Starling poked a knock to right to start the second and stole second, leading to a playful interchange with Yadier Molina. Fran walked, but JHK's first at bat wasn't all that; he banged into a 5-4-3 DP. Josh to the rescue; his broken bat one-hopper up the middle was flagged down by Jedd Gyorko, but he had no play and it was 1-0 Bucs. A Redbird leadoff infield hit was quickly erased 1-4-3. Good thing; that was followed by a walk and opposite field chopper before Frankie whiffed Martinez.
|Frankie was sharp tonight.|
Martinez had a quick and easy third. Liriano allowed one runner on an error; he tossed a comebacker slightly ahead of JJ at the bag. Frankie got the error, but it looked more like Jaso's bad. A walk, broken bat drop into center and another walk set up Kang in the fourth; he popped out on the first pitch. The next delivery was one hopped home; Molina went out to the mound, waved for the trainer, and that was it for Martinez. Tyler Lyons came in and whiffed Josh, even tho he hung a couple of fat breakers. Jordy check-swing K'ed on a neck high pitch; not a good at bat among the back end of the order. Lyons only threw two good pitches during the two at-bats; que sera, sera. Frankie stranded a single.
The fifth was 1-2-3 for both clubs. Gregory opened the sixth with a knock; two outs later, JHK went after the first pitch for the third time, but he caught the heater this time, knocking it over the wall in right center to make it 3-0. Liriano put up another clean frame. The Bucs had back-to-back two out knocks by JJ and Cutch in the seventh, but left them on the pond. The Cards rallied in frustrating fashion; a lead off walk, an infield single that missed being a force out by a gnat's eyelash, a two base wild pitch that caught Fran's knee pad and bounced almost to first (his throw beat the runner; Frankie couldn't get the tag across) and a sac fly made it 3-2.
Frankie was done; seven innings, two runs on five hits and two walks with 10 whiffs on 98 pitches for a very nice night. Kevin Siegrist took over in the eighth. After two routine outs, JHK ran the count full, got an inside-half fastball, and sent it into the second deck in left, 427' away, to add an insurance marker.
|JHK provided a couple of souvenirs tonight in his return (photo Nam Huh/AP)|
Tony Watson climbed the hill and again had trouble finishing. He hit Stephen Piscotty in the back foot on an 0-2 count (a play that was obvious and took a ridiculous amount of time to confirm) and then Matt Holliday slapped an 0-2 pitch into right. But he worked out of it, leaving Cards at second and third. Seth Maness worked a 1-2-3 ninth. The Shark was touched for a double, but it proved harmless as the Bucs broke their four game losing streak with a 4-2 win over St Louis.
Great way to open the set, by beating their ace behind a strong Liriano outing and Jung Ho Kang's return to the lineup. Frankie has the Card's number and JHK went 2-for-4 with two long flies, two runs and three RBI, even with some early blown opps.
- JHK's two homers went 377' and 427'. He did have a couple of bobbles in the field, to go with one sparkling play, so he still has some room to improve there, although his range and movement seemed up to last year's standards.
- Kang became the seventh Pirate to hit two homers in his season debut; the last was Garrett Jones in 2010. He likes Busch Stadium; it's where he hit his first MLB homer..
- The Pirates left the bases loaded with no outs for the second consecutive game, and mostly by thrown-away at bats. Hope that doesn't become habit forming.
- The Cardinals announced that Carlos Martinez left the game because of "fatigue." That's an injury?
- During the pre-game presser, Clint Hurdle said he plans to play Jung Ho Kang in a two days on, one day off, for the time being.