Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pirates Play Two To Win One, Beat Nats 2-1 In 18 Innings

Adam Frazier banged a one out double against Max Sherzer (good to get a quick hit of him) but never advanced. Chad Kuhl gave up a one out single and a tapper moved him to second where he died. Chad's sinker is still up, but his slider looks sharp. Jordy smacked a two-out two bagger in the second and was left stranded. Kuhl tossed a calm frame.

In the third, Fraze drew a walk with two gone, but Max punched out Cutch for the second time (they've been battles - Andrew has drawn 17 pitches in the two at bats). Kuhl picked up a couple of whiffs in a 1-2-3 inning. Starling opened the fourth with a rap, and a bouncer moved him up a station. He didn't move from there; the Bucs have had five shots with a runner at second and have come up empty each try, fanning three times. Kuhl kept on keepin' on and has retired 11 in a row. The Bucs went down without a peep in the fifth; ditto the Nats.

Chad pitched six innings of 1-hit ball (image Pirates)

Fraze has had no rookie jitters with Scherzer and opened the sixth with his second double. This time he was cashed in when Starling doubled an out later, tho quickly erased when he was caught trying to steal third. But he looked like he beat the rap and the Bucs challenged; NY agreed. The extra 90' didn't help as he died there, with the key out being Freeser's pop out behind him. Hopefully, the current 1-for-9 RISP doesn't bite the Bucs. Chad plunked the first Nat to end his string at 14 straight outs. He was cut down stealing, with the original safe call overturned by review. Chad whiffed the next pair of DC hitters.

Jordy fell behind 0-2, worked the count even and started the seventh with a single. He was bunted to second and S-Rod grabbed a stick for Chad. Kuhl went six scoreless, giving up a hit and a bop while fanning five on 85 pitches; he faced one batter over the minimum. S-Rod did his thing; he got plunked on an 0-2 pitch, leaving it up to the top of the order. They ran the RISP to 1-for-11. Lots of changes: Neftali Feliz in to pitch, S-Rod went to first, Josh to second and Fraze to right, with JJ and Joyce to the showers. A one out shot to the box went off Neftali's mitt and ricocheted for a knock. A ground single followed, then a bit of welcome luck struck. Wilson Ramos' liner went right to Josh, who stepped on second for an unassisted twin killing; yay for DP depth.

Adam Frazier was on base five times today (photo Getty Images)

Blake Treinen came on for the eighth and tucked the Pirates away neatly with a pair of whiffs. Tony Watson matched him. Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth, giving up just an Erik Kratz knock with two gone. Mark the Shark was a pitch away from the save before pinch hitter Daniel Murphy lined a 2-2 cutter over the RF fence to knot the game. Absolutely brutal; it was cutter in, not a meatball, and Murphy turned on it; the other team gets paid, too.

So on we go, with Shawn Kelley on in the 10th. Fraze whacked his third double of the game to open. After Cutch popped out foul, Starling was walked intentionally. It proved a good move as Freeser K'd swinging. Arquimedes Caminero came in and walked the first two batters on eight pitchers, and Clint waved in AJ Schugel who wiggled out of the jam with a fly and 6-3 DP. Yusmeiro Petit shut down the Bucs in the 11th. Schugs surrendered a walk with one down, and an out later he was wild pitched to second, where he stayed. The benches, btw, are manned by the backup catchers and players that are supposed to be unavailable - Bucco Gregory (hammy) and DC's Anthony Rendon (flu symptoms).

Matt Belisle took command in the 12th. With an out, JHK fell behind 0-2, battled on and ended up with a rap. A Fraze forceout and caught stealing ended the frame. Jared Hughes got his turn on the bump and tossed a clean frame, thx a leaping grab by Frazier at the track to corral the third out. The Bucs went down in order in the 13th, with Frankie's pinch hit grounder the highlight. Juan Nicasio K'ed a pair in a 1-2-3 performance.

The man of the hour, All-Starling (photo USA Today Sports)

Felipe Rivero strolled in for the 14th and sat the Pirates down; Erik Kratz helped by bouncing out on a 3-0 pitch. A one out single and stolen sack followed by a walk with two gone was worked around by Juan. The Corsairs went down in order in the 15th; they've had one runner in the past five innings, and he was caught stealing. Juan stayed strong, and forward ho. The Bucs almost pushed one home in the 16th; a two out walk to Eric Fryer and double by Josh resulted in a gun out at home, the result of a catcher running versus a perfecto play off the wall and 8-6-2 relay. Jon Niese came in and kept the game going.

Old Bucco Ollie Perez toed the rubber in the 17th and Jordy greeted him with a knock. Kratz popped up trying to bunt. After a S-Rod force, a wild pitch moved Rodriguez to second. Kang whiffed., swinging at ball four. Trea Turner opened with a knock and tried to take two against Starling; not much chance there. He should have been patient; it was followed by a walk. Niese was nice, tho, and got a DP to finish the frame.

Fraze opened the 18th with a walk. Cutch hit into a DP; he's 0-for-8 today. Starling picked him up by losing a knee high, inside black heater to make it 2-1, a ball he absolutely crushed. We're surprised he wasn't worked around; Jon Niese was on deck; maybe Dusty didn't realize Gregory was hors d' combat. With an out, Ramos rolled a single into center. Jon got a call for a second out punch out. Another single brought the waters to a simmer. Niese got to two strikes and then used high cheese for the chase and win.

The Bucs overcame 1-for-14 RISP with great moundsmanship, starting with Chad Kuhl. The Sharks homer was a bitter pill, but the bullpen tossed 12 innings of one run ball. Give Jon big props; he's handled his demotion like a pro and been an asset so far. We kinda wonder if today's performance might dull the FO's appetite for another starter, with Kuhl, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow all ready to step in.

  • Adam Frazier was on five times during the match with three doubles and a pair of walks; Starling reached four times with a single, double, homer and walk. He had two RBI and a run; Fraze scored the other tally. Jordy also added three knocks, including a two bagger.
  • Today was Mark Melancon's first blown save since April 24th.
  • This was the longest game in National's history, bypassing a 17 inning match played in 1992. The game took 5 hours, 48 minutes to play. Makes sense; Jerry Meals was the plate ump.
  • The teams used 17 pitchers (PP - 9, WN -8) and 540 pitches (PP - 274, WN - 266).
  • Interesting - Neal Huntington said on the radio that they are going to "reintroduce" the outfield to Josh Bell, just as a once-per-week refresher.Could read several things into that; our take is it means JJ is staying and the Bucs hope to keep Bell versatile enough to work into the lineup occasionally when he's called up next time.
  • Fran Cervelli will play today for Indy and return to Pittsburgh tomorrow for an evaluation of his readiness, so it looks like he's close to rejoining the fray. Elias Diaz will head to Indy from his Altoona rehab stint.

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