Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vanimal, Pen Make The Kid's Bomb Hold Up In 3-2 Win

With one away, Vance Worley walked Todd Frazier, but an around the horn DP ball smacked by Brandon Phillips ended the frame, and *whew* Vanimal has escaped the first. Andrew Lambo singled the opposite way off Alfredo Simon with one gone and Cutch walked. The Kid got a fastball middle-out, and popped it over the right center fence to give the Bucs a quick 3-0 edge. Russ followed with a double to center before Simon doused the flames.

The Reds went down in order in the second. Josh banged a two-out single, but was erased trying to swipe second on a bang-bang call. Cincy went three up, three down in the third, and Worley has navigated the first trip through the lineup successfully. Simon settled down with his first quiet frame.

Vanimal's control, spotty so far today, cost him when with one out in the fourth Frazier creamed a knee-high 3-1 fastball over the deepest part of The Notch over the 410' mark. Simon picked up a couple of K in a 1-2-3 frame. Both guys have four whiffs after four innings.

Brayan Pena walked to open the fifth, but Vanimal worked out of it without breaking a sweat. The Bucs added two more whiffs to Simon's total as they sat down without a peep. With one down in the sixth, Hamilton dropped a bunt single when Josh, who was on the grass, couldn't pick the ball with his bare hand. No sweat; an out later he was caught trying to swipe second by Russ. The Pirates didn't get a ball out of the infield; Simon has retired 16-of-17 batters since going soft, especially with the splitter, after his rough first frame.

With an out in the seventh, Devin Mesoraco was plunked on the ninth pitch of his at-bat and Pena rolled a single through the left side. That brought in Justin Wilson, and he K'ed Jay Bruce, who is having a terrible year trying to play through a knee injury. Zack Cozart popped one into short right that dropped between Walker, Lambo and Ike; Ike was hit with the error (it looked like Walker's ball, but either should have been able to make the grab; Lambo was a little late to the party) that allowed a run to score and sent Pena to third. Wilson whiffed Schumaker, but the Bucs put Cincy back in hunt at 3-2.

Russ worked a 10 pitch walk off Simon to open the Bucco half. Ike got a 2-0 fastball he liked; he flew out to center, but deep enough to move Russ up a station. Starling bounced out to third, freezing Martin. Jordy put wood on the ball, but his liner to third was gloved by Frazier. Interesting; after going soft most of the game, Simon went back to the fastball this inning.

Tony Watson climbed the hill in the eighth and used 11 pitches to get three outs. Fireballer Jumbo Diaz came in for the Reds and faced JT, who flew out to right. Josh walked, but was cut down on a 4-6-3 DP of Lambo's bat. It's Mark the Shark time, with the middle of the Reds order due up in the ninth. Melancon got one of everything - a fly (and it was a deep one by Mesoraco), a grounder and a K - as the Bucs iced a third straight series win and keep chipping away at the front runners.

Well, it would be nice to add on after a big opening frame, but whatever works, right? Tough to get two better starts than Eddie and Vanimal put up against the Reds, and it doesn't seem like there's gonna be any run explosion tomorrow either with Frankie and Johhny Cueto closing out the series. The Pirates have got into a knack recently of blasting three-run homers; somehow, they've been channeling the inner Earl Weaver ("pitching, defense, and the three-run homer") and it's been working.
  • Neil Walker leads all NL second basemen with 18 homers and is one HR away from the club record for second basemen in a single season, held by Bill Mazeroski.
  • Today's crowd of 38,023 was the 17th sellout of the season; Pitt should have drawn so well.
  • There's a lot of reports out on Charlie Morton, and none sound promising. He's more than a long shot to help the team this year, and it looks like the biggest decision will be whether he should rest his hernia during the off season or go under the knife.
  • The Bucs did make it official - Brent Morel is up and Jeff Locke, who isn't due to pitch until Tuesday, was optioned (on paper) to Indy. That move and Cole's yesterday suggest that it'll be at least a couple of more days before Travis Snider and Pedro are due back, if not longer.

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