Thursday, September 24, 2015

Buctober Begins Tonight; Pirates Clinch With 13-7 Victory Over the Rox

That ol' two out magic was still working its charms today. Josh was on first with two outs via a single when Starling added a knock, sending him to third. A stolen base and blooper to left  by The Kid that ticked off Jose Reyes' glove made it 2-0 against young Christian Bergman. It was 1-2-3 for Charlie with a pair of whiffs. In the second, the Bucs wasted a Jordy single and Chuck tossed another clean, two K frame.

With one out in the third, Cutch and Starling had back-to-back-knocks; both trotted home ahead of The Kid, who pounded a ball over the wall in right to make it 5-0. Daniel Descalso opened with a single, went to second on a tapper, to third when Bergman legged out an infield hit and scored when Charlie was late getting to first on a probable DP ball.

With two gone in the fourth, Gregory and Josh singled, Harrison's just barely dropping. Cutch walked, and Starling doubled in two more to make it 7-1, chasing Bergman for Simon Castro. Charlie almost had one of his meltdown innings. The first three batters reached on singles (one quite soft and the other a bunt) and he walked the fourth hitter. But a chat with Uncle Ray calmed him down; a force at home, a big whiff, and another grounder prevented disaster and maintained the 7-2 lead.

The Kid was smokin' tonight (photo Al Behrman/AP)
Christian Friedrich took the ball in the fifth. Jordy doubled with an out and Gregory walked with two gone, but Josh swung and missed three times to strand them. Corey Dickerson went long to lead off; good thing Charlie has a pocketful of runs to work with. CarGo blooped a single to left. There's been some bullets this game, but a lot of soft hits, too, thanks mainly to Coors huge outfield. Justin Morneau, red hot this series, followed with another knock. A slow roller moved them up. No need for the extra 90'; Tom Murphy homered to make it 7-6, and in came Joe Blanton to finish the frame. Five innings: 13 runs on 21 hits between the clubs.

Justin Miller joined the fray in the sixth and tucked away the middle of the order. Joe put up a quiet frame; he's used 14 pitches to record five outs.  Rex Brothers trotted in for the Rox in the seventh. Jordy singled with two outs, but Michael Morse whiffed. Brothers in fact K'ed the side swinging, and every whiff was on a chase. Joakim Soria took his turn and went 1-2-3.

Boone Logan was next in line for Colorado in the eighth. The lefty got El Coffee on a liner, then was replaced by RHP Jairo Diaz. He whiffed Josh fishing for a slider in the dirt before - what else - walking Cutch. Starling bounced out, and Tony Watson came in for a spin. Three up. three down on six pitches.

John Axford toed the rubber in the ninth, and The Kid beat out a bleeder for a lead off knock. Fran followed with a sharp single to right, Neil pulling up at second. Travis Snider grabbed a stick and bounced into a force. Keon Broxton ran for Lunchbox and moved to second as Jordy walked. That brought up S-Rod. He fell behind 0-2, but Axford doubled up on the hook and hung it; Rodriguez drilled the meatball for a bases-clearing double high off the wall in center, just missing a grand salami.

S-Rod's bases loaded double was the clincher (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
That brought on a call for Jason Gurka, the Rox ninth pitcher of the night. This time El Coffee won the lefty matchup, doubling home S-Rod. Josh fell behind 0-2 and got a fastball on the fat part of the plate, singling home Gregory; he went to the dugout with a limp after an awkward slide into second (he half hit the brakes, half did the splits when the throw didn't come in), so we'll see how that develops. Cutch walked, and an out later, The Kid knocked in another tally. Fran's single loaded the sacks. Keon Broxton got his first MLB at bat and collected his first big league whiff. But now it's a laugher again at 13-6.

Arquimedes Caminero climbed the hill (we would have saved him for tomorrow afternoon's game with a full pen of lesser lights, but Clint didn't ask us). Rafeal Ynoa slapped a 101 MPH heater the opposite way for a double, barely beating Starling's rocket to second. An out later, Corey Dickerson banged a splitter for another double and RBI. After that, it was a pair of routine outs, and the Pirates are back in the Buctober post-season party.

Charlie was pretty sorry today, though the bats and the work of Joe, Joakim and Tony when it was crunch time carried the day. Jeff Locke, another guy who like Charlie has had a dismal second half, takes on Chad Bettis in tomorrow afternoon's getaway game.

  • For the third straight year, the Pirates clinched a playoff berth on September 23rd (even tho the game went pass midnight here, it was still the 23rd in Denver).
  • The Kid had six RBI, a career high. He had driven in five three other times. He's the first Bucco to have a six-ribbie day since Garrett Jones in 2012. Neil had a 4-for-5 day with a homer.
  • Jordy and Cutch reached base four times, while Josh and Starling had three hits each as the Bucs collected 19 knocks tonight. They also drew six walks, three to Andrew.
  • Cards win, Cubs lose. Pittsburgh is four behind the Redbirds and three ahead of Chicago. The Pirate record is 92-60, the most they've been over .500 this season.

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