Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Padre Bombs Drop Bucs 5-4, Game Notes

Last night was the kind of game that neither team seemed particularly interested in winning; the teams combined to strand 23 runners and go 6-for-28 with RISP. But in the end, three homers by the Padres were enough to carry the day for San Diego by a 5-4 count.

For the Pirates, it was a combination of squandered opportunities and two bad innings from the mound. They had a chance to run away from Colin Rea in the first frame, but after a run was in and the bases juiced, a sharply hit DP short circuited the scoring. In a sign of things to come, Frankie got through the inning, but not until he had given up a walk, single and wild pitch. The Bucs went quietly in the second; two more walks and an infield hit loaded the bases for the Friars, but they came up empty again.

Pittsburgh turned a third inning single into a run when Cutch was balked home after some debate. With two away, he bluffed a run down the line from third base and Rea tried to quick step his delivery home, losing contact with the rubber. First, it was called a balk; then reversed. Clint came out to beef twice (the second time after he saw a clubhoue vid); upon review, the call was reinstated. That brought out SD skipper Andy Green; he got the bounce when the balk stood. Frankie put up another zero, but with two more walks.

Jordy had a pair of hits and scored last night (photo USA Today Sports)

In the fourth, four of the first five Bucs singled but it led to just one run when Gregory was thrown out at home. First he was called safe, then rung up on review (it did seem he was tagged just shy of touching home; it was bang-bang on a strong but high throw) and eventually the Pirates left the bases full for the second time. A walk didn't cost Francisco this time around, but a dink and a bomb - a leadoff bunt single scored when Wil Myers banged a two out, 3-2 slider into the seats.

The Pirates left a runner on third in the fifth. The Padres chased Liriano with a one out single followed by a long, first pitch blast by Daniel Norris. Arquimedes Caminero came on, and he gave up another homer to his first batter. A strikeout and two walks later, Rob Scahill had to come on to close the frame.

Two more Buccos were stranded in the sixth; Ryan Vogelsong just gave up a walk. Both clubs left runners  in the seventh, the Bucs wasting a double and the Friars marooning three more runners. Pittsburgh led off the eighth with back-to-back singles; a one out error cut the score to 5-4, but that was followed by another inning-killing  DP. The Padres stranded an insurance run at second against AJ Schugel. There were no more hurrahs; Fernando Rodney put the Pirates away 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Josh had two hits and a run scored (photo Charle LeClaire/Getty Images)

For the Buc batters, it was another night of missing productive outs to keep innings going, even helped out by two San Diego errors, two HBP and a balk. They were 3-for-15 w/RISP and stranded 10 thanks to a pair of DPs, a throw-out and 11 whiffs.

Oddly, none of the 10 walks bit the Buccos - the Padres left 13 men on base - but the long ball did. Frankie's command is a mess; he now has 14 walks in 15-1/3 innings. That's becoming a team-wide issue; the Pirate staff leads the majors with five free passes per game. They're also leaking homers; the club has a 15% fly ball to homer ratio; it was 9% last year. That's doubled down by a drop in ground ball rate, from 50% to 46% this year, so opponents are lifting more balls. Some regression was due; the Bucs led the majors in both categories last year, but...

Both Jeff Branson and Uncle Ray have their work cut out for them.

  • Every Pirate starter, including Frankie, had a hit last night. The bottom of the order led the way; Josh and Jordy each had a pair of knocks at the bottom of the lineup.
  • Padre manager Andy Green said he was ejected over the run-scoring balk because he had never seen a reversal reversed before; he also argued that balk calls cannot be challenged. He lost on both counts.
  • Another trend developing: the game took just over four hours to complete. The Pirates have played just one contest that lasted less than three hours.
  • Jared Hughes will begin his rehab stint today following a bout of food poisoning. After his work in Pirate City, the team doesn't expect a long stay at Indy for the righty before he's back on the roster.

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