Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's Not the Start But the Finish - Bucs Blow Five Run Lead, Go Down 7-6

Hey, a 1-2-3 start for Frankie, with 10 strikes in 13 pitches. And no one can say John Jaso has been slacking at leadoff; he drilled Jeff Samardzija's first pitch 418' over the wall in right center. Gregory followed with a knock, and a pair of roll-over grounders moved him to third. They were worth it as Matt Joyce singled on a 3-2 fastball to make it 2-0. Frankie responded by losing Buster Posey to start the second, and an out later, a single put G-Men at first and second. With two gone, another single made it 2-1; all the Giants banged lasers this inning before Samardzija fanned. Stew worked a one out walk and Frankie singled. JJ K'ed swinging over a splitter. The Shark's first delivery to Gregory was the same pitch, except it hung instead of dove, and El Coffee drilled it 382' into the right field seats.

Liriano, bless him, came back this time with a clean, six pitch third frame. JHK joined the crowd; he smacked a leadoff dinger, mashing an 0-2 slider 422' into center. Joyce walked on four pitches, but that was the end of the run. With an out in the fourth, San Fran got a single, walk and single to plate a run. After a whiff, Samardzija was yanked for a pinch hitter, who went down swinging. Derek Law (who went to Seton-LaSalle HS) took the ball and put the Bucs away in order.

Gregory had three hits ad a couple of less glorious moments tonight - (photo Mike James/Baseball America)

The G-Men opened the fifth with an infield knock followed by a walk. An out later. Buster Posey sent an outside slider into right, where it hopped the wall in the corner for a book rule double. It saved a run for a sec; a sac fly made it 6-4. Gregory opened with a single for the Pirates and Cutch followed suit. Law tightened up, dusting the corners to catch Kang looking, Joyce swinging and Josh on a routine roller. Smells like a game where adding on when the opp presents itself is a must, but the Bucs weren't feelin' it.

Jared Hughes climbed the hill in the sixth and gave up an infield hit to open. Ramiro Pena doubled him home, and then another infield single; nada is breaking right. A grounder moved the runners to second and third, and a double off the heel of Gregory's glove (ruled a hit but a catch he should have made, albeit after a long run) gave the Giants the lead before Jared got out of it. Hunter Strickland took his turn. S-Rod singled, then Stew popped up a bunt with a 2-1 count (don't ask; we don't know either). Freeser K'd as Sean stole second. Lefty John Osich trotted in to face JJ and got him swinging; the bench is shy with two catchers and a hobbled Marte on it, leaving Clint without a countermove.

Neftali Feliz came in for the seventh, and a walk was negated by a couple of whiffs. Osich picked up a couple of routine outs before JHK reached second on a throwaway grounder, then stole third. But Joyce whiffed; southpaw Osich earned his stripes tonight, K'ing all three lefties he faced. Tony Watson worked the eighth, giving up a couple of singles but no runs. Cory Gearrin got the call and tossed an easy frame.

Neftali Feliz was his usual efficient self tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Lobster answered the phone for the ninth. Of course a walk, but no other damage. Santiago Casilla came in sniffing around for his 15th save. Jordy led off with an infield knock and was forced on a JJ roller. Gregory went down swinging at a 3-2 heater and Jaso, off on the pitch, was tossed out at second. Game over.

Another bad day for the pitching, but Pittsburgh was still one dropped ball away from winning the ballgame. Still, when you get into the other team's bullpen to start the fourth inning and get shut out, there's sufficient blame to spread around; it was one of those a hit here, a play in the field there, or a pitch when it counted could have turned the tide. Even with losing 19-of-25, they're still just five games off the wild card pace. But they need a turnaround, and it's takes a good set of peepers to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

  • Gregory had three hits including his 10th homer. The only other Buc to reach base twice was Matt Joyce with a hit and walk.
  • Starling Marte pinch hit, so his foot injury is apparently not such a big deal. 
  • In his last five outings, Frankie has given up 24 runs (20 earned) in 26 IP.
  • Jeff Samardzija's three inning stint equaled the shortest outing of his nine year career. This was the third time he was hooked that quickly.
  • The Pirates drew 33,474 to witness tonight's latest frustration.
  • Tyler Glasnow threw seven hitless IP for Indy with eight K and five walks after 102 pitches (Indy lost the no-hitter in the ninth and the pen lost the game in the 10th). Tyler's gone 13 straight frames without surrendering a knock over his last two outings, but has issued 11 walks.
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