In the third, a little more of the same. Starling got to third on a single, bunt and steal; he died there. The Reds got their leadoff guy aboard, and he was wiped out via a 4-6-3 DP. The Pirates left runners on first and second in the fourth and Jeff spun his first clean frame. In the fifth, the Reds figured enough for Mr Melville and brought in Dan Straily; he issued a walk and HBP, stranding both. Leaving 10 batters aboard is quite a feat, but the Bucs are again up to the task. For the Redlegs, a leadoff double died at third.
|Jeff did his job, but the bats came up empty (photo Charles Leclaire/USA Today)|
It was Pittsburgh's turn for a 1-2-3 frame. Clint let Jeff bat; Locke's at just 55 pitches, but is looking at a third trip around the order. And on cue, leadoff batter Eugenio Suarez worked Jeff for seven pitches before knocking one out of the yard to knot the score. There was a little more drama after a two out walk and wild pitch, but no more damage was done. It was another three up, three down inning for the Bucs against Straily. Grgeory had a chance to take his third walk of the day, but fouled out on ball four. Jeff did his job, but after 80 pitches, Neftali Feliz got the call and worked a calm inning. Locke went six innings, giving up a run on seven hits with two walks and a K, a solid, workmanlike outing.
Jumbo Diaz took the ball. Josh singled and was bunted to second. Stew hit one sharply, but right at third. Matt Joyce walked. JJ came through with a knock; Josh was cut down bang-bang at home *sigh*. The Bucs challenged, based on blocking the plate; Devin Mesoraco also may have just missed the swipe; they lost on both counts. Tony Watson took over, and gave up a leadoff single, erased on a 4-6-3 DP. On to the ninth.
|Stew's bomb was the Bucco offense today (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
Ross Ohlendorf climbed the hill. With an out, Freese lined a single that ticked off Jay Bruce's mitt and Starling followed with a broken bat fister, but El Coffee and Josh followed with pops. That makes the Bucs 1-for-14 w/RISP, with 14 stranded. Arqimedes Caminero toed the rubber. Phillips lined an 0-2, 100 MPH heater into center for a leadoff knock. An out later, Bruce got a slider in the lefty sweet spot - inside corner, above the knees, and shot it into right for a double (later credited as a triple); Gregory was playing well off the line and Phillips scooted home with the game winner.
Same story; gotta cash in some runners. The Bucs excel at creating chances, but finishing is a task they haven't figured out yet. In this series, they stranded 34 runners with a 5-for-35 RISP performance, just a .143 BA. And even at that, five of their eight runs came after two outs and the bases empty. The second part of the story is that while they hold their own against St. Louis and the Cubs, they let the division bottom dwellers (we don't think Cincy is gonna hang on to the top spot long) take them to the shed, and that's the diff between the wild card and the title. They better have their RBI eye sharpen; they play the Tigers four straight now.
- Chris Stewart's homer was his first since August 20th, 2013.
- Gregory Polanco's nine walks lead the league; he and Cutch drew a pair of free passes today.
- JJ, Starling and Stew each had a pair of knocks
- Tyler Glasnow got his first 2016 start for Indy today. He went five frames, giving up a run on three hits with three walks/six whiffs on 81 pitches. Tyler's the real deal, but still has some control issues to tame. It was encouraging that he started 15-of-20 hitters with a strike, but only 43 of his 81 pitches were strikes overall. He took a 1-0 loss in a seven inning twin bill opener.