Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Tonight's Lineups:

Pittsburgh: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Travis Snider RF and Edinson Volquez P.

San Francisco: Gregor Blanco CF, Joe Panik 2B, Buster Posey C, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Hunter Pence RF, Brandon Belt 1B, Brandon Crawford SS, Travis Ishikawa LF and Madison Bumgarner P.

Volquez v Bumgarner, Days Events, Roster, Notes

We'll post the lineup when available. Big day on tap, so first of all, today's PNC Park schedule:
  • 10:00 AM - Federal Street and the Clemente Bridge will be closed to vehicles;
  • 4:30 PM - Federal Street par-tay, with music, food trucks, live broadcasts, bars and more;
  • 5:30 PM - PNC Park Riverwalk opens;
  • 6:00 PM - Gates open, with fans getting a black rally towel;
  • 7:37 PM - Player Intros, 
  • 7:57 PM - The first pitch will be tossed by Kent Tekulve. This year, instead of Mama Cutch, Maddie Georgi will sing the National Anthem. Sgt. Tiara Pompay of the US Army will represent the Armed Forces on the field during the evening's pregame ceremonies; and
  • 8:07 PM - Play ball!
That's when Eddie Volquez (13-7, 3.04) and southpaw Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98) get it on. Volquez has come a long way in a short time, with just a couple of major changes. His groundball rate is 50.4%, showing a willingness to pitch to contact after going for the K last year, and he's slowed down enough to post the highest strand rate (77.5%) of his career. In his past 17 starts, he is 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA, so Edinson is on a roll. We'd expect the Giants to show some discipline against Volquez to take advantage of a high walk rate.

Bumgarner is the Giant ace, cast in the same bulldog mold as Gerrit Cole, and whiffed 219 batters this season. He won't wilt under the blackout bedlam. Though only 25, this will be his seventh post-season start with two World Series victories under his belt. Bumgarner is also a road warrior, tied with Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright for the major league lead with 11 away wins and a 2.22 ERA. He helps himself, too - Madison's hit four homers this year, and so the Giants have the luxury of keeping him in a close, late game.

The odds makers are slightly leaning toward the G-Men, with the factors being home field advantage v the pitching match up. Both teams have had their moments against these guys, and it should be a rock-em. sock-em start to the NL post-season.

The Roster: P - John Holdzkom, Jared Hughes, Bobby LaFromboise, Jeff Locke, Mark Melancon, Edinson Volquez, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson & Vince Worley; C - Russ Martin, Tony Sanchez & Chris Stewart; IF - Clint Barmes, Ike Davis, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Brent Morel, Gaby Sanchez & Neil Walker; OF - Andrew Lambo, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Travis Snider & Jose Tabata.

Pitchers Jeanmar Gomez and John Axford were left off the roster along with Frankie and Gerritt, who couldn't throw tonight anyway and will be added if the Bucs make it to the NLDS. LaFomboise and Locke give Clint Hurdle a balanced pen, with four RHP and four LHP. Chase d'Arnaud, who was used a bit as a pinch-runner without much success, lost the last IF sub role to Morel. And with Russ & Stew banged up, Tony Sanchez was a no-brainer as a catcher insurance policy.

The game will be aired by ESPN starting at 8 PM and on 93.7 The Fan.

  • When Cutch (the reigning NL MVP Award winner) takes the field against Buster Posey (the 2012 NL MVP Award winner), it will be the first time two previous NL MVPs have squared off in the playoffs since 1992.
  • The Giants will be short in the personnel department against the Bucs tonight. RHP Matt Cain (elbow), CF Angel Pagan (back), IF Marco Scutaro (back) and 1B/OF Michael Morse (oblique) will miss the game with injuries, though Morse may be able to pinch hit.
  • The two teams met once before in the postseason, with the Pirates winning the 1971 NLCS 3-1 on the way to a World Series title. In this year's matches, the Bucs hold a 4-2 edge.
  • The Pirates are hoping to not fall victim to the even year syndrome of San Francisco. The Giants were WS winners in 2010, then 2012...
  • Ex-Bucs: Brandon Moss became the first Athletic ever to have a multi-homer, five-RBI game in the postseason when he lost a pair of balls and drove in five in the As 9-8, 12 inning loss in the AL Wild Card game last night.

10/1: Huge Day: First WS Game, WC win Over Reds, Waner's 237 Hits, Carey Swipes Record, Roberto & Freddy Take Titles, TRS Closes & More...

First WS Game, WC win Over Reds, Waner's 237 Hits, Carey Swipes Record, Roberto & Freddy Take Titles, TRS Closes & More...
  • 1895 - RHP Carmen “Specs” Hill was born in Royalton, Minnesota. Carmen pitched eight years in Pittsburgh (1915-16, 1918-19, 1926-29) and went 47-31-8 with a 3.26 ERA. He won 22 games for the NL Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1927. As for his nickname, Carmen was the second pitcher in major league history to wear glasses, hence his moniker.
  • 1903 - Deacon Phillippe pitched a six hitter while whiffing 10 and defeated the legendary Cy Young as the Pirates downed the AL’s Boston Americans, 7-3. It was the first World Series game in baseball history, played at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in front of 16,242 fans. For the books, the first WS hitter was CF Ginger Beaumont, who flew out to American’s CF’er Chick Stahl. Tommy Leach got the first hit, a triple, and became the first runner to score when Honus Wagner singled him home for the first WS RBI. Jimmy Sebring hit the first Series’ homer (a seventh inning inside-the-park dash) and drove in four runs.
 Deacon Phillippe via SABR
  • 1917 - Wilbur Cooper tossed a four hit shutout as the Pirates closed the season with a 2-0 win over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field. Bill Webb had three hits and a run scored to lead the attack. Fritz Mollwitz also crossed home while Lee King & Max Carey drove in the runs. It was Cooper’s 17th win for a team that finished last by 47 games with only 51 victories. 
  • 1918 - OF Jim Russell was born in Fayette City, between Belle Vernon and Stockdale on the Mon. He played for the Pirates from 1942-47, starting all but his rookie campaign, and put up a .277 BA during that time. 
  • 1922 - Max Carey swiped his 51st base against the Reds in a 5-1 loss at Redland Field. Not only did he lead the league in larceny, but his 51 steals in 53 attempts was the highest success rate ever achieved by a stolen base leader. His record of 31 straight steals without being caught stood until 1975, when Davey Lopes put together a 38 swipe streak.
  • 1927 - Paul Waner collected a pair of hits against Cincinnati in a 9-6 win at Redland Field to finish the season with a Bucco record 237 knocks. The victory also clinched the pennant for the Pirates, who finished the year with 94 wins and 1-½ games ahead of St. Louis and two up on NY. Pie Traynor, Lloyd Waner and Earl Smith each added three hits to back Johnny Miljus. 
 Paul Waner 1931 W517 series via Virtual Card Collectors
  • 1956 - SS Vance Law was born in Boise, Idaho. Drafted out of high school by Pittsburgh, the son of Bucco great Vern Law spent his first two years as a Pirate (1980-81) and hit .184 as a seldom used reserve. After being traded to the White Sox, he carved out an 11 year MLB career, including an All-Star season. 
  • 1964 - Danny Murtaugh retired as Buc skipper, citing health reasons. He’d be back. In the meantime, he joined the Pirate front office evaluating players for GM Joe L. Brown. Harry “the Hat” Walker was later named as his replacement. 
  • 1966 - The Giants swept Pittsburgh 5-4 and 2-0 at Forbes Field to eliminate the Pirates from the pennant race. The Bucs would finish third, three games behind the Dodgers. 1967 - Roberto Clemente ended the season by going 2-for-5 with a triple, his 23rd HR‚ three RBI and two runs scored to win his fourth batting title with a .357 average in a 10-3 victory over Houston at Forbes Field in front of 28,244 fans on Prize Day. Jerry May matched Roberto, going 3-for-5 with a homer, double, three RBI and two runs while Maury Wills added three more hits. 
  • 1973 - By losing 4-3 to the San Diego Padres at TRS on the season’s last day, the Bucs were officially eliminated from the NL East title hunt. They were 1-1/2 games back going into the contest, with the league leading Mets scheduled to play a doubleheader. NY won the first game, making it a moot point. 
  • 1974 - The Bucs took a one game lead over the Cards in the NL East title by beating the Cubs 6-5 at TRS. A two run pinch hit HR by Bob Robertson in the eighth inning was the game winner. Dave Giusti closed out the last two frames to earn the come-from-behind win. The Pirates would clinch the pennant the next day.
 Bob Robertson undated team photo
  • 2000 - A crowd of 55,351, the largest gathering to ever to see a regular season baseball game in Pittsburgh, watched the Pirates fall to the Chicago Cubs, 10-9, in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium. Sister Sledge was on hand to sing the National Anthem. Brian Giles had three hits and became the first Pirate to hit .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs in back-to-back seasons. 
  • 2006 - Freddy Sanchez went 2-for-4 against the Reds to finish with a .344 BA, the tops in the NL. The Bucs won 1-0 in front of 25,004 at PNC Park behind the pitching of Shane Youman, John Grabow, Matt Capps and Salomon Torres, who combined on a four hitter. The Bucs scored in the eighth by rapping four straight two out singles; Xavier Nady drove in Jay Bay with the winner. 
 Freddy Sanchez 2008 Upper deck Goudey series
  • 2012 - It took ten starts, but Jeff Locke got his first MLB win by beating the Braves 2-1 at PNC Park. He gave up two hits (and five walks) in six frames and three relievers tossed hitless ball behind him. Starling Marte provided the offense; he homered and tripled, coming in on Chase d’Arnaud’s ground out, to account for the Bucco runs. 
  • 2013 - A record PNC Park crowd of 40,487 saw the Pirates win the NL Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds by a 6-2 score. Francisco Liriano gave up one run on four hits over seven innings for the win. He was supported by Russell Martin, who had a pair of homers, and Marlon Byrd, who also went long. Martin became the first catcher to homer for three different teams in the postseason, going yard with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and the New York Yankees in 2012. Byrd’s long ball was during his first post-season at-bat after playing 1,250 MLB games to finally get into the playoffs. It was the first playoff game ever held at PNC and the first Pirate playoff win in Pittsburgh since defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on October 11th, 1992 in the NLCS at TRS. The victory cost the Reds more than a playoff run; it also cost them a manager when Dusty Baker was fired three days later after suffering his seventh straight playoff loss as Cincinnati skipper.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/30: Clemente's 3000th, Kiner Hits 54, Bucs Clinch In '90, Stargell's History Making RBI, Temple Cup, 20 Years Down & More...

Clemente's 3000th, Kiner Hits 54, Bucs Clinch In '90, Stargell's History Making RBI, Temple Cup, 20 Years Down & More...
  • 1893 - The Pirates ended their season with an eight game winning streak by topping the NY Giants by an 8-6 score to finish the year 81-48, five games behind the Boston Beaneaters. Pittsburgh’s partial owner William Chase Temple thought there should be a series between the top two teams (as his club was second) for the title, so he donated the Temple Cup to the league for a best of seven post-season championship series, to start in 1894. It lasted for four years, never being terribly popular among the players or fans, and didn’t help Temple’s Bucs at all - they never finished higher than sixth during the Cup’s existence. The winner was supposed to take ⅔ of the gate, but the first teams to play agreed beforehand on a 50-50 split, which the winning club then reneged on, causing Temple to sell his Pirate share in disgust. 
  • 1946 - 2B Billy Herman, who the Bucs wanted as a manager, was traded to Pittsburgh by Boston with OF Stan Wentzel, RHP Elmer Singleton and IF Whitey Wietelmann for three-time All Star 3B Bob Elliott and C Hank Camelli. Herman was named playing manager, but even he realized a lopsided deal when he saw one, saying "Why, they've gone and traded the whole team on me.” Elliott won the 1947 NL MVP award and led the Beaneaters to the 1948 NL pennant. 
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner hit his 54th homer and 16th in September over the LF scoreboard at Forbes Field as the Pirates beat Herm Wehmeier and the Reds‚ 3-2. The monthly total eclipsed Cy Williams' 1923 NL mark, and 54 homers is still the Pirate standard for long balls in a season. 
  • 1951 - Ralph Kiner hit a two out, 425’ walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning to give the Pirates an 8-4 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. The four RBI gave him 109 on the year, his fifth straight season with 100+ runs driven home, tying the franchise record set by Pie Traynor. 
 Ralph Kiner from Getty Images
  • 1964 - Nineteen Pirates struck out in 16 innings, but the Bucs still beat the Reds 1-0 on Jerry Mays’ suicide squeeze, knocking Cincy out of the top spot in the NL. Starter Bob Veale struck out 16 in 12-1/3 innings while the Reds’ Jim Maloney K’ed 11 in eleven frames at Crosley Field. 
  • 1972 - At Three Rivers Stadium, Roberto Clemente hit a fourth-inning double off a Jon Matlack 0-1 curve to become the 11th player in major league history to reach the 3,000 hit plateau. Take it with a grain of salt if someone told you they were there for the big occasion. Only 13,117 people showed up to watch the 5-0 win over the Mets on a raw Saturday afternoon. 
  • 1978 - The Phillies clinched their third consecutive NL East title by eliminating the Pirates, 10-8 at TRS. The victory, fueled by Phil pitcher Randy Lerch’s two home runs, snapped Pittsburgh’s 24-game home winning streak. The Bucs went down fighting. They scored four times in the ninth and got the tying run to the plate twice, but Willie Stargell whiffed, who had earlier swatted a grand slam, and Phil Garner bounced out to end the rally.
  • 1979 - Willie Stargell became the Pirates all-time RBI leader when he bombed a solo homer in the fifth to overtake Honus Wagner. The Bucs defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-3 at TRS behind Captain Willie’s pair of RBI, numbers 1475 & 1476; he would finish with 1,540.
 Willie Stargell - Dick Perez Art
  • 1987 - The Pirates split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs at TRS. They won the opener 5-3 behind Brian Fisher as Jose Lind chased two runs home and Spanky LaValliere scored twice. They dropped the nitecap 10-8 despite Darnell Coles tying a team record by blasting three homers and driving in six runs. Pirate pitching gave up just nine hits, but six were for extra bases and they added 11 walks. 
  • 1988 - President Ronald Reagan tossed out two ceremonial first pitches before the Cubs lost 10-9 to the Pirates at Wrigley. “Dutch,” a former play-by-play announcer, joined Harry Caray for an inning and a half in the WGN booth. Jose Lind and Andy Van Slyke combined for seven hits in the win. It was a wild finish; Pittsburgh and Chicago each scored five times in the eighth and ninth innings to end up with a 9-9 regulation stalemate. Andy Van Slyke drove in Rafael Belliard with the winner in the 10th. Scott Medvin claimed the W while Goose Gossage took the loss. 
  • 1990 - Pittsburgh beat St. Louis 2-0 at Busch Stadium behind Doug Drabek's three hitter to clinch its first NL East title since 1979. Gary Redus and Andy Van Slyke had the RBI as the Pirates finished a seven game winning streak to pull away from the Mets. It took Drabek just 80 pitches to go the distance. 
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield shut out the Phillies on four hits (although he did walk six) in a 5-0 whitewash at TRS. It was the first time Philadelphia had been shut out since September 19th, 1992 (also at TRS) by Doug Drabek, a NL record-setting stretch of 174 games between blankings. Pittsburgh’s home finale victory over Philadelphia was led by Dave Clark, who homered and tripled. 
Tim Wakefield 1992 Score series
  • 2009 - Ryan Doumit went 4-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, an 8-3 Pittsburgh win. Dewey became the second Pirate catcher in the last 40 years to have at least four hits and four RBIs in the same game. Jason Kendall collected four koncks and five RBIs in a 13–1 Pirates victory over the Cardinals on May 19th, 2000. It was a good day at Wrigley Field for the Bucs as they took the opener, too, 4-0. Charlie Morton tossed a four hitter and Jason Jaramillo doubled in two runs.
  • 2012 - The Pirates were dropped by Cincinnati 4-3 for their 82nd loss, finishing below .500 for the 20th consecutive season to extend their sad little record. The Bucs were 16 games over .500 on August 6th, but for the second consecutive year, a dog days’ collapse was in the cards. This one at PNC Park hurt, as the Reds scored twice in the ninth off closer Joel Hanrahan to steal the win in front of 32,814 fans.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Post Season Stuff...Schedules, Ex-Bucs, Final Regular Season Stats

 Some facts, figures & trivia per the season and the playoffs:
  • The playoff picture: For the NL, the Bucs and Giants kick it off Wednesday night at Pittsburgh. The winner goes to Washington for a Friday opener. The Cards visit LA Friday, too. In the AL, Oakland goes to KC on Tuesday for the wild card game, with that winner visiting the Angels on Thursday. Detroit opens at Baltimore on the same day.
  • The Pirate game is scheduled to have Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04) face lefty Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98) at PNC Park beginning at 8:07, televised by ESPN. Kent Tekulve will throw out the first pitch. Volquez didn't face the Giants this season, while the Bucs had their way with Bumgarner in his one outing against them in May. Pittsburgh is 4-2 against the Giants this season.
  • In was in the cards for San Francisco & Pittsburgh to meet. The two teams finished with identical 88-74 records and even had the same run differential, +51. They finished 28th and 29th in pitching, with SF's ERA at 3.50 and Pittsburgh's at 3.49. The biggest split is in OPS, with Pittsburgh at .734 and the G-Men at .699.
 (2013 blackout v Reds, photo by Jared Wickersham of Getty Images)
  • The Giants bring a boatload of old Bucs with them, especially pitching: Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez, Hunter Strickland, Jean Machi and Erik Cordier are all on their September roster, along with 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa.
  • Other ex-Bucs on playoff teams' September rosters: Adam LaRoche (Washington), Kevin Correia (LA Dodgers), Steve Pearce & Evan Meek (Baltimore), Rajai Davis & Don Kelly (Detroit), Erik Kratz & Jayson Nix (Kansas City), Jason Grilli, Yoslan Herrera, John Buck & John McDonald (LA Angels) and Brian Moss & Jesse Chavez (Oakland).
  • Tuesday at noon at Market Square, the City, County, PNC and the Bucs will sponsor a Pirates Playoff Rally to get the troops revved.
  • Colorado manager Walt Weiss said it was his decision to sit Justin Morneau for the last two games to set him up for the NL batting title, and Morneau took it with a .319 average. Josh Harrison finished with a .315 BA to come in second and Cutch finished third with a .314 average.
  • Cutch has produced a slash line of .300/.400/.500 or better in three straight seasons.
(photo from USA Today)
  • Four Pirates (Cutch/6.9, Josh/4.8, Starling/4.0 and The Kid/3.7) ranked in the NL's top 25 in WAR per Fangraphs. Russ, by the way, had a 5.2 WAR and would have made it five, but he didn't have enough plate appearances to be a qualifier.
  • NH explained to's Tom Singer about as succinctly as possible why the Bucs didn't deal at the deadline: "we couldn't find the right impact coming in the door to match the impact that would've been going out the door."
  • For those looking into the future, the Pirates draft 23rd this year after going 22nd in 2013.

9/29: Cannonball, Howie & Harry, Ken Macha, Closing the Polo Grounds, Teke Takes Two & More...

Cannonball, Howie & Harry, Ken Macha, Closing the Polo Grounds, Teke Takes Two & More...
  • 1862 - Ed “Cannonball” Morris was born in Brooklyn. In 1884, Cannonball tossed a no-hitter against Pittsburgh for Columbus, and was purchased by the impressed Alleghenys five months later. The lefty pitched for the Alleghenys from 1885-89 with a 171-122/2.84 line, winning 80 games from 1885-86. He struck out over 300 batters twice with 298 another year, and threw over 550 innings in two different seasons. He also worked a year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League, his last season in the majors. 
  • 1908 - Pittsburgh blanked the Cardinals 7-0 at Forbes Field behind Howie Camnitz in the first game of a doubleheader sweep. Camnitz had a no hitter until the ninth when Claude Osteen singled. The last-place Redbirds were blanked for a record 33rd time. The Cards broke out the lumber in the nitecap, but still lost 6-5 when Roy Thomas’ grounder brought home George Gibson in the ninth to give Vic Willis the win. 
  • 1909 - RHP Harry Camnitz mopped up in the Pirates 6-1 loss to the NY Giants at Forbes Field. It was his only outing of the year (he had been purchased from the minor league McKeesport Tubers in July), but it made him part of the first brother act for the Pittsburgh Pirates to appear during the same season; he was the little bro of the team’s ace, Howie Camnitz. The Bucs added him to the roster after he picked up 27 wins with the Tubers. 
Howie (top) and Harry (bottom) Camnitz T205 series year u/k
  • 1935 - In his only major league game, C Aubrey Epps went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBI in the Bucs' 9-6 loss at Cincinnati. In an oddity, the 23-year old catcher ended up with identical career batting and fielding averages (.750) as he committed two errors in eight chances; guess that’s why it was his only game. 1950 - Ken Macha was born in Monroeville. The Gateway grad, a sixth round draft pick in 1972, played briefly for the Bucs (1974, 1977-78), hitting .263 as a corner utilityman. He made his name as a MLB coach and manager of the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. 
  • 1957 - The New York Giants played their final game at the Polo Grounds before pulling up their stakes and heading west, losing to the Pirates 9-1. Bob Friend got the win; Johnny Antonelli took the loss. Roberto Clemente, Johnny Powers and Friend each had three hits; rookie Powers hit the last homer and tallied the final RBI ever at the yard. After the game, 11‚606 fans swarmed for keepsakes as both teams retreated to the center field clubhouses for safety. 
  • 1978 - Kent Tekulve won both ends of a DH over the Phils at TRS in relief‚ 5-4 and 2-1. He pitched 2 innings in the opener and 1-1/3 frames in the nitecap‚ winning in the 10th. Both wins were gift wrapped; the Bucs won the opener when the relay to third on Ed Ott’s two out ninth inning triple got away, and the Phils balked in the winning run in the ninth inning of the nitecap. 
 Teke 1983 O-Pee-Chee series
  • 1992 - The Pirates won their sixth straight game by a 3-0 score over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field as Zane Smith, Paul Wagner (the winner), Steve Cooke and Stan Belinda combined on a two-hitter to put the Bucs nine games up in the standings. Andy Van Slyke homered and drove in a pair of runs to spark the Pirate attack. 
  • 2012 - Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off home run to right center off Jonathan Broxton of the Cincinnati Reds with one down in the ninth inning for his 31st homer of the season and a 2-1 Pirate win at PNC Park in front of a Saturday night crowd of 38,623. Kyle McPherson started the game, and Joel Hanrahan got the win.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cole Train Rolls But Bullpen Rocked In 4-1 Loss As Cueto Does It All

After getting a pair of routine grounders to open the game, Johnny Cueto gave up back-to-back knocks to Cutch and The Kid before getting Starling on a fly. The unstoppable Kris Negron singled hard to left against Gerrit Cole to start up the Reds. Brandon Phillips dropped a flare into center to put Redlegs at first and third, and a chopper, speared by a leaping Josh, brought Negron home. Two K's later, it was 1-0 Reds.

With two gone in the second, Stew ripped a double to left center that turned Chris Heisey around, but Cueto put Cole away on four pitches. The Cole Train picked up a couple more whiffs while tossing a clean frame. Cueto matched him in the third, with two K's sandwiched around a Travis line out. Negron kept it up against the Bucs, singling to right with an out and getting to second on a wild pitch. A roller, again nicely converted by Josh, moved him up 90', but Todd Frazier's grounder to short ended the inning without a score.

The Kid led off the fourth by going long; it's good to have his bat back after a two-week slump. Cueto polished off the remaining Buccos, one being Gaby, who came in to hit for Ike; maybe Davis' flu is acting up (it was). Two more Reds K'ed, then Heisey had the unusual occurrence of running into his own batted ball for the third out.

Stew is on a roll; he dropped a hustle double, his second, into left to open the fifth; he only had three two-baggers coming into today. So much for hustle; he was thrown out at third on a pretty poor bunt effort by Cole; all he had to do was bunt it toward third. Two flies ended the frame. The Cole Train kept on a rollin'; he tossed a 1-2-3 frame and has nine K.

Ditto Cueto, who tossed another easy inning in the sixth. Cole finally got Negron, thanks to a dandy spin-o-rama play by Josh at third. No more dramatics as Gerrit K'ed two more. Gaby drilled a fastball to left to start the seventh, but the liner was gloved by Jason Bourgeois. Two routine grounders ended the frame. And Cueto's not going anywhere at 90+ pitches; the Reds will keep him in until he's in line for a win, as he's looking for #20. After a punch out, Jay Bruce broke Cole's string of 12 in-a-row with a single to right. No prob; Stew tossed him out trying to steal followed by a pop out.

Andrew Lambo came in for Cole in the eighth; the Bucs do have another day to live for. Lambo whiffed and Josh lined out to third; even when the Bucs do square up, they can't find grass against Johnny. Travis hit one to center that the Reds couldn't flag and chugged into second, with Gregory Polanco coming in to run. Cutch got hit in the back by the next pitch, but Walker couldn't make Cueto pay, grounding out to first.

Tony Watson came on, and Bourgeois greeted him with a triple. A liner to Josh kept him there for an out; it was the fourth really sweet play he's made today at the hot corner. The Reds let Cueto (.119) bat, and it paid off; he ran the count full after being in a 1-2 hole and singled into center to plate Bourgeois.

To add insult to injury, his back swing caught Stew on the wrist, and that brought Tony Sanchez into the game to catch. Cueto was replaced by pinch runner Yorman Rodriguez; it will be Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Justin Wilson came on and promptly gave up a homer to Negron. After an out, he walked Frazier and plunked Mesoraco, whether to avenge Cutch or out of frustration is tough to tell. He got Bruce to end an inning the pen would like to forget.

Marte opened with a knock, followed by a Gaby K. Starling stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Jordy went down looking at 100 MPH heater, and Tony Sanchez swung through a 102 MPH fastball. Guess the Redbirds get to save Adam Wainwright for another day now.

Well, see you all Wednesday at PNC Park as Madison Bumgarner and the Giants try to beat the black out against, we assume, Eddie Volquez. The game will be on ESPN and starts at 8:07 PM.
  • This was Cole Train's third double-digit strikeout game of his career. He equaled his career high of 12, set against San Diego last year.
  • Neil Walker has gone deep five times this year at GABP. He has 14 career homers against the Reds, his most versus any opponent.
  • Kris Negron devoured the Bucs this series, going 9-for12.
  • For those following the grand tour's finale, Derek Jeter legged out an RBI infield single and was removed so he could end his career with a hit.

Here We Go: Scenarios, Cole v Cueto, Lineup (No Russ)

Well, the Pirates and Gerrit Cole need to stop Johnny Cueto from winning his 20th game and the D-Backs have to somehow defeat Adam Wainwright for an NL Central tie and 163rd game. Stranger things have happened, but not often.

Still, it's a remarkable last day considering where the Bucs started from this season, and you can't blame Hurdle for using all his bullets, even if logic dictates otherwise. His message is pretty clear: we're not taking our foot off the pedal. And it's not just Clint; he talked about the game with his Player's Leadership Council, per Travis Sawchik of the Trib, and they were all for Cole taking the hill today.

The Pirates are guaranteed to host the Wednesday wild card game at worst, and could win the division at best to avoid a one-game crap shoot. We'll see how things shake out. If there's a playoff tomorrow, Jeff Locke is due. Eddie Volquez, who has been performing as well as top guns Liriano & Cole, is in Clint's hip pocket for Wednesday (and that's the game that really counts), or Frankie could go on three days rest.

No sense belaboring you with the Cole-Cueto blurbs; you know them both well. Welcome to the September asylum; a wild season just got a little more crazy.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS, Chris Stewart C and Cole P. Sorry for being late; we assume Clint was holding out until Russ' status was determined.

  • The other big sidebar to today's game is Josh's run for the batting title. He's sitting second to Justin Morneau, at .318 to .319.

9/28: Bucs Belt Six To Clinch Home WC, Homer In the Gloaming, Kiner Wins 7th HR Crown, Clarke Day As Bucs Clinch, Buck, Freak Show & More...

Bucs Belt Six To Clinch Home Wild Card, Homer In the Gloaming, Kiner Wins 7th HR Crown, Clarke Day As Bucs Clinch, Buck, Freak Show,& More...
  • 1909 - Player/manager Fred Clarke was honored at Forbes Field before the game, when, according to Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press, “...Mayor WA (William) Magee presented him with a bag of gold coin ($600). Just as the money was being handed to Clarke, James Geary placed a wreath of evergreen on his brow and showered dozens of rosebuds all over him while the fans shouted themselves hoarse at the scene.” After all that, the Pirates went out and lost to the NY Giants 13-9, but even that was good. The Pirates clinched the pennant when the Chicago Cubs lost to the Phils 3-2 and then went on to beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. 
 Fred Clarke 1911 T205 Gold Border Master series
  • 1938 - The Bucs lost the “Homer in the Gloaming” game to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, considered one of the greatest pennant race finishes in baseball. The teams were tied for first and tied in the bottom of the ninth. The umpires ruled that the ninth inning would be the last to be played because of darkness; if it was still tied, it would become a no-contest and would be replayed the next day in its entirety. Player manager Gabby Hartnett came to bat with two out, fell behind 0-2, and then connected off Mace Brown, launching the ball into the left-center field bleachers for the walk off win and sending 34‚465 fans home in ecstasy, many of whom circled the bases with him. The Cubs won the next day (their 10th straight), the Pirates faded, and Chicago became the NL champs. The loss was so painful to manager Pie Traynor that it’s said to have contributed to his retirement after the 1939 season. 
  • 1942 - LHP Grant Jackson was born in Fostoria, Ohio. Buck tossed for the Pirates from 1977-81 and made his last MLB outing as a Buc in 1982. His line here was 29-19-36/3.23, and he tossed scoreless ball in his six appearances during the 1971 NLCS/World Series campaign.
 Grant Jackson 1981 Fleer series
  • 1947 - Tiny Bonham tossed a two hit whitewash as the Bucs defeated the Reds 7-0 at Forbes Field to provide a bright spot at the end a dismal season; Pittsburgh finished 62-92, 32 games out of first. Dixie Howell and Frank Gustine homered in front of 33,794. 
  • 1952 - Ralph Kiner slugged his 37th homer to win the NL crown easily over Gil Hodges (32) and take a record seventh straight home run title. The Bucs whipped Cincinnati 9-6 at Crosley Field as Gus Bell and Joe Garagiola also went long to help Bob Friend to the win. 
  • 1966 - Pittsburgh swept a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Phillies by 2-1 and 4-2 scores at Connie Mack Stadium. The strong mound work of Steve Blass and Bob Veale pulled the club within 1-½ games of first place LA. It was their last hurrah; the SF Giants swept the final three game set at Forbes Field, and the Bucs finished third, three games off the pace. 
  • 1997 - The Freak Show ended its run with the club’s 79th victory, 5-4 over Houston in 11 innings at the Astrodome. Jose Guillen swung the hot bat with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI to give Jason Christiansen the win, saved by Rich Loiselle. The club wouldn’t match that victory total again until 2012.
 Jose Guillen 1997 Donruss Coming Attractions series
  • 2009 - The Pirates won their home finale 11-1 against the Dodgers, with Andy LaRoche hitting two homers and driving in six runs. John Russell drew the ire of the 16,696 fans in attendance when he inexplicably pulled starter Zach Duke (103 pitches) with two outs in the ninth after a sac fly ruined his shutout bid. 
  • 2012 - The Bucs drew 34,796 fans to PNC Park, but the star of the show was Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, who tossed a no-hitter to outduel AJ Burnett and earn a hard fought 1-0, complete game win. Bailey walked one and fanned 10 as the Pirates were no-hit for the first time since 1971. 
  • 2013 - Behind a six home run barrage (Neil Walker-2, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Marlon Byrd and Andrew Lambo), the Pirates won home field advantage for their wild card game against the Reds by defeating Cincinnati 8-3 at GABP. It was the first time since August, 2007, versus the Rockies at Coors Field, that Pittsburgh banged out that many long balls in a game. It was his first career multi-homer game for Walker and the first career MLB homer for Lambo. Alvarez became the first Pirate third baseman to drive in 100 runs since Aramis Ramirez drove in 110 in 2001 and his 36 homers were a club record for a third baseman. Vin Mazzaro came on in the fifth inning and was credited with the win. 
 Neil Walker 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter series

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Frankie, Bullpen Can't Find the Target In 10-6 Loss

Alfredo Simon plunked Josh with the first pitch to open the game and he stole second, but there he remained.

Francisco Liriano, who has been virtually unhittable but walking guys left and right, finally had his control catch up to him. A walk, hit and walk loaded the bases with no outs, and then Devin Mesoraco rolled one that just got by Josh at third and went under Marte's glove to plate a pair; a grounder plated another. A fourth run was saved when Jordy's throw home on another hopper just barely beat Mesoraco at home and just as barely survived a blocking the plate review; they ruled Stew had the ball before planting his leg at home. A whiff ended the frame, but it was 3-0 Reds.

The Bucs got a run back in the second when Starling doubled and a pair of bouncers brought him home. Frankie gave up a two out single to Kris Negron, who's been killing Bucco pitching so far this series, before a pop ended it. The Bucs went down in order in the third; Liriano survived another pair of walks to put up a second zero. Cutch got to third in the fourth frame after a leadoff walk and pair of grounders, but Ike whiffed. Negron banged a two out double, and Frankie left him there.

The Bucs woke up in the fifth. Jordy homered to left on the line with an out, Frankie (!) singled and Josh doubled high off the wall in right, barely missing a long ball. Too bad the runner was Liriano; anyone else scores. Travis lined out to right and Cutch unhappily walked to load the sacks for The Kid. Andrew needn't have pouted; Walker dropped the first pitch into center to bring in a pair and chase Cutch to third. Starling bounced out, but the Bucs climbed out of a big early hole to take a 4-3 lead.

Todd Frazier drew his second walk of the day to start the Reds and a swinging bunt moved him up a station. A wild pitch got him to third. Frankie punched out Chris Heisey, but Ryan Ludwick went with a fastball down and away, rolling it into right for the game-tying single as the Bucs were in a shift the opposite way against the righty. Three of the four runs that have scored were aboard on walks. Ludwick was thrown out trying to steal on the next pitch, but the damage was done as it's 4-4.

JJ Hoover came in for Cincinnati in the sixth and struck out a pair, featuring high heat. Jared Hughes took the bump and plunked Yorman Rodrigeuz, who had K'ed in first two at-bats, with his second pitch. A medium fly and a 4-6-3 DP ended the music. Still, that's six free runners in six frames.

Sam LeCure took the ball in the seventh. He went soft for a pair of groundouts, then a fastball hit Travis in ther knee. Pinch runner Gregory Polanco stole second and came in on Cutch's smoked single through the left side that barely eluded Ramon Santiago at short. The Kid caught a 3-2 change and rattled it into right for a triple to score Cutch before Marte's fly out, making it 6-4 Pirates.

Big John Holdzkom got the call. After a K, Brandon Phillips rolled one up the middle. He fell behind Frazier 3-0, losing a couple of close corner calls, came down the pipe with a heater and watched it drop into the first row in right field to tie the game, a classic GABP dinger. A K and pop ended the frame with a brand new ball game at six-all.

Jumbo Diaz worked the eighth. Jordy banged a one-out double to left but was stranded as Stew looked at a called third strike that just nicked the zone (or maybe not, but you gotta protect on close pitches) and JT bounced out. Justin Wilson got the call for Pittsburgh and struck out a pair in a clean frame, the first one tossed against Cincy today.

Aroldis Chapman, who had some dead arm syndrome of late, came on. Looks like he's over it; seven pitches netted two K's and he hit 101 on five of the seven. Tony Watson came on for the Pirates, and he punched out two Reds in a 1-2-3 inning, registering at 96.

Dylan Axelrod spun an easy tenth. John Axford walked Todd Frazier to start the Reds, then went 3-2 on Mesoraco before getting him to line out to the center field track. Heisey fell behind 0-2 with fastballs, then got a curve that he rolled up the middle. Ludwick walked to load the bases.

Switch hitter Brayan Pena pinch hit and Bobby LaFromboise was waved in. Pena got ahead 3-0, ran the count full thanks to a gift strike call and then popped out to short right. It was a tease; two pitches later Santiago yanked a tight sinker barely over the left field fence for a grand slam, only his second homer of the year, to put the Pirate pitchers out of their misery.

Tough to win if you can't throw strikes. The Bucs did put up six runs - they went 2-for-12 with RISP, but offset that by driving in four two-out runs. But it has been a remarkable September run, and every so often a clunker will pop up. They've done what they had to in the regular season. Buctober is in the cards now, and that's when the strikes and clutch hits count.

Gerrit Cole is slated to face Johnny Cueto tomorrow afternoon as Cueto looks for his 20th win. The proviso is that if the Cards win today and clinch that we'd probably see a different starter since home field is locked up for the wild card game. Right now, Edinson Volquez looks like the guy to go against Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday.
  • Josh's hitting steak is at 15 games and Starling Marte has a 12 gamer.
  • Liriano's run scored was his first of the season - oh, and the first of his nine year career.
  • Frankie's in a strike-challenged stretch; he's walked 14 batters in his last three starts, covering 17 innings of work.
  • Cutch has 69 extra base hits this season, which is tied with Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead. Andrew is trying to become the first Pirate to lead the league in extra base hits since Barry Bonds did it in 1992 with 75 extra base knocks.
  • The legend of Big John Holdzkom may have taken a hit today, but teammates have christened him after a legendary character, Sasquatch - he is 6'7" and maybe more. The two-run homer he gave up tallied the first runs he's surrendered in nine appearances.
  • Since last season, the Reds had lost their last 45 games when allowing at least six runs, a club record that they snapped today.
  • Coming into this afternoon's game, the Pirates had won 10 of their last 12 games while allowing just 19 runs over that span. Pittsburgh was the only team to give up fewer than 20 runs over a span of a dozen games in the league this year.