Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bucs Steamroll Hapless Twins 10-4

Windy day, high sun, 25 hits and five errors  all conspired to make the getaway game an interesting one, as what was featured as a pitching duel ended up anything but.

Ervin Santana had no problems with the Buccos in the first, and Frankie gave up just a single for a quiet beginning. Jung-Ho is liking the Twin Cities; in the second, he pounded a 1-2 fastball into the seats for back-to-back homers following last night's game winner. Minnesota got it right back when Eddie Rosario tripled off Cutch's mitt and came in on a grounder.

JHK finding that power stroke (photo Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press)
In the third, a walk and an error put Bucs at second and third with an out, but Starling flew out to short left, Cutch was walked intentionally, and A-Ram bounced out. With one gone in the Minny half, Brian Dozier smacked a hanger off the top of the wall in left-center; Aaron Hicks singled him home and went to second when Starling bobbled the ball. He plated an out later on Miguel Sano's knock. Further damage was averted when Sano was caught in a rundown trying to test Gregory's arm and tagged to end the frame.

Both sides stranded a runner in the fourth; the big news that frame was Gregory leaving the contest with an achy knee.

The Bucs tied it up in the fifth. With two gone, Starling dropped a lob into right and Cutch followed with a 408' liner that cleared the fence. A-Ram followed with double, his first hit as a Pirate since 2003, but was left at second. A double was followed by a one-out single off A-Ram's glove (it froze the runner at second when JHK's back-up kept it in the infield), but Frankie got a pair off grounders to put up another zero.

Pittsburgh broke it open in the sixth. The Kid opened with a single and was forced on Pete's grounder. He was chased to third on Fran's double, scoring soon afterward on a wild pitch (well, prob should have been a passed ball, but same result). Ishy and Jaff Decker walked, then Starling lifted a sac fly to mike it 5-3 Pittsburgh. 

Cutch lined a ball to right that bad hopped past Eddie Rosario and went to the wall, allowing Travis and Jaff to score as Andrew steamed around the sacks. The relay went through the 3B'man's wickets; Cutch headed home while Eduardo Nunez chased after the ball. Both were looking different directions and the inevitable collision was NFL-worthy. Neither was hurt, despite their human tumbling dice impressions, and Cutch was awarded home on an interference call. it was a textbook little league homer. Blaine Boyer took over for Santana and got the final out.

Frankie couldn't hang on, though, and was pulled with two outs and Twins on the corners for Antonio Bastardo. He punched out Shane Robinson to quell the threat.

Three of the first four Bucs reached against Boyer, but a DP in between kept Pittsburgh from lighting up the board again. In the bottom of the seventh, AB was his worst enemy. He picked up another whiff, but also walked a pair and threw ball away on a comebacker. That mess brought on Jared Hughes with the bases jammed and an out. No prob; a K and a grounder to first later safely closed the frame.

Ryan O'Rourke pitched a clean eight, and so did Arquimedes Caminero, tossing the first 1-2-3 inning by a Pirate hurler so far in the brief series.

JR Graham worked the ninth, giving up knocks to A-Ram and JHK plus a two-run double to Pedro to make it 10-3. Deolis Guerra K'ed the first two twinkies, then gave up a single, wild pitch and double, which oddly enough ended the frame; Sano was gunned at third by Jaff to close out the contest.

Well, wasn't pretty, and if Neal Huntington doesn't see a need for an arm or three for the pen, well, we do. But winning ugly sure beats losing ugly. The Bucs have taken 5-of-6 and move on down the line to Cincy, where AJ takes on David Holmberg tomorrow night.

  • JHK had three hits, while The Kid, Cutch,A-Ram and Fran had a pair of knocks.
  • Gregory Polanco's early exit ended a six game hitting streak and 18 game on-base string. His knee has been sore for a while, and there was no official word on whether he'll be available tomorrow.
  • It was the Pirates 11th sweep of the season. That's the most Bucco broomings since they took a dozen sets back in 1992. 
  • The club is done with interleague play, finishing the year finish 13-7 against the AL.
  • A-Ram went into the game 0-for-14 as a 2015 Bucco before getting his first hit. .
  • The Pirates sold LHP Jayson Aquino to Indians; he had been DFA'ed to make room for Pedro Florimon.

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