Friday, September 12, 2014

Train Keeps On Rollin' - Bucs Win Again 7-3

Gerrit Cole worked a smooth opening frame against the Cubs. Josh led off with a single up the middle off Tsuyoshi Wada, but Jordy banged a fastball to third for an around-the-horn DP, started on a very nice grab of a rocket by Luis Valbuena; can't blame him for sneaking a peek at the video screen to admire his play. That play saved Wada's bacon when Cutch followed with a single before he was forced out by The Kid.

Cubs #2 & 3 went down on strikes in a 1-2-3 second. Gaby followed JT's fly out with a double smoked to right center. Travis' grounder moved him to third, and he came home when Stew blooped a single into center off the second baseman's mitt. Cole whiffed, with the Bucs drawing first blood.

Arismendy Alcantara legged out an infield single to open the third, and there he stayed. It took Josh nine pitches to get one in play, but he did drop a heater into left for a soft lead off knock. Jordy followed with a looper to put Buccos at first and second. After Cutch's fly out, The Kid's soft serve into center found grass - they're not exactly crushing Wada - and plated Josh. JT bounced into a force, leaving Pirates at first and third, where they remained after Gaby's grounder with Pittsburgh up 2-0.

With the count 2-2, Cole hung back-to-back two-strike curves to Javy Baez in the fourth; he fouled off the first one and creamed the next one into the LF stands. The next three Cubbies went down tamely. Travis began the Bucco half with a walk. Stew's bouncer moved him up a base. Cole K'ed, Josh walked and The Kid gently rolled a ball up the middle to get the run back.

After an out in the fifth, Alcantara blasted a fastball over the Clemente Wall. There was a review, but the HR call rightly stood. Cole put down the next two Cubbies. With one gone, JT ripped one to right and didn't stop running until he reached third. That brought on righty Justin Grimmand, and Ike grabbed a stick in place of Gaby. That worked; Ike's fly to left brought JT home before Travis whiffed to make it 4-2.

Chris Coghlan spoiled a batch of pitches, eventually leading off the sixth with a 10 pitch walk. An out later, Valbuena slapped a slider into left. Welington Castillo shot a fastball up the middle, and it was 4-3. A force put runners at the corners with two down; Mike Olt got HBP to load the sacks. Cole fell behind Alcantara 3-1, but got him to pop out. No, we have no idea why Hurdle left Cole in so long, especially with the pen loose, but he got away with it by the skin of his teeth.

Stew opened with a single over short and Andrew Lambo got the call. He flew out to center, but Josh came through with another knock. A wild pitch moved the runners up, and Jordy brought them home when his sharply hit ball ticked off the end of Logan Watkin's glove at second and into right. Cutch had the green light on a 3-0 pitch; he banged a grounder to third, but Watkins, who's having a tough day, dropped the throw at second.

Grimm was at 27 pitches, and Blake Parker came on to take the ball. The Kid went down on a foul tip that hit the ground; none of the four umps saw it bounce. El Coffee hit for JT and whiffed; he'll stay in right with the Pirates up 6-3, along with Big John Holdzkom getting the eighth inning call.

It took him eight pitches to pick up a pair of K and a grounder as his legend just keeps on growing. Lefty Zac Rosscup took the bump for Chicago. He gave up a walk but escaped otherwise undamaged. Per usual, Tony Watson pitched the eighth. With two down, Castillo singled to center, but a Chris Valaika whiff ended the at-bat. Brian Schlitter got two away on 6-3's, then Cutch doubled. The Kid singled him in before Polanco bounced out to make it 7-3.

That gave extra run gave Mark the Shark the night off - we hope - as John Axford came in for the ninth. Olt opened with a double to right. Two K sandwiched around a bunt back to the box left him there, and the Bucs keep on a rollin'.

Pittsburgh got a bushel load of soft hits tonight, and they deserved one of those nights, They took advantage to do something they've had trouble doing - putting up runs one and two at a time, which is what they did tonight, scoring in six of their eight innings. Of a little more concern is Gerrit Cole; he staggered through the middle of the game once again. He only gave up three hits, but they accounted for three runs and another six inning outing.

Jeff Locke takes on Felix Doubront tomorrow night.
  • The top of the order was cooking tonight. Josh, Jordy, Cutch and The Kid went 10-for-19 with a walk, three runs scored and five more driven home.
  • The Pirates drew 35, 638 fans tonight.
  • Ex-Bucs: 1B Matt Hague cleared waivers and Toronto sent him to AAA Buffalo. 

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