Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Duel Unravels Late, Buc Rally Falls Short In 3-1 Loss

The ballyhooed matchup began with a clean first frame by Jose Fernandez; Gerrit Cole continued his bob-and-weave tactics by giving up a knock and a walk, but no runs. The teams exchanged second inning singles. In the third, Josh became the first Pirate to reach second on a bloop single and bunt, but got no further. Miami opened with an Icharo knock - the first solidly hit safety of the game - followed by a dying quail single by JT Realmuto; Marte's no-chance throw went to third to put Fish at second and third. A whiff was followed by a contact play 5-2 tag at home and capped with another K as Cole Train rolled on.

Jose tossed a clean fourth, helped by a couple of borderline calls that strike throwers get. Gerrit tossed a quiet frame too, behind some nice leatherwork by JJ and Josh. 1-2-3 went the Pirates in the fifth, and ditto for the Fish. The Pirates went quietly again in the sixth.  Christian Yelich opened with a single, and Marcell Ozuna reached when JHK tried to turn his soft grounder into a force; his throw was both late and off target. An out later, a single filled the sacks with Fish. A soft flare to Josh was out number two; his flip to first was just a heartbeat from a DP. No diff; a looper to Gregory shut down the Marlins.

Gerrit couldn't catch a break in the seventh (photo via MLB.com)

Cutch opened the seventh with a single to right center, cut off nicely by Icharo to hold him to one sack. His hustle was rewarded when Gregory lasered a one hop at 'em ball to second for a 4-6-3 DP and another three up, three down frame.

Icharo turned on fastball and lined it into right for a one out rap; Realmuto followed with an infield single. More trouble: Yelich singled in a run, and the runners moved up on the play at home. It came on the heels of a missed third strike call, one that had even the Marlin broadcasters shaking their heads. Clint kept Gerrit in; he walked Ozuna on a wild pitch, allowing Realmuto to score. The Pirates got a review of the call, but lost; it was a bang-bang play, and NY opted to uphold the field decision. In came Jared Hughes. He got a DP ball, but with the shift on, it took too long for Josh to reach the bag and make a strong turn. The forceout let a third run cross the plate.

David Phelps replaced Fernandez in the eighth, even though Jose had thrown just 88 pitches. After a pair of whiffs, Josh singled before a bouncer ended the frame. AJ Schugel came in and survived a leadoff double  via a DP on Jordy's dandy grab of a liner. AJ Ramos took the ball looking for the save. He lost Matt Joyce, JJ rolled a single through the infield and Cutch walked to juice the sacks. El Coffee lifted a sac fly to the wall in deep center, just missing his second grand slam. JHK went down looking at three pitches, never offering a swing. There was no Marte party tonight as he flew out to right, and the Bucs went down 3-1.

Gregory came within a hair of pulling out the win (photo USA Today)

Tonight was a game of ifs - if the ump rings up the third strike call on Yelich, maybe the Fish don't have an inning. If Gregory's drive carries a couple of more feet or was pulled a little more toward the gap, the Bucs all trot home. But neither happened, and the Marlins, behind a brilliant job by Jose Fernandez, hung on. Cole Train continues to mature as a pitcher, finding that reserve with runners threatening. We wonder if that sequence of a missed third strike followed by a single broke his focus briefly. Still, another strong outing, and against most other pitchers, it would be another W.

  • Josh and Cutch were the only Bucs to get on base twice tonight - Harrison had two hits, Cutch a knock and a walk. The top three for the Marlins - Suzuki, Realmuto and Yelich - went 7-for-10 and scored all three Fish runs.
  • With their ninth inning run, the Pirates remain the only team in baseball not to be shutout this year.
  • No greater testament to the attendance woes in Miami when a Cole-Fernandez match up draws only 10,637 fans. 
  • Indy C Jacob Stallings' seven RBIs tonight (he had two homers) set a new Indians single-game record in the Victory Field era (1996 to present).
  • Jason Grilli is on the move; the Braves traded him to Toronto for a minor league pitcher.

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