Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quick Start, Stellar Pitching Carry Bucs To 4-1 Win

It took the Bucs a couple of batters to figure out Jimmy Nelson, but with two gone, Cutch happened. That was followed by back-to-back knocks and a walk. An S-Rod single plated a pair before the bell sounded with the Bucs up 3-0 before Milwaukee got to the bat rack. Chad Kuhl gave up a single that Gregory played into a double and a two-out walk, but also notched a pair of called whiffs on great frame jobs by Fran. Cool Chad walked to open the second and scampered to second after a wild pitch, where he stayed. The Brewers started with a bloop into center, with the only damage being that it allowed the order to turn over.

Cool Chad took home his fifth W (photo Gary Vasquez/USA Today)

The Bucs squared the ball up in the third but no grass was to be found. The Brewers lined into a couple of outs themselves in a 1-2-3 frame. S-Rod went boom to lead off the fourth. The rest of the inning went quietly except for Craig Counsell, who was ejected over a foul call. Kuhl dealt the Brewers a three-card hand. Gregory singled with two gone in the fifth, stole second and went to third on a missed catch, but was left 90' shy. The Brewers opened with a rap. A force and steal put a runner at second and Jonathan Villar's two-out single made it 4-1. Kuhl worked on keeping him close to the bag, and it paid off when Villar was caught stealing, Fran zipping a bullet after gloving a down-and-in hook.

Blaine Boyer took the hill in the sixth. Jordy ended a pesky two-out at bat by dropping a ball into right for the only damage. Chad yielded a harmless two-out knock, and at 95 pitches, his job is done - and well done, too. Jacob Barnes was on the bump in the seventh and all the Bucs managed was a Cutch infield single. Juan Nicasio tossed a clean frame, and yes, with another strikeout. Barnes retired the Pirates in order in the eighth. Felipe Rivero gave up a leadoff knock, then took care of business.

Cutch is back (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Brent Suter climbed the mound for the ninth. Jordy welcomed him with a knock, and the long-lost Starling Marte grabbed a bat. Briefly, as it turned out - he went down on three pitches. A fly and bouncer brought Tony Watson into the fray. He was nicked for an infield knock but was otherwise drama free in nailing down the win.

The roller-coaster trip continues as the Bucs have taken their sixth straight at Miller Park and are 6-of-7. The Pirates have slogged their way back above .500 at 76-75, and with 11 games left are three losses in back of the wild card wanna-be Mets and Cards. But after tomorrow's finale, the trail gets a lot rockier with a home stand against the Nats (three games) and Cubs (four games) followed by the regular season sendoff, a three game set at Busch. Still, Pittsburgh's nine is livin' up to its Battlin' Bucs rep. Can't ask for more.

S-Rod chased home three runs (photo Stephen Brashear/Getty)
  • Cutch, Gregory, S-Rod and Jordy each had a pair of hits.
  • S-Rod has a 10 game hitting streak and Cutch has a nine gamer.
  • Well, that was quick. AJ Schugel was part of the pen yesterday, but today was sent back to Pittsburgh to get a second opinion on his shoulder. We'd guess that when he loosened up, it didn't.
  • Neftali Feliz was cleared to toss off flat ground.
  • Last night, Tony Watson became the eighth Pirates pitcher to appear in 400 games. The only other Bucco LHP with more outings is Wilbur Cooper (469 games from 1912-24).
  • Austin Meadows is in the Pirates Florida instructional program. He has a strained oblique, which will keep him out of baseball activities for the time being. The injury explains why he was yanked from the Arizona Fall League, and likely the cause of his second-half batting dip at Indy.

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