Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bucs Take Nightcap Behind Frankie & The Pen 5-0

It started off pretty well against Felix Doubront. Starling singled, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jordy's soft drop into right. The inning short circuited when Cutch banged into a DP. The Kid walked and Gaby bounced out to end the at-bats with the Pirates up 1-0. Frankie Liriano gave up a two-out single while collecting a pair of whiffs in a calm first frame.

With an out in the second, Brent Morel reached on a one-out error, and Chris Stewart's roller moved him to second; a balk moved him to third. Frankie, who was down 0-2, drew a walk. Starling's fly to left was deep, but left enough room for Junior Lake to cradle. Francisco tossed a clean frame.

Cutch bounced a cutter into left with one away in the third, and The Kid followed with a double past third to put Bucs at second and third. Gaby bounced to third; Chris Valaika made the play with a dive but had to go to first as Cutch was off on contact to make it 2-0. Frankie picked up two more K to run his total to five; some big runs behind him would be nice for a change.

Stew singled softly into center with one gone in the fourth. Frankie's folly with the bat continued; he bunted into a double play. After a pair of whiffs, Liriano walked Welington Castillo, then Chris Valaika walked after being in an 0-2 hole. After a visit to the mound, Frankie fell behind Mike Olt 2-0 but came back to get him swinging for K victim number eight; seven were punched out on his slider. It does come with a cost; he's at 74 pitches after four frames.

Doubront worked a clean fifth, and it was his final frame. Ryan Kadish banged a slider that caught the middle of the plate for a two-out knock, but Liriano got a tapper to the hill for the third out. Dan Straily took the ball in the sixth. With one down, Ike, hitting for Gaby, lined a single to center. Gregory Polanco hit for JT and whiffed, as did Morel. Ike and El Coffee stayed in the game. Castillo singled with two away, but Liriano got a fly out to shut the gate.

Frankie was done after a great if somewhat inefficient outing of 98 pitches; nine K will run up the pitch count. Travis Snider hit for him with an out in the seventh and walked. Chase d'Arnaud ran for him and went to second on Starling's single to center. Jordy hit into a force to leave Buccos on the corners, and Cutch came through with a single to center to make it 3-0 before The Kid bounced out.

Justin Wilson took the hill and Olt greeted him with a long at bat and a double yanked down the LF line.
That was followed by a K and a walk. Chris Coghlan hit one into the hole; Jordy got the out at third. Another grounder to short closed out the inning.

Zac Rosscup took the hill in the eighth and lost Ike to open the inning. Gregory fell behind 0-2, but worked a walk off Rosscup too. Morel bunted right into the charging first baseman and Ike was forced at third; another poor job at moving guys up. Stew took away a lot of the sting by singling to left, plating Polanco to make it a 4-0 game.

Tony Sanchez got the call to hit for Wilson and RHP Kyuji Fujikawa replaced lefty Rosscup. That, in turn, brought up Andrew Lambo to hit for Sanchez. Ah, September and its limitless rosters. Lambo whiffed trying to catch up to high cheese and Marte went down swinging; Fujikawa just has a 91 MPH heater but slings it high in the zone with a lot of run, as Lambo and Starling discovered.

Jared Hughes took the hill for Pittsburgh and got Baez to bounce out, breaking up a seven-at-bat strikeout string for the young Cub. Two more grounders and it was off to the ninth.

Arodys Vizcaino, who was with the Braves until TJ surgery cost him two years, took over in the ninth in his first MLB appearance since 2011. He got ahead of Jordy 0-2, hung a slider and watched it disappear over the wall in left center. Cutch singled up the middle before Vizcaino settled down and got three routine outs.

Kind of an odd choice, but Clint sent out Brandon Cumpton to work the ninth, just to keep him stretched, we're guessing. Valaika rolled one up the middle to lead off. After a K, Logan Watkins hit a soft liner that dropped just over shortstop. Cumpton got ahead of Szczur 0-2, ran the count full, then got him to bounce into a 4-6-3 DP to preserve the shutout.

When your pitchers don't allow a runner to reach third, it's a pretty good outing. And it's not every day that a staff puts up 14 goose eggs between this win and the suspended game, so a very nice job done by all seven Bucco twirlers today. Every time the Bucs look down for the count, they manage to get back up. September baseball that means something can't be beat.

Gerrit Cole goes against Travis Wood and the sweep tomorrow afternoon.
  • Liriano allowed five baserunners, and all reached with two outs and the bases empty, with only one runner getting to second against him. Another bit of trivia: Frankie has given up two or fewer runs in 14-of-25 starts this year; he's 4-2 in those games with eight no decisions.
  • Cutch had three hits to raise his BA to .305.
  • Justin Wilson has given up one run in his last 15 outings and has put together nine straight scoreless appearances.
  • Starling Marte batted leadoff for the third time since late April (25 games at the top that month), having hit #1 in the order twice during August.
  • The Bucs are playing it, as usual, close to the vest with Josh's gimpy ankle, announcing that he has "left ankle discomfort," which could be anything from a mild sprain to broken leg.

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