Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cole Train Keeps On Rolling to 4-3 Win

There was a little bit of everything in last night's 4-3 Bucco victory - great catches, boots, two out hits, fans who think they're outfielders...

In the first, the Giants scored a pair on Brandon Belt's two-out double, with the inning kept alive thanks to a couple of off-target throws - one, a Jung-Ho Kang error, the other a wild pitch. The G-Men tried to give it back in the third. An error, walk and ground ball single with one down set the stage for Cutch, and he drove a ball to left center that looked as if it would clear the bases. But Angel Pagan made a diving grab, turning a sure double into a sac fly and maintaining the SF lead at 2-1.

In the fifth, Stew led off with a double; he ran into an out trying to get to third on Gerrit's bunt. Ryan Vogelsong then lost the plate, plunking Josh on an 0-2 pitch and then walking Gregory. Cutch was up again with the bases loaded and one out, and this time shot the ball the opposite way into the right-center gap.

It was Hunter Pence's turn to make a plunging snag, again turning a probable base-clearing double (Polanco was on first both times) into a sac fly and drawing a "why me" gesture with an eye roll to the heavens from Andrew. Still, that liner tied the game, and the runners Cutch didn't pick up trotted home when The Kid followed with his own double, bouncing a drive off the wall in left center and putting the Bucs up 4-2.

Cole pulled his own Houdini after San Francisco loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth. After a visit from Ray Searage, Cole struck out Brandon Belt and then induced a 4-6-3 DP from Brandon Crawford. Cole worked one more frame and called it a night, giving up just two unearned runs.

Cole Train rolls on (photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
The invincible Tony Watson was finally touched up for a run after about a zillion consecutive goose eggs, surrendering a leadoff double to Nori Aoki, who touched home after a pair of productive San Fran outs. The inning ended on a review. Buster Posey hit a high foul pop outside the right field corner that El Coffee seemed to have measured. But as he reached up, a fan - dressed in Bucco colors, yet - reached out, their arms banged together and the ball rolled harmlessly into the stands.

The ump ruled it "no play," and Clint Hurdle challenged the ruling, looking for a fan interference call. After a couple of minutes, the call was overturned and the inning ended without further damage (except to the fan, who was ejected). The Bucs stranded Stew at third in the ninth, but no matter. The Shark circled and 11 pitches later closed a quiet grounder-whiff-grounder inning for his 14th save

It was another strong day by Cole, complimenting his heat with a quite effective slider. He had nine whiffs while only surrendering five hits and a pair of walks in seven frames. Watching him evolve from a talented raw pitcher to ace material is one of the really cool sidebars of this season.

AJ Burnett and Chris Heston toe the rubber tonight.

  • At 8-2, Gerrit Cole is now tied for the NL lead in wins.
  • Chris Stewart is 9-3 in games he starts behind the dish. Of course, it helps puff up your record when you're Gerrit Cole's regular catcher. Oh, he helps the cause with a stick too, going 3-for-3 with three doubles, the first time a Bucco has banged out a trio of two-baggers since Ronny Cedeno in 2010.
  • Both sides were pretty efficient at the plate last night - each club had six hits apiece, and turned them into a combined seven runs.
  • Clint Hurdle confirmed before the game to the press gang that Jeff Locke will remain in the rotation, saying "He still has a big upside." 
  • Lotta old Bucco names pitching for the G-Men: Ryan Vogelsong and Javier Lopez tossed for the Bucs, Jean Machi and Hunter Strickland were in the Pirate organization, and Kevin Correia just opted for free agency after working in the San Fran minors.
  • Speaking of old Buccos, Ernesto Frieri was DFA'ed by Tampa Bay. And OF'er Alex Presley, playing for Houston's AAA Fresno club, went 6-for-7 with a homer and three doubles.

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