Saturday, July 18, 2015

Buc Bullpen Battered In 8-5 Loss

Well, the game started with a little surprise; Frankie was scratched with a stiff neck after warming up and Vanimal was aroused from his slumber in the pen to get his first start since May 14th; he's thrown over 50 pitches once since June began. Liriano was the first starting pitcher, outside of Charlie Morton's early season DL stint, to miss a start, and it hurt tonight.

The Bucs got off quickly against Jimmy Nelson. Gregory legged out a hit of Jonathan Lucroy's mitt (he's at first), and The Kid followed with a liner to center, with his ball getting through Carlos Gomez to score El Coffee. Walker went to third on the misplay and scored on a wild pitch. Cutch walked and Starling singled. JHK bounced a ball to Jean Segura; he tossed it into right field to let another run in, followed by Pedro getting plunked on a 1-2 pitch (Nelson should have thrown at one his fielders, not a Bucco!). Pittsburgh let them off the hook when Marte tried to score on a liner by Fran to right for a DP, and the inning ended 3-0 Pirates. Vance felt his way through the first - single, DP, another single (Pedro's fault) and a whiff.

Nelson took matters in his own hands in the second, striking out a pair. A-Ram singled to open, and Scooter Gennett - we can't get the guy out - slapped a grounder into right. A short wild pitch and a second-chance soft grounder (it cost the Bucs a run when the ump missed strike three) put them at second and third with two outs with the pitcher up. Nelson cued a ball over first, just barely fair, to make it 3-2.

Andrew, Starling & Gregory were on base eight times tonight (photo Joe Sargent/Getty)
Cutch opened the third with a single to right, and an out later JHK joined him, drawing a four pitch walk. They stayed there; Fran is hitting into tough luck as he's lined out to right twice. With an out, Jordy booted Braun's grounder. A roller moved him to second, and A-Ram trotted to first after getting HBP. Of course it cost; Gennett got a 1-2 fastball right down the middle and banged it into center to tie the score.

The Bucs went down in order and Nelson has six K after four. Vance has been having a tough time with Lance Barrett behind the plate; it looks like he's struck out guys three times at the knees, but he can't get Lance to raise his arm; maybe Fran is exaggerating his frames a bit much. With two outs, Gerardo Parra battled for a ten pitch walk. That also cost; Lucroy banged an above-the-knee, center cut slider over the wall in left to make it 5-3.

Cutch walked to start the fifth, leading to nothing; the Pirates have just one hit since the first, and Nelson has K'ed at least one Bucco every frame. Deolis Guerra climbed the mound and S-Rod went to third as part of a double switch. With one gone, Deolis tossed a slow change to A-Ram, and he dropped it over the CF wall to make it 6-3. That was followed by a couple of soft hits before Guerra closed down the frame.

Fran singled with an out in the sixth in an otherwise uneventful frame. Deolis walked Braun with two outs (uh-oh!) and he stole second, steaming into third on a overthrow. Gomez followed with a walk. A-Ram poked a change into right, and it was 7-3. Gregory drilled a double to start the seventh. After striking out The Kid, Nelson's night was done and Jeremy Jeffress took the ball. Cutch walked again. Starling smacked an 0-2 curve, down but catching a lot of plate, and doubled to left to plate Polanco. Travis Ishikawa pinch hit, and his grounder brought in another score; only a diving stop by Segura kept it from being a two run knock. Pedro saw six straight curves and struck out.

Antonio Bastardo toed the rubber. He got two quick outs, then pinch hitter Khris Davis smoked a 2-2 fastball over the CF fence to make it 8-5. Pittsburgh went down in order to Jonathan Broxton, a sure sigh the air is gone from their balloon. Herman Perez doubled to open the eighth off Bastardo, followed by a walk to Braun. A soft grounder moved them up and an intentional walk to A-Ram loaded the bases for Scooter. This time, Gennett popped out to third, and Braun was doubled off second; no idea what he was thinking, but thx.

K-Rod took over, and 1-2-3, the game was over.

Vanimal was in a tough spot; he was basically given 15 minutes to transition from jogging in the outfield to starting the game and never settled into any kind of rhythm, laboring all four innings and tossing 80 pitches. The bullpen added some gas to the fire; it was an ugly exposure of the Pirate long guys. And our guess is that Worley, Guerra and Bastardo will all be on ice tomorrow, leaving the Bucs with a four man pen unless, which is likely, they call someone up.

Jeff Locke takes on Taylor Jungmann tomorrow, looking to salvage a game of the series.

  • Neil Walker's hitting streak is now at eight games.
  • It's not easy being Cutch - in five plate appearances, he was walked three times. Andrew leads the team with 49 base on balls; Gregory is second with 34.
  • Scooter Gennett had three hits. He hits lefties at a .100 clip, and wasn't even in the lineup until Frankie was scratched. He is, btw, hitting .400 against Pittsburgh.
  • Old Bucco A-Ram was on base five times, going 3-for-3 with a walk and plunk.
  • Every run scored off Vance Worley was the result of a two-out hit.
  • Kind of an oddity - despite two errors, all the Pirate first inning runs were earned, yet none resulted in an RBI.
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