Saturday, May 21, 2016

Buc Bats, Gloves Fail Them In 5-1 Loss

Well, guess the tarp didn't have any holes in it, and after the roll-up and a little outfield wipe down that delayed the start about an hour, the ump said "play ball."

Beautiful day for a ball game! (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

With one gone in the first and Jon Niese on the hill, Jordy made a nice play on Trevor Story's ball and initially got an out call, but it was challenged and correctly overturned. A bouncer to JHK took a bit of a hop, causing a bobble, and Kang had to settle for the out at first rather than the DP; Story's charmed life paid off when Mark Reynolds doubled him home. Pittsburgh got a leadoff double from JJ, but Tyler Chatwood left him there. A walk and an error had the Rox back in business in the second, but a poor bunt and tough bouncer turned into a force by Josh got him out of the jam. The Bucs went down in order thx to a DP.

Story singled to open the third, but the Pirates returned the favor by turning a 4-6-3 DP ball for a 1-2-3 inning. Jaso and Starling had two out knocks and were left stranded. Jon worked a quiet fourth. JHK started with a double and a grounder moved him up a station. The contact play was on, the infield was in, and he was cut down at home. Clint challenged the call - Kang did look like he may have tapped his hand on the dish before the tag - but the call was upheld. The review was based on blocking the plate (and you're allowed to once you have possession of the ball). No diff; Josh walked and Jordy singled in a run, with Joyce's hard slide knocking the ball out of Tony Wolters mitt to tie the game.

It was a quick fifth for Niese, with JJ and Josh making above average plays for outs; the improvement on the right side this year has been dramatic. Gregory singled with two gone and was left aboard. In the past three innings, the Bucs have put five runners on with two outs, so not much margin for error. Kang had his hand checked and was replaced by Freeser in the sixth (who snagged a hot smash for the first out) as Niese worked another quiet inning; that's 11 in a row for the lefty. The Pirates went down in order, too.

Jon Niese stood tall for seven innings today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

DJ LaMahieu broke Niese's string at 13 straight retired with a two out single in the seventh; a punch out ended it with another goose egg. At 97 pitches, Jon's done after a strong day's labor, giving up one run on four hits, a walk and four whiffs. More promising, he had his ground ball mojo working for a second straight game. Jordy greeted Gonzalez Germen with a knock; it almost skipped by Gerardo Parro, who made a nice play to hold it to a single. JJ walked an out later. Starling was served a hung slider, but got under it for a mile-high pop out. That brought in RHP Carlos Estevez to face Gregory, who flew out.

Tony Watson took over in the eighth and walked Charlie Blackmon with one away; Blackmon got the full count call on a check swing that was within a gnat's eyelash going around. Not a prob; Tony left him there. Estevez (who throws at 98 MPH) stayed on the hill. he K'ed the first pair, helped by Fran fishing, before walking Matt Joyce on four pitches. He didn't last long; he tried to advance on a ball in the dirt and was nailed at second on a tight play (the Pirates used their challenge on the blocking the plate review) that was worth the dice roll, given the situation.

Mark the Shark took over in the ninth. After catching a pair of Rox looking, Parra hit a bleeder in front of the plate that Fran airmailed into right. Daniel Descalso pinch hit and drew a 3-2 walk. A wild pitch moved the runners up 90', and they both came in when Wolters roller hit first, kicking just enough that JJ mishandled the hop for another error. Jared Hughes came on; his first pitch was sent over the wall by Christhian Adames, his first MLB homer, before the fire was put out.

Jake McGee came in for the close, and Josh dinked a knock into right to greet him. The baseball gods evened that out quickly when Jordy's liner found leather. S-Rod singled, but the rally fizzled there.

Jung Ho injured his hand at a play at the plate; extent yet unknown (photo via

Pity to waste the pitching; sloppy day, sloppy play. The Rox scored all their runs with two outs in innings that making a routine play would have otherwise ended quietly. The leatherwork was outstanding from innings two through eight, but failed them at the start and end. The Rockies pitching has been surprisingly good this series, with their guys keeping the ball down and filling up the strike zone. But the Pirates today did what Colorado did yesterday, stranding 10 runners and going 1-for-12 with RISP. Time to shower off and try to take the series tomorrow; two out of three against the Rockies will make it a good weekend.

  • Jung Ho Kang left the game with an injured left hand; nothing more specific than the catch-all "discomfort" was cited. They'll wait for the medico's to determine the extent and are listing him as day-to-day. The injury was likely the result of his slide home in the fifth.
  • As Joe Block noted, this is the fourth straight seven-inning start by Pittsburgh pitching, and they've put up a 1.93 ERA over that time. Should would be nice to get them on a roll.
  • 31,352 was today's announced attendance.

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