The Pirates went quietly in the second. Aaron Hicks led off with a walk. Two grounders moved him to third, and a third ended the frame. Fran opened the third with a single to right; none of the Pirates behind him took the hint, although Gregory was robbed of extra bases and a RBI by a sweet leaping grab at the CF fence by Hicks. Torii Hunter singled to start the Twins off, and Mauer reached on JHK's throwing error, trying to start the DP at second. Charlie didn't fold; he came back with a three pitch whiff and an around the horn DP to shut the door.
The Kid drew a walk to begin the fourth (the last four leadoff hitters have gotten on). Two fly outs later, JHK singled but Pedro couldn't cash them in. Eddie Rosario banged a lead off triple for the Twins (actually a double, but the ball caromed past Cutch to give him three bags). A grounder plated him to make it 2-0 after four.
Continuing the first batter mojo, Fran singled to start the fifth. Ishy singled him up a station. Jaff laid down a bunt; it was thrown away, giving the Bucs a run and leaving Corsairs at second and third. Gregory hit his third straight bullet, but it was speared on the dive by SS Eduardo Escobar. The Kid rolled one to short; Ishy was off on contact and called safe on a bang-bang play at home. The Twins challenged; Ishy hesitated before breaking to make it a close shave, but the safe ruling was upheld. Cutch flied out to center, with Jaff taking third after the catch, but he died 90' short of the lead. Charlie tossed his version of a clean frame - whiff, walk, and 4-6-3 DP.
|El Coffee celebrates after his big belt (image: Root Sports)|
The Bucs got to Pelfrey in the sixth. Jung-Ho was plunked and Pedro walked. Fran should have had his third hit, but Hunter decoyed the runners into thinking he had the soft liner measured, played it cleanly on the hop and forced Pete at second. Ishy dumped a flare into left to score JHK, and Pelfrey gave the ball to Ryan O'Rourke. The lefty took Jaff and Gregory to school, whiffing both without tossing his slider anywhere near the strike zone.
Charlie walked Sano, then whiffed the next pair of Twinkies with hooks. Up 0-2 on Hicks, he went to the well once to often and his curve was drilled into right for a double (it was belt high; he needed to bury it). It became a triple when Gregory ho-hummed the throw in; this team takes a lot of plays on in the field. Charlie left and Jared Hughes came on close the door.
O'Rourke retired Walker, then Casey Fien, a RHP, toed the rubber and did the same to Cutch and A-Ram. Jared should have had a 1-2-3 frame, but after JHK made a nice stop in the hole, he fired a one-hopper that Ishy again couldn't come up with. It led to an uh-oh moment when Mauer poked one long into the corner, but Jaff had it measured a step or so shy of the foul pole.
Fien got an out before Pedro and Fran hit back-to-back singles, one a rocket and the other a well placed roller. That brought on lefty Brian Duensing and S-Rod to hit for Ishikawa. Rodriguez K'ed swinging without seeing a strike, but Jaff showed some discipline and drew a 3-2 walk. That brought up Gregory. He fell behind 1-2, laid off a chaser, spoiled a couple and then banged a bases-clearing double high off the RF wall. The Kid rolled one through the right side, and suddenly it was 7-3 Pittsburgh. Trevor May climbed the hill to get the last out.
The Twins didn't mail it in. After an out, three straight singles followed by a pair of doubles off money-in-the-bank Tony Watson made it seven up. The first two hits were soft; the last three laser beams. Mark the Shark got a rare eighth inning call, and used three pitches to close it down.
|The Shark (photo Charle LeClaire/USA Today)|
Glen Perkins took over in the ninth. A-Ram was retired on an at 'em ball to third, then Jung-Ho caught all off a spinner and drilled it off the second-level facade in left center to regain the lead. Pedro lined a single to right, and Fran almost pulled off the coup d' grace when his blast into the upper decks just slid outside the LF pole. Perkins came back to get him and S-Rod. Mark gave up a one out walk, but the next pitch was turned into a 4-6-3. This time, tho, no save for the Shark; he has to settle for a W.
Not sure how the bullpen will line up tomorrow - Melacon only used 10 pitches, Watson 14 and Hughes 18, so you'd think they'd be good to go. Frankie Liriano and Ervin Santana is a marquee matchup for tomorrow's get-away game.
- Gregory Polanco has reached base safely in 18 straight games and has a six-game hit streak. El Coffee only had one very clutch hit, but drilled three balls right on the nose for loud outs tonight.
- Starling Marte was a late scratch; the team said he had gastritis and he may be iffy for tomorrow's day game.
- Jordy took some grounders today; so far he and Josh seem to mending up on schedule.
- Rob Scahill has some work planned at Pirate City and is slated to begin his rehab stint on August 6th with Bradenton.
- Brent Morel, DFA'ed for A-Ram, cleared waivers and elected free agency.