Sunday, May 17, 2015

AJ, Cutch & Fran Plug the Breach as Bucs Win 3-0 at Wrigley

Couldn't ask much more from AJ. He went seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, five walks and seven strikeouts, tossing 103 pitches. Cutch, The Kid and Jung-Ho made a couple of nice plays behind him and Burnett worked out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the fourth with a whiff and shot to the fence that was corraled by Starling Marte. But the Bucs are a team that's built around leather, and AJ left the contest with a 3-0 lead.

AJ, with a little help from his friends like Cutch and Fran, blanked the Cubs
photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates 
The Bucs first scored when Josh's bloop fell in off Starlin Castro's mitt and he hustled into second, where he scored on Fran Cervelli's knock in the fifth. With Zac Rosscup replacing Jake Arrieta on the hill, Fran tallied an insurance run in the eighth. He led off with an infield single, was bunted to second by Sean Rodriguez and plated on Neil Walker's two-out gapper. Then Cutch walked and Starling doubled on a two-strike pitch to put the Bucs up 3-0. A walk to Kang juiced the sacks for Pedro, who had the chance to blow the game open, but whiffed in a not very inspiring at-bat.

Tony Watson had his hitless streak ended at six outings when Addison Russel doubled to lead off the Cubbie half, just sneaking into second under Marte's strong throw. Anthony Rizzo walked with two away, but a Castro liner ended the frame without any damage.

The Bucs went down without a peep in the ninth, and it was time for Mark the Shark to face Chicago's 5-6-7 hitters. After a K, Jorge Soler reached on Kang's errant toss from short and Chris Coghlin singled to center. A long fly out to right got the Pirates one step closer, and a bouncer to third sealed the deal on Melancon's ninth save.

AJ to the rescue, as the Pirates took a much-needed victory at Wrigley by a 3-0 score. Burnett is now 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA; that's good stuff. His stranded runner rate is nearly 90%, and both his walk and homer rate are at career lows, so the baseball gods will even that out sooner or later during the season. But for now, enjoy the show.

The Bucs are off tomorrow, then the Twins come to town.

  • AJ passed Bob Walk with his eighth straight start since the start of the season allowing two runs or less, setting the new club record for Bucco pitchers dating back to 1900. 
  • Josh has strung his hitting streak up to six games, with 12 hits over that span.
  • Fran Cervelli upped his BA to .290 with two hits, plus a run and RBI, today.
  • Cutch made a pair of dynamite grabs, the first a diving catch and pop-up throw for a DP, then running down a ball at the track.
  • Bradenton 3B Wyatt Mathisen, the Bucs second round pick in 2012, has put up his eighth straight multi-hit game. 
  • The Pitt girl's softball team made to the regional finals before being dropped 10-3 by a powerhouse Michigan (54-6) team. Pitt (37-22) set a school record for wins in a season and made the NCAA tournament for the first time.

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