Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pirates Hold Off Reds 5-3 In Nova's Debut

Ivan Nova rang up the first two outs of his Bucco career quietly, then tossed a first pitch meatball to Joey Votto, who doubled. No prob; Ivan's second whiff of the frame left him stranded. Starling doubled with one away off Homer Bailey and Cutch's rap to center sent him home for the early lead.

It was one that didn't last long; lead off hitter Brandon Phillips turned a 2-0 heater into a souvenir (which was tossed back on the field).  An out later, a double and single put Cincy up. Bailey bunted into a 2-6-4 DP; it was the only ball that wasn't hammered in the frame. JJ singled to open and was erased galumphing to second when Fran K'ed during a 10 pitch at bat; dunno that he's a guy that we'd send. Jordy followed with an infield knock that at least turned the order over. The Reds went down quietly in the third. Josh dropped a bunt; the ball was tossed away for a single-and-error.Two outs later, Matt Joyce walked and Freeser got bopped on the elbow. Ditto for Jaso, who took a ball off the foot. Odd rally, but hey... Fran beat out an infield rap to give Pittsburgh the edge before the dance ended.

Ivan Nova was solid in his Bucco debut (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It was a 1-2-3 fourth for Ivan, who got things going in the Pirates half with a knock, his first since 2012. Josh almost followed with a double when he banged a ball off the Clemente Wall, but had to stop at first as Nova was a bit bewildered with the base-running thingie. That was it for Homer as Josh Smith took the ball. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Starling's single chased them home. He stole second, then Cutch walked. The Pirates can't seem to help but to get in their own way; Matt Joyce K'ed on a foul tip and Starling was tossed out trying to steal third. A grounder stopped the clock. Nova struck out the side in the fifth on just 10 pitches. The Pirates went down without a peep.

Zach Cozart's one-out single ended Nova's sit-down streak at 11 batters in the sixth. Votto bounced the next pitch to Josh to trigger an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. Keyvius Sampson toed the rubber and tossed a quiet frame. With two gone in the seventh, Phillips took Nova long again to make it 5-3, the ball just a row beyond Starling's grasp. The Bucs again went down without much struggle; JHK hit for Freeser - David has "left elbow discomfort" from his earlier HBP - and went down on three pitches. That was it for Ivan, who gave up three runs in seven IP on six hits w/ no walks and five K after 76 tosses. Changes: Neftali Feliz on the bump, Kang at 3B, S-Rod at first and Adam Frazier went to RF as Clint called on the all-leather team.

JHK's glovework may have been the game's turning point (photo Dave Arrido/Pirates)

Feliz walked the eight hole hitter to start the frame and Ivan Dejesus, given life when Starling missed hauling in his foul fly, whacked a pinch hit single. The JHK sub then proved brilliant; he stole an extra base hit from Hamilton on the line, stepped on third to start a DP and handled another routine bouncer to close the frame. Jumbo Diaz was called out and worked a spotless frame. Tony Watson was looking for his first home save. Two routine outs and a whiff of Phillips got it.

Nova came as advertised. Whiffs, ground balls, and a tendency for long flies. Besides the pair to Phillips, he also had two other flies hauled in at the track. But PNC will be kinder to him than Yankee Stadium; not so sure about Miller and GABP. The Pirate attack showed early life, then fizzled with one hit in the final five innings. But why pick nits? Two in a row looks like up to us. And Cutch looks refreshed; he's been a little more selective, and while he hasn't had much luck finding grass, he's been squaring it up against the Reds.

Tony walked off with his first PNC save as the team's main man (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Josh and Starling at the top of the order went 4-for-8, scored three times and plated a pair.
  • Brandon Phillips went 286 ABs w/o a homer; he popped a pair tonight. 
  • There were 34,259 at the ballyard tonight.
  • Jeff Locke is back in the bullpen starting tomorrow, per Clint.
  • Chad Kuhl was scratched from his Indy start tonight but threw a side session, making him a likely suspect to twirl on Tuesday for the upcoming Padre series. The slated rotation is "I'd tell u but then I'd have to kill u" TBA (Tue), V-Song (Wed) & JT (Thu). Slotting Kuhl there has the added advantage of giving all three starters some extra rest for the inning-cautious Bucs. That also explains Curtis Partch's selection, since it's just a two-day stand, tho we might have went with a bat like Jason Rogers.
  • Jung Ho Kang and Clint had a pre-game closed door chat, and since the walls don't talk, we won't speculate. We can note that ever since 6/17, when the Chicago allegations surfaced, Kang has hit .178 and fanned 33 times in 101 ABs. The investigation weighing on him and the league deciding to not serve him fastballs anymore has proven to be a formidable combo when he hits.
  • @adamdberry clarified the PTBNL for Arquie - the Bucs can take one player from List A or two players from List B, and are prob scouting the candidates now. 
  • Mitch Keller, #5 on the Bucco prospect list, went six shutout innings for the WV Power, giving up four hits and fanning nine.
  • LHP Clayton Richard signed a MLB deal w/the Padres.

No comments: