Sunday, September 21, 2014

Worley v Peralta, Lineup, Streaks, Stats & Stuff...

Vance Worley (7-4, 3.18) faces Wily Peralta (16-10, 3.70) this afternoon.

Vanimal is coming off his second brief bullpen stint to replace an achy Charlie Morton. The dew has evaporated from his rose; five of his last six games failed to meet the loose standard of a quality start, and he hasn't worked more than five innings in his last two outings. Maybe a rest will bring help restore the sheen.

He lost to the Brew Crew 4-3 in late August, and was banged around for 12 hits in 6-1/3 IP. Hopefully he can improve on that outing today.

The 25 year old Peralta hasn't fared so well against the Bucs this year. He's 1-1 with a 4.46 ERA in three starts and was pummeled 10-2 by Pittsburgh on August 23rd. Could be we're looking at a few runs crossing the plate in the home finale.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P. If it looks familiar, that's because it's the same as yesterday's lineup.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Lumber Company: Russ enters the game with an 11 game hitting streak, Josh with an eight gamer and Starling with a 15-of-16 game streak.
  • Pythagorean Myth: Tom Singer of MLB.com notes that despite their 12-6 edge in the season series between the teams, the Brewers have been outscored by the Pirates, 80-66.
  • On The Road Again: Following today’s game the Pirates leave for Atlanta and the start of their final regular season road trip. After four games against the Braves, the trip concludes with three games in Cincinnati next weekend. Pittsburgh has won six of its last seven games played on the road and have gone 33-41 away from home overall this season./li>
  • Ex-Bucs: Ollie Perez recorded the first four-strikeout inning in Arizona franchise history yesterday.

9/21: Connie Mack, 10-In-A-Row For Kiki, Debs, Clinch Day, Bonds 30-50, AJ Gets 200 & More...

Connie Mack, 10-In-A-Row For Kiki, Debs, Clinch Day, Bonds 30-50, AJ Gets 200 & More...
  • 1896 - Manager Connie Mack announced that he was leaving Pittsburgh to guide the Milwaukee club of the Western League; the Pirates finished in sixth place with a 66-63 slate during his last campaign. Patsy Donovan took over the reins in 1897. 
  • 1910 - RHP Max Butcher was born in Holden, West Virginia. He went 67-60/3.34 for the Bucs in seven seasons (1939-45), and had an ERA over 3.43 just once as a Pirate. His best year was 1941, when he went 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA. Though he was a big guy at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he averaged only 2.5 K/nine in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1925 - In a 9-7 win over the Phillies at Forbes Field, Kiki Cuyler singled off Roy Crumpler in the second inning to run his consecutive hit streak to 10, a team record that still stands today. Cuyler began his streak against Boston’s Skinny Graham, and the hits fell in conjunction with a nine game winning string for Pittsburgh, which won 95 games, the NL pennant and the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. Kiki went 4-for-4 the next game, making him 14-of-16 during his streak. 
  • 1940 - OF Debs Garms went 5-for-6 in the second game of a twinbill split against the Cincinnati Reds to push his BA to .379. He doubled, scored three times and drove in a pair in the 8-7 win during the second game after going 0-for-4 in a 8-1 loss in the opener at Forbes Field. Though he wore an 0-for-23 collar over the remainder of the season, his .355 BA won the NL crown. He played just 103 games (100 games played was the accepted, although unwritten, standard) with 385 PA but was still awarded the title, eventually leading to minimum qualifying plate appearances for the batting championship. 
Debs Garms 1941 Play Ball series
  • 1947 - The Bucs made a little more broadcast history when their game against Cincinnati was broadcast on TV by W8XCT (WLWT), the first time a Reds game was aired. An estimated home audience of 10,000 viewers watched the Redlegs lose 11-7 at Crosley Field. Elbie Fletcher, Jimmy Bloodworth and Clyd Kluttz each had three RBI; Gene Woodling had the other pair. The opening game of the doubleheader wasn’t shown (we think), and it turned out better for the Reds, who won 3-1 as Ewell Blackwell outpitched Kirby Higbe. 
  • 1969 - LHP Jason Christiansen was born in Omaha. The reliever worked six seasons (1995-2000) for the Pirates with a 14-20-10/4.13 line before being traded to the Cards at the 2000 deadline for SS Jack Wilson. 
  • 1972 - Fueled by a five run third inning, Pittsburgh clinched the East Division crown with a 6-2 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium; the club won the pennant by 11 games. The Pirates had seven straight batters reach in the third, and the big frame provided plenty of cushion for Steve Blass, who tossed a seven hit, seven K complete game victory. 
  • 1978 - The Bucs nipped the Cubs 3-2 in 14 frames at Wrigley Field. Rennie Stennett walked to lead off the 14th and pinch runner Matt Alexander made it happen. He stole second; C Doug Radar's throw went into center. Alexander bolted for third and was hit in the back by CF Bobby Murcer’s peg‚ which ricocheted away and allowed Matt “The Scat” to score. Ed Whitson got the win and Jim Bibby the save. Cub manager Herman Franks pulled out all the stops. Chicago tied an NL record by using 27 players (20 position, seven pitching) in the loss. 
Matt Alexander 1981 Topps series
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds became the first Pirate player (and just the second major leaguer, along with the Reds Eric Davis) in history to hit 30+ homers and steal 50 + bases in the same season when he swiped second against the Cards at TRS in a 1-0 Bucco victory. Zane Smith tossed a five hitter for the win, and Bonds scored the game’s only run in the seventh when he led off with a single and come around on Sid Bream’s double. 
  • 1992 - Bob Walk and Steve Cooke (who went seven innings for the win) combined for a four hit, 3-0 blanking of the St. Louis Cardinals at TRS. Don Slaught had three hits including a homer as Pittsburgh won for the seventh time in eight games to stretch their lead over the Montreal Expos to seven games. 
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall stole his 26th base of the season to claim a new NL record for catchers in an 8-1 loss to the Giants at 3Com Park, breaking the mark set by John Stearns in 1978. 
  • 2013 - AJ Burnett struck out a dozen Cincinnati Reds in seven innings, becoming the first Pirate RHP to whiff over 200 batters in a season with 203 K, as the Bucs took a 4-2 decision at PNC Park. The big blow was a two run homer by Russ Martin, and the tying and go-ahead runs were set up by Marlon Byrd, who hit a sac fly to drive in Andrew McCutchen and move Justin Morneau to second, where he scored on a two-out knock by Pedro Alvarez.
AJ Burnett 2013 Topps series

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Brewers Stay Alive With 1-0 Win

Scooter Gennett doubled off Edinson Volquez with one gone in the first, but always-in-hot-water Eddie stranded him at third. The Bucs had a quick start against Matt Garza, with a one-out Travis two bagger, wild pitch and walk to Cutch. But Neil Walker and Russ both flared soft liners to Gennet at second, so both sides left something on the table.

In the second, Lyle Overbay banged a two-out double; Eddie whiffed Hector Gomez to strand him. Starling led off with a bunt single, but even with a ump review going in Pittsburgh's favor to foil a DP, Pittsburgh couldn't move him. So far, lots of runners but no runs.

Volquez walked his mound opponent of five pitches to open the third. After a fly and a force, Jonathan Lucroy drew a full count free pass. He came back to get Aramis Ramirez, who chased a 3-2 change for the final out. With two down, Cutch got drilled with a fastball, right in his sore left side, just to become the fourth Bucco stranded after a Walker tap-out in front of the plate.

Eddie buzzed Ryan Braun to start the fourth, the benches were warned, and Braun K'ed. Khris Davis flew out to the track, and Overbay hit a soft roller that Volquez threw away; he cost himself a pair of runs last game with a similar error. Overbay stole second (his second swipe of the year; Edinson is kinda snoozing lately. But he woke up in time to whiff Gomez again.

Russ led off with a double, but Starling was caught looking at a ball that was called a strike. Ike got a 3-2 heater down the middle; he bounced it to short for the second out, with Russ taking third. It was a big out as Jordy was walked intentionally. He swiped second, but Eddie K'ed.

After a Garza K to start the fifth, Carlos Gomez bombed one to left center, but it into The Notch where Cutch ran it down. Jordy climbed the ladder to pull in Gennett's liner and it was a 1-2-3 inning. After two strikouts and a 1-2 count on Cutch, Garza drilled him again in the left arm, getting himself tossed. The benches didn't clear, but the Bucs were at the top step. Ump Marty Foster behind the plate kept the peace, managing to keep Josh, Travis and Gerrit Cole on their leashes. Marco Estrada took Garza's place on the hill. He didn't have to work long; Cutch was caught stealing on the second pitch.

Lucroy led off the sixth with a single. A fly out, a nice force by a diving Jordy who flipped to The Kid and a liner TCB nicely. Estrada spun an easy inning. Overbay walked to open the seventh; the Bucs can't keep him off the sacks. Gomez K'ed for the third time, this time trying to bunt. Gerardo Parra hit for Estrada, and rolled one to short for a 6-4-3 DP; like Josh last night, Jordy is scooping up everything hit his way tonight.

Jeremy Jeffress took the bump. Ike flew out to right and Jordy lined out to center before pinch hitter Andrew Lambo singled to center and Josh chased him to third with a lined two strike knock to center. lefty Will Smith was waved in; Clint sent JT up for Travis. Gregory Polanco ran for Lambo, but Josh finished off the inning. He broke for second, was picked off, and tried to get into a rundown. Overbay at first base didn't bite; he pumped to second, Polanco broke home on the fake (the second baserunning blunder of the play; he has to make Overbay throw) and was easy pickings at the dish.

Tony Watson got the eighth inning call. Gomez tried to bunt his way on, but popped to Josh. Rickie Weeks hit and singled off Josh's mitt. Lucroy hit back to Tony; his throw to second was off line, putting Brewers at first and second. No prob; A-Ram rolled the next sinker to The Kid, who started a 4-6-3 DP.

Brandon Kintzler got the call, and Brent Morel greeting him with a swinging bunt single up the third base line. Chase d'Arnaud ran for him, and Cutch walked. The Kid's tapper moved the runners up, and Russ was walked intentionally. In and guarding the line, A-Ram had Marte's liner come right to him; d'Arnaud did well to get back to third. Lefty Zach Duke got the call to face Ike, and Gaby got the nod to hit for Ike. Gaby slammed one to short; Gomez bobbled the bullet, but it was hit hard enough for him to get Martin at second. Two shots, and both at 'em balls.

Mark the Shark took the hill for the ninth. Braun opened with a bouncer softly hit through the SS hole. Elian Herrera bunted into a force. Overbay did it again; with Gaby holding the runner, his one hopper just cleared Sanchez's mitt and went for a soft double; Herrera thought of heading home, but thought better of challenging Polanco's arm. Pinch hitter Matt Clark was intentionally walked. Another sub, Logan Shafer, lifted a pop fly to medium left; Marte threw a floater home and it went for a sac fly. Gomez whiffed, but the Bucs broke first; it's 1-0 Brew Crew.

Francisco Rodriguez came in for the save, and after getting a scare from Jordy, who flew out to right center just short of the Trib sign, he picked up a couple of routine bouncers to keep the Brewers alive.

Some games are just meant to be; the Bucs ripped a pair with the bases loaded and came up empty; The Brew Crew rode a pair of soft bouncers and a short fly to victory. There's no explaining how Garza put up goose eggs. The Brewers live for another day.

As for the beanballs, you'd think Garza was just working Cutch up and in; that's a hole in his swing, as it is with most MLB hitters and these games do count. But as the Ace of MLB Stats noted "Matt Garza had 2 HBP over his previous 874 batters faced, he hit McCutchen in consecutive plate appearances tonight." So there's that to consider.

For the rubber match, Vance Worley faces Wily Peralta in tomorrow afternoon's last regular season home game of 2014.
  • Russ Martin has an 11 game hitting streak and Josh extended his to eight games. 
  • This is the first game in his career that Cutch has been plunked twice. In an oddity, he got four plate appearances without an at bat, being hit twice and walked twice.
  • It was a fireworks night sellout at PNC with 39,027 warm fannies at the game.

Volquez v Garza, Lineup, Russ, Marte, Pitchers, Magic #, Rally Time, Home Sweet Home & More...

Edinson Volquez (12-7, 3.27) takes on Matt Garza (8-8, 3.74) tonight.

Eddie's been a gamer all year, though he's struggled to bring home his last pair of wins. But wins they were, and hopefully he can sharpen up with the finish tape within sight. He's faced the Brewers four times this year with a 2-1/2.88 slash. Volquez has been decent in three outings and was beat up a bit in the loss, but in all four outings, the righty was at worst workmanlike versus the Brew Crew.

Garza rejoined the rotation earlier this month after missing a month with an oblique injury. The right-hander has started twice against Pittsburgh this season (1-0, 6.55), allowing nine runs (eight earned), 14 hits and eight walks over 11 innings, so he's not exactly the second coming of Yovani Gallardo though Milwaukee seems to put up runs against the Bucs when he's on the hill.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS and Volquez P.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • RISP Russ: Russell Martin is batting .380 with runners in scoring position.
  • Par-tay Time: Starling Marte has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games. He ranks second with a .353 BA while Josh Harrison is third at .341 among qualifiers since the All-Star break.
  • Pitch To Win: During the month of September, the Bucco staff has held opponents to a league-low .210 BA while ranking second with a 2.37 ERA.
  • The Race: With their fifth straight win, the Pirates reduced their magic number for clinching a postseason berth to five. Their lead over Milwaukee is 4-1/2 games (five in the loss column), and they moved within one game of the Giants for the top Wild Card spot. St. Louis leads Pittsburgh by 2-1/2 games (two in the loss column) in the NL Central.
  • Good To The Last Drop: Of their NL-leading 40 come-from-behind wins, the The Pirates have claimed 21 in their final at bat. The last time they had that many last inning victories was when they took 23 in 1992.
  • Down By The Riverside: The Pirates tied a PNC Park record with 50 home wins this season (they went 50-31 last year). A victory tonight or tomorrow would give Pittsburgh 51 victories at home for the first time since going 53-28 in 1992.
  • Keep 'Em Coming: Per Tom Singer of MLB.com, the Pirates should crack the franchise's attendance record of 2,436,139, set in PNC Park's 2001 season. There's been a little confusion with the mark - most national sources list the 2001 gate at 2,464,870, but the team lists it at lower figure, and we'd guess they should know.
  • El Toro Trivia: The Pirates are 15-6 since Pedro's last start on August 26th. He may have a hard time getting through the off season in the same uniform.
  • Tony Goes South: Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reported that Tony Sanchez will play in the Dominican League during the off season, purely as a catcher.
  • On The Farm: Tyler Glasnow was named MLB.com's Pitching Prospect of the Year.

9/20: Nick & Moose No-No's, Coke Trial, Burleigh Hangs 'Em Up, Crawfords Champs, Friend's K Mark, Bay's B-Day...

Nick & Moose No-No's, Coke Trial, Burleigh Hangs 'Em Up, Crawfords Champs, Friend's K Mark, Bay's B-Day...
  • 1907 - In his third big league start, Nick Maddox became the first Pirate pitcher to throw a no-hitter by defeating the Brooklyn Superbas, 2-1, at Exposition Park. At the age of 20 years and ten months, Maddox was the youngest pitcher and the second rookie to throw a no-hitter. Errors by Maddox and Honus Wagner gave Brooklyn their run; Fred Clarke had both Bucco hits, but neither figured in the scoring as the Pittsburgh runs were also unearned. 
  • 1922 - LHP Vic Lombardi was born in Reedley, California. He put in three good years with the Dodgers and a workmanlike season with the Bucs in 1948 (10-9/3.70) but went downhill over the next two years to put up a slash line of 15-19/4.56 in Pittsburgh. Branch Rickey offered him a 1951 contract with a 25% cut; Lombardi didn’t take it and that was the end of his MLB career as took his services to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. 
  • 1924 - The Pirates edged Brooklyn‚ 5-4‚ in 11 innings at Ebbet’s Field to end Dazzy Vance's 15-game winning streak. Pie Traynor singled with two gone in the 11th‚ and Rabbit Maranville lined a ball to center that got past the Robins’ outfielder Eddie Brown, who missed at a shoestring effort to glove the ball. Pie came in with the game winner as he touched home for the third time during the game. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win.
Rabbit Maranville 1924 The Sporting News (Charles Conlon photo)
  • 1934 - In a 2-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbet’s Field, Burleigh Grimes made his last appearance, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a whiff. Not only did it mark the end of a 19 year career that led to the Hall of Fame, but also the end of an era. Grimes was the last legal spitballer standing after the pitch had been outlawed starting in 1921. 17 practitioners, including Grimes, were grandfathered into the ruling and allowed to serve a wet one at will. 
  • 1935 - The Pittsburgh Crawfords beat the New York Cubans to win the Negro NL Championship 3-0. Left-handed curveballer Leroy Matlock, who went 18-0 during the regular season, tossed a three hitter. He was backed by Josh Gibson‚ Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and Oscar Charleston, all future Hall of Famers. The Crawfords won in a hard fought seven game series after falling behind three-games-to-one to the Cubans. It was the only undisputed Negro League title won by the Crawfords. 
  • 1956 - The seventh place Pirates edged Milwaukee 2-1 in 10 innings at Forbes Field. It was a classic spoiler win, as the Braves eventually lost the pennant on the last day of the season by one game to the Dodgers. Bob Friend held the Braves to four hits for the complete game victory. 1960 - Bob Friend beat the Phillies 7-1 as part of a DH sweep at Connie Mack Stadium and set a new club record for strikeouts in a season with 179 (he ended the campaign with 183). The old mark was held by RHP Claude Hendrix with 176, set in 1912. Friend tossed a complete game and fanned six. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates turned four DP against the Giants at Candlestick Park, helping Vern Law to a 6-0 win. The first twin killing set a NL record at 199, and the Bucs ended the year with 215 double plays. Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley both won Gold Gloves that season, with Maz participating in 161 twin killings and Alley in 128. 
 Photo via viellamarde.com
  • 1969 - At New York's Shea Stadium, Bob Moose stopped the pennant-bound Mets 4-0 with a no-hitter, just the third in franchise history. He walked three with six whiffs. 
  • 1973 - With Richie Zisk on first in the top of the thirteenth inning at Shea Stadium, Dave Augustine banged a two out drive to the left field wall. Cleon Jones turned to play the carom, the ball grazed the top of the wall, just barely staying in the yard, and it bounced straight into Jones' glove. His relay nailed the speed-challenged Zisk at the plate by 15’. Following the "Ball on the Wall" play, the Mets scored in their half to win 4-3 and moved within half a game of the first place Bucs. As beat writer Charlie Feeney of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette noted “The Pirates, stunned, bewildered, are a sinking...club.” NY eventually won the division, the NL title, and went took Oakland to a seventh game in the World Series before calling it a season. 
  • 1978 - Jason Bay was born in Trail, British Columbia. In his six years as a Pirate, his line was .268/219/715 and he was an All-Star twice. In 2004, he set the Pirate record for rookie home runs with 26 and was selected the NL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News, the second Pirate player to win the award, after second baseman Johnny Ray in 1982. Bay was the first Canadian player to win the ROY. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs lost 2-1 to the Phils at Veteran’s Stadium, but it could have been worse. Philadelphia C Keith Moreland hit a loud foul up the left field line with two aboard that third base ump Eric Gregg lost in the lights. The story goes that the Philly ballgirl went into a dance, thinking it a home run, and seeing that, so did Gregg. Chuck Tanner protested, and the umps got together and made the right call. That set Dallas Green off; he littered the field with equipment after being ejected, and Mike Schmidt added his helmet to the debris. Green also protested the game, but it was all for show; the Phils squeaked it out as the Bucs squandered nine hits, and ended the game when Manny Sanguillen bounced into a DP with one away and runners on the corners. 
  • 1984 - With a crowd of 33,651 Cubby fans at Wrigley Field, Chicago passed the 2M mark in attendance for the first time in its history. But Pittsburgh ruined the big day as the Pirates overcame a 6-2 deficit to rally past the Bruins by a 7-6 score. Jim Morrison was the offensive man, hitting a homer, driving in a pair and scoring a pair to lead a balanced Bucco attack. Lee Smith lost to Kent Tekulve with John Candelaria chipping in with the save. 
Jim Morrison 1983 Topps series
  • 1985 - A federal jury in Pittsburgh convicted Curtis Strong of 11 counts of cocaine distribution after hearing evidence in the “Pittsburgh Coke Trial.” Prominent players who were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony included Dave Parker‚ Lonnie Smith‚ Keith Hernandez and Tim Raines. Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner, pushed through the beginnings of MLB drug testing because of the trial and its stain on MLB. 
  • 1992 - 2B Mickey Morandini of the Phillies executed an unassisted triple play, the first NL player to pull one off in 65 years. He snagged a line drive off of the bat of Jeff King, touched second to force Andy Van Slyke, and tagged out Barry Bonds, who was on the move from first base. But the Phillies lost to the Pirates, 3-2, in 13 innings at TRS. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates scored three times in the tenth inning thanks to long balls by Emil Brown and Adam Hyzdu, then hung on for dear life in a 7-6 win at Veteran’s Stadium. With two runs in for the Phils, runners on the corners and one away in the the tenth, Mike Williams got 2B Marlon Anderson to bang into a game ending (and saving) 4-6-3 DP.
  •  2013 - The Bucs started off on fire when Jose Tabata and Neil Walker led off the game with homers for the fourth time in club history, and the Pirates were cruising along when Francisco Liriano K'ed Chris Heisey in the eighth for his 1,000th strikeout, also setting the team record for K's at 1,193, breaking last year's mark. But the 5-2 lead wasn’t enough to hold off the Cincinnati Reds, who scored three unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a two out error by Jordy Mercer. Cincy won in the 10th on a wrong way home run by Joey Votto that just dropped over the fence and a few feet inside the LF pole to stun the Bucs at PNC Park 6-5 and tie the teams for second place in the NL Central and the home wildcard spot with eight games to go in the season.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Russ Belt Rallies Bucs To 4-2 Win

Jeff Locke's off speed stuff didn't do him any favors in the first. Ryan Braun doubled off a knuckle curve with one one, moved to third when another curve got past Russ and scored when a 1-2 change that spun down the middle of the dish to Jonathan Lucroy was spanked into left to make it 1-0 Brew Crew. With two outs for the Bucs, Cutch ripped a triple to The Notch off Yovani Gallardo but was stranded when The Kid bounced out.

Jeff used up a few more pitches in the second (nine in the first, 20 in the second), but cobbled together a 1-2-3 frame with a couple of whiffs. with two gone in the Bucco half, Gaby dropped a slider softly into right for a knock. He was stranded when Jordy flew out to right. Gallardo has picked up some corners, but has left a few heaters down the middle that the Bucs haven't squared up on.

With one out in the third, Carlos Gomez was nicked with a curve but was quickly nabbed by Russ trying to steal. Braun bounced out to Josh for another quiet inning. With one gone, Josh rolled a 3-2 fastball up the middle for a knock. After Starling went down looking at a hook, Cutch legged out an infield knock on the right side. Walker fought him for nine pitches, but became the third strikeout victim of the frame; Gallardo went heavily off-speed this inning and picked the corners well.

Great fourth by Locke - four pitches, three grounders to Josh, who already has seven assists. Travis singled to right with one away. Gaby bounced a curve to short; after the force, Rickie Week's relay sailed past first, allowing Sanchez to reach second. Jordy was walked intentionally before Locke went down. He looked at a fat fastball sandwiched around a pair of swings at curves in the dirt to bring the count of Pirates stranded to six.

Weeks led off the fifth by drilling a tight fastball into the bullpen to make it 2-0.  Two outs later, Gallardo bounced a single up the middle and Gomez was plunked for the second time. The bullpen stirred in the middle of Braun's at bat. Locke jammed him eight straight times, finally getting a pop out to Gaby to escape the frame without any additional damage. The top of the order looked lost; Gallardo has eight strikeouts already, half looking, and gotten lots of soft contact.

Lucroy opened the sixth with a single. A-Ram rolled over on a hung change and banged into a 5-4-3 DP, then Khris Davis K'ed for a calm frame. Pittsburgh didn't get a ball out of the outfield in their half.

Locke came back out and got three fly outs for an easy seventh. He's only at 82 pitches and throwing well, but he's due up this frame. Gaby bounced a curve to third and Aramis Ramirez's throw was off line to put Sanchez on first. Jordy worked the count full with a good eye, then K'ed swinging at a shoe-top slider. Ike came up to hit for Locke, and Gallardo stayed on the hill despite the matchup and 105 pitches. Good call; Ike whiffed on a foul tip. Josh bounced out, and there were only six outs left.

John Holdzkom took the hill in the eighth. He walked Braun with two out and left him aboard. Jonathan Broxton took the ball for the Brew Crew to face the Bucs' 2-3-4 hitters. Starling caught just enough of a slider down and away to roll it up the right side for an infield knock. The Brewers challenged the call and they lost - Marte is that fast, and barely beat Broxton to the sack. Cutch K'ed chasing shoulder-high heat trying to tie the game. The Kid took a fastball away to left for a single, with Starling holding at second. Chase d'Arnaud came in to run for Walker.

He didn't really need to; Russ slammed a 1-1 heater over the middle three rows into the right center seats as the park erupted, playoff party style. Travis followed with a knock, and was replaced by Gregory Polanco. Andrew Lambo grabbed a bat for Big John, and Jeremy Jeffress, a righty who throws in the upper nineties, came on and gave up a single. Jordy sat down, swinging through 97 MPH heat. Ike added an insurance run when he rolled a single up the middle. Josh whiffed on a curve to end the music with the Bucs up 4-2.

The Shark came in for the save, with El Coffee staying in right and Clint Barmes taking over second base. Three grounders did it; Melancon got his 31st save and Big John Holdzkom got his first MLB winner. Lots of good story lines for this team.

Give Jeff Locke lots of love for this win. One first-inning hook and a fastball that he wanted in a little more were his only costly pitches as he was both efficient and effective tonight. The bullpen was up to its old tricks and Russ was clutch. Buc-tober is that much closer after this dagger strike to the Brewers' hopes.

Edinson Volquez takes the bump opposite Matt Garza tomorrow night.
  • John Holdzkom's streak of six straight outings with a K was broken tonight when he got three garden variety outs in the eighth.
  • Pittsburgh was 0-7 going for five wins in a row before tonight. They did their usual way. Tonight was their 40th come-from-behind win, cutting their magic number to five.
  • Yovani Gallardo tossed his first 10 K game since July 15, 2012, also vs the Pirates. His previous high this season was eight, which he reached three times, once against Pittsburgh.
  • Tonight's attendance was 37,974, the Pirates 21st sellout.
  • Charlie Morton was achier than usual throwing between starts per GM Neal Huntington, so Vance Worley will get the Sunday start against Wily Peralta.

Locke v Gallardo, Lineup, Playoff Push, Josh, El Toro...

Jeff Locke (7-5, 3.66) opens the Milwaukee series against Yovani Gallardo (8-10, 3.59).

Jeff has been inconsistent, to put it mildly, in the second half. But while he makes you tear at your hair, he's also won five of his last seven decisions, including wins in three of his last four outings at PNC Park. So hopefully he finds the black tonight.

Locke is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts this season against the Brew Crew, both against Gallardo. He won an 8-3 decision at Miller Park on 8/22 and lost a 1-0 decision on 6/8 at PNC Park. So he's used to the matchup and held his own so far this year.

Gallardo is 0-4 in his last four starts, so maybe his tank is running a little low in the dog days. Yavoni did toss pretty well against the Reds in his last outing, leaving with a 2-1 deficit, but his pen blew up and the final finished 5-1. He's been erratic since the AS break, with seven starts yielding two or fewer runs while he was touched up for four or more runs in the other six games.

He's split two games with Locke already this year, following the same pattern, a beauty one night, a bomb the next time out. But overall in his career, he's 12-5 against the Bucs with a 2.67 ERA, so the odds favor a good performance in the opener of a huge series.

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

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Playoff Push: Going into tonight, the Pirates are two games behind in the loss column to the Cards in the NL Central and the Giants for the home wildcard. They're four games ahead in the loss column against the Brewers and six ahead of the Braves with 10 games to go.
  • The Josh Watch: Josh Harrison enters tonight’s action ranked first among all NL hitters with a .319 BA, two points ahead of Justin Morneau (.317)...Teammate Andrew McCutchen ranks fifth in the league with a .308 average
  • Finally Five? This will be the Pirates eighth try a winning five in a row. This would be a good time to get it, hey?
  • On A Roll: The Pirates have won four games in a row and seven of their last eight. They've gone 11-2 in their last 13 games and are a season-high 12 games over .500.
  • Clint: Colin Dunlap of The Fan has a piece on a guy that's really fighting through the pain, skipper Clint Hurdle. It's an excellent read.
  • El Toro: John Tomase of the Boston Herald wrote that the Red Sox will be "kicking the tires" of Pedro Alvarez during the off season.

9/19: Rip, O'Connell's 26-Game Streak, Maz, Veale, The Great One, Kiner's # Retired, DD & BB, Jay Bay's 8 RBI, Snell Wins First & More...

Sorry if this looks familiar; it was up for a couple hours yesterday when the automatic scheduler and I had a tragic disagreement on what date today was. (The scheduler was right!)

Rip, O'Connell's 26-Game Streak, Maz, Veale, The Great One, Kiner's # Retired, DD & BB, Jay Bay's 8 RBI, Snell Wins First & More...
  • 1882 - Guy Hecker of the American Association Louisville Eclipse (Colonels) tossed a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, winning 3-1 at Eclipse Park. 
  • 1908 - Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press wrote “In the presence of a grand out-pouring of more than 25,000 fans and in one of the most stubbornly fought battles ever waged at the Polo Grounds, the Pirates defeated the New York Giants by the score of 6-2 after ten innings of strenuous work.” The better part of that battle was fought by Lefty Liefield, who went the distance to outlast Red Ames and Doc Crandall. Ed "Batty" Abbaticchio knocked home a pair of runs in the 10th, and an error followed by Chief Wilson’s hit brought in the final two tallies. 
  • 1943 - Rip Sewell whipped the Reds, 10–3 for his 21st win, which would top MLB that season. Rip also stole a base to finish the year with seven swipes. The Pirates swept the DH 2-1 as three Pirate pitchers combined to outlast Johnny Vander Meer.
Rip Sewell photo from Frank Russo of The Deadball Era blog
  • 1949 - In a 6-4 loss to the NY Giants at Forbes Field‚ Ralph Kiner hit his 50th home run (he finished the season with 54) off Kirby Higbe. With that blast, the 26-year old outfielder became the first NL’er to hit 50 bombs in two different seasons. It would take Willie Mays until 1965 to match Kiner’s record. 
  • 1953 - Danny O'Connell hit safely in his 26th game‚ a 4-1 loss to the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds. The streak ended the next day and was the second longest in Pirate history.
  • 1959 - Bill Mazeroski, who homered earlier, drilled a two run triple in the 12th as the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3, at Forbes Field. Elroy Face gave up a run in the top of the 12th but got the win thanks to Maz. Face’s record was 18-1‚ and he won eight straight games in extra innings. He ended the year with the top winning percentage (.947) of any pitcher with 15 decisions, capping a season for the ages for the relief ace. 
  • 1965 - Bob Veale allowed one hit, a two-out sixth inning single by Tony Taylor, and struck out 12 to earn a 1-0‚ ten-inning win over the Phillies at Forbes Field. Roberto Clemente's two-out single off Philadelphia reliever Jack Baldschun to score Bob Bailey was the game winner; Veale had been thrown out at home the batter before, trying to score on Manny Mota’s single.
Bob Veale - The Sporting News July 8, 1967
  • 1966 - The Bucs took an 11 inning victory from the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park by a 6-1 score, sparked when Roberto Clemente ignored manager Harry “The Hat” Walker’s instructions. Clemente, leading off and in an 0-for-13 funk, was told to bunt for a hit; instead he swung away and homered. Bob Bailey added a grand slam to close out the frame, giving Pete Mikkelson the win in relief of Bob Veale. 
  • 1974 - Pittsburgh put up a five spot in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 win from the St. Louis Cards at TRS. The big blow in the frame was Richie Hebner’s three run homer, giving Ramon Hernandez the win with a Dave Giusti save. The win moved the Bucs within ½ game of first, and they won the pennant over the Cards by sweeping the Cubs in the last series of the season. 
  • 1978 - In one of Pittsburgh’s lighter moments, 38 year old Willie Stargell attempted to steal 2B against Chicago (he did have 3 steals that year) quite unsuccessfully. As Cubs' SS Ivan DeJesus waited at the bag with the ball, Stargell slid in 10 feet short of the base, looked up and called for time-out. The Bucs won despite Pops’ baserunning antics, 12-11. Dave Parker’s homer, his second of the day, in 11th off Bruce Sutter, gave the Bucs their seventh straight win and 30th in their last 38 games. 
  • 1987 - Ralph Kiner’s number 4 was retired. The Mets won the game at TRS 5-4 in front of 20,933 fans. 
  • 1990 - Doug Drabek won his 20th game and Bobby Bonds hit his 30th and 31st HRs as Pittsburgh beat Chicago 8-7 at Wrigley Field. Bonds and his dad became the first father-son members of the 30/30/ club. Two days later, Bonds swiped his 50th base of the season to became the second MLB player to join the 30/50 club. 
  • 1997 - The Pirates held a Roberto Clemente commemoration night, unveiling a video of his career highlights followed by his widow Vera tossing out the first pitch at TRS before playing the Cards. They lost 6-5 in front of 16,235. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates rode a nine run sixth inning to a 12-8 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The Bucs sent 13 batters to the plate, with the big hits being a two run knock by Emil Brown and a bases loaded double by John Wehner. The Phils made a game of it in the ninth, scoring three runs off Scott Sauerbeck before Mike Williams came on to get the final out. 
  • 2003 - Jay Bay drove in eight runs in a 10-9 loss to the Cubs, hitting a pair of homers and a double in the first game of a DH split at PNC Park. 
 Jason Bay - Michael Mellett print
  • 2005 - Ian Snell pitched eight innings to earn his first MLB win as he beat Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros 7–0 at PNC Park. Snell allowed just three hits, retiring the final nine batters he faced before José Mesa closed out the four-hit shutout in the ninth. Four different Pirates - Tike Redman, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson & Freddy Sanchez - had three hits, and every Buc starter except JJ Furmaniac had a hit and either scored or drove in a run (or both). Though a loss, the game checked off another notch on Clemens’ bucket list - he had now pitched in every major league ballpark currently in operation.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bucs Broom the Bosox 3-2

Gerrit Cole worked a solid 1-2-3 opening frame. Josh led off with a single against Brandon Workman, but was rather easily tossed out trying to steal. Travis drew a walk, and Boston's Will Middlebrooks made up for the CS by booting Cutch's ball to third. The Kid K'ed looking - ump Mike Muchlinski has a pretty wide strike zone - and Starling legged out a single to short. Ike drew a full-count walk for an RBI the easy way. Jordy went down on a uninspired at-bat with the Bucs up 1-0. Coulda been a big frame, but two whiffs and a caught stealing didn't help the cause much.

Three grounders, three outs in the second for the Cole Train, who has been filling up the strike zone in the early going. Stew fished for a couple and became the third punch out, and Cole quickly became the fourth. Josh collected his second single of the night, followed by a Travis swinging K. Workman does have some tools - a big, sweeping knuckle curve with a tight, sinking fastball/cutter combo.

Christian Vazquez singled with one down in the third and was bunted to second. Mookie Betts got ahead 3-0, took two fastballs for strikes and then rolled the third into center to tie the score. He stole second, but Cole, falling behind Xander Bogaerts 3-1, got him to bounce out to third. Cutch and The Kid grounded out, and Marte's drive to center was pulled in at the track in front of the 399' mark.

With two gone in the fourth, Daniel Nava singled to left, and Middlebrooks banged a 2-0 heater to right through the shift to put Bosox on the corners. Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to prevent any damage.

Ike drilled a 3-2 heater off Workman's mitt and it went for an infield single; they may have still got the out, but Big Papi, at first, couldn't handle the hurried throw. Jordy smacked a 1-2 curve up the line to left for a two bagger, putting Bucs at second and third. Stew sent a cutter to center to plate Ike. Cole went up swinging and went down after coming up empty. Josh popped out, jammed on the first pitch. Travis bounced out, and the Bucs let Workman off the hook again.

The fifth was a clean inning for Gerrit, with a pair of K. Cutch led off with a walk and was quickly removed when Walker pounded into a 6-3 DP; Bogaerts was perfectly positioned for The Kid's ball up the middle. Pity, as Marte par-tayed by banging a fastball into the lower LF bleachers. Ike tapped back to the hill with Pittsburgh up 3-1.

Cole punched out a pair on the way to an easy sixth inning; he's showing last year's form when he got stronger as the game went on *knock on wood*.  Alex Wilson took the ball for Boston and retired the bottom of the order. The seventh is usually a mile too far for Gerrit, but not tonight as he sat down the Red Sox in order, with help from a sweet wall-climbing catch by Cutch. Junichi Tazawa climbed the hill and sat the Bucs down without breaking a sweat.

After ten in a row, Cole toed the rubber in the eighth to face the 8-9-1 hitters while Gregory Polanco took over the chores in right. Vazquez ended the streak when he poked a slider off Ike's mitt for a lead off single on a ball that's usually pulled in. Garin Cecchini hit and yanked a fastball to right to put Red Sox on the corners.

That brought Tony Watson in. Betts fouled a mistake fastball down the middle, then popped out to right. After four sinkers to Bogaerts, Tony tried to slip a change past him, but Xander caught enough of it to lift a sac fly to center. Big Papi went down on four pitches, and the Bucs have three outs to go with a 3-2 lead.

Lefty Drake Britton took his turn, and after two fly outs, Gaby hit for Ike. Righty Burke Badenhof was waved in to face him. Good choice; Gaby popped out foul behind the plate. Mark the Shark circled.

It wasn't an auspicious start as he plunked Allen Craig to open the frame, and Jermile Weeks went in to run. Nava rolled a cutter left over the plate into center to put Bosox at first and third. Sometimes grounders find gloves; sometimes grass.

Middlebrooks bounced a chopper to third; it hit Weeks, who dove from foul territory back to the bag, and he was ruled out for interference. The Red Sox argued; the call was made by the plate ump as the third base ump was blocked out by Weeks and Josh, but it stood (and was the right call; Weeks got caught in a bad position and made it worse). Bradley K'ed looking and Vazquez bounced to second, and it was just another routine save in the books for Melancon.

Well, the Bucs left some ducks on the pond, and those lost opportunities made it a little tense at the end. But they got seven good innings after a sluggish start from Cole and eked out just enough production. The Cubs and Red Sox were playing out the string; the next three games against the Brewers are what September is all about.

Jeff Locke gets the call to open the Milwaukee series against Yovani Gallardo.

  • Pittsburgh won its 82 game for consecutive winning seasons.
  • The Bucs drew 36,682 fans tonight.

Cole v Workman, Lineup, Vanimal, Scoring, PNC Power, Match-Ups & More...

Yah, we know we're late. Sorry, but Clint likes to hit a few grounders to his walking wounded before making out his lineup card; in this case, he's trying to figure out of Jordy was ready to roll tonight. (he was)

Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.92) faces Brandon Workman (1-9, 5.27) as the Bucs go for the sweep tonight.

Cole has won his last three starts although he has been less than dominating, running into middle inning problems. In his last start, the righty struck out six and walked one in six innings during a 7-3 victory over Chicago. The Bucs would like to get him more efficient with his pitch count and more aggressive with his pitch mix. He has managed to go six innings in all five starts since coming off the DL, though generally not much longer.

But he's been collecting wins and has traditionally been a bulldog in September, so they'd like to keep that part of the formula in place. The Cole Train has never faced the Red Sox.

Workman, a spot starter since mid-season, is trying to shake a nine-game losing streak, with his only 2014 victory coming back on June 10th against Baltimore. He surrendered five earned runs in three innings of a 10-6 loss to Baltimore last week in his latest outing.

His overall peripherals aren't that terrible, but he's had a second half melt down. In six appearances over the last two months,Workman is 0-5 with an ERA over eight. Since the All-Star break, he has a 1.75 WHIP and a .309 BAA, compared to a 1.18 WHIP and .225 BAA pre-ASG. It may be the workload catching up; he tossed just 101 innings last year and is north of 140 frames this season.

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. Russ gets a night off with Milwaukee next on the agenda. Jordy's back; Clint did a fine job babysitting the position. Gregory Polanco is out, too - tough crowd when a homer doesn't keep you in the lineup.

The game begins at 7:05 at will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Vanimal: Rob Neyer of Fox Sports wonders if the Pirates just demoted their best starting pitcher?
  • Wave 'Em In: With 648 runs scored, the Pirates rank second in the league in that category and have already surpassed last year’s total of 634 runs.
  • PNC Power: The Pirates have won 11 of their last 13 series played at PNC Park and have gone 18-6-1 in their first 25 home series.
  • Fan Sourced: The PNC attendance for 2014 so far is 2,290,051, the second largest in franchise history. Even with four sellouts - and the joint should be rocking against the Brewers this weekend - the top mark of 2,464,870 from 2001 is still safe.
  • Bucs v Brew Crew:The match-ups for the approaching Brewer series: Friday, Locke v Gallardo, Saturday, Volquez v Garza and Sunday, TBA (Morton?) v Peralta.
  • Big Papi: In case you're missing Big Papi, he's not benched because he's the DH in an NL city, but because he left the team Sunday to deal with a family emergency and just returned today.
  • Ex-Bucs: Red Sox 2B Brock Holt, out with a concussion since August 25th, is scheduled to meet with a specialist today. He's hitting .281 for the Bosox and has played every position this season except for pitcher & catcher.