Saturday, July 1, 2017

Runners, Runners Everywhere & Not A Big Hit To Be Had - Bucs Lose In 11 Innings 2-1

Well, the first at-bat was dramatic; Denard Span smacked a shot off Chad Kuhl's wrist (non-pitching), bringing out the trainer, but Chad hung tough and cruised through the frame. The Bucs drew three consecutive two-out walks off Matt Moore, then Elias Diaz ricocheted one off the Giant pitcher. It kicked toward first and he was tagged out to leave a whole flock of ducks on the pond. Chad served up a 1-2-3 second and has only fired 21 bullets so far. Pittsburgh also went quietly. Kuhl survived a leadoff walk in the third. Cutch doubled with two gone, Freeser walked, and J-Bell shot a ball through the right side to make it 1-0. The Giants were sat down in order in the fourth. El Coffee opened with a two-bagger for the Bucs and a fly moved him to third but the Bucs couldn't cash in. And holy moly, Cool Chad is through five innings on 60 pitches. The Pirates, for their part, continued their non-support.

Chad had his best outing of the season (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

The sixth again proved bad mojo for Chad; Austin Slater opened the frame with a dinger that just cleared the wall and Cutch's mitt. An out later, Denard Span doubled, taking advantage of Joey O's limited OF chops, but he was left aboard. A walk and a bloop put Bucs aboard with one out; Mad Max bounced into an around-the-horn DP that Clint challenged and won. The Giants had a challenge, too, claiming Gregory's break-up slide was illegal and they lost, so the inning stayed alive. JJ pinch-hit for Chad and walked. George Kontos took over and K'ed J-Hay as the Pirates ran their LOB count to nine. Tony Watson got the seventh inning nod. He gave up a leadoff rap but escaped the frame an out later when Cutch ran down a fly and Brandon Belt, who was on his horse, failed to retouch second on his way back to first and was rung up on a challenge. Same Bucco template in their half; Freeser doubled with two outs and was stranded.

Juan Nicasio worked the eighth; he also was tagged for a two-down double. Lefty Span was up and Uncle Ray visited but no Felipe. The pitcher bats fourth and Clint likely doesn't want to risk having Rivero face just one batter. No prob; Juan got a soft roller to first to shut it down. Steven Okert climbed the hill and was touched for a one-out knock by Gregory. An out later, Jordy grabbed a bat and the Giants rang up Hunter Strickland, who rung up Mercer on a curve after an eight-pitch dance. It was Felipe's turn to spin the ball and he tossed a clean, 12-pitch ninth. Cutch worked a pro walk with, how'd ya guess, two away. Freeser followed with a four-pitch free pass. J-Bell also took four wide ones. Eli K'ed looking on a gift call from ump Dan Bellino. With two away in the 10th, Felipe bopped a batter in the hand; the Bucs argued foul ball to no avail. It cost an extra three pitches. John Osich took the hill and walked El Coffee. Moroff tried to bunt and popped out; Fraze followed by bouncing into a DP upheld on review.

Freeser was aboard four times (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Huddy took the hill in the 11th and issued a one-out walk followed by a passed ball. A soft single put Giants on the corners; a steal following a whiff left G-Men at second and third. A walk/wild pitch plated a run after Hudson got two strikes on Buster Posey and kept burying breaking pitches, leaving the corners occupied again before the wildness was tamed. Sam Dyson and his 9.00 ERA claimed the mound. He gave up a one-out knock to Joey O, who moved to second on a swinging bunt that Posey made a great play on to prevent an infield knock. No diff; Freeser chased a 3-2 slider that was six inches off the plate to end it.

Another four hour game and another self-inflicted loss; the Pirates stranded 15 runners and went 1-for-11 w/RISP. The Bucs are approaching their 2017 Armageddon; if they don't reel off a string of wins soon, especially with the soft part of the schedule now kicking in, they can kiss the season goodbye. On the bright side, at least Chad Kuhl finally had himself a day; he was in line to toss another inning or two given reasonable support.

Papa Cutch reached base three times (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • Gregory had three hits and a walk. If Clint would have kept him in the sixth spot instead of dropping him to seventh against a lefty, it might have been a different ball game - Cutch, Freeser and J-Bell, batting 3-4-5, reached base 11 times, with eight trips via the walk. Eli, batting sixth today, went 0-for-5 and left nine runners stranded.
  • Cutch's string of reaching base 10 consecutive times ended in the fifth with a swinging K.
  • 27,247 were in the seats for today's game.
  • If it seems to you that the Bucs fire a lot of blanks with the bases loaded, you're not imagining things. They went into today's game batting .197 with the sacks filled and went 0-for-3 in this contest.
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