Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pirates Hang On For 8-7 Win, Game & Indy Notes

It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but the Bucs outlasted Arizona to take an 8-7 victory at Chase Field last night. Pittsburgh had leads of 5-1 and 8-4, but the Snakes kept slithering back. It was a wild one from start to finish, with the two squads banging six home runs, five doubles and a triple among the 28 hits.

It started quietly enough. Patrick Corbin and Jonathan Niese both gave up lead off singles, and both got DP balls. In the second, everything the Bucs hit was hard. Josh doubled and with two outs, S-Rod and Gregory went deep back-to-back, with both blasts being monumental shots (Rodriguez went 458' & Polanco 461'). It was Polanco's first homer of the year, and off a lefty for bonus points. David Peralta also played long ball  for the D-Backs in their half to make it 3-1.

Bombs away for Serpico (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Jordy led off the third frame with a ball that outdistanced the other drives at 466'. Starling doubled with two out, breaking into a home run trot prematurely, but still made it to third on an error. He came in on Josh's knock. Arizona answered with three straight singles to make it 5-2. Pittsburgh went quietly in the fourth. Welington Castillo led off with a homer, and with two gone, a triple and double by the 8-9 hitters made it interesting again at 5-4.

The Bucs had a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth; Niese used another DP ball to keep the D-backs off the board. Pittsburgh laid a goose egg in the sixth, and Jon was yanked after a single and walk with one out. Neftali Feliz came in to get a strikeout and comebacker. David Freese and Jordy reached with one gone in the seventh; Cutch and Fran singles cashed them in. Tony Watson took the ball, and used 10 pitches to toss a clean frame.

The Pirates added on in the eighth on a Josh double, bunt and S-Rod knock to make it 8-4, and the game looked like it was money in the bank as Tony came out for a second inning (he hadn't worked since Saturday).

But nooooooooo....  Castillo homered to lead off. A double came around on Jordy's two-out boot. Mark Melancon got the call at that point, with Tony's pitch count up to 26. Melancon was looking for a multi-inning (OK, four out) save, but three straight singles made the score 8-7. Two of the hits should have been outs, but The Shark bobbled a flip to first and Jordy lobbed a throw (appeared to be a bad grip on the ball) that was beat out, though it took a review. MM finally got a properly fielded bouncer to end the damage with the score 8-7.

The Shark, bloodied but unbowed, notched his 4th save (photo Daniel Kubus/Pirates)

A DP ended the Bucs ninth; The Shark came back with a 1-2-3 effort, though Castillo didn't miss his third long ball by much and the second out was a liner smoked to Freese before a routine grounder put it to bed.

Can't whine about RISP, LOB or power outages tonight. Pittsburgh was 5-for-8 w/RISP, stranded just four runners (three DPs kept that total down) and had three doubles to go with three homers. But geez, that pitching. We assume Jared Hughes is going to have a short rehab period; the bullpen needs all hands on deck about now.

  • Per ESPN Stats, El Coffee and  S-Rod have the longest back-to-back homers in MLB history, surpassing the 2011 mark of 912' by Ryan Braun & Prince Fielder of the Brew Crew. ESPN had the distance at 925' and Statcast at 919', and either way, that's some long taters. Statcast measured Jordy's homer at 466', the longest of the year to date.
  • Josh and Jordy each had three hits; once again, every starting position player reached base at least once.
  • Mark Melancon earned his first four-out save since 2011 as a Houston Astro. Tony Watson got into the act, too, batting for the first time since 2014.
  • Jon Niese is 3-0 to start a season for the first time in his career. 
  • Pretty good start for S-Rod, too. In 20 PA, he's gotten six hits (2B & two HR), drawn six walks, scored five times, driven in eight runs and slashed .429/.600/.929. His OPS+ is 309.
  • Indy's Josh Bell hit for the cycle last night with a grand slam and five RBI.  Bell is slashing .292/.414/.583 with four doubles, three homers, and 14 RBI in 13 games. Stephen Brault (1-1, 2.63) tossed five innings of strong ball - he gave up an unearned run on two hits, with four walks and nine whiffs as the Indians romped 13-1.

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