Sunday, April 23, 2017

Can't RISP? Can't Catch? Good Thing You Can Pitch - Bucs Take Series 2-1 Behind Nova & Clutch Bullpen

Ivan Nova had a smooth first inning; the Bucs had a chance to run away early. A Jordy walk followed by J-Hay and Cutch knocks bode well, but the plate was dented only a sac fly by Freeser; Gregory's K hurt bigly. It was a quiet second for NY; the Pirates were treated to a rarity with a Stew triple with one out; he too was left aboard. Spot a trend yet? No NY damage in the third. The Pittsburgh side cashed in. Cutch drew a one-out walk and Gregory went up the line for a two-bagger. Andrew ran through Joey Cora's stop sign to score, and his aggressive but accurate read on the play would prove eventually to be a game-winner. Nova got into his first jam in the fourth following back-to-back one-out knocks, but he got Aaron Judge to roll one to Jordy for a 6-4-3 inning-ending DP. The Bucs went with barely a peep themselves, chipping in their own DP ball.

Ivan Nova was the man again (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Both sides collected singles in the fifth; NY stranded their runner while the Bucs hit into another DP. The Pinstripers went down quietly in the sixth; the Pirates - hey, how about a third DP in three innings? This one was triggered by Jose Osuna's liner that trapped El Coffee off first. Jacoby Ellsbury homered off Nova in the seventh to halve the lead. Bryan Mitchell got the ball and a single sandwiched between two walks with no outs got him into instant hot water. But a Jordy pop to left, a J-Hay liner and a Cutch K left three more runners. Huddy took over for the Bucs in the eighth (Ivan gave up a run on four hits, *gasp* a walk and seven K in seven IP, using 87 pitches). With one gone, a walk and single put him in the red zone. A short two-out wild pitch put the tying run 90' away, but Daniel coolly K'ed Starlin Castro with high heat. Three up, three down for Pittsburgh.

Of course the drama wasn't over. Tony Watson looked to close and started with an out that was followed by a knock and a walk. But he looked like he got out of it with a tailor-made DP ball to J-Hay, who muffed the play and loaded the sacks. Tony is used to the Fat Lady waiting out his inevitable pickle and struck out Aaron Hicks, then served up a harmless game-ending grounder to coax her on stage to sing while the Jolly Roger was hoisted.

Tony's usual drama wasn't all self-inflicted today (image Positively Pgh.)

Another 1-for-10 RISP day, three DPs and blowing the game-ending DP, so what else is new? Ivan was dominant as usual and the pen had the right stuff again, so strong pitching overcame missing fundamentals elsewhere. The Cubs roll into town for a three-game set tomorrow with Chad Kuhl and Brett Anderson to open the series.

  • Stew's triple was the first in his career, covering 1,184 PAs. He had two hits today as did J-Hay and Gregory. Cutch had a single and walk.
  • This was Tony Watson's eighth appearance. None have been clean and in 6-of-8, he's faced five or six batters.
  • 27,840 spun the turnstiles for the game.
  • The Pirates have, surprise, been looking for an OF'er. The consensus seems to be, with a weak roster of available FAs and only Danny Ortiz & Austin Meadows available at Indy, that the FO is scouring the DFA list or perhaps in minor-deal mood for a fourth outfielder type.
  • Jamie Romak, 31, who came to Pittsburgh back in 2007 as part of the Adam LaRouche deal, is still around. He's hitting .345 with nine HR (the most in pro baseball) for San Diego's AAA El Paso club in the PCL. Jamie did get some showtime in 2014-15 with the Angels and D-Backs.

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