Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walk Off Slam Ends Bucco Streak 6-2

Frankie did his part. He went six innings, putting up a zero and giving up just three hits and a walk to go with 11 K after tossing 96 pitches. He left with a 2-0 lead, thanks to Pedro, who once again beat the shift with a two-out grounder through the left side to plate a pair in the third against James Shields. It could have been a bigger frame, but earlier on, Gregory Polanco was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch. The play was bang-bang and withstood a challenge; the call could have gone either way.

But the Buc bullpen wasn't up to the task tonight. Jared Hughes was touched for a pair in the seventh, when a walk and infield single came around on Abraham Almonte's two-bagger. The Bucs avoided further damage when Almonte, who went to third on the throw home, was erased at the plate a hitter later when he was the victim of a ground ball contact play. Arquimedes Caminero and Tony Watson carried the game to the ninth.

In that frame, the bases were juiced with Friars against Rob Scahill with no outs; his throw-away of a sac bunt after a leadoff walk set the table. Clint called for a five man infield, swapping El Coffee for Sean Rodriguez, and it almost paid off as a pair of bouncers turned into force outs at the plate.

Scahill could have been out of the inning, but Fran Cervelli, who had a great shot at turning a DP, looked toward first base rather than third, where he had an easy toss-and-catch force (even John Wehner was yelling "third" from the Root Sports announcer's box). Two batters later Derek Norris hammered a slider over the left center field wall after having whiffed four times prior, and that was the end of the streak.

Pedro's been going the other way and liking it (photo: Gene Puskar/Associated Press)

The Bucs didn't test James Shields often, though they did strand eight runners His bug-a-boo has been the long ball, and he kept the Pirates in the park. Pittsburgh was due to lose; the only possible cloud is that they've been a team of streaks this year, and hopefully a tough loss won't start them on another stretch of losses.

Charlie Morton will try to start a new streak tonight against Tyler Ross.

  • Pedro continues to rake from the six hole; he had two of the Pirates six hits, both RBI, and has a slash of .280/.325/.561 from the sixth spot. He's lifted his BA from barely above the Mendoza line to .247.
  • Not only did Pittsburgh's win streak end at seven games, but Jung-Ho Kang's hitting streak ended at 10 contests, too.
  • Last night was the fourth time in Frankie's career that he's posted 10+ strikeouts in back-to-back outings.
  • Thanks to his own error, Scahill's runs were all unearned, so he gave up a grand slam and actually lowered his ERA from 1.45 to 1.40.
  • The Pirates have lost 10 times in the opponent's final at-bat; they've won one. Seven of those losses were walk-off defeats; the Bucs haven't walked one off yet this year. Those are stats begging for some regression.
  • Norris is the first player in MLB history to hit a walk-off grand slam after striking out his first four at-bats.

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