Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cutch & Company Turn The Tables On The Reds 6-5 In 11 Innings

The Pirates put a dent in Mike Leake in the first. With an out, Travis Snider legged out an infield hit, followed by a Cutch HBP and a walk to The Kid. Russ hit a sac fly that barely brought Snider home (Hamilton's throw hit the mound) and then Pedro walked. But the Bucs couldn't make Leake pay any further for his control problems as Gaby flew out. Charlie Morton got the first two outs, then Todd Frazier singled. No prob; Morton whiffed Jay Bruce; that hook is on the early going.

Jordy opened the second with an infield knock and was bunted to second, where he died. Ryan Ludwick returned the favor with a one-out infield hit, but was erased on a 3-6-3 DP to calm those waters. In the third, Pittsburgh manufactured a run, of all things. Cutch doubled, Walker's right side bouncer moved him to third, and Russ' hit his second sac fly of the night, this one to right, to make it 2-0. Charlie cruised.

The fourth was not Leake's inning. Gaby and Jordy opened with ground ball knocks (Gaby's went through Leake's legs and up the middle) and were bunted up by Charlie. Leake tried a timing play to pick off Gaby at third; he skipped the ball to the tarp as Sanchez scored and Jordy went to third. El Coffee hit a chopper, and with the infield in it bounced into right. Snider hit a soft roller, and it deflected off a diving Santiago's mitt to chase Polanco to third. The Bucs left him there, but it was 4-0. Even with that score, the Pirates are 1-for-7 with RISP, but with a couple of sac flies.

Santiago singled to open the Reds' half of the frame, but a sweet running catch by Cutch and a 6-5-3 DP off the bat of Bruce - he grounded into the shift again - closed the frame. Russ opened the fifth with a knock, but Pedro rolled over on a fastball away to bounce into a 6-4-3 DP; Gaby softly bounced out to end the frame. Charlie had a clean frame thanks to a D that usually deserts him - Polanco glided into the RC gap to glove Ryan Ludwick's ball and Pedro played a rocket by Brayan Pena off his chest and gunned him out.

With two gone in the sixth, El Coffe walked and stole second. Travis bounced a single of Pena at first to put runners on the corners for Cutch. He drilled the first pitch a step inside the 3B line, but Todd Frazier made the play to keep the Bucs off the board.

Charlie walked the eight hitter, Chris Heisey, on four pitches, then threw a flat sinker down the middle to pinch hitter Zack Cozart, who dropped a fly just into the first row in left 15' inside the foul pole to make it 4-2. Hamilton singled stole second, and then Santiago walked. Morton went 3-2 to Frazier, gave him a fastball and watched it sail 433' over the wall in center; guess big-inning Charlie is back.Worse, the bullpen wasn't called to even warm up until the pitch before. Fortunately, he finished up the frame without further ado, but the Reds were up 5-4. The pitching needs to be better, but those stranded runners, an issue the entire road trip so far, are biting the Bucs again.

Logan Ondrusek took the bump in the seventh and 1-2-3'ed the Bucs. Jared Hughes came on for the Pirates. Pena singled with two down, but Jared got Hamilton to end the inning. The Pirates have one edge in the late innings. Aroldis Chapman is out after four straight outings, so the regular set up guy, Jonathan Broxton, will work the ninth. He's been tough, so this inning is big for the Bucs.

Sam LeCure took the bump. After getting a controversial check swing whiff of Gaby (the swing was borderline, but the plate ump made the call instead of asking for help), Jordy and pinch hitter Josh dumped singles into center. Lefty Manny Parra got the call against Gregory Polanco and got him to bounce into a force. Snider was called back for Matt Hague; the Reds countered with hard throwing Jumbo Diaz, just called up. Ike batted for The Hit Man and one-hopped the first pitch into the shift for an easy 4-3 out.

Mark Melancon finally got a nod, six games into the road trip. He gave up a two out knock to Bruce, and that was it. The Bucs have the 3-4-5 hitters ready to face Broxton. Well, that was quick - Cutch smoked a 2-2 heater over the center field wall to tie it. Walker tried to follow, flying out a step short of the track in left center before Russ and Pedro went down swinging. Tony Watson had a couple of guys on with one out after the Pirates turned a DP ball into a dicey force, but hung in there to get Hamilton on a foul pop.

JJ Hoover took the ball in the 10th and tossed a clean frame. Ernesto Frieri trotted in for Pittsburgh and promptly walked the first two batters, bringing out Justin Wilson to face Bruce. He fell behind 3-1, and Bruce ripped a fastball into right. El Coffee came up firing, and on a nice pick of a short hop at the end of a perfect throw, Russ tagged Santiago out. An intention walk loaded them, and then Wilson reared back and struck out Ludwick and Pena, touching 97 on the gun.

The first two Bucs went down routinely in the 11th. Then Hoover tried to sneak a first pitch curve past Cutch; he hammered it into the left field stands, and the Bucs had the lead for the first time since the sixth inning. Jeanmar Gomez came on for the save and gave up three balls hit on the nose. Unfortunately for the Reds, two were in Cutch's zone and the other in Polanco's, and the Pirates win in dramatic style 6-5.

It was a very welcome win after last night's gut wretcher. Cutch's homers, the Polanco-to-Russ tag, Wilson throwing flames with the winning run at third...there was enough drama in the last three innings to last a series. We're hoping Charlie Morton gets over his one inning from heck syndrome, that the Bucs do better than 2-for-11 with RISP and that Ernesto Freiri turns into something useful, but this was one the Pirates had to have with Cueto on the hill tomorrow, and they dug down and took it.

Francisco Liriano faces Johnny Cueto in the finale before the ASG.
  • Cutch's homer off Jonathan Broxton was the first he's allowed this season. It was Cutch's ninth multi-homer game, his first of this season. It was also his 20th bomb against the Reds, the most he has against any team in his career.
  • The Brewer's spiral continued today, so just 2-1/2 games separate the top four teams in the NL Central.
  • The most bang for the buck? Travis Sawchuck of the Tribune Review thinks that it's Cutch.
  • The Pirates signed LHP Rafael Perez, 32, to a minor league deal and assigned him to Indy. He was with the Indians for seven years through 2012 and was fairly solid with a 3.64 ERA from the pen, with even splits. He had some arm problems, but looks like he's recovered his form in Mexico. It's a no-risk depth pick-up.

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