Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rox Rock Bucs Again 8-1

Tyler Matzek tossed a 1-2-3 opener; Jeff Locke gave up an opening bunt single to Charlie Backmon and then left him stranded. The Bucs got a two-out single from Russ in the second, and the Rox got a one-out infield knock from Michael McHenry. Neither ball was hit hard and neither runner moved.

Pittsburgh was retired in order in the third. Locke had a rough inning, and it was partially his fault. Matzek poked a single over third base, then Blackmon hit a shot to Gaby. He made a nice pick and went to second for the force, then Jordy's return sailed into the photographer's booth. It was accurate and right over first base; Locke didn't cover the bag. Blackmon went to second, stole third and scored on Jeff Rutledge's single. Nolan Arenado followed with another knock; both were soft dumps on changes away; maybe the Bucs are trying to pitch backwards in the early innings. He went back to his inside heater to Wil Rosario and got a 6-4-3 DP to end the frame.

Jordy led off the fourth with a double off a 3-2 fastball. Cutch bounced out softly, and Gaby hit a hot one hopper. Arenado knocked it down and made a strong throw across the diamond for the out. The Kid cued a soft grounder to first, and Mercer died at third. Drew Stubbs fell behind 0-2 and worked the count full. Locke went for his hands with a fastball; Stubbs turned on it and lost the ball in the stands. Locke rallied to get a pop to center and two K, but it was 2-0 Rox.

Russ led off the fifth with a walk. El Coffee followed with a liner toward the shortstop hole; Arenado leaped to knock it down and get the force. Brent Morel and Locke went down on strikes.

Locke struggled mightly. He walked his mound opponent, and an out later Rutledge lined a single to left. Arenado followed by dropping single into center; Cutch missed his throw to third by a mile, allowing Arenado to get to second. Rosario was walked intentionally, and Corey Dickerson hit for Stubbs, who turned his ankle. Locke was up 1-2 on the lefty, but allowed a chopper up the middle. Mercer looked at second then took the sure out at first. The Fort walked before the last out, and it was 4-0 Colorado.

With an out in the sixth, Jordy got plunked. Lefty killers Cutch and Gaby both flew out, and the Bucs seem powerless against southpaws. Jeff tossed his first clean frame of the game. In the seventh, Russ walked and Polanco lined a single the opposite way with one gone. The rally died quickly when Morel rolled into a tailor made 4-6-3 DP.

With an out in the Rox half, Arenado pulled a pair of balls foul deep into the seats; the third try was the charm as he banged one out in left. An out later, Dickerson turned on a high heater and Polanco settled at wall to grab it, but it dropped into the first row of the stands. That brought on Jeanmar Gomez, with Josh moving to third and Michael Martinez going to left. It took The Fort eight pitches, but he lined a single to left. Gomez finally ended the frame with a fly just short of the track in center.

Nick Masset came in for the eighth, and gave up three grounders. Martinez's was booted, Josh's was a perfectly placed 4-6-3 DP, and Jordy rolled out to third. LeMahieu started with a single and Ben Paulsen followed with a double. An out later, Rutledge singled them both in. Nice plays by Jordy and Josh brought the frame to a merciful end.

Brooks Brown came in to mop up and gave up a pinch hit homer to Ike, an opposite field shot that barely slipped over the left field railing. For the second game, it was all the Bucs could do to avoid a whitewashing. To make a bad day worse, the Cards, the Reds, the Brewers and the Braves all won.

The offense has been as bad as the pitching at Coors. We don't fault Clint - Cutch is in another left side grounder funk, and the offense revolves around him - and without either Indy's Jaff Decker or Jose Tabata as a replacement for Starling Marte in the outfield, his hands are pretty well tied in trying to come up with an effective order against lefties. It should be time to free Pedro; there is no platoon match for his position, especially with Josh in left.

Edinson Volquez goes against Franklin Morales tomorrow afternoon to try to salvage a game of the series.
  • The Bucs have faced the Rox five times; the Rox have scored first all five times. That's a bad recipe, considering their starters have put up a 1.87 ERA against the Pirates over that span.
  • Russ Martin singled in his first at-bat and walked in his next two to reach base safely in 10 of his last 11 plate appearances before popping out. He's drawn five walks in the last two games.
  • Neil Walker's streak of 22 straight games on base ended tonight.
  • Oooops. The Rockies gave out 15,000 Tulowitzki jerseys tonight - and misspelled his name!

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