Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pirates Bomb Brew Crew 9-3 To Take Series

Juan Nicasio started off with a clean first. The good news is that his velo is back to sitting at 94-95; the bad is that he went full on two batters and burned 21 pitches. JJ opened with a single; he was forced by Cutch, who was then caught stealing - on a 3-0 pitch. David Freese walked and Matt Joyce added a knock before Fran lined out to left, ripping an at 'em ball. It was another quick inning for Juan in the second, who whiffed a pair. Gregory walked, Josh doubled him to third, and Jordy's fly got him home in the Bucco half.

Gregory had three hits, three runs and an RBI today (photo via Pittsburgh Pirates)

Easy-peasy third for Juan, whose pitch count is now a much more tolerable 48. Freese walked with one gone, followed by an infield knock by Joyce and bloop single by Fran to load 'em up. Gregory singled one run in and Josh another. Jordy's bouncer up the middle was deflected into center (ruled a single, it was changed later to an error) and a pair of Bucs crossed the dish. Juan's bunt was held on to too long; the bases were jammed again. Tyler Cravie jogged in from the bullpen. JJ singled home one more before Cutch banged into a third-to-home force and Freese flew out. Nice inning; it's 6-0 Buccos after three.

The Brew Crew got a walk and one out single; Chris Carter singled home a run and another walk loaded 'em. After a pop out, an 0-2 fastball ( a good pitch; better hitting by Kirk Nieuwenhuis) was slapped into center to make it a 6-3 game. Walking batters with the lead...grrr! Chris Capuano took his turn. A lead off soft single and walk put him in hot water. A bouncer moved them up, but he escaped. Nicasio gave up back-to-back knocks to start the fifth. Then a Brewer brain freeze; Jonathan Villar was caught trying to steal third, and Juan nailed the next pair. The Pirates padded the cushion with a 426' Cutch bomb.

Juan tossed a clean sixth; Blaine Boyer came in and dodged a bases-loaded jam when Cutch flew out to center. Arquie took over in the seventh; Nicasio went six frames, giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and six whiffs after 95 pitches, plenty good enough for today. Caminero fanned a pair in a clean inning. Carlos Torres was called on, and a tossed a 1-2-3 seventh. Cammy stayed on; S-Rod was at first and Starling came in to play left. He walked a pair, book ends to a pair of ground outs, and Clint sent him to the showers for Neftali Feliz, who shut the door.

Matt Joyce had a big day too with three hits (photo via Pittsburgh Pirates)

Torres worked the eighth; his good day was ruined when he hung a two-out, first pitch curve to S-Rod who sent it into the fourth level of the LF rotunda, 442' away, with Gregory aboard. Stew pinch hit and doubled, bringing on Sam Freeman; he got Cutch to line out. Interesting defensive set up for the Bucs in the ninth: Fran to first base (he's played there a handful of times in the past), S-Rod to left and Marte to center with Rob Scahill pitching to Stew catching. Fran got all the putouts as Rob induced three 4-3's to wrap it up.

Nicasio rallied, and six innings is a big deal. But he still needs consistent mechanics and a third pitch. In all, a nice bounce back, though. Bats boomed today; a pair of mammoth homers, 25 baserunners (that'll help the ol' OBP) and a nice 6-for-21 RISP. So the Bucs are back above .500 at 7-6, are 6-3 in division play, have a day off and then meet the downtrodden Padres in a four game set.

  • John Jaso has an eight game hitting streak and 12 game (which is every one he's been in) on-base skein after today. Jaso had two hits; he was outshone by Gregory Polanco and Matt Joyce, who both had three raps. El Coffee also drew a walk, his 13th, to led the NL.
  • Eight straight Pirates reached base in the third inning. The Pirates had six hits in that span; two went off Brewer gloves and a third was a misplayed bunt to go with an error and walk. Every starting player, including Nicosia, had a hit by the sixth inning. In fact, every played that got a PA had a hit except for Cole Figueroa, who flew out.
  • The Bucs drew 31,124 on a gorgeous day; it was 77 when the game started and 81 when it ended. Nice of the team and weather to come through; the game took 3-1/2 hours to play.
  • Starling Marte sat today; he still had some stiffness but wanted in the lineup. The Bucco brass cautiously decided to sit him down until San Diego on Tuesday.
  • P-Flo accepted his assignment to Indy, adding more organizational middle infield depth along with Gift Ngoepe.
  • Neil Walker led the NL in HR as a second basemen in 2014 (23) and 2015 (16), and is tied for lead this season (3) per @EliasSports. His BA, though, is just .227.

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