Monday, August 25, 2014

Bucs Blow Early Chances, Fall 3-2 To Cards

Frankie looked good in the first frame; he sat down the Redbirds in order with a couple of K. Jon Lackey, on the other hand, escaped a bullet. Josh doubled to open, but was froze by a grounder to third by Travis Snider. Not moving him up cost; Cutch lined a single to left to chase Josh to third, but The Kid banged into a 6-4-3 DP; going the opposite way didn't do Snider nor Walker much good. The part that hurt is that Neil drilled the ball; he hit an at 'em grounder so hard the Cards turned two even with Cutch off on the pitch.

Jordy booted a ball with an out in the second, but it didn't faze Liriano, who routinely chopped down the other hitters. Pittsburgh got a run when Pedro smacked a one out homer; maybe Lackey will figure out what the other NL pitchers know and keep that heater in his pocket when El Toro is up. The Bucs got back-to-back infield knocks from Starling and Jordy, who were bunted up by Frankie, but Josh's fly out left more ducks on the pond.

Frankie gave up a two out walk in the third; the Pirates stranded Cutch, who singled with one gone. Jhonny Peralta got the Birds' first hit with a two out single in the fourth, but was left aboard. Pedro led off by lining a bullet off Kolton Wong's mitt, but the Pirates continued to shoot themselves in the foot with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP with Starling up, then Jordy K'ed to end the frame. The Bucs have seven hits in just four innings, but only one run.

Wong singled to start the fifth and was forced out by Tony Cruz, who went to second on a bunt. Matt Carpenter K'ed to end the mild threat. Frankie walked to start the Bucco at-bats. A Josh fly and Travis 6-3 DP put quick brakes on the frame; three DPs in four innings will slow down an attack.

Frankie was running on fumes in the sixth, even though he was just at 80 pitches. A one out double by Matt Holliday and a pair of walks put him in a jam. But he had enough gas in the tank to serve Oscar Tavaras a 5-2-3 DP to dodge the raindrops. The Bucs hit three flies and jogged back on the field.

Wong opened the seventh with an infield single. Jared Hughes came on and picked off Wong; good thing, as he gave up a bloop single to Cruz; the runner was bunted up and Carpenter walked. Jon Jay came off the bench to single in the tying run; the runners moved up on Cutch's throw home. Holliday hit a grounder with eyes through the left side, leaving Josh and Jordy sprawled in the dirt, to bring in another pair. Justin Wilson took the ball and finished the frame, with the Cards now up 3-1. Lackey did what good pitchers do; he got three grounders and sat down.

Wilson worked an efficient eighth and Pat Neshak took the bump for St. Louis. With an out, Josh reached on an error, but the Bucs took no advantage; Snider grounded into a 4-6-3 DP, his second twin killing. John Axford came in for the ninth. He gave up a single to Shane Robinson, who was quickly erased trying to steal between a pair of ground outs.

Trevor Rosenthal climbed the hill, Cutch was clutch again; he led off with a homer, ripping a liner to left. Russ walked with one gone, with Pedro up. He got a first pitch heater right down the middle - and tapped it back to the mound softly enough, at least, to move Russ to second. Marte flew out to center, at that was it.

Hard to believe, but the Bucs have lost back-to-back games by giving up seven runs with the bases empty and two outs. But this game was about the early innings. The Pirates keep putting guys on base, but they just can't cash them in. Of course, four DPs will cut down the chances pretty drastically. The Cards put together their frame on a bloop, a walk, a throw home that should have went to second and a routine grounder that was perfectly placed. Such are the plays that decide playoff races.

Gerritt Cole takes on Lance Lynn tomorrow night; Cole is stepping into Charlie Morton's rotation slot.
  • Pedro's homer was his first at PNC Park since June 29th.
  • The Pirates are 2-1 in a stretch of 15 consecutive games against Central Division foes. The Bucs have gone 24-31 this season against the Central (13-14 at home and 11-17 on the road).
  • Charlie Morton will make rehab start on Thursday for Altoona, with a 75 pitch limit.
  • Pirate IF prospect Alen Hansen is effectively done for the year; he was put on the the minor league DL with a hammy injury suffered last week.
  • The New York-Penn League and the Pittsburgh Pirates announced today that the Jamestown Jammers, Pittsburgh's Class A Short Season affiliate, will be relocating to Morgantown for the 2015 season. The deal that will have the Bucs club share a new ballpark with the WVU baseball team.

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