Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bucs Bop Bravos 10-1

The Bucs struck early and first, for a change, when Travis Snider got all of a low hook and dropped it into the CF seats. Edinson Volquez had a pretty sweet inning, with three swinging K's on three different pitches - sinker, change and curve. Ike doubled with two gone in the second, but Jordy was intentionally walked, then Eddie whiffed. Volquez tossed another clean frame.

Josh opened the third with a knock and was chased to third by Travis' single to right. Cutch brought him home on a dink sac fly that went foul over the RF line; for some reason, Jason Heyward never even made a throw home to challenge Josh, who went on his own. The Kid is still in his funk, tho, rolling into a 3-6-3 DP, and it would be nice to get him back on track for Buctober.

Anderelton Simmons fell behind 0-2, but watched the next four miss the mark for an opening walk. Ramiro Pena bounced one to first, but Ike's feed to second was kinda leisurely and he just got the force. Pena was bunted to second It didn't hurt as Eddie punched out Emilio Bonifacio.

Ike doubled again with two gone in the fourth. Same scenario: Jordy was walked and Volquez was retired, this time on a short fly to center. Russ looked a little gimpy running out his grounder, but came back out.  Phil Gosselin got the Braves first hit, an infield roller to short. Two punch outs - Eddie now has seven - and a routine grounder later, he was still on first.

Hale got a pair of routine outs to open the fifth before walking Cutch, who stole second. The Kid walked, too, and Hale was up to 92 pitches as the Bravos loosened his 75-pitch leash to try to get him through the frame. That was his last batter; Juan Jaime was waved in and got Russ on a fly to right.

Simmons got the second hit for Atlanta, another softly hit infield knock. Pena followed with a solid single to left; like last night, the bottom of the order is carrying Atlanta. Ryan Doumit came up to pinch hit. It took seven pitches, but Eddie whiffed him. Bonifacio barreled up, and Cutch was equal to the task, gloving his liner to end the frame.

Lefty Luis Avilan took the ball in the sixth, and Starling rolled a single to left to open. Gaby hit for Ike; Marte stole second and came home when Sanchez bounced a heater away into right for a seeing eye single. Jordy took the bloom off the rose with a 6-4-3 DP before Volquez K'ed, then came out and worked a 1-2-3 frame against the braves, notching his ninth K.

Josh opened the seventh with a knock through the left side, and Travis lined a meatball to left for a two bagger. Gregory Polanco came in to run for Snider, ending his three-hit night that's a triple shy of the cycle. Cutch was walked intentionally. Avilan tossed a heater past Walker for the first out, then with two righties due up, Gus Schlosser got the call.

He jammed Russ to get a pop out to the mound. Schlosser was almost out of it when he got Starling to fish for a couple of sliders, but then launched a wild pitch trying for a final chase, plating Josh. The next delivery was scorched to right, and it was par-tay time as two more runs crossed on a double. Gaby popped out, but the Bucs had plenty of breathing room at 6-0. Heyward singled to right to begin the Bravos at-bat, but Eddie got the next three, helped by nice plays from Jordy and Starling.

Though at 95 pitches, Eddie batted in the eighth with an out and continued his big game with a single, his second hit of the season. Josh followed with a double to right for his third hit of the game. El Coffee flew out to medium left center; no chance of Eddie tagging on that.

Ump Jerry Layne called ball four a strike against Cutch; it hurt the Braves when Andrew dropped the next pitch gently into center to bring home two more Buccos. Cutch has been on base all four times he's been up. The Kid finally had something to feel good about when he crushed a 3-2, 87 MPH fastball down the middle over the center field wall. James Russell came in, as did Chris Stewart for Russ. Stew singled, but Russell retired Starling. Well, 10-0 with six outs to go is certainly breathing room.

Lotta subbing went on for the Bucs as Cutch, Josh and Russ took a seat, and Bobby LaFromboise took the hill for Eddie in another good move. Bravo pups yapped a bit as Tommy LaStella led off with a single, and two outs later Joey Terdoslavich doubled him to third, but the goose eggs remained.

Russell stayed on for the ninth. Jordy singled with an out, but the Buc bats were done for the night, despite some sharply hit balls. Casey Sadler took the ball and walked Heyward to open. He went to third when Bethancourt rolled a soft single to right. A strikeout later, Pena lifted a sac fly to left to get Atlanta on the board. A grounder ended it.

Eddie was money again. And hopefully, now that the pressures pretty much off, the Bucs will swing free and not choke the sawdust out of their sticks. Getting The Kid back in the groove would be a big boost, too, and *knock on wood* his homer may be the catalyst. Very good win; three more games at Cincy and then the post season, although those Red games have meaning as Pittsburgh chases the Cards and looks to bring the Giants to Pittsburgh if they can't catch St. Louis.

Vance Worley opens the final series of the year against the Reds' Mike Leake tomorrow night.
  • Pittsburgh is one game back of the Cards and have a magic number of two to clinch the home wild card spot. They're a game ahead of the Giants, playing at San Diego tonight.
  • Josh Harrison has a 13 game hitting streak, tied for the year's longest with Russ and himself. It's also tied for his personal best. Starling Marte's streak is at 10 games.
  • Josh took over the NL batting title lead for the time being; he's hitting .319.
  • Before tonight's 10 whiffs, Eddie Volquez's top strikeout number this season was seven, against the Mets and Marlins. He's had double-digit whiffs 10 times in his career now. His scoreless streak is currently at 18 innings. In yet another season milestone set tonight, his single snapped an 0-for-45 streak at the dish.
  • The 10 runs by the Pirates tonight is the most runs scored for the Bucs at Turner Field since Opening Day 2008.
  • It seems like yesterday that the Bucs were trailing the Braves for the wild card, but after tonight, the Pirates are a full 10 games ahead of them in the standings.
  • Ben Lindbergh of Grantland looks at what Sabermetrics seperate successful playoff teams from also rans, and finds there's not much in the numbers to identify the winners from losers.

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