Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pirates Go 14 Innings To Take 5-3 Win Over the Mets

Well, the two things Jon Niese has done well lately (not give up walks & homers) failed him in the first. With two down (Gregory singled, but was picked off first), Cutch walked on a 3-2 pitch and A-Ram hit his first bomb in his second round as a Bucco to make it 2-0. Cespedes continued to be a thorn, singling and going to third when Fran's stolen base toss went into center. But Charlie stranded him there, escaping his usual first inning shenanigans.

Michael Morse walked in the second, but went no further thanks largely to Curtis Granderson running down Morton's two-out gapper. To continue the theme, Charlie walked the first Met of the frame. A twin killing kept the rest of the inning clean. Gregory has been sizzling; he ripped Niese's opening curve off the RF foul pole to open an otherwise quiet third. Morton clipped Granderson with two outs, but Cutch was under Cespedes fly to end the inning.

Pittsburgh went down quickly. Chuck answered by striking out the side; he has six punchouts over four frames. Juan Uribe robbed S-Rod of a hit to open the fifth. Gregory rapped his third hit (on three pitches), a two-out single, but JHK couldn't keep the frame alive. It was 1-2-3 for Charlie.

With two gone in the sixth, Fran doubled and Morse caught a back foot curve, well, in the back foot; Marte came in to run for him. A wild pitch moved them up a station, but The Kid couldn't cash them in. Starling stayed and went to left; S-Rod put on a 1B mitt. The sixth is usually Charlies red flag frame, but except for a Cespedes single with two outs, he sailed through it.

Carlos Torres came in to work the seventh. he got the first two outs before - you guessed it - Gregory reached on the first pitch, but this was thx to an error by 2B Kelly Johnson. No diff; Torres got a routine fly to end the inning. Juan Uribe led off with a homer off a sinker; it's now a 3-1 game. An out later, Travis d'Arnaud reached on A-Ram's misthrow, and Michael Conforto made it hurt by homering to left, lining a pitch over the RF wall to tie the game. Joakim Soria took the hill to finish the frame.

Tyler Clippard got the call for the eighth and clunked Cutch to open, but the Bucs went down routinely after that. Tony Watson toed the rubber to face the top of the Met lineup, and he retired them quietly. Jeurys Familia took the mound for the ninth. With an out, S-Rod doubled, but as often happens with Bucco runners, tried for a base too far and was thrown out at third. A quick glance over his shoulder and Cespedes' arm (he made a tremendous throw) cost him; a little quicker runner or a lesser arm, and he's in. Pedro K'ed on a 99 MPH heater on the corner, and in came Arquimedes Caminero. He walked d'Arnaud with two gone, but whiffed Conforto to take it into bonus ball again.

Hansel Robles answered the phone for the 10th to work against the top of the Pirate order. With one gone, JHK lined a single to center. A strike 'em out, toss 'em out DP ended the frame. Jared Hughes climbed the hill for Pittsburgh. Ruben Tejada led off with a grounder up the middle, but a longish fly and a 6-3 DP, nicely played by JHK and finished with a short hop pick by S-Rod at the other end sat the Mets down.

Joe Blanton was the man tonight (photo Getty Images)
Fran worked an one-out walk off Robles in the 11th, but got three flies to work an easy frame. Joe Blanton took the ball to face the middle of the Mets lineup. He was put in Walker's spot, with S-Rod going to second and Ishy to first. Joe whiffed a pair, with a great diving stop by A-Ram and pick by Ishy providing the middle out.

It was 1-2-3 for the Pirates again in the 12th; they can't solve Robles, either K'ing or flying out. Joe whiffed the first two batters, then the dangerous Lucas Duda, who's been on ice with a cranky back, stepped up and drew a five pitch walk, followed by a Tejada grounder into left. It was dicey, but Blanton whiffed Wil Flores to live another inning.

Sean Gilmartin was next up for the 13th frame. The lefty throws a 90-ish heater, a slow change in the seventies and even slower hook, in the sixties. He got a tapper and a pair of called strikeouts. Joe got to face the top of the order and blew through it; he has six K's in three innings of great relief work, tossing just 41 pitches.

Fran opened the 14th with a double. Starling reached when his chopper to first led to an attempted play at third (and Marte probably would have legged out the play; he had Gilmartin beat to the bag). Everyone was safe with gold on the corners, and Fran was replaced by Pedro Florimon. Stew hit for Blanton and singled in a run while chasing Starling to third.

When you're hot, you're hot; S-Rods pop dropped in to plate another run. Then too much thinking (actually, too little execution) cost the Bucs; Ishy was called on to bunt, and instead softly lined the ball to the mound for a DP; S-Rod was caught stealing shortly thereafter, and the Bucs strategy backfired pretty badly. But the Shark had a cushion to work with again, and Joe did the heavy lifting last frame.

After a considerable amount of shifting - JHK to third, Stew behind the dish, Pedro to SS - Kelly Johnson doubled after an out on a drop shot to left. But no more drama; a couple of routine outs, and Mark had his 37th save.

Can't fault the Bucs for their base running tonight (well, maybe for the 0-for-3 stealing); the outs weren't classic TOOTBLANs, just pushing the envelope a little to far. But the debate is legit about not pulling Charlie a batter sooner; there are solid points to be made on either side of that argument.

Still and all, a win is a win, and the Pirates haven't backed off from a brutal stretch of scheduling. Jeff Locke goes for the sweep tomorrow; it won't be easy against Matt Harvey.

  • Gregory had three hits; Fran & S-Rod each added a pair.
  • Aramis Ramirez clubbed his 381st career HR, tying him with Albert Belle for 68th on the all-time list.
  • Charlie set his season high for whiffs, collecting nine.
  • The Pirates have homered in a season-high nine consecutive games.
  • The Buccos have won for the 15th straight time in games decided by the bullpen; they tossed 7-2/3 frames of shutout ball.
  • Pittsburgh has won seven extra-inning games in a row.
  • One reason the Met pitching has been so tough, per @EliasSports: NY pitchers haven't allowed a hit in opponents' last 27 at-bats with two outs & runners on base going into tonight's game, a streak foiled by A-Ram's long ball.
  • Vanimal's first Indy outing; five IP, three hits, two runs, two K and a walk.
  • Oh and btw, the Cubs and Cards both won tonight. No rest...

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