Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bucs Jump Out Early & Coast To 6-1 Win

Roller coaster Frankie. After whiffing Dee Gordon, he lost Matt Kemp on four pitches and  Adrian Gonzalez walked too after being in a 1-2 hole. Then Liriano K'ed Scott Van Slyke and got Juan Uribe to fly out, so maybe he's just having first inning hiccups again.

Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider greeted Dan Haren with back-to-back singles on just three pitches. Cutch smoked one, too, but right at Uribe at third for the first out. The Kid drew a free pass to juice the sacks for Russ, who also walked to bring home a run. Ike lifted a fly the opposite way, scoring Snider and moving Walker to third. Josh ripped a fastball to left for a two-run two-bagger and Jordy was walked intentionally. Frankie even hit the ball hard, lining out to right. Pretty fair start, jumping ahead 4-0.

Liriano was still wild, plunking Carl Crawford on the second pitch to start the second. Crawford helped the cause by breaking for second and getting picked off; down by four, that's not the brightest move. A bouncer and K ended the frame. After Polanco grounded out, Travis turned on a first pitch cutter and dropped it in the last row in right field, 431' away. Haren recovered after that, but the Blue are in a 5-0 hole after two.

The Dodgers went down routinely in the third, as did Pittsburgh. Frankie tossed an easy seven pitch fourth and Haren put the Bucs away in order. With an out in the fifth, Miguel Rojas doubled to the gap for LA's first knock, with Snider's coming up just short as he dove for the sinking hit. But it was quickly made right; Drew Butera lined a shot that Jordy speared with a leap, then flipped to The Kid for a DP. Haren worked another clean inning. He's gone more to a splitter and curve, racking up six K (four looking) and has put away 11 batters in a row.

Justin Turner opened the sixth with a flare to center, followed by a Gordon double to left. A Kemp grounder  to short plated Turner with Gordon holding. Gonzalez flied out to center, moving Gordon to third. A whiff of Van Slyke kept him there. Jamey Wright took the bump and Russ welcomed him with a single. An out later, Josh lined a curve into left to put Pirates at first and second. But it ended there as Jordy bounced one over third that Uribe grabbed, stepped on the sack for the force and threw across for a DP to end the inning.

Uribe started up the seventh with a knock into center; Frankie has labored a bit from the fifth on. Crawford hit one on the screws, but it was an at 'em ball to Josh. Liriano caught a break when Rojas went after a shoe-top slider with the count full and rolled into a force. Butera bounced out, and Frankie's day should be done after seven innings and 96 pitches in another good outing. Paul Maholm took the ball to face Brent Morel. Morel fell behind 0-2, took a couple of chase pitches and then singled to left. Polanco's woes against LHP continued as he grounded into a 4-6-3 DP. Snider walked, then Cutch launched a change up to the center field wall for a two-bagger that chased Travis home to put Pittsburgh up 6-1.

Justin Wilson got the call for the eighth to face Yasiel Puig in his first appearance of the series. After a first pitch strike, the next four were well off the mark for an opening walk, the fourth leadoff hitter to reach tonight. Gordon was late on a heater and lined out to Josh. He went across the diamond to try to double up Puig, who looked like he beat the ball back to the bag easily, but the Bucs challenged - and lost. Kemp walked, but the bleeding stopped as Gonzalez banged into a 6-4-3 DP.

Chris Perez got the call, and Russ rolled a ball into right to start the frame. Ike tapped back to the mound, forcing Martin at second on a play that was a lot closer than the one the Pirates wasted their challenge on in the top half of the frame. No diff; Josh grounded into a 6-4-3 to close the eighth.

Jared Hughes came in for the ninth. After whiffing Van Slyke, Jared gave up a single to Uribe through the left side. Crawford bounced out as did Rojas after a nine-pitch battle, and the Bucs took 2-of-3 from the Blue.

The Pirates caught the Dodgers down a couple of starters with Ramirez Hanley and Puig bruised, and also faced the back end of the rotation. And they did what they should have, taking the series against the league's best road team. The Bucs travel to the coast tomorrow and begin a ten-game trip at Colorado, with the Giants and Arizona to follow.
  • This is the first game that Frankie has won at PNC Park this season.
  • Bench strength: Josh and Travis combined had four hits, three runs scored and three RBI.
  • The Pirates have won 15 in a row when they score in the first inning, and are now a season-high seven games over .500. Pittsburgh was 5-1 during their brief home stand and it's the first time they've won a series (5-2) against LA since 2000.
  • Pedro's knee kept him out of the lineup. He was on the bench, but there was no word on whether he was available to pinch hit tonight. With a travel day tomorrow, it was a smart move to keep him on ice, especially the way the game played out.
  • The attendance was 30,875 as the Pirates continue to draw strong crowds.
  • Gerrit Cole threw 70 pitches today and said he felt good. We'll see if the Bucs make him throw another side or not before releasing him for a rehab assignment.
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