Image from Stadium Pix
Much better start for Gerrit Cole today that last outing; three up, three grounders, three down. Roberto Hernandez had to work a little harder. With an out, Starling Marte singled, stole second, and tried to come around when Cutch singled off Cody Asche's glove at third. Tried was the key word; Jimmy Rollins hustled after the deflection and nailed Marte at home. In his defense, he waited a step to see if the ball would be fielded and then was waved around by Nick Leyve; the odd part was that Cutch didn't advance.
Cutch made amends when he stole second and The Kid walked. Russ and Josh banged back-to-back ground ball singles, and it was 2-0 Buccos. Josh stole second and Gaby walked to load the bases. Jordy worked the count to 2-2, got a sinker down the middle and drilled it into center to plate two more runs. Gerrit tapped out, but even with Marte's mad dash, the Bucs were up 4-0 - and Hernandez is at 45 pitches.
After whiffing the first two batters in the second, Cole walked Asche after a long at-bat but got another bouncer to end the frame. The Cole Train has mixed his pitches well and been effective, but not terribly efficient, using 36 pitches on seven hitters so far.
Gregory Polanco walked to open the Buc half, but ended the swipe streak when he was barely nailed trying for second on a strike from Koyie Hill. With two outs, Cutch lined a shot to left center that went off Ben Revere's glove when he collided with LF Tony Gwynn Jr. and ended up at third with a triple. The Kid banged one off Ryan Howard's glove at first, but 2B Chase Utley corralled the carom and tossed to Hernandez covering to end the frame.
With two gone in the third, Revere rolled one up the middle for a knock and stole second. Cole caught Rollins looking at 3-2 heater to close out the action. Russ opened with a bloop single to center, but Hernandez had no problems the rest of the frame. Cole worked a clean fourth. Polanco singled with an out and roared home on Cutch's two-out two-bagger into the left field corner. The Kid cued a roller to the shortstop hole and legged it out, but Russ flew out to end the party with the Bucs up 5-0.
Cole plunked Gywnn with two out in the fifth on an 0-2 pitch, but it only cost him one toss as Hernandez grounded out. The Bucs went down in order, with Jordy taking a ball to the left field wall before it was hauled in. Stolmy Pimentel came on in the sixth though Cole was at just 80 pitches after five. The Bucs are still being cautious with his count, perhaps, especially as his velocity was down a tick or two last frame. (EDIT - Cole left complaining of right lat soreness).
He walked Revere to open the frame; hopefully, he's just not quite loose yet, as his fastball was only 90-91. Stolmy then tossed a wild pitch before losing Rollins. Utley singled to right, scoring Revere and chasing Rollins to third, then Howard walked to load the bases. That brought on Jared Hughes as the Phils are a hit away from making a game of it. Jared got a first pitch around-the-horn DP from Marlon Byrd as a run scored, then whiffed Asche in a great and possibly game-changing performance.
Pedro hit for Hughes and got a 3-2 fastball right at the belt, but was under it and late, popping out. Polanco whiffed looking at at 3-2 fastball; both called strikes were gifts. Marte did draw a walk, and after 117 pitches, Hernandez was done. Justin DeFratus came on to face Cutch and got him to ground out to short.
Justin Wilson came in for the seventh and had a quiet frame. Russ walked with an out. With two gone, new third baseman Cesar Hernandez threw away a bleeder from Gaby, putting Bucs at second and third. It was costly as Jordy smacked one over third for a two-run double. Vance Worley pinch hit, though the bench was far from depleted, and grounded out to third.
Tony Watson came in for the eighth and per usual worked a 1-2-3 frame. BJ Rosenberg climbed the hill and lost the first batter, El Coffee. Cutch needed a homer for the cycle and drove one deep to right, but it didn't have quite the height to clear the Clemente Wall, so he settled for an RBI double and four hit day. The Kid walked, but Russ ended the frame with a 4-6-3 DP on a ball hit up the middle but easy pickings with the infield bunched around the bag looking for the twin killing.
Jeanmar Gomez came on and got Howard to golf a soft liner to Walker. Two ground outs later, the Bucs could celebrate their Fourth in style.
Good game, (it perhaps went unnoticed that the Bucs held the Phils to two hits) but it ended with a couple of questions. One is Cole's health, which will be more clear after he's examined tomorrow.
Another is the bullpen. Hurdle didn't have much choice but to use Watson (we'll give Stolmy a pass, as we have no idea if he had enough time to warm up properly) in a 7-2 game. They have to decide what to do with Frieri, especially with Vin Mazzaro sitting at Indy with a 2-2-4 record and 0.83 ERA. Pittsburgh uses the pen too much to carry a project. as Frieri obviously is.
Righties David Buchanan and Edinson Volquez hook up tomorrow afternoon.
- Jared Hughes allowed his first inherited runner of the year to score (he's 1-of-18 now). But he can be forgiven; the run came in on a bases-loaded, no outs DP ball. Oh, and Happy Birthday to Jared, too.
- Jordy's four RBI today set his career high.
- If Cole does have a lat strain - he'll be examined more thoroughly tomorrow - that will almost assuredly lead to another DL stint, as that injury generally takes a month or so to heal.
- Today's attendance of 38,977 is the ninth sellout of the season and the largest July 4th crowd in PNC history.
- It was one insane day to be in town - the Pirates, Fourth of July fireworks, Regatta, Furries, Riverhound soccer plus the usual weekend nuttiness were all on tap with some beautiful weather to boot. Happy if hectic Fourth!