Monday, August 10, 2015

Bounce Back Bucs Batter Dodgers 13-6, Sweep Series

Well, first inning and lefty woes caused Charlie some quick headaches. Jimmy Rollins doubled on the first pitch and scampered home an out later when Adrian Gonzalez singled. An Andre Ethier knock and grounder made it 2-0 before the Bucs could get to the bat rack. Starling drew a walk off Alex Wood, but that was the only response.

Charlie took care of the bottom of the order quietly, and the Pirates stranded Fran, who banged a two-out triple to The Notch. LA added another run in the third and Pittsburgh got away lucky with that. Four consecutive hits were countered by a throw-out at second by Cutch (TOOBLAN, LA) and a mystifying hold at third on the same play. Gregory reached on a third strike wild pitch; that gave Wood a chance to whiff three Buccos instead of two.

Morton survived a lead-off walk, stolen base and botched DP comebacker in the fourth. A-Ram doubled to start the Bucco half, and a Michael Morse single put Pirates on the corners with an out. Fran's fly to center brought home Aramis. The Kid singled; that turned the order over as Charlie looked at strike three.

Kendrick opened with a dribbler to first that he beat out when Morse couldn't make the play. Kendrick hurt his leg on the dash and Kike Hernandez came in for him. After a pop out, Morton lost Ethier and Yasmani Grandal lined a meatball to right to make it 4-1. He was paid a visit on the mound and came back with a K, but hung a curve down Broadway to Alberto Callaspo, who doubled in another tally. An intentional walk and tapper ended the frame.

No doubt who da man is... (photo Shelley Lipton/Pirates)
Starling walked with an out, and Cutch killed a 3-2 heater at the letters over the wall in center, an estimated 433' away; what a series for Andrew. He was no doubt helped by Marte, who drew five throws to first during the at-bat.Then A-Ram took a walk and JHK was plunked. The music ended abruptly when a shifted Morse hit into 5-3 DP, letting Wood off the ropes.

Arquimedes Caminero took over in the sixth, with S-Rod going to first in a double switch. Nine pitches, the frame was done thanks to a 4-6-3 twin killing. Juan Nicasio toed the rubber for LA. After Fran looked at a full count strike three on a borderline call, The Kid ripped a triple, missing a long fly by inches, hitting off the very top of the RCF wall. The umps called for a home run review to see if it cleared the yellow line, but no dice; just too close to overturn. S-Rod went down swinging at three fastballs. Gregory walked on four pitches and stole second, with Mattingly coming out to milk the interference gambit again. Starling got HBP in the arm to load them for Cutch. The mighty Cutch bounced out to third on the first pitch; the inning pretty much pivoted on Rodriguez, who was overpowered by Nicasio.

After a pair of K's, Arquie gave up a single, stolen sack and walk, but got the third out without any damage. Jim Johnson took the ball in the seventh. After K'ing A-Ram, he plunked JHK. Pedro grabbed a bat and singled to right; the runners ended up at second and third thanks to Yasiel Puig's throwing error (he did, in justice, make a nice play cutting the ball off to save a gapper). Fran singled in one run to cut the lead to 5-4, and three pitches later, The Kid's sac fly tied it up. S-Rod lined a single to keep the inning alive, and Gregory walked to juice the sacks. Starling didn't exactly crush the ball, but he did bleed out a single to third to give the Bucs the lead.

Cutch cashed in on this bases-full at-bat to the chant of "MVP" as he banged a curve into left to plate a pair; that's four in a row aboard with two down. Make it five as A-Ram singled in another run. We can't remember the last time, except in no-hope mop-up time, that a manager left a guy in for 10 batters, with eight reaching. Anyway, thx, Mr. Mattingly, for waiting so long to bring Joel Peralta in. JHK liked it; he homered the opposite way on the first pitch, tucking his fly just inside the foul pole. Pedro finally K'ed, but it's 12-5 Buccos; that thin pen doesn't look so problematic now. The Pirates got six in a row on with two outs; they brought home seven runs.

Jared Hughes came in for the eighth. It wasn't smooth; he gave up a single, got a DP, and then surrendered a homer to Hernandez before getting out of the inning. Fran got it back, going long to left, crushing a fat 3-1 pitch. The Bucs added a coupla more knocks, but no more runs as 13-6 is the count with three outs to go. Antonio Bastardo got the ninth inning honors - we half thought it might be JA Happ - and tossed a 1-2-3 ending.

Cutch was all that with four RBI; JHK and Fran each added three. Five different guys scored two times, and five had two or more hits. Wow. Some bruised ERA's, but the Buc bats, along with some pretty good bullpen work (they tossed 14 innings this set), took the series away from LA. Sunday Night Baseball has been good to Pittsburgh so far, with wins against the Cards & Dodgers, with one more date in a couple of weeks with the Giants. A well deserved day off for the club before a three-gamer at St. Louis and three more at Citi Field. And man, what a series to lead into a couple of visits to NL lion dens.

  • Cutch was 7-for-12 in the series, with six RBI, five runs, three walks, two doubles and a homer. No wonder PNC Park was rockin' to "MVP" all weekend.
  • The last time Pirates scored nine runs in an inning was in the sixth frame on August 12th, 2012 vs the Padres at PNC Park in an 11-5 win.
  • The Buccos swept the Dodgers for the first time since Sept. 4-6th, 2000 and the first time in Pittsburgh since 1999. The Pirates now have a MLB-leading 12 series sweeps.
  • The Bucs have won four straight home games when allowing 4+ runs for first time since at least 1970; it never happened at PNC Park or 3RS (s/o to @Tom_Singer).
  • The Pirates are now 21 games over .500.
  • The Bucs have lost a couple of those yellow line home run reviews (remember Marte's?) Maybe next year they can come up with a cleaner fence demarcation line.
  • The Dodgers have been running pretty freely this series; they had four swipes tonight, breaking their season high of two. They're last in MLB SB's by a wide margin. 
  • Joakim Soria and Mark Melancon were off tonight (and Joe Blanton, we'd expect), so it's a five man pen, including JA Happ, with Tony Watson at the back end to close. Interesting to see who the eighth inning guy will be (it was Jared Hughes).
  • Tonight's attendance was 37,094, the Bucs 18th sellout.
  • News on the injury front is encouraging - Jordy is now supposed to join Josh for rehab on Tuesday, and AJ is beginning to toss the ball. Gonna be quite the juggling act for Clint to get everyone time when Josh, Jordy & Jung-Ho are all in the saddle. 
  • Catcher Wilkin Castillo took the hill for Indy in the eighth (they were out of relievers) and recorded the final five outs in a 5-4 Tribe win.

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