Gregory Polanco opened with a single against Carlos Martinez and stole second. A fly out by Starling Marte moved him to third. Cutch swung through three fastballs, two hitting 99, and The Kid lined out to short. The Bucs just can't get runners home against the Cards. Mat Carpenter opened against Vance Worley with an ifield knock to short, but Jon Jay cleaned that up 4-6-3. Matt Holliday whiffed looking at a fastball; thank you, Joe West, for the gift.
Russ Martin opened with a knock in the second, but three straight ground balls quietly ended the frame. The second looked routine for Vanimal, then with two outs, the bottom of the order bit him. Jhonny Peralta and Oscar Taveras singled and Kolten Wong, the eight hitter, found the gap in right center and doubled them both home to make it 2-0.
With an out in the third, El Coffee singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Cutch walked with two outs, and Walker flew out to center. The Cards went down in order. The Pirates finally figured out how to get on the board. Ike Davis walked with one gone on five pitches, and Pedro knocked an 0-2 curve 412' into the seats in right center to tie the game. Matt Adams singled to open, and with two outs, Taveras got an infield knock - Pedro dove for a ball that was headed right at Jordy, and by the time he recovered, Taveras was on first. This time, though, Worley got Wong on a fly ball to right.
Gregory began the fifth with his third straight single. Cutch got a first pitch heater, was waiting on it and dropped it over the fence in right center. The Kid followed with a triple to left center, and the pitching coach paid a little visit to Martinez. But it was Walker who needed a talking to; he took a nap and Molina picked him off third base. Hurdle challenged the call, and the TV replays show his hand in clearly ahead of the tag, but NY didn't see it that way and the call was upheld. Safe or out, it was inexcusable on The Kid's part. Russ K'ed, and the Bucs twice have had a runner at third with an out and failed to bring him home.
The lead didn't last very long. Matt Carpenter and Jay singled with an out, and Matt Holliday doubled to center to bring them both home, all three hits coming off fastballs. Vanimal wriggled out without further damage, but it's a new game at 4-4.
Jay snagged the first two outs of the sixth, one a ball hit on the screws by Ike that he made a nice running grab of on the track, before Jordy blooped a single to left. Travis Snider hit for Worley and bounced out. Jared Hughes answered the call. Peralta greeted him with a knock, but a 4-6-3 off Taveras' bat erased the runners and another bouncer closed the frame.
Lefty Randy Choate took the ball for Martinez in the seventh. He whiffed Polanco, and righty Seth Maness was waved in. He retired Marte and Cutch easily. Jared tossed a clean frame. Pat Neshek, usually the closer, came on in the eighth to face the Bucs 4-5-6 hitters. He got three fly outs, and that brought Tony Watson in to face the Redbirds. with one down, he plunked Adams, but Molina banged into an around-the-horn DP to close out the frame.
Trevor Rosenthal came in for the ninth, facing the bottom of the order, as planned. With an out, Jordy dropped a flare into right for a knock. Josh grabbed some lumber for Tony and drew a walk to set up the top of the order. Needn't have bothered; Polanco flew out and Marte whiffed; the Bucs are 0-for-7 with RISP. Clint sent out Ernesto Frieri to face the 6-7-8 hitters. His fastball had more movement, and he got the first two outs easily. He got ahead of Wong 0-2, then ran the count full. Wong got a 95 MPH fastball above the belt on the outside half and lined it into the right field seats to give the Cards their second ninth inning walk-off homer.
Well, lost two games in the ninth with Mark the Shark still in the tank. Of course, that fits Hurdle's philosophy and there is always the tenth to consider, but we think it speaks to a bullpen that needs at least one more guy that Hurdle has some confidence in. Maybe Jeanmar Gomez will get a look in the later innings. Vin Mazzaro is tearing it up at Indy, but the Bucs don't have anyone with an option to send down except Hughes, who has been tossing pretty well.
Maybe they can turn Frieri around; his fastball had more velocity and movement, but it's all he throws (15-of-17 pitches were heaters tonight), and until they come up with a secondary pitch that works for him, he'll be an accident waiting to happen. The Bucs did score four runs, but twice had a runner on third with an out that didn't score and are 0-for-17 with RISP in the series, so it's been a team effort.
Brandon Cumpton takes on Lance Lynn tomorrow night to try to stop the bleeding.
- Pedro now has 100 MLB homers.
- Gregory Polanco is hitting .148 (4-for-27) against lefties, with 10 K and a .207 OBP. He's batting .350 v RHP with a .436 OBP and 12 K in 94 PA. He didn't have split problems in the minors, so it may be a small sample size quirk, but bears watching.
- Tony Watson made his 43rd appearance tonight. He's on track to pitch 77 times this year after 67 outings in 2013 and 68 in 2012.
- Ernesto Frieri has allowed 20 home runs the past two seasons in just over 100 innings pitched. He's a fastball guy who likes to work up in the zone, and he hasn't had the command the past couple of years to get away with it.
- Coming into tonight's game, the Bucs led MLB with an average of 7.66 runners stranded per game.
- Francisco Liriano is expected to start before the All-Star break during the Red series.