Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One Strike Shy: Watson Train Wreck In Ninth Derails Bucs 9-7

Ouch. Gregory Polanco misread, misplayed, and just flat-out missed Kolten Wong's opening fly to left; it fell for a triple. After a line out and a walk, a tapper to John Jaso loaded the sacks when instead of trying for two (Matt Adams was the batter), he decided to throw across the diamond to get a wandering Wong. He didn't, and Yadi went with the next pitch, a slider, lifting it the opposite way over the Clemente Wall for a grand salami to make it 4-0 Redbirds. Vogey escaped with just another single, but the Pirates defense, both mentally and physically, has been a dumpster fire at PNC Park. The Bucs went down 1-2-3 to Luke Weaver; so much for a quick response.

Weaver opened the second with an infield knock, but a whiff and DP saved any further scarring. Two liners and a fan job sat the Pirates down. With an out in the third, V-Song hung another slider and Adams deposited it into the Allegheny on a hop. Vogelsong coaxed two more outs around another knock. Jordy got the first Bucco hit when he rolled over on  change away but legged out a weak roller to third. Stew followed with another rap. With a small horde of starting pitchers in the pen, Clint still let Vogey hit; he fanned trying to bunt. J-Hay lined out, but JJ came through with a run-scoring single. Cutch won't take a walk - he's been ahead 3-0 and 3-1, but struck out swinging both times.

Jung Ho did his part with a pair of long flies (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Cards went down in order in the fourth (no, really!) JHK caught a change that hung up in the middle of the plate and sent it to the fans in left as a souvenir. After a Matt Joyce single, Jordy lined out (seems to be a theme during this home stand), then Stew got a knock. This time Vogey got the hook as Josh Bell grabbed a stick. A wild pitch moved the guys up 90', but a 3-2 change resulted in a tapper to the hill from Josh.

Juan Nicasio took over in the fifth and stranded a pair. Matt Bowman claimed the bump for the Cards. J-Hay opened with a squib knock. An out later, Cutch tapped back to the mound, and Bowman airmailed the ball into center. Gregory knocked a run home and JHK another. A boot by Brandon Moss loaded 'em. Bowman pounded Jordy inside; he turned on the third jam shot and doubled to put the Bucs up 6-5. Zach Duke answered the five-alarmer and walked Stew to jam 'em again, but the Pirates couldn't add on. Freeser pinch hit, went after the first pitch and bounced into a 4-6-3 DP.

Antonio Bastardo was next in line in the sixth. After two were gone, he gave up a walk and a knock, but no runs. Zachster was tapped for just a two-out Cutch rap. Felipe Rivero spun the ball in the seventh. Molina almost went yard again with two gone, blasting a middle-middle heater high off but not quite over the Clemente Wall. Fortunately, it's not horseshoes and he was left on the pond. Kevin Siegrist did the honors for St Louis. Joyce walked with one away and stayed rooted. Felipe got a second frame. Stephen Piscotty doubled with an out and again Felipe left the runner stranded. Mike Mayers tossed a clean frame, and the game was on Tony Watson's watch now.

Jordy's two bagger gave the Bucs a lead they held until two outs & two strikes into the 9th (photo Pgh Pirates)

With two outs, he was up 0-2 on Matt Carpenter. The second pitch was a fastball middle-middle, but Tony got away with the mistake when it was fouled off. The next delivery was fatter - an elevated heater over the heart of the dish that Carpenter pounded over the wall in right center to tie it. Then Yadi doubled, Randy Grichuk homered and Jhonny Peralta did the same. Jared Hughes had to come in to put it rest. Seung Hwan So gave up a solo shot to Jung Ho to make the final 9-7.

To come back from a 5-0 hole in a big match and then lose the game this way is about as soul smashing as it gets. Tony's in the spotlight, but there were plenty of contributors tonight - the first inning fielding shenanigans and the Vogey slider to Yadi, along w/Freeser's inning-killing DP all come to mind, tho Watson will have to wear this one. As Clint will surely say, they'll shower off and keep on playing. We'll see; tomorrow's game is must-win, and they'll have to do it w/o Naftali Feliz and maybe Felipe Rivero, who tossed a pair of frames tonight. Another loss and they may be days away from giving the pups an audition for next season, like in the bad ol' days.

  • Tony Watson's three homers in the ninth are as many as he surrendered during the entire 2015 season in 77 appearance. His closer gig hasn't worked out so swell. He's been called on six times with a one run lead and blown three saves (his other seven have been with 2> run leads) since The Shark swam away. In 14 outings as the main man that have gone a full frame, he's only tossed three 1-2-3 innings.
  • JHK had his third career two-homer game and collected three hits. The bottom of the order chipped in too, with Jordy and Stew banging out a pair of raps apiece.
  • Gregory broke an 0-for-18 streak with his RBI knock. He hit several balls on the nose but was unable to find grass during his funk, but on the other side of the pillow, he also K'ed eight times during the string. 
  • The Pirates lost their eighth straight, their longest downhill roll since 2011, and have dropped to 67-69 on the season. They're 5-1/2 behind the Cards (five in the loss column) with 26 games left.
  • The Cards tied the NL record by banging a round-tripper for the 25th straight game. The Cards also set the pinch-hit homer record with 16 after tonight.
  • It was Marauders 11, Mets 6 in the High A Florida State League opening playoff game. Bradenton can close out the series with a win tomorrow against St. Lucie and advance to the FSL Championship Series.

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