Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday: Juan Nicasio v Yu Darvish, Lineup (No JHK, Josh), Notes

Tonight: The game at Arlington will begin at 7:15 and be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Juan Nicasio (4-3, 4.46) takes on Yu Darvish, making his long awaited return. Nicasio's last three starts have been forgettable (1-1/6.46), and even his inning in the rain out was sketchy. He hasn't worked since the 15th, so maybe the rest will give him a chance to iron out a couple of wrinkles. The last time the Bucs met Darvish, they came away with a 1-0 win in 2013. This will be Yu's first MLB outing since he had TJ surgery in March of 2015, and all eyes will be on the strikeout ace. He'll be on a pitch count, but a generous one of 85-90 pitches. Darvish looked fine in the rehab trail. He had a 0.90 ERA through five starts at AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock, striking out 21 batters with three walks in 20 IP.

Juan looks to right his ship tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Starling Marte LF, Fran Cervelli C, Matt Joyce DH, Jordy SS, Cole Figueroa 2B (Nicasio P). Josh is still suffering with a bug, and Clint is giving Figgy a chance. JHK and S-Rod are both starting on the bench tonight. If ya got a bench, use it.

  • The Pirates have won five in a row and 10-of-12. 
  • Last night was Jung Ho Kang's first appearance as a DH. It was also Cole Hamel's first loss since August of last year (he was 12-0, spanning 19 starts). The two are intertwined, as JHK's three run homer stuck the fork in Hamels.

5/28: Long's 8-Game HR Spree, Mack's Big Day, Bay's Long Ball Streak, More...

  • 1903 - OF Romer “Reddy” Grey‚ brother of author Zane Grey, made his MLB bow as a Buc. He went 1-for-3 in his only big league game as the Pirates beat Boston 7-6. Gray scored a run, knocked in another, drew a walk, and caught the only ball hit his way in the OF. He played on loan from the nearby Worchester minor league club as the Pirates, due to some injuries and personal issues, found themselves short handed for the game against the Beaneaters at the South End Grounds. Grey was an early AAAA ballplayer; he never found a home in MLB but had a career .311 minor league BA.
  • 1921 - Pittsburgh protested their 4-3‚ 10-inning loss to the Reds and won. After Reds P Dolf Luque tossed the ball into the Cincinnati dugout‚ Clyde Barnhart was called out going to third when the ball was tossed back into the field. The Pirates said no way; it was a dead ball, and NL president Heydler agreed. The game was later replayed from that point (it was 3-3), and the Bucs took full advantage of their second chance, turning the table to win 4-3 on June 30th.
Clyde was the main figure in a successful appeal (photo: Bain News Service/Library of Congress)
  • 1956 - First baseman Dale Long set a major league record by hitting a home run in his eighth consecutive game, a 3-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Forbes Field. The liner was hit off of Carl Erskine in front of 32,221 Forbes Field fans who didn’t settle down until the big first baseman made a curtain call, said to be the first in MLB history. The record was later tied by Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
  • 1960 - More Destiny’s Darlings lore: Roberto Clemente was on third and Hal Smith on first with two outs in the eighth with Maz up at Forbes Field. He fanned on a ball that hit in the front of the plate, ricocheted off ump Al Barlick and to Phillies pitcher Jim Owens. Maz froze, Smith jogged to second and Clemente went halfway down the baseline. Owens chased Clemente as his bench called for him to throw to first. In the run-down‚ Clemente knocked the ball out of C Jim Coker's glove to score the tying run. The Pirates won 4-2 in the 13th on Don Hoak's 2-run HR.
  • 1963 - Called out at first on a close play for the second time in the game‚ Roberto Clemente twice jostled ump Bill Jackowski while arguing the decision. Clemente was ejected‚ and skipper Danny Murtaugh got his Irish up, challenging the man in blue to duke it out until he was pulled away. The Great One was fined $250 and suspended for five days by the league. To top the day off, the Pirates lost 5-1 to the Phils at Forbes Field.
  • 1990 - Memorial Day seemed like it was going to be more memorable for Dodger pitcher Tim Belcher, who was working on a one hitter through eight innings at TRS, than anything the Bucs would do. But in the end, the Pirates provided the holiday fireworks, scoring five times in the ninth off two Dodger relievers to take an improbable 6-5 win from LA. The Bucs trimmed the lead to 5-3 and loaded the bases with two down in the final frame. Jose Lind spanked a 3-2 liner through the right side and RF’er Hubie Brooks tried to cut down the tying run, Gary Redus, at the plate. The throw was up the line and C Mike Scioscia tried to pick the ball and swipe the runner. It didn’t pan out; he missed the throw entirely and it rolled to the back wall, allowing Don Slaught to lumber in from first to plate the game winner for Bill Landrum, who worked the ninth for Pittsburgh.
Rob Mackowiak 2004 Upper Deck
  • 2004 - Utilityman Rob Mackowiak smacked a two-out, walk-off grand slam for a 9-5 Pirates victory barely nine hours after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first child, Garrett Matthew. In the second game, he drilled a two-run shot, the 500th homer at PNC Park, into the same right center field seats as the one he hit three hours earlier to send the nitecap into extra innings, later won by Craig Wilson’s 10th inning homer for a 5-4 sweep of the Cubs. It was the first time since 1967 that a doubleheader was won by walkoff homers. Chicago’s Matt Clement also tied a MLB record when he plunked Bobby Hill, Jason Kendall and Craig Wilson in the fifth inning of the opener.
  • 2006 - The Pirates lost to the Astros 5-4 at PNC Park. Houston scored four times in the ninth off three different Pirate pitchers to tie the game, then won it in the tenth on a Preston Wilson knock off Salomon Torres. The game did have a bright side. Jason Bay homered off Fernando Nieve in the fourth inning to run his consecutive game HR streak to six contests, the second longest in Pirate history after Dale Long’s 1956 skein. It started on the 22nd against Arizona’s Orlando Hernandez. Bay had a pair of bombs on the 20th, too, giving him nine home runs in eight games.
  • 2011 - Four Pirates - Andrew McCutchen, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Ronnie Cedeno - went long as Pittsburgh whipped the Cubs 10-1 at Wrigley Field. Paul Maholm tossed a three hitter for the complete game victory.
Ronny Cedeno 2011 Topps Heritage
  • 2013 - The Bucs rode strong pitching and an eleventh inning home run by Neil Walker off Jose Ortega to edge the Tigers at Comerica Park 1-0, despite striking out 14 times. Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello started the game while Jason Grilli finished it in style with swinging strikeouts of Motown’s Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order to earn his 21st save and Mark Melancon’s first win as a Pirate.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pirates Pound Four Long Flies, Niese Sharp In 9-1 Runaway Against Rangers

Cole Hamels got through the first, dinged only by a two-out Freeser quail to center. Jon Niese got a couple of grounders, then laid one over the plate that Prince Fielder banged for a two bagger. He left him there. With one gone in the second, Hamels fell behind Starling 3-1 and served him a meatball that ended up over the wall, 415' to straight center. The Bucs got a pair more aboard - Josh was HBP & S-Rod's two-out knock - but left those ducks on the pond. Ryan Rua battled his way to a one out, ten pitch walk off Jon and stole second. A wild pitch with two gone moved him to third, but no damage ensued.

Hamels had a rocking chair third. Niese almost joined him, short by a two out single. Starling collected another knock with an out in the fourth and swiped second. A deep fly moved him up to third, where he died. Niese gave up a one out shift beater rap, with another no-harm outcome.

S-Rod drew a four pitch free pass to lead off the fifth, then Mitch Moreland tossed Jordy's bouncer away to put Pirates at second and third. A Cutch blooper brought one run in; Freeser's single tallied another. Boom went JHK, who took a heater the opposite way into the RF seats. An out later, Starling got plunked in the foot. It must be OK; he raced to third pretty quickly after Josh's single. Cole ate up Gregory pounding it inside, then lost Rodriguez for the second time this inning. Hamels got the hook and Luke Jackson faced Jordy. He gave him a pretty fat 3-2 pitch, but a fly to right left the sacks full of Buccos.

Jon Niese put together another strong outing (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)

Niese gave up a dink into left and ground ball knock with an out, but left them on the corners, retiring big guns Ian Desmond and Fielder. Cutch got a hung hook for the first pitch of the sixth and lined it over the RF wall, just inside the pole. Freeser and JHK both singled, Kang's causing a demo derby collision in right center that *whew* everyone walked away from. Jackson worked out of it, thx largely to Fran's 6-3 DP on a ball up the middle. Figgy came in to play second; we're guessing Josh isn't 100% over his bug yet. Jon tried to get a heater on Adrian Beltre's hand; he missed and Beltre didn't, launching the ball far into the night. The Rangers tacked on a one out single before Niese closed the door.

Figgy opened the seventh with a knock and never got beyond first. Niese left after a job well done - six IP, one run, seven hits, a walk and two whiffs after 93 pitches, leaving the ball for Wilfredo Boscan. His command was iffy, but he worked a 1-2-3 frame. Lefty sidewinder Alex Claudio claimed the hill for the Rangers in the eighth and put the Bucs away without a peep. Beltre beat out an infield squibbler with an out, followed by another knock. Boscan deflected a potential DP shot up the middle, but Figgy turned it into an out, with the runners moving up. A pop ended the inning without further ado.

JHK continued his power surge (photo Mark Zarrilli/Getty)

Starling got a leg knock with one gone in the ninth. An out later, Gregory solved Claudio by lifting a change up over the fence in right center to make it 9-1 with three outs to go. Rob Scahill came in to turn out the lights. A ground ball single delayed the ending just a bit as the Bucs continued to roll.

The whole Buc outfield homered tonight along with JHK; so much for the predicted 2016 power outage. Jon Niese seems to have figured out what ailed him earlier in the season, giving up seven hits but only allowing two runners in the same frame once over six frames. More importantly, the grounders keep piling up and his control is getting sharper. Nice way to open the road trip, laissez les bons temps rouler.

  • Starling and Freeser each collected three hits, while Cutch and Gregory added a pair. Fran and Jordy were the only Pirates in the order held without a hit.
  • The Fort has embraced the dark side. C Mike McKenry just signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cards.
  • Well, the Bucs not only rocked the Snakes pitching last series; they shook it apart. Starters Shelby Miller and Rubby De La Rosa went on 15-day DL, while relievers Andrew Chafin & Evan Marshall were optioned back to the minors.

Friday: Jon Niese v Cole Hamels, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game begins at 8:05 at Globe Life Park and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jon Niese (4-2, 4.75) and Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.83) hook up in a battle of southpaws. Jon's been coming around lately. His last two starts have been strong, and his groundball mojo is starting to kick in. The Bucco lefty is 1-0 /4.50 in two lifetime starts against the Rangers. Texas is 7-2 when Cole starts a game this season, and he's tossed five really good outings and four that were just workmanlike. That's left him with an unsightly 4.50 FIP and he's also coughed up a ton of long balls. But Hamels faced the Bucs twice last year, going 1-0/1.29 and striking out 21 batters in 14 IP, so he knows how to work through Pittsburgh's lineup. In his career, he's 3-2/2.43 in nine starts against the Pirates.

Jon Niese hopes to keep the good times rollin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy SS, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Jung Ho Kang DH, Fran Cervelli C, Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Niese P. Yay, the Pirate bench is finally deep enough that the team isn't at a competitive disadvantage because of the DH.

Should be a great series; both teams have strong records, the Rangers building their success behind a stellar rotation and the Bucs through persistent attack coupled with good starting outings of late. The Pirates (27-19) have won four straight and 9-of-11 while Texas (27-20) has won 5-of-6. Both are sitting second in their respective divisions, with the Bucs 4-1/2 games behind the Cubs and the Rangers 1-1/2 games off of Seattle's pace.

  • Pittsburgh will not see 2B Rougned Odor, who will be out while serving his seven game suspension for punching Joey Bats. Jurickson Profar was recalled as his roster replacement.
  • Sam Dykstra in notes Indy RHP Chad Kuhl's impressive outing, his control and his ground ball rate. Then he gives us a reality check, citing a rock bottom .208 BABIP and 3.26 FIP. Chad is the real deal who's also riding the crest right now.
  • Speaking of Indy, RHP Trevor Williams was assigned to Indianapolis from Bradenton and is slated to start tomorrow against Pawtucket.
  • Rough year - Pirates Prospects reports that Bradenton (High A) SS Kevin Newman suffered an orbital fracture when he was beaned. He'll be sent to Pittsburgh for further evaluation. The 2015 #1 pick was hitting .346 for the Marauders.

5/27: Ken Brett Does It All, Rally Cap Day, Vinegar Bend Deal, TV Time For Dale Long...

  • 1921 - Wilbur Cooper won his eighth straight game, this one by a 5-4 count at Forbes Field against Cincinnati when the Pirates pushed across a ninth inning run. All eight of Cooper’s victories were complete games. Rabbit Maranville’s sac fly brought in Walter Schmidt with the winning tally in the home half of the ninth. Maranville also tripled and scored twice for the Pirates. Between June and July, Cooper would go on an 8-of-10 win streak, and his two hot spells would carry him to a 22 win season for the Pirates.
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 7-1 deficit by scoring six times in the sixth and seventh innings to defeat the St. Louis Cards in 10 innings at Forbes Field by an 8-7 count. They ran their victory streak to nine games; it reached 11 before being snapped. Kiki Cuyler had three hits to spark the Bucs. Guy Bush pitched three innings of one hit ball for the win.
Kiki Cuyler (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1956 - On the way home from a Philadelphia rainout, 1B Dale Long stopped in NYC as a guest of Ed Sullivan on his show “Toast of the Town” after hitting homers in seven straight games. After the appearance, he hurried back to Pittsburgh and hit his eighth against Brooklyn.
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh acquired 29-year-old LHP Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell from the Cardinals‚ along with LF Dick Gray‚ for minor leaguers IF Julian Javier and RHP Ed Bauta. Javier started at 2B for the Cards for a dozen years, but he was blocked in Pittsburgh by a guy named Bill Mazeroski. Mizell went 13-5 for the Bucs with a 3.15 ERA, solidifying their staff during their World Championship run.
  • 1974 - It was a big day for Ken Brett in a DH sweep against the San Diego Padres at TRS. In the opener, he carried a no-hitter into the ninth, settling for a two-hit, 6-0 win in a game that wasn’t decided until the Bucs put up a five spot in the eighth. In the nitecap, his two-run pinch hit triple primed a five-run seventh that was key for the Bucs 8-7 victory (the match was eventually won in the ninth on a two-run, two out homer by Richie Hebner). Brett ended the day going 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and three RBI to go along with his two-hitter in one of the Bucs’ top “do it all” performances.
Ken Brett 1974 Topps
  • 2006 - The Pirates won an 8-7, 18 inning match at PNC Park against the Astros when Jason Bay flattened Astros' catcher Eric Munson to score on Jose Bautista’s sac fly. The game time of five hours, 49 minutes tied it as the longest contest ever played in Pittsburgh. Bay also hit a homer in his fifth consecutive game, the first Pirate player to do so in 50 years.
  • 2015 - The Pirates scored five times in the seventh against the Miami Marlins after the bases were empty with two outs to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 win at PNC Park, their sixth victory in a row. Chris Stewart, Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison singled, scoring a run. Pedro Alvarez dribbled one through the SS hole against the shift to bring home the tying tally, then Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases. Starling Marte took a 3-2 pitch down and away for a run-producing free pass. Jung-Ho Kang drilled a final two run single, and that was the ball game. Gerrit Cole got his seventh win while Mark Melancon earned his 12th save.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bucs Sweep Snakes 8-3, Head To Texas After Grand Home Stand

Ugh, what a start for the Cole Train. Fran and Freeser collided chasing a foul pop, and the ball fell free. Given a second life, Jean Segura doubled and came home when Michael Bourn smoked another two bagger. After a K, Jake Lamb drew a nine pitch walk; the next pitch, he pulled off a double steal with Bourn. The contact play cuts both ways, thankfully, as Bourn was chopped down at home on a grounder to JHK. Another roller ended it, with just one run of damage after all that. Cutch walked with one gone and Freeser followed with a knock to no avail against Patrick Corbin.

The Snakes again threatened Gerrit; a lead off double in the second, one out single and two out walk jammed the sacks, but Cole left the ducks on the pond. A boot and Gregory single led to a big inning when Cole Train pulled a Frankie and dropped a bomb (and it was stroked, landing in the Snakes' pen 409' away) to make it 3-0. More Cole-dini in the third. Arizona loaded the sacks again, this time with one out, on consecutive singles and a walk. A whiff and grounder stranded Snakes #6, 7 & 8. The Pirates left JHK aboard after his one out double.

Gerrit was a one man demo squad today (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)

Cole worked a 1-2-3 fourth thanks to a DP. Gerrit kept up the stickwork with a two out double; he was the only Bucco not to fan that frame. Cole Train fanned the side in the fifth, but it took 24 tosses to do; he's at 105 pitches and done, giving up an unearned run on seven hits and three walks with five K. Corbin worked a clean inning. AJ Schugel took the ball in the sixth. He got the first two D-Backs easily, then the pitcher singled. Segura lined a ball back to the box that AJ could only knock down, and that was followed by a seven pitch walk. So from two outs and the pitcher up to bases loaded for Paul Goldschmidt... Schugel found behind him 2-0, gave him a heater down the middle, and Goldy's single tied the game. Aye carumba, this bullpen.

Fran singled with one gone in the Bucco half and a bouncer moved him up a station. S-Rod walked, and Josh pinch hit for Schugel; RHP Jake Barrett got the call from the pen. With the runners going on a full count, Josh went the opposite way, smoking one off the RF wall to double them both home. It was the Lobster's turn in the seventh, and he was greeted with a knock followed by a four pitch walk; in came Rob Scahill. After missing with his first two pitches, he zeroed in and coaxed a 6-4-3 DP. The next batter hit soft liner, but Gregory was there to haul it in on the slide.

Josh's clutch pinch hit double may have been the key blow of the game (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)

Randall Delgado took the ball for the D-Backs. He lost Freeser after an out, and JHK followed up with a rap. Marte struck out swinging at a wild pitch; the runners were more alert and moved up 90'. Fran walked to fill the bases with Buccos, at the same time a cloudburst soaked the yard. LHP Andrew Chafin waded in to face Gregory and won the matchup, getting him on a grounder to first. Jung Ho got ahead 2-0, saw a heater and rolled it into left for a pair of breathing room runs. Marte added another with a double before the Pirates were sated.

Though it was 8-3, the Shark came in: we were expecting Jared Hughes, who has worked 4-of-5 games, but only tossed 19 pitches total. Melancon gave up a couple of singles but put up a zero at the cost of 24 pitches to seal the sweep against the Snakes. A most excellent home stand with a brooming and two series wins; the Buccos went 8-of-10 at PNC.

We'd like to see the dominating Cole over the gritty one, the guy who can blow it past people and go seven innings. And geez, both these bullpens raise gray hair.  And while Cole, Harrison and Kang's hit were clutch, the most important part of the day may have been Rob Scahill bailing out Kyle Lostein. To the future: now the Bucs are off to visit Texas and Banny for three games, then to Miami for a four match set (this was the weekend they were suppose to visit Puerto Rico before the Zika scare).

  • Jung Ho Kang has three hits to lead the Pirates; the only other multi-hit day was from Cole Train, with a pair of knocks.
  • Gerrit Cole is the first Pirates pitcher to hit a HR and a 2B in the same game since Danny Darwin, in 1996. He became first Buc hurler with multiple extra-base hits in the PNC era. 
  • The Pirates last five runs all scored with two outs.
  • Josh's big pinch hit was a deuces wild bang - two outs, two strikes, twos runs and a two bagger. But he did get his first MLB win.
  • AJ Schugel's deuces wild is a bit less shiny - he's given up two runs in three of his last four outings.
  • Great news: Ryan Vogelsong was at the park today with his wife Nicole; they came over from Allegheny General Hospital after his release to see the boys and watch some of the game. 
  • The attendance was 30,861.
  • By the by: our favorite diplomat, Tony LaRussa, "stormed" into the Bucco broadcast booth Tuesday night to scold Greg Brown for dissing him per Chris Adamski of the Trib. Brownie took him into a corner (appropriate; that's what the nuns did to us when we acted up) to respond during a "heated discussion," which explains the brief period when Steverino did the Root TV broadcast solo. LaRussa later told the desert media that Brownie spread "inaccuracies" regarding him; Greg replied "liar, liar" and said he expected an apology that never came. Tony wouldn't have much of a shelf life in a Pittsburgh bar, that's for sure.

Thursday: Gerrit Cole v Patrick Corbin, Lineup (Josh Still Out), Notes

Today: The finale is a 12:35 getaway day matinee. It will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It will also be on MLB Network for out-of-market rooters.

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (5-3, 2.79) takes on Patrick Corbin (2-3, 3.99) in the series closer, looking to finish a sweep against the Snakes. The Cole Train has only had two bad starts out of eight, and has been on a roll lately, winning through either domination or determination. He split with Arizona last year, going 1-1/3.14. The Bucs rattled Corbin around pretty well in April, chasing him with three homers in the desert. He sometimes struggles with his control, and the Pirates like it like that.

Cole Train looks to broom the Snakes (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Lineup: Jordy SS, Cutch CF, David Freese 1B, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling Marte LF, FranCervelli C, Gregory Polanco RF, S-Rod 2B, Cole P. Standard lefty lineup except for S-Rod, we guess Josh is still a bit under the weather.

  • Gregrory Polanco is 5-for-his-last-6 at bats, and has hit .426 over his last 12 games.
  • Mike Axisa of CBS Sports looks at the Bucco OF...might Cutch be the third best player in it?

5/26: Kitten's Pefecto, Ward's Cycle, Base-Brawl, Carey Steals 'Em All & More...

  • 1894 - Pittsburgh was thumping Cleveland 12-3 in the top of the ninth when the crowd of 6,200 at League Park began to riot after being taunted by the 500 spectators had made the trip from Pittsburgh. The Pittsburg Press wrote “A more disgraceful affair never occurred upon a ball field...when the disappointed Forest City fans, unable to endure the disgrace of defeat, attacked the Pittsburg club, the rivalry at white heat...In a second, cushions and pop bottles were flying in all directions...the crowd swarmed out of the stands...” and rushed the field. Red Ehret got the win, backed by an 18 hit Bucco attack.
Red Ehret 1888 Goodwin (Louisville)
  • 1925 - Max Carey walked and then swiped 2B‚ 3B‚ and home during the Bucs 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Kiki Cuyler added a two run homer and Al Neihaus drove in two more scores as Ray Kremer coasted to the win at Forbes Field.
  • 1946 - Josh Gibson launched another epic blast, this one 440’ into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, as the Homestead Grays whipped the NY Black Yankees 11-8. It was the Grays’ fourth straight win and propelled them into first place in the Negro National League.
  • 1959 - In baseball's ultimate pitching performance, Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Braves in Milwaukee’s County Stadium, only to lose the game, 1-0, in the 13th on a Dick Hoak error, sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and double that was a homer. (NL prez Warren Giles ruled that the final score should be 1-0‚ as runners Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock were ruled out, Aaron for leaving the field‚ and Adcock for passing him on the basepath. Adcock was credited with a double and not a HR.) In 1993‚ Bob Buhl admitted that the Braves pitchers were stealing the signs from C Smoky Burgess‚ who could not crouch down all the way because of his achy knees. They used a towel on the bullpen fence as a signal, making Haddix's effort even more remarkable. The only player who wasn’t impressed was Haddix, who told the Post Gazette afterward "My main aim all night long was to win. The perfect game would have meant something to me then. It's just another loss”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the next day.
  • 1959 - C Dann Bilardello was born in Santa Cruz, California. He spent most of his Pirate time at AAA Buffalo, hitting just .171 for Pittsburgh in 52 games played between 1989-90.
  • 1971 - Steve Blass carried the Pirates to 2-0 victory over Cincinnati at Three Rivers Stadium, recording a career-high 11 strikeouts while tossing a five hitter for his second shutout of the season. Willie Stargell hit a two-run homer off Reds starter Tony Cloninger in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference in the game.
  • 1980 - Lots of fireworks as the Phils rallied to beat the Bucs 7-6 at Veteran’s Stadium. Bert Blyleven brushed back a couple of Phillies early on; Philadelphia reliever Kevin Saucier later plunked Pops to even the score. The he went one better, bopping Blyleven, who charged the mound, bat in hand. A donnybrook ensued, and as it was breaking up, Phil’s coach Mike Ryan reignited things. Philly had the last laugh, scoring twice in the ninth off Kent Tekulve, who gave up four straight hits, to claim the victory.
Boppin' Bert 1980 Topps
  • 1997 - For the first time in twenty years, two inside-the-park homers were hit in the same inning when Sammy Sosa of the Cubs and Tony Womack both circled the bases five minutes apart in the sixth frame of Chicago’s 2-1 victory at Three Rivers Stadium. Francisco Cordova took the loss.
  • 2000 - Behind Francisco Cordova and an odd DP, the Pirates bested the Colorado Rockies at Coors Stadium 2-1 in the second lowest scoring game played to date at the mile-high field. In a 1-1 game, the Rox tried a double steal; the lead runner, Tom Goodwin, stopped between second and third, and the back runner, Mike Lansing, turned and retreated to first as catcher Jason Kendall ran the ball toward him. The nimble backstop tagged Lansing and then threw to third to catch the slow-reacting Goodwin. Cordova celebrated by singling home Mike Benjamin with the game winner in the seventh. He was supposed to bunt, but the third baseman crept in too close, and Francisco took advantage by swinging away for the hit. Luis Sojo made a nice pair of plays at third in the final two frames to seal the deal, and the Pirates ended a five game losing streak thanks to Cordova’s four hitter.
  • 2004 - Daryle Ward hit for the cycle with a career single-game high of six RBI against St. Louis at Busch Stadium as the Bucs won 11-8. Ward and his dad Gary became the first father-son team to hit for the cycle. The Pirates used six pitchers, with the win going to starter Kris Benson.
Daryle Ward 2004 Topps Total
  • 2012 - The Cubs lost their 11th straight game 3-2 to the Pirates, their longest losing streak since opening the 1997 season with 14 consecutive losses. The teams were tied in the bottom of the ninth at PNC Park when Jose Tabata led off with a single off Rafael Dolis. Two walks and two outs later, the aptly named “Hit Man” Matt Hague took a pitch in the ribs for a walk-off plunk. Joel Hanrahan earned the win in a game started by Kevin Correia.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Buc Bombs Overcome Early Hole, Pirates Rally For 5-4 Victory

Good start for Jeff Locke, tossing a clean, 12 pitch first frame. Cutch and Gregory singled with an out off Rubby De La Rosa, then Starling reached via a boot on a chopper to juice the bags. Freeser whiffed and S-Rod smoked a liner to third; *sheesh* the Bucs and bases loaded! More problems; there was a delay between innings. Plate ump Chris Guccione took a foul off the mask earlier and apparently was feeling the aftermath, leaving the game to crew mate Sean Barber and two base umps.

Lamb walked on four pitches after two were gone in the second, and it cost when Chris Owings bounced a changeup down the line for a double. Then Yasmany Tomas golfed another change of pace, inside and low, deep into the LF seats to make it 3-0. Both pitches were decently located two strike offerings; give the Snake 7-8 hitters credit, they were prob sitting on the change. Stew doubled with an out and moved up on Jeff's tapper. He became the Pirates fourth stranded runner and the club is already 0-for-5 w/RISP.

S-Rod homered and flashed some leather tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Nick Ahmed opened the third with a first pitch single. Two pitches later, a 6-4-3 DP mopped that up, started by a great glove play by Jordy, to key a quiet frame. Gregory slapped a heater to left with an out; he stole second as Marte whiffed chasing a shoe-top slider. Polanco became another base statistic when Freeser bounced out. The D-Backs had back-to-back one out singles in the fourth; then go figure -  Locke got Owings and Tomas on changeups. S-Rod solved the LOB conundrum by drilling a hung curve into the second deck to make it 3-1.

With two gone in the fifth and two strikes on Rickie Weeks, Locke hung a changeup and watched it bang high off the LF foul pole. Jeff needs a finishing pitch; every big bop tonight has been with two strikes. JJ opened with an opp field rap, and Cutch followed with a knock. Gregory doubled home a run; the last two hits were with two strikes, and it's De La Rosa's turn to flop at finishing batters. Starling's grounder plated Cutch, then Freeser sent a two strike slider, down the middle, thigh-high, into the Bucco bullpen 451' away to give Pittsburgh the lead. Exit Rubby; Jake Barrett came in to close down the frame.

It was a clean sixth for Locke, a great follow after the Bucs big inning. Then he legged out an infield knock with one away against Barrett, tho dying at first. With an out in the seventh, Tomas caught an elevated change (Locke's first of the frame) and doubled, the ball just eluding Polanco. Clint tried to get seven out of Jeff w/o Watson; it didn't work and in came Jared Hughes. Two grounders silenced the Snakes. Zac Curtis gave up a two out walk before finishing up the frame.

David Freese's long ball was the game winner (photo Marty Morrow/Pirates)

Neftali Feliz took the ball in the eight against the 2-3-4 D-Back hitters. Weeks opened with a knock, then Neftali blew 98 MPH heat past Paul Goldschmidt. He had Wil Castillo whiffed too, but the ump missed the call. It proved a blessing as the next pitch was lined to S-Rod at second; he flipped to first to double off Weeks. Tyler Clippard gave up a two out, two bagger to Matt Joyce, but Jaso couldn't chase an insurance run home.

It was up to The Shark in the ninth, with Clint shifting Freeser to first and bringing JHK in to man the hot corner. With two gone, Owings just missed tying it, hitting one high off the Clemente Wall for a double. But Mark had one more out left in him and retired Tomas for save #16.

Jeff used his change a ton tonight, and a couple of times it bit him. He also was a bit snake bit; Tomas' homer was closer to bouncing off his shin than crossing the plate and Weeks' ball hit the pole. But for the sixth time in seven starts, he's given the Bucs six competitive frames or better. And the Pirate bench continues to dazzle; S-Rod and Freeser homered while Joyce doubled. Nice team win, and another series is in the bag with a possible sweep tomorrow afternoon.

  • Gregory Polanco has had three-hit outings in four of his last nine games. He went 3-for-4, and with Cutch combined for a 5-for-8 evening.
  • Jordy's eight game hit streak ended. 
  • The Pirates have won 8-of-10.
  • A couple of sources posted that Ryan Vogelsong underwent surgery for his facial fractures today, although there's been no official word from the Pirates.
  • Congratulations to Tony & Cassie Watson on the birth of their son, Theodore.
  • Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wrote that Jameson Taillon is due back on the hill Sunday.

Late Notes: Josh Out, Beanballin', MiLB News

Couple of late notes:
  • Josh got ill during the afternoon and was a late scratch; S-Rod replaced him at second and in the six hole in the order. 
Josh is feeling poorly; no word if he'll be available off the bench (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Last night's 'Zona beanball victims thankfully seem to be recovering OK. Nick Ahmed is back in the lineup, while Jean Segura said that he passed his concussion protocol and that Arquie texted him to let him know it wasn't intentional. Caminero, who went on the DL today, told the trainers about his quad discomfort after the game and will stop throwing completely for awhile.
  • Tony LaRussa (he's a Snake suit now) gave his usual yap to the Sporting News - didn't think the beanings were intentional, rules make it tough to retaliate, but intimidation is a big part of the fame, so...
  • Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reported that LHP Justin Masterson is done with his extended spring training stint and will start for Class A Bradenton, likely this weekend.
  • C Elias Diaz is close to resuming throwing a baseball after his elbow surgery.
  • 1B/OF Jake Goebbert, who went to camp with the Bucs and was later claimed by Texas, was DFA'ed by the Rangers.