Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jordy Walks It Off In the 11th As Bucs Squeeze Out a 3-2 Win

Ah, Charlie. He was ahead of opening batter Charlie Blackmon 0-2 and then plunked him with an inside heater. Nolan Arenado cleaned that up three pitchers later, grounding one to Jordy to start a 6-4-3 DP. Carlos Gonzalez, who whiffed five times last night, decided not to take the bat off his shoulders and drew a 3-2 walk. Charlie quickly regained the zone and punched out Tulo on three pitches. Brett Anderson got a pair of easy outs before Arenado made an errant toss of Cutch's grounder at third, but a soft liner to second by Russ ended the frame.

Cory Dickerson started the second with a bunt single to the left side; Gaby couldn't pick Pedro's not-too-bad throw. This time it took two pitches to get Wil Rosario to bounce into an around-the-horn DP followed by a Charlie Culberson ground out. The Kid whiffed and Gaby walked. Pedro singled sharply off Tulo's glove, followed by a Jordy force at second - and it was bang-bang there, as Tulo was deep in the hole, and maybe challengeable - to put Bucs on the corners for Charlie. He gave it the old college try, fouling off a couple before popping out.

The Rox went down in order in the third. With two down, Cutch lined a single to center and was stranded. Charlie had an easy fourth and has mowed down eight Rockies in a row. Tulo left the game; he came up limping after trying to beat out a slow roller and was replaced by Josh Rutledge.

Walker kicked off the Buc half by bouncing a double over the bag and into left. Gaby pounded a two-strike slider down the middle into left for a ground rule double and a 1-0 Bucco lead. Pedro couldn't move him up, bouncing out to short. Jordy tapped back to the mound, and Gaby was caught and nailed in a rundown with Mercer getting to second. No diff; Charlie went down swinging.

Dickerson started the fifth with a liner to right for a knock. An out later (thanks to a sliding grab by Cutch), Russ gunned him out trying to steal second and Culberson K'ed. Anderson tossed a clean frame as his off speed stuff has kept the Bucs pretty much at bay tonight. Blackmon singled with two away in the sixth and stole second - at least until the challenge; on replay, he looked DOA. NY agreed, ending the inning. It was 1-2-3 for the Bucs again; Anderson is tossing a pretty nice game, leaving little in the middle of the dish.

Arenado began the seventh by drilling a heater to center for a two-bagger. CarGo caught a two strike curve, that hung and dropped it  a yard or two inside the foul pole in right to put Colorado up 2-1. The rest of the inning passed quietly, but the Buc bats have to go to work. Yah, sure - Pedro went down looking, Jordy didn't see a strike and went down swinging, and Michael Martinez went down looking.

Ernesto Frieri got the call in the eighth against the bottom of the order and posted a perfect frame with a pair of K to celebrate his happy 29th B-Day. No change up yet, but he did mix in three or four sliders, so that's progress.

Lefty Rex Brothers took the ball for the Rox. He got El Coffee on a liner to left, then headed for the showers as RHP Adam Ottavino came in. He lost Josh and wild-pitched him to second, and may have gotten away with a balk or two during the process. Cutch walked. Russ fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and rolled over on a slider. He placed it well, bouncing it in the SS hole, and with the runners on the go it went for an infield hit to juice the sacks. Ottavino left and Tommy Kahnle inherited the mess. The Kid knocked his first pitch into right to tie the game, but Cutch was thrown out at home by Gonzalez; he didn't seem to get much of a jump and may have been Nick Leyva's bad. The umps quickly reviewed the play for blocking, but the call stood. Travis Snider came in to hit for Gaby and went down looking.

Mark the Shark climbed the bump in the ninth, and used all of five pitches to tuck the Rox away. Kahnle walked Jordy with one gone and Ike picked up a stick (he came in after Gaby was pinch hit for earlier). His roller to first moved Jordy up a station. He stayed there as Polanco's at 'em ball liner to right was hauled in by CarGo.

Justin Wilson was waved in for the tenth and gave up a bleeder single to Rutledge on the left side. Dickerson hit into a force, putting plenty of speed at first. He didn't get to use it as Rosario bounced the next pitch to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Melancon and Wilson have used up 10 pitches to get the last six outs. Brooks Brown came in for Colorado. The 29 year old pitched at Indy last year; this is his rookie season in the show. He whiffed Josh, got Cutch to ground out and Russ tapped back to the hill. On to the 11th.

Jared Hughes raced to the scene and promptly plunked Culberson, who was bunted up. Hughes had a good shot at second, but went for the sure out. Stubbs rolled over on a two-strike slider; it ended up a soft infield knock. Blackmon hit a liner back to the box that Hughes speared and then with a heads up reaction went to third to double up Culberson. Baseball is funny that way - bleeders fall in and liners turn into DPs.

Chad Bettis took the hill. The Kid battled him for eight pitches before bouncing a ball up the middle. Chris Stewart, the last bench player, assuming Marte is out, pinch hit and bunted Walker to second. That got Pedro an intentional walk. Jordy spoiled the strategy by banging a gapper to the left center bullpen, and the Bucs worked the grindstone to take a 3-2 victory.

Morton and Anderson both pitched well; the depth in the Bucco bullpen was the difference tonight. The last two relievers the Rox sent out had ERAs of 9.82 and 8.59, so the odds of them holding down the fort were pretty slim. Melancon and Wilson each threw five pitch innings but didn't work a second frame. Guess Clint is saving 'em for tomorrow with a day-following-night game, and his gamble worked. Oh, and turning four DP didn't hurt the cause any, either. Between them, the caught stealings, the homer and generally sweet pitching, the Rox left only two men on base in 11 frames.

Tyler Matzek faces Jeff Locke tomorrow afternoon as the Bucs look for the sweep.
  • Tonight was the third time this season Russ has thrown out two or more would be base runners in a game.
  • Some good news out of today - while Polanco is still trying to work it out against lefties, he hit the ball on the nose twice against the righties he saw, though they didn't drop.
  • Troy Tulowitzki exited the game with a muscle cramp in his left thigh.
  • Tonight's attendance of 37,396 for fireworks night was the 12th sellout of the season.
  • Starling Marte, who was held out of today's game after a beaning last night, is tied with Yasiel Puig for most outs made on base with 12.

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