Saturday, September 27, 2014

Frankie, Bullpen Can't Find the Target In 10-6 Loss

Alfredo Simon plunked Josh with the first pitch to open the game and he stole second, but there he remained.

Francisco Liriano, who has been virtually unhittable but walking guys left and right, finally had his control catch up to him. A walk, hit and walk loaded the bases with no outs, and then Devin Mesoraco rolled one that just got by Josh at third and went under Marte's glove to plate a pair; a grounder plated another. A fourth run was saved when Jordy's throw home on another hopper just barely beat Mesoraco at home and just as barely survived a blocking the plate review; they ruled Stew had the ball before planting his leg at home. A whiff ended the frame, but it was 3-0 Reds.

The Bucs got a run back in the second when Starling doubled and a pair of bouncers brought him home. Frankie gave up a two out single to Kris Negron, who's been killing Bucco pitching so far this series, before a pop ended it. The Bucs went down in order in the third; Liriano survived another pair of walks to put up a second zero. Cutch got to third in the fourth frame after a leadoff walk and pair of grounders, but Ike whiffed. Negron banged a two out double, and Frankie left him there.

The Bucs woke up in the fifth. Jordy homered to left on the line with an out, Frankie (!) singled and Josh doubled high off the wall in right, barely missing a long ball. Too bad the runner was Liriano; anyone else scores. Travis lined out to right and Cutch unhappily walked to load the sacks for The Kid. Andrew needn't have pouted; Walker dropped the first pitch into center to bring in a pair and chase Cutch to third. Starling bounced out, but the Bucs climbed out of a big early hole to take a 4-3 lead.

Todd Frazier drew his second walk of the day to start the Reds and a swinging bunt moved him up a station. A wild pitch got him to third. Frankie punched out Chris Heisey, but Ryan Ludwick went with a fastball down and away, rolling it into right for the game-tying single as the Bucs were in a shift the opposite way against the righty. Three of the four runs that have scored were aboard on walks. Ludwick was thrown out trying to steal on the next pitch, but the damage was done as it's 4-4.

JJ Hoover came in for Cincinnati in the sixth and struck out a pair, featuring high heat. Jared Hughes took the bump and plunked Yorman Rodrigeuz, who had K'ed in first two at-bats, with his second pitch. A medium fly and a 4-6-3 DP ended the music. Still, that's six free runners in six frames.

Sam LeCure took the ball in the seventh. He went soft for a pair of groundouts, then a fastball hit Travis in ther knee. Pinch runner Gregory Polanco stole second and came in on Cutch's smoked single through the left side that barely eluded Ramon Santiago at short. The Kid caught a 3-2 change and rattled it into right for a triple to score Cutch before Marte's fly out, making it 6-4 Pirates.

Big John Holdzkom got the call. After a K, Brandon Phillips rolled one up the middle. He fell behind Frazier 3-0, losing a couple of close corner calls, came down the pipe with a heater and watched it drop into the first row in right field to tie the game, a classic GABP dinger. A K and pop ended the frame with a brand new ball game at six-all.

Jumbo Diaz worked the eighth. Jordy banged a one-out double to left but was stranded as Stew looked at a called third strike that just nicked the zone (or maybe not, but you gotta protect on close pitches) and JT bounced out. Justin Wilson got the call for Pittsburgh and struck out a pair in a clean frame, the first one tossed against Cincy today.

Aroldis Chapman, who had some dead arm syndrome of late, came on. Looks like he's over it; seven pitches netted two K's and he hit 101 on five of the seven. Tony Watson came on for the Pirates, and he punched out two Reds in a 1-2-3 inning, registering at 96.

Dylan Axelrod spun an easy tenth. John Axford walked Todd Frazier to start the Reds, then went 3-2 on Mesoraco before getting him to line out to the center field track. Heisey fell behind 0-2 with fastballs, then got a curve that he rolled up the middle. Ludwick walked to load the bases.

Switch hitter Brayan Pena pinch hit and Bobby LaFromboise was waved in. Pena got ahead 3-0, ran the count full thanks to a gift strike call and then popped out to short right. It was a tease; two pitches later Santiago yanked a tight sinker barely over the left field fence for a grand slam, only his second homer of the year, to put the Pirate pitchers out of their misery.

Tough to win if you can't throw strikes. The Bucs did put up six runs - they went 2-for-12 with RISP, but offset that by driving in four two-out runs. But it has been a remarkable September run, and every so often a clunker will pop up. They've done what they had to in the regular season. Buctober is in the cards now, and that's when the strikes and clutch hits count.

Gerrit Cole is slated to face Johnny Cueto tomorrow afternoon as Cueto looks for his 20th win. The proviso is that if the Cards win today and clinch that we'd probably see a different starter since home field is locked up for the wild card game. Right now, Edinson Volquez looks like the guy to go against Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday.
  • Josh's hitting steak is at 15 games and Starling Marte has a 12 gamer.
  • Liriano's run scored was his first of the season - oh, and the first of his nine year career.
  • Frankie's in a strike-challenged stretch; he's walked 14 batters in his last three starts, covering 17 innings of work.
  • Cutch has 69 extra base hits this season, which is tied with Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead. Andrew is trying to become the first Pirate to lead the league in extra base hits since Barry Bonds did it in 1992 with 75 extra base knocks.
  • The legend of Big John Holdzkom may have taken a hit today, but teammates have christened him after a legendary character, Sasquatch - he is 6'7" and maybe more. The two-run homer he gave up tallied the first runs he's surrendered in nine appearances.
  • Since last season, the Reds had lost their last 45 games when allowing at least six runs, a club record that they snapped today.
  • Coming into this afternoon's game, the Pirates had won 10 of their last 12 games while allowing just 19 runs over that span. Pittsburgh was the only team to give up fewer than 20 runs over a span of a dozen games in the league this year.

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