But Jared Hughes, Radhames Liz and Tony Watson each gave up a run in their inning of work (although in justice Hughes was unearned; more on that later). Then the much discussed Mark the Shark came on in the ninth with a two run lead; that quickly went by the boards.
He only gave up two well-hit balls, and one found a glove. But he threw his knuckle curve into the dirt several times and was nicked for hits off it a couple more times. His cutter again didn't hit 90, and looked like it was coming in flat, without its trademark dive.
A couple of nicely placed soft hits not withstanding, Melancon is a guy looking for answers right now, and that doesn't bode well. Various folk have noted that his release point is noticeably lower than it was in the summer of 2014, and his velocity has dropped along with his arm. Whether that's just mechanical or a reaction to a possible injury or soreness, the Shark looks like a pitcher that should be on a short leash; we can't imagine that he's not a candidate for some less leveraged innings.
|Kang comes through (photo: via MLB.com)|
But the boys flashed some lumber last night. Harrison and Starling Marte homered, Fran Cervelli chipped in with a two-run knock, and Jung Ho Kang had a big, bases clearing double to plate three with two outs (and after Marte was intentionally walked to get to him).
The Bucs have gone through streaks where they've had up-and-down hitting, and survived with dependable fielding and back-end pitching. They're still trying to recapture that winning combo.
- The Cubs' young 'uns have played as advertised. Anthony Rizzo (25), Jorge Soler (23), Kris Bryant (23) and Starlin Castro (25) combined to go 9-for-18 with six runs scored and six RBI.
- Jordy Mercer did some soft-tossing; he's still day-to-day with a bruised chest.
- Each team had a pair of homers; the wind was blowing, sometimes briskly, toward the river.
- The Pirates drew 13,680 to the game.