Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bucs Can't Climb Out Of Early Hole, Drop Astro Rubber Match 5-4

The first frame went quietly. Gerrit Cole tossed a clean frame and Collin McHugh surrendered a walk. The second, not so much. Carlos Correa opened with a knock and then Evan Gaddis launched a down-the-middle fastball into the shrubbery. Cole Train was tagged for a two-bagger before closing down the inning. The Bucs went down in order. In the third, Gerrit regained his bearing and Jordy got one of the runs back when he jerked a curve into the LF stands.

Correa opened the fourth at second base when Jordy threw a ball away that he should have probably eaten, w/o much help at flagging it down by Josh Bell. The extra base didn't matter much after Marwin Gonzalez smoked a one-out triple, though Gerrit did strand him. Bell legged out a two-out rap followed by a Fran dying quail, but S-Rod couldn't cash them in.

Jordy touched 'em all today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the fifth, an Astros single, a double off the 3B sack and a pair of sac flies made it 5-1. Jordy started off with a rap and John Jaso followed with another. Josh bunted them up; we're guessing he was looking for a hit rather than the sac. Starling singled in Jordy with two gone and Gregory's knock through a shift chased JJ home before last call. Jared Hughes took the ball in the sixth and worked a calm frame. Pat Neshek took over for McHugh, so it's already a battle of the bullpens. With two gone and S-Rod aboard on a knock, Adam Frazier grabbed a stick and the 'Stros countered with lefty Chris Devenski, who won the matchup by coaxing a fly to right.

Juan Nicasio hit the hill in the seventh for a 1-2-3 outing. Matt Joyce doubled and scored on Gregory's two-out triple into the RF corner; the Astros had him played to go opposite field. Bell walked, but Fran's grounder left the corners occupied and the score 5-4. Felipe Rivero answered the phone for the eighth. Two outs were followed by two walks just to add some drama before the third out. Will Harris twirled for Houston. Cutch pinch hit and lined a two-out rap and was left aboard.

Gregory keeps bangin' away (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Tony Watson rubbed the rosin in the ninth and served up a calm, eight-pitch frame. Ken Giles was sniffing for a save and had it 10 tosses later, whiffing both Starling and Gregory to close it out in style after lucking into an at 'em ball to short by Joyce.

The Bucs chipped away, but being unable to dent McHugh early on hurt, as did Gerrit Cole's continued slide. Dropping 5-of-6 wasn't exactly the homecoming they were looking for, especially with a four game set at Miller Park Noah's Ark  followed by a three game series at Wrigley Field. A west coast trip rejuvenated the club last week; let's see if this one can do the same.

  • Gregory and Jordy had a pair of hits, while Josh Bell had a knock and a walk.
  • @joe_block noted that Cutch had his first pinch-hit since 8/8/2013. Andrew, of course, isn't available off the bench very often. 
  • Jordy Mercer is quietly having a quite competent year at the dish - he's hitting .266 and is fifth in RBI (45)/runs scored (52) on the team. His stat line is comparable to middle infield partner Josh Harrison's (.272, 49 RBI, 47 RS).

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