Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bucs Ride Big First Inning, Worley's Arm To 5-0 Win

Pretty good start for the Bucs. Josh drew a five pitch walk off Madison Bumgarner, and Jordy singled him up a station. Cutch took a ball four cuvre on a 3-2 count to load the sacks, and Gaby pounded a ball to deep center; the park held it, but the sac fly made it 1-0. Jordy tagged to third, and The Kid singled him home. Then the Bucs got a break. Bumgarner had Cutch picked off second, but skipped the ball into center to put Pirates on the corners.

Russ rolled a ball up the middle, scoring Cutch and chasing Jordy to third. El Coffee hit a sac fly to right; the throw came home and got through Buster Posey, moving Russ to second. Brent Morel couldn't bring him home, bouncing out to first, but it's 4-0 and Bumgarner is already at 42 pitches. Vanimal got three grounders for an easy start.

After an out in the second, Josh fell behind 0-2, worked the count to 2-2 and then launched a slider into the seats to make it 5-0. Jordy followed with his second line knock, but Cutch and Gaby were retired routinely. Two grounders and a K tucked the Giants away. The third was a clean frame for both hurlers, and all the action for the clubs in the fourth was a two out single by Polanco.

Yusmeiro Petit took the bump in the fifth and put the Bucs down in order. Pedro Sandoval collected the Giants first hit after Worley had cut down 12 G-Men in row, a ground ball into right. Vanimal came right back and got a 6-4-3 DP from Michael Morse and a fly to end the inning quietly.

The Pirates went down without a peep in the sixth. Gregory Blanco bled a single along the left side, but was mowed down trying to steal an out later, and after a third out fly Worley has still faced the minimum 18 batters through six and is sitting petty at 58 pitches. Juan Gutierrez took the bump in the seventh and worked a quiet frame; the Pirates have had 10 in a row retired. Vanimal struggled, if that's the word, a little in the Giant half. Hunter Pence lined out and Joe Spanik drew a walk after a long at-bat on a call that could have gone either way. But he stayed at the minimum by getting Posey to hit into a 4-6-3 DP, and it's all roses.

Pittsburgh went down in order in the eighth. Kung Fu Panda opened with a single up the middle. Two routine outs later, Worley fell behind Blanco 3-1 and tossed what would have been ball four, but the catcher helped by rolling over on the outside heater and bouncing it to Walker, so no Giant has reached second yet tonight.

Russ bounced out to open the ninth, and the Giants then waved in Javier Lopez to face Polanco. El Coffee foiled the plot by breaking the Pirates' 14-out string with an infield single to second. Morel bounced out, moving Polanco to second, not that it helped as Vanimal whiffed.

But he's paid to pitch, and he's earned that paycheck tonight. After an out in the ninth, Andrew Susak gave him a nine-pitch workout before lifting a routine fly to left. pence, a thorn in the Bucs side ever since his Astro days, lined a triple to right, but Vanimal retired Panik on a grounder to earn the complete game, shutout win.

Well, pitching wins games, and a big fat zero is about as good as it gets. Worley faced two batters over the minimum and allowed one runner beyond first, giving up four hits, a walk and whiffing a trio. With Cole due back, Worley has another start to show he can be consistent and perhaps bump Edinson Volquez, with his swing-and-miss stuff, to the pen. But the Bucs have 10 days or so to consider that next move.

While it's obvious that they could use a RH reliever to help in the late innings, it appears more and more that if they go after a starter, it should be a top-end guy; the back end of the rotation is pretty solid. We'll see if Neal Huntington and the brass agree.

Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano mix it up tomorrow night.
  • Vance Worley picked up his first career shutout. He had one complete game before tonight, tossed in 2011 when he was with the Phillies, also against the Giants. It was a three-hitter, and he gave up a pair of runs. That one took him 114 pitches; tonight's gem used up just 100. It was Pittsburgh's first complete game shutout since AJ Burnett tossed a one-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley on July 31, 2012.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the Bucs are in the mix for Jon Lester.
  • Jon Morosi tweets that the Pirates are kicking the tires of the Phils' Antonio Bastardo and Marlon Byrd.
  • Pittsburgh is two games back in the NL Central and 1/2 game away from a second wild-card spot.
  • The Bucs are 16-for-16 this year when scoring in the first inning.
  • Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout frames for Indy in his rehab start tonight. He wasn't exactly sharp, though, giving up five hits and three walks, but he did K seven, throwing 81 pitches.
  • Clint Barmes took BP and some grounders today, so he's slowly getting back into the swing.

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