Friday, June 13, 2014

Polanco Saves Bucs From Bullpen Implosion In Extra Inning 8-6 Win

Hey, glad to meet ya', Nathan Eovaldi. Gregory Polanco led off with a liner to left and then trotted home ahead of Starling Marte's blast of a fastball on the inside half and at the belt. Cutch didn't smoke one, but his bleeder to third was good for another knock, followed by Ike rolling a 3-2 fastball up the middle, Cutch holding at second.

Of course, ya knew it was due; Russ hit one hard, but right to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Pedro then drilled one, but PNG is one big park and it was hauled in on the track past the 392' mark in right center. Locke tossed a clean frame, with Giancarlo Stanton flying out to Cutch on the track in left center.

Eovaldi pitched a 1-2-3 second, surviving another long drive to center by Jordy. Locke had his troubles. with an out Marcell Ozuna double to right center. He was caught going to third on a grounder to short, but the bottom of the order brought him in. Adeiny Hechavarria hit behind Jeff Baker on a hit and run, rolling a ball through the vacant second base hole. Then Jeff Mathis dropped a soft flare into center, and it was 2-1 after Eovaldi K'ed.

Marte proved speed kills in the third. He beat out an infield single with an out, stole second by a hair and come in on Cutch's hard hit ball to left; Reed Johnson was throwing before Marte touched third, but he scored standing up. Ike banged a hard one hopper to second, and the 4-6-3 became the second Pirate DP in three frames. Locke got the first two outs quickly, with Polanco making a tumbling snow-cone grab of Johnson's dying quail. But Stanton crushed the next pitch out of the yard in center, and it was 3-2.

Another weird inning for the Bucs. Russ singled up the middle to lead off the fourth before Pedro whiffed on a 3-2 cut fastball that ran back over the black. Then Martin, breaking on the first move, was caught heading to second. The play went to review, but he was clearly out. Jordy got aboard on a boot and went to second on a wild pitch. The Fish walked Martinez intentionally, and Locke bounced out softly. No runs, though Eovaldi's pitch count is approaching 80 already. Locke had a quick and quiet frame.

Polanco and Marte started off the fifth with bloops to the opposite field; those deep fences mean there's a lot of grass to cover. Cutch flew out just short of the track in right, with gregory going to third. Marte went to second on a ball in the dirt. It made his run a little easier when they both scored on Ike's double to right. Stanton made a very nice running catch a step from the RF line to take a hit and RBI away from Russ, and that was it for Eovaldi.

Lefty Dan Jennings came in to face Pedro and lost him on four pitches. That brought up Jordy, who loves southpaws, and he banged one up the middle, off the mitt of a diving Rafael Furcal, to bring home Ike. Martinez had a 3-0 green light and bounced to third, but as the smoke cleared, it was 6-2 Pittsburgh. Locke liked the lead; he mowed down the Fish and has a seven out streak.

The Pirates missed a golden chance to add on in the sixth. with one gone, El Coffee lined a rope to right and Marte beat out a ball to the SS hole. A passed ball moved them up a station, but Cutch K'ed, going after three pitches out of the zone; maybe he was determined not to get walked for once with first open. Gaby batted for Ike, and got under a high heater, flying out to right. Locke's hit string was broken by Stanton with an out, but he put up another goose egg.

Pittsburgh went down without a peep in the seventh. The Fish managed a one-out bunt single, but Locke whiffed the next pair of marlins, giving him seven K on the night.

Chris Hatcher took the ball in the eighth. After two quick outs, Polanco singled to center and Marte gave the ball a ride, but it was run down on the track in left center by Ozuna. Locke got  two outs, then Stanton hit a bad hop double past Pedro. No sweat; McGehee flew out to center to end Jeff's day at 101 pitches.

Hatcher K'ed the side in the ninth; plate ump Todd Tichenor looks like he's ready to call it a night. But Tichenor wasn't in such a hurry that Justin Wilson couldn't walk a couple of guys around a Garrett Jones K, and that brought Jason Grilli in. He walked a pair around a force out, jamming the bases with a 6-3 lead and Stanton on deck. Jason got ahead of Johnson 0-2; Reed spoiled a couple, then slapped a soft single to center, making it 6-5 and sending Furcal to third.

Hurdle walked Stanton intentionally, putting the winning run at second; guess we know who the one guy they don't want beaten by is. Then he called on Mark Melancon to try to nail down the save against Casey McGehee. Mark the Shark got up 0-2, then missed badly with the next four, and it was a tie game. The Fish have four runs this inning on one hit so far. MM whiffed Ozuna a batter too late.

The Bucco trio walked six, and allowed all four runs to be driven in by guys that had an 0-2 count. In hindsight, Clint might have given Wilson a little more rope instead of trying to add a cheap save to the Grilled Cheese resume, especially as neither Grilli nor Melancon are used to coming into innings that are underway.

Steve Cishek took the ball in the 10th. Clint Barmes singled and Travis Snider reached on an error with two gone. Polanco was rung up on a 3-2 slider that was well under his knees. Jeanmar Gomez got the Bucco call. He went 3-0 on Jones, but came back to get him on a fly to begin a 1-2-3 frame.

AJ Ramos tossed a clean 11th; nine of the last dozen Buccos have K'ed. Jeanmar had a quiet frame, too. Two more Pirates whiffed in the 12th. Gomez retired Stanton on a liner to right, the McGehee dropped a double in the corner. An out later, Jones was intentionally walked, and Hechavarria bounced into a force.

Barmes singled to open the 13th off Mike Dunn and was bunted to second by Gomez. Polanco caught a two strike slider that was over the dish and smoked it four rows over the 392' mark for his first MLB bomb and an 8-6 Bucco lead. Gomez got three grounders and earned his keep in spades tonight.

The Pirates had an 11-game losing streak on Friday the 13th going into tonight, and it sure looked like it would continue; Clint has to get over padding the save stat, although he can't be held responsible for the meltdown. Gregory Polanco wow - and he looks as if he's helping revitalize his bud, Starling Marte, too. As big was the outing by Locke; maybe the All-Star was the real pitcher. Looked like last year's Jeanmar, too, and that would be another boost to a battered staff. Tonight's contest ended up a big win only because of what a devastating loss it could have been.

Charlie Morton and Randy Wolf match up tomorrow afternoon.
  • Gregory Polanco is the first player with a five hit game within his first four career games since Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators on May 16th, 1933. Travis did it during his first game.
  • Starling Marte tied his career high with four hits tonight. It was the first time that the Pirate 1-2 hitters each had four or more hits since Matt Lawton and Chris Duffy on July 26th, 2005. That was also against the Fish, at Dolphin Stadium.
  • 16 Pirates K'ed. Pedro, Cutch and Jeff Locke each went down three times. At one point, 11-of-15 outs recorded against the Bucs were whiffs.
  • Gerrit Cole is supposed to throw a bullpen on Sunday after taking two days off from throwing. He tossed a side on Thursday after three days of work on flat ground.
  • Supplemental second-rounder, #73 overall, Trey Supak signed with the Pirates for $1M (slot value = $772k). He's a projectable 6-5 Texas HS RHP, with a heater at 88-92and a feel for spin, per Jim Callis of

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