Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bucs Batter Blue Bullpen In 12-7 Win

Not a sparkling inning for Vance Worley, but one we'll take. He got a pair of quick outs, one on a challenge at first when ump Laz Diaz fell asleep at the wheel on a routine out, then gave up back-to-back knocks to Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. But he got a little help on a called third strike to sit Andre Ethier down. Carl Crawford in left did the honors for Josh Beckett, hauling in flies by Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider, then being in the right place at the right time when Cutch smoked a liner at him, corralled in front of the track at the 383' mark.

Vanimal looked much more at home in the second, throwing strikes and staying on the edges for a 1-2-3 frame. Beckett had an easy frame except for a mistake pitch or two. He hung a curve to The Kid, who barely dropped it over the Clemente Wall railing (thank God no fan had happy hands!) and grooved a heater to Ike, who blasted on out in right center to make 2-0.

But not for long; everything that could go wrong for Worley in the third did. Beckett reached second on a throwing error by Pedro and was bunted to third. Justin Turner walked, taking a couple of pitches that just slid off the edge. Gonzalez got a call on a two-strike pitch, then lifted the next ball into right for a sac fly. Matt Kemp hit one back to the box; Vanimal bent to pick it up and kicked it instead for a single. It cost him another run when Ethier dropped a flare between Travis Snider and Jordy, and it was 2-2.

With an out, El Coffee untied it when he sent a cutter over the Clemente Wall fence in right. Travis rolled one up the middle and came home an out later when Walker went the opposite way and doubled into the left field corner. Russ was banged in the elbow on an 0-2 hook that didn't, but Ike popped out to end it at 4-2.

With two away in the fourth, Beckett drew a 3-2 walk, but Gordon hit into a force two pitches later. The Bucs opened by crushing a couple of balls off Beckett. Pedro smoked a two-bagger off the Clemente Wall, and Jordy hit one about as far as you can and still keep it in the park, flying out deep in the Notch. Worley whiffed, and Beckett headed for the showers as Paul Maholm came on to face Polanco, who bounced out.

LA went down in order in the fifth, with Gonzalez smoking another ball, but Cutch was there for this one. Josh came in to play third, but not because of Pedro's error. El Toro was in some discomfort running the bases, and was pulled as a cautionary move. Maholm got the Bucs on three routine grounders.

The Dodgers teed off on Vanimal with a little help in the sixth. The first two Blue lined shots at third; Harrison grabbed Ethier's, but Crawford's found grass. Then Juan Uribe's slow roller to Josh was thrown into the seats to put runners at second and third, and they both came home when Worley fed AJ Ellis a 1-2 heater right down the pipe that was drilled into center, with the trail runner scoring easily when Cutch tossed an airball home. Maholm whiffed and Gordon flew out, but the Pirates have been the gang that couldn't shoot straight tonight, and it's 4-4 thanks to those two errors.

Russ and Ike opened with knocks, and Jamey Wright was waved in by Don Mattingly. Josh bunted them up, but Jordy whiffed in a pretty undisciplined at-bat; he still can't lay off those sliders. Gaby walked to load them for El Coffee. He fell behind 1-2, worked the count full, then dropped a high cutter into center to score a pair. Travis siblged home another run, then Cutch got clocked in the shoulder, going down but eventually taking first. A wild pitch plated one more tally before Walker's grounder, right up the middle but into a shift, ended the music with a 8-4 lead.

Justin Wilson came on briefly; he hit Turner with the second pitch above the elbow after buzzing him with the first and was ejected, even though no warning had been given (nor does one have to be.) Clint came out to debate the point, and he was bounced, too. Hey, there were years Cutch was clocked and no one had his back, so beside good theater, it's good baseball. Jared Hughes got the ball when order was restored.

Gonzalez greeted him with a homer. The Pirates should just walk the guy whenever he's up - he's 5-for-6 with a line out to deep center in the series. Jared settled down after that, giving up a walk but whiffing a pair to close out the frame. wright hit Russ in the back with a slow hook; it didn't look intentional and the ump let it go, though you can bet the fans didn't. The only other excitement was a reversed DP; Martin had pretty clearly beat the force at second (he was running on the pitch), but it didn't lead to anything.

Tony Watson took the bump in the eighth. With one gone, Scott Van Slyke got a full count heater and pounded it over the wall in left to cut the lead to one. That was followed by a walk to Gordon, but a short fly to right and a 4-3 by Gonzalez - the first ball he hasn't squared up this series - shut down the frame. Chris Perez got the call for LA. After Michael Martinez popped out, Perez walked the next four Bucs, and Brandon League answered Mattingly's call. He did his job, getting a couple of grounders, but Russ and Ike's balls had eyes and made it through the infield; it was 12-7 when the smoke finally cleared.

Ernesto Frieri climbed the hill, giving up a two-out walk but otherwise slamming the door to take the Bucs home a big winner.

The Pirates tried like heck to throw the game away. We were complimentary of the LA bullpen last post, but just the back end; they're built to close games in the last two innings, not in the middle of games, as the Bucs proved tonight. Worley didn't get a lot of help, but by the third time through the order, the Dodgers were on him. Of all the starters, he has the least margin of error with his location without a dominant pitch. But his effort was good enough to run his record to 3-1.

So the series will be decided tomorrow night when Dan Haren will mix it up against Francisco Liriano.

  • El Coffee and Ike each had three hits; the 4-5-6 batters (Walker, Martin, Davis) went 7-for-12 with three runs scored and four RBI. 
  • Ike is supposed to be an Adam LaRoche clone, starting his motor after the All-Star break. His homer was his first since June 9th, so let's hope that thought holds true. Maybe he just needs more Josh Beckett; two of his six homers have come off him.
  • Gregory Polanco's single with the sacks juiced was his first MLB hit with the bases loaded; he had been 0-for-6 prior to that at-bat.
  • The Pirates announced only that Pedro left because of "left knee discomfort."
  • Today's attendance was 30,629.

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