Thursday, May 4, 2017

Buc Bats Stay Cold Against Reds; Cincy Takes Finale 4-2

The rain delayed the start by about an hour, but the grounds crew did their thing and got the game going eventually. The Bucs got Cutch and Gregory aboard in the first on a knock and a walk before Tim Adleman fanned J-Bell. It took Ivan Nova 10 pitches to put away the Redlegs. Pittsburgh drew first blood in the second when Fran - welcome back! - singled and came home on Gift Ngoepe's two-bagger while Cincy went quietly. The third was calm, too, with the only action being the Reds' first knock. Pittsburgh went 1-2-3 in the fourth and Queen City came back in their half to claim the lead. Jose Peraza singled, Joey Votto doubled him home and Adam Duvall's rap plated him. In a play that proved big, Cutch tossed out Duvall trying to stretch it; a later Cincy double/single combo ended up creating smoke but no additional fire.

Ivan couldn't solve Joey Votto & Adam Duvall today (photo Pgh Pirates)

The Pirates got a bunt single from J-Hay in the fifth and Ivan's bad day continued. With two gone and Billy Hamilton on second thanks to a rap and steal, Votto's second two-bagger plated Hamilton and Duvall's triple to left - it kicked away from Gregory in the corner - made it 4-1. J-Bell and Fran teamed up with two gone in the sixth to get a run back with consecutive doubles. A Reds single followed by a DP made it a 1-2-3 rebound frame for Nova. Michael Lorenzen tossed a clean seventh and Juan Nicasio took over for Pittsburgh, bending a bit but not breaking as Cincinnati left a pair stranded. Lorenzen pitched another shutdown frame in the eighth. Daniel Hudson gave up a walk, but a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP ended any threat. Raisel Iglesias gave up a J-Bell knock in the ninth, but that led to nada as the Bucs dropped another.

J-Bell collected another pair of knocks (photo Pgh Pirates)

Well, Ivan was human today, and four runs continues to be the Pirates magic number. When the Pirates score fewer than four times, they're 1-15; when they score four or more, they're 11-1 and that held true during the series. One issue has been the inability to cash in on opponent's relievers - the Pirates are slashing just .210/.305/.344 after they chase the starter, so getting into the bullpen hasn't helped the Bucco bats at all. The first half of the 14-game May road trip, broken up by a three-game set starting tomorrow at PNC v the Brewers, ended at 3-4 and the Bucs have now dropped 4-of-5.

  • J-Bell and Fran had a pair of hits.
  • Cutch kept his on base-streak alive at 22 games.
  • Cincinnati is 6-1 against the Bucs already this year; they were 9-10 v the Pirates in 2016. The two teams don't meet again until August.
  • BTW, the four-game rest for Fran seemed to do the trick; he was on his horse running today as he showed by scoring from first on Gift's double.
  • The Pirates issue with RISP is directly related to their overall stickwork; they've hit .236 as a team going into today and .235 w/RISP, and they're actually a little more patient with ducks on the pond - the team OBP is .325 and jumps to .367 w/RISP.

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