Saturday, August 8, 2015

Frankie's Blast, Bullpen Keys To Buccos' 6-5 Win

Frankie had a first frame he'd like to forget. Jimmy Rollins singled against the shift, then Howie Kendrick hit a tailor-made one-hopper to the box. Liriano hesitated - maybe the ball stuck in his glove - and barely managed a force; that had to called by review (the Bucs challenged both calls). He then hit Adrian Gonzalez, or to be more exact, his puffed out shirt. Scott Van Slyke roped a slider that didn't into left to plate Kendrick. After getting Yasiel Puig to chase, he walked Kike Hernandez to load the bases. Frankie got a couple of calls against AJ Ellis and still ran the count full before getting him to bounce out, 31 pitches into the frame. Shoulda been a zero; lucky it was just one.

Gregory walked to open the Bucco half against Mat Latos. Starling dropped a soft lob into center; Polanco hesitated to make sure it fell, and was forced at second when he went in standing; a hard slide would have beaten the throw. Marte then stole second and was sent back; reason unclear. The ump indicated it was a foul tip on Cutch, but that's a live ball. It was speculated that since the backswing hit Ellis, it was considered unintentional interference and a dead ball; dunno about that. Anyway, Starling stole it again and came in on Cutch's fister. A-Ram rolled into a DP to end what has been a very odd inning of baseball.

Liriano shows no command of any breaking pitches; Latos opened with a single. Two outs later, Kendrick rolled one up the middle; The Kid stopped it, then ran past the ball when he whiffed on a glove flip, allowing Latos an extra base. That cost a run as Latos scored when Gonzalez grounded a single against the shift, which isn't working too well so far today.

Frankie didn't go long pitching, but he did at the plate (Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
More weirdness, this of the good variety. JHK and The Kid opened with singles and moved up on a tapper. Kang was tossed out at home on a one-hopper to first, and Frankie stepped up. He spun himself in a circle swinging and missing, then launched the next pitch, a high 94 MPH heater, that landed just inside the LF foul pole three rows deep, his first MLB bomb, and the Bucs were up 4-2. Polanco beat out a roller and stole second, but was left aboard.

The lead didn't last long; a leadoff walk was followed by a Hernandez bomb on a 3-1 fastball right down the middle. Frankie struggled through, leaving a runner and was even visited by the trainer but stayed in; let's hope he's just strong after his rained out start and not hurt, tho he's been rubbing his right side. Cutch opened the Bucco half with a double, stole third and came in on JHK's bouncer. The Bucs added one more when The Kid went yard, slamming one into the top rows in right center to make it 6-4. Latos was lucky, too - two of the three outs were nicely made plays by his fielders. Frankie was done; Joe Blanton took over.

He gave up a hit and whiffed two in the fourth; Latos tossed a clean frame. An A-Ram error and walk put Joe in a hole in the fifth, but a 5-4-3 DP (review overturned a safe call at first) and tapper got him out of it. Pedro Baez came on. Cutch singled with an out and A-Ram blasted one high off the fence in left. Cutch was held at third on the throw that went straight to second, nailing Ramirez ridiculously easily. The inning ended with Cutch stranded.

Blanton gave up a two out bad hop single in the sixth, but got a long fly to finish his third frame of shutout relief. Baez tossed a 1-2-3 inning, and Joakim Soria took the hill in the seventh. He gave up a one out bloop single that fell between three Pirates, but got a quick 4-6-3 to close it out. Luis Avilan took the ball, and whiffed a pair, beaned Marte, walked Cutch, and then whiffed A-Ram. Someone had to tell the fielders the inning was over.

Tony Watson answered the eighth inning bell. He gave up a soft lob to right center, then got a glove on a shot up the middle, slowing it down enough to be turned into a 1-4-3 DP. Rollins flew out to the track, and there were three outs to go after Joel Peralta tossed a routine frame. Mark the Shark came out looking to get them. he did, but it was a struggle.

Melancon hung an 0-2 curve at the belt that Kendrick slapped into right. Gonzalez roped a shot to left, but Marte had it measured. Van Slyke got a cutter that ran over the plate and creamed it into the gap; a diving Cutch came up short and the two-bagger made it a 6-5 game. Puig hit a ball to JHK at third; he looked back the runner, and his double clutch throw was a bit wide and high; S-Rod's toe came off the bag and Yasiel was safe. Or was he? Replay showed that Rodriguez's toe stayed glued to the sack until a millisecond after the catch, and NY overturned the safe call. Joc Pederson walked, but Mark ended it by getting Yasmani Grandal to fish for a curve, and that was it, finally. Big props, btw, to Joe Blanton; he did truly deserve the win for his work.

Well, the last two games may not be primers for coaches, but making enough plays and pounding enough hits goes a long way. Frankie's homer was, when all is said and done, the key blow; hopefully he didn't hurt himself cranking it out. Charlie Morton and Alex Wood close out what has been a very entertaining series tomorrow night.

  • In the post-game interviews, both Clint and Frankie said there is no injury to Francisco (altho Liriano did say he felt "a twinge," so...). A bad day at the office+79 pitches over three frames are the reasons why Liriano was yanked per the Skipper.
  • Cutch's third hit was #1,100 of his career. He's the 29th Pirate in to reach that mark and the first since Jack Wilson in 2007. Andrew also passed up Dick Groat for 17th place on the all-time Bucco doubles list with 227 two-baggers. BTW, he went 3-for-3 with a walk.
  • From @AceballStats - Slash after 985 games: Roberto Clemente .299/.333/.433; Barry Bonds .272/.377/.497; Andrew McCutchen .299/.387/.499.
  • Today's attendance of 38,981 was the 17th sellout of the season. The game lasted 3:42 as the first three innings took forever, but a Fan Jam crowd is a captive audience. Decent game, too.
  • The official scorer explained Marte's recall - it was ruled unintentional contact with the catcher by Cutch. The umps did not have a bad day, despite all the challenges and overturns. Every call was bang bang; they really took super slo-mo to determine.
  • Forgot to mention in yesterday's notes that Rob Scahill worked two clean innings in his GCL rehab debut.


Anonymous said...

Great games yesterday and today - Lets Go Bucs.

One major complaint is that A-ram is killing us. He should be relegated to pinch hitting exclusively if anything. Don't laugh but we would almost be better off playing eight guys instead of nine if A-Ram is the 9th guy. No hit no field

I could have hit Latos tonight - Everybody hit Latos tonight except A-ram who bounced into a DP his first time up then grounded out his second time up failing to advance the runner.

Then he botches a play in the field (giving them an extra out. Even when he does something right, like lining off the wall in his next time up, he is thrown out by a mile at second with the play right in front of him.
I was happy to see Kang moved over to 3rd on the double switch, as I have less confidence in A-ram at third than even the Great Pedro. A-ram was ONCE an elite player. They guy out there now is a ghost of that man. He is Lazy, slow and just plain bad and he has been this way since day 1.

Every day we play him we are worse because of it. Whoever is playing 3B at Altoona is better than Aramis Ramirez. No way that guy should be in the lineup on Sunday


Ron Ieraci said...

They were entertaining, Dave, certainly not the pitching battles they looked to be on paper.

As far as A-Ram, he came with blemishes; the Bucs were hoping to get 25-30 games out of him. He is a dead pull hitter; but all those grounders to third do get old. His fielding has been disappointing, too - he's not mobile, but usually handled what came to him. Five DPs and three boots in 11 games may just be a small sample deviation, but unfortunately, Pittsburgh only signed him as a short term sop. I'm sure the FO hoped they could plug him for 25 games/100 PA before adding him to the bench. Can't really figure why Clint keeps him at cleanup. he must not want him & Pedro back-to-back, tho El Toro should hit #6 & A-Ram #7 prob with the current gang that's on the field.

It does show the good & bad of the Pirate system. Pgh hasn't been able to develop a corner IF'er during the Huntington era, prob because their past obsession w/HS arms in the draft precluded stocking position players. But it did make the Kang signing look like genius. Anyway, Josh & Jordy start rehab next week, so another 10 games or so should mark the end of the Ramirez era.

WilliamJPellas said...

The Pirates haven't developed many position players AT ALL during the Huntington Era. Walker? He was a Littlefield draft choice. So was McCutchen. I don't remember about Marte. Harrison was a trade acquisition. So was Cervelli. Mercer was a Huntington draft choice and so was Alvarez, unfortunately. So that's about it for the Smartest GM In Baseball, as he is held to be in some quarters.

Look, I don't mean to be overly negative. Obviously the Pirates rebuild has succeeded to a considerable extent and a third consecutive playoff appearance is probable (though the Cubs aren't going away and neither are the Giants, so stay tuned). Huntington is certainly and unquestionably better than what came before him, and he has also traded a number of homegrown prospects to acquire some of the important parts of the current team, and when you are a farm-first organization, that is part of the equation, too. I get that. Just saying that he is nowhere near the Genius GM his tragic cultus would have us believe, and that he has made some major mistakes along with his good moves and that those mistakes are definitely hurting us now.

Ron Ieraci said...

Agreed, Will, their obsession with upside but risky pitchers in the early drafts proved to be an epic fail. I think they've learned a lesson; the last two or three drafts have begun to address that issue by getting some positional strength. Indy should be stocked with prospects, not retreads.

Still, they've identified some players on the market - Frankie, AJ, Melancon, Cervelli, Kang, Josh, Morton, Locke, Russ Martin, Volquez, Byrd, etc. But they have to do a better internal job; the Card's roster has 13 home grown players, tho the Bucs do have guys from their system. Cole, Polanco, Mercer & Pedro were NH picks; Cutch, Marte, Walker, Watson & Hughes were gifted from the old regime. The FO has also had some very notable clunkers along the way, and while I don't think the greatest GM tag is appropriate, I think they're doing a decent job given their resources.

They did overreact to the absolute lack of pitching they inherited, but I think they're showing some ability to learn from their mistakes. You're right in that if the minors don't produce players at a strong rate, it's hard for a small revenue club to compete, and it looks like their trying to diversify their draft assets more appropriately now.

If Hansen makes the team next year, with Glasnow and Taillon called up sometime during the summer and Bell, Kingham, Holdzkom and an outfielder due in late 2016-17, they'll be on their way to filling in the holes by and large from within the organization. Lotta maybes, I'll admit, but the pipeline does exist.

WilliamJPellas said...

Yes, but Huntington was given the equivalent of Steinbrenner resources to spend on the minors and he has NOT produced a talent pipeline equivalent to the resources spent. Even under the new CBA, which prevents the Pirates from Steinbrenner-ing the rest of the industry in buying amateur talent, the emphasis from ownership is certainly on the minor league system. It would be like be given enough money to build a four lane highway from New York to Seattle, and at the end of the day you have a two lane road that ends in Utah. Still a nice accomplishment, to be sure, but not what you SHOULD HAVE BUILT given the resources you were given. That's what I'm saying here.

Ron Ieraci said...

I agree with that in the early drafts, Will, when he had an unlimited pocketbook. NH rolled the dice on hi ceiling/hi risk pitching and came up craps. That emphasis on arms that never panned out cost them a couple of years in rebuilding, IMHO; the Cubs showed that bats were a better bet. Recently, they've gone to a more positional and more collegiate board; hopefully that will pay off.