Friday, June 10, 2016

Cards Ride Two Big Frames To A 9-3 Win In 12 Innings

After whiffing the first batter, Cole Train bopped and walked the pair of Redbirds. A fan job and tapper back to the hill solved that lil' control issue. Michael Wacha gave up a walk, but two K made it an easy frame for him. Gerrit was touched for a leadoff knock in the second, but helped by a very nice play on a bunt by JHK, cruised through the bottom of the order. Starling opened with a leadoff rap, and Fran worked the hit and run perfectly, singling through the hole to put Pirates on the corners. Josh rolled a curve to third; Marte scored as the Cards took the force out to make it 1-0 after two.

The Cards opened shop in the third with another leadoff single. That was followed by the trainer heading to the hill to check on Cole, and Todd Tomczyk led him straight to the clubhouse. This bodes poorly for both the rotation and bullpen as AJ Schugel answered the phone. He didn't get the call on a couple of close pitches to run the count full, but hung tough and got a 4-6-3 on a sinker, then a fly to close the frame. JJ walked to start it up and made it as far as second on a wild pitch, but that was a s far as he got.

AJ pitched a clean fourth with a couple of whiffs and a sliding grab by Cutch. Fran left during his at bat in an otherwise quiet frame; he took a big cut and came up empty; he was working his glove hand. Schugs cruised through the fifth; three innings, 32 pitches. Jordy walked and was bunted up. It paid off when JJ spoiled some pitches, then bounced one up the middle to chase Mercer home and give the Pirates a 2-0 edge.

Starling had a pair of knocks tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It's the second time around the order for AJ in the sixth. After 10 in a row, he plunked a batter, who never strayed off first. The Pirates went down in order. In the seventh, it was Tony Watson's turn. He walked the first hitter on five pitches, but a shifted 6-3 DP and pop eased that pain. Wacha waltzed through his half, ending an excellent note.

Neftali Feliz toed the rubber in the eighth and was nicked for a single. Greg Garcia kept spoiling pitches and was rewarded with a nine pitch walk, a pretty poor start especially against the eight-nine hitters. His next pitch was a center cut 97 MPH fastball; Matt Carpenter was hunting a heater and yanked into the seats in right, inside the foul pole, to give St. Louis the lead. Seung Hwan Oh took the ball. Cutch banged a one out double but Gregory lined out to center and JHK did the same; both balls were spanked well enough to hang up and allow Randall Grichuk time to glove 'em.

Curiously, Clint went with the Lobster, who worked 2-1/3 frames yesterday, in the ninth. Whatever the reason, good move as he tossed a 1-2-3 frame. Trevor Rosenthal came on to close. Starling couldn't handle two fastballs down Broadway, but a slider meant to finish him, down and away, was rifled into right for a leadoff triple. It started off as a single, but Stephen Piscotty dove for the spectacular catch and whiffed.

Stew walked on four pitches. Josh went after the first pitch and popped out to short right. Jordy also went after the first offering, but he softly dropped it into center to tie the game. Matt Joyce grabbed a stick and took a five pitch walk to load 'em up; even the strike call was iffy. S-Rod has been coming up small in late inning rallies lately and he did again tonight by going down swinging. Cutch flew out, and it's into extras.

Tony Watson looks like he's back on track (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Shark entered, a bit delayed from his usual arrival point but a nice card to have up your sleeve for the 10th frame. He lost Piscotty with an out and Carpenter right after him. Mark came back with a testy nine pitch fan of Aledmy Diaz and a grounder to shut it down. Jonathan Broxton got the call. Gregory tried to bunt his way on; seemed like a misguided tactic for a .300 hitter and it fizzled. JHK saw six straight sliders; he finally got a fastball and lined it to right for a knock. Starling blooped one to center that Grichuk couldn't quite get to, but Kang was caught between no man's land until it hit the grass and was forced. Starling stole second, but Stew looked at strike three; it was bad inning for Bucco decision making.

Jared Hughes took over in the 11th; it's gonna be awhile until the pen gets squared away. With an out, Jhonny Peralta legged out a roller to third; it was challenged and upheld. It didn't cost as the Redbirds were in full swing mode; Jared didn't throw five pitches over the dish in the frame. It was an easy frame for Broxton.

Juan Nicasio came to answer his first Bucco relief call. After a pair of whiffs, he walked carpenter after a nine pitch tussle. Diaz was walked intentionally to get to Broxton; Matheny, with an empty brnch, sent up Adam Waimwright, and Waino smacked a two run double. The intentional walk was too cute by a half, just like Gregory's bunt. Matt Adams doubled in another run, and JHK's throwaway plated another. Brandon Moss homered and it's 9-3, a lead Matt Bowman should be able to hold, and he did.

Juan Nicasio has had a tough, tough month (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Bucs have dropped 10-of-14 now, and due to factors both out of and in their control, the pitching is a mess with the bullpen overexposed. It's early yet, but it sure looks like that infusion of arms from Indy can't come any too soon. And maybe Clint can revisit that S-Rod for JJ automatic pilot switch; Jaso may be new to the position, but he's certainly no Pedro and his bat is missed in these late, tight ballgames. Then again, maybe they all just need a day in bed after a miserable stretch of scheduling to get back in sync.

  • The Pirates announced that right triceps tightness was the reason for the Gerrit Cole exit, and left hand pain was the cause for Fran's departure. Neither diagnosis is very informative, so we'll have to wait and see what the docs say tomorrow.
  • Starling had two hits tonight; he's batting .322.
  • Schugs tossed 42 pitches over four innings with four whiffs. Before tonight, AJ's longest outing was three innings, his highest pitch was was 40 tosses and his top strikeout number was three. He also laid down his first successful MLB bunt. Oh, no hits or walks yielded, either. 
  • Kyle Lobstein and Jared Hughes were both slated for an off day and Juan was in the bullpen as an extra arm on his side session day; all three had to be used. The Pirates ran through eight pitchers, with only Cory Luebke, who threw 44 pitches over the last two days, left. 
  • The attendance was 28,417.
  • Altoona OF Austin Meadows has a 19 game hitting streak.

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