Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Inning Fireworks Carry Reds Past Bucs 5-2

If Gerrit Cole is Superman, the Reds are his kryptonite; nothing he does works against them. A leadoff walk to Billy Hamilton and stole second and third, where he sat with two outs.

Then the string began. Todd Frazier poked a pretty good pitch into right one-handed; Gregory hesitated a bit and couldn't come up with a diving effort to make it 1-0. Jay Bruce went with a pitch down and away and stroked it into left to make it 2-0, especially galling since he appeared to have been struck out two pitches earlier, but ump Ted Barrett didn't give up the call (and he had a wide plate all night). Then Marlon Byrd got a center cut heater and drilled it over the CF wall to make it 4-0. Cole tossed 38 pitches before he closed the gate.

The Bucs had their usual luck against Mike Leake; two well-stroked balls but nothing that found grass. Cincy stranded a runner in the second, and the Bucs got one back when The Kid opened with a double, went to second on Josh's attempt to bunt his way on and came in on Pedro's grounder. The third went quietly, as did the Reds fourth. The Pirates wasted a leadoff double by Starling in their half; the middle of the order couldn't bring him home.

Pedro scored and drove in a run tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
The fifth presented more problems. Back-to-back leadoff walks hurt (although the first runner was caught stealing). Joey Votto singled off Jordy's glove on a two-out play he should have made, and then Byrd slapped a single to right to score Votto; Gregory didn't come in very hard for the ball and Votto beat the throw that was a little up the line. After 106 pitches, Cole was done and in came Jared Hughes to close the frame with a swinging whiff.

Pittsburgh had a chance to put up a crooked number in their half, but settled for one. Pedro lined a single to open and went to third on a hit-and-run knock by Jordy. Stew tapped back to the mound; Leake looked back Pedro, costing himself a DP and a run when Alvarez came home on the force throw to second. JHK singled to put runners on the corners, but Polanco's liner was an at 'em ball to second and Starling bounced back to the hill on a hanger that we're sure both Marte and Leake would like to have back.

Hughes worked the sixth, giving up a hit but with no further damage. Cutch led off with a single, but was left standing. Chris Volstad got the call and worked a 1-2-3 inning. The Pirates blew another chance. Kang singled and went to third on Gregory's two-out roller to left; the throw was cut and went to second, where Polanco was ruled safe. It was of course challenged; Polanco did again come off the bag. But it stood on review; DeJesus' glove also came off briefly, and replay couldn't sort out the sequence. No diff; Marte never saw a strike, but went down swinging anyway.

Volstad put up another zero with a greater degree of difficulty. A one-out ground ball single and a bunt knock against the shift put him in a small jam, but a one hopper that Jung--Ho turned into a 5-3 DP ended the frame. Leake's night was done as Ryan Matthews took the ball. He walked Cutch, who was at second with two gone. Manny Parro came in to face Pedro lefty-to-lefty. Like Marte before, Alvarez was punched out without seeing a strike.

Antonio Bastardo worked a scoreless ninth, stranding a pair when Jay Bruce lined out into the shift. JJ Hoover, taking Aroldis Chapman's spot, came on and struck out a pair for the save.

Leake pitched a smart game; given Barrett's strike zone, he stayed off the edges of the plate, and the Bucs chased all night. When Pittsburgh did make some noise, their 0-for-8 with RISP did them in. So a big first inning, when the Reds took what was given - everything went to center or the opposite way as Cole stayed away from them - carried the day. AJ Burnett and Anthony DeSclafani will work tomorrow's rubber match.

  • Gerrit has three games this season where he's given up 3+ runs; all three were against the Reds. Tonight was the first time an opponent has gotten more than three scores against the Cole Train in 2015. Mike Leake is 3-0 in match ups with Cole.
  • Corey Hart was placed on the 15-day DL because of a left shoulder impingement. The Pirates brought up Chris Volstad to bolster the bullpen. Volstad made his first appearance in the show tonight since June 15th, 2013 as a Rockie against the Phils and tossed two scoreless frames.
  • Billy Hamilton is 11-for-11 stealing against the Bucs. 
  • Ivan DeJesus Jr, who the Bucs once had as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston, started at second for the Reds, replacing Brandon Phillips who jammed his thumb last night. He was called up June 3rd from AAA Louisville.
  • Talk about quick starts: Cincy has scored seven first inning runs against the Pirates in the first two games of the series.
  • The Bucs drew 37,659 for fireworks night.
  • Tyler Glasnow made his second rehab start at Morgantown, giving up one hit and one unearned run while striking out four batters in four innings.

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