Friday, July 15, 2016

Bucs Fall Apart in the Seventh, Drop Opener To Nats 5-1

The first three innings were a pitcher's delight; both Stephen Strasburg and Frankie Liriano faced the minmum nine batters. The Bucs again went quietly in the fourth, and the Nats stirred up some trouble. A leadoff single and walk put Francisco in a jam, but a pair of grounders, the second being a 1-6-3 DP off the bat of Bryce Harper, calmed the seas.

Starling opened the fifth with the Bucs first hit and stole second. With two gone, Jordy went the opposite way and 1B Clint Robinson couldn't bring in his ball. It deflected off his mitt and scored Marte. The lead didn't last long; the Nats 6-7-8 hitters singled in a row to tie the contest, with an infield knock in the middle really hurting the cause. The Pirates went down without a peep in the sixth while Washington worked a pair of walks with two gone, but couldn't light the board.

Frankie looked good until late walks caught up to him (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Cutch opened the seventh with a knock and swiped a base, but three routine outs left him stranded. A walk and a single ended Frankie's day as Neftali Feliz took the ball. Strasburg bunted; a run scored and there were still two Nats aboard when Freeser forgot to catch the throw to first. Then it really fell apart; Eric Fryer airmailed a ball trying to recover from a wild pitch, allowing another Nat to plate, and during the same at bat, Micheal Taylor went yard. After a walk, Neftali sat down for Arquimedes Caminero, who finished up quietly. But at 5-1, the horse is out of the corral.

Josh Bell kept his OBP at 1.000 with a two out walk in the eighth, but to no avail as Strasburg got a generous strike call to ring up Josh. Jared Hughes claimed the bump and worked a smooth frame thx to a DP. Shawn Kelley answered the phone for the ninth. He gave up a leadoff knock, then struck out the side.

The good news is Frankie was holding it together again tonight, and his return to form is a key to the Bucco rotation. Clint made a mistake in the seventh - not particularly by keeping Liriano in, as he was at 91 pitches and facing the bottom of the order - but by not having someone warming up in a 1-1 game at the start of the frame in case things went south. That's a couple of recent games that a Bucco reliever has gotten banged around because of a quick call to action. The other thing is that the Nat's attack is based largely on walks and long balls, and that's the combo that did in Pittsburgh tonight, with a dash or two of little league D thrown in the mix.

  • Starling and Cutch's swipes were the first stolen bases off Stephen Strasburg this year.
  • The Bucs were held to four hits, with two walks. Freeser had one of each.
  • Strasburg is one of five pitchers to start a season 13-0 since 1956, per @ESPNStatsInfo. The others are Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens, Ron Guidry and Davwe McNally.
  • Ryan Vogelsong had a strong rehab start at Altoona. He went six shutout frames, giving up two hits and two walks with three whiffs.

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