Wednesday, September 7, 2011

McCutch, Bullpen Rally Bucs Past 'Stros 5-4

The Bucs send Brian Burres out to try to take the rubber match in the series against Houston and JA Happ. It was not a grand start.

BB got the first pair of 'Stros to bounce out before JD Martinez smacked a single. That was followed by a Carlos Lee homer, which was ten feet fair up the left field line and dropped into the second row, just over the mitt of a leaping Alex Presley. Matt Downs then drilled a liner off the foul pole, and it was 3-0 Houston.

Pittsburgh got a run back when McCutch clobbered his 21st long ball of the year, a bomb to right center. The next two innings went quietly, with the Astros blowing a golden opportunity in the second. The first two hitters singled, but a bad bunt wasted an out and Burres wriggled out of the jam.

In the fourth, Clint Barmes banged his tenth long ball of the year, dropping it three rows deep in the left field corner, to make it 4-1. A missed third strike by McKenry, ruled a wild pitch, and a two-out single brought on Jared Hughes. He got a comebacker on the first MLB pitch he threw to finish the frame. BB went 3-2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with two Ks.

The Bucs tried to answer when Derrek Lee led off with a knock, but the next trio of Pirates went down on strikes. JA Happ has six Ks in four innings. After Hughes put up another goose egg, the Bucs came back. Brandon Wood drew a one out walk, and with two away, Presley singled. McCutch took a first pitch heater and played the Astro game, pulling a ball inside the left field pole that ended up in the seats a few rows deep to make it a tie game.

Lee followed with a single and Neil Walker drew a base on balls after a hard fought nine pitch at-bat; Happ was up to 118 pitches, but stayed on the get Ryan Ludwick on a pop. It's home run or no count so far, and 4-4 after five frames.

D-Mac came on for the Pirates and worked a quiet sixth. David Carpenter took the ball for Houston and returned the favor. Chris Leroux climbed the hill for the seventh and pitched a clean frame. Fernando Rodriguez emerged from the pen for Houston. Presley singled, was bunted to second, and McCutch walked after being in an 0-2 hole. F-Rod got Lee swinging and Walker on a 3-2 grounder, and it remained knotted.

Leroux put away the first two hitters in the eighth - that's seventeen straight batters that he's retired - before he got the hook when Brian Bogusevic came on to pinch hit. Clint Hurdle responded by bringing on Tony Watson to get a lefty-on-lefty matchup. It took Watson one pitch to get a grounder to short and move on to the bottom of the inning.

It was Wil Lopez's turn to toss 'em for the Astros. With one out, Hurdle sent up a pinch hit parade. First was Garrett Jones, who rolled a single up the middle and was replaced on the bases by Chase d'Arnaud. That was followed by a Dewey single to right to put runners at first and second. Jason Jaramillo grabbed a bat, and Sergio Escalona came in for Houston.

JJ turned around to the right side and kept the PH mojo going with an RBI single that ended up an inning-ending DP. Jaramillo got caught in a rundown heading for second when the throw went home, and Dewey was thrown out handily at the plate after JJ was tagged out. Nothin' like have two catchers on the base paths at once, hey? At any rate, the Bucs were up 5-4 with Hanny on the hill.

After two ground outs, Hanrahan caught a call on a 3-2 heater that was away to whiff Jordan Schafer looking, and the Bucs took the series. For Hanny, it was save #36, and Tony Watson got his second big league win.

Play a clean game in the field, have your bullpen toss 5-1/3 scoreless frames and get a three run homer...that'll work most of the time.

The Pirates are off tomorrow before Florida comes to town.

  • Baseball's a funny game - Tony Watson threw one pitch and got the win tonight. That was one heck of a fastball, even though it was only clocked at 90.
  • Clint Hurdle won his 600th MLB game with the Bucco victory over Houston. His overall record is 600-702.
  • The Bucs have homered in five consecutive games, the longest streak of power they've put together this season.
  • Jose Veras (73) and Chris Resop (69) are second and fifth in NL appearances, while D-Mac is third in relief innings with 76. That work load may have something to do with their recent problems on the hill.
  • Tonight's game drew 12,330. 
  • The Pirates are 22-1-1 in series when they win the first game of the set (they're 2-17-4 when they lose the opener). The problem isn't winning series, but sweeping them. Pittsburgh has swept just two series all year while being swept a dozen times.
  • The Pirates are also 58-1 when leading going into the ninth, a tribute to Hanny, who finished off 36 of those wins.
  • Attendance is picking up all over. In their second year, the Bradenton Marauders drew a total regular season attendance of 103,978 fans for 2011. The number doubles the inaugural season attendance of 51,856.

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