Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bucs Come from Behind Again To Sweep Rox 5-3

Not the kind of start we expect from Jeff Locke, who has given up walks and homers most grudgingly this year. He lost Bradon Barnes on five pitches to open the game, the Josh Rutledge banged a 1-2 fastball over the left field wall to make it 2-0 in a hurry. Jeff got three pop outs after that around a two-out single by Drew Stubbs. Tyler Matzek put the Bucs away in order.

In the second, The Fort caught a change up and belted it over the fence in left (and changing the warm welcome he got into a chorus of boos) to put the Rox up 3-0. Locke gave up another two-out single, this one to Barnes, but erased him neatly as he picked him off as Barnes broke to second 1-3-6.

The Bucs did have an answer this time. The Kid and Gaby hit back-to-back ground ball singles and ended up at second and third when Gaby moved up a base on the throw to third after his knock. Jordy shot a ball up the middle to make it 3-2. Chris Stewart smacked a two-bagger that scored Jordy, but got stuck in the padding at the wall with Mercer being sent back to third.

Our guess is that the umps blew that one; LF Barnes didn't complain until after the play was over (we believe the general rule is that the OF'er notifies an ump of a problem; if he plays it instead, it's a live ball - there is no specific PNC Park ground rule for that situation that we could find), and it probably should have stood as it happened on the field. But umps being umps, it didn't, and the Bucs stranded the pair - oh, and were playing the game under protest as Clint didn't buy the ump's decision.

Rutledge opened the third with a knock but was quickly mopped up thanks to a Carlos Gonzalez DP. He banged one to Gaby, who stepped on first and tossed to second, where Jordy tagged Rutledge. Another grounder ended the frame. The Bucs tried for some two-out lightning after a Walker free pass and Gaby knock, but Jordy flew out to stop the music.

In the fourth, Jeff whiffed the side around a two-out Mike McKenry walk; Matzek K'ed the side. It was 1-2-3 for the Rox in the fifth. For the Bucs, Josh reached second on a bunt single and error, but was left there.

With one gone in the sixth, Nolan Arenado and Stubbs hit back-to-back singles, but Charlie Culberson's grounder started an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. With two outs and Jordy at second thanks to a walk and stolen base, the Pirates tied the game as Stew banged another ground rule double, this one hopping the wall.

Locke was done after six IP and 85 pitches, and Jeanmar Gomez took the ball for the seventh. The Fort opened with a single and was bunted to second, but two grounders after an intentional walk added up to another goose egg for Colorado. Matt Belisle came in. He walked Josh, who stole second and plated after Cutch ripped a 3-0 pitch into center. Andrew was caught stealing running against a pitchout and Gaby popped out, but The Kid lost a fastball in the shrubbery of the Batter's Eye in center field to make it 5-3. Jordy and Pedro followed with singles, bringing in Brooks Brown. He ended Stew's double streak, getting him to pop out.

Tony Watson took command in the eighth, working a clean frame with a couple of strikeouts. Brown got two quick outs, then Josh singled, stole second and went to third on a bad throw. Andrew was walked intentionally. It almost cost the Rox as Gaby hit one on the nose, but right at 1B'man Culberson, who had been holding Cutch. No diff - mark the Sharl tossed a quiet ninth, and the Bucs broke out the broom against the hapless Rockies.

It's a nice way to start the break with a sweep of the league's worst team; they did what they were supposed to do. But the Bucs stranded 11 and didn't beat up the Rox not-too-strong starters, but the weak sister bullpen as all three wins were come-from-behind. But it is all good right now; the Pirates sit two games behind the Cards, pending the outcome of tonight's TV game, and alone in third in the NL Central. The Dodgers come into town next, and the competition will ratchet up a couple of notches.

Hyun-Jin Ryu and Edinson Volquez open the Dodger series tomorrow night.
  • The Kid and Jordy teamed up in the 5-6 spots to go 5-for-7 with a walk, three runs scored and three runs driven home.
  • Neil Walker passed Max Carey and Ryan Doumit for second place all-time for career HRs by a Pirate switch hitter with 68 bombs. He's got a bit to go to catch up to Bobby Bo and his 114 HR.
  • Talk about baseball being a funny game: Cutch was caught stealing for the first time in 16 attempts this year. It was Michael McKenry's second throw-out in 23 attempts. The Pirates were successful 4-of-5 tries against The Fort, though.
  • For the record, Starling Marte didn't suffer a concussion when he was beaned, but according to the Pirates had a "head trauma."
  • The Bucs completed just their second sweep of the season. They've matched their season high water mark of six games over .500.
  • Today's attendance was 35,609.

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