Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Defense, Clutch Hitting Woes Cost Pirates In 4-2 Loss

Good start; Gregory singled to open the game against Michael Wacha. Of course, that was offset when he was caught stealing by Molina, who threw from his knees. A pop out (after which Starling went into the dugout holding his hand, but did return to the field) and whiff quietly ended the frame. Matt Carpenter singled against Cole Train to start the Cards. A timely DP hit into a shift was followed by another single and a nine-pitch walk to Jason Heyward, but Gerrit picked up his first K to calm the seas.

JHK fought back from an 0-2 count to bang a 3-2 pitch into right center for a one out double in the second, but the rest of the Bucs went down quietly. Cole worked a 1-2-3 frame. Gregory collected his second knock and fifth of the series with two down in the third, but Starling popped out on the next pitch. Marte left the game, too - Nick Leyva saw him rubbing his hand after the at bat and sent him to the locker room.

Wacha walked to start the Redbird half, and that's never good. After a broken bat fly, that adage proved true. First, A-Ram deflected a ball in the hole that should have been a force out. Then a grounder to Walker turned into a hit when The Kid had to lob the throw to first waiting for Pedro to get there, and El Toro's foot came off the sack. With the bases loaded, Heyward's chop up the middle had DP written all over it, but Walker's relay short hopped the base and Pedro couldn't pick it; two runs scored on the play.

Cutch got one back when he went long over the RC fence. Soft singles by A-Ram and JHK were followed by a pair of pop outs; Wacha stayed high in the strike zone to The Kid and Pedro, getting them to hit under the ball. Fran was worked carefully and walked. Cole had a chance to help himself, but went down on four pitches. Cole allowed one runner, Stephen Piscotty, whose liner dipped under JHK's mitt for an error. Both starters are at 70+ pitches.

Cutch was clutch; the rest of the team, not so much... (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
El Coffee singled to start the fifth. An out later, the Bucs got a break when Cutch lined what should have been a single to center; Randal Grichuk made a pretty poor attempt to make a diving catch of the hooking ball and it went for a triple. With the infield in, A-Ram went the opposite way, but his roller to second froze Cutch. JHK walked on four pitches, thenThe Kid hit one well, but right at Brandon Moss at first; that runner on third, one out thing could use some work.

Pedro doubled to start the sixth. Two outs later, Gregory got the ultimate compliment by being walked intentionally. Well, maybe not such a compliment with S-Rod behind him, who K'ed on a borderline strike three call; that puts Pittsburgh at 0-for-10 with RISP. Wacha is done, tho, at 109 pitches.

The Buc gloves were at it again. After a soft single to right, Yadier Molina hit a liner to right; Polanco got caught between a shoestring catch and playing it on the hop and did neither; the ball hopped past him for a triple. Piscotty banged a two strike pitch up the middle against a drawn in infield, and it was 4-2. Joakim Soria came in and got a pair of routine outs, sandwiched around a shift single by Mark Reynolds.

Kevin Seigrist took over in the seventh and quietly sat down the middle of the order. Antonio Bastardo climbed the hill and worked an uneventful frame. No drama in the eighth against Siegrist, and Joe Blanton got the call. With an out, Molina rolled one up the line for a double and stole third. he was originally ruled out - the throw beat him by a mile - but A-Ram never laid a tag on him. Joe took it in stride and K'ed the next two Cards. Trevor Rosenthal came in, and wasn't nearly as dominating as last night, but three well hit balls had the same result, a 1-2-3 frame.

Make no mistake; the Pirate pitching hit the chutes at the same time the fielding went totally south; it's hard to overstate the negative impact on run prevention with Jordy and Josh out. Not just in errors and mental breakdowns, but also with hits leaking through. And the past two games they've had the Card starters on the ropes and couldn't finish them off; the Buc bugaboo of clutch hits has bit them at Busch; they're 2-of-19 with RISP in the series so far.

Frankie takes on Lance Lynn, looking to salvage a game of the set.

  • Gregory reached seven straight times in this series, with six hits and a walk.
  • The Cubs won tonight; they're just 1-1/2 games behind the Pirates in the standings. The only game they've lost in the last 13 contests was at Pittsburgh on August 5th, 7-5.
  • This is the second time this year Wacha has surrendered nine hits; the first was in June when he lost to Colorado, 4-3.
  • Trevor Rosenthal tied Mark Melancon for the most MLB saves to date with 35.
  • Michael Wacha now shares the MLB wins leadership with Gerrit and King Felix Hernandez at 14 victories.
  • With their win tonight, St. Louis is 33 games over .500 for the first time since 2005 when they won 100 games.
  • AJ began long tossing today. Josh and Jordy are off today at Indy; they'll be back in the lineup tomorrow and off again Friday as they slowly get back on the bike. 

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