sake if for nothing else.

With one gone, Rafael Furcal reached when Pedro short hopped a throw that Ike couldn't pick. Worley worked out of it, getting a fly to center and catching Stanton looking.

The Bucs added another in the fourth. With an out, Russ walked and both Pedro and Josh took outside heaters the opposite way for knocks, with Martin scoring on Harrison's hit. Alvarez cruised through the next three outs. McGehee opened with a knock, and Garrett Jones followed by dropping a soft jam shot into right. Vanimal worked out of it quickly, with a K and 4-6-3 closing the frame.

Pittsburgh went down in order in the fifth; Marte towered a shot, but it was hauled in a step or two short of the scoreboard in right center. Worley tossed a quiet inning, and is at just 69 pitches through five. With two gone in the sixth, Josh rolled a single to right and was left aboard on Jordy's soft liner to center. The Marlins followed that script; a two down single followed by a pop out.

Polanco legged out another hit with one gone in the seventh, and that was it. Vanimal spun a 1-2-3 frame. Chris Hatcher picked up where he left off: he struck out the side, giving up just an infield knock to Russ. Tony Watson took the ball for the Bucs. Jeff Baker chopped one to third; pedro short hopped a throw that still was catchable; but Ike couldn't make the pick. Baker was given a single for no discernable reason. Furcal rolled a soft single into left just past Pedro after a long at-bat. Tony K'ed Reed Johnson and Giancarlo Stanton, but McGehee lined one into left center into the tiny seam between Marte and Cutch, who were in a no doubles D, and the game was tied. Watson is partly to blame, as were Pedro and Ike.

Steve Cishek took over and worked a clean ninth. Jared Hughes came on for Pittsburgh. Marcell Ozuna smoked a two-hopper to third; the ball came up and off the heel of Pedro's mitt, and was rightfully ruled a knock. He was bunted to second, but a tapper and a whiff tucked Miami away.

AJ Ramos climbed the hill for the tenth. He walked Marte, and Cutch singled him to third on a hit and run. Ike walked and the Bucs were in business...not. Russ got ahead 3-1, and then Ramos was given a gift strike by ump Tim Welke.  It loomed large when Martin hit a crisp one hopper to third for a 5-2-3 DP. Pedro was intentionally walked, and Barmes struck out chasing balls from a pitcher that had already walked a pair.

Hughes gave up a single to Furcal, who was bunted over. A walk and a wild pitch that Russ usually blocks set the stage for McGehee's sac fly - since Casey was 3-for-4 and first was open, just pitching to him was a surprise - and the Bucs dropped one that was all but in the bag.

The Pirates have lost too many games that some routine glove work and a well-timed fly ball would have won, and today was one of them. The good news is that Worley pitched as advertised - not real toolsy, but worked inside, tickled the corners, changed levels and showed four pitches he can go to, and that's encouraging for the long-term.

The Bucs are off tomorrow, then host the Reds at PNC Park.
  • Vance Worley became the third straight starter this series to go 7+ innings. Just when the rotation looked like it had sprung more holes than a grater...
  • Cutch extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
  • Gregory Polanco is the first Pirate with a hit in each of his first six games since Roberto Clemente in 1955.
  • Tony Watson's streak of 21 appearances without giving u a run was snapped today.
  • IF Michael Martinez was optioned back to Indy to clear an active roster space for Vance Worley. Vanimal slid into an empty spot on the 40-man roster.
  • Neil Walker and Francisco Liriano are on schedule to begin baseball activities on Tuesday. Gerritt Cole threw today, so we'll see how perky his arm feels tomorrow.
  • Pittsburgh sent LHP Blake Taylor, 18, to the Mets to complete the Ike Davis trade. Taylor was Pittsburgh’s second round selection (#51) in the 2013 Draft as a prep player, and the mandatory year wait from his signing date just passed. He came with a highly touted heater, but needed work on his secondary stuff, and was projected as a back end reliever or 3-4-5 rotation starter. Still, a bit of a surprise that high a pick was spent, even if he is all projection at this point.

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