Friday, October 9, 2015

10/9: WS Win In '60, Losses in '09 & '71; Mixed Playoff Bag; Hans 8th BA Crown; Irishman Hired; HBD Bob & Starling

  • 1909 - The Tigers jumped on Howie Camnitz early, scoring five times in the second and third innings, in a 7-2 win over the Bucs at Forbes Field, squaring the World Series at a game apiece. Wild Bill Donovan limited the Pirates to five hits with seven K. Tommy Leach was the only Pittsburgh batter to solve him, delivering a pair of doubles. Ty Cobb stole home against reliever Vic Willis to help punctuate the win.
  • 1911 - In a 10 inning, 6-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs at the West Side Grounds, Honus Wagner collected a pair of hits to finish the season with a .334 BA to win his eighth NL batting title. No one would wear that many crowns again until Tony Gwynn equalled Hans’ mark in 1997.
  • 1947 - RHP Bob Moose was born in Export. He went to Franklin Regional HS, where he threw three no-hitters and was drafted by the hometown Bucs in 1965 during the 18th round. The righty added one more in the MLB, tossing a no-no against the Mets on September 20th, 1969. He died tragically and much too young in an auto accident while heading to a party celebrating his 29th birthday in 1976.
  • 1960 - Vern Law won his second game against the Yankees‚ thanks to his own two out RBI double followed by Bill Virdon's two-run knock in the fifth inning. Roy Face retired the final eight Bronx Bombers for the save at Yankee Stadium. The 3-2 win evened the Series after a pair of NY runaways. The game’s big play was Virdon’s leaping grab of a Bob Cerv drive at the wall in the seventh inning, saving a pair of runs.
Bill Virdon 1960 Topps series
  • 1969 - Danny Murtaugh was hired for the third time as Bucco bench boss. He replaced Alex Grammas, who took Larry Shepherd's spot. For 19 of the next 22 years, Grammas coached third base and infield for Sparky Anderson’s staffs, with a three year hiatus as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • 1971 - Pittsburgh scored three times in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of the World Series at Memorial Stadium on just one hit. But the Birds came back on the strength of three homers and a big night by Merv Rettenmund, who went long once and chased home three runs, to take the lidlifter 5-3.
  • 1972 - The Pirates overcame an early 2-0 deficit and nipped the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium 3-2 to take a two games to one lead in the NLCS. Manny Sanguillen homered and had a pair of RBI to back winner Bruce Kison and Dave Giusti, who earned the save.
Manny Sanguillen (image from Tracy Stallard Sports)
  • 1974 - The Bucs were eliminated from the NLCS three games to one by LA as Don Sutton tossed a one-hitter in a 12-1 thrashing at Dodger Stadium. Steve Garvey had four hits, including two homers, with four runs scored and four RBI to lead the Big Blue onslaught. The Oakland A’s rolled over the Dodgers in five games to claim their third straight World Series crown.
  • 1988 - OF Starling Marte was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He signed as an international free agent in 2007, and joined the big club in 2012, winning a regular OF spot in 2013. He homered on the first pitch he saw in the show off Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.
  • 1990 - The Pirates fell behind three games-to-one in the NLCS by dropping a 5-3 decision to the Reds at TRS as Jose Rijo topped Bob Walk. Paul O’Neill and Chris Sabo homered for Cincinnati and Jay Bell went long for Pittsburgh.
  • 1991 - Doug Drabek and Bob Walk combined on a five hitter as the Bucs won the opening game of the NLCS 5-1 against the Atlanta Braves at TRS. Andy Van Slyke had two hits, two runs, two RBI and a homer.
Andy Van Slyke 1989 Topps series.
  • 1992 - Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched Pittsburgh to a 3-2 victory over the Braves at TRS‚ giving the Pirates their first win in the NLCS. Wakefield was the first rookie to start a NL playoff game since Philadelphia's Charles Hudson in 1983. Gary Redus went 3-for-3 with a 2B, 3B and walk while Don Slaught added a homer.
  • 2013 - The Pirate playoff run ended 6-1 at Busch Stadium as two-run homers by David Freese and Matt Adams gave Adam Wainwright all the support he needed to take the fifth and deciding game of the NLDS. Gerrit Cole pitched well, but after he was pulled for a pinch hitter in the sixth, the Cards scored four times off the Bucco bullpen. Pedro Alvarez singled home the lone score, giving him a MLB record for chasing home a run in each of his first six post-season games.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

10/8: '09 & '25 WS Wins, '03, '27 & '60 Losses; Playoff Win v LA; Losses to Reds; HBD Danny & Donie

  • 1886 - Ed “Cannonball” Morris whitewashed the New York Metropolitans 9-0 at Recreation Park. It was his 12th shutout, a record for lefties. Cannonball went 41-20 that year with a 2.45 ERA over 555-⅓ IP, striking out 327 batters.
  • 1887 - Owen “Donie” Bush was born in Indianapolis. He was a hometown hero; until 1996, the Indy ballyard was called Bush Field before a new downtown park (Victory Field) opened. He managed the Bucs briefly, from 1927-29, taking them to a World Series in 1927 against the Yankees’ “Murderers’ Row” club (and the Pirates got murdered in four straight). But he’s probably best remembered for his feud with Hall-of-Fame OF Kiki Cuyler, whom he benched and then traded to the Cubs.
  • 1903 - Game Six was a rematch between Boston's Bill Dinneen and Pittsburgh's Sam Leever at Exposition Park. Both went the distance, with Boston coming out on top 6-3 to tie best-of-nine series at three games. Ginger Beaumont went 4-for-5 with a pair of stolen bases while Jimmy Sebring and Fred Clarke added two hits for the Bucs. Boston's "Royal Rooters", 200 strong, traveled to Pittsburgh with a brass band and sang their theme song "Tessie" to distract the opposing players (especially Honus Wagner). Boston won three out of the four games at Pittsburgh to keep their Rooters rocking.
  • 1905 - Per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology: Just one point apart in the batting race on the final day of the season, Cincinnati Reds CF Cy Seymour and Pittsburgh Pirates SS Honus Wagner played against each other in a doubleheader. Seymour entered the day with a league leading .365 average and Wagner was in second, batting .364. Seymour had four hits in seven attempts to end up with the NL batting championship (.377) as Wagner went two for seven to end up hitting .363. A newspaper account of the day stated "...10,000 were more interested in the batting achievements of Wagner and Seymour than the games...cheer upon cheers greeted the mighty batsmen upon each appearance at the plate..." The Reds swept the Bucs at the Palace of the Fans by 3-1 and 4-1 scores.
Hans falls just short of the title (image via Baseball Legends)
  • 1909 - After walking two of the first three batters and giving up a first inning run, Babe Adams settled down and pitched the Pirates to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series at Forbes Field. Pittsburgh only had five hits off George Mullin, including a homer by Fred Clarke, but four different Tigers committed errors that led to three unearned runs. This series was the first head-to-head matchup of league batting winners with Honus Wagner (.339) and Ty Cobb (.377) squaring off.
  • 1917 - Danny Murtaugh was born in Chester, Pennsylvania. He was a Bucco infielder from 1948-51, with a lifetime BA of .256 and a stolen base crown in 1941. The Irishman won a couple of World Series as the skipper in 1960 and 1971, managing the club from 1957–1964, 1967, 1970–1971, 1973–1976. He guided five playoff squads and had a record of 1115-950.
  • 1925 - The Bucs evened their World Series count against Washington at a game each with a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. The only dent against the Senators’ Stan Coveleski was a Glenn Wright homer until the bottom of the eighth when Kiki Cuyler’s two-run blast put Pittsburgh up 3-1. The Sens added a ninth inning run to provide some late drama, but Vic Aldridge went the distance for the win.
Vic Aldridge (image The Sporting News/Mears Collection)
  • 1927 - The NL Champion Pirates lost, 4-3, and were swept in four games by the New York Yankees, led by their "Murderers Row" lineup featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was an exciting finish at the House That Ruth Built, though. Pirate RHP Johnny Miljus loaded the bases with no outs, then struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel. But with Tony Lazzeri up, he uncorked an 0-1 wild pitch and Earle Combs came home with the winning run, the only World Series to end with on a wild pitch. It was the first ever sweep of a NL team by an AL club. Babe Ruth and Lloyd Waner each hit .400 during the series.
  • 1960 - The Yankees returned home in style, ripping off six first inning runs and burying the Bucs 10-0 at Yankee Stadium to take a two games-to-one lead in the World Series. Whitey Ford tossed a four hitter and only allowed two Pirates to reach second base; none touched third. Bobby Richardson belted a grand slam (he had one regular season homer) and had six RBI.
  • 1972 - The Reds scored four times in the first inning off Bob Moose (he didn’t retire a batter, giving up five straight hits) and then hung on to take a 5-3 win at TRS and even the NLCS at a game each. Roberto Clemente, Milt May and Dave Cash each drove in runs to make it 4-3 after six innings, but Joe Morgan’s eighth inning homer took the wind out of the Pirate sails, as Tom Hall retired six of the last seven batters for the Cincinnati win.
  • 1974 - The Pirates scored five times in the first and never looked back as they defeated LA 7-0 at Dodger Stadium. Bruce Kison and Ramon Hernandez combined on a four hitter to cut the Pittsburgh deficit in the NLCS to two games to one. Willie Stargell drilled a three run homer and Richie Hebner added a two run shot off Doug Rau in the opening frame to ignite the win.
Ramon Hernandez 1974 Topps series
  • 1990 - Cincinnati took a 2-1 lead in the NLCS by whipping the Bucs 6-3 at TRS. Zane Smith gave up a three run homer to Mariano Duncan and a two run shot to Billy Hatcher to give the Reds’ Danny Jackson and the “Nasty Boys” in the bullpen working room. Bobby Bonilla, Carmelo Martinez and Jose Lind had the Bucco RBI.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jake, Fowler & Schwarber End The Bucs Season 4-0

The game started with JHK wheeled out on the field to a crazy ovation, Petrina McCutchen killing the Anthem (again), Bob Walk's full windup first pitch, a Michael Keaton vid ending with "...this is our town; this is our time" and the place going bonkers as Cole Train and the boys stepped out on the field. TBS, of course, missed virtually all of it, but hey, had to be there anyway.

Dexter Fowler led off with a single that Cutch played kinda conservatively and stole second when Josh, in a shift, dropped Fran's throw. Of course the combo hurt when Kyle Schwarber took a pitch the opposite way for an RBI knock. Gerrit looks a little over-amped, but settled down to get a DP . An error by Walker let another runner aboard when S-Rod couldn't come up a shorthop, but the run was all the damage done after a K. No answer for the Bucs; Cutch singled with two gone, but Starling became the second whiff of the frame.

It was a routine second for Gerrit; ditto for Jake, who along with Cole is getting a generous corner from ump Jeff Nelson and the high strike.

The top of the order did Cole Train in again. With an out, Fowler dropped a single to right and Schwarber got a 2-1 breaking ball that hung and crushed it over the top rows of the Clemente Wall. Kris Bryant walked after falling behind 0-2; Gerrit is overthrowing and the bullpen phone rang to get Jared Hughes up. Cole got another DP, but an early three run lead is the last thing you want to give Arrieta. He struck out the side. Pedro hit for S-Rod and Cole batted for himself, surprisingly, but no diff; Buc batters look completely lost at the dish.

The Cubs got a two out single from Kris Bryant in the fourth; that was one more runner than Pittsburgh had. Gerrit fed Fowler a 2-2 heater right down the middle; he bombed it out to right center to make it 4-0; Fowler was 3-for-14 lifetime against Cole, but is 3-for-3 today with three runs scored and a RBI. Arrieta struggled with his command in the fifth, but no diff; he grazed Fran's hand, got a pop out, then a pair of called K on Jordy and Pedro, with neither pitch really close to being a strike; it's like the GregMaddux/Tom Glavine days.

Antonio Bastardo worked a clean sixth. The Bucs made noise, but...Travis Snider opened with a single, then Kris Bryant, who had just moved to third from left, knocked Gregory's liner into the air, and snagged it before it came down; it's good to have a 6'6" guy there, especially as he was playing in to guard against a bunt. Josh got bopped and Cutch banged one up the middle; it ate up Addison Russel for a knock and loaded the bases. Starling came to plate, and Russell made amends, starting a 6-4-3 DP to crush the uprising. In justice to Marte, the ball was smoked (it left the bat at 109 MPH), but right at the shortstop, so Arrieta has dodged a couple of bullets through the intervention of the baseball gods.

The Bucs biggest outburst (image from TBS)
Tony Watson tossed an interesting seventh. With two gone, he drilled Arrieta in the hip, after Jake had plunked Bucs in consecutive innings. Jake took a slow stroll with some choice words along the way, and the benches emptied. Except for Sean Rodriguez losing his mind and eventually being ejected, calm returned and the Cubs had another zero. Fran singled to open, but The Kid whiffed after being ahead 3-0, chasing a pair of ankle-nipping sliders. A-Ram batted for Jordy; he hit one squarely on a hop to third, Bryant backhanded the ball and started an around the horn DP to flush away another inning. Finding some grass just doesn't seem to be in the cards tonight.

After a leadoff walk in the eighth, Joakim Soria settled in a struck out the side. Arrieta and the Pirates returned to early inning form; Michael Morse singled, but a pair of Ks - Pedro struck out for the third time; he hasn't seen a slider he can lay off of yet tonight - and a soft pop to right left MM at first.

Mark the Shark came on and after two were down got a boost from Starling, who threw out Russell trying to turn a single into a double. The Bucs went down in order, and the season came to a quiet end.

Joe Madden had the better idea tonight, starting with offense and bringing in the D, and it worked perfectly as Kyle Schwarber had three RBI and was on the bench by mid-game while Kris Bryant's move from left to third killed in a couple of wanna-be rallies with his glove.

For the Bucs, Gerrit was just too hyped up. He's also a notoriously slow starter, giving up 34 (19 in the first inning alone) of his 64 runs in the first three frames, and a slow jump from the gate was not something the Pirates needed tonight. They tried to make a game of it in the middle frames, but couldn't find the clutch blow as they went 0-for-10 with RISP. Lady luck helped, too; the Bucs had Jake on the ropes in the sixth, but he was given second life with a couple of ripped at 'em balls.

Great season; lousy ending. Maybe one year they'll figure out how to win the division so their season doesn't end on a Bumgarner or Arrieta shutout. They could start with a bonafide ace; their staff is plenty deep enough to compete in a series, but is shy one Cy Young candidate. Still, 2015 was a terrific campaign; no one had them finishing at 98 wins, and the hot stove league should be cookin' this winter with comings and goings.

  • Inside Edge Scouting noted that "McCutchen is now the only hitter with three well-hit balls against Arrieta in one game this season."
  • Pittsburgh has been shutout on eight hits total in their last two playoff games.
  • 40,889 fans filled the yard tonight, the largest game crowd ever at PNC Park.
  • Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber accounted for all four Cub runs against Cole Train; they went a combined 5-for-6 with two homers against him.
  • This was the Cubs first playoff win since 2003.
  • Arrieta has not allowed a run in the first inning in any of his last 23 games, dating back to June 4th. He also is the first pitcher in baseball history with double-digit K's (11) and no walks in a postseason complete game shutout. Of course, the two HBP deserve an asterisk on that stat.
  • Commish Rob Manfred was in the house tonight.

Cole Train Rolls v Jake; Showtime Lineup (No Pedro) & Notes

The brief twitter trolling is over and the NL playoffs are about to begin. (And please, Bucco nation, no choreographed bedlam; let the game take you where it will). You'd be hard pressed to find a better opening matchup than Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta in terms of performance and personal swagger.

The Pitchers - Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60) starts the postseason off with a bang by toeing the rubber against Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77). The Pirates have gone 8-1 in Cole's starts against the Cubs, and he was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four Windy City outings this campaign.

Arrieta is 3-1 v Pittsburgh & his 0.75 ERA against the Pirates is his lowest ERA against a team he's started three or more games against this season. He's given up 18 hits in 36 IP with 32 K while facing the Bucs and hasn't lost since July 25th, when Cole Hamels no-hit him. He's posted a 0.84 ERA over his last 20 starts.

Pretty tall order for Cole Train today. It's a great challenge - and a great opportunity. The game starts at 8:07 and will be aired by TBS & 93.7 The Fan.

OK - a couple of noticeable lineup inserts: Josh is at third, and that's no surprise as he's been the Buc's hottest hitter over the past week or 10 days. Second, S-Rod is at 1B. Pedro is hurt by the fact that the Bucs obviously expect a low scoring game, plus Jake has a reverse split and hardly ever surrenders a long ball. Of course, an argument could be made for A-Ram or Michael Morse, but glove-first won today's debate.

It's pretty simple in the playoffs: if ya wanna be the best, ya gotta beat the best. And if Arrieta isn't the best, he's sure on the short list. The Pirates put together a glove & grinder crew, and it's hard to argue with Clint's feeling that "Fall baseball is all about pitching and defense..."
  • Craig Edwards of Fangraphs writes that the Cole-Arrieta matchup is one of the best all-time pairings of playoff baseball.
  • The Cubs finished the regular season 11-8 v Pittsburgh. They had the most road wins (48) in the NL and were 6-4 this year at PNC Park.
  • The Pirates are the first team of the Divisional Era (1969>) to reach the postseason with a losing record vs every teams in their own division (via @EliasSports).
  • This is the third post-season in a row that the Pirates have carried three catchers on their rosters. On that subject, Matthew Trueblood of the BP Wrigleyville blog thinks the key to tonight will be Miguel Montero's chemistry with Arrieta, something he thinks that Fran and Gerrit have yet to develop per his article about the two Venezuelan backstops.
  • FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine used the elo method to rank the MLB teams by performance. The second and third teams won't be a surprise, althought the top one may.
  • This is the first time that the Pirates and Cubs have ever met in the post season.
  • Jung Ho Kang will be introduced and on the chalkline during the Pirates pregame ceremony along with the rest of the team; good to see him back at the ballyard.
  • Cutch's mom, Petrina, will sing the National Anthem. She wowed the crowd before the 2013 Wild Card game with her rendition. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by former Pirate pitcher and current Root Sports broadcaster Bob Walk.
  • The Pens are backin' the Bucs - their coaches wore Bucco caps during parctice yesterday, and the players donned Pirate hats afterward.

Pirate Wild Card Roster

And today's roster:

Pitchers - Gerrit Cole, Antonio Bastardo, Joe Blanton, Arquimedes Caminero, Jared Hughes, Frankie Liriano, Mark Melancon, Joakim Soria & Tony Watson.

Regular bullpen with Frankie as the insurance policy reserve starter

Infielders - Pedro Alvarez, Pedro Florimon, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Michael Morse, Aramis Ramirez, Sean Rodriguez & Neil Walker.

The usual gang, with Pedro in for a little flexibility and base-running if needed.

Outfielders - Keon Broxton, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco & Travis Snider.

The starting three will go all the way; Lunchbox is in to pinch hit and young Keon to run.

Catchers - Fran Cervelli, Elias Diaz & Chris Stewart.

Not sure why Clint likes three; that seems a bit cautious. Diaz holds down a spot that Decker or LaFromboise may have filled.

Next In Line -  OF Jaff Decker, LHP Bobby LaFromboise, 1B Travis Ishikawa & LHP Jeff Locke.

LaFromboise is probably the closest to making the roster, just to allow some match up options for Clint.

10/7: Lots of Post Season Losses; Win in '72; Hans Takes Title; Chuck Tanner Canned

  • 1902 - Sam Leever and the NL champ Pirates beat a team of AL all-stars in an exhibition at Exposition Park by a 4-3 score, with the AL pushing across three runs in the ninth to give the Bucs a scare. Ginger Beaumont led the Pirates with three hits. Cy Young took the loss, giving up eight hits and striking out seven. There was no World Series yet; the NL and AL were still merrily raiding one another’s rosters in a bid for baseball supremacy.
  • 1903 - Game Five of the WS at Exposition Park was a pitcher's duel for the first five innings between Boston's Cy Young and Pittsburgh's Brickyard Kennedy. But in the top of the sixth, the Americans scored a then-record six runs and added four more in the seventh on the way to an 11-2 romp. Young went the distance and struck out four for his first World Series win.
  • 1907 - The Bucs split a twin bill with the Reds to finish with 91 wins, 17 behind the front-running Cubs. But it was a championship season for Honus Wagner who led the league with a .350 BA, .408 OBP, .513 slugging %, 38 doubles, 264 total bases and 61 stolen bases. He tied teammate Ed Abbaticchio for second in RBI with 82 and came in third in runs scored with 98.
Hans Wagner 1909 Colgans Chips series
  • 1925 - Walter Johnson of the Senators struck out 10 Pirates during a 4-1 Washington victory in the opening game of the World Series at Forbes Field. Pie Traynor’s homer was the only dent against the Big Train, who surrendered just five hits. Lee Meadows took the loss.
  • 1927 - Herb Pennock took a perfect game into the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium before Pie Traynor broke it up with a one out single, followed by Clyde Barnhart double to bring him home. That was about all the local drama as the NY Yankees claimed an 8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates to give the Yanks a 3-0 bulge in the World Series. It was actually a close game until NY scored six runs in the seventh, capped by Babe Ruth’s three run bomb.
  • 1972 - The Pirates scored three times in the first and and never looked back as they beat the Reds 5-1 in the NLCS opener at TRS. Al Oliver had a homer, triple, two runs scored and three RBI to give Steve Blass all the offense he’d need.
Al Oliver 1976 Topps series
  • 1975 - John Candelaria fanned 14 Reds at TRS, but Pittsburgh lost the NLCS finale 5-3 as Cincy swept the series three games to none. The Bucs got a two run homer from Al Oliver, but Ramon Hernandez was touched up for a pair of runs in the 10th inning to take the loss. The Reds went on to beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games to win the World Series.
  • 1985 - Chuck Tanner was fired by the Pirates, but wasn’t out of work long. He was hired to manage the Braves three days later. Chuck’s teams had spent five years around .500 after the ‘79 championship and suffered a black eye during the Coke Trials. Jim Leyland would later be named as his replacement.
  • 1992 - The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the NLCS with a 13-5 pounding of the Pirates at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Bucs threw seven pitchers at Atlanta, which banged out 14 hits, including a Ron Gant grand slam. 
  • 2001 - Pirate prospect Chad Hermanson showed a brief flash when his three run homer in the eighth inning off Carlos Zambrano scored the Wilson boys, Craig and Jack, and gave Pittsburgh a season-closing 4-3 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Joe Beimel got the win with a save from Mike Fetters.
Chad Hermanson 2001 Upper Deck series
  • 2013 - The Pirates were on the brink of eliminating the St. Louis Cardinals from the NLDC at PNC Park, but the Redbirds rode Michael Wacha’s arm to a 2-1 win and a showdown game at Busch Stadium. The Cards drew first blood when Matt Holliday hit a two run homer in the sixth off Charlie Morton. Pittsburgh halved the gap in the eighth when they got their first and only hit, a 438’ bomb by Pedro Alvarez, to make it 2-1. But both bullpens were in shutdown mode, and that score stood as the final. 40,893 fans - the third consecutive post season game to set a park attendance record - left the North Shore disappointed. The Cardinals set a playoff record as all three of their pitchers (Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, who got the save) were 23 or younger.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pirates & Cubs Under the Bright Lights...

Quote the Cutch "What kind of a champion says, 'Man, I’m just hoping for the easiest road possible …'” Wednesday night hopefully is the start of a long road, and the beginning stretch is as bumpy as it gets.

The Cubs have best road record in MLB at 48-33, three games better than the away records of the Pirates, Cards, & Rangers' and have won their last nine games away from Lake Michigan. On the other hand, their last road loss was at PNC Park on September 15th.

The five NL playoff teams are the top five in ERA and FIP. Pittsburgh finished first in team ERA (3.23) and second in FIP (3.36); Chicago third in ERA (3.36) and first in FIP (3.30). The sticks are fairly even; Pittsburgh has a weighted runs created of of 99, the Cubs' wRC+ is 96, so they're both average (100) attacks.

Cole Train hopes to start a long playoff run (photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP)
The Bucs, outside of Cutch, haven't had a lot of luck against Jake. That's pretty much reflected in his 3-1/0.75 slash against Pittsburgh this year, giving up just 18 hits in 36 IP with 33 K and a 0.639 WHIP. His splits have been pretty even between Wrigley and PNC Park.

On September 16th, Arrieta went eight innings at Pittsburgh, allowing one earned run and six hits in a 3-2 Chicago victory. Eleven days later, Arrieta gave up just one hit to the Pirates at Wrigley Field, striking out nine batters in seven shutout innings. The Buccos v Jake:

Cutch 8-23 (.348)
Starling 4-17 (.235)
Michael Morse 2-9 (.222)
Gregory Polanco (3-16 (.188)
The Kid 4-25 (.160)
Fran 2-13 (.154)
Pedro 2-17 (.118)
A-Ram 2-19 (.105)
Josh 1-10 (.100)
Jordy 0-4 (.000)

The Cubs, conversely, haven't had many problems with Cole Train individually, but he's kept the team under control overall pretty well this year. Gerrit's gone 2-1/2.13 with 32 whiffs in 25-1/3 frames, surrendering 20 hits with a WHIP of 0.947.

He's been a bit better at Wrigley, where he's had three of his four 2015 starts. He defeated the Cubs on September 25th at Chi-town, allowing one run in seven innings, but the baby Bears had better luck 10 days earlier, scoring four runs (three earned) off Cole in Pittsburgh. Here's how they match up:

Miguel Montero 3-5 (.600)
Chris Donorfia 3-6 (.500)
Starlin Castro 6-17 (.353)
Anthony Rizzo 6-17 (.353)
Kris Bryant 3-9 (.333)
Addison Russell 2-7 (.286)
Jorge Soler 2-7 (.286)
Dexter Fowler 3-14 (.214)
Kyle Schwarber 1-5 (.200)
Chris Coghlan 2-13 (.154)

Cole does have one advantage over Arrieta. He’s started in two post season games, allowing three earned runs in 11 innings, while Jake has never pitched in the playoffs. On the other side of the pillow, Arrieta’s allowed either zero-or-one earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts. He's been in the limelight for a while now, and it doesn't look like a big stage will rattle his cage very much.

The bookies and the pundits favor the Cubs; after all, Arrieta has been on a historic roll. But the Bucs do have a few things going for them.

Two things are minor - Arietta is due for a clinker, but then again, so was Mad Bum last year. And the Bucs are playing in their eighth playoff game of the past three seasons; that may be worth something (tho they did better in 2013 with no experience than they did last year.)

But the real key is to get the game to bullpen. If Gerrit can cancel out Jake, the Pirate relief corp is deep, tested and beats Chicago's stat line across the board (except in K's) in counting numbers - ERA, strand rate, grounders induced, & homers surrendered. Both starters will be looking for a statement game, and if becomes a duel that's handed over to the pens, that's where Pittsburgh has its biggest edge.

Oh, one last thing - if all else fails, there's always that billy goat thing.

  • What does Cutch think of the whole affair? Check out his article on the Player's Tribune.

10/6: '03 WS Win, '27, '60 Losses; 2013 NLDC win; '71 NLCS Clincher; '74, '92 Losses; Chief's 3B Mark; HBD Tom & Gene

  • 1903 - A crowd of 7,500 filled Exposition Park as the Pirates defeated the Boston Americans 5-4 in the first World Series game ever played in Pittsburgh, delayed a day by rainy weather. Boston even brought 200 fans, who sat in their own section and brought along a brass band that played between innings. Deacon Phillippe was the winner for the third time, pitching this match on two days rest. It almost caught up to him as the Americans scored three times in the ninth until Phillippe finally got pinch hitter Jack O’Brien to pop out. Tommy Leach knocked in three runs while Honus Wagner and Ginger Beaumont each collected three hits. Sadly, it would be the last game they’d win in this Series.
  • 1908 - C Tom Padden was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. A part-time catcher for Pittsburgh, he appeared in 399 games from 1932-37 and compiled a .272 BA. He might be best known for coin rather than horsehide flinging. On February 26th, 1936, surrounded by a large crowd, he tossed a silver dollar about 475 feet over the Merrimack River and into a snow pile. He made the hurl to copy pitcher Walter “Big Train” Johnson, who did it a few days earlier over the Rappahannock to emulate the reported feat of George Washington. He retired to Manchester, where he coached local baseball and basketball teams.
  • 1912 - Owen “Chief” Wilson hit his 36th triple of the season, establishing a MLB record. Wilson tried to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park home run, but was thrown out the plate in a 16-6 Pirate win against Cincinnati at Redland Field. He wasn’t a gap guy; as noted by SABR’s bio of Wilson “Spacious Forbes Field may have been the best park ever for triples, and the Pirates led the NL in that category 30 of the 62 seasons they played there. Wilson did hit 24 of his 36 triples at home, but it is likely that many of these triples would have been home runs at other parks.” The Sporting Life pointed out that "Few of the smashes have struck in front of fielders. They have all been over the heads or between the fields, all juicy jams."
Chief Wilson 1911 Piedmont series
  • 1927 - The Yankees’ George Pipgras quieted the Buc bats at Forbes Field as New York took a 2-0 lead in the World Series. Vic Aldridge was hooked up in a 3-2 game in the eighth when three singles, two walks (to #8 hitter Benny Bengough and then to Pipgras), a HBP and wild pitch gave the Bronx Bombers three runs on their way to a 6-2 win. Lloyd Waner scored both Buc runs, driven home by brother Paul and Clyde Barnhart. 1929 - In the season finale, second place Pittsburgh beat league-leading Chicago 8-3 at Wrigley Field. The Bucs collected 12 hits, led by Lloyd Waner’s 3-for-3 day, and Larry French earned the victory. The Pirates, with 88 wins, still finished 10-½ games behind the Cubs, but set the MLB record by banging out double-digit hits in 102 games during the season.
  • 1946 - OF Gene Clines was born in San Pablo, California. A speedy center fielder with a good glove, he was a platoon outfielder for the Bucs from 1970-74, putting up a .287 BA. He played for the 1971 World Series champs and also the division winning teams of 1972 and 1974. Clines had a long career coaching and is a front office exec in the Dodger organization.
  • 1960 - The Yankees roared back from their opening defeat to win 16-3 and even the World Series at a game apiece. Mickey Mantle put on a show with a pair of blasts, one measured at 478’ and thought to be the first homer that a RH batter hit out of Forbes Field to the right of dead center. The Mick had five RBI and three runs scored as the Bronx Bombers pounded out 19 hits. Mantle was the only player to have a multi-homer playoff game in Pittsburgh until 2013 when Russell Martin hit a pair against the Reds at PNC Park in the Wild Card game.
  • 1971 - The Pirates rolled over the Giants 9-5 at TRS to take the NLCS three games to one. The Gravedigger, Richie Hebner, and Al Oliver both homered and had three RBI, and Roberto Clemente drove in the other three runs. Bruce Kison got the win and Dave Giusti the save as they twirled seven innings of scoreless relief after Steve Blass was rocked in the second frame. The game was tied 5-5 after the second inning as the Bucs banged Gaylord Perry early, too, before finally knocking him out of the box in the sixth.
Bruce Kison 1972 Topps series
  • 1974 - The Pirates tied the Dodgers in the seventh inning on RBI from Richie Hebner and Al Oliver, but LA rattled four straight eighth inning hits off Dave Giusti and another off Larry Demery to score three times and take a two games to none lead in the NLCS at TRS with a 5-2 victory.
  • 1991 - In the last game of the year, John Smiley tossed a five hit shutout with help from the pen to beat the Expos 7-0 at TRS. It was Smiley’s 20th win of the year for the pennant winning Pirates. He was backed by three RBI from Jose Lind and another pair from Barry Bonds, who also scored twice.
  • 1992 - John Smoltz and the Braves won the opening game of the NLCS at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium by a 5-1 count over Doug Drabek and the Pirates. The Bucs had just five hits, with the only run coming in on Chico Lind’s eighth inning homer.
  • 2013 - PNC Park had another record breaking crowd of 40,489 to watch the Pirates take a two-one lead in the best-of-five NLDC against the Cards by a 5-3 score. St. Louis rallied from behind twice against the Pirates, but the last comeback belonged to Pittsburgh. The Bucs went up 2-0 on a two-out, two-run Marlon Byrd single in the first, and the Redbirds tied it in the fifth on Carlos Beltran’s two-out, two-run single. The Pirates went ahead 3-2 an inning later on Russell Martin’s sac fly. Beltran tied it again in the eighth with a homer to right center off Mark Melancon. Pittsburgh put up two in their half off Carlos Martinez, with RBI singles from Pedro Alvarez and Martin. Jason Grilli then closed out the see-saw game, with Melancon getting a blown hold and the win. Francisco Liriano and Joe Kelly started the game, but neither made it to the seventh inning.
Russ Martin (photo Keith Srakocic/AP)

Monday, October 5, 2015

10/5: Lose in '27 WS, Win in 1960; Win '70, '79 NLCS; Lose Games in '71, '74, '75, '90 NLCS; HBD, Claude, Bye-Bye Jim Tracy

  • 1873 - Middle infielder Claude Ritchey was born in Emlenton along the Allegheny River. He played for the Pirates for seven years, from 1900-06, batting .273 with 709 runs scored and 675 RBI, and was the starting 2B for the 1901 pennant winners and first World Series team in 1903. The combination of his size (5’6”) and his ability to drive in clutch runs gained him the nickname of "Little All Right."
  • 1888 - Pud Galvin won his 300th game against the Washington Nationals at Swampoodle Grounds, throwing a four-hitter in the 5-1 Allegheny win. He was the first player in MLB history to reach the 300 win total, finishing his career with 361 victories, with 138 of them earned with Pittsburgh clubs.
Pud Galvin 1994 American Archives series
  • 1927 - Pittsburgh’s Ray Kremer and the Yankees’ Waite Hoyt opened the World Series at Forbes Field. The Bucco wheels came off in the third when a pair of walks coupled with two errors and a muffed DP gave the Bronx Bombers three runs on one hit and a 4-1 lead. The Pirates kept chipping away - they had nine hits, led by Paul Waner’s 3-for-4 day - but dropped the game 5-4.
  • 1960 - Roger Maris became the seventh player to homer in his first World Series at-bat. His round-tripper off Vern Law got the Yankees off to a quick 1-0 lead, but the Pirates won Game One of the Fall Classic at Forbes Field, 6-4. Pittsburgh scored three times in the first, and a two run homer by Bill Mazeroski in the fourth was the early game winner. The score wasn’t quite as close as it looked; the Yankees’ Elston Howard hit a two run, ninth inning homer off ElRoy Face to narrow the gap. The Bucco victory ended a 15-game Yankee winning streak.
  • 1970 - Johnny Bench and Tony Perez homered of Bob Moose in the first inning and the Reds beat the Pirates 3-2 to sweep the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium. Cincinnati scored the lead run in the eighth after the Pirates had tied the game after two were out when a walk, single and Bobby Tolan knock plated the game winner. The Pirates collected 10 hits, but stranded a dozen runners. Willie Stargell went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI while Roberto Clemente, Al Oliver and Richie Hebner had two hits each. The Reds lost the World Series to Baltimore in five games.
  • 1971 - Richie Hebner's homer off Juan Marichal in the eighth inning gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 victory over the Giants at TRS and a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. Bob Johnson went eight innings of five hit ball with seven K and Dave Giusti picked up the save. The Bucs’ first tally came in the second, on another solo blast, this one by Bob Robertson. For Hebner, it was an act of redemption; his throwing error on a bunt led to SF’s only score, an unearned sixth inning run. Robertson’s homer was his fourth if the series, setting a record.
Richie Hebner 1971 Arco promo series
  • 1974 - Don Sutton held Pittsburgh to four hits at TRS in the first game of the NLCS to claim a 3-0 win. It was a 1-0 duel between him and Jerry Reuss until the Dodgers added a pair of ninth inning tallies off of Dave Giusti. Willie Stargell had two of the Pirates four hits. Before today’s game, LA had been 0-6 at TRS during the regular season.
  • 1975 - Fred Norman held the Bucs to five hits at Riverfront Stadium as the Cincinnati Reds easily took a two games to none lead in the NLCS by a 6-1 tally. Rennie Stennett and Richie Zisk had two knocks each; the only other Bucco hit was Willie Stargell’s RBI double. Jim Rooker took the loss, chased after just four innings.
  • 1979 - The Pirates swept the NLCS, beating the Reds 7-1 at TRS behind Bert Blyleven, who went the distance for the series clincher. Willie Stargell, who homered, doubled and had three RBI, was named Series MVP. Bill Madlock also went long for the Bucs.
Pops 1979 (photo Sports Illustrated)
  • 1990 - The Reds tied the NLCS at a game with a 2-1 win at Riverfront Stadium as Tom Browning bested Doug Drabek. Paul O’Neill drove in both runs for Cincinnati, which only had five hits total; Chico Lind’s homer was it for Pittsburgh.
  • 2007 - The Pirates fired manager Jim Tracy after two years and a 135-189 (.417) record. He was replaced by John Russell. As part of the purge by new GM Neal Huntington, director of player development Brian Graham, scouting director Ed Creech, director of baseball operations Jon Mercurio and Tracy's entire coaching staff also lost their jobs.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Home Sweet Home: Bucs & Jay TCB With 4-0 Win Over Reds

Jay opened with a clean frame, while the Bucs made some noise against Josh Smith. With and out, Josh doubled and scampered home on The Kid's two-out knock. Starling followed with another single, but Pedro left them aboard.

The Reds tried to answer in the second. Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce had back-to-back singles, but Jay pumped in a whiff and Frazier was caught trying to steal third to allow Happ to escape. Jay celebrated with a knock of his own, but ended up the only Bucco runner. In the third, the Redlegs got a leadoff walk, but a pair of forceouts and a whiff ended their bats. Josh led off with a single, but only made it as far as second before the third out.

Jay issued a two out walk followed by a wild pitch in the fourth, but a swinging punchout calmed the waters. Pedro bombed a 1-2 heater Smith left up in the zone over the wall in right center, a blast that covered 479' and was caught by a passer-by on the River Walk. It was a 1-2-3 fifth for JA. Jumbo Diaz came on for Smith. After a pair of whiffs, The Kid singled, but was cut down stealing; it'd be nice for the Bucs to get a little more breathing room.

After a pair of K to start the sixth, Joey Votto battled and won, drawing a 13 pitch walk (and getting a call on ball four; it sure looked like strike three). It didn't look good when Brandon Phillips followed with a two strike single off a shoetop slider, but ended well when Phillips got happy feet and was gunned out at second by Starling, a call the Reds challenged and lost. Carlos Contreras took the ball. Fran doubled on a full count fastball with two gone and Jordy came through, banging a 1-2 hook at the knees into left for a two bagger and 3-0 lead.

Jay answered the bell big time today (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Joakim Soria climbed the hill and gave up a leadoff knock to Frazier. Two whiffs with a liner in between left him there. Sam LeCure had his number called, and Gregory said "hi" by bopping a changeup to right for a leadoff double. LeCure hung another change and Josh doubled El Coffee home. The Reds came up with a pair of nice plays, with Eugenio Suarez taking away a hit from Cutch and Tyler Holt running down The Kid's shot to center before Starling walked. Michael Morse bounced out; the Bucs are six outs away from win #98.

Tony Watson allowed a Jason Bourgeous single with one gone and a Votto knock with two outs. No sweat; Tony got Phillips on a comebacker. Ryan Mattheus got the call, and gave up a harmless knock to Fran. Save situation or not, The Shark jogged in for the ninth to an ovation from the crowd; two flies and a whiff later, the Bucs had home field advantage to a rockin' house, despite the Cubs winning again.

Ya know, we tend to focus on the division losses, errors, the bad baserunning & the back end of the rotation, but 98 wins marks a remarkable year. The guys played under pressure seemingly the entire season with St Louis and Chicago seeming to never lose (we'll bet they thought the same of the Pirates), and played all nine innings every night behind a strong rotation and lights out bullpen. If there's one bummer to the year, it's that Jung Ho Kang (he's not in the dugout because he can't put weight on his leg yet) will miss the post season.

Now it's Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta on another Black Out date Wednesday night. Here's hopin' there's a lot more dancin' left in that dugout.

  • The last time the Pirates had the top two NL outfielders in assists was 1970 with Willie Stargell (16) & Matty Alou (15). Starling Marte (16) & Gregory Polanco (13) lead this year. The only other time it happened in Bucco history was in 1958 with Roberto Clemente (22) & Bob Skinner (19). (S/O to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects)
  • If you were wondering, the Cards (100-62), Pirates (98-64) and Cubs (97-65) ended up with the three best records in baseball. The Pirates had three other 98 win teams in 1991, 1979 & 1909.
  • Today’s attendance of 35,362 extended the single season record to 2,498,596, with 21 sellouts.
  • The Pirates presented A-Ram and AJ with portraits before the game to mark their final season; Ramirez's featured him before and after as a Bucco, and Burnett's was him on PNC's mound with the City and Bat signal behind him.
  • Congrats to Jeff Banister. Banny's Rangers won the AL West today.