Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bucs Lose Brutal Game 6-5 In 11 Innings

Doug Fister tossed all of eight pitches to retire the Bucs. Eddie Volquez got a couple of outs, one a screamer to left center by Asdrubal Cabrera that Starling Marte hauled in, before Anthony Rendon singled on an 0-2 pitch that caught too much plate. A wild pitch moved him up a station. Adam LaRoche fell behind 0-2, ran the count full after surviving a curve that just missed (plate ump Andy Fletcher has a pretty tight strike zone) and walked. Edinson got ahead of Ian Desmond 0-2 and after just missing a call on a heater got him to chase a curve to end the frame.

The second was a clean frame for Fister. The two-out bugaboo (one on a sliding stop and nice throw by The Kid) bit Eddie again as Michael Taylor ripped a single to center off the tip of a diving Josh's mitt. It was followed by a wild pitch, but Volquez sat Fister down.

Ike became the first Buc runner when he drew a one-out walk in the third. A wild pitch moved him to second; they must be contagious. He was left there. Eddie tossed a 1-2-3 frame with a couple of K. It was more of the same from Fister in the fourth, putting the Bucs away in order. Eddie returned the favor.

Pedro opened the fifth with a single to right after a lengthy at-bat. Starling bounced into a force out, late on a juicy fastball. Travis followed with a knock to put Bucs at first and second. Ike cracked one but Span pulled it in on the track in left center, though the runners did tag after the grab. Volquez managed to put the ball in play as his short fly to right ended the frame. But he did job #1, tossing a quiet frame.

Polanco hasn't had a hit in a while, but he did reach to open the sixth on Ian Desmond's error, and Josh singled him to third on a hit-and-run. Gregory almost blew it; he got caught in a run down on The Kid's grounder, but the Nat's tossed the ball away, allowing him to score and putting Josh on third. Russ hit a bleeder that ended up an infield single when the throw hit him, scoring Josh. Pedro ripped a single to right to crowd the bases.

Marte was jammed and tapped back to the hill for a force at the plate. Snider rolled one to first for another force at home; anyone ever hear of a fly ball? Ike got ahead 3-1, saw a gift strike at the top of the shoulders rung up - Davis was unstrapping his shin guard - and then flew out to short right. The Bucs left a lot of ducks on the pond that frame; hopefully it won't come back to bite them.

With two gone in the Nat half, Anthony Rendon fought off a fastball and rolled a single to right, followed by a LaRoche walk. The two out lapses finally cost him; he hung a 1-2 curve to Desmond, who singled to center. Marte's throw needlessly came home, allowing the Nat's to move up a base. That didn't cost, though, as Snider ran down Bryce Harper's opposite way fly near the LF line.

Fister rallied in the seventh to work a perfect frame. With one gone, Michael Taylor either fouled a ball or got hit; the umps ruled foul and the Nats challenged. They won (it did hit his hand, then the bat). After a couple of pickoff throws and a pitchout, pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen singled through the left side. When it rains, it pours; Span blooped a single to left to load the sacks. That brought the Bucs' bases-loaded specialist Jared Hughes to the hill.

He got to Cabrera to rollover and chop a soft one-hopper to Ike on the first pitch; he went home and the throw was wide, going off the edge of a lunging Russ' mitt on the third base side, allowing two runs to score. Rendon bounced one to Pedro; he threw it away trying to cut down Span at the dish. Hughes finally found someone sure handed in the field as he got LaRoche to hit into a 4-6-3 DP; can't ask much more from Hughes, but his corners sure let him down as it's 4-2 Nats now.

The Kid led off against Tyler Clippard in the eighth with a knock. Russ hit the next pitch to second for a 4-6-3 DP. Pedro tapped back to the mound to end a quiet frame. Jayson Nix went to third and John Axford took the hill, got a K, gave up a walk, and induced a DP for a solid frame.

Rafael Soriano claimed the bump in the ninth and hit Starling with a pitch, maybe frustrated that Marte was spoiling so many pitches. Travis got a 3-2 fastball and lined it off LaRoche's glove into right, sending Marte to third. A wild pitch made things interesting, with Marte plating and pinch runner Michael Martinez moving to second. With first open, Davis was worked around, walking on five pitches although it did put the lead run on base. Jordy replaced Ike at first.

Gaby dribbled one in front of the plate; Wilson Ramos went to third to get the lead runner. But it was a temporary reprieve; El Coffee drilled a first pitch fastball into right for a double, scoring both runners and giving the Bucs the edge 5-4. That brought on Matt Thornton; seems like Matt Williams might have been a batter late in bringing on the lefty. Josh singled; the throw in was cut off - actually, it was a pretty nice move by Cabrera to corral the toss -  and he was caught at second for a pretty senseless out; he may have though El Coffee was headed home, but Polanco got a bad jump after the hit. The Kid bounced out.

Mark the Shark got the call, with Martinez going into left and Gaby to first. We'll see how rusty MM is; he hasn't pitched since the 12th and only been in four games this month.Taylor K'ed, and Jayson Werth made his first appearance of the series. He hasn't played since August 10th with a bum shoulder. But Melancon is stale, too and walked him on five pitches.

After a long at-bat, Span turned on a cutter and singled to right to put runners on the corners. Cabrera got a fastball right down the middle and singled to tie the game. Starling made a nice sliding catch of a slicer that fooled him a bit to record the second out, hurting his wrist in the process, and the Shark blew a cutter past LaRoche to take the game into extra innings. That works for the Nats, as the Bucs have just Jeanmar Gomez and Brandon Cumpton left in the bullpen with Watson and Wilson off today, though that could change.

Lefty Ross Detwiler took the horsehide in the tenth. With an out, Nix put a charge into a fastball, but the park held it and Harper gloved it at the LF wall. Marte kept the inning alive with a single, but not for long as Martinez bounced out. Cumpton took the ball and Brent Morel went to third. he got two quick outs before Ramos slapped a mid-plate sinker into center before Danny Espinosa popped out foul to Russ.

Detwiler kept the Bucs off the bases with the last out a rocket to LaRoche off Polanco's bat. Werth pulled a tight 2-2 fastball at the belt into left for a leadoff double; Martinez couldn't get to it (tho we suspect Travis or Josh may have) and face-planted into the wall. Cumpton kept everything up to Span, who bounced out to first to move Werth to third. Scott Hairston hit, and lofted a sac fly to give the Nats the win. Martinez cut off Marte for the grab in left center, but it was probably deep enough no matter who made the throw.

In a game that was a roller coaster ride, it boils down to bases loaded D - the Nats could play catch with their catcher, cutting down two runs, and the Bucs couldn't, costing them three runs. Still, it could have been a good weekend. There aren't going to be many back-to-back games where Tony Watson blows up and then Mark Melancon blows a save the next night.

An awfully thin bench and bullpen came into play, too. A spate of injuries has hurt, no doubt, but the FO's failure to shore up the bench and pen are part of the problem. Michael Martinez is hitting .128, Jayson Nix .137 and Brent Morel .176. Brandon Cumpton and his 5.13 ERA is in the pen. It doesn't take a blockbuster to land a middle reliever and utility guy.

Let's hope this stretch doesn't mark a crash; these are a resilient bunch of Bucs, but they need help. Right now they're 1-1/2 games out of the last wild card spot and 5-1/2 behind the Brewers in the division chase.

Vance Worley opens the Atlanta series against Ervin Santana tomorrow night.
  • Gregory Polanco's ninth inning double snapped an 0-for-19 stretch at the dish.
  • The Pirates five game losing streak is the longest they've had since 2012. 
  • Tony Watson and Justin Wilson were scheduled for a down day and weren't available from the pen, although Watson did warm up in case there was a save situation.
  • The Pirates confirmed that Gerrit Cole will take Charlie Morton's spot in the rotation on Wednesday. Morton, btw, said he had hip pain for a few weeks. The good news is that it's the right hip, not the left one that he had labrum surgery on last year.
  • Ernesto Frieri made his Indy debut today. He pitched a clean frame with a whiff, using 15 pitches.
  • Interesting: Ryan Palencer of Pirates Prospects reports that Tony Sanchez is expected to play some first base with the promotion of C Elias Diaz. A changing of the guard?
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