Wednesday, June 28, 2017

6/28: 3,000 For Hans, Mad Dog Deal, Forbes Field Closes, HBD Mike, Orlando & Kevin, Game Stories...

  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01.
Mike Lynch 1904 (photo Pittsburg Press)
  • 1914 - Honus Wagner became the first 20th century ballplayer to collect 3,000 hits when he singled off of Cincinnati's rookie Pete Schneider in the second game of a twinbill at Redland Field. While a good day for Hans, it wasn’t such a good one for the Pirates. They lost both ends of the doubleheader to the Reds by 7-6 and 1-0 scores. The first loss was especially gruesome as the Bucs blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth triggered by a missed call. Up by a run with two outs and two aboard, a 3-2 foul tip was gloved by catcher Bob Coleman. The Reds on base started to run to the dugout, but the batter, Bert Niehoff, jogged innocently to first and the ump bought his act, calling it a check swing and ball four. A protest, made en masse by the Pirate infield and battery, was to no avail and a following single gave Cincy the game. The second was a pitching duel with Schneider’s three-hitter bettering the four-hit work of Marty O’Toole and Erv Kantlehner. In the long run, it made little difference as the Pirates finished seventh and the Reds last in the NL that season. (There have been a slew of June dates tossed around for Hans’ 3,000th hit. We had used June 9th as the consensus, but Bucco historian John Dreker of Pirates Prospects says that this date is the newly accepted one following research of old-timey box scores, which are generally kinda sketchy.)
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2 with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh.
  • 1938 - C Orlando McFarlane was born in Oriente, Cuba. Signed by the Bucs as an infielder in 1958, he was converted to catcher and got a cup of coffee with the Pirates in 1962, playing a bit more in 1964 and hitting .208 in his 45-game Bucco career. He was lost in the Rule 5 draft and played three more years with Detroit and the California Angels, but he battled nagging injuries while his impressive minor league bat never carried over to the show. Orlando played 10 years in the bushes with more stops in the Cuban, Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twinbill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the last games played at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs tenth straight loss.
  • 1970 - SS Kevin Polcovich was born in Auburn, New York. He spent his MLB career of two years (1997-98) with the Pirates, hitting .234. The University of Florida player was drafted in the 30th round by the Bucs in 1992,getting his call when Kevin Elster was injured, and would become a key member of the 1997 “Freak Show” that against all odds stayed in the divisional race until late September despite a $9M payroll. After he left the game, Kevin did some scouting and established the Icrush Bat Company, a manufacturer of maple bats.
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter.
Mad Dog 1980 Topps
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). Whitson pitched through 1991, winning 126 games and saving eight more while Holland worked out of various bullpens for 11 more seasons. Breining had a shorter career, lasting five years as a multi-role hurler.
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia.
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bucs Rally For Naught, Rays Prevail 4-2 In 10 Innings

For openers, Trevor Williams gave up a two-out rap and Alex Cobb tossed a clean inning. In the second, the Rays reached on a catcher's interference call against Stew with an out; a 6-4-3 DP took care of that while the Bucs again went in order. The third was six up, six down. Two of the first three Rays singled (both raps were seeing eye bouncers) in the fourth to put runners in the corners and a soft grounder drew first blood. Pittsburgh got a J-Hay walk but still no knocks. Trevor struck out the side in the fifth while the Pirates continued to make Cobb look like Cy Young. The Rays got a one-out knock in the sixth, again quickly erased on an around-the-horn DP while the Bucs continued their futility. Williams worked another quiet frame in the seventh, capped by an inning-ending gem web grab by Cutch. The Pirates got something going when J-Hay and Andrew led off with raps; it ended quickly with a pair of grounders to third, the first resulting in a DP.

Trevor looked good tonight, whiffing seven (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Trevor gave up a leadoff fan-interference double in the eighth followed by a bad-hop knock that glanced off Freeser's mitt to make it 2-0. Juan Nicasio got the call and closed it down with the last out a CS on a strong Stew toss. Cobb returned to his 1-2-3 ways. Huddy worked the ninth without a hitch. JJ opened the Bucs' last lap by getting bopped by Alex Colome (no, we have no idea why Cobb was pulled; he was at 98 pitches and has gone 115 a couple of times this year). CF Peter Bourjos then ran down Fraze's shot, a big grab that was followed by a J-Hay double. Cutch's two-bagger tied it. J-Bell was walked intentionally, and Freeser's fly to right moved Andrew 90' from the win. El Coffee was walked intentionally to set up a righty-v-righty with Jordy, who flew out deep to left to set up some bonus baseball.

Felipe Rivero came on and the wheels fell off; a leadoff single scored all the way from first on a brutal Freeser boot (and it was literally a boot; the ball was kicked into short left). A walk followed by a wild pitch followed by a sac fly made it 4-2 before the frame ended. Tommy Hunter climbed the slope and made quick work of the Pirates, dispatching them in nine tosses including a K.

J-Hay all day... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Another hard loss by the Bucs with the game swinging on two late-innings plays in the field - Bourjos' snagging Fraze's gapper in the ninth and Freeser booting a possible DP (or at least a force) grounder in the 10th. Even with the missing players and steady stream of guys on the DL, the inability to put games away, whether by bullpen meltdown, stranded runners, or the occasional bad leather day is the reason the Bucs can't dent .500.

  • The Bucs only managed fours hits, two each by Cutch and J-Hay.
  • Cervy was working out with the boys tho still on the DL; no word on the results of his concussion/virus testing.
  • Today's gate was 20,424 and some assorted but uncounted pups.
  • Per Jim Callis of, 6th-rounder Cody Bolton signed with the Pirates for $300K (slot value was $255,900). He's a California prep RHP with a low-90s heater and an in-progress slider who's "projectable."
  • Jason Grilli was DFA'ed by Toronto. He was 2-4-1, 6.97 for the Jays, giving up nine HRs in 20-1/3 IP with four walks/10 K per game.
  • 40-year-old Joe Beimel retired; the 13-year vet from Duquesne U was drafted by the Bucs and made his debut for Pittsburgh in 2001. He was pitching indie ball this season.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will induct Corey Hart into the team's Wall of Honor on Friday. Corey played his last 35 games as a Pirate after his knee was shot. He spent his first nine MLB campaigns as a Brewer, hitting .276 w/154 dingers.

Tuesday: Rays Visit PNC, Williams v Alex Cobb, Lineup (Cutch Switches Spots w/Gregory), Notes

Tonight: The Rays visit the Pirates with first pitch at 7:05 PM in PNC Park. Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan will carry the game.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Trevor Williams P. Doesn't take Sherlock to figure out the big news tonight; Cutch and Gregory have switched spots as Andrew has been en fuego while El Coffee is 0-fer in his last three games.

Gregory will get to workout his woes from the six-hole (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09) starts the set against Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05). Williams is making his 10th start of the season. having stepped in the breach when Jamo went down and then outlasting Tyler Glasnow. Trevor pitched pretty well in his last outing, a no-decision against Milwaukee that the bullpen couldn't ice for him. Williams has never faced the Rays or any American League team for that matter. Cobb has been tossing pretty well; he's given up two or fewer earned runs in four of his last five outings, tho the outlier was an ERA-busting beat-down by the Mariners. He pitches much better at Tropicana Filed (3.15 ERA v 4.73 on the road) so PNC Park should be an edge for Pittsburgh. Cobb has taken on the Bucs once back in 2014 and gave up six runs on six hits in five innings.

  • Antonio Bastardo was removed from the DL after his 30-day rehab at Indy where he was 2-0/3.38 with a 1.549 WHIP in 11 rehab appearances. The 31-year-old is 0-1/16.20 in six outings (opponents scored against him in every appearance he made) with a very small sample size of 6-2/3 IP for Pittsburgh this year. Jacob Stallings was returned to the Indians to open a spot for AB.
  • The Pirates and Rays are meeting for the first time since 2014 at Tampa. The Bucs won two of the three games in that set and are 7-5 all-time against the Rays. This is the first time since 2008 that the Rays have played in Pittsburgh, where the clubs have split the six previous meetings.

6/27 TRS-PNC Park Era: Grilli Deal, Denny's Grand Slam, HBD Daryle & AJ, Game Stories...

  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell” as his drive hit the replicate Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veterans Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI.
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002.
AJ Shugel 2016 (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1989 - RHP AJ Schugel was born in Winter Haven, Florida. A waiver claim by the Bucs, he got into 36 games for Pittsburgh in 2016, going 2-2-1. 3.63 as a long man in the pen with a nice 1.038 WHIP. He started 2017 at AAA Indy with a brief Pittsburgh stop in June.
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985 and just one of five to smack one in franchise history. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee." Paul Wagner got a hold and Dan Plesac the save for Neagle.
  • 1988 - Ishmael Valdez was one batter shy of throwing a perfecto against the Bucs at Dodger Stadium, giving up a leadoff eighth-inning single to Kevin Young. Valdez struck out seven and used just 97 pitches to tame Pittsburgh. Francisco Cordova was the hard-luck loser, a victim of temporary loss of control when with two outs and a runner on third in the sixth, an intentional walk was followed by an unintentional pass to set up Raul Mondesi’s two-run single.
Craig Wilson 2004 Topps
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win.
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013. Grilli is now working for Toronto while Frieri has moved around and is currently with Texas.

6/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Hit Parade; Triple Play; Long Double; HBD Jackie, Minute Man, Roy & Elmo...

  • 1861 - C Jackie Hayes was born in Brooklyn. Hayes played in three leagues - the National League, the American Association and the Players League - and spent two of his seven big league campaigns with the Alleghenys from 1883-84. Primarily a catcher, Jackie also played three infield positions and the corner outfield for Pittsburgh, batting .253. He fit right in with the rowdy bunch on the team at that time, gaining some notoriety for a late-evening brawl in a Cincinnati saloon. Hayes' story had a sad ending, as he died at the age of 43, deaf and suffering from locomotor ataxia, a disease that prevented him from walking unaided.
Deacon Phillippe 1903 Breisch Caramel
  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two-run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
  • 1916 - P Cecil “Minute Man” Kaiser was born in New York. Per BR Bullpen, Kaiser got his start on the sandlots of West Virginia before he debuted in 1945 with the Homestead Grays before heading south to play. Lured by a $700 per month paycheck, he returned to the Grays in 1947 and worked through the 1949 season for the club. He spent the majority of his time in the Latino leagues, getting a shot in the minors when he was 35; unfortunately, his arm was gone by then. He was a small guy in stature at 5’6” but with great control and a killer curve. He got his “Minute Man” moniker because it was said that’s how long it took for him to strikeout a batter.
  • 1926 - C Roy Jarvis was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 17-year-old bonus baby when he played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jarvis then served in the Navy during WW2 and then returned to baseball with the Pirates which had claimed his rights in the 1944 Rule 5 draft. (Roy was the last Pirate to lose a full season to WW2 military duty. Pittsburgh sent 28 MLB players and 15 minor-leaguers to the service in WW2 per “Baseball in Wartime.”) He got a couple of cups of coffee with the Buccos in 1946-47, hitting .163 in 20 games and spent the rest of his career in the minors, retiring to become a salesman after the 1955 campaign.
Elmo Paskett 1963 Topps
  • 1938 - C Elmo Plaskett was born in Frederiksted, Virgin Islands. Elmo got in 17 games for the Bucs between 1962-63, hitting .200. He was a great hitter in the minors, winning a batting title and being named “Player of the Year” with Asheville of the Sally League but it didn’t carry over to the show. He played other positions beside catcher, but wasn’t much with the mitt and when he broke his leg in a winter league game in 1964, it spelled the end of his MLB days in the pre-DH era. He played in the minors through 1969, then retired to operate beisbol programs as a rec specialist for St. Croix, developing Midre Cummings for the Pirates. Plaskett, who died in November, 1998, at the age of 60, had a sunny, Manny Sanguillen-type personality, was dedicated to baseball throughout his life, and is still a hero in the Virgin Islands. The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, inducted Elmo into the Museo Pancho CoĆ­mbre, its sporting Hall of Fame, while the Little Leagues on St. Croix are named after him, per SABR.
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground-rule double to center (it one-hopped the wall) in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26 Birthdays & Moments: HBD Elmer, Babe, Debs, Smoky, Howie, Bill & Jason; Streaks, POs & More...

  • 1893 - RHP Elmer Ponder was born in Reed, Oklahoma. Elmer was an Oklahoma U grad who was of Cherokee descent and was part of the early wave of Native American players (the Bucs also had Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse on the 1921 roster). He played for the Pirates in 1917, then again from 1919-21. He got into three games his first year before he left to join the Army during WW1, and didn’t return until 1919. His late July debut was special; although the Bucs lost to the Phils 6-1, Ponder tossed 5-⅔ perfect innings of relief. No Pirates reliever could claim five or more innings of perfect work until 94 years later, when Vin Mazzaro did it in 2013 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Elmer went 14-21/2.74 for the Pirates before he was traded to the Cubs in ‘21. He finished the year there before being sent to the Pacific Coast League, where he toiled through the 1928 campaign before retiring to Albuquerque and the work-a-day world.
Steve Brodie (photo via Find-A-Grave)
  • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history. Steve was eccentric, even for the era; per the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Kingaman “Brodie talked to baseballs, caught flies behind his back and once nabbed a line drive that had ricocheted off his head. He mumbled to himself in the outfield, passing time by reciting soliloquies from Shakespeare. Once, Brodie chastised himself for committing an error, The Sun wrote: ‘Then, as further punishment, he refused to talk to himself for the rest of the game.’ A solid fielder, he cut a hole in the pocket of his glove, believing he could better grasp the ball with his bare palm. In winter, he stayed fit by donning a catcher's mask and chest protector and wrestling a muzzled black bear in his backyard.”
  • 1903 - OF Floyd “Babe” Herman was born in Buffalo. His stories are legion, such as the time he ended up on third base with two other teammates or of fly balls bouncing off his body in the outfield. In actuality, Babe was an average fielder with a great stick - his lifetime BA was .324 and he retired with a 140 OPS+. Herman played part of his 13-year career in Pittsburgh, batting .235 (the lowest average of his career) in 1935, returning as a coach in 1951 and later serving as a Bucco scout. Per the New York Times, he got his nickname in the minors, playing when Babe Ruth was a star. ''He was put in to pinch-hit, and the first time he got a hit, the manager of the club said, 'You're my Babe,''' Charles Herman, Floyd’s son, told the paper.
  • 1907 - OF Debs Garms was born in Bangs, Texas. Debs played 12 years in the show, mainly as a utility player although he did start three seasons for the Boston Braves. That’s where the Bucs got him from in 1940, and he hit .355 in 358 ABs. That was good enough for him to be awarded the batting title by Ford Frick; there was no minimum at-bat requirement and the NL President used 100 games played as the qualifier (Garms got into 103 contests). Stan Hack of the Cubs was the next highest hitter at .317, compiled in 603 at-bats, and Chicago fans cried “we wuz robbed” to no avail. Thx to Debs, in 1950 the standard was changed to a 400 at-bat minimum and a few years later to 3.1/PA per game (502 PA). There was no controversy the next season as he hit .264 for Pittsburgh. Garms was a good stickman with a .293 career BA, and in 1941 he set the then-record of seven consecutive pinch hits. He retired after the 1945 season to become a rancher and later a quarryman. BTW, Debs wasn’t a baseball moniker - he was named after socialist politician Eugene Debs.
Debs Garms 1940 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1918 - RHP Elmer “Smoky” Singleton was born in Ogden, Utah. He came to the Pirates as part of the Bob Elliot deal, working for Pittsburgh from 1947-48 while slashing 6-8-3, 5.54. Bert put parts of seven seasons in the show and his overall professional career spanned 24 years, from 1940-63, when he retired at age 45 to become a salesman.
  • 1921 - LHP Howie Pollet was born in New Orleans. After some stellar seasons with St. Louis (two World Series, three All-Star selections), he was sent to Pittsburgh in 1951, the victim of a slow start and back-to-back contract holdouts. He pitched here through 1953 and returned for his final bow in 1956, going 14-31-2, 4.59 for some sad sack teams. Howie coached for the Cards and Astros from 1959-64, then retired and joined the business world.
  • 1935 - CF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner set a MLB mark when he recorded 18 putouts during a 5-1, 4-2 doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves. He had nine grabs in each game and rapped out five hits during the twinbill at Braves Field to support Buc pitchers Guy Bush and Bill Swift.
  • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs.
Bill Robinson 1976 SSPC
  • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the DH, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills.
  • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. He was on a Hall of Fame track before a string of injuries slowed his career, finishing his 16-year run with a .288 BA. Kendall has been a member of the KC Royals coaching staff, serving as a roving special assignment coach, since retiring as a player in 2012.
  • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares had been caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t.

6/26 Games: In First; Lloyd's Steal, Jason's Four Homers, Jay Rings the Bell and More...

  • 1930 - Larry French tossed a seven hit shutout to beat Phil Collins and the Philadelphia Phils 1-0 in the opening game of a Forbes Field DH’er. The Buc bats woke up in game #2, pounding out an 11-5 win. Paul Waner had three hits, including a double and triple, scored four times and drove in a run to lead the attack. All nine Pirates had hits; seven different Bucs scored and seven had RBI. Erv Brame went the distance for the victory.
Larry French Conlon/The Sporting News
  • 1984 - 1B Jason Thompson hit two homers in each game (a pair off Dennis Eckersley and then two more off Rich Bordi) during a doubleheader split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 9-0 behind a Rick Rhoden four hitter and dropping the nitecap 9-8. Thompson tied the club record (established by Ralph Kiner on 9/11/47) by hitting four home runs in a doubleheader. In the opener, the Pirates jumped to a quick 8-0 lead after three innings, with the only drama being Johnny Ray’s effort for a cycle (he fell a homer short). Doug Frobel joined the HR parade in the second match by also adding a pair of long flies, but the four homers were all solo shots and not quite enough to rally the Bucs from a six-run opening frame by the Cubbies against Larry McWilliams.
  • 1991 - The Pirates scored five times in the third inning and then hung on to defeat the Cubs at TRS 7-6. Jose Lind had a three-run homer, Barry Bonds a two-run shot, and Jay Bell went 5-for-5 to prime the attack against Chicago.
  • 2001 - On his 27th B-Day, Jason Kendall was ruled out at first, prompting the most famous steal in Pirate history. Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out, put on a show for the 24,120 fans at PNC Park, and finally pulled the sack off its stanchion and carried it into the dugout in protest. As for the game, the Bucs came back to beat the Brewers 7-6 in 12 frames. They dodged a late bullet when Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-run, two-out eleventh inning homer to keep the game alive after the Brew Crew had taken the lead on back-to-back homers in their half off Mike Williams. Rob Mackowiak singled through a drawn-in infield to plate Kevin Young, who had opened the twelfth with a double and moved to third on a ground out, to seal the deal for Omar Olivares and Pittsburgh.
Lloyd makes a point (photo Mike Zarrelli/Getty)
  • 2004 - Randall Simon’s home run in the ninth was all the Pirate pitching needed as they edged the Reds 1-0 at GABP. Ollie Perez gave up three hits over seven frames. Mark Corey got the win and Jose Mesa earned his 17th save.
  • 2005 - The Pirates turned six double plays and beat the Cardinals in St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The six twin killings were a club record and each was scored differently (2-4; 5-4-3; 9-4; 4-6-3; 5-2-3; and 6-4-3). Jason Bay hit a three-run HR in the third and a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth. Jose Castillo’s solo shot in the tenth iced the victory. During the game, starter Ollie Perez broke his toe when he kicked a laundry cart in the clubhouse, frustrated that he had been pulled in the seventh inning. He wouldn’t pitch again until September.
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their sixth straight game (they were in the midst of a nine game winning streak) on the road by a 4-2 count over the Seattle Mariners. It went to the wire, with Jordy Mercer’s two-out, two-run single giving Vin Mazzaro the win, iced by a Mark Melancon save. The Bucs tied the Cards for the lead in the NL Central with the victory, a spot they’d hold for the next 10 days and off-and-on through mid-September before ending the year with 94 wins, three games behind the Redbirds, and a wild card spot.
Vin Mazzaro 2013 Quarry
  • 2014 - Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, hit his first PNC Park homer and had four RBI to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Mets. Vance Worley got the win.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pirates Self-Destruct in 8-4 Loss to Cards

It was a quiet first for Mike Leake and Chad Kuhl; the Bucs went in order and the Cards went single, GIDP, whiff. In the second, the Pirates got a walk and paid back with their own GIDP while the Redbirds had some fun. Cool Chad gave up three knocks to open the frame (one an infield single that was originally - and wrongfully - ruled an out until reviewed). A pop up was followed by a two-run knock by Greg Garcia, who broke an 0-for-18 string (lefties love Chad). A whiff was followed by a web gem layout by J-Bell whom swam to the bag and slapped it with his mitt to just beat Matt Carpenter and save a run or two. Jordy walked to start the third and Eli doubled. Fraze's triple an out later knotted the game and he came home with the lead after J-Hay's sac fly.  JJ banged a double, but the Pirates ran out of hits. Chad tossed a clean inning.

Elias had a pair of hits tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Cutch and Jordy singled with one gone in the fourth, moving to second and third on a wayward toss. The error cost as Eli lifted a sac fly to center making it 4-2. Kuhl kept dealing with a couple of punch outs. The Pirates went down in the fifth with a two-out JJ single as the action. The Redbird's retired streak ended at nine when Leake singled with an out followed by a Carpenter walk after an eight-pitch contest. No prob; they stayed where they were. Chad's given up six hits, but countered so far with six fans. Leake cruised through the sixth, and Chad, in unfamiliar waters pitching this late in a game, gave up a leadoff monster mash dinger to Randal Grichuk, who was just called up today. Yadier Molina followed with a two-bagger (greatly abetted by an off-target throw from Cutch), and Kuhl was yanked for Tony Watson. The Cards bunted Yadier to third and he was frozen by a whiff. Jeff Gyorko pinch-hit and dumped a routine-looking ball into right; JJ couldn't quite get there and it fell for a game-tying double. An intentional walk brought up Carpenter *gulp* and he got ahead 3-0, but Tony came back to get him on a fly.

Matt Bowman worked the seventh and was greeted by an Eli rap; two rollers moved him to third. Trevor Rosenthal got the call to face J-Hay and blew three heaters past him, of which only one was a strike; it wasn't one of Josh's better efforts. Juan Nicasio answered the bell and opened with consecutive walks (tho the first on a 3-2 pitch looked like both a strike and a swing, tho neither was called). After falling behind Grichuk 2-0, Juan hung tough and K'ed him after a nine-pitch tussle. Short-lived victory; Molina went with an outside fastball and sent it into right, scoring a run and leaving Cards on the corners. Nicasio got his grounder to short; Jordy booted it, so instead of closing the inning out, a run plated and Redbirds roosted on first and second. Make that second and third; Jhan Marinez came in and tossed a wild pitch. Mercer's bad day at the office continued as a grounder skipped under his glove for a two-run knock. Marinez finished it up after that, tho he did bop a batter.

Edgar fanned a pair in his inning of work (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Brett Cecil took the hill for the eighth; he and Edgar Santana traded clean frames. Seung Hwan Oh drove the final nail in the ninth.

The Buc gloves failed them today; there were several plays left in the field and the Cards took advantage of every one of them. And before you call for Clint's head for the way he juggles the bullpen, it easy to see why he doesn't have a lot of confidence in them as a group. As long as you're going to bring out Cgad every fifth day, you know that the pen is going to get to work early. The FO would do well to find a couple of guys - and they don't grow on trees - who Clint can hang a hat on. And one other point to consider: the Bucs staff is under new management when Eli catches. It'll take him a while to get the same framed calls as Cervy/Stew and obviously to figure out how to herd the cats who toe the rubber as he's never caught most of them outside of spring training.

  • JJ and Eli had two hits while Jordy collected a walk and a knock.
  • The last time Chad worked into the sixth inning was April 18th when he gave up two runs to St. Louis at Busch Stadium against Mike Leake. He had better luck then, getting through the frame and it remains the last time Kuhl has gotten more than 15 outs this year.
  • Randal Grichuk's 478' home run was the longest hit by a Cardinal in the history of Busch Stadium III, opened in 2006.
  • Dexter Fowler went on the DL a few hours before game time with a bone spur in his heel. The Cards recalled Randal Grichuk.
  • Austin Meadows is expected to miss a month with a hammy tear.

Sunday: Bucs Look For Sweep, Cool Chad v Mike Leake, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game's first pitch is at 7:05 and it's ESPN's Sunday Night Game with 93.7 The Fan covering the radio side.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF,  Jordy Mercer SS, Elias Diaz C & Chad Kuhl C. Gregory gets a seat tongiht after a couple of 0-fers and Eli gets the call after Stew caught back-to-back games.

Chad toes the slab tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) ends the set against Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03). Chad broke a six-game losing streak with a win over Milwaukee in his last outing, but is still far from turning the corner. He hasn't worked more than five innings in over two months and gives up four walks per game, so command and efficiency have eluded him so far in his sophomore campaign. However, Cool Chad has been sturdy on the road, slashing 1-2/3.45 in six away appearances. The young righty has an 0-2/4.85 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cards. He was strong in his only outing against the Redbirds this year, going six innings in a 2-1 loss to today's mound foe, Mike Leake, in early April. The hidden vigorish: Kuhl has a huge lefty-righty split, and the Cards can't load up against him with just two lefties and a switch-hitter available. Leake is on a four-game losing streak, but may be righting the ship as his last outing was strong but ended up a no-decision for him. Struggling or not, he's got the Pirates number. He won this year's match against the Bucs, has taken nine of his past 11 decisions v the Pirates and in 29 starts against Pittsburgh slashes 10-5/3.29, so a sweep is gonna be an odds-buster tonight.

  • Chad made his MLB debut one year ago on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball when he defeated Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at PNC Park on June 26th.
  • Only two NL shortstops have a higher batting average than Jordy Mercer's .275 - Zack Cozart (.324) and Corey Seager (.298). Only one - Brandon Crawford (.992) - has a higher fielding percentage than Jordy (.989), who hasn’t made an error since April 26th.
Jordy may be playing the best ball of his career now (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • If it seems like a lot of balls have been flying over the fence lately, well, it's because they have. The Pirates have homered in a season-high nine straight games and have also allowed at least one long ball in a season-high eight in a row.
  • Tough division: The Pirates were plunked three times in Saturday’s game and have been drilled 39 times this season, tied with the Cubs for the most in the majors. Since the start of the 2013 season, Pittsburgh batters have been hit a league-leading 375 times. The Cubs are second with 330 and the Cardinals are third with 311 bopped batters.
  • The Redbirds have lost five straight home games; they're 18-20 at Busch.
  • A couple of streaks end tonight - the Pirates will conclude a 17-game stretch of consecutive contests with an off-day tomorrow and they're 4-2 on this two-city journey away from the Allegheny, so they've clinched their first winning road trip of the year.

6/25 Birthdays: HBD Bill, Ralph, John, Alejando, A-Ram, Paul & Bobby

  • 1895 - 2B Bill Webb was born in Chicago. His show time consisted of five big league games for the 1917 Pirates, but Webb became a baseball lifer. He managed in the minors and then coached third base for the White Sox for five years before becoming their farm director, a position he held until he had a fatal heart attack at the tender age of 43. His late season Bucco try out had its up-and-downs. Webb was 0-fer in his first four games, but in his last go, he went 3-for-4 with a run scored as the Bucs beat Boston, 2–0, at Forbes Field.
  • 1902 - LHP Ralph Lief Erikson was born in DuBois, Idaho. He went to Idaho State and toiled in the Class C Idaho-Utah League before the Bucs brought him to Pittsburgh in September, 1929. He lasted until mid-summer of 1930, getting into eight games with a 1-0/8.40 slash. Ralph was a workhorse starter on the farm after that trial and pitched through the 1934 season. He then went to Arizona and worked in the mining industry, which apparently agreed with him - he was MLB's oldest living player until he passed away in 2002 at the ripe old age of 100.
Ralph Erikson 1930
(photo Barbara Bow via David Cicotello & Angelo J. Louisa's "Forbes Field") 
  • 1943 - RHP John Gelnar was born in Granite, Oklahoma. The Bucs signed Gelnar out of Oklahoma in 1963; a year later he got a cup of coffee with the Pirates, working nine innings and giving up five runs. He got into 10 games in 1967, going 0-1, 8.05. In 1969-70, after a couple of trades, John pitched fairly well for the Seattle Pilots and then the Milwaukee Brewers. He got off to a rough start with the Brew Crew in ‘71, was sent down to AAA and then retired at the end of the 1972 campaign. He did get some recognition from Jim Bouton in “Ball Four” when Bouton wrote Gelnar used to bring binoculars to the bullpen when the pair were with Seattle so they could watch girls.
  • 1959 - RHP Alejandro Pena was born in Cambiaso, Dominican Republic. After helping whip the Pirates in the playoffs as a Brave in 1991, the Pirates signed him as a free agent after the 1992 season for $1.35M. He promptly sat out the year with elbow surgery and came back in 1994, going 3-2-7/5.02 and was released in June. The 15-year vet had a twisty road to join the Pirates - he was supposed, along with Kevin Mitchell and a PTBNL, to be part of a 1992 pre-season deal for Barry Bonds with Atlanta. The swap was agreed to in principle by GM Ted Simmons but nixed by Jimmy Leyland, who went over Simmons’ head to plead his case with team President Carl Barger. So the club, which apparently thought highly of Pena, later signed him as a free agent even tho he sat out the 1992 Bravo post-season with tendonitis.
  • 1978 - Aramis Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo. Signed as a 16 year old, he played five plus seasons (1998-03) in Pittsburgh with a .286/76/316 line before being sent to the Cubs in a salary dump that is still cited today as the epitome of the Dave Littlefield years. To close the circle, he finished his career in Pittsburgh in 2015, slashing .245/6/33 as a deadline pickup. The 18-year vet was a three-time All-Star who swatted 386 HR.
Paul Maholm 2009 Upper Deck
  • 1982 - LHP Paul Maholm was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. The 2008 first rounder spent seven seasons (2005-11) with the Pirates, going 53-73/4.35 during the span and starting 227 games for Pittsburgh before being non-tendered in 2012. He worked three more seasons for the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers.
  • 1986 - LHP Bobby LaFromboise was born in Downey, CA. A depth reliever and LOOGY for the Bucs in 2014-15, he appeared in 17 games, posting a 1.54 ERA. He’s now in the Texas system.