Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bucs Blow 4-Run Lead In Ninth; Lose 9-6 In 11 Innings

The Bucs opened the game by stranding a couple against Wade Miley; the O's opened with a walk but a DP ball made it a 1-2-3 frame for Chad Huhl. Cutch and Eli were aboard with singles and an out in the second, then pulled off a double steal. Max Moroff doubled them home (after first sending Cutch to dirt with a screamer smoked at him) and Jordy singled, but that third run died as J-Hay whiffed and Gregory bounced out; some early ducks were left swimming on the pond. Chad continued to be strike challenged; back-to-back walks to start the inning turned into a run after a pair of fly-out tags. A walk and a knock kicked off the Pirates third. Cutch reverted and rolled over on a fastball, hitting into a force at third. J-Bell whiffed, but holy RISP - Eli doubled the pair home with two outs as the kiddie korps kicked butt early on. Mad Max walked, and Wade was hooked for Mike Wright. He wild-pitched Diaz up a base but closed shop. Chad can't seem to get the first batter out; the O's opened with a single. Maybe he just likes working from the stretch as he followed with a K and another DP ball.

Too bad for Chad; he deserved a win tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Gregory's single was the only Bucco damage in the fourth as he became the seventh Pirate LOB. Mark Trumbo reached on a two-out walk after falling behind 0-2 and a following knock put Birds on the corners. However, they didn't fly right - a short wild pitch prodded Trumbo into a jab-step toward home and before he could retreat, Eli had him gunned. The Bucs were not real patient in the fifth; seven pitches and they were back on the field. Back to normal for Chad, who surrendered a leadoff knock; a whiff later, a bad hop single that looked like a DP off the bat spun into left. But no problem; Chad was cool and closed it down. Wright cruised through the sixth and Huddy took over for Chad, who was at the 90-pitch mark, and used just eight tosses to sit the Orioles down. 14-year vet Edwin Jackson climbed the mound in the seventh, making his first MLB appearance of 2017. Gregory greeted him with a knock and an out later Jose Osuna took him deep; as last night proved, it pays to add on against the O's.

Juan Nicasio took the ball and walked the first batter he faced in the seventh on an iffy check-swing call. A catcher's interference put another runner on, but Juan calmly coaxed a fly and yet another DP ball to weather the storm. The Bucs worked a walk in the eighth that went nowhere. Johnny Barbato took the bump and gave up an Adam Jones dinger. In the ninth, Jackson gave up a line drive knock, line drive unassisted DP and another line drive single. After the smoke from those rockets cleared, Richard Bleier was waved in to collect the last out. JB started the ninth with the despised big-lead walk, Tony Watson began loosening and after a double got the call, returning to the scene of last night's crime. After four pitches, a sac fly and two-bagger made it 6-4 and got Felipe Rivero tossing in the pen. With two outs and two strikes, Trey Mancini was swinging from his heels, fouling off three pitches before getting a meatball changeup that couldn't be more down the middle. He knocked it out of the yard the opposite way to tie the game. A liner that was gloved took it into extras.

Wade has worked 1-1/3 IP in the past two games and come away with two L's.
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Brad Bach answered the phone for Baltimore and tossed a clean 10th. Felipe tucked the Birds into the nest. In the 11th, Mychal Givens gave up a one-out soft single to El Coffee and then picked him off. It looked like Gregory beat the rap, and a challenge put him back aboard just in time for Freeser to GIDP. Wade LeBlanc was sent to the mound. A ground ball single, two-out walk and another Mancini homer sent the Bucs down the drain again.

Like last night, this was just brutal. The Pirates could be within hailing distance of the elusive .500 mark and well in the race; instead they're 26-33 and 5-1/2 out. You can blame Tony for the loss; you can blame Wade; you can blame Clint and the FO. The blame game won't help. The point is the Pirates need back-end help; Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio can't carry the whole load, especially with so many five-inning starts. If they don't bolster the bullpen soon, the team will be in sell mode rather than the stretch run when we reach July and the dog days.

  • C Elias Diaz has hit safely in all five games he's started (Caveat emptor: Gift Ngoepe was hitting .375 after his first five starts). Gregory led the way with three hits, but the kids did good - Diaz and Jose Osuna had two hits while Max Moroff had a knock and two walks. Cutch and Freeser also had a pair of raps.
Max had a good day, reaching base three times and turning a DP.
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Tony Watson has blown four straight saves; might be time to reconsider the bullpen - and reinforcements.
  • Jamo hit a bump tonight with a line of six IP, five earned runs, nine hits (eight singles), two walks and nine K on 97 pitches while rehabbing at Indy. The results might indicate another outing at Indy, although the pitch count suggests he's ready to return to the show.
  • With his outing tonight, Edwin Jackson of the O's tossed for his 12th MLB team, one shy of the record held by ex-Bucco Octavio Dotel. He tied another old Pirate, Matt Stairs, for the runner-up spot. Edwin must have the dirt on someone -  in those 12 years, he's won just 93 games with a 4.65 ERA while pulling in $75M+ in salary. 
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