Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Niese Chased, Bats Quiet In 5-2 Loss

The first two innings between Jon Niese and Hisashi Iwakuma were calm, with each hurler allowing one runner. The Bucs went quietly in the third; not so the Mariners. A single followed by a perfect bunt that Niese should have just eaten turned into a throwing error that almost got JJ's arm mangled and left runners on the corners. A DP cleaned it up at the cost of a tally, putting the Bucs down 1-0.

The Seattle gloves came into play big time in the fourth. Gregory bunted for a hit, then Cutch rocketed one that was ticketed for extra bases until RF Franklin Gutierrez sweetly ran it down. Starling looked like he shot a ball into left, but SS Ketel Marte kept it all in the clan by making the play and turning two in the process. Jon began to struggle; a one-out single, walk, single sequence put him in a jam (and just a jam at this point thanks to some suspect baserunning by the Mariners), but he wiggled out with just a run surrendered via a sac fly.

Another rough day in the office for Jon Niese (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The fifth opened with coach Jeff Branson getting the boot for some bench jockeying (plate ump Ben May has been quite bad tonight both ways, but was especially generous on Iwakuma's sloooow curve) and Clint joined him in the shower a heartbeat later. Matt Joyce opened with a single, but a hit-and-run with Freeser backfired as his liner to center became a twin killing. With two gone, Niese lost it completely. A walk, wild pitch, single triplet brought home one run and Nelson Cruz's shot into the second level (c'mon, you didn't think Jon was getting through this line up without a dinger, right?) made it 5-0. He gave up two more knocks before Arquimedes Caminero got that elusive third out.

The sixth went quietly for Pittsburgh; Arquie struck out the side, although he did allow a two out double.  The Bucs showed some life finally in the seventh. Gregory doubled, went to third on a Cutch fly and scored on a Starling triple. Marte plated after a two out Freeser knock, and Adam Frazier followed with another rap. So long, Hasashi, hello Edwin Diaz, who ended the uprising. Arquie gave up a two out single followed by a double, but a Cutch-Jordy-Stew relay team cut down the lead man at home (Dae-Ho Lee with not represent South Korea in the Olympic sprints), withstanding a Seattle blocking the plate challenge.

Gregory had a pair of knocks for the Bucs (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Diaz 1-2-3'ed the Corsairs in the eighth. Jared Hughes got the call and tossed a clean frame. Steve Cishik came in for the save. Cutch singled and Starling almost hit into a DP but Lee dropped the relay. Another grounder moved him to second, and yet a third ended it.

Iwakuma had put together a string of nice starts before getting shelled at Detroit, but he got back on the bike tonight, unlike Niese. Jon struggled mightily for the fourth straight game, giving up 22 runs in 21 IP during that span. The middle bullpen, configured of Schugel, Nicasio and Caminero, has found its way lately, but the spate of five inning starts will wear down any bridge group. And it's just not the pitching; the Bucs are hitting .228 for June, admittedly against some top line pitching, but still... Gotta get better, right?

  • Gregory continues to rake with two more knocks, while Cutch, Starling and Freeser were held to a hit each but were squaring up pretty well.
  • RHP Trevor Williams at Indy is starting to knock off some of the rust. He went six innings last night, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and six whiffs.

No comments: