Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bucs Blow Early Opps, Fall In Opener To Cards 4-1

What would baseball in Pittsburgh be like without a little (OK, a lot) of rain? But the game started on time tonight after steady two-hour rain. Good first for Jeff Locke; with just a ground ball single surrendered. Carlos Martinez got into quick trouble; Gregory doubled to lead off and went to third on The Kid's knock. But the Pirates pulled off a TOOTBLAN quickly; Cutch grounded to third, and instead of breaking home to avoid a DP, Polanco hesitated. The ball went to second for a force, Gregory then bolted home, and was thrown out on a close play.

Locke gave up a walk in the second that was erased on a caught stealing while the Bucs went down quietly. The Cards went in order in the third. Sean Rodriguez opened with a walk and was bunted to second; El Coffee then walked. Martinez tightened up and got The Kid and Cutch swinging at off speed stuff; Andrew has left four runners on in three frames.

Jeff got two quick outs, issued a walk and headed for the dugout as the rains came down again. Tarp down, tarp up, and 36 minutes later it was play ball (after the scoreboard vid showed JHK dancin' in the dugout Gangnam Style!). A single and whiff later, the Pirates went to the bat rack. Carlos said dance to this; he plunked Kang in the back with a heater on an 0-2 pitch. Fran singled him to second, and a wild pitch moved the Buccos up a station. Pedro had the green light on a 3-0 pitch; he lined it back to the box, and Jung-Ho was doubled off before he could dive back; it's beginning to look like one of those nights as Jordy watched strike three go by.

Didn't do much right tonight...
A lead off single and a boot by Jordy on a DP ball set up the Cards in the fifth. A bunt and HBP loaded the sacks, then Matt Carpenter hit a soft serve single to right. Polanco didn't get to the quail in much of a hurry and two runs scored. Line drives turn into DPs and dinks into RBIs; gotta love baseball. A walk loaded them again after a punch out, then Yadier Molina singled home another pair; the Cards have turned three singles into four runs. To add insult to injury, Molina stole second, his first swipe of the season, before the inning closed out with a fly to the track that Cutch corralled. Pittsburgh went down quietly.

Vanimal took the hill, and gave up a one-out single quickly countered by a 1-6-3 DP. Carlos was liking his lead; he's retired eight in a row. Vance worked a clean seventh while Martinez kept cruising, hitting 100 a couple of times while approaching 100 pitches. Worley did his job; he's gone three scoreless tossing just 30 pitches.

Martinez started losing a few ticks in the eighth, and gave up a one-out double to Travis Ishikawa. That brought on lefty Randy Choate, who survived a line out by Polanco. Kinda oddly, Matheny then brought in righty Seth Maness. Most skippers prefer The Kid to hit from the right side, but it worked as Walker bounced out to first.

Arquimedes Caminero came on, and after a K, he bopped Kolten Wong with a 99 MPH pitch. Not good, especially with Cutch leading off the ninth of a 4-0 game, but Arqie was likely just protecting JHK who got hit high earlier. A bouncer moved Wong to second, but Caminero's second whiff of the frame ended it.

It took Cutch 11 Maness pitches, but he found one he liked and took it 447' over the center field wall to get the Bucs on the board. With a save in line now, Trevor Rosenthal climbed the hill and finished up without a dent.

Martinez is a good pitcher, and like most, when you have a chance to put him away early and don't, it bites ya. He has great separation between his hi-90s heat and change/curve, generating a lot of swings out of the zone. Still, two plays determined the outcome - Pedro's bullet becoming a DP, and a routine DP grounder that Jordy blew. C 'est la vie; Gerrit Cole will try to even the series against Lance Lynn tomorrow. And hey - no rain forecast for at least the next two days!

  • It took til the ninth, but Cutch extended his hitting streak to 16 games. His 139th career homer tied him with Jay Bay for eighth on the All-Time Pirate list.
  • Starling Marte ran through some drills and hit. According to the beat gang, he looked OK; Hurdle said in the pre-game that the Marte Partay could find find itself on the DL if he's not progressing, especially with the AS break looming.
  • Josh's injury made the deadline a little more interesting for Bucco fans; the FO could add an outfielder to their wish list and move S-Rod into IF support mode.
  • The Cards said that Matt Holliday could begin pinch hitting as early as tomorrow, and Kolten Wong passed his concussion test, so he could be a go Friday, too.
  • Willie Garcia made the "not-so-hot" list in Baseball America's Prospect Sheet.
  • Junior LHP Brandon Waddell, who had a pretty nice CWS run for Virginia, is the only top-16 pick of the Pirates not to sign yet. In fact, he's the only fifth round pick of the whole draft not to sign. Everyone in that round inked a deal at slot value or less, except for one prep overdraft. Waddell's slot is $329,100, and the signing deadline is July 17th. The Pirates have about $350K left in their pool, and could go over a bit with just a financial penalty, so we'd expect a deal to get done.
  • He keeps on ticking: Ex-Bucco Casey McGehee is reportedly on his way back to the Marlins after being released by the Giants. He can't sign until tomorrow, when he officially clears waivers.

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