Sunday, May 31, 2015

Charlie Strong Again As Bucs Roll Past Padres 5-2

Well, so far Charlie Morton has done his bit to shore up the middle of the rotation. He went seven innings - and quite economically, too, using just 85 pitches - giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and two whiffs to pitch the Bucs past San Diego 5-2. More impressively, only one Friar out was recorded by the outfield, as Ground Chuck put on a sinker clinic.

The Bucs scored in the opening round when with two gone and the bases empty (sound familiar?) Cutch singled, advanced on an error and scored on The Kid's knock. They missed a chance to run away early when Fran Cervelli left the bases loaded with a ground out. Charlie got off to a slow start, walking the first batter and then giving up an RBI double to the first two hitters to make it 1-1.

The Pirates got that run right back, as Jordy led off the second with a single, stole second (Pittsburgh stole three sacks that inning) and scored on Josh's single. Again, they left ducks on the pond as Starling hit into a bases jammed DP to end the frame. It went quietly until the fourth. A pair of one-bloops and a throwing error by Pedro - he hit a runner in the back on an attempted force play - knotted the score. Charlie helped clean up a mess not entirely of his making by coaxing an inning ending 5-3 twin killing.

Pittsburgh plated again in the sixth when Morton brought in a run with a bases-loaded grounder, but again the Pirates left three guys aboard. They were a hit away from breaking it open against Tyson Ross, but couldn't come up with the big blow. No matter.

Cutch and his fan club (image via Fox Sports San Diego)

The seventh went quietly, as did the eighth. Tony Watson took over that frame, faced three pinch hitters and punched the trio out. The Buccos finally iced it in the ninth. Josh and Gregory singled, and a Cutch double brought home an insurance run. Starling's bounce out brought in another, and it was 5-2, even if the Bucs again stranded runners at first and third. They left 10 on base, although bringing home five was a pretty good evening's work.

The Shark pitched an uneventful ninth for his 13th save, giving up just a ground ball single to the four hitters he faced. So good work by Charlie, the pen, and by the Pirates hitters. Ross had averaged better than a K an inning, but collected just two whiffs last night, and the Pirate batters created plenty of opportunities against him..

Jeff Locke tries to take the series tonight against Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne.

  • Cutch had two hits and walked twice, while Josh, Gregory and Jordy also colleted a pair of knocks.
  • Andrew made some new friends last night. A family with two kids, all decked in Pirate gear, cheered him on all night, and he ran out and gave them a slap and his batting gloves after the last out for one of those moments a youngster will never forget.
  • Mark Melancon moved into seventh in the all-time Pirates save list, notching his 62nd Bucco save last night.
  • For those who count quality starts, the Pirate rotation has put up 10 in a row.
  • Jung-Ho Kang had a scheduled rest day last night. It was well timed; he was hit in the knee Friday night and it was still tender. Jordy started last time Ground Chuck was on the hill to shore up the middle defense, so that's likely to continue as a regular thing.
  • Francisco Liriano has been all that in his past two starts - 12 IP with one earned run, nine hits and three walks surrendered with a whopping 23 punch outs.

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