Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bucs Do Everything But Score In 2-0 Walkoff Loss To Cards

Nice - St. Louis is under a severe thunderstorm warning and oddly, it's the same system that's causing storms here. Great way to start a series, thought the rain early should be pop-up, with the heavier stuff coming in the early AM. But the game start was delayed for thunder and lightning until 9 PM, Pittsburgh time.

Starling Marte singled with one down in the opening frame an an 0-2 heater, a very rare mistake by Adam Wainwright. The Kid walked with two away, and Russ gave Wainwright a tough ten pitch at-bat, lining out to left to end the frame. One of those pitches hit him, but the ump ruled, probably wrongly, that he didn't try to get out of the way. He stepped in as the pitch was delivered and then ducked back when he saw it was inside and was smacked in the elbow; every other ball Wainwright had thrown (and would throw) was on the outside half. Hurdle argued the call for a bit; Hurdle lost the argument.

And then it rained, and hard. But it went through quickly, and the teams went back at it 11 minutes later. With two outs, Matt Adams softly poked a pitch away on the chalk into shallow left for a shift double, but Charlie picked up the last out routinely, getting Allen Craig on a tapper to Pedro.

Ike began the second with an eight pitch walk, and Pedro got him to second with a knock up the middle. The glow wore off the inning when Jordy bounced an 0-2 curve to third for an around-the-horn DP. Charlie got wood on the ball, but bounced out to short to strand Ike at third. Morton tossed a 1-2-3 inning the hard way: Ike dug out a throw in the dirt from Pedro, Josh made a diving grab in right, and Russ snuffed a bounced strike three curve to complete a swinging whiff.

Josh opened the third with a single into center. Starling drilled a curve into left center, but it was hauled in on the track by Matt Holliday, who made the running catch exciting. Like last inning, this one ended on a DP, this time hit into by Cutch 4-6-3. The Bucs need a couple of those liners to find the gap instead of Holliday's glove. After whiffing the 8-9 hitters, Charlie lost Matt Carpenter on a 3-2 pitch, and he was erased on a Holliday force out.

Walker became the third straight leadoff hitter to reach with a flare into center in the fourth. Russ had another long at bat, but went down looking at strike three after eighth pitches. Ike lined the first pitch the opposite way for a knock, putting Buccos on the corners. Pedro had a bad at-bat, swinging through two curves, one in the dirt and the other at his shoe tops, to K.

Ike stole second in a surprise move, but Molina wouldn't fall for the Bucs' delayed steal trick (it was later ruled a short wild pitch; St. Louis loves Molina). Jordy couldn't cash the runners in, popping up on a 2-2 curve; none of the five pitches were strikes. The Pirates have squandered lots of chances, and Wainwright isn't a guy you like to let off the hook. They're already 0-for-5 with RISP with two DPs and had seven runners reach base. Charlie had a 1-2-3 frame with two more K.

With two down in the fifth, Marte turned on the afterburners with a stand up triple to right. But Cutch joined the antsy at-bat club; he fell behind 0-2 and rolled over on a curveball away to bounce out gently to third. With one gone, Charlie plunked Jon Jay in the leg on a 3-2 pitch, and the next two outs came routinely.

Walker whiffed to start the sixth, frozen on a back door curve. A groundout later, Ike drew his second walk. Pedro had a better at bat this time, but with the same results, a K on a foul tip curve. The only good news is that Wainwright is at 102 pitches. Carpenter started the Bird half with a walk, cleaned up two pitches later by a 5-4-3 DP from Holliday. Adams drilled a ball at Ike, he flipped to Charlie and the frame was done.

Jordy singled to rev up the seventh. Charlie faked a bunt, kinda swung and popped out; .069 hitters should always lay it down. A Josh roller got him to second, and Starling took the empty sack when he was HBP high, stopping a change up with his shoulder or back. Cutch flew out to short right; he's left five runners aboard tonight. Charlie had a 1-2-3, eight pitch frame, ended by a diving stop and strike to first by Pedro.

Lefty Sam Freeman came on int the eighth, and The Kid greeted him with a single, the fifth Pirate leadoff man to reach base. After fouling off two pitches well outside the plate, Russ took a 2-2 fastball down the middle for strike three. Gaby grabbed a stick for Ike, with the usual results from that spot - he walked after falling behind 1-2.  Pedro stepped in (what - you'd hit Mike Martinez?) and hit a pop into center, leaving it up to Jordy, whose already left four runners stranded. He hit the first ball to second. Wong booted it to load the bases for Gregory Polanco, who whiffed on four pitches. Morton's night was done after seven scoreless, giving up one hit and whiffing five. So the Bucs are now 0-for-10 with RISP and have stranded a dozen.

Both Morton and Wainwright had curves that were unhittable tonight, and for a welcome change the Bucs played some D for Charlie. But the Bucs have had runners on in every inning, and stranding them can't all be due to Waino; credit some thrown-away at-bats, too.

Tony Watson took the bump for Pittsburgh. Jay led off with a single and was bunted to second. Oscar Taveras came on hit, and lined one to Josh; his throw to second doubled up Jay, who apparently forgot to take his No-Doz this inning and allowing Tony get out of the frame on just five pitches.

The Cards matched All-Star relievers by sending out Pat Neshek, who worked a 1-2-3 inning. Interesting choice for Clint in the ninth; Tony, the Shark or...he instead opted for Justin Wilson to face the top of the order. Carpenter again led off with a walk, this one on four pitches. Holliday doesn't bunt, and was retired on a fly to right.  Adams wasn't bunting either; he was fed a hung curve over the heart of the plate and drilled it over the right field wall for the Card win. It was the first Card walk-off HR since Game 6 of 2011 World Series vs Rangers (David Freese).

Put the blame for this one right where it belongs, on the Bucco hitters who let the Redbirds steal the opener. Jordy stranded six runners, Cutch and Pedro five each and Russ four; the Bucs as a team left 12 runners on, with 10 in scoring position. And Clint might think twice about sitting a lefty against a RHP for Josh, leaving Gaby as the only right handed stick that's a threat.

Vance Worley and Carlos Martinez mix it up tomorrow night.
  • Neil Walker has a nine-game hitting streak.
  • Adam's homer was the first time Wilson was scored on since June 17th, eight appearances ago.
  • The Bucs are remaining mum on how Gerrit Cole's side session went today, and that's usually not a good omen. It's smellin' like they won't have to decide what to do with the rotation until after the All-Star break if Cole is DL'ed again. EDIT - after the game, the Bucs announced that Cole will go on the DL, with Brandon Cumpton getting the Wednesday start.
  • Frankie was a different story. He went six scoreless innings for Indy, three hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts on 76 pitches. Liriano retired the final 15 batters faced, the last five on whiffs.
  • Jesse Spector of The Sporting News writes that "the only way that (Pedro) Alvarez should be traded is if it's an offer that Neal Huntington can't refuse."
  • Ex-Bucs: RHP Phil Irwin, who Texas claimed off waivers from the Bucs earlier in the year, is scheduled for a spot start tomorrow.

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