Friday, June 30, 2017

Pirates Fade Away Against G-Men, Get Rocked 13-5

First innings and home runs; Denard Span deposited the game's second toss into the seats before Gerrit could settle in. Fraze and J-Hay opened with first-pitch knocks against Johnny Cueto followed by a Cutch walk. A force-out bouncer that was a heartbeat away from a DP plated Fraze and JJ's double chased home another. A Gregory sac fly made it 3-1. In the second, a walk, wild pitch and grounder sent Brandon Belt to third; a whiff kept him there. Stew opened with a single that ticked off the 3B's mitt and a bunt moved him along. Fraze walked, but J-Hay bounced into a twin-killing. The Giants got a one-out walk in the third, then J-Bell, who made a fine scoop earlier in the game, tossed a grounder away trying for the lead man to put Bay men at the corners. Another knock made it a one-run game before back-to-back punch outs stemmed the flow. Cutch got plunked in the back to begin an otherwise ho-hum frame.

Gerrit's emotions boiled over a bit tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Giants banged five straight two-out singles in the fourth, starting with the eight hitter, to take a 5-3 lead. Cole simply left too many balls down the middle and paid; he's also at 84 pitches. He barked some at Clint between innings (likely over shifting) though he probably should be scolding the man in the mirror. The Pirates opened with a walk and a knock; Gerrit K'ed trying to move them up. Fraze almost made that irrelevant, but his long drive to center stayed in the park and the failure to bunt cost a run when Josh grounder out. It was a 1-2-3 fifth for San Fran. Cutch started the Bucs off with a rap, then J-Bell fouled off ball four twice and looked at strike three. JJ swatted another double to put Bucs at second and third. Gregory hit what was ball four hard, but right at third to freeze the runners. Jordy did take the walk but Stew couldn't deliver. The Pirates have stranded eight and are 1-for-9 w/RISP after five frames.

The Giants got a leadoff single in the sixth and an out later Span got his third hit to occupy the corners. The game is already two hours plus, and Clint waved in Antonio Bastardo to eat some more clock. Span stole second for naught; AB walked the first hitter he saw. Clint shook his head and called on Jhan Marinez along with Elias Diaz for the double-switch. He bopped Hunter Pence as a long night threatened to turn into an eternity, especially after back-to-back doubles. At this point, your intrepid cub reporter and his bully pooch decided that it was a fine time to take a walk.

Cutch just keeps on rollin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

What happened that was noteworthy? Cutch banged a foul of his ankle, took a knee, then got back up and singled before being pulled for a pinch runner. Wade LeBlanc gave up a homer. Edgar Santana couldn't even get through the ninth, loading the bases after bopping, of all people, Gorkys Hernandez. It ended with a Gregory fly out after four hours of undisciplined and sometimes thrown-away at-bats (despite five runs, 10 hits and an in-focus first frame), a pitcher showing playground maturity when things went south and a bad day for the bullpen, with probably another busy afternoon on deck with Chad Kuhl on the hill tomorrow. Still, just one game, and some are better than others. Hopefully they can shower off and come back ready to rock tomorrow.

  • Cutch had two knocks and a walk while JJ & Stew had a pair of hits. 
  • Cutch hit .411 this month; he also batted .446 in July, 2012. Andrew joins a select club of Buccos who have hit .400+ in a month twice (100 bat minimum): Roberto Clemente, Arky Vaughan, Paul Waner & Pie Traynor (thx @joe_block). The later four, of course, are all in the Hall of Fame. Cutch has, btw, reached base safely in eight consecutive trips to the plate.
  • J-Bell's double gave him 30 extra-base hits, the most banged by a Pirates rookie before the All Star break. Now to work on that .232 BA...
  • The game drew just 26,407 on fireworks night, one of PNC's top attractions. That doesn't bode well for sales during the rest of the year unless the Pirates catch fire; at 13-13, June was the best month of the season so far. 
  • Per ESPN Stats, Denard Spans's leadoff dinger in the first inning was the 1,069th this month, tying May, 2000, for the most HRs in a single month in MLB history. Justin Smoak of Toronto broke the record a little while later.
  • RHP Brandon Cumpton took another step in his TJ recovery today as he was promoted to Altoona.

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