Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pirates Hang On To Take See-Saw Battle 8-7

Not an inspiring opening frame. Kole Calhoun launched a drive into the batter's eye off Jeff Locke (Cutch made a great effort at the wall and just missed bringing it back) , while Jhoulys Chacin tossed a three grounder (his specialty) frame. Jeff came back with a neat second inning, while Starling opened with a double for Pittsburgh. JHK put the next pitch into the bullpen, and the Bucs had the lead. Josh legged out an infield knock, and Stew walked an out later. A bunt moved them up, but JJ couldn't bring them home.

Jeff is now 5-3 on the year (photo Denis Poroy/Getty)

Jeff gave up an opening bloop to center to Chacin in the third and moved up on a grounder. Then Locke fell behind Yunel Escobar 3-1, left him a heater down Broadway, and the ensuing double (Josh couldn't handle Marte's throw, or Yunel was DOA at second) tied the game. No diff; a deep fly to right turned into a 9-4-6 DP when Escobar inexplicably headed toward third; maybe he thought there were two outs. Still, too many fly balls given up by Jeff so far. With two gone, Starling got a center cut heater and tripled; it might have been gone if he hadn't lasered it to The Notch. Jung Ho left him there.

Albert Pujols singled with one gone in the fourth, a great grab by JHK started an around-the-horn DP to finish the frame. Josh & Jordy led off with a singles, and an out later Jeff bunted them along. JJ walked, and so did Cutch (after falling behind 0-2) for a bloodless RBI and the lead. Jeff tossed a clean fifth. JHK walked, but no damage resulted despite a couple of smoked balls that found gloves. Shane Robinson tied the match again, turning on a inside heater and sneaking it just inside the foul pole in left. After a knock, Jeff settled in and retired the Halos. Cam Bedrosian took the hill for LA. JJ walked with two away, but Cutch was rung up on pitch that wasn't close.

The Angel's opened the seventh with a single and bunt, but Jeff left the Halo at second. Fernando Salas got the call, and Gregory greeted him with a 451' crush job into the top of the Clemente Wall bleachers. Starling followed with a infield single and went to second after a rushed throw went astray. JHK lined out, but Josh brought home the insurance run with a knock to left. Jordy walked, and with two gone, Matt Joyce grabbed a bat; the Angels countered with lefty Greg Mahle. The matchup didn't work; Joyce lost a baseball in the shrubbery 439' away to make it an 8-3 game.

Tony Watson took over in the eighth and walked the first hitter on four pitches, followed by an RBI double by Escobar. Another run scoring knock followed. After an out, the Angels blooped another hit, putting Halos on the corner after Cutch couldn't handle the flare cleanly. Clint waved in Neftali Feliz. A grounder that was too weak to turn and a two bagger made it 8-7 before he mopped up.

It was J-Hay all day (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Joe Smith walked Cutch to open the Pirate half, but he was picked off on his way to second 1-3-6; the pickoff move looked a lot like a balk. Gregory was rung up on a pitch that wasn't near the zone; mama said there'd be innings like this. Starling walked and stole second, followed by JHK getting plunked without, so far as we can tell, injury. J-Hay ended a frustrating frame by drilling an at 'em ball to third. It was Shark time in the ninth and he returned some sanity to the game with a 1-2-3 frame to finally get the win in the books.

The losing streak was snapped at four, but not without drama. A big lead almost loss, umps being ornery, 10 stranded runners...but it worked out. Now for the series rubber match tomorrow.

  • Starling Marte in the past two games: two singles, two doubles, triple, homer and walk.
  • Josh had a day, too, going 3-for-5 with two runs and a RBI.
  • Matt Joyce has hit four pinch hit homers for the Bucs with just 31 PAs as a PH. In that role, he's gotten eight hits, drawn eight walks and has 13 RBI to go with eight runs scored.
  • And let's not forget JHK - in 20 starts and 77 AB, he has eight homers and 21 RBI.
  • Jeff Locke has changed his style to go after hitters. He may be giving up fly balls and homers thx to the change, but he's also walked just one batter in his last 20-1/3 innings. It's also kept him in loner. In his last eight starts, he's only failed to go six innings once and gone seven or more four times.
  • The game drew 31,505 to the ballyard.

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