Friday, September 9, 2016

Bucs Their Own Worst Enemy; Drop 4-3 Decision to Cincy

All the Reds got in the first was a Joey Votto rap off Steven Brault. Josh Bell singled with one gone against Tim Adleman, and in keeping with the recent script, Cutch banged into a 6-4-3 DP. With an out in the second, Scott Schebler fell behind 0-2; two pitches later he was plunked but stayed in place. Gregory opened with an opposite field ground-rule double; an out later, he was picked off, another Bucco asleep at the wheel. An infield knock and bouncer closed the frame.

Steven had a nice outing except for putting away the pitcher (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Adleman started the third by smacking a two-bagger to RC, followed by a walk after jumping ahead 0-2. Zach Cozart bunted them up; the Reds sure love their small ball. It worked; a soft swat into center by Votto brought home a run before a 6-4-3 DP (challenged and upheld) ended the attack. Jordy led off with a knock and was moved up, touching home on J-Hay's double. Bell's fly moved him along 90', and he stayed there as Cutch's fly was pulled in on the track. The Redlegs got a two-out two-bagger in the fourth. An intentional walk brought up Adleman, who singled in a run to make it 2-1; he scored the first run and drove in the second. Gregory banged out his second double, then JHK got dinged by a 3-2 pitch. Freeser swung into a bad-luck 4-6-3 DP; his shot up the middle hit the mound and caromed right to Brandon Phillips. Another worm burner was the third out.

The Reds went quietly in the fifth. Jordy legged out an infield knock. Matt Joyce hit for Brault; he pitched pretty well, except to the nine hitter. Matt walked and Josh bunted them up. Score another one for small ball as J-Bell's right-side bouncer tied the match. Jared Hughes took the ball in the sixth (with, btw, the entire bullpen less Feliz available after last night's CG), and Joyce replaced Bell in RF. The first hitter, Phillips, homered on a hung slider *sigh* to put Cincy up 3-2. Kang walked with an out. After a fly, he was picked off first by the catcher. So six innings, two DPs and two pickoffs.

Gregory had three knocks to lead the Bucco attack (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

With Jose Peraza at second and two outs in the seventh, Clint yanked Hughes and called on Antonio Bastardo to face Votto. It was a half full, half empty glass - Votto hit an infield single, but Josh caught the Redleg runner turning wide at third and tossed him out; apparently base running is a lost art. Michael Lorenzen answered the phone. A walk, strikeout bunting (by Jordy) and yes, another DP 4-6-3, this one from Joyce, ended the frame. Antonio tossed a 1-2-3 eighth. Raisel Iglesius toed the rubber and J-Hay greeted him with a knock. JJ grabbed a stick and singled Josh to third, with P-Flo coming on to run for JJ. Cutch caught an elevated heater, and his sac fly to left knotted the score. Gregory followed with a knock. Then...wait for it...JHK banged into a 6-4-3 DP.

Tony Watson got the ninth-inning call and gave up a leadoff knock, advanced by an ensuing bunt. Kang may have had a play at second, but took the sure out. Another rap put Redlegs on the corners and a sac fly reclaimed the lead; it wasn't a sure thing, but Cutch's weak toss made it an easy score. Fran opened with a walk and was bunted to second. Joyce was intentionally walked. J-Hay popped out on the first pitch and Fraze's fly to left put it to bed.

J-Hay ran his hitting streak to nine games (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

This game is the poster child of why the Pirates can't have nice things. Two pick offs, four DPs, undisciplined at bats w/runners on, giving up key knocks to the opposing pitcher, added to some really questionable managing by Clint, both in bullpen usage and all the bunt calls for position players (Jordy had two hits, but was still called to bunt twice) was a brutal, brutal loss that could have been easily won.

  • Gregory had three hits; J-Hay had a pair (and a nine game hitting streak) as did Jordy.
  • Jared Hughes came into the game with a 3.27 ERA. His FIP was 4.89, xFIP 5.11 and SIERA 4.82. Tony Watson's ERA at game time was 3.17. His FIP was 4.63, xFIP 4.42 and SIERA 4.05. (FIP uses the pitcher's actual home run rate; xFIP uses the league average. SIERA weighs the kind of outs - GB, FB, LO - and K/BB rates a bit differently)  A sabermetric-savvy club like Pittsburgh knows those numbers inside-out. Clint should rethink their roles; comfort zone/loyalty is one thing, but performance is the baseline.
  • And about that Pirates base running, per Baseball Reference: They rank 29th in MLB in both taking an extra sack and being tossed out at home, plus 27th in being thrown out on the bases. That covers everything but pick-offs (16) & CS (45), which also rate among the bottom-dwellers.
  • BTW, we don't want to pile on Clint; after all, he has won 500 games as skipper for two franchises now. Besides the 500 notches in his belt here, he also has posted 534 victories with the Rox.
  • The Reds broke a five game losing streak with tonight's win.
  • Tonight's crowd was 24,520, with a lot of folk staying home to get ready for some heavy tailgating before tomorrow afternoon's Pitt-Penn State game.
  • Austin Meadows, Trevor Williams and Dovy Neverauskas have reportedly been removed from the Arizona Fall League roster by the Bucs per @piratesprospects. Meadows and Williams were there last year and are a bit advanced for the league, while Neverauskas is kinda surprising; he was a bad boy and blew his chance for a September call-up, but could use the off-season work in Arizona which makes us wonder about the backstory. No news on their replacements yet.
  • The Bradenton Marauders won the first game of the Florida State League finals 8-1 over the Tampa Yankees.

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