Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pirates Don't Answer Opportunity's Knocks, Fall To Reds 5-1

It was 38 degrees out, but with sun instead of sleet. The Bucs got a Cutch knock off Raisel Iglesias in the opening frame; the Reds went right to work on the Cole Train. Billy Hamilton doubled and Eugenio Suarez singled him home; the hits were a bloop and broken bat flare. Joey Votto punched a grounder into right after getting the call on a very close two strike pitch. A fly moved Suarez to third and a Jay Bruce single up the middle brought him in. A 4-6-3 DP closed out the frame with Cincy up 2-0. Bruce's single was smoked; the other balls that found grass were just well placed; that seems to be a thing with Gerrit and the Reds.

Fran and El Coffee's second inning singles put Bucs on the corners with no outs. Josh K'ed in an ugly at bat. After being patient and focused in Pittsburgh, he's been chasing at GABP. Jordy smoked a liner right to SS; Gregory was doubled off first. Gerrit survived a pair of walks to put up a zero. JJ blooped a hustle double with an out in the third but was left at second. The Reds went down 1-2-3 with two whiffs.

Gerrit settled in after a rough start (photo Charlie Riedel/AP)

Cervelli walked with one gone in the fourth, followed by Polanco and Josh singles to load the sacks. Jordy then banged into a 6-3 DP; runners, runners everywhere... The baserunning hasn't helped; Fran should have been at third on El Coffee's knock. Gerrit tossed another clean frame, but is up to 78 pitches. The Bucs went down quietly. With two down, Cole was up 0-2 on Suarez and Votto, but gave up a walk and single. That brought on Arquimedes Caminero. Cole went 4-2/3 frames, giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and four whiffs on 100 pitches. Phillips' looked-to-be-catchable blooper fell in front of Marte and brought in a run, with Votto tossed out trying to take third. It's 3-0 Reds after five.

With two gone in the sixth, Fran singled, Gregory walked and Josh singled in a run, with he and El Coffee moving up 90' when Hamilton's throw home (which may have had Cervelli cut down at home) hit the mound and bounced away. That brought in Blake Wood for Iglesias, and he shut the door. Arqie put up a zero thx to an E4 erased on a caught stealing. Matt Joyce drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, and a JJ double moved him to third. Cutch hit into a 3-6 DP, with Votto stepping on the bag and then going to second for the tag (which was a bang-bang out call, but upheld after review) when Jaso wandered off the bag. Joyce never budged off third; he would have been DOA. He apparently was reading the ball; JJ assumed it was a contact play, and the result was that the Bucs put up another goose egg. The baserunning aside, a couple of fly balls in the right spot would make this a different game.

Kyle Lobstein took the ball. The Lobster was in hot water; he gave up some sharp raps, the worst being Suarez's two-out, two-run homer to center, making it 5-1. The key was Hamilton; he beat out a  comebacker that had the earmarks of an inning-ending DP. Caleb Cotham and Lobstein traded zeroes in the eighth. JJ Hoover came on to turn out the lights.

Fran was aboard  four times today (photo Justin Aller/Getty Images)

The top of the Reds order - Hamilton, Suarez and Votto - scored all five Reds runs; Suarez drove in three while the usual suspects, Phiillips and Bruce, also added RBIs. You can't expect the Pirates to put up a five spot every game, but today they let a lot of opportunities go by the board. It's the third time in five games that they've shot themselves in the foot with baserunning and fielding gaffes and a sometimes less than stellar approach with runners on. They've overcome their self inflicted wounds in two of those games, and hopefully as the season goes on, they tighten up on the basics. They're a pretty nice club that still hasn't clicked on all cylinders.

As for Gerrit, he's still snake bitten in the first frame; a sore point last year, too. It was the inning he gave up the most runs. Today, he was hurt by a couple of soft hits early, and he still gets deep in counts. But it was encouraging to see him use his change, and it was fairly effective. If he develops that third offering, it will go a long way to keeping guys from sitting on his heater.

  • Fran, El Coffee and Josh went 7-for-10 with two walks and produced the only Bucco run. The meat of the order, Cutch, Freese and Starling, went 1-for-12 with four whiffs.
  • Per Root's Joe Block and @baseball_ref, today is the first time since 1980 that the Pirates have used the same lineup for five straight games.
  • Some things never change: On Friday night Starling Marte, David Freese and John Jaso were hit by pitches, making it 36 Pirate batters plunked by Reds pitchers in the last four seasons. Frankie Liriano hit Jay Bruce in the fourth inning, the 37th Reds batter plunked by a Pirate over the same span, per CBS Sports. It was all quiet along that front today.
  • Some things do: Fran Cervelli was behind the dish for Cole as Clint weans Gerrit away from Stew being his personal caddy. One diff was a lot more change ups from Cole Train, especially v lefties, which may or may not be related to the catcher.
  • C Elias Diaz (elbow) is expected to begin a throwing program this weekend. P Jared Hughes (lat) is also expected to step up his rehab and slated to throw off a mound next week.
  • Lots of home run news yesterday - Marte's blast made the list, while old Bucco Brock Holt smacked his first grand salami among other notable dingers of the day.

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