Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bucs Broom A's 6-3 & Head To St Louis On a Roll

Daniel Mengden got through the first in good shape. The pitcher with the herky-jerky motion gave up a leadoff knock to JJ, who was nailed trying to advance on a ball in the dirt, and that was the only Bucco action. Frankie had a promising 1-2-3 start. The Pirates got a two out single from Josh in the second; Oakland again jumped out to the lead, their MO this series. A single-double-single sequence followed by a tapper produced a pair of A's runs.

With two gone in the third, JJ singled and Gregory walked, but JHK couldn't cash them in. Frankie was back on track with a clean frame. Starling almost opened the fourth with a leg hit; he was originally called safe, but a challenge overturned it to start an easy frame for Mengden. Liriano issued his first walk with two gone with no effect.

Adam Frazier opened the fifth with a hustle double and Jordy walked. Erik Kratz bunted into a force at third, which ended up a wash after JJ was bopped by a pitch. Gregory banged the next pitch for a single, tying the game and moving Jaso to third. Kang K'ed, swinging through spinning pitches. Mengden started soft on Marte, then got him on a foul tip fastball. The A's answered with a leadoff double that scored on a knock an out later. A ground rule two bagger (legit, not park-related) came next, but Frankie wriggled out of further damage.

Frankie took a small step forward today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Matt Joyce started the sixth with a walk. Josh swapped spots with a force and rolled home ahead of Fraze's triple to right. Jordy walked. Erik tapped a ball that deflected off Mengden's mitt and became an RBI infield knock as the Bucs regained the lead. Lefty Marc Rzepczynski took the ball, and Freeser hit for JJ. A wild pitch moved the runners up a station, setting up an intentional walk to load 'em. He punched out Gregory and then righty Liam Hendriks did the same to JHK. AJ Schugel came on and got into a jam with a leadoff double and one out walk, but a liner to Freeser at first became an easy DP to shut down the frame. Clint was shown the showers for arguing balls and strikes with plate ump Sam Holbrook after the free pass, although it did seem the man in blue did get the calls right.

The Bucs went down in order in the seventh thx to a 6-4-3 Josh DP. Neftali Feliz toed the rubber and quickly had A's on the corners after consecutive knocks, but a whiff-pop-whiff trifecta froze them in place. Fernando Rodriguez answered the call in the eighth, faced one batter and John Axford took his place. Jordy singled with one gone and Freeser went deep the opposite way an out later to make it a 6-3 count. Tony Watson served up a whiff, single and around-the-horn DP to sail smoothly through his half.

Freeser's 8th inning blast iced the game (photo via Fox Sports)

Daniel Coulombe worked a clean ninth, and it took The Shark 10 pitches to match. The Bucs swept the A's 6-3, and they're back to .500 at 41-41.

If Frankie were Chad Kuhl, this would be a solid outing. He's not, but for Liriano, it's at least a step in the right direction. Big week coming up for the Buccos. Their bullpen has been absolutely lights out, which is both the good news and bad news - with the Cards on the horizon, the relief corp ate up 12 innings in this series, so they've been good but also taxed. Jon Niese is on tap for tomorrow, and he's gone six innings once in his last four outings.

  • JJ, Gregory and Fraze each had two knocks today. El Coffee and Freeser had two RBI each while Jordy scored twice.
  • The bullpen has tossed 32-2/3 straight scoreless IP, the longest streak of goose eggs in the MLB so far this season.
  • Cutch's rest day was brought on by a sore heel. The sit down is to keep him physically charged for the upcoming Card & Cubby sets leading into the ASB.
  • The Pirates claimed C Eric Fryer off waivers from St Louis and DFA'ed Rob Scahill. They'll make a 25-man roster move when he reports. Stew's knee could land him on the DL (which seems likely), or Erik Kratz's bat could result in a DFA.
  • The Mets swept the Cubs in a four game series. That's sort a double-edged sword, keeping the Cubs from claiming first by ASB, but giving the Mets, a probable wild card race foe, a nice string of wins. 
  • Trevor Williams had a tough return after rehab, but had it all going today. He went seven shutout IP, giving up one hit, no walks and whiffing five on 84 pitches for Indy. He retired the final 16 batters he faced.

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