Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Brew Crew Rolls Over Pirates 9-4

Should be interesting tonight; Jeff may be pitching for his rotation life. When asked before the game why the batting order was so heavy with hitters tonight, Clint told the press gang that "We also want to put an offensive lineup up that covers a pitcher’s ERA to some degree." Doesn't sound like a huge vote of confidence to us (although a struggling pitcher could use some leather behind him), and may be why they decided to keep Vance stretched out at Indy; they also have Radhames Liz and even Joe Blanton (unlikely) here already.

Rookie Chris Davies had an easy first inning; three grounders sandwiched around the mandatory Cutch walk. Jeff's third pitch was a hung change and Jean Segura banged it for a double. Jonathan Lucroy brought him home with a single up the middle. After an out, Khris Davis lined a juicy fastball for a double and another run before the quitting bell rang.

Davies went heavily to the change in the second and got a pair of whiffs as the Bucs showed very little that could be mistaken for discipline at the dish. Jeff jumped back on the barstool and took care of the bottom of the order. Three up, three down for the Bucs in the third; the first ten batters have hit two balls hard so far. With two gone, Ryan Braun and Davis singled (Davis' hit was a swinging bunt to A-Ram). Adam Lind's knock brought Braun home.

Starling opened the fourth by smacking a change to left for a lead-off double, followed by another Cutch free pass. A-Ram squared up on a knee-high, inside fastball and dropped it over the center field fence to tie the game. Pedro walked with two gone before the music stopped; two of the three outs were hit on the nose, so the second time around seems to be the charm. Locke got the first two Brewers, then gave up a two-strike single to the pitcher. Segura doubled him to third. Ray Searage came out but it didn't help as Locke tossed a 1-2 fastball right down the middle to Lucroy, who singled both runners home. That was it (maybe for the season) for Jeff as Jared Hughes came on to finish up the frame.

Jeff Locke - another sad sack outing (photo Charles LeClaire/USA Today)
Jaff Decker hit for Hughes and opened the fifth with an opposite field single. Gregory lined out, then Starling dropped a soft single to right. Davies called it a day as Corey Knebel took the ball. He caught Cutch looking at a two strike fastball down Broadway. A-Ram picked him up by doubling in Decker. The Brew Crew was saved a run when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground rule double and JHK popped out. Joe Blanton climbed the hill. After an out, he fought Lind in a 10 pitch at bat; Lind won by taking a shin high sinker and pounding it over the wall in center; good pitch and off the plate, but in a lefty sweet spot.

Cesar Jimenez twirled the ball and gave up a lead off single to The Kid. A pop up and 6-4-3 DP cleaned that up. Joe tossed a clean frame. Jeremy Jeffress took his turn in the seventh and used seven pitches to get three grounders. Arquimedes Caminero toed the rubber. With an out, Braun got to second on a hit-and-error charged to JHK. After a whiff, Lind was walked intentionally to get to righty Domingo Santana, who screwed up the strategy by reaching on a bleeder to third. Scooter Gennett grabbed a stick, and he singled in a pair on the first pitch, making it 8-4 and giving the Buc bats a mountain to climb.

Jeffress had another 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. Rob Scahill came on for Pittsburgh, and had a third 10 pitch battle, eventually losing Jason Rogers. Segura rolled a single to right, and a knock by Braun an out later chased in a score, bringing Bobby LaFramboise into the game to douse the fire. Tyler Thornburg put the Bucs out of their misery.

A pretty miserable night for Jeff Locke and the bullpen. A lot of the problems tonight were self inflicted by the pitchers, but we can' help but wonder how many runs are being bled by an infield whose best defenders are spectators or in the wrong position for the sake of offense. It'll be interesting to see how Clint juggles his lineup to find a balance among his six infielders.

Frankie has a tough task tomorrow as he goes against young gun Taylor Jungmann in the series finale.

  • Cutch has reached base in the first inning for eight straight games, but his eight game hitting streak ended.
  • The Miller Field jinx: Arquimedes Caminaro's 17-1/3 IP scoreless streak and Joe Blanton's 16-1/3 IP goose egg string were both broken tonight.
  • Today was Rob Scahill's first Pirate appearance since June 25th.
  • Milwaukee scored five two-out runs; three came with two gone and the bases empty.
  • Clint also noted in his pre-game that he's thinking of "bundling" player time so guys get consecutive starts instead of yanking them in and out of the lineup by matchup.
  • The Pirates made some minor league moves, the most noteworthy advancing OF'er Austin Meadows from Bradenton to Altoona, where he can acclimate a bit since that's his likely 2016 assignment. RHP Tyler Eppler also moved up, and he's likely to be a Curve next season, too.
  • Brandon Moss hit the longest LH homer in Busch Stadium III history tonight off Max Scherzer, going 454'.


WilliamJPellas said...

Jeff Locke is terrible, at least right now. I don't know what happened to him, how he went from a first half All Star a couple years ago to a batting practice pitcher now---is he hurt? A head case? Both? Neither?---but he's had more than enough chances. He should be removed from the rotation NOW. IMMEDIATELY. YESTERDAY. Good grief!

And, have you seen the Pirates' well-under-.500 record vs the NL Central over the past two seasons? Granted, a good chunk of that is due to the Cardinals, but even so: the fact is, your Pittsburgh Pirates would easily be Division champions both last year and this year if they were even marginally better vs the teams in the Central. Dunno what's up with that.

WilliamJPellas said...

Definitely like Hurdle's "bundled playing time" concept. It takes an exceptional player to be effective in sporadic playing time; while it can be done, it's rare. The norm is for guys to be able to settle in over at least a couple or a few starts in a row so they can relax and readjust to the speed of the game, particularly the enemy pitching. This approach of course also places a premium on players who won't kill you defensively at multiple positions. I suspect you'll see a trend in the future of players who split their time between two or three or more positions in order to keep them on top of their games as opposed to one position guys unless they are truly great at that one position.