Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bucs Blow 7-0 Lead, But Grind It Out In 12 Innings 9-8

Jon Gray and Jon Niese both put up a zero, stranding first inning doubles. Fran and Josh singled to put runners on the corners; a Jordy force out brought home a run. The play was challenged after a fairly innocuous slide by Josh at second, tho he did come off the bag, but the play was upheld after a long review. The Rox had a lead off knock erased on a DP, and it stayed 1-0 after two frames.

JJ and Cutch opened the third with knocks. David Freese had a nice at bat, running the count full on eight pitches and rolling the ninth into left to plate a run. Fran walked with one away to load 'em up. El Coffee's sac fly brought in a tally; Josh's bloop single another. Niese spun a 1-2-3 frame.

Jon started the fourth with a knock and came in on Freeser's two-out double. That brought on Eddie Butler; Gray tossed 96 not so effective pitches and left down 5-0. Starling beat out a ball to third (he was originally rung up, but the call was rightfully overturned on review) and Fran doubled in two more before it was done. Just as suddenly, Colorado sprang to life. Two homers, double, triple, walk, and a single brought the tying run to the plate with an out. Niese finished up, stranding runners at second and third with a 7-4 lead.

Pittsburgh went quietly in the fifth, and so did the Rox. Butler had another easy inning, helped by a great play by an unlikely source as Mark Reynolds speared Cutch's rocket. The Rockies opened with three straight ground ball singles, and that was it as Ryan Vogelsong was waved in. Niese went five, giving up runs on 10 hits with two walks and five whiffs on 85 pitches. Mercer helped the cause when he snagged a deflected grounder and got a force at third, and then V-Song shut the door with the count 7-5 Buccos.

V-Song cleaned up a mess (photo Tiffany Tompkins/Bradenton Herald)

Justin Miller took the ball in the seventh, and Gregory stopped the bleeding a bit when he crushed a two out solo shot to dead center. Neftali Feliz came in, we thought he'd be on ice today with his pitch count and results of late. It showed: a double (Polanco's bad; he misplayed it) and  Mark Reynold's homer cut the lead to one. Tony Watson answered the phone and closed the frame with the score 8-7 good guys. Chad Qualls had a calm eighth. Tony didn't fare so well; he left a sinker dead center to Geraldo Parra and he planted it in the seats, a new ballgame as we head into the ninth.

Jake McGee climbed the hill, and had the luck of the Irish. Cutch hit a 400' foul before walking and Freese's liner to center was outrun by Parra. Starling singled, but Fran up 3-1, swung at ball four, then bounced into a DP. The Bucs sent out Kyle Lobstein. After a pair of whiffs, he gave up a pair of singles before getting the third out.

Boone Logan took the ball in the 10th, and Matt Joyce smacked a one-out double lefty-on-lefty; he had come in on a double swap to replace Starling. Jordy walked, but the Bucs couldn't take advantage. The Lobster got his three outs without any drama. Carlos Estevez tossed a clean 11th; Lobstein faced three batters thanks to a DP. Praise the Lord; in the 12th, Gregory's walk turned into a run on Jordy's two out double. The Shark came on. With an out, DJ LeMahieu walked after an 11 pitch battle, then stole second. The next hitter walked on a full count, and a grounder moved them up a station. But Melancon had the three pitch K up his sleeve and played it to end a long night with a Bucco win.

The Lobster turned the tide tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Lobster deserves props all around; he was the only Pirate pitcher (beside V-Song) that actually deserved to earn the win. And give MM credit too; that closer mentality kicked in at the right time. Pittsburgh keeps on churning out runs; now if the pen would start churning out some goose eggs.

  • Another amazing break from the gates: by the fourth inning, every Pirate had scored or driven in a run, including the pitcher. 
  • Gregory Polanco continues to mature at the plate - he homered, hit a sac fly, scored twice and chased home a pair.  
  • Josh now has a seven game hitting streak.
  • Four in a row is the Pirates longest win streak of the year.
  • Tony Watson has surrendered three homer in 10-1/3 innings, which equals the total he gave up in 75-1/3 IP last season.
  • Jared Hughes gave up three runs on five hits in two innings; looks like his quick recall may have hit a speed bump.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'm a little concerned about Watson. He's been really good over the course of his career and it's a plus that he's a homegrown guy and all that. But I just had a sense watching him last year that he was no longer as bulletproof as he'd been previously, even though his end of year statistics looked similar. And now the bad start to 2016. I hope he's not hurt. Maybe the league just has a better book on him now.

A sweep today would be a big help during the current extended road stretch. If the Pirates can get back home in early May a few games over .500, I like our chances.

Ron Ieraci said...

His performance bears watching over the course of the year, Will - remember, The Shark is a FA after this year; Tony is supposed to plug into the closer role.