Monday, July 6, 2015

Bucs Walk Off With 2-1 Win; Cutch, Cole Train, AJ & The Shark Named All-Stars

The tarps went down at six - doesn't summer generally involve sunshine? - and came back up 55 minutes later, delaying the first pitch by a half hour. Vets AJ and James Shields shrugged off the late start and tossed 1-2-3 opening frames.

Burnett got into a second inning jam after a one-out walk & single, followed by another free pass after being up on Will Venable 0-2. A sac fly brought in a run before he closed it out. The Pirates had another quiet frame. AJ returned to form in the third. Jordy legged out an infield knock for the Pirates' first hit. Sean Rodriguez flew out, and AJ swung away - into a DP. Didn't affect his arm any as he tossed a clean fourth; Shields gave up a walk, but that was it. His changeup has the Buccos baffled so far.

AJ has retired 11 in a row after the fifth after sweet catches by both Cutch and S-Rod while shields kept dealing; he's faced one over the minimum so far. Nothing happening in the sixth, either, as the hurlers are trading one-hitters.

With an out in the seventh, AJ gave up back-to-back singles, but responded with a 4-3-6-5 DP to short circuit San Diego as Yoder Alonso got a case of the happy feet rounding third on a grounder that should have been a routine 4-3. Cutch doubled with an out - hey, a runner at second! Fran got plunked with two down, and then Pedro came through, kinda. He grounded a 3-2 cutter just off the plate to the left side, and 3B Yangervis Solarte was nice enough to throw it away (actually, he was the only Padre between 2nd & 3rd as the shift was on, and made a nice diving stop; prob should have ate the ball), allowing Cutch to plate.

AJ - An All Star performance tonight (photo: Getty Images)
With an out in the eighth, AJ walked pinch hitter Brett Wallace on five pitches. He was replaced by a pinch runner, Melvin Upton Jr., who was promptly picked off. Derek Norris seemed to swing and missed for a whiff (and by a lot), but got a reprieve when ump Paul Emmel (well, it is Jerry Meal's crew) called it a foul, prob mistaking the chase curve hitting the plate for the click of a bat. Norris used the break to roll a seeing eye single into right. Two pitches later, another single ended Burnett's night as Tony Watson, not used to mid-inning calls, took the ball. Tony got away with leaving a couple of sinkers up to Matt Kemp that he fouled away and eventually got him swinging.

Joaquin Benoit climbed the hill. With two down, El Coffee clubbed an ankle high changeup into right for a knock. He had to go in that spot and did, but was tossed out to end the frame. Jared Hughes cam in for the ninth, and Justin Upton greeted him with a knock to left. He was caught stealing, and good thing as Alonso singled. No prob; another DP cleaned it up.

Brandon Mauer climbed the hill. Walker barely missed an infield hit, a combo of nice glove work by Alexi Amarista and slow footwork by The Kid. Cutch walked and JHK banged one up the middle. Fran flew out to deep center, with Cutch tagging to third. Mauer went mostly soft on Pedro, who hung in and knocked a 3-2 change up into center for the walk off winner. He, of course, got an AJ pie in the puss after the game.

The Padres give the Bucs everything they can handle at PNC Park, so to win the first game is huge. It's a little worrisome that the Bucs can't hit a change up guy - Shields nibbled and was mostly off the plate with soft stuff, but got the Pirates to chase all night - but a win is a win, especially with Josh on the DL and Starling out for who knows how long. Frankie Liriano takes on Tyler Ross tomorrow night.

  • Cutch will start instead of the injured Giancarlo Stanton for the NL in the All-Star Game. It's his fifth straight appearance and second straight start. The last Bucco with a string that long was Barry Bonds (Roberto Clemente played in 11 straight ASGs). Andrew was the only Bucco position player selected; Fran didn't get a nod.
  • Gerrit Cole & AJ Burnett made the AS club, both for the first time. The only other time the Pirates had two starters in the All-Star team in the same season was 1960, with Bob Friend and Vern Law. There were two games then; Friend started the first and Law the second, and both won. Mark the Shark was also named to the team.
  • Pedro's walk off was only the second of his career, with the first being in 2010.
  • Cutch tied his longest career hitting streak at 13 games.
  • Gregory Polanco broke an 0-for-15 string with an eighth inning single.
  • AJ passed Jim Kaat for 35th place on all-time K list tonight.
  • The Cards are in a testy part of their schedule. They're rumbling with the Cubs in a four gamer at Wrigley, with another four game set at Pittsburgh immediately following. 
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