Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bucs Finish Strong, Drop Oakland 7-3

Sonny Gray had an easy opener, using his fastball to sit down the Bucs quietly. Bad sign for the newly aggressive Jeff Locke; he walked the first guy he faced. Marcus Semien worked him for 11 pitches, sending the last one way over the fence. An out later, he issued another walk and and tossed a wild pitch, but danced out of danger after 35 pitches. Gray kept pumping heat and the Pirates kept rolling it to infielders in the second. Locke teased a pair of grounders before a bunt single was followed by an run scoring two bagger that Starling didn't track very well to make it 3-0 in a hurry.

It's not how ya start but how ya finish... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs got a run back in the third when Jordy went boom. Jeff started the A's half with another walk, and the next batter bounced a ball back to Locke, who dropped it. Looked ominous, but a pair of whiffs and a well aimed liner scattered the gathering clouds at the cost of 72 pitches. Cutch doubled with an out in the fourth. A grounder moved him up a station and a wild pitch plated him, his slide beating the tag by a heartbeat. Jeff served up a clean and efficient frame.

Matt Joyce and Josh started the fifth with raps. Jordy's hard shot off the third baseman's mitt chased home Matt. Josh quickly swiped third to put Bucs at the corners, and it paid off in a run after Stew's force-out bouncer. JJ ended the party with a DP ball, but the Pirates now are the top dog at 4-3. Jeff followed with a 1-2-3 frame. Starling got smacked with a two out pitch in the sixth and Freeser walked. Bad time to lose control for Sonny - Joyce knocked home a run and Josh doubled in pair, running the count to 7-3. AJ Schugel came on with a pad after Locke had rung up 94 pitches. He gave up a knock but otherwise no drama.

Jordy's homer started the Bucs on the road back (image Pittsburgh Pirates)

Liam Hendriks toed the rubber in the seventh and tucked the Bucs away. Arquimedes Caminero climbed the hill and sat down Oakland. Hendriks remained undented in the eighth; Arquie one-upped him by fanning the side. Andrew Triggs worked the ninth and was touched for just a walk. The Shark took the ball and retired the A's in order. Slow start, good finish by both Locke and the club.

Jeff Locke has huge splits between home and away. True that his road ERA after tonight is 7.15, but that's not because he doesn't compete more often than not, but because he's Jekyl and Hyde. In five of those starts, he's worked 28 IP, giving up seven runs (2.15 ERA) on 22 hits and held the opponents to three or fewer runs. In the other four outings, he's been absolutely battered to the tune of 32 runs on 37 hits in 21 innings, a 13.71 ERA. So to say he's an automatic loss away from home is a bit misleading; it's just when he's bad, he's very, very bad. Tonight, he wasn't after the first two hitters.

  • The Pirates had eight hits; six were bunched among the 6-7-8 hitters - Matt Joyce, Josh Harrison & Jordy -  who each had a pair of knocks and as a group scored four times and drove in five runs.
  • A Joe Block stat: The Pirates bullpen has tossed 24-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. They put up four frames of one hit, no run ball against the A's tonight.
  • Pirates pitching snapped an eight game Oakland streak; they had scored five or more runs in each contest during that span.
  • This was the Buccos' first win ever at Oakland.

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