Hamels had a rocking chair third. Niese almost joined him, short by a two out single. Starling collected another knock with an out in the fourth and swiped second. A deep fly moved him up to third, where he died. Niese gave up a one out shift beater rap, with another no-harm outcome.
S-Rod drew a four pitch free pass to lead off the fifth, then Mitch Moreland tossed Jordy's bouncer away to put Pirates at second and third. A Cutch blooper brought one run in; Freeser's single tallied another. Boom went JHK, who took a heater the opposite way into the RF seats. An out later, Starling got plunked in the foot. It must be OK; he raced to third pretty quickly after Josh's single. Cole ate up Gregory pounding it inside, then lost Rodriguez for the second time this inning. Hamels got the hook and Luke Jackson faced Jordy. He gave him a pretty fat 3-2 pitch, but a fly to right left the sacks full of Buccos.
|Jon Niese put together another strong outing (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Niese gave up a dink into left and ground ball knock with an out, but left them on the corners, retiring big guns Ian Desmond and Fielder. Cutch got a hung hook for the first pitch of the sixth and lined it over the RF wall, just inside the pole. Freeser and JHK both singled, Kang's causing a demo derby collision in right center that *whew* everyone walked away from. Jackson worked out of it, thx largely to Fran's 6-3 DP on a ball up the middle. Figgy came in to play second; we're guessing Josh isn't 100% over his bug yet. Jon tried to get a heater on Adrian Beltre's hand; he missed and Beltre didn't, launching the ball far into the night. The Rangers tacked on a one out single before Niese closed the door.
Figgy opened the seventh with a knock and never got beyond first. Niese left after a job well done - six IP, one run, seven hits, a walk and two whiffs after 93 pitches, leaving the ball for Wilfredo Boscan. His command was iffy, but he worked a 1-2-3 frame. Lefty sidewinder Alex Claudio claimed the hill for the Rangers in the eighth and put the Bucs away without a peep. Beltre beat out an infield squibbler with an out, followed by another knock. Boscan deflected a potential DP shot up the middle, but Figgy turned it into an out, with the runners moving up. A pop ended the inning without further ado.
|JHK continued his power surge (photo Mark Zarrilli/Getty)|
Starling got a leg knock with one gone in the ninth. An out later, Gregory solved Claudio by lifting a change up over the fence in right center to make it 9-1 with three outs to go. Rob Scahill came in to turn out the lights. A ground ball single delayed the ending just a bit as the Bucs continued to roll.
The whole Buc outfield homered tonight along with JHK; so much for the predicted 2016 power outage. Jon Niese seems to have figured out what ailed him earlier in the season, giving up seven hits but only allowing two runners in the same frame once over six frames. More importantly, the grounders keep piling up and his control is getting sharper. Nice way to open the road trip, laissez les bons temps rouler.
- Starling and Freeser each collected three hits, while Cutch and Gregory added a pair. Fran and Jordy were the only Pirates in the order held without a hit.
- The Fort has embraced the dark side. C Mike McKenry just signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cards.
- Well, the Bucs not only rocked the Snakes pitching last series; they shook it apart. Starters Shelby Miller and Rubby De La Rosa went on 15-day DL, while relievers Andrew Chafin & Evan Marshall were optioned back to the minors.