Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bullpen Leaks But Doesn't Sink; Bucs Ride Big Inning To 6-5 Sweep

Matt Cain easily disposed of the Pirates in the first. Ivan Nova gave up an Angel Pagan double and with two gone, Buster Posey knocked him in with a bouncer up the middle. Brandon Crawford then doubled him home and moved to third on the throw before the damage was contained. The second was quiet. Nova coaxed three rollers from the G-Men and then got the Bucs first hit with two gone in the third to no avail. SF got an infield knock, a two-out single and a Crawford triple to make it 4-0.

Welcome back, big guy (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Pirates went down without a peep in the fourth, as did the bottom of the Giant order. Cain's command had been gradually fading inning-by-inning, and he lost it in the fifth. A HBP triggered it. That was followed by three straight walks, a Matt Joyce knock and Josh sac. Starling just missed going deep but Andrew didn't to put a 401'- long cherry on top. Bruce Bochty decided this might be a good time to replace Cain (the fans would be out with torches and pitchforks if Clint let a guy hang out to dry that long) and called in Javier Lopez, who got the third out after the scoreboard tilted toward the Buccos 6-4. Jeff Locke scaled the bump and left a couple of guys stranded, as is his bullpen MO, to put up another zero.

Jake Peavy toed the rubber in the sixth. He was greeted with a single and double, but the Bucs couldn't widen the lead. Juan Nicasio gave up a single and walk with two away, but he also slipped away from trouble. Hunter Strickland held the Bucs to a hit in the seventh. Juan gave up a leadoff walk, but shut down the middle of the Giant order afterward. George Kontos took the ball in the eighth and kept the Bucs at bay. Felipe Rivero climbed the hill and yielded the mandatory reliver walk in a scoreless frame. Clint pulled the old switcheroo that frame, moving Freeser to first and JHK came in to man the hot corner.

JJ has recovered his eye lately (photo Pgh Pirates)

Sergio Romo worked the ninth. Josh slapped a two-out bloop double but was left at second. Out trotted Tony Watson. A walk and two singles loaded the sacks with no outs for Posey. He banged into a 6-4-3 DP; one run in, tying run at third, two outs and Crawford up. It took eight pitches, but Tony won the battle of wills with a soft fly to Cutch and series sweep.

Thanks to some questionable managing by Bochty (tho he is in a bind with pitching) and the early season mojo of putting together one big frame, the Pirates finished a 5-1 road trip to the coast. We're not sold on Nova (or Tony, for that matter) but the Bucco pitching is in a much better place than it was prior to the deadline. The next six weeks should be interesting, especially if Cutch (and Kang) are back. Tomorrow is a well deserved day off before the Bucs face a tough six-game stand at home against the Marlins and Astros.

Tony Watson provides drama - and saves (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Cutch has been a man afire since his sit-down; he had two more hits today. JJ reached base three times with a rap and two walks. It was a team effort; four guys had RBI and six different Pirates scored. 
  • The Bucs are 58-0 this season when leading after eight innings.
  • The Giants now have six losses this season after leading by 4+ runs, the most in MLB.
  • Fran has an eight-game hitting streak going. He sat out today.
  • Tyler Glasnow tossed a bullpen yesterday with no ill effects, so it appears his mechanics rather than his arm were off in his last start.
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