Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gregory, Cutch, J-Bell Lead Bucs to 6-3 Series-Clincher Against the Phils

Rain delayed the start by 1/2-hours or so, but begin it did. Jeremy Hellickson gave up a Cutch single in the first; Cool Chad surrendered a walk that was erased on a 4-3 DP four pitches later. The clubs exchanged singles in the second; the Bucco stranded theirs and Jose Osuna made the Phils' moot when he tossed out not one but two arm-testing Phils back-to-back. The Pirates went down in order in the third; the Phils scored on a litttle league play - Andrew Knapp walked and Elias Diaz tried to pick him off; the throw went into the RF corner (Eli had the runner dead to rights; 1B J-Bell was in la-la land) and Knapp came all the way around to make it 1-0. Pittsburgh got it back with interest in the fourth - Cutch doubled and strolled home ahead of J-Bell's home-run trot, and a batter later Gregory went deep. Cool Chad gave up a one-out knock, negated by an around-the-horn DP. Hellickson sat down the Pirates in the fifth; the Phils got a leadoff walk and a third DP, again started by Freeser. Both sides went 1-2-3 in the sixth.

Yes baby - Chad wins his third (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pat Neshek came on in the seventh and was touched for a knock and a walk, but no runs. Not so for Chad. After an out, a single-double-single triplet tied the game, though Joey O did gun out another runner at second. Joaquin Benoit tossed the eighth; Cutch doubled the opposite way and J-Bell brought him home again with another two-bagger. This one was a bit more painful as Josh took the throw into second off the back and went down, but after a brief visit by the medico rejoined the action. He was running OK and scored on Gregory's fourth hit, an opposite-field roller. El Coffee took second on the relay home and then plated on a nice piece of hitting by Eli who banged a well-located 3-2 change for another double. Ricardo Pinto took the ball and balked Diaz to third before closing down the inning. Tony Watson got the call (guess his blister healed) and worked a clean frame. The Bucs got a knock and walk in the ninth, but couldn't add on. Juan Nicasio climbed the hill for the third straight night and earned his first save of the season three batters later.

Chad is starting to settle in, and three GIDPs added to three throw-outs by Joey O sure help the ol' ERA. Kuhl helped himself with an 8-1 ground-to-fly-out ratio; he's most effective when serving up dirtballs. Gregory, Cutch and J-Bell didn't key the attack; they were the attack. They were plenty tonight, but the young guns off the bench have to carry some water, too. Still, nice bounce-back from the Giant debacle and on to Chicago before AS break.

Gregory is likin' the six-hole (image Positively Pittsburgh)
  • The Pirates had 11 hits and nine belonged to Gregory (4), Cutch (3) and J-Bell (2). The trio scored all six runs and chased each other home five times.
  • Cecil Espy was the last Pirates OF with three assists in a game prior to Jose Osuna's show tonight, back in 1991 against the Cards. Gary Alexander was the last Bucco to gun back-to-back runners in 1981 against the Mets. The last time an OF threw out batters at second on consecutive plays was Torii Hunter against Toronto in 2001.
  • This is the first time in 31 starts that Chad has gone seven innings; he's lasted 6-1/3 frames twice before, once last year and once this season.
  • In case you're a little confused about Clint's lineup, get used to it until the ASG, anyway. In their first nine games of July, four are night-to-day doublets, which makes juggling the bullpen and lineup (guys like Cervy and Freeser are monitored for innings) challenging with the quick turnarounds. 

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