Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bucs Grind It Out, Take 4-2 Win In 10 Frames

Jordy opened with a fluke double off Rich Hill when his fly was lost in the sun, but the Bucs couldn't take advantage of the gift. Chad Kuhl gave up a harmless two-out knock, tho he did fall behind three of the four A's he faced. Starling walked with one gone in the second and remained anchored at first; an Oakland leadoff knock met the same fate. 1-2-3 went the Pirates in the third. They're being served either a 91 MPH heater and nasty 75 MPH hook, and can't solve either one yet. A leadoff knock and Coco Crisp's double gave the A's the game's first run. Crisp plated on Josh Reddick's one out rap before Kuhl worked his way out of the frame.

Cutch opened the fourth with a knock, and JHK took a ball to the foot on an 0-2 hook. Gregory spoiled the fun by rolling over on a curve and banging into a DP; his wheels aren't 100% yet. Starling picked up some slack, tho - his leg hit chased Cutch home. S-Rod walked and the two out lightning continued as Josh doubled home the tying run. Kratz's fly ended the string. The A's squared up on a couple of pitches - Chad's location isn't the greatest - but all the balls found leather.

Chad's second start went pretty smoothly (photo Pirates)

Hill rebounded with a vengeance, K'ing the side. With two gone, Ned Lowrie singled off JHK's mitt and Reddick followed with his third hit, a ground rule double. It was actually a nice break for the Bucs; S-Rod didn't get much jump on the ball, but it went through a gap in the base of OF fence. That saved a run as Chad served a grounder to finish the frame. The Bucs went down quietly in the sixth, as did the A's. Chad was done after six innings and did nice work, giving up two runs on seven hits with no walks and a couple of whiffs, tossing 91 pitches. 11 of his outs were in the air, as he was up in the zone tonight, but it was a smoother sail than his first start and at a better pace.

John Axford came on in the seventh and worked a clean frame. Neftali Feliz grabbed the ball and walked the first batter.A whiff and DP ball made it a 1-2-3 frame. Ryan Dull toed the rubber in the eighth and looked sharp as the Pirates were quiet, running their out streak to 13 straight. Reddick worked a nine pitch walk off Tony Watson with an out, getting the benefit on a couple of balls that tickled the black. A two out single moved him to second, but Tony closed it down.

Erik started the 10th inning rally and scored the winning run (photo Pirates)

Ryan Madson climbed the hill for the ninth and JHK welcomed him with a rap. Adam Frazier took over on the bases for him and heisted second. After an out, Starling was walked intentionally. The Bucs pulled off a double steal, with the added sweetener that the ump missed strike three when the catcher blocked him to make his throw to third. But no diff - S-Rod had a pretty weak at bat and popped up. Josh tried to cross them up and bunt for a RBI, but was tossed out at first. The Bucs challenged and lost; it was close but an out as Jay Hay got too much wood on the ball. Juan Nicasio came on, with Frazier moving to right, S-Rod to 1B and Freeser to third. With two gone, Billy Burns hustled out an infield hit and stole second. Juan kept him there, and on to free baseball.

Lefty Daniel Coulombe answered the call for the 10th and Erik Kratz opened with a knock. He was bunted up by Jordy. Against all odds, it worked, as Freeser's ground ball single to left allowed Erik to rumble home. David took second on the throw home, setting up an intentional walk for Cutch. Adam Frazier singled the opposite way, but the Buc luck ran out as Freeser was cut down at the plate. He may have beat the tag by a hair and the umps sent it to review, but the call stood (we think that if he was called safe, that would have been upheld, too, so...). Gregory took some of the sting out when he was served a hung hook and banged an RBI rap into center to make it 4-2.

Juan has been nights out since his return to the lineup (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Shark circled, but he couldn't solve Reddick either, surrendering a one-out knock that just squirted past Josh. A two out rap beyond Jordy put A's on the corners; Melancon's getting grounders, just not at people. A pinch runner, Tyler Ladendorf came in for Khris Davis at first, but Mark had it under control; in between hits, he struck out the side to save Juan's win.

Good, tough victory, just like the ol' days, wityh a little help from a hole in the wall. It's a big one in that guarantees a series win, no sure thing if it came to a rubber match with a struggling Frankie on the bump tomorrow.

  • Pittsburgh had nine hits from nine different players. Starling was the burr under Oakland's saddle, with a knock, two walks, a run and RBI. Cutch scored twice on a hit and walk. Erik Kratz has three hits as a Pirate - a game winning homer, the game winning run after a single and an RBI double.
  • The Bucs are now 6-of-8. The club hit the halfway mark at 40-41, 3-1/2 games out of a wildcard spot and still in the hunt after a disastrous June.
  • The Shark has converted saves 19 straight time. The entire bullpen turnaround has been remarkable, now working on a string of 28-2/3 scoreless innings.
  • Gregory got a lefty lesson tonight. He went 0-for-3 against Hill, grounding out to the right side by rolling over on outer-half curves, balls he usually pokes the other way against righties. (In his last at bat, another lefty tried to do the same, but hung the curve instead of burying it and Gregory banged it into center) In his defense, El Coffee also looks like a guy playing hurt, laboring to get down the line.

No comments: