Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bucs Can't Give It Away; Grind Out 9-8 Win In 15 Innings

Well, tonight started off just as badly as last night. Three consecutive singles and a walk had a run in and the potential to become a truly disastrous start for Frankie, but a 6-4-3 DP and fly out kept the score down to a pair. The Bucs came right back to tie the game. Gregory and Starling opened with knocks against Chase Anderson, a wild pitch moved them up a station, and sac flies by Cutch (who just missed going yard) and A-Ram tied it up.

It kept up in the second; Nick Ahmed tripled and scored on Anderson's perfect safety squeeze that rolled for a single, tho a DP mopped that up. Pittsburgh answered that, too. Pedro singled and Frankie, who out of nowhere has become the Bucs secret offensive weapon, ripped a two-out double to score him as the Big Bull stormed around the bases. The Snakes got a two-out walk in the third; the Pirates added one more when Starling, in the midst of an HR drought, planted a CF solo shot to make it 4-3.

Frankie worked another clean inning in the fourth. Fran singled for the Bucs, but was left at first. It was a 1-2-3 in the fifth for Francisco. A-Ram and JHK singled with two gone, and The Kid drew a bases-filling walk. Chase tried to sneak a 2-2 heater past Pedro; no go, as he singled home a pair on a soft, broken bat liner to center. Josh Collmenter was waved in to face Fran, who knocked in another run before the ever dangerous Frankie whiffed.

Liriano continued dealing in the sixth; he's in the groove after a pair of twin killings kept him alive early on. The Pirates sat down in order. Ditto for the Snakes in the seventh; Frankie has put away a lucky 13 in a row. With one gone, Jung-Ho got a change at the knees and crsuhed it yard over the LF wall to make it 8-3.

Frankie went seven tonight (photo Gregory Bull/AP)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia blooped a single to open the eighth and snap Frankie's string. AJ Pollock followed with a four pitch walk; Liriano may be at the end of his leash and was; Jared Hughes answered the phone and sprinted in. Aaron Hill got a knock to load them, and Paul Goldschmidt walked to bring in a run, still with no outs. That brought Tony Watson into the act; two walks with a big lead are a no-no for a reason. A sac fly chased home a run and moved Hill to third, then a single by Yasmany Tomas made it 8-6. Dave Peralta hit into a force to put Snakes on the corners, and a K of Chris Owings left them there.

Randal Delgado took the ball in the Bucco half. Ishy walked with an out, and Pedro Florimon replaced him at first. Gregory dropped a pop into short left for a knock. Short lived rally; Marte rolled over on the next pitch, a fastball away, resulting in a 6-4-3 DP.

The Shark circled, with 8-9-1 due up. Ender Inciarte grounded one to JHK at third; he muffed it the slow roller. Jake Lamb went down swinging on three pitches, then AJ Pollock popped out. The drama continued when Hill rolled a shin-high curve into left to bring up just who you don't want to see, Goldschmidt. He banged one to first; it got through S-Rod (ironically, a defensive sub) and rattled in the corner, tying the game with Goldschmidt rolling into third. Welington Castillo popped out to end what has been two miserable frames for the Pirates.

.David Hernandez toed the rubber, and Cutch welcomed him with a single. Michael Morse grabbed a bat (both Pedro and A-Ram were subbed out) and grounded out on ball four; at least he moved Andrew up a station as he was in motion on the 3-2 delivery. Kang smoked one to first, nicely snagged by Goldschmidt with a game saving catch; he went to double Cutch off second. The call was safe, but it was worth reviewing; the question is whether the tag was applied or not. NY said it was (TV replay was inconclusive), and so on to the 10th as JHK angrily bounced his helmet off the dugout gum box; the baseball gods have not been very kind to him this inning.

Arquimedes Caminero took the ball. Flory made a nice play for the first out, the second was a routine grounder, and that was followed by a Owings grounder up the middle. Oscar Hernandez hit for David, and was plunked by Arqie (it was one of those bat knob v hand calls), who had barely missed Peralta the prior at-bat, but left them aboard.

Lefty Andrew Chafin climbed the hill for Arizona and worked a quiet frame. Arqie stayed on the hill. With two gone, he walked Goldschmidt on four pitches, then got Castillo to bounce out. Chafin worked a calm frame. Tonight is just the second time this year Arqie has gone over two innings, but he got three grounders in the 12th and has tossed 37 pitches. Addison Reed claimed the mound, and Cutch lined his first pitch into center for a knock. Stew pinch hit, and his bunt got Andrew to second. Jung-Ho was looking for redemption; instead he swung at a shoe top slider to K. The Kid was walked intentionally. S-Rod made it a smart move by waving at an ankle high slider after looking at two called strikes to end the inning.

It was Joe Blanton's turn. With two gone, Pollock doubled off a slider that stayed up over the dish. No prob; Joe came back with a swinging punch out. Fran beat out an infield ball off Lamb's mitt at third to open for Pittsburgh; Florimon popped out trying to bunt him up. Sheesh, how bad can Gift Ngeobe hit to be blocked by Pedro? No diff; Polanco and Marte couldn't solve Reed.

Goldschmidt walked on five pitches to start it up, and two outs later reached second on a wild pitch. Peralta got ahead 3-1, and was intentionally given ball four. An Owings fly ended the frame. After the 14th inning stretch (yep, they had one) southpaw Keith Hessler took over for the D-Backs; Cutch and Kang have Joe batting between them. SS Owings made a nice play to throw out Andrew, followed by a pair of garden variety grounders to second.

Pedro brings 'em home (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Hessler singled to open the 15th, and for some reason tried to go to second; Marte said no. Maybe the reliever isn't used to navigating the bases; after all, it was his first MLB hit. The rest of the inning was drama free. The Kid and S-Rod were both caught looking at fastballs; both appeared to be balls. Fran singled with two outs, and praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, Pedro Florimon drilled a heater down and away off the wall in right; Fran didn't stop running until he dove home in front of Flory's walk-off triple.

Well, bless Arquimedes Caminero, Joe Blanton and Pedro Florimon (you too, Fran). The Bucs won, and that's the bottom line, especially on a night when the Cards went down . But two walks in the eighth brought the Snakes back to life, and two errors in the ninth turned an easy night at the office into a bullpen burning tester. As we've noted, you gotta grind in the dog days, but you shouldn't pass up breathers when given the chance. JA Happ takes on Robbie Ray in the deciding match tomorrow.

  • Fran Cervelli had four hits; five other Bucs (Polanco, Marte, Cutch, JHK, Pedro) had a pair of knocks.
  • Starling Marte's homer was his first since July 1st off Detroit's Joba Chamberlain at Coamerica Park.
  • The Shark's string of 35 straight save conversions ended tonight; both runs off him were unearned.
  • The Pirates have homered in 12 consecutive games, the most since 1994 when the club went long in 13 straight games.
  • Both sides used up all their bench players.
  • This was the Pirates longest game of 2015 and the longest since their 16-inning game against the Cubs on April 2nd, 2014 at PNC, won 4-3 by a walk-off single from Tony Sanchez. It was also their eighth straight extra-inning victory of the year.

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