Wednesday, June 17, 2015

JHK Homer, Locke & the Gang Down ChiSox 3-2

Chicago, Chicago, it's my kinda least that's what the Bucs were humming in the first inning against John Danks. Josh doubled into left, Cutch singled him home and JHK dropped a ball into the RF stands to give Jeff Locke a quick 3-0 lead. He liked it; he was touching 95 with his fastball - he's actually been averaging 92 this year, per Fangraphs - and struck out the side in the second after a 1-2-3 first.

Jung-Ho's big blow was tonight's game winner (photo - Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
The Buc bats cooled off, but the White Sox didn't get a runner on until the fourth when Jeff plunked Adam Eaton on a 1-2 pitch. A quick strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP (actually, it was a ticky-tacky catcher's interference call on the batter) erased that threat; the call got Pale Hose skipper Robin Ventura tossed from the game. Jose Abreu followed with Chicago's first hit and was stranded; the first bullet aimed at the streak was dodged.

The fifth was scoreless; that meant Fran tied Ed Phelps 1903 consecutive scoreless streak behind the dish at 56 innings, which is a franchise and almost certainly an MLB record. It would have been nice if the Bucs could add on, but the top of the order didn't in the sixth as Danks has retired 10 Buccos in a row.

The Sox finally got to Locke; a two-out walk followed by a Melky Cabrera double brought home Eaton. Another walk to Abreu raised a flag, especially after Avisail Garcia singled in another run, made easy by a weak throw from Sean Rodriguez playing left against a lefty; Cabrera may have put on the brakes if Starling was there. That was it, but at 3-2, it's now a game again.
The Bucs broke Dank's streak at an even dozen, but Sean Rod's two-out single didn't lead to any damage. Locke's night was done, a second straight solid performance, and Arquimedes Caminero took over after the stretch. JT went to left, Sean to first, and Corey sat down. Arqie worked a clean frame.

Ol' bud Zack Duke replaced Danks. With two outs, he gave up an infield single (overruled on review) to Starling, who after the bang-bang play had his ankle examined but stayed in the game. Tony Watson toed the rubber. Cabrera singled with two gone after getting new life on a missed strike three call, but stayed on first as Abreu K'ed.

David Robertson took the ball in the ninth and put the Bucs away. There was no safety net for the Shark, and to make matters a little more knee-knocking, Marte came out (guess that ankle gimped up between innings), so El Coffee went to center, Sean Rod to right and Pedro to first. Melancon was up against the ChiSox 4-5-6 hitters, and 12 pitches later the Pirates had their seventh win a row. Their schedule has been soft, and the Pirates have been taking full advantage, as good teams do.

Well, all good things must end, and giving up a couple of runs is a good night's wotk for most staffs - especially when you score three. Gerrit Cole goes against Jeff Samardzija tomorrow night as the Bucs look for their eighth sweep of the campaign.

  • Mark the Shark has a league-leading 22 saves and has converted 20 opportunities in a row. 
  • Starling's seven game hitting streak ended when his infield single was reversed on review in the eighth.
  • El Coffee playing against lefties may not have been Clint's finest moment. Gregory went 0-for-3 with a pair of whiffs. However, putting Cutch at DH was a good counter as he banged out a pair of hits, drove in a run and scored.
  • Elias Sports sez that Fran set the club record by going 56-2/3 scoreless innings behind the plate, but we sorta suspect a thorough combing over of the old records is in store before that's verified.
  • The longest scoreless innings streaks pitched in Pirate history are the MLB record of 51IP (1903 - six straight shutouts, with one being a six inning game), 45IP (1931), 36IP (1972) and now add 35-2/3IP (2015). Thx to Travis Sawchik of the Trib for that info.

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