Monday, September 26, 2011

Bucs Drop Home Finale 5-4

The Bucs tried to claim a win for Fan Appreciation day, the traditional curtain-closer for the home season, and almost pulled it off in the ninth. But they couldn't find one more hit and fell to the Reds 5-4 yesterday afternoon.

James McDonald struggled at the outset. In the first, a lead-off, four pitch walk to Brandon Phillips turned into a run after a pair of back-to-back, one out singles. In the second, J-Mac was almost on the way to the showers.

A lead-off double in the second, followed by a Josh Harrison, boot put runners on the corners. A sac fly brought in one tally, and another scored on a two-out single. That was followed by a walk, and that brought Clint Hurdle to the top step, but McDonald K'ed Joey Votto to end the frame.

The Bucs came back to tie it in their half. Derrek Lee led off with a knock, and an out later, Ryan Ludwick walked. Chase d'Arnaud sent them both home on a triple to left, and Scooby Doo hit a sac fly to knot the score.

J-Mac and Dontrelle Willis had things under control by then. McDonald was replaced in the sixth by Danny Moskos. After getting the first out, he gave up a single and double to the 7-8 hitters. Then Willis, no slouch at the dish, caught a hanging slider and drilled it into right to put the Reds up 5-3.

The game moved along into the ninth, when the Bucs tried to figure it out against Francisco Cordero. McCutch opened with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch, and came home after The Pittsburgh Kid's one-out double. But with the tying run in scoring position, a pair of pinch hitters went down - Garrett Jones K'ed and Pedro flew out to left - and that wrapped up the last home stand of the year.

The Bucs only had four hits to go along with eleven strikeouts. Those kind of numbers have been a season-long drag; a team batting average of .244 with eight whiffs per game don't project to many runs. Whether the answer lies within the organization, through team churning or has to come from the outside in a trade or free agency, the Bucs need to put the ball in play a lot more often next year.

RHP Charlie Morton (10-10, 3.67) takes on RHP Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.31) at Miller Park tonight.The game starts at 8:10 PM and will broadcast by Root Sports. Not that you need reminded, but the Pirates have lost 36 of their last 39 games at Miller Park dating back to 2007, including all six in Milwaukee this season.

  • The Pirates drew 28,758 for a season total of 1,940,429, the fourth largest attendance year in franchise history.
  • Dontrelle Willis had an 0-6 record entering the game and hadn't beaten the Bucs since 2005. Guess the hidden vigorish was finally on his side, hey? 
  • Baseball America picked its New York-Penn League All-Stars. State College had a pair: RHP Nick Kingham (9), and 1B Alex Dickerson (11).

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