Friday, September 11, 2015

Bucs Can't Cash In, Lose Game & Golden Opportunity In 13 Innings to Brewers 6-4

We expected a little rust on AJ tonight, and it showed in the first. Scooter Gennett led off with a double and two grounders brought him home. Adam Lind kept the inning alive with a single before Khris Davis drilled a liner over the wall in center to make it 3-0. Wily Peralta tossed a 1-2-3 frame. The second was six up, six down, and each club exchanged baserunners in the third. In the fourth, AJ was clean again. The Bucs wasted a walk by Josh and single by JHK thanks to Cutch's 6-4-3 DP sandwiched between them.

In the fifth, a Brewer walk was erased by a twin killing. The Pirates got their first two runners aboard when Petey walked and Fran singled. A fly by Jordy moved them up a station on some heads-up tagging by both runners, and another fly by The Kid, hitting for AJ, chased home a run. Before the Bucs could look for a bit of two out lightning, Fran wandered too far off second and was picked off by catcher Martin Maldonado; Pittsburgh plays hard, but the textbook has eluded them much of the season.

AJ looked sharp after scraping off the rust (photo Justin Aller/Getty)
So except for his pitch to Davis, AJ had a pretty nice outing; five innings, three runs, three hits, a walk and three K on 68 pitches. Every out was a grounder or whiff. Joe Blanton came on in the sixth, and immediately got in hot water by giving up a single and double. But Joe sucked it up; a K, out at the plate with the infield in and another K allowed him to escape intact. Josh singled with an out, but Cutch was involved in another DP, this one a full count strike 'em out, throw 'em out inning ender. Blanton worked a clean seventh.

JHK opened with a single and went to third on a pair of wild pitches. Starling then walked, and that was it for Peralta as Jeremy Jeffress took the ball. He went soft and got Pedro swinging at a 3-2 hook. Fran walked to load 'em, and A-Ram stepped up to hot for Jordy. Ramirez never saw a strike, but went down on four pitches in a completely wasted at bat. Travis Snider hit for Blanton. Lunchbox showed some discipline and drew a five pitch walk for a gift wrapped RBI. That brought Will Smith out to match up with Gregory. El Coffee couldn't lay off a couple of balls down and K'ed on a heater in the dirt, and to make matters worse, it got away from the catcher; Polanco had a very real chance of beating the ball to first - if he had run. Sheesh!  Still, it's 3-2 and a game.

Antonio Bastardo took the ball in the eighth and tossed a calm frame. Corey Knebel climbed the hill for Milwaukee. After getting Josh, he hung a curve to Cutch and Andrew lost the ball, taking it out the opposite way over the Clemente Wall to tie the game. Starling got plunked with two away, but a Pedro tapper back to the box ended the party at 3-3.

Joakim Soria toed the rubber in the ninth. Adam Lind singled off a 3-2 heater, but Joakim TCB from then on, using six pitches to get back to the bench. Tyler Thornburg got the call for the Brew Crew. He lost pinch hitter Michael Morse on a two out walk, bringing in P-Flo to run. Gregory couldn't keep it going, flying out to center.

Arquimedes Caminaro answered the bell for the 10th, with Jaff Decker going to left as Starling had shoulder  "discomfort" where he had been beaned. After being ahead 0-2, Arquie walked Maldonado, a .192 hitter, who was bunted to second. A fly and a whiff kept him there. Thornburg tossed a clean frame, with a loud and long out to left by Cutch.

Cammy walked Ryan Braun to start the 11th, and Bobby LaFromboise jogged in to match up with Lind and won, whiffing him. Jason Rogers pinch hit, and righty Jared Hughes sprinted into action. Braun stole second; the Bucs challenged and the Bucs won (it took 45 seconds; on replay, he was easily out; the ump missed the tag making contact). Rogers then legged out an infield knock and Domingo Santana followed with a double; El Coffee hustled to keep the runner at third. Hughes has had a rough stretch recently, with just two outings since the beginning of August without allowing a runner. But he got out of it, with JHK making a sweet play on a Baltimore chop. It's nice to see the Bucs glove their way out of a jam.

Cesar Jimenez took the ball. Fran walked with two gone, and Stew singled him to third. That brought up P-Flo, who fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and then whiffed on a foul tip; hey, did you expect another walk-off? Actually, it almost was; one of the change-ups went through Malanado, but it hit the ump's leg, freezing Fran at third. With S-Rod, Jaff and Florimon up, it looked more like March in Bradenton than September in Pittsburgh.

Liz and the strike zone weren't talking tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Radhames Liz took his turn in the 12th, and issued a one-out walk to Logan Shafer, batting .176. An out later, he issued another free pass to Elain Herrera (.242) to get to Braun, who singled in a run. All those walks were bound to bite the Bucs, and finally did. Lind bounced out on a 3-2 pitch, and the Bucs are down to their last three outs; the good news is that the top of the order is due up; the bad news is Francisco Rodriguez is the brewers ace up the sleeve this frame.

The better news was that Gregory lined a changeup down and away 416' over the Clemente Wall. It's tied again, and Josh followed with a knock. K-Rod got Cutch swinging at ball four and his second strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP. Geez, just a little patience, guys. An out later, it was on to the 13th.

Nevin Ashley struck out on a slider way off the mark; he made it to first when the ball got past Fran. An out later, Jean Segura singled him to second. With two outs, Logan Shafer and Luis Sardinas lined singles to make it 6-4; a four out inning hurt, but Liz had to do a better job against the bottom of the Brewer order. Kyle Lohse took the ball. Fran kept the Pirates on life support with a two out single, but Ishy ended it.

Well, you could blame the wild pitch that the ump saved and the one that proved the key to the Brewers 13th inning runs, but the truth is the Bucs showed little plate discipline tonight despite seven walks and hurt themselves several times in clutch spots.

Of course, both teams had great chances; the bottom of Milwaukee's order was the key to their win. And Clint again overplayed his expanded roster (and as big as it is, they could have used Vanimal tonight); the Bucs went into extras with half the squad burned and on the bench while the bench was at bat. September is a bad time to give games away, and the Bucs did tonight. It doesn't get any easier with nemesis Jimmy Nelson on the hill tomorrow against  Charlie Morton.

  • Andrew joined Barry Bonds as the second 150 HR/SB player in Pirate history.
  • The Bucs have lost seven in a row and 9-of-10 to the Brewers.
  • AJ moved into 32nd place on the all-time whiff list tonight with punchout #2,487.
  • Both Mark the Shark and Tony Watson were unavailable for tonight's game because of recent workloads; Joakim Soria was the designated closer.
  • The Reds carpet bombed the Cards 11-0 while Chicago was rained out; they'll play two Saturday at Philly, then two more here on Tuesday.

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