Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Morton + Pen + Longballs = 4-0 Win

Charlie Morton got a couple of routine outs, then left a two seamer over the dish for Daniel Nava, who lined it into right for a double. No prob; Charlie notched his second K, whiffing Yoenis Cespedes, and in a good sign, both punch outs were via the hook. Anthony Ranaudo has a rep as a fly ball guy, and that's how he got two of the three outs in the first. Like Jacob Turner on Monday, his heater doesn't have a lot of movement and he works it up, so we'll see if he's another guy that takes his lumps in the second go-round of the order.

Morton got just what he didn't need to open the second, a ground out by Mike Napoli that took 12 pitches. The out is nice, but we're not sure what kind of pitch count Charlie can muster tonight; he only threw 42 pitches in his last bullpen. And even with a 1-2-3 inning, he's at 40 now.

The Kid led off with a walk, and then gave Russ one of his flat heaters down the middle. It landed in the seats over the center field wall, and it was 2-0. Starling softly singled up the left side, rolling over on a curve, and a wild pitch moved him up a station. Ike walked before Clint Barmes flew out to short center. Charlie popped out trying to bunt them up, but made no diff as Josh bounced out to third.

Mookie Betts drew a two-out walk in the third, and Xander Bogaerts following with an infield knock. Though it had the makings of a Charlie inning brewing, he caught Nova looking on a slightly high ball that was nicely framed by Russ. Ranaudo had a clean inning with a pair of whiffs.

Cespedes opened the fourth with a ground rule double, hopping the left field wall. Charlie then lost Napoli, but Ground Chuck got he what wanted from Will Middlebrooks, a 4-6-3 DP. Jackie Bradley Jr. popped the next pitch to Walker, and Charlie escaped another mild jam. The Bucs played into Ranaudo's hand; he went heavily to the curve and got three rollover grounders to the corner infield.

Vance Worley sat down in the pen and Jared Hughes heated up as Charlie took the mound in the fifth. Good thing; Christian Vazquez doubled deep into The Notch to begin the frame. Ranaudo foul-bunted into a K, with the first pitch being bunted off his hand. Betts bounced out to third, freezing Vazquez. Bogaerts went down swinging at a 3-2 sinker, and Charlie has navigated five shutout frames with Boston being 0-for-7 with RISP. At 92 pitches, he'll call it a night.

Barmes opened with a single to left. Pinch hitter Andrew Lambo went down on three pitches; he couldn't handle high heat. Josh popped up on a fastball at his shoulders. A wild pitched moved Clint up 90', and Snider walked, even though ball four was a clear strike. Cutch popped up on another high fastball; Ranaudo is earning a good living up in the zone so far tonight.

LHP Bobby LaFromboise climbed the hill. Though he worked briefly in the AL, this was his first outing against Boston. This was brief, too, as he got lefty Nava to fly out, and Jared Hughes raced in to take the ball. Two grounders later, the Bucs were back at the bat rack. It took the duo six pitches to get through the frame. The first two Bucs went down quietly, then Starling blasted a 2-2 change into the Bucco bullpen for a 3-0 lead. That brought on lefty Drake Britton and righty Gaby to hit for Ike. Drake won the battle, getting Sanchez on a pop to third.

Big John Holdzkom took the bump in the seventh to face the 6-7-8 hitters for Boston, and they went down 1-2-3 with a pair of punch outs. Alex Wilson came in for the Red Sox. With two down, Josh reached on a single-and-error infield knock, and LHP Tommy Layne got the wave in to face Travis. Snider got a 3-2 slider away and went with it, punching the ball into left and bringing home Josh. Cutch K'ed - the lefty couldn't get Travis, but punched out lefty-killer Andrew - and it was 4-0.

Tony Watson worked the eighth. Bogaerts singled with two down. Old foe Allen Craig pinch hit for lefty Nava. He doubled to left, with his grounder deflecting off Josh's glove at third. Marte had Craig dead at second; The Kid was slow at dropping the tag and let him sneak in. Tony got out of it, K'ing a fishing Cespedes. Koji Uehara was called, and Walker banged his first pitch to right for a double. Koji shrugged it off, getting martin and Marte on swinging strikeouts and Gaby looking; he never took a cut during his at-bat.

Mark the Shark came in for the close, the second straight time he's taken the ball in a non-save situation. With an out, Middlebrooks doubled to center on a cutter that stayed over the dish. A grounder, played nicely by a diving Walker, moved him to third. Another grounder ended it, with the Bucs on top 4-0.

Morton labored, but he never gave in and the bullpen carried the torch to the finish line. The Bucs didn't muster much offense, but plenty enough thanks to a couple of long balls and a two-out knock. Hopefully, Clint's short bullpen won't be worn ragged, but you can't blame him for icing these September contests with his top guns with just a dozen games to go.

Francisco Liriano and Clay Buchholz get it on tomorrow night.
  • Jordy Mercer was a late scratch from the lineup; he has back tightness.
  • John Holdzkom has tossed at least one K in each of his first six appearances to start his career. He's punched out 11 in six innings.
  • Russ Martin has has 11 RBI in his last six games.
  • The Pirates are 80-70, the first time they've been 10 games over .500 all season.
  • Tonight's crowd was 34,698. They'll break last year's total attendance mark of 2,256,862, the second highest in club history, tomorrow night. The record is 2,435,867, set in PNC's first season of 2001.
  • Dayn Perry of CBS' Eye on Baseball wonders if Josh Harrison is for real, and digs out some stats that say he may well be.
  • The Pirates announced Bradenton Marauder's OF Josh Bell as their Minor League Player of the Year and RHP Tyler Glasnow their Pitcher of the Year. The pair were also the Class A Florida State League Player & Pitcher of the Year. Both were recognized at PNC Park tonight.

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