Sunday, July 27, 2014

It Took Four Hours, But The Bucs Finally Overcame The Rox 7-5

Well, the Bucs didn't have to wait long for a hit today; Josh doubled to open the game against Franklin Morales. Gregory Polanco was called out on strikes, which had more to do with ump Tom Hallion's eye than Polanco, and Cutch walked. But Gaby and The Kid both lifted easy flies to allow Morales off the hook. Edinson Volquez walked Charlie Blackmon, but a quick 6-4-3 DP and another grounder closed the frame.

The Pirates woke up at the dish in the second. Jordy led off with a single, and an out later, Stew and Eddie walked; all Volquez really wanted to do was bunt. Josh singled in a run, and El Coffee took one the opposite way to the track for a sac fly. Cutch whiffed, but the Bucs finally put up a couple of points before the ninth while Morales is already at 60 pitches.

After two more Rox ground outs (one a bit of robbery by Pedro at third), Rosario drilled a fastball for a double and went to third on a wild pitch.  Brandon Barnes walked on a full count as Edinson's command this inning wasn't there. He hung a change to DJ LeMahieu, and the single halved the lead. Eddie tossed nothing but fastballs at Morales and got him on a come-backer. The first two innings have taken an hour to play.

Gaby opened the third with a single, and he went to second on Jordy's knock an out later. Morales stayed outside against Pedro and was rewarded when El Toro rolled over on a 3-2 slider and bounced into a 4-6-3 DP. After two outs, that third again proved elusive. Eddie K'ed Corey Dickerson, but the ball got past Stew and Dickerson reached first. Volquez closed it out on the second try with another grounder.

Stew began the fourth with a knock and was bunted to second. Josh flew out to the track, then Morales worked Polanco inside instead of out, and got him check swinging at a 3-2 fastball. The Pirates have had the leadoff hitter on and a runner at second with an out or less in every frame, but are an unsightly 1-for-8 with RISP in just four frames.

You knew it had to happen; with an out, Rosario rolled a ball to Pedro and he chucked it into the seats to put the catcher at second. They ruled it a single and error, but it was entirely on Alvarez, who again double pumped the throw. Brandon Barnes got a 3-2 fastball down the middle and drove it into the left field seats, and the Bucs were now in the hole 3-2. LeMahieu inside-outed a fastball and singled the opposite way. He was bunted to second. We're not exactly sure what the plan was with Blackmon; he got five change ups, the last two hung, and finally banged one for a double to make it 4-2 before Volquez got the last out. Eddie is already at 85 pitches and Morales at 88 - after four innings! And Colorado is 3-for-5 with RISP; that's the story line so far.

The Bucs got the leadoff man on again in the fifth when Cutch walked, and Gaby followed with another free pass to again put another man at second. After 99 pitches and just 12 outs recorded, Morales was sent to the showers and Chad Bettis came on. The Kid singled to load the bases. Jordy lined out to third, Cutch was doubled off - Arenado's catch carried him toward the sack - and Pedro grounded out. Two hard hit balls and three outs. With an out, Nolan Arenado walked on four pitches and Ben Paulsen doubled over third. Rosario was walked intentionally and that brought in Jared Hughes, who induced a 6-4-3 DP from Barnes.

Chris Stewart opened the sixth with a single, and here we go again...whoops, maybe not. Travis Snider grabbed a stick and launched a 3-2 slider into the stands, and we had a tie game. Josh followed with a ball that dropped in left, and Bettis was switched out for Tommy Kahnle. Josh stole second, overslid the bag, got in a rundown and Houdini-like, slithered into third. The play was reviewed on a Rox challenge, and the safe call was upheld. Polanco whiffed, chasing a fastball in the dirt. Cutch K'ed on a 3-2 count, looking for heat but swinging through a slider. Ike hit for Gaby and made it all better, turning on a 97 MPH fastball and drilling a double to right. Walker bounced out, but somehow the Bucs have the lead at 5-4.

Justin Wilson climbed the hill. He gave up a two-out single to Blackmon but escaped undamaged. The game has passed the three hour mark, with three frames left to go.

Matt Belisle came on in the seventh, and gave up a bloop hit to Pedro. He was off on a hit-and-run, but the Rox sniffed it out and called for a pitchout; El Toro saw it in time and manged to get back to first. Stew struck out looking on another missed call by Hallion, and Michael Martinez banged a liner, but right at LeMahieu. Martinez went to left, Josh to third and Pedro took a seat. Clint went out of the box to bring in Tony Watson, but it backfired as Arenado drove a ball out of the yard in straight center to tie it. Tony gave up a two out knock to Rosario, who hit a routine grounder but against the no-doubles D, and it bounced through, but Watson whiffed Culberson to stop the music.

Rex Brothers took the hill in the eighth. Bad choice for Walt Weiss; Josh and El Coffee hit back-to-back homers off him. And it could have been worse - Cutch grounded out softly, but Ike flew out to the track in left to the right of the 390' mark, and The Kid's slicing liner to right was pulled in on a diving web-gem catch by Carlos Gonzalez. Watson gave up an infield knock to LeMahieu. He went to second on a ground out, but forgot to buckle up his thinking cap and was cut down trying to steal third down by two. Another grounder ended the frame.

Brooks Brown worked the ninth. He got two quick outs, one an at 'em ball by Brent Morel, and then gave up back-to-back knocks to Stew and Martinez. But he got Josh to chase, and it was up to Mark the Shark to hold on to the lead. Nine pitches, nine strikes, a tapper to third and two K ended it.

The Bucs persevered through a four hour game that early on they looked like they were going to throw away. Even with seven runs, they stranded 12 and went 3-for-16 with RISP. But playing all nine innings (and getting into that Colorado pen) made the difference.

Sometimes attitude can carry you; there was a striking difference in how the Pirates hustled running out ground balls while the Rox mailed some in, and that attention to detail and professionalism can turn a inning around and maybe the game. You can debate Clint's on-field decisions, but there's not much question that he has his guys ready to play all day.

Vance Worley opens the Giant series against Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night.
  • Josh went 4-for-6 with two RBI, two runs scored, two stolen sacks and a strong day in field at both third and in left.
  • Travis Snider's homer was his fifth pinch hit bomb of his career and the second of the season.
  • Russ Martin and Chris Stewart have reached base safely 17 times in their last 21 plate appearances. Stew went 3-for-4 with a walk today, the first three-hit game of his career.
  • Clint Hurdle won his 300th game as Bucco skipper today.
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