Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bucs Take Opener Behind Fran's Slam 8-2

Gerrit navigated the first frame cleanly, an encouraging sign. The Bucs again turned opportunity away from the door in their swings against Michael Wacha. With an out, Starling was plunked. He headed to second during the ensuing wind-up, Wacha caught him out of the corner of his eye and stopped mid-motion for a classic balk. Cutch walked, but A-Ram bounced to second for an easy 4-6-3 DP. *sigh*

Another three up, three down second for Cole Train. Not so for Wacha; The Kid broke the Bucs 20 inning dry spell by dropping a 2-2 fastball over the Clemente Wall, then settled into a groove. Cole kept rollin' in the third; Wacha ran his K streak to four in the Bucco half until Starling tapped back to the mound.

The Redbirds came back in the fourth. Matt Carpenter drilled a 2-2 heater into right for a double, was bunted to third and came in on Matt Holliday's grounder to left; Clint had the infield in and it bit him as a Mercer dive couldn't cut off Holliday's ball. A tapper moved him to second (Pedro & Jordy couldn't quite hook up on the force at second, but did end up with an out at first), and Jhonny Peralta's single to right brought MH chooglin' around third, but not quite home - Gregory's throw was waiting for him at the dish for the inning-ending tag.

That's Amore... (photo Justin Aller/Getty Images)
A Cutch single and A-Ram walk was a promising start for the Pirates. The Kid's roller moved them up a station as Ramirez managed to avoid Kolten Wong's tag attempt after fielding the ball.  With first open, the Cards opted to walk Pedro (and they worked around him Monday, too). Wacha hung a change up to Fran, who smacked it into the LF seats, and the Bucs answered in a big way, now up 5-1, and earning Fran a curtain call. Jordy walked and scored with two outs on El Coffee's double. Polanco still doesn't have this base running thing down yet; he was the last out, caught in a run down between second and third.

Tony Cruz doubled with two outs in the fifth for SL, but was left aboard. Miguel Socolovich took the ball (Wacha was at 86 pitches). Starling led off with an infield single and stole second, which was as far as he got. Carpenter opened the sixth with a solo shot (and it was a bomb; one hop and into the Allegheny)  to make it 6-2; Jason Heyward was stranded after a two out single. The Pirates again answered. Fran doubled with an out and was chased home by Jordy's single. A two out walk to Gregory put two Bucs on the basepaths, but Starling tapped back to the hill.

Cruz doubled again with two outs in the seventh; he was glued there again. Mitch Harris took the ball for the Redbirds and whiffed a pair to leave Cutch, who reached on an opening boot, aboard. Antonio Bastardo worked the eighth as Cole was at the 100 pitch mark. AB served back-to-back whiffs and closed with a comebacker. Waino came in for the first time since early April. With two gone, Josh banged a double and scooted home when El Coffee singled off Wong's mitt. It's 8-2 guys; let's save a couple of those runs for tonight.

Jared Hughes toed the rubber for the ninth. Jhonny Peralta singled, but that was it and the Pirates had game #1 easily in the bag.

OK - the Bucs stayed alive, and could have made things really interesting had they been a bit more clutch. But as Yogi said, it ain't over til it's over, and Charlie takes on Tyler Lyons in the nitecap.

  • Top two outfield assist men in the NL? Starling Marte with 15 and Gregory Polanco with 12.
  • Fran's grand slam was the second of his career. His first was in 2011 for the Yankees against the Rangers.
  • The attendance (tickets sold) was 29,747.
  • The game marked Adam Wainwright's first outing since April 25th and his first appearance as a reliever since getting the final out in Game Five of the 2006 World Series. Even Clint gave a clap when Waino came on.

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