Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Worley v Beckett, Lineup, More Rumors to Spread & More..

Vance Worley (2-1, 3.38) takes on Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.26).

Vance hasn't started since July 8th and has given up nine runs, an opponent BA of .298 and a pair of homers in his last 14 IP (5.79 ERA). Vanimal has to find the edges of the zone again, as he did when he sizzled through his first three starts, especially with Gerrit Cole on the mend. This is probably not the ideal foe for him to get back on the bike. In two games against the Blue (2011, 2012), he has no decisions but a 10.83 ERA.

Beckett hasn't started since July 6th, missing one turn before the All-Star break to allow a cortisone shot to settle down a torn labrum and two cysts in his hip, an injury that he'll try to pitch through for the rest of the year. He's been a load this season despite the aches and owns the season's first no-hitter. Beckett has faced the Pirates three times and is 1-2, but with a sterling 2.16 ERA and 18 K in 16-2/3 IP.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Travis Snider LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P. Marte is down again, not really sure why.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • John Perralta of the Beaver County Times has some interesting trade rumor mongering - he's heard the Bucs are poking around Steve Cishek, Ian Kennedy, Jon Lester and AJ, plus Seattle is showing interest in prying Starling Marte away from the Bucs...
  • The Buc bullpen must be deep if this is the kinda pitching they let go: Bryan Morris is 3-0/0.36 with 22 K in 25-1/3 IP for Miami while Jason Grilli is 1-1/0.96 with 9 K in 9-1/3 frames at LA. Ernesto Frieri, swapped for Grilli, is 1-1/ 9.00 with 5 K in 6 IP while Morris' return, a #39 draft pick, was turned into Connor Joe in the draft.
  • The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association announced today that Josh Harrison is the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner.
  • One of the best views in America? Try PNC's upper deck, says Travel & Leisure magazine.

7/22: A-Ram Trade, Mooney, Ginger, Deacon, Stargell Cycle, Teke Saves Two, Going Deep, SI Cover and More...

A-Ram Trade, Mooney, Ginger, Deacon, Stargell Cycle, Teke Saves Two, Going Deep, SI Cover and More...
  • 1880 - C George “Mooney” Gibson was born in London, Canada. He played a dozen years for the Bucs (1905-16) as a defense-first catcher, batting .238 but tossing out 949 runners (46% throw-out rate, back in the days when baseball was a go-go league; 1,101 runners actually did steal off him against the Pirates) and once catching 140 straight games. He finished his career as a NY Giant and later returned to Pittsburgh as a manager, first in 1920-22, then from 1932-34, finishing second three times with a record of 401-330. Mooney was the first baseball player elected to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. 
George "Mooney" Gibson - 1911 Piedmont Cigarettes series
  • 1899 - The Pirates rolled over the Philadelphia Quakers by an 18-4 count at Exposition Park. OF Ginger Beaumont went 6-for-6 at the top of the order, scoring six times, without hitting a ball out of the infield. Rookie second baseman Jimmy Williams drove in three runs with a pair of triples. 
  • 1910 - Deacon Phillippe hit a second inning inside-the-park grand slam off Brooklyn’s Fred Miller as part of a 14-1 win at Washington Park. Mel Stottlemyre was the next pitcher to hit an inside the park grannie - in 1965! The Pirates swept the Superbas in a four game set. 
  • 1911 - The Pirates paid St. Paul of the American Association $22‚500 for RHP Marty O'Toole‚ the most expensive purchase of a player to that date. Barney Dreyfuss spent another $5‚000 for his battery mate Bill Kelly. In 1912‚ O'Toole went 15-17 and lead the NL with 159 walks. He was out of Pittsburgh by 1914, winning a total of 26 games while walking 300 batters in 599-1/3 IP. Kelly was a back up catcher, hitting .290 for Pittsburgh and out of MLB after 1913.
  • 1934 - 1B RC Stevens was born in Moultrie, Georgia. The 6’5” slugger was signed out of Moultrie HS, but one-trick stick never translated in the show. As a back up, he hit decently, with a .260 BA and eight homers in 108 PA from 1958-60, getting into 71 games, but he couldn’t outpace Ted Kluszewski, Dick Stuart and Rocky Nelson in the first base race. 
RC Stevens - 1958 Topps series
  • 1939 - Boston committed seven errors in a 9-3 loss to the Bucs at Braves Field, allowing five unearned runs to cross the plate. One frustrated Bee’s fan jumped out of the stands and took a swing at Braves’ catcher Al Lopez after he dropped a popup. But it wasn’t entirely bad glovework. The Bucs also banged out 13 hits, led by Lee Handley’s 3-for-4 effort. 
  • 1963 - Utilityman Denny Gonzalez was born in Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic. He played parts of four seasons for the Bucs (1984-88) but never spent a full season on the active roster, hitting .206. 
  • 1964 - Pittsburgh scored four runs in the first and never looked back as they whipped the St. Louis Cardinals 13-2 at Busch Stadium. Bill Mazeroski knocked in five runs with a double and homer while Willie Stargell hit for the cycle with four runs scored and three more driven in. Jerry Lynch also went yard and added three ribbies as Bob Veale cruised to victory. 
  • 1977 - RHP Ryan Vogelsong was born in Charlotte, NC. He worked five years for the Pirates (2001, 2003-06), going 10-19 with a 6.00 ERA. He took a hiatus to Japan, but came back in 2011 to his original team, the SF Giants, and pitched strong ball for the G-Men, earning an All-Star spot. 
  • 1979 - Kent Tekulve saved both ends of a doubleheader as the Pirates swept the Braves 5-4 and 3-2 at TRS. Teke scattered four hits over three scoreless innings in the first game of a twin bill, closing out Don Robinson’s win (which Robinson helped along with two RBI and a run scored), then tossed the final inning in relief of Jim Bibby (who was also a hitting hero with a two-run homer) in the second game for his 15th and 16th saves of the year. 
Teke - 1982 Donruss series
  • 1988 - In a trade of players that never quite panned out for the Pirates, Pittsburgh sent Darnell Coles to Seattle for Glenn Wilson. 
  • 1993 - The Bucs scored four times in the ninth to rally past the Braves 8-7 at TRS. Jay Bell drove in the first run in the final frame, and with two outs, Dave Clark’s single got the Bucs within a run. The next hitter, Kevin Young, dropped a soft liner into right center, plating Lloyd McClendon and Clark, who scored all the way from first, to give Blas Minor the victory. 
  • 2003 - The Pirates traded 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton, and cash to the Cubs for SS Jose Hernandez, P Matt Bruback, and 2B Bobby Hill in Dave Littlefield's darkest day of salary dumping. 
  • 2009 - The Pirates traded Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox for two minor leaguers, shortstop Argenis Diaz and pitcher Hunter Strickland. 
Adam LaRoche 2009 O-Pee-Chee series
  • 2009 - The Pirates used five homers to hold off the Brewers 8-7 at PNC Park. Brandon Moss went long in the ninth off Mitch Stettler for the walk off win; Ryan Doumit added a pair of blasts while Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones each had one. 
  • 2013 - Jason Grilli was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the poster boy for Ben Reiter’s story “The Playoff Bound Pirates and Their Sharknado Bullpen.” It was purely coincidental that he was injured pitching the same day, put on the DL, and out of action until September 3rd.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bucs Drop 5-2 Yawner To Dodgers

Edinson Volquez got off to a good start, whiffing the first two Dodgers. Then Adrian Gonzalez ripped one into right and slipped into second just ahead of Michael Martinez's throw; the Bucs challenged and lost (it did look like he was under the tag). Matt Kemp walked on four pitches, but Andre Ethier bounced out to end the frame quietly. Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed a clean opening frame.

Eddie again got two easy outs in the second, then he caught AJ Ellis with a curve (Ellis ducked into it and got clocked in the head, but was OK), allowing the Blue to turn the order over. With one gone, The Kid went the other way for a knock. He was left aboard after a Russ K and a fly out to the track in right by Jordy.

To start the third, Dee Gordon barely caught a piece of a two-strike, shoe-top change up and legged out the bleeder. Justin Turner hit into a force, taking some elite speed off the bases. Eddie walked Gonzalez on four pitches and paid. Kemp turned on a belt high heater to drive in one run and Ethier bounced out to short, plating another before Carl Crawford K'ed. Ryu had another rocking-chair frame.

Back-to-back singles by Juan Uribe and Ellis (on a bad hop) in the fourth put Dodgers on the corners with no outs. Ryu bunted Ellis to second. The Bucs caught Uribe at home; he was off on contact as Gordon bounced to The Kid. Turner turned on a 2-2 curve, banging sharply on one hop to third and off Josh's mitt into left; it scored a pair and went as a double. It was a hot shot, but should have been the inning-ender. Gonzalez dropped a flare into center just over Walker, and it was 5-0.

Cutch singled with a rope that Gordon knocked down but couldn't make a play on with one gone. Gaby sent a liner to center, corraled just short of the track by Ethier. Walker drew a free pass, and Russ brought a run home with a full count single to right. Jordy followed with another opposite field single, and it was 5-2 before Martinez bounced out to end the fun.

Uribe singled with two outs in the fifth, but that was all Eddie allowed. Pittsburgh went down in order. With an out in the sixth, Gordon rolled a single to left and stole second. But Gordon went a sack too far, and was picked off breaking for third. Good thing; Turner hit yet another ground ball single, and a wild pitch and intentional walk set the stage for reliever Jeanmar Gomez and Matt Kemp to match up. Gomez won, getting Kemp on a fly ball. Pittsburgh went down without a peep.

Crawford singled with one away in the seventh and stole second. Ellis was walked intentionally with two gone to get to Ryu, who bounced out. The Bucs got a two-out single from Martinez in their half, and it was Ernesto Frieri's turn in the eighth. He got the first two outs before allowing a Gonzalez double, but retired Kemp on a bouncer to short. Still no change up, though he's sprinkling some sliders with his heater.

Brian Wilson took the bump for LA. Josh helped him; he saw six balls in seven pitches, yet flew out on a 2-2 pitch. Marte went down swinging; the last two pitches were in the opposite batter's box. Cutch singled, and that brought up Ike to hit for Gaby, and lefty JP Howell to pitch for Wilson. Ike bounced out, and it was a bad inning for old school baseball. The leadoff guys were facing a bad pitcher in a spot where the Bucs needed runners and swung away. We think Clint messed up too; he left all LH on the bench, making it easy for a late inning match up, and in fact was probably better off leaving Gaby to hit against the righty Wilson.

Stolmy Pimentel got the ninth inning call. He was sharp, tossing a clean frame with a pair of whiffs and a 95 MPH heater. Kenley Jansen came in and tossed a 1-2-3 frame to finish the Bucs off.

Pretty ho-hum loss all the way around. The Pirates found another starter they couldn't solve, but the Dodger pen is stronger than Colorado's, especially without any plate discipline. Eddie in no way sharp, but neither was he beaten about as the stat line might suggest. He got a lot balls on the ground today, and some days they find holes, as they did today. It's still a 2-2 game if Josh spears that one hopper.

This does point out one of the Bucs bench holes, though. Clint can't sit Polanco, Alvarez and Davis against a lefty like he did tonight, no matter how sound the reasoning, and expect any offense; he doesn't have the personnel. The Pirates prefer to have a glove guy as their reserve infielder, and unless Josh fills that Barmes spot on the bench, a switch-hitting fourth outfielder would be a nice toy for Clint.

Vance Worley faces Josh Beckett tomorrow night.
  • The Pirates have scouts in Philly, but not necessarily for AJ. Tom Singer of MLB.com is speculating a peek at Cliff Lee, while Rob Biertempfel of the Trib wonders if Antonio Bastardo is on their radar. Fox's Ken Rosenthal confirmed that the Bucs are one of a posse of clubs looking for relief help. Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan tweeted that he heard the Bosox's Jon Lester's name pop up, too.
  • Gerrit Cole will toss a sim game against live hitting on Wednesday. If that goes well, he may be ready to get a rehab start or two starting next week.
  • Tonight's attendance was 28,255, which is pretty decent for a Monday night game not involving the Steelers.
  • Indy's Brandon Cumpton tossed an eight inning, two-hit shutout last week, earning him International League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Volquez v Ryu, All RH Lineup, Trade Rumors, Hansen In Hot Water & More...

Edinson Volquez (8-6, 3.65) faces lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-5, 3.44) in the first game of the LA series.

Volquez is coming of a complete game win at St. Louis and has surrendered just three earned runs in his last four starts. He's won a career-high tying four straight decisions. Eddie is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue, and has a 5-3 win against Zach Greinke and LA so far this year.

Ryu is coming off a 1-0 win against the Padres, going six innings with 10 K. The southpaw primarily features a fastball and changeup combo, but has been adding in more curves and sliders to the mix, so his arsenal is pretty much loaded. He's 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA against Pittsburgh with a 12-2 win this season when Barandon Cumpton imploded at LA in late May.

The Bucs are catching LA at a good time. They played the national Sunday Night game, so had to catch a red-eye to out fair city. Zach Greinke's and Clayton Kershaw's turns will miss this series. Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are banged up. Pittsburgh won three of the four games played earlier this season in Los Angeles and have gone 5-2 in their last seven games overall against the Dodgers. Hopefully, the Pirates can take advantage and keep the good times rolling. They're just 1-1/2 games behind top dogs St. Louis and Milwaukee, the closest the Pirates have been to the NL Central lead since April 10th.

The lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Jordy Mercer SS, Michael Martinez RF and Volquez P. Starling's back, El Coffee and El Toro get a blow after a diet of lefties. That's a little odd as Ryu has a pretty even split and isn't a lefty-killer.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Bucs are kicking the tires of back-end relievers Joaquin Benoit of the Padres and Joakim Soria of the Rangers.
  • Matt Kelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, in the story that won't die, said the Pirates had a scout at AJ's last start. 
  • GM Neal Huntington has made the rounds of the local media, and his story has been pretty much the same - there are players available that could help us and we're willing to upgrade, but we have no glaring holes and have to weight current v future roster make-up. As usual (and smartly), NH is playing it close to the vest.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rox set was first time that the Pirates swept a series of three or more games with a different reliever earning the victory in each game since June 1978, when Ed Whitson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve were credited with wins out of the bullpen in a three-game sweep of the Padres at TRS.
  • Gerrit Cole threw 35-40 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday morning. So far, so good.
  • Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror reports that hot SS prospect Alen Hanson has been sat down by the Curve for the second time this season because of "several lack of hustle incidents," the latest being a pop he didn't run out.
  • After tossing a one-hitter, Altoona's Adrian Sampson was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week.
  • Dejan Kovacevic has resigned from the Tribune Review and gone over to the dark side of blogdom, albeit of the upscale variety. His new page will be called "DK on Pittsburgh Sports," a corporate-sponsored, subscription-based web site; no details yet.

7/21: Sweep, Satchel v Josh, Streak Snapper, Jerry Lynch, Pops Last Blast, Retired Jerseys and More...

Sweep, Satchel v Josh, Streak Snapper, Jerry Lynch, Pops Last Blast, Retired Jerseys and More...
  • 1923 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from Boston at Braves Field 14-4 and 6-4. In the first game, Pie Traynor (who homered), Rabbit Maranville and Carson Bigbee each had three hits and combined for seven RBI/six runs to back Johnny Morrison’s complete game effort. Wilbur Cooper took the nitecap, not only going the distance but adding a pair of hits, including a triple, and three RBI to aid the cause. Traynor, Maranville and C Walter Schmidt had two knocks each, scoring five times. 
  • 1927 - IF Dick Smith was born in Blandburg, Cambria County. The Bucs signed him out of Lock Haven, and from 1951-55 he yo-yoed back and forth between Pittsburgh and the minors. In 70 games over that span, he hit .134. 
  • 1932 - The Pirates tied the Chicago Cubs in the seventh on a Dave Barbee triple and Gus Suhr sac fly, then with the bases empty and two outs in the ninth rallied for a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Pie Traynor singled and came all the way around in the final frame when Lloyd Waner, who had entered the game in the eighth inning, took the next pitch to left center to plate Pie with a walk off double. Ray Kremer tossed a complete game seven hitter for the win over Jumbo Elliott. Little Poison’s pinch knock kept alive a 22 game hitting streak, and gave him hits in 31-of-32 games. 
Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner - Dick Perez Art
  • 1942 - At Forbes Field‚ KC Monarchs pitcher Satchel Paige walked the bases loaded to face the Homestead Gray’s legendary basher Josh Gibson. Years earlier‚ Paige had told Gibson that one day he would strike him out with the bases loaded, and the showman decided now was the time. "Three fastballs‚ Josh‚" Paige said‚ and then blew three past him. Later that year, Paige won three Negro League World Series games against Homestead to lead KC to the title. 
  • 1947 - Frankie “The Fordham Flash” Frisch was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Though he never played for the Bucs, he managed the club from 1940-46. His teams were usually competitive but never serious contenders, and Frisch's years with the Pirates were remembered more for his on-field antics and umpire-baiting than victories. 
  • 1956 - Brooks Lawrence had his 13-game winning streak snapped by Roberto Clemente, who hit a one out, three run homer in the top of the ninth as the Pirates edged the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3 at Crosley Field. Elroy Face, who tossed two scoreless innings, won in relief of Bob Friend. 
  • 1960 - The eventual World Champs chalked up a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at the LA Coliseum. Vern Law, who would win the 1960 Cy Young Award, tossed a complete game, surrendering five hits to defeat Johnny Podres. Hal Smith hit a pair of solo home runs and Roberto Clemente knocked in the other two RBI in the victory. 
Hal Smith 1962 Post Cereal series
  • 1962 - Jim Marshall came off the bench in the 11th frame and delivered a bases-loaded single to vault the Pirates past his former club, the San Francisco Giants, by a 7-6 score at Forbes Field. Don Hoak led the attack with three hits, including a triple, and three RBI. Roberto Clemente extended his hitting streak to 18 games before the Giants snapped his string the next day. 
  • 1963 - Pinch hitter Jerry Lynch drilled a three-run home run off Chicago's Lindy McDaniel in the ninth inning to tie the Cubs 5-5 at Forbes Field. Lynch’s homer was his 14th career round-tripper off the bench, tying the MLB mark set by former Cincinnati teammate, George Crowe. The Bucs eventually won the contest in 14 innings, 6-5, on Bill Virdon’s two-out infield single to salvage a doubleheader split. The Pirates had 22 hits during the game, but stranded 15 runners. Roberto Clemente hit into a 3-6 triple play in the second frame, lining out to first baseman Merritt Ranew, who stepped on first to force Manny Mota and then threw to second to retire Ducky Schofield, giving an early indication of what kind of grind-it-out contest was on tap for the Bucs. 
  • 1982 - Willie Stargell hit his final bomb, a club record 475th home run, against the Reds’ Tom Hume. It was an eighth inning, game-winning, pinch hit solo shot in a 3-2 victory at Riverfront Stadium to give Larry McWilliams the win, backed by a two-inning save by Kent Tekulve. 
  • 1997 - The Pirate “Freak Show” stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Curt Schilling and The Phillies at Veteran’s Stadium. Philadelphia jumped ahead 2-0 on Esteban Loaiza, but Al Martin’s homer off a hanging forkball in the sixth tied it. Keith Osik led off the next frame with a double and went to third on a grounder, but a suicide squeeze attempt by Kevin Polcovich fizzled and Osik was caught at home. Kevin made amends, working the count full and then yanking a heater over the fence in left. Matt Reubel, Marc Wilkins and Rich Loiselle closed the door after that, and despite striking out 17 times, the Bucs were still in the race after the victory. 
Kevin Polcovich 1998 Pacific series
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs became the first player to hit two home runs into the Allegheny River (on the bounce) with a splashdown during a 5-3 win over Houston. He hit his first river ball while playing for the Cubs two years before. 
  • 2003 - The Mike Williams era ended in Pittsburgh when he was sent to the Phils for LHP Frank Brooks, who had a cup of coffee in the show. Williams, a righty closer, went from setting the Pirate saves record in 2002 with 46 close-outs and back-to-back All Star appearances to a guy with 25 saves but a 6.27 ERA in 2003, which was his last MLB season. 
  • 2007 - The Pirates retired Paul "Big Poison" Waner's #11 in a ceremony before their game vs. the Astros on the anniversary of his 1952 Hall of Fame induction. Waner was the first NL player since Honus Wagner, 28 years before, and the seventh batter in history, to reach 3,000 knocks. (He got #3,000 against his old teammate Rip Sewell on June 19th, 1942, as a Boston Brave.) The team had a video presentation, the family on the field, and rolled his #11 into the outfield grass for the contest. The Bucs celebrated by ending a seven game losing streak, toppling Houston 7-3, although they returned quickly to form and lost seven of the next eight contests.
Paul Waner Big League Chewing Gum series (year u/k)
  •  2008 - The Bucs ended a six-loss-in-seven-games streak with a 9-3 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park. Freddy Sanchez had three hits, including a homer, and four RBI. Jason Bay went 4-for-5 with a homer, Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady had three hits and Adam LaRoche chipped in with a home run. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates snapped a three game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Reds at GABP. Jeff Locke yielded one hit over six, but allowed a run on back-to-back walks, a bunt, and a two-out wild pitch. Mark Melancon gave up the other score, giving up a ground ball single sandwiched around a pair of walks with no outs, but gladly gave up the tally in exchange for a Joey Votto DP ball. The Pirates staff only surrendered three hits to Cincinnati, but seven walks gave the Reds scoring opportunities. The Buccos scored on a Garrett Jones solo homer and RBI knocks by Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bucs Come from Behind Again To Sweep Rox 5-3

Not the kind of start we expect from Jeff Locke, who has given up walks and homers most grudgingly this year. He lost Bradon Barnes on five pitches to open the game, the Josh Rutledge banged a 1-2 fastball over the left field wall to make it 2-0 in a hurry. Jeff got three pop outs after that around a two-out single by Drew Stubbs. Tyler Matzek put the Bucs away in order.

In the second, The Fort caught a change up and belted it over the fence in left (and changing the warm welcome he got into a chorus of boos) to put the Rox up 3-0. Locke gave up another two-out single, this one to Barnes, but erased him neatly as he picked him off as Barnes broke to second 1-3-6.

The Bucs did have an answer this time. The Kid and Gaby hit back-to-back ground ball singles and ended up at second and third when Gaby moved up a base on the throw to third after his knock. Jordy shot a ball up the middle to make it 3-2. Chris Stewart smacked a two-bagger that scored Jordy, but got stuck in the padding at the wall with Mercer being sent back to third.

Our guess is that the umps blew that one; LF Barnes didn't complain until after the play was over (we believe the general rule is that the OF'er notifies an ump of a problem; if he plays it instead, it's a live ball - there is no specific PNC Park ground rule for that situation that we could find), and it probably should have stood as it happened on the field. But umps being umps, it didn't, and the Bucs stranded the pair - oh, and were playing the game under protest as Clint didn't buy the ump's decision.

Rutledge opened the third with a knock but was quickly mopped up thanks to a Carlos Gonzalez DP. He banged one to Gaby, who stepped on first and tossed to second, where Jordy tagged Rutledge. Another grounder ended the frame. The Bucs tried for some two-out lightning after a Walker free pass and Gaby knock, but Jordy flew out to stop the music.

In the fourth, Jeff whiffed the side around a two-out Mike McKenry walk; Matzek K'ed the side. It was 1-2-3 for the Rox in the fifth. For the Bucs, Josh reached second on a bunt single and error, but was left there.

With one gone in the sixth, Nolan Arenado and Stubbs hit back-to-back singles, but Charlie Culberson's grounder started an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. With two outs and Jordy at second thanks to a walk and stolen base, the Pirates tied the game as Stew banged another ground rule double, this one hopping the wall.

Locke was done after six IP and 85 pitches, and Jeanmar Gomez took the ball for the seventh. The Fort opened with a single and was bunted to second, but two grounders after an intentional walk added up to another goose egg for Colorado. Matt Belisle came in. He walked Josh, who stole second and plated after Cutch ripped a 3-0 pitch into center. Andrew was caught stealing running against a pitchout and Gaby popped out, but The Kid lost a fastball in the shrubbery of the Batter's Eye in center field to make it 5-3. Jordy and Pedro followed with singles, bringing in Brooks Brown. He ended Stew's double streak, getting him to pop out.

Tony Watson took command in the eighth, working a clean frame with a couple of strikeouts. Brown got two quick outs, then Josh singled, stole second and went to third on a bad throw. Andrew was walked intentionally. It almost cost the Rox as Gaby hit one on the nose, but right at 1B'man Culberson, who had been holding Cutch. No diff - mark the Sharl tossed a quiet ninth, and the Bucs broke out the broom against the hapless Rockies.

It's a nice way to start the break with a sweep of the league's worst team; they did what they were supposed to do. But the Bucs stranded 11 and didn't beat up the Rox not-too-strong starters, but the weak sister bullpen as all three wins were come-from-behind. But it is all good right now; the Pirates sit two games behind the Cards, pending the outcome of tonight's TV game, and alone in third in the NL Central. The Dodgers come into town next, and the competition will ratchet up a couple of notches.

Hyun-Jin Ryu and Edinson Volquez open the Dodger series tomorrow night.
  • The Kid and Jordy teamed up in the 5-6 spots to go 5-for-7 with a walk, three runs scored and three runs driven home.
  • Neil Walker passed Max Carey and Ryan Doumit for second place all-time for career HRs by a Pirate switch hitter with 68 bombs. He's got a bit to go to catch up to Bobby Bo and his 114 HR.
  • Talk about baseball being a funny game: Cutch was caught stealing for the first time in 16 attempts this year. It was Michael McKenry's second throw-out in 23 attempts. The Pirates were successful 4-of-5 tries against The Fort, though.
  • For the record, Starling Marte didn't suffer a concussion when he was beaned, but according to the Pirates had a "head trauma."
  • The Bucs completed just their second sweep of the season. They've matched their season high water mark of six games over .500.
  • Today's attendance was 35,609.

Locke v Matzek, Lineup, Comeback Kids, Home Cooking, Twin Killings...

Jeff Locke (2-1, 2.89) takes on Tyler Matzek (1-4, 4.97) in another southpaw matchup.

Locke would be off to a dazzling start with some help from his friends. In his first eight starts, he's left four of the games with a lead only to lose the W to a blown save. He's been that good, charged with just 12 earned runs in his last seven starts (all, needless to say, quality starts) and just as tough at home, with a 1-1 slate and 1.86 ERA in his last four outings at PNC Park. He's faced the Rox once, getting a no decision in a 3-2 loss last year at Coors Field.

Matzek, 23, was a first round pick (#11) in 2009 who has been in the show since June 11th.  Coors has been his cross to bear; on the road he's posted a 3.63 ERA in three starts but at home it's 5.92 in four starts.

His stuff is great with a low-90s tailing fastball and a good slider that can reach the mid 80s that miss bats, but his command, not so much, as his accuracy both in and out of the strike zone is inconsistent. Matzek is tough on lefties, and if control issues and a basic two pitch toolkit limit his ability to start, he's in line to become at least a LOOGY in the Rox scheme of things.

The Lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jordy Mercer SS, Pedro 3B, Chris Stewart C and Locke P. Starling Marte may or may not be available from the bench today, depending on how his pre-game routine goes. The Bucs insist he didn't get a concussion when he was beaned Friday night, but the blow sure must have rung his bell pretty well.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Buccos have come from behind in 24 of their 51 wins, and Saturday night’s 11-inning victory was Pittsburgh’s MLB-leading ninth walkoff win of the season. Jordy Mercer became the seventh different Bucco to supply a walkoff RBI in 2014. Mercer is on fire, hitting .358 in his first 15 games this month. Cutch is right behind him at .356.
  • The Pirates have won five straight games played at PNC Park and 11 of their last 13 on home turf. Pittsburgh’s 31-20 home record is the best in the NL and the third-best in the majors behind the Angels (33-16) and Athletics (31-16). Last year the Pirates went 50-31 at home, setting a record for the most wins at PNC Park in a single season.
  • The Bucs have turned a total of 22 double plays in their last 12 games, including a season-high tying four last night. Pedro Alvarez leads all NL third basemen with 24 double plays turned and chances, with 305. El Toro leads all third basemen in assists (222) and unfortunately, errors and errant throws (21/20).

7/20: Hyzdu's Big Day, OK Corral, In The Pinch, Joe Gibbon, Brew Crew News, Pops Recognized & More...

Hyzdu's Big Day, OK Corral, In The Pinch, Joe Gibbon, Brew Crew News, Pops Recognized & More...
  • 1894 - Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 7-6 in 10 innings when George "Germany" Smith‚ homered with two outs. Pirate OF Elmer Smith was prevented from retrieving the game-winning hit in the LF bleachers‚ as permitted per Cincinnati’s League Park ground rules‚ by zealous Reds fans. One of them pulled a revolver on Smith after he fought with several other spectators in an attempt to reach the ball, per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. Quite a finish to the NL’s first extra-inning game of the year. 
  • 1901 - Hall of Fame LF Heinie Manush was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Manush spent the last two years of his career (1938-39) in Pittsburgh as a pinch hitter, getting just 28 PA (four hits, three walks) before being released, oddly enough, for another future HoF’er, Chuck Klein. He was a .330 hitter during his 17 year career with 1183 RBI and 1287 runs scored. 
  • 1955 - The Bucs were down 3-0 in the seventh when pinch hitter Preston Ward smacked a three run dinger off the Milwaukee Brave’s Ray Crone at Forbes Field. Another PH, Jack Shepard, singled off Dave Jolly with the bases loaded in the ninth to earn the Pirates and Dick Littlefield a 4-3 comeback win. 
Preston Ward 1955 Topps series
  • 1961 - Joe Gibbon tossed a four hitter with nine whiffs as the Bucs beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 at Forbes Field. The big blow was Bill Mazeroski’s two run single in the fourth. The Bucs had lost three games prior to the win, and would drop six more afterward. 
  • 1973 - The Bucs tied the first game of a twinbill against San Diego in the eighth and went on to win 5-4 in 10 innings at TRS. Rennie Stennett went 4-for-5 with a walk off homer in the extra frame. The Pirates had an easier time with the Padres in the second game, winning 7-0. Stennett had three more hits, including another homer, and Jim Rooker tossed a six hit complete game whitewash with eight whiffs. 
  • 1980 - After scoring four times in the first, the Pirates had to plate a pair in the bottom of the ninth to salvage an 8-7 split against the Dodgers at TRS. Lee Lacy was 5-for-5 and a homer away from the cycle, while Bill Robinson homered and Ed Ott had the walk-off, bases loaded single to earn Grant Jackson the win. Pittsburgh lost the opener 4-2 as LA’s Burt Hooton and Steve Howe kept the Bucco bats under control. The double dipper was a big to-do in other ways, too. It was Willie Stargell Day with a ceremony between games, and was also the day that Dave Parker, fresh off the first $1 M/year contract in sports, was pelted with a Duracell battery while in the outfield. 
  • 1996 - In the opening game at the Olympics in Atlanta, the US team topped Nicaragua 4-1 behind future Pirate pitcher Kris Benson’s seven hitter. Benson was 2-1 during the games as the US finished by winning the bronze medal. 
  • 2002 - OF Adam Hyzdu had a day to tell his grandkids about at PNC Park. He drove in seven runs on four hits‚ including a pair of HR, in a 15-6 pasting of the first-place St. Louis Cards. Hyzdu became the first Buc since Don Slaught nine years earlier with seven RBI, and the crowd of 35,101 called him out of the dugout after his second blast. The performance came on top of a four-RBI game the day before. It was the Pirates eighth win in ten games, attracting a walkup sale of 7,650, and Kris Benson’s third straight victory. 
Adam Hyzdu 2003 Fleer Tradition
  • 2003 - Pittsburgh traded RHP Mike Williams to the Phillies for minor league P Frank Brooks. Williams saved 140 games in six seasons for Pittsburgh, but his outings were becoming increasingly adventurous. He didn’t fare much better in Philadelphia, and 2003 ended up his last season in MLB. The fall was sudden: in 2002, he set the Pirate team record for saves with 46. 
  • 2009 - The Bucs finally broke a 12-game losing streak to the Brewers with an 8-5 victory at PNC Park. Cutch had three hits and Delwyn Young tacked on three RBI with a homer. Jesse Chavez had the fans on the edge of their seats by giving up three runs in the ninth, but struck out Prince Fielder to ice the win. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates scored nine runs in the first inning during their 11-9 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park. The scoring in the opening frame was highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam, one of two Alvarez long balls smacked during the game. El Toro finished with five RBI and Neil Walker went 5-for-5 with a double against Milwaukee. They needed the quick start as the Brewers cut the lead to 10-9 by the sixth, but were blanked on two hits in the final three frames by Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel. 
  • 2012 - The US Postal Service issued a set of four commemorative stamps depicting Willie Stargell along with Ted Williams, Larry Doby and Joe DiMaggio. The release was held in Cooperstown, NY as part of the Hall's annual induction week-end.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jordy Walks It Off In the 11th As Bucs Squeeze Out a 3-2 Win

Ah, Charlie. He was ahead of opening batter Charlie Blackmon 0-2 and then plunked him with an inside heater. Nolan Arenado cleaned that up three pitchers later, grounding one to Jordy to start a 6-4-3 DP. Carlos Gonzalez, who whiffed five times last night, decided not to take the bat off his shoulders and drew a 3-2 walk. Charlie quickly regained the zone and punched out Tulo on three pitches. Brett Anderson got a pair of easy outs before Arenado made an errant toss of Cutch's grounder at third, but a soft liner to second by Russ ended the frame.

Cory Dickerson started the second with a bunt single to the left side; Gaby couldn't pick Pedro's not-too-bad throw. This time it took two pitches to get Wil Rosario to bounce into an around-the-horn DP followed by a Charlie Culberson ground out. The Kid whiffed and Gaby walked. Pedro singled sharply off Tulo's glove, followed by a Jordy force at second - and it was bang-bang there, as Tulo was deep in the hole, and maybe challengeable - to put Bucs on the corners for Charlie. He gave it the old college try, fouling off a couple before popping out.

The Rox went down in order in the third. With two down, Cutch lined a single to center and was stranded. Charlie had an easy fourth and has mowed down eight Rockies in a row. Tulo left the game; he came up limping after trying to beat out a slow roller and was replaced by Josh Rutledge.

Walker kicked off the Buc half by bouncing a double over the bag and into left. Gaby pounded a two-strike slider down the middle into left for a ground rule double and a 1-0 Bucco lead. Pedro couldn't move him up, bouncing out to short. Jordy tapped back to the mound, and Gaby was caught and nailed in a rundown with Mercer getting to second. No diff; Charlie went down swinging.

Dickerson started the fifth with a liner to right for a knock. An out later (thanks to a sliding grab by Cutch), Russ gunned him out trying to steal second and Culberson K'ed. Anderson tossed a clean frame as his off speed stuff has kept the Bucs pretty much at bay tonight. Blackmon singled with two away in the sixth and stole second - at least until the challenge; on replay, he looked DOA. NY agreed, ending the inning. It was 1-2-3 for the Bucs again; Anderson is tossing a pretty nice game, leaving little in the middle of the dish.

Arenado began the seventh by drilling a heater to center for a two-bagger. CarGo caught a two strike curve, that hung and dropped it  a yard or two inside the foul pole in right to put Colorado up 2-1. The rest of the inning passed quietly, but the Buc bats have to go to work. Yah, sure - Pedro went down looking, Jordy didn't see a strike and went down swinging, and Michael Martinez went down looking.

Ernesto Frieri got the call in the eighth against the bottom of the order and posted a perfect frame with a pair of K to celebrate his happy 29th B-Day. No change up yet, but he did mix in three or four sliders, so that's progress.

Lefty Rex Brothers took the ball for the Rox. He got El Coffee on a liner to left, then headed for the showers as RHP Adam Ottavino came in. He lost Josh and wild-pitched him to second, and may have gotten away with a balk or two during the process. Cutch walked. Russ fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and rolled over on a slider. He placed it well, bouncing it in the SS hole, and with the runners on the go it went for an infield hit to juice the sacks. Ottavino left and Tommy Kahnle inherited the mess. The Kid knocked his first pitch into right to tie the game, but Cutch was thrown out at home by Gonzalez; he didn't seem to get much of a jump and may have been Nick Leyva's bad. The umps quickly reviewed the play for blocking, but the call stood. Travis Snider came in to hit for Gaby and went down looking.

Mark the Shark climbed the bump in the ninth, and used all of five pitches to tuck the Rox away. Kahnle walked Jordy with one gone and Ike picked up a stick (he came in after Gaby was pinch hit for earlier). His roller to first moved Jordy up a station. He stayed there as Polanco's at 'em ball liner to right was hauled in by CarGo.

Justin Wilson was waved in for the tenth and gave up a bleeder single to Rutledge on the left side. Dickerson hit into a force, putting plenty of speed at first. He didn't get to use it as Rosario bounced the next pitch to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Melancon and Wilson have used up 10 pitches to get the last six outs. Brooks Brown came in for Colorado. The 29 year old pitched at Indy last year; this is his rookie season in the show. He whiffed Josh, got Cutch to ground out and Russ tapped back to the hill. On to the 11th.

Jared Hughes raced to the scene and promptly plunked Culberson, who was bunted up. Hughes had a good shot at second, but went for the sure out. Stubbs rolled over on a two-strike slider; it ended up a soft infield knock. Blackmon hit a liner back to the box that Hughes speared and then with a heads up reaction went to third to double up Culberson. Baseball is funny that way - bleeders fall in and liners turn into DPs.

Chad Bettis took the hill. The Kid battled him for eight pitches before bouncing a ball up the middle. Chris Stewart, the last bench player, assuming Marte is out, pinch hit and bunted Walker to second. That got Pedro an intentional walk. Jordy spoiled the strategy by banging a gapper to the left center bullpen, and the Bucs worked the grindstone to take a 3-2 victory.

Morton and Anderson both pitched well; the depth in the Bucco bullpen was the difference tonight. The last two relievers the Rox sent out had ERAs of 9.82 and 8.59, so the odds of them holding down the fort were pretty slim. Melancon and Wilson each threw five pitch innings but didn't work a second frame. Guess Clint is saving 'em for tomorrow with a day-following-night game, and his gamble worked. Oh, and turning four DP didn't hurt the cause any, either. Between them, the caught stealings, the homer and generally sweet pitching, the Rox left only two men on base in 11 frames.

Tyler Matzek faces Jeff Locke tomorrow afternoon as the Bucs look for the sweep.
  • Tonight was the third time this season Russ has thrown out two or more would be base runners in a game.
  • Some good news out of today - while Polanco is still trying to work it out against lefties, he hit the ball on the nose twice against the righties he saw, though they didn't drop.
  • Troy Tulowitzki exited the game with a muscle cramp in his left thigh.
  • Tonight's attendance of 37,396 for fireworks night was the 12th sellout of the season.
  • Starling Marte, who was held out of today's game after a beaning last night, is tied with Yasiel Puig for most outs made on base with 12.

Morton v Anderson, Lineup (No Marte), Looking At Kennedy, Leftie Love...

Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.32) takes on LHP Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.95) tonight.

Charlie muddled through another bad inning last game, but settled and and the Bucs came around to win 6-5. He's especially tough at home, going 3-0 in his last three starts at PNC Park and 3-3 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts this year at home. He's done pretty well against the Rox, posting a 2-0 slate with a 3.33 ERA in four career starts. He's been charged with two or fewer earned runs in three of the four starts, but he hasn't seen them since 2012, so take that with a grain of salt.

Anderson, 26, has been on the 60-day DL with a broken left index finger since April 14th), an injury he suffered while at San Francisco. He's made two rehab starts for AAA Colorado Springs going 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA, but we wouldn't expect him to get real deep into the game. Anderson was beat up last start, but don't sleep on him; the 6'4" lefty was the Oakland A's 2013 Opening Day pitcher. He's never faced Pittsburgh.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Russ Martin C, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Morton P. Starling Marte is out; we're surprised he stayed in yesterday's game after taking a fastball off the helmet.

The 7:05 game will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Bucs were among the teams scouting the Padres Ian Kennedy.
  • Love us some lefties: Jordy Mercer’s .361 average against left-handed pitchers over the last two seasons ranks second among all National League hitters behind Atlanta’s Chris Johnson (.398). Starling Marte ranks fifth with a .353 average vs. southpaws in that time and Andrew McCutchen is seventh at .348.
  • Neil Walker leads all NL second basemen this season with 13 home runs. Pedro's 15 home runs are second-most among NL third basemen behind Cincy’s Todd Frazier (18).
  • The Pirates have sold out seven of their last 11 home games and have averaged 33,552 for the last 12 games played at PNC Park.