Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Tabata carted off as Bucs’ defense, bullpen falter in loss

Tabata carted off as Bucs’ defense, bullpen falter in loss

Jose Tabata was carted off the field in the first inning and two of the Pirates’ season-long strengths — defense and relief pitching — faltered in a 4-2 loss on Sunday afternoon in front of a record crowd of 39,511 at PNC Park.

The Pirates tied a season high with four errors and a well-worked bullpen that allowed just one run during the first five games of the home stand turned a tied game into a two-run deficit. The loss denied Pittsburgh the chance to sweep an interleague series opponent for the first time since June 15-17, 2001, versus the Cleveland Indians.

“If this was a neighborhood golf match, we could have used about six mulligans today,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We didn’t play well enough to win today.”

Tabata led off the game with a bunt single, beating out third baseman Kevin Youkilis’ throw on the slow roller, but he collapsed in agony down the first base line. Tabata was attached to a stretcher and had to be carted off the field with a left quadriceps injury. He will undergo additional medical testing on Monday.

The game entered the top of the seventh inning tied at two, as starters James McDonald and Andrew Miller each allowed a pair of runs in six innings while racking up triple-digit pitch counts. Pittsburgh led 2-1 entering the sixth, but McDonald made a costly throwing error that opened the door for Boston to tie it up.

Tim Wood (0-2) came on in relief of McDonald in the seventh and proceeded to walk Marco Scutaro on four straight fastballs.

With David Ortiz pinch-hitting for Miller, Hurdle replaced Wood with Daniel Moskos. The lefty fell behind 3-and-1, and Ortiz then ripped an inside fastball nearly into the Allegheny River that hooked foul down the right field line. Ortiz walked on a slider off the plate on the next pitch. Jacoby Ellsbury laid down a sac bunt that Moskos tried to grab, but he muffed it.

Chris Resop was summoned to deal with the bases-juiced, zero-out quagmire. Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI ground out to shortstop to give Boston a 3-2 lead, and after an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, Youkilis hit a fly ball to right field.

Garrett Jones, who entered the game after Tabata’s injury, lost his hat but made the catch in front of a sliding Andrew McCutchen. Jones made a strong, accurate throw home, but all 230-plus pounds of Ortiz rumbled in safe at the plate, barreling over catcher Eric Fryer in the process. Resop got Darnell McDonald to pop out for the third out, but the damage was done.

Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon each tossed a scoreless inning of relief as Boston salvaged one game in the series and snapped a four-game losing streak. The Red Sox scored their final three runs without a base hit.

Boston scored the game’s first run in the fourth frame. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a leadoff double to left-center field. Marco Scutaro then flied out to McCutchen in deep center. With Saltalamacchia tagging up, McCutchen air mailed a throw toward third base that a leaping Chase d’Arnaud tried to snag in foul territory, but the ball bounced off his glove and into the stands to give Boston a 1-0 advantage.

The Pirates evened the score in the bottom half. Miller hit Neil Walker in the foot with a slider to lead off the inning. Matt Diaz chopped a ground ball toward Scutaro, but the shortstop’s attempt to back up and make a play on bounce backfired when the ball hopped over his head.

Center fielder Ellsbury kept Walker from tagging up by throwing the ball on a line to the plate on a Lyle Overbay fly out. Ellsbury then made a diving grab on a Ronny Cedeno fly ball, but Walker took off this time and beat out Ellsbury’s throw to the plate.

Miller earned the final out of the frame, getting drilled by a Fryer comebacker but then sprinting to first base in time to take the throw from Gonzalez and beat the Bucs’ backstop to the bag.

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. That translated into just one run, however, as the Pirates made a base running mistake and Miller worked out of the jam.

Miller jumped ahead of McDonald 0-and-2, but he walked his mound opponent on a 3-2 slider that missed off the plate. Jones pulled a belt-high slider to right field that narrowly missed McDonald on the base paths to put runners on first and second.

d’Arnaud loaded the bases by dropping a soft bunt down the third base line and zipping to first base in time to beat Youkilis’ throw. McCutchen fought off a slider in on the hands, pulling it past Youkilis and into left field to score McDonald. But Jones took a big turn around third base and was tagged out trying to get back to the bag.

“I think that’d probably be one of the mulligans that we’d like to have a do-over on,” Hurdle said. “I think Nick [third base coach Nick Leyva] saw something happening where he thought the shortstop was going to get involved and the throw was going to take him another way, but it didn’t happen.”

Miller (1-0) then struck out Walker looking on three pitches and got Diaz to fly out to right field. The former top prospect-turned-reclamation project allowed five hits in six innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) while punching out four and walking two.

Pittsburgh’s second error of the day helped the Red Sox tie it up at 2-2 in the top of the sixth. After Youkilis drew a leadoff walk, Darnell McDonald grounded a curveball back to his cousin James. James McDonald spun around and tried to get the out at second base, but his throw tailed away from Cedeno and into center field, putting runners on the corners with no outs.

McDonald struck out Saltalamacchia swinging, but a Reddick sac fly to left field scored Youkilis.

“It was a big play in the game,” McDonald said of the error. “I feel like it was a little turning point in the game and got them back in the game.”

McDonald struck out five and walked two in six innings pitched, giving up two runs. Neither was earned, though his fielding error put the game-tying run on third base.

“For the most part I feel like I was aggressive and pounding the strike zone,” McDonald said. “There were times where I got a little lackadaisical with guys and I had to get myself back into an aggressive mode. But I kept them on their toes…I feel like I was in more pitcher’s counts. It was an improvement.”

“I think the one thing we have to remember is that James pitched two months last year, in low-leverage situations,” Hurdle said. “He’s pitching in a much different arena now…I think he’s well aware of the steps in development that he’s going to need to become the best pitcher that he can be.

“I think you see spurts of it. Today, sometimes, you saw some real good sequences and you saw that live fastball. I think you also saw the command come and go a little bit, and that got his pitch count up. But he has continued to be resilient and not give up the big inning, and give us a good chance to win the game.”

While the Pirates couldn’t complete the sweep against Boston, taking two of three from an AL juggernaut in front of 118,324 total fans, the largest three-date series crowd in PNC Park history, was a major milestone for the franchise.

“I think this was a great weekend for experience for us,” Hurdle said. “When you play a storied franchise like the Boston Red Sox and you’re playing them at home, I think you look and see how you’re going to measure up, see how you compete and see how you fare. And I think we’re going to walk away not feeling any different than we did before we walked in — that we can beat anybody that we play on a given day or a night when we play well.”

“We’ve got to hold ourselves to a championship-level of execution each and every day out there. Today, we didn’t meet that, and that’s why we lost the game.”

Outfielder Alex Presley was pulled from Triple-A Indianapolis’ lineup on Sunday for precautionary reasons. Presley, hitting .336/.389/.500 for the Indians, was already expected to be promoted to the majors prior to Tuesday’s interleague series in Toronto. But the Pirates didn’t want risk Presley getting hurt after Tabata left Sunday’s game with a left quadriceps injury.

James McDonald squared off against his cousin Darnell, a Red Sox outfielder, for the first time in the majors on Sunday. Darnell came off the bench to replace right fielder J.D. Drew in the second inning. Drew exited due to a left eye contusion suffered on a foul ball that he hit during batting practice.

James whiffed Darnell on a nasty breaking pitch in the third inning. Darnell reached base on a fielder’s choice when James made an error in the sixth.

“I saw him look, and I kinda wanted to smile and tease him a little bit,” James said. “But I’ll probably call him after this and tell him that I’ve got the family rights to talk the trash.”

“He told me he was sitting on that curveball. I knew he was sitting on it, but I had to throw my best pitch in that situation.

Catcher Eric Fryer made his major league debut on Sunday, batting eighth versus the Red Sox. Fryer’s contract was purchased from Triple-A Indianapolis before Friday’s game. Catcher Dusty Brown was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.

Fryer went 0-for-3 at the plate and gunned out one of three Boston base runners who attempted a steal.

“I thought he did a fine job behind the plate,” Hurdle said. “I thought he received the ball very well, we stayed with the game plan calling the game, and [he] blocked some balls well…he handled it all very well for his first game in the big leagues.”

Fryer also held his own in a collision with Big Papi at the plate. Umpire Greg Gibson ruled that Ortiz slid in safe before Fryer applied the tag on Garrett Jones’ throw, but Fryer did manage to hold on to the ball as Ortiz bowled him over.”

“I was just sitting there and telling myself, ‘catch the ball’ because I figured it was going to be bang-bang and [Ortiz] was going to try to run through the tag or through the plate. I was just saying, ‘don’t lose my ground too much, catch the ball, and whatever happens, happens.'”

Fryer, 25, was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round of the 2007 draft. He was traded to the New York Yankees for LHP Chase Wright in February of 2009 and was acquired by the Pirates that June along with RHP Casey Erickson for Eric Hinske and cash.

The 6-foot-2, 215 pound right-handed hitter has split his time between catcher and the corner outfield spots, batting .345/.427/.549 in 134 plate appearances at Altoona before earning a promotion to Indianapolis on May 30. In his first taste of Triple-A, Fryer hit .262/.377/.446 in 79 plate appearances.

After a travel day on Monday, the Pirates begin begin a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. RHP Kevin Correia (9-6, 3.65 ERA) faces LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (3-6, 4.34 ERA).

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