Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cards Keep Rolling With 8-3 Romp To Sweep Pirates

Aye Carumba! After a pair of routine outs, Matt Holliday went the opposite way over the Clemente Wall on a first pitch fastball to make it 1-0 Cards; every game of the set has featured a Redbird homer off a first pitch, center cut heater. It was 1-2-3 for Mike Leake. Jon was nicked for a single in the second, but no scar while Leake continued to cruise.

Leake singled to open the third and went to second after a passed ball. An infield single put Cards on the corners; Holliday followed with a knock to left; Stephen Piscotty doubled in another run and a ground out (ticketed for left except for a nice play by Freeser) added one more to the tally. Yadier Molina singled. Niese tested Erik Kratz by burying a pair of 0-2 pitches in the dirt. On the second bouncer, Erik held the runner at third and went to second when Molina caught a case of happy feet; Jordy fired the ball right back home to nail the runner from third 2-6-2 on a play that was challenged for a blocking the plate infraction but upheld . Leake put away the bottom of the order via single, DP, whiff; 4-0 after three.

Jon Niese didn't have a nice day (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Redbirds went down in order in the fourth. JJ opened by reaching on a boot, and after a Cutch line out, Gregory singled and a wild pitch put Bucs at second and third. Freeser rolled over on a slider, but hit it weakly enough to pick up an RBI and leg single. Starling singled home another run, but the Bucs gave up an out on the bases when Freeser was tossed out at third; Josh bounced out to leave it 4-2. Jon tossed a clean fifth with another sweet play by Freeser at third. The bottom of the Bucco order produced a comebacker and two fan jobs.

Piscotty walked to open the sixth, followed with an dribbler infield hit. Then, sheesh - Molina picked a changeup off his shoetop and rolled it into left; two runs scored and he ended up at third when Marte sliced his throw in. Randy Grichuk homered on the next pitch, a heater on the inside black, and the Pirates June dumpster fire raged on. It's now 8-2 and Jared Hughes took the hill. He gave up a single to Leake, but then got a DP ball to end the carnage. The Pirates went down quietly, whiffing twice.

Arquimedes Caminero worked the seventh quietly, with a single his only blemish. Freeser and Starling started the frame off with knocks. Josh lined out, with Freese taking third. Jordy's grounder scored him, but after originally being ruled safe, a review rung Mercer up and another bouncer ended the frame. Cory Luebke had a no-ball-in-play eighth with a walk, HBP and three fan jobs. Jonathan Broxton took the bump and spun a 1-2-3 frame. In the ninth, Luebke gave up a two out, bloop double that didn't cause any more trouble. Kevin Siegrist came on to close it out and did so routinely.

Starling had his 30th multi-hit day (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Niese wasn't sharp - the two homers show that he lived up in the zone way too much today. He wasn't lucky either, giving up a couple of soft infield hits and at least three Card raps that were on pretty nice pitches; the other guys get paid, too. Let's hope it was just a hiccup. The bullpen did work 3-2/3 scoreless frames at least, for the half-full glass fans. But boy, if a team ever needed a day off, it's the Bucs. Here's hopin' they go get a couple brews tonight and sleep this game - and the recent stretch of staggering play - off tomorrow.

  • Starling and Freeser each had a pair of hits; the rest of the club had just two.
  • The Pirates have lost 12-of-16 games and five in a row. This one got so lopsided that ESPN switched to the Phillies - Nats match. The Buccos were swept at home by the Cards for the first time since 2009 and are now 32-31.
  • June has traditionally been Pittsburgh's month under Clint Hurdle - they've been 16-11 (2011), 17-10 ('12), 17-9 ('13), 17-10 ('14) and 17-9 ('15). They need one heck of a streak to keep that up, as the Bucs are just 3-9 so far in June with 16 games remaining against the Mets, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Mariners on the calendar.
  • Austin Meadows won't give it up at Altoona. He extended his hitting streak to 21 games, tying the club record held by Kevin Sefcik since 2002. Sefcik closed out his career with the Curve after spending seven years in the show, mostly at Philadelphia.

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