Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cutch's Two Run Blast Walks Off A 14 Inning, 6-5 Bucco Win

AJ and John Lackey put away the batters 1-2-3 in the first. In the second, an ump again missed a call and as a result, the Bucs fell behind 1-0.

With two gone, Mark Reynolds swung and missed for strike three, except that home plate ump Vic Carapazza called it a foul (it's non-reviewable). Reynolds, pretty much a throwback three true outcomes guy, lined the next pitch over the left field wall, and the ensuing deserved scolding of Carapazza got both Fran and Clint tossed. That was followed by a double and walk before AJ wriggled out. The Pirates went down meekly with a pair of whiffs.

AJ had more troubles in the third. He gave up back-to-back leadoff singles, hit a batter, and gave up another point on a sac fly. Pittsburgh was a little more active with a single and walk, but stranded the pair. The Cards went quietly in the fourth. Cutch lined out, then a Starling Marte two-bagger was followed by a plunk to JHK. The party ended when Pedro grounded up the middle, right where Jhonny Peralta was stationed, for an easy DP.

Mark Carpenter joined the HBP club in the fifth, followed by a Kolten Wong single. A fly moved Carpenter to third. Jason Heyward rolled one to Pedro - DP? Nah, another error, a run scoring and Wong moving to third. AJ coaxed a DP from Yadier Molina to limit the damage, but the Redbirds are up three even without a crooked number.

Holy moly - with two outs and an 0-2 count, AJ cranked one out in left center 370' away, his first since 2005 off Kevin Correia, to get the Bucs on the board. That woke up the crowd, who gave AJ a standing O. Gregory reached on a boot and went to third on The Kid's knock to bring up Cutch, and the house was rocking. But mighty Casey struck out looking after a pair of fouls; the pitch was a bit inside, but too close to take, as Andrew discovered. The Cards got a single in the sixth. Starling walked to open, the first Buc leadoff guy to reach, but was anchored there by three routine flies.

AJ shows the gang how to hit 'em (photo Gene Puskar/Associated Press)

Wong walked with an out and stole second; he came off the bag briefly, but Neil didn't hold the tag on him; The Kid's bad. Peralta walked, too, and at 112 pitches, AJ handed the ball to Antonio Bastardo and left to another roar from the crowd. Jason Heyward bounced back to the box; for some reason Bastardo looked at first before the light came on and got a force instead of ending the inning. Jared Hughes came in and two pitches later got a ground out. The Bucs escaped some poor execution in the seventh to maintain a manageable score.

El Coffee singled with two gone, and that ended Lackey's night as LHP Kevin Siegrist came in from the pen, and he got The Kid to pop out. Arquimedes Caminero toed the rubber, and gave up a two-out double to Tommy Pham before closing it down. Siegrist walked Cutch to open the Bucco eighth and he went to second on a pick off try that misfired. After an out, JHK looked at a pair of strikes, then poked one just off the plate into right to score Cutch.

The Cards made another mistake by going home on the play, allowing Kang to reach second. It cost them as Pedro lined 3-2 fastball into center to tie the game. Another throw home got El Toro to second, and Gorkys came in to run for him. Seth Maness trotted in for the Redbirds and walked Stew on four pitches. Jordy hit one on the nose, but it was an at 'em ball to short. Ishy popped out, but it's a new game.

Tony Watson worked the ninth, and gave up a harmless two out single. Lefty Randy Choate was called on to face Gregory and The Kid, and got them both on routine grounders. Trevor Rosenthal was waved in to face Cutch, who was walked on four pitches, two high and tight. Starling couldn't take advantage; he popped out foul to first on the first pitch.

Deolis Guerra started the 10th rather than The Shark. Dave Jauss (remember, Clint was tossed long ago) put S-Rod in left, replacing Marte (is it possible he reinjured himself?) and batting sixth with the pitcher fourth, which must thrill Cutch. That also emptied the bench.

Yadier greeted him with a single, and in a bit of sweet irony, Stew picked him off first, a patented Molina move. Reynolds dulled the glow by taking a Guerra changeup out to left and its short porch for his second bomb of the night, and the Bucs were down again. Randal Grichuk doubled and then was doubled up on a grounder to third as JHK tagged him heading to third and tossed to first for the inning ender.

It's Kang's world; he led off with a triple off Rosenthal. Rodriguez kept him there with a grounder to third; at least JHK held the base. Stew fell behind 0-2, then caught some high cheese and singled through the right side of a drawn-in infield to bring Jung-Ho home. Jordy bounced into a force and Ishy tapped back to the mound. After two K's in the 11th, Guerra hit Wong on a 1-2 curve but got Peralta for out number three. Miguel Socolovich took his turn. After two outs, Cutch was walked intentionally, and Jauss let Guerra bat. He hit it at least, grounding out, then tossed a 1-2-3 12th, Reynolds flying out to the track for the last out.

Sam Tuivailala climbed the hill and worked a clean frame. Vanimal took the ball in the 13th and sat back down six pitches later; Tuivailala matched him. Carpenter walked to start the 14th, stole second and went to third when the throw got away; the sad part is a good throw had him. Peralta singled him home at the end of a 10 pitch at bat. Lefty Nick Greenwood took the ball looking for a save. The Kid singled to open the frame. The Cards decided to pitch to Cutch, and Greenwood got ahead of him 0-2, wasted a pitch, and saw the fourth disappear over the fence and land deep into the batter's eye. Cutch strutted down the third base line, touched the plate and was mobbed, soon to receive an AJ pie delivery post-game.

Who da man? (image Fox Sports TV)
Well, they can say it's July and not September, so stay calm. All we can say is Un-Buc'ing-Believable! Frankie can cut the Cardinal lead to 2-1/2 games tomorrow night on ESPN when he faces rookie Tim Cooney.

  • The homer was Cutch's fifth walk-off, and it was also career long ball #140, sliding him ahead of Jay Bay for eighth place all-time on the franchise list. Oh yah - it stretched his hitting streak to 18 games, too.
  • Jung-Ho Kang also showed up big time tonight - he had a pair of hits, two runs scored and an RBI to jump start a sluggish attack. 
  • Yah, that's us in the rear view mirror: The Pirates were nine games out on June 28th. On July 12th, they're 3-1/2 back
  • AJ had gone six starts and 190 batters without giving up a homer until Mark Reynolds' "fourth strike" bomb. Burnett also moved into 34th place all-time on the K list with his 2,465th whiff, sliding ahead of Mark Langston.
  • The Pirates have won five extra-inning games in a row; they were 0-3 v the Cards before tonight
  • The crowd of 37,318 was the 11th sellout of the year.
  • Jon Morosi adds another log to the fire, saying the Bucs have kicked the tires of the Phils' OF'er Jeff Francoeur. John Perrotta notes they've shown interest in Ben Revere. He adds that the Pirates have also been scouting the D-Backs bullpen, looking at Daniel Hudson, Brad Ziegler and former Bucco Ollie Perez. So we guess we can safely assume the FO is doing its due diligence in evaluating the market.
  • Jason Grilli ruptured his Achilles against the Rockies today, a season-ending injury and terrible break for the popular ol' Bucco closer who was enjoying a bounce-back campaign with the Bravos,
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