Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jeff Locke Down, Joyce Homer Keys To 6-1 Win

Lets see...Pirate pen in shambles, playing at Coors Field, Jeff Locke on the hill...hmmm. Maybe not the way we'd plan it, but hey, it worked out swell as the Bucs took a 6-1 victory behind some late two-out hitting and strong outings by Locke and AJ Schugel.

Jeff came up big tonight (photo Kim Klement USA Today)

Jeff and Chad Bettis were locked in a pitcher's duel (and not many of them at Coors). At the end of six, it was 1-0 Pittsburgh. The Pirates made little noise against Bettis, using a hit batter, single and bouncer to score their run in the fifth. Jeff had one jam to work out of in the fifth.

Locke left after the sixth, giving up five hits, two walks and whiffing eight (five looking). Lance Barrett's low strike zone and some subtle framing by Fran did the trick, although three were ejected (two Rox, one Buc) debating that zone. Still, it was gutsy outing by Locke. The game was halted for 30 minutes by a downpour with two outs in the second; he had to finish that out and stay loose for four more frames.

Bettis went a little longer, and almost got away with it. In the seventh, the Pirates put it to bed. Gregory led off with a single, tagged to second on a fly, went to third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch. Jason Rogers drew a  3-2 walk. Chris Oberg took the hill, and he lost JJ, also on a full count. Matt Joyce wasn't that patient, taking a 1-1 fastball the opposite way into the seats, and suddenly a cliffhanger was a 5-0 game.

Of course, no lead is safe with the Bucco bullpen of late. Rob Scahill faced five batters; three reached and one scored. AJ Schugel got the call to face the dangerous Nolan Arenado, and got him to pop out to Jordy. Pittsburgh used some two out lightning in the eighth. With Christhian Adames on the hill, Gregory doubled off the wall and Josh banged one up the middle to plate another.

 And so did Matt Joyce (photo Leon Halip/Getty Images)

AJ stranded a two out triple (it hit off the new high fence; it would have been a HR in 2015) in the Colorado half. The Bucs went down quietly in the ninth, and the Rox managed a single as Schugel closed the gate and like Arquie yesterday, earned his first MLB save. Jeff got his first win of the campaign, and the predicted nightmare at Coors instead became sweet dreams.

The stars aligned for the Bucs. Locke, who is notorious for working off the plate, benefited from Barrett's generous zone, and the Rox went 1-for-12 with RISP, stranding 11. Kinda nice to see the bad guys wear those numbers.

  • Matt Joyce and Gregory each had a pair of hits; they scored three and drove in three together. 
  • Starling Marte swiped a sack; he's 6-for-6 so far this season.
  • The Pirates have won six straight at Coors Field.
  • If you're wondering about AJ being awarded a save, he came in after the sixth inning with the tying run on deck and finished the game (the usual save rule).

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