Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pirates Break Fast From The Gate, Hang On For 12-9 Win

Nice start for Juan Nicasio in the first; a clean frame with two whiffs. JJ led off with a soft shot to center against Aaron Blair and an out later Gregory doubled. The Bucs had the contact play on; JHK's grounder had Jaso dead at home, but AJ Pierzynski dropped the ball. Fran followed with a single to add another run, and Josh's two out knock made it 3-0. Harrison went to second on a bobble, and Jordy was walked intentionally. Then it fell apart - Nicasio knocked home a run and JJ doubled in another pair to make it 6-0 in a heartbeat. Cutch's single knocked in seventh run, but also ended the frame when Jaso was cut down at home. The Bucs were ready; the final three hits were all on the first pitch.

Easy enough second; a two out single with two more K for Juan. El Coffee opened with a two bagger; Fran's double plated him an out later, and that was it for young Mr. Blair. Bud Norris, recently bumped from the Bravo rotation, took over. A walk, whiff and Jordy single added to the pot to run it to 9-0.

John Jaso was 3-for-3 tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Norris opened the third with a triple over Polanco's head; Gregory totally was lost trying to track the ball. Mallex Smith followed with a homer, then a single, both on first pitches. It appears Juan is just trying to pump strikes rather than pitch with the lead. Then came a walk *geez* this Pirates pitching! Uncle Ray visited to no avail; the trip was followed by another free pass. An out later, a single brought home another Bravo. Praise the Lord; a comebacker was turned into a 1-2-3 DP with the score now 9-3. Jaso opened the Buc half with a knock (he's 3-for-3 in the 3rd inning!), but that fun ended after a full count strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP with Cutch up followed by a Gregory grounder.

Juan was back in the groove in the fourth, fanning two more. Kang led off with a rap, but Fran short-circuited the frame via an around the horn DP. A single and bouncer ended the inning. A bunt base hit opened the fifth, and was followed by a line shot to right. Freddy Freeman rolled over and bounced a DP ball to Jaso; he threw it into left field to let a tally in and put runners at the corners. The infield turned the next grounder into a twin killing at the cost of another run to tighten the score to 9-5. Alen Hansen hit for Nicasio with one away, and legged out an infield hit for his first MLB knock off Ian Krol. S-Rod hit for JJ (RH v LHP); while he was up, a wild pickoff sent Hansen to third, and Rodriguez walked. Cutch singled and Gregory grounded out, with each at-bat plating a Bucco to make it 11-5.

Cutch snapped out of his slump with three hits (photo Daniel Kubus/Pirates)

Ryan Vogelsong took the ball in the sixth. He was greeted by back-to-back singles. A swinging bunt forced out the lead runner, but a walk loaded the sacks. A single brought in a run - and there's still no one warming up. Fortunately, V-Song straightened out and shut the door before major damage could be wrought. Joyce and Josh hit consecutive one out singles in the Bucco half; Josh was cut down trying to sneak (needlessly, may we add) into second, upheld by review. Alexi Ogando came in and K'ed Jordy.

Atlanta opened the seventh with a double; the next hitter was plunked. Then the pitcher's best friend, a 6-4-3 DP, arrived right on time, because Reid Brignac followed with a double. Arquimedes Caminero got the call. and gave up a homer to Smith to make it 11-9. That brought Neftali Feliz in from the pen to snuff the fire. Old bud Jason Grilli climbed the familiar bump. Cutch tripled with two out, hustling just ahead of the throw to reach third, and Hunter Cervenka, a lefty, came in to face Gregory. His first pitch was wild, bringing home Andrew, then El Coffee banged a double before he got the third out.

 Tony Watson got the ball in the eighth and bless him, tossed a clean frame. Fran singled and stole second to lead off. Jordy's knock moved him to third; we're a bit surprised with two gone that he wasn't waved around. Freeser whiffed, and it was Shark time. With two outs, Daniel Castro singled to center; he got a reprieve on a couple of pitches that looked like strike three. Still, Melancon put this one in the win column on 14 pitches.

Fran - three hits to celebrate his new deal (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Complete role reversal so far this series. Atlanta's starters had been quite workmanlike and their offense non existant. Here, they can't get any Buc batters out but are banging balls all over the yard. The FO did the right thing today by extending Fran; it's about time they did the right thing for the team and got some pitching. It's prob time for Juan to join the pen and for one of the guns to get the call, Super Two or not. A month is a long time to compete with the staff in the shape it's in. As is, the Pirates are 21-17 and 6-1/2 games back; they're just a couple of arms away from being a fairly complete club.

  • Every Pirate starter except for Matt Joyce, including the pitcher, had a run, RBI or both by the end of the second inning. Every starter had a hit by the fourth frame. 
  • The Bucs' 21 hits were a season high. JJ, Cutch, Gregory and Fran each had three knocks; Josh, Matt and Jordy added a pair apiece. BTW, the Bravos 15 hits were their season high, too.
  • Cutch legged out the 40th triple of his career.
  • JJ got his first error of the year tonight; he dodged one last night when a missed throw error was reversed from him to Jordy.
  • The Pirates drew 19,400 for this game and just 16,000+ yesterday; autumn-like weather and the Braves are sure dampening the gate.
  • Rene Gayo, the Pirates Latino scouting director, will serve as one of the coaches of the US 18 & Under team, which should provide him with a catbird seat to observe the top young guns.
  • Fredi Gonzalez's firing wasn't really handled very well...


WilliamJPellas said...

While I have no sympathy for the Braves---who are, after all, STILL pimping Sid Bream Sliding Past Spanky LaValliere bobbleheads fergoshsakes---I agree that Fredi Gonzalez got a raw deal. Particularly for a guy with his more than respectable big league managerial record. Looks to me like a classic case of New Boss Doesn't Like Holdover From Previous Boss Regime.

Ron Ieraci said...

U could tell by the roster the FO built that Fredi was going to be the goat, Will. I'm guessing Atlanta wants to open their new stadium with a new manager; all kind of "new" themes will be touted. I think Fredi will land on his feet; his overall body of work is strong.