Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Kids Are OK, Freeser's Big Knock & Shutdown Pen Send Kershaw Down 4-3

Chad Kuhl had some early command issues (nerves?), and was touched for a walk, single, walk with two gone. He bore down and got Yasiel Puig to bounce out, and his first MLB inning was in the books. jordy opened with a knock against Clayton Kershaw. Freeser bounced into a force; Jordy's gawky slide broke up a DP, but left him woozy. A wild pitch moved David to second, where he stayed.

Jordy left the game; Adam Frazier moved to right and S-Rod to short. Chad had no issues in the second, picking up his first two K's against the bottom of the order. Josh singled with an out and Stew followed with another knock. S-Rod drew a rare Kershaw walk. Kuhl fanned, but made Clayton throw eight pitches before sitting down. It may have worn him down; Fraze dumped an RBI knock into short left. The next pitch was a heater down the middle to Freeser; his double to the RC gap swept the bases to make it 4-0 Buccos.

Kuhl was welcomed into the show in the third by a Cory Seager double and ump reviewed HR by Justin Turner (Starling couldn't get there quite in time as it barely cleared the fence; the umps checked for fan interference) to cut the lead in half. Kershaw pshawed the Bucs 1-2-3. The back end of LA's lineup went down in order in the fourth. S-Rod singled with an out and was bunted up. Fraze took another pitch the opposite way, but no run resulted this time as Sean was cut down at home. Good wave, better play by LA as the tag just beat Rodriguez to the dish.

Chad may not have had the best command tonight, but there was no questioning his compete level (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Seager drew a one out walk in the fifth, and Turner plated him again, going with an 0-2 slider and doubling to right off the Clemente Wall on a ball that Frazier had trouble corralling. Rookie mistake; that pitch has to be off the black in that count in the majors. An out later, with Turner at third, a passed ball turned into the final out as he was caught trying to score, with Kuhl covered the plate like he was an old-timey catcher. Chad gave up three runs on four hits with four walks and five whiffs on 82 pitches. He threw virtually all sinkers and heaters, with good velocity at 95-97. He was up and sometimes sprayed the ball, maybe suffering from opening night jitters; he'll get another outing. Clayton, meanwhile, rolled through the Pirates without a burp.

Juan Nicasio came in for the sixth against his old mates and tossed a clean frame.Starling opened with a knock, but was nailed stealing an out later. It was bang-bang, but no Bucco challenge was offered, and it hurt when Stew followed with a double. S-Rod was intentionally walked, and Gregory grabbed a stick in place of Juan. El Coffee got killed by the first two called strikes, both well low, and whiffed by missing a fastball down the middle.

Adam Frazier had a coming out party - two hits against Clayton and a sweet grab (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

AJ Schugel took over in the seventh. Kershaw was hit for as AJ tossed an easy frame, highlighted by Fraze making a tumbling grab in right. Casey Fien climbed the bump and tucked the Bucs away. Oh, and also got Cutch ejected. Plate ump Chris Conroy has had a ridiculously low strike zone (both ways) tonight and rung up Andrew on a ball down, to his displeasure. So now Fraze is in LF, Starling in CF and Matt Joyce in RF. No diff to Schugs; he mowed down the Dodgers in the eighth. The Bucs couldn't add anymore up against Fien. No need; Melancon went dancin' without any drama to put away the Dodgers and claim the Buccos third win in a row.

This was a great game for a national audience, well played throughout. The Bucco babes, Chad Kuhl and Adam Frazier, acquitted themselves well. A couple of clutch two out knocks provided the offense, and the bullpen held onto a one run lead for four innings to close it out. Knock on wood; maybe Juan and AJ can prove to be the bridge guys the pen has been so sorely lacking.

AJ tossed two clean frames to hand the torch to The Shark (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • The 7-8-1 hitters (S-Rod, Stew, Jordy & Fraze) went 6-for-8 with two walks and scored three times.
  • Jordy has an 11 game hitting streak after tonight. He left after his head and Chase Utley's knee met during a first inning slide. The Pirates announced that he had "...head and right ear discomfort. He is being evaluated."
  • Stew is  9-for-17 off Clayton Kershaw in his career after going 2-for-3 in this match.
  • Adam Frazier became the second lefty hitter this season to have a multi-hit game against Kershaw, joining Dee Gordon, per Inside Edge
  • This is the second most runs scored against Kershaw this year. The last time he gave up more than a pair in an outing was April 26th. Six innings equals his shortest 2016 performance.
  • The game drew 32,228 fans.
  • Gerrit Cole threw off a mound today and has a couple of side sessions on tap; looks like they expect him back, if there are no bumps in the road, shortly after All Star break.

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