Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Jamo, Juan & Cutch Flummox Phils 3-0

It didn't take Mark Leiter Jr long to put away the Bucs in the first. Jamo gave up a two-bagger and stolen sack but no harm came of it. Pittsburgh stranded a walk and a knock in the second. The Phils got a two-out infield rap and a walk that Jamo was squeezed a bit on that turned the order over. Fraze walked, J-Hay (what else?) was HBP and Cutch singled with an out in the third. JJ spoiled a couple of two-strike pitches before hitting into a sac fly DP; Fraze tagged and scored but J-Hay was chopped at third when the relay was cut and redirected. Philly won't go quietly; a two-out triple by Aaron Altherr, barely shy of clearing the wall, didn't plate but helped run JT's pitch count up to 61 tosses. Pittsburgh left a leadoff knock aboard in the fourth. J-Hay booted one to open and an out later a knock put Phils on the corners. No sweat; Jamo picked up a couple of K's to keep them put - and strike out the side. He's spraying the fastball but his curve is money today.

JT sat down nine Phils this afternoon (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It was a quick and easy fifth for Leiter. A walk and a passed ball were shrugged off by Jamo. Cutch ducked a pair of chin-high hooks and then drilled a heater into the seats to make it 2-0. Freeser was bopped and Luis Garcia took the ball to get the last two outs of the sixth. Huddy came out for Pittsburgh as JT was at 101 pitches, so it's a bullpen battle now. Daniel cruised with a couple of punch outs. Garcia met that with a pair of whiffs in the seventh. Tony Watson twirled and it got sticky quick with a walk, infield knock and bunt. Another walk loaded the sacks. Watson had been checked by the trainer two batters previous apparently with a blister problem and passed the exam; now he was yanked with his hand bleeding for Juan Nicasio. Bless his soul; he fed a 6-4-3 DP ball to Altherr to escape.

Ricardo Pinto took the ball in the eighth, challenged Cutch with a fastball and like Leiter, watched it sail over the wall. Juan got one pitch in before the sky opened and the tarp was rolled out. It was a short delay (22 minutes) and Nicasio stayed on the hill, giving up a couple of well-struck balls that found gloves. Pittsburgh went down in a New York minute in the ninth and Felipe Rivero toed the slab. He gave up a walk and a knock after an out, then K'ed his way out of it, striking out the next two Phils on six nasty pitches.

The Bucs were heading south before Juan & Cutch righted the ship
(image Positively Pittsburgh)

Jamo again showed he's at his best when challenged, Juan came up with the key pitch and Cutch did the heavy lifting today. The Phils helped by stranding 11 and going a very Pirate-esque 0-for-10 w/RISP. The late inning drama isn't really about Clint's bullpen usage, baffling though it sometimes seems; it's a management problem - there are only three guys in the pen with ERAs under 4.00, so Hurdle is regularly faced with damned if I do, damned if I don't dilemmas, especially with a starting staff that is often lucky to get into the sixth inning. He needs help, not hope that guys will right themselves - it is July, after all - and getting that help the FO's job. Still, a win is a win and the Bucs need to start piling up a heap of them to stay relevant.

  • The Pirates had five hits and Cutch had three of them (and a walk). Freeser was the only other guy to get aboard twice with a knock and a walk.
  • Jamo's nine strikeouts were a career high (he fanned eight Astros in 2016).
  • JJ took a pair of borderline high pitches for called strike threes; we've noted before (& JJ is usually one of the more professional Pirate hitters, so we're not spotlighting him) that the Bucs sometimes like to ump instead of just spoiling balls on the edge.
  • It doesn't happen often: The Pirates are 5-35 when they score less than four runs and 33-11 when they put up four points or more. 
  • One problem the Bucco batters have is jump-starting a frame. Coming into today, the first batter of the inning for Pittsburgh hits .238 BA, .297 OBP for a 57 OPS+; oddly, when there are two outs and the bases empty, the Bucs slash .248/.336 for a 115 OPS+.
  • Former Bucco IF Chase d'Arnaud was DFA'ed by the Padres. In three cup-of-coffee stops in Pittsburgh, he hit .208 and was batting just .143 for San Diego. 

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