Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lester Quiets Bucs In Nitecap 2-1

The Cubs drew first blood again of Jay Happ. Austin Jackson doubled on an 0-2 pitch and Anthony Rizzo singled him home with two gone. The Bucs got a two out knock and stolen base by Cutch off Jon Lester, but A-Ram left him there. In the second the Cubbies led off with a single, quickly erased trying to steal, followed by a pair of grounders. The Pirates only got Michael Morse's walk to show for their at-bats.

Jay punched out the side in the third. Starling singled with two gone, but broke too soon on a steal try and was picked off first in a rundown. A walk and a single put Jay in some hot water in the fourth, but he whiffed his way out of it. The Cubs shifted against Cutch and got him to ground to third, after fouling off a pair aiming at the right side. A-Ram singled and a roller moved him to second, but Morse couldn't chase him home; Javier Baez made a couple of nice plays on swinging bunts to help the Cub cause.

David Ross had a pesky at bat, finally drilling the eighth pitch to right for a double. Lester bunted, and had the double pleasure of beating it out after a wide throw to third by Happ & sloppy tag by A-Ram put Cubs on the corners (the Bucs challenged, unwisely, and lost). Maybe that bothered Jay; he served a meatball to Dexter Fowler, who banged it for a RBI double and put the Bucs in a huge jam. The next two Cubbies went down swinging as Jay regained his mojo. Rizzo was intentionally walked to juice the sacks and it worked as Starlin Castro flew out; the Bucs are still in the game, down just 2-0. The bottom of the Buc order went down quietly; the pull happy Pirates are giving 3B Baez his exercise so far.

Jay was good, but not good enough tonight (photo Archie Carpenter/United Press)
Baez opened the sixth with a double, getting ahead 2-0 and then mashing a fastball delivered down Broadway. An out later, Ross beat out an infield knock. The Cubs tried a squeeze; it didn't work. Clint came out to switch pitchers; Maddon took the field too, to grump about the play at home (he was out; maybe Joe had a beef about baseball's stupidest rule, blocking the plate). Anyway, Arquimedes Caminaro took the ball and K'ed Fowler. It was 1-2-3 for Lester.

Arquie worked the seventh; the only runner to reach was via a throwing error by P-Flo. and A-Ram made up for that by a leaping spear of a two-out liner. Ramirez celebrated his glovework by leading off with a knock and Fran singled him to third. Morse did what the Cubs wanted; he rolled into a nicely played 6-4-3 DP, tho the score is now 2-1. S-Rod got plunked, and JHK hit for P-Flo. A wild pitch moved Rodriguez to second, but Kang left him there, whiffing on a high heater.

Cammy struck out the side in the eighth. After some choppy seas last frame, Lester calmed the waters on 12 pitches, getting a pair of swinging K in a not very disciplined set of at bats by any Bucco during the frame. Antonio Bastardo toed the rubber and worked a clean ninth, with A-Ram climbing the ladder to bring down another bullet. Not that it mattered; Lester used six pitches to sit down the Bucs 3-4-5 hitters to seal the deal.

Jay pitched a solid game, albeit from mostly from the stretch. Lester owned the Bucs; they had five hits, all belonging to the middle of the order. Clint's roll of the dice by sitting JHK and Jordy didn't pan out, and the Cubs got a badly needed win. With Arrieta on the hill tomorrow against AJ, the Pirates have to be at their best to not leak the series away. It'll be interesting to see what kind of lineup is patched together to toss at Jake; we'd look for all bats on deck.

  •  A-Ram had two of the five Buc hits.
  • Starling was the first runner Lester picked off since 2011. Tonight was another first; his first complete game of the year.
  • We've mentioned it before, but Jung-Ho Kang has a reverse split that we're sure Joe Maddon was aware of - JHK hits .302 v RHP, but just .241 v lefties, with a higher K rate, too, so it wasn't a big surprise that Lester took care of him as a pinch hitter.
  • Not much of a crowd for game two at PNC Park, just 25,914.
  • The Pirates announced that 2B Max Moroff is their their minor league player of the year (beating out Josh Bell & Austin Meadows) and Yeudy Garcia (topping Tyler Glasnow) their minor league pitcher of the year. 22 year-old Moroff hit .293 with a .374 OBP for Altoona this year. Fireballer Garcia, also 22, worked for the West Virginia Power, posting a 12-5 slate with a 2.10 ERA,112 strikeouts and 41 walks with a 1.07 WHIP in 124-1/3 innings.
  • Congrats to the short season Morgantown Black Bears; they won the NY-PA League championship 3-1 tonight.
  • The Bucs announced their instructional league roster; it's primarily young prospects ranging from AA to the GCL. Tyler Glasnow is the only Indy rep.

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