Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two Out Walk In the Ninth Leads To 1-0 Loss & Redbird Sweep

You couldn't ask for any more from Eddie Volquez. In what was the biggest game of the year in a season filled with big games, he went 6-1/3 shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks and two plunks with five punch outs.

He was in trouble just twice. In the fourth, he hit Matt Holliday with a fastball and then Matt Adams with a back foot curve after an out. Edinson came back to get Jhonny Peralta looking and Yadier Molina on a bouncer. Volquez had a bigger jam in the fifth, when back-to-back singles and a bunt put Redbirds at second and third; he calmly punched out Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong.

He was lifted in the seventh - he gave up four solid shots in the sixth, but only one found grass - after a leadoff walk and bunt. Tony Watson came in to mop up, and Mark the Shark got three ground outs in the eighth.

But the Pirates couldn't dent Shelby Miller. A walk to The Kid and a two out single in the second led to nothing. Walker singled in the fourth with an out; Russ banged into an around-the-horn DP. Ike walked in the fifth and never left the sack.

There was some excitement in the sixth when Cutch had a heater whizz behind his head; he took a little walk while Russ and the Bucs milled about. The ump calmed down the troops and gave his warning to the bench. It was payback for Holliday's HBP; kinda funny how a guy that aims at someone's noggin always seems to get a warning instead of an ejection. Cutch tried to answer, but just got under a curve ball, flying out on a towering shot to deep left.

The Kid doubled to lead off the seventh and Ike was given an intentional pass with an out, but Miller had the answer. Marte lined out softly after breaking his bat and Jordy shot one into center, but Peter Bourjos was there for the grab.

In the eighth, Carlos Martinez walked Gregory Polanco. A strikeout and grounder got him to second, and in a ten-pitch battle, Martinez K'ed Cutch and gave a fist pump in celebration.

That takes us to the ninth. The Kid led off with his third hit (the Pirates only had four), this one off Trevor Rosenthal. But Russ bounced into another DP, this one 4-6-3, and Travis Snider popped out. Melancon retired the first two Redbirds routinely in his second inning of work.

Then he lost Molina after being up 1-2 in an eight pitch match. Jay drilled a cutter the opposite way to put runners at first and second. The Shark's 28th pitch was a cutter that was up; Bourjos rolled it into center and Molina put his head down and chugged homeward. Cutch was playing deep, as is his wont, and it cost when after a long run for a not-very-sharply hit ball, his throw was on line but a step late. It was a another brutal loss in a series of brutal losses this week.

Unless the Giants or Cards hit an icy snap, the Bucs are pretty much down to fighting it out for the second wildcard. And they have no one to blame but themselves; they can't seem to sync pitching and hitting (we could add fielding) together, and the result is that in their last 11 one-run games, they've lost eight. The Pirates had three lead-off walks this game (and five lead off runners aboard) and couldn't cash one in.

The Pirates are off tomorrow, and there's nothing to do but hope the pups in Chicago don't grow up this week and then TCB in Philly.
  • Today's bright spot was that Josh Harrison won the August Player of the Month award after Cutch took it home in June. The last time the Pirates had two different position players take POTM honors in the same year was 1990 when Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds did the honors.
  • The Pirate streak of homers against the Cards ended at eight games on a day they really needed  a long ball.
  • Today's loss dropped the Bucco road record to 27-40. Worse, the Pirates are now 2-12 in one-run games against the Cardinals and Brewers, with an overall 13-22 slate against them this year.

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