|Jeff was focused and in Locke-Down mode tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Starling started the fourth with an opp field single and swiped second. He was shook up after the play, but stayed in as the Marlins challenged the call. The pileup for naught as he was ruled out, apparently coming off the bag a bit. The Pirates finished quietly and Locke cruised through his half, with S-Rod climbing the ladder to snag an inning ending liner. The Bucs went without a peep in the fifth; Jeff has been up twice, whiffed twice, and never taken the bat off his shoulders. Talk to Frankie, dude! S-Rod and Josh both hit the ball on the nose, but found leather. Locke kept rollin' on, and has faced 15 Fish through five innings.
Cutch led off the sixth with a knock, and in came Jose Urena. Nicolino was at 85 pitches and hasn't hit the 100 mark yet this season, and it his the third time through the lineup. Freeser flared a change into short RC, and it tcked off Cole Gillespie's mitt for a double. JHK lined out to third, leading to Marte's intentional pass to juice 'em. Fran brought home a run on a chopper that Urena couldn't handle. Gregory was fed a change; and he golfed it over the wall in RC for a grand slam to make it 7-0 before the third out. It was another calm frame for Jeff, who's sitting at just 68 pitches.
|Freeser was almost unstoppable at the dish tonight (photo Mike Ehrmann/Getty)|
Edwin Jackson quieted the Bucco bats in the seventh, and holy Locke-Down, it took Jeff just six pitches to get three routine grounders. Starling beat out an infield knock with one gone in the eighth, but a DP kept Jackson's slate clean. Jeff mowed the Fish down once again. The Bucs solved Edwin in the ninth. Gregory singled to open and S-Rod went boom to right to make it 9-0. Josh doubled with an out and Freeser singled him home with two gone. Now it was Jeff's game to finish. He gave up a lob single to right with two outs, breaking a streak of 19 consecutive Marlins retired. It only delayed the inevitable; his 105th pitch was rolled to short, and he crossed a complete game shutout off his bucket list.
Jeff got into his groove as the game wore on, finding the bottom of the strike zone more regularly and getting grounder after grounder, quite a welcome change from his recent outings. It was nice to see the Buc bats show some authority, too. Jose Fernandez will be a different breed of cat tomorrow, and that makes taking the first game large.
- Jeff's shutout was his first complete game; it took him 101 starts to get one. He spun a three hit, no walk, one K textbook outing in pitching to contact, facing just 28 batters and never having a runner on base for longer than an at bat. Not many recent era Buccos see the chance to get the 27th out in the quick hook era - the last nine inning performance was by Vance Worley on July 28th, 2014, when Vanimal goose egged the Giants 5-0.
- Gregory's grand salami was his first in the show, and it was no cheapie, traveling 423'.
- David Freese was smokin' hot. he went 4-for-5 with two 2B, two RBI and two runs, outhitting (and outscoring) the entire Miami team. Josh, Gregory and Starling added two hits each.