Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bucs Battered By Birds 5-2

Lance Lynn tossed a 1-2-3 first; Brandon Cumpton didn't. Matt Carpenter blooped a single to left, and an out later Matt Holliday walked after falling behind 0-2. They both cashed in when Matt Adams doubled to center on a ball that Cutch took the Great Circle Route to surround, but he did recover to throw out Adams at third on a strike. The Cards challenged, and while the throw was there in plenty of time, Pedro looked like he missed the tag. But NY gave the call to the Bucs, and a whiff ended the frame.

The Kid got a run back in the second when he took a fastball over the fence in right. Ike walked with two down, but it was followed by a Stew whiff. Yadier Molina opened with a ground rule double to left; and an out later Kolten Wong walked and was bunted to second. Carpenter hit one on the screws, but Cutch was there to quell the rally.

The Bucs went fairly quietly in the third; the only loud out was Josh's liner to left. With an out, Cumpton and Holliday battled. Behind 0-2, Holliday worked the count full, fouled off five pitches and then bounced a single up the middle. Adams banged a 1-2 slider up in the zone into left to put runners at the corners. Jhonny Peralta brought one of them home with a double to center, squaring up on a 1-2 sinker that wasn't a bad pitch; inside corner, knee-high. Tony Cruz hit for Molina; something must be acting up on Yadier (he sprained his thumb). The Bucs dodged a bullet; the Cards had the dreaded contact play on, and Cruz's grounder to third turned into an out at the plate, followed by an Allen Craig whiff. Against all odds, the Bucs are still in it, though down 3-1.

With an out in the fourth, Walker poked a change away up the LF line for a double. Pedro flew out to center after swinging at ball four, a curve in the dirt, and that moved The Kid to third. That was enough; Jordy drilled one to third that was knocked down on a diving effort, but Carpenter had to eat the ball for an RBI hit. Ike did what Ike does and walked. Stew bounced out to third. Not only did the Bucs cut the lead down to 3-2, but Lynn is at 80 pitches after four.

Of course, Cumpton will be close to matching him, starting the Card half with 66 pitches tossed. Walking the pitcher on five pitches doesn't help, even with an out. Carpenter bunted for a single; the Bucs can't solve him this series. Oscar Taveras banged one to Ike; he couldn't handle it, and the infield single loaded the bases. Holliday smacked the first pitch he saw into left to plate Lynn. That brought on Ernesto Frieri, who got Adams to pop out on the first pitch, then Peralta flew out on the next. Tough to beat that relief job.

With two gone in the fifth, Josh turned on a fastball and doubled past 3B. Cutch got ahead 3-0, and started swinging at everything, and not much was over the plate as he grounded out to third on the ninth pitch. It's frustrating, but sometimes ya just gotta take the walk. Jeanmar Gomez took the bump and Cruz greeted him with a single. Three Cards have led off reaching base; two more reached with one out. Craig solved that problem by bouncing a sinker to Pedro to begin an around-the-horn DP. Jeanmar lost Wong on a 3-2 pitch, and he stole second and went to third when Stewart's throw wasn't pulled in by Walker. But again, good final result; Lynn whiffed looking.

Walker led off the sixth by lifting a change to left, where it was corralled at the track. The next two outs were routine, and left Lynn at 106 tosses. With an out, Taveras rolled a ball up the middle. After getting ahead of Holliday 0-2, the Bucs played too many games with Taveras and ended up walking Doc. Jordy made a nice running over-the-shoulder grab of Adams' bloop and Peralta grounded out; the Cards have stranded 10.

Ike opened the seventh with a double to center. Stew stunned everyone by bunting, and Lynn deflected the pop to third to put Bucs at first and second (Davis was frozen at second when the ball went in the air). Too bad; Matt Hague grabbed a bat and rolled the first pitch to third for an around-the-horn DP. For once the Mad Buntmeister Clint Hurdle went for the gusto, and it bit him. We assume Clint got the matchup he wanted; if Travis Snider hits, lefty Randy Choate just comes in a batter sooner. Choate did come on to face El Coffee and got a soft tapper to second that Polanco couldn't quite beat out to end the frame.

Justin Wilson took the ball and just about iced the cake for St. Louis when he gave up a two-out homer to Wong to make it 5-2; Wong has four homers, and two were back-to-back nights off Justin. Peter Bourjas otripled next, but Wilson got a grounder to close it out.

Seth Maness took the mound in the eighth and worked a clean inning. Stolmy Pimentel came on, with his velocity back, and got two outs before Adams singled. Peralta bounced out to finish the frame. Trevor Rosenthal walked Pedro to open the ninth. Mercer whiffed looking on a "let's call it a night" ring-up by plate ump Marty Foster. A pop up and a blast to the center field track by pinch hitter Russ that was run down very nicely by Bourjos red lined the Pirates faint heartbeat.

The reason the Bucs are in fourth in the Central is simple. They're 5-7 against the Cards, 3-7 against the Reds and 3-10 against the Brewers. Take away that 11-24 mark, and the Bucs are 36-20. In fact, if they played .500 or so ball (17-18) against the top three in the division, they'd be 53-38 and in first with the best record in the NL.

Edinson Volquez closes out the series against Shelby Miller tomorrow night looking to claimBucs Batter 5-2 a badly needed win.
  • Some personnel shifting before the game - Starling Marte went on bereavement leave (3-7 days) and Matt Hague took his place. The Hit Man, 28, is batting .267 with 13 HR and 59 RBI. JT, who we suspect would have been in line for the call up, is hurt after being HBP twice in the forearm and hasn't played since Thursday. RHP Duke Welker, recovering from TJ surgery, was DFA'ed.
  • Neil Walker's 12 homers this season are tied with Phil Garner ('77) for the most homers hit by a Buccos 2nd baseman before the break. He also has an 11 game hitting streak. Jordy extended his string to nine games, and Josh's is at six.
  • It took 91 games, but Cutch got his first outfield assist of the year tonight.
  • Yesterday, the Cardinals won consecutive games by walkoff homers for third time in Redbird history. Stan Musial went yard in both in 1948, Albert Pujols won both in 2011 and Matt Adams/Kolten Wong did the honors this year.
  • Frankie Liriano will pitch Sunday, bumping Vanimal to the pen for the time being.
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