Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pirates Payback Brewers With 1-0 Win; Magic Number Three

Vanimal got three grounders to open the game, and did a better job at keeping his pitches down, at least compared to the early going of his recent starts. Travis Snider walked with one gone, but was quickly erased when Wily Peralta got Cutch to roll over on a slder for a 6-4-3 DP.

Aramis Ramirez led off the second by bouncing one past Worley and into center. Ryan Braun got a fat heater that he banged up the middle, but the Bucs were at DP depth and turned two, 6-4-3. Gerardo Parra took a gimme bunt single before Lyle Overboy grounded ot to Ike. Peralta worked a 10 pitch rocking chair inning as the Buc bats are still in the freezer.

The third started with a Jean Segura infield single to the SS hole; Jordy made a nice play, but speed carried the day. A bunt moved him to second, and two routine outs kept him there. Ike drew a walk to open and was forced on a Jordy tapper that was a heartbeat from a DP. Vance bunted him up, and Josh's slow roller up the middle put Bucs on the corners. Travis hit one past first; 2B Scooter Gennett was shaded that way and made a routine grab-and-toss to end the frame.

The Brew Crew hit a pair of balls firmly up the middle to start the fourth, but the Bucs turned them into outs. Braun singled through the left side, but Vanimal came back with a three pitch K of Parra. Cutch walked, but in a bit of bad luck, was off on the pitch to The Kid, maybe trying to steal or on a hit-and-run. Walker stroked the ball up the middle and right into Segura's glove, who was coming over to cover second, for the tailor-made 6-3 DP. Russ bounced out and Peralta had another goose egg.

Worley worked another easy inning in the fifth; about time the Bucco bats started banging. Not this time atound; Peralta needed six pitches to finish the frame. Vanimal kept the pressure on with a 1-2-3 sixth. Josh dragged a bunt to third for a one-out knock; he was picked off first before another pitch was delivered. A grounder ended the frame. The Bucs have played 24 innings against the Brew Crew so far, and scored in just one of them.

In the seventh, Vanimal ran his streak of retired Brewers to 10. Cutch led off with a swinging bunt single up the left side and went to second on a passed ball. The Kid K'ed, swinging at a shoetop slider. A wild pitch on a 55' fastball moved Cutch to third, and a two-strike liner into center by Russ broke the ice. Starling followed with a knock, but Peralta easily put away Ike and Jordy.

Vance came out for the eighth with Big John Holdzkom loose in the pen (Mark Melancon has a day off after three straight appearances). Sit down, John - Vanimal tossed a quiet nine pitch frame. Marco Estrada, helped by a couple of pretty good plays in the field, put the Bucs away in order.

Tony Watson took the hill in the ninth against the top of the Brew Crew order. Gomez chipped a change over The Kid's head for a leadoff knock. Rickie Weeks pinch hit, and beat out a Baltimore chop. Watson's late throw dropped out of Gaby's mitt, which froze Gomez for a moment as he made his turn. Sanchez threw behind him, and he was caught in a rundown and tagged out heading for second, which anchored Weeks at first. That blunder more than made up for Josh's pick-off.

Jonathan Lucroy popped out to Jordy in short left for the second out, then Tony plunked A-Ram in the butt to bring up Braun. The drama didn't last long as Braun went after a high, 97 MPH first pitch heater and punched it into medium left center where Cutch cradled it, and the Bucs had a big win in the bag.

Man, September baseball that counts is some amazing stuff. Watson picked up his third career save and first this year while Russ Martin keeps on pumpin' up his RISP. But the day belonged to Vance Worley. After an iffy opening frame, he settled in, working down and on the edges. Vanimal threw 82 pitches in eight shutout innings, giving up four hits, whiffing five and with nary a walk. He retired the last 13 hitters he faced. The Brewers only registered three outs that were in the air; the rest were grounders and K's. It was a big time performance from a guy who was skipped over his last start.

The final road trip begins in Atlanta tomorrow night with Francisco Liriano taking on Aaron Harang.
  • Russ Martin has a 12 game hitting streak and Josh's is at eight. Harrison and Justin Morneau are both hitting .318 in their duel for the NL batting crown.
  • Today's attendance of 38,650 was the 23rd sellout of 2014, tying a record, and capped the Pirates single-season highwater mark of 2,442,546 fans.
  • The Bucs also set the record for most wins at PNC Park in a season with 51. The record is 53 wins at home in 1992 at TRS.
  • The Pirate magic number for a playoff spot is three. They remain three back of the Cards in the NL Central and one game back in the loss column behind the Giants for the home wildcard. Both St. Louis and San Fran Francisco play later today. The Braves, btw, were officially eliminated from the wild card race with their loss to the Mets today.

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