Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bunts, Bungles & Boots - Bucs Fall 6-1 As Nats Clinch East Title

Ivan Nova surrendered a bunt single, infield single, pair of bona fide singles and a sac fly to go with hitting two batters, and after 23 pitches (the last one coaxing a 1-2-3 DP) it was 3-0 Nats. The Bucs got back-to-back two out knocks off Joe Ross, but JJ's liner was webbed by Ryan Zimmerman to close the chapter.

Both teams got two-out raps in the second leading to no damage. In the third, the Nats again collected a harmless two-out hit. The Bucs tried to put a big inning together. J-Bell swatted his third MLB long fly and the Pirates loaded the bases with two down to send Ross to the showers (he was at 67 pitches and a week off the DL) and bring in ol' matey Sean Burnett. Matt Joyce's bid to chase his teammates home ended when he lined out to a perfectly positioned Bryce Harper.

JHK got back into the swing of things with three hits (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The fourth did in Nova and the Pirates. Danny Espinosa led off with a bunt single; another bunt was tossed into RF when neither Fraze nor JJ could figure out who's on first. An out later, S-Rod's throw home took a hop that Fran couldn't handle for an error. Then a DP ball was rolled to second; Fraze's throw for the force at second was high as a run scored and everyone else was safe. A wild pitch and sac fly made it 6-1.

Reynaldo Lopez came on in the bottom of the fourth and held the Bucs scoreless on four hits into the ninth, when Dusty Baker decided to delay the Hunter Hayes concert by bringing in two new pitchers to finish up. As for the Bucs, they got two innings each out of Hutch and Zach Phillips and one from the where-ya-been Kid, Jeff Locke. Phillips looked strong, giving up a hit and whiffing a pair while Hutchison and Locke needed a little fancy stepping to put up their goose eggs.

Fran reached safely three times tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Ivan has had consecutive poor outings. He's still a cracker jack in the upcoming FA field, but his hoped-for treasure chest may be shrinking in size, especially if he can't reestablish himself with just one start left in the season. As for the Bucs, back-to-back three error nights (Fraze has been hitting and booting at about the same rate) make piecing together their 2017 starting lineup a chore as they have to figure out what direction they want to take with a lot of puzzle pieces. Versatility sometimes comes at a cost.
  • JHK had three knocks, including a pair of 2Bs, and Fran added two hits with a walk.
  • Cutch extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
  • With their win and the Met's loss tonight, the Nationals have won the NL East for the third time in five years.

No comments: