Friday, September 30, 2016

Bucs Busch-Whacked 7-0

The tarp came up an hour or so before game time, yay. Gregory singled with an out off Carlos Martinez and stole second to provide all the Buc action. Tyler Glasnow walked the first Redbird, then coaxed a couple of grounders, including a 6-4-3 DP to close the frame. JJ and S-Rod opened the second with knocks, but a diving stop/force out by Jedd Gyorko and whiffs of the 8-9 batters cooled the Pirates heels. It was a clean frame for Tyler. The Bucs went 1-2-3 in the third. Gyorko is on a roll; he caught a 2-0 fastball down the middle and turned it into a souvenir. After two whiffs, Matt Carpenter drew his second walk but caused no trouble.

Tyler tossed a promising outing tonight (photo Aledmys Diaz/

Pittsburgh were quiet in the fourth. Yadi got plunked, but another 6-4-3 DP cleaned the sacks. A two-out walk and wild pitch went by the wayside for the Redbirds. Not a peep from the Pirates in the fifth while the Cards got a leadoff walk and nada more. The Bucs got Gregory and Cutch aboard with an out in the sixth, but Martinez was equal to the task. Trevor Williams took the ball, and a John Jaso boot opened the gates; the next pair of Cards doubled to make it 3-0. An out later, Brandon Moss homered. Jared Hughes took over and whiffed his way out of the inning.

Alen Hanson singled and stole second in the seventh, but it led to naught. Zach Phillips took the ball and gave up a long fly to Matt Holliday, who got ovations before and after the swat, reacting to the Cards announcement that they weren't bringing the fan favorite back for 2017. So good moment for him and well deserved, even if he is a Bucco assassin. Then the Cards collected a double and single before Zachster got a GIDP. That was followed by an S-Rod error before out #3 was registered with the tally 7-0 St. Louis.

El Coffee had a hit, walk and stolen sack (photo via

Jonathan Broxton mowed down Pittsburgh in the eighth. Drew Hutchison came on and so did the rain; can't seem to shake those drops lately. Hutch took a little snooze and toed the slab one more time about 45 minutes later after the rain devolved into a drizzle. He walked the leadoff hitter, then settled down and took care of business. Miguel Socolovich used 12 pitches to send everyone back under cover for the night.

Well, so much for playing the spoiler, at least tonight. But it was a big step forward for Tyler Glasnow, who worked five frames and gave up a run on one hit with four K, four walks, a bopped batter and wild pitch. He wasn't getting much help with the calls, though - welcome into a playoff team's home park, rookie. And guys like J-Bell and Alen Hanson got to face another top MLB pitcher at work; Martinez had his monster change going for him tonight. So the learning curve continues...

Two days left of ball playing, then it's hot stove time. We're gonna miss the Buctober interlude.

  • The Bucs only had six base runners (five hits & a walk) and still managed to go 0-for-9 w/RISP.
  • The Pirates are guaranteed a losing record for the season with this defeat, which leaves them at 78-81 with a pair of contests left.
  • The Pittsburgh chapter of the BWAA voted its Roberto Clemente (MVP) award to Starling Marte and the Steve Blass (best pitcher) award to Jameson Taillon, which is quite a feather in his rookie cap.
  • Ryan Vogelsong, who will get the last start of the season, told the press gang that he had no plans to retire after the campaign and intends to pitch again in 2017.

Friday: Tyler Glasnow v Carlos Martinez, Lineup, Preview, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 8:15 and will be Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 4.91) vs. Carlos Martinez (15-9, 3.15). Tyler is making his fourth start, and the first three have been less than memorable. He's seen the Redbirds once, going 5-1/3 IP and giving up four runs in his July MLB debut. Martinez has been strong against the Bucs with a 2.41 ERA in three starts, but has lost twice. He hasn't been quite as sharp down the stretch (3-2, 3.60 ERA in September) and has a reverse split at home (6-7, 3.81 at Busch, 9-2, 2.45 away).

Tyler Glasnow aims to derail the Cardinals (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Bell RF, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, John Jaso 1B, S-Rod SS, Alen Hanson 2B, Eric Fryer C, Glasnow P. The Bucs got a good look at Fraze; guess it's Hanson's turn now.

Preview: Unlike the Cubs, St Louis hasn't used Pittsburgh as a punching bag. The Redbirds are 7-9 v the Pirates and 2-5 at Busch Stadium (35-43 overall at home). But the Cards are playing for something - they're one game behind the Giants for the last wild card and two behind the Mets for the top seed. With no pressure on the Buccos, it should make for an interesting weekend at Mound City. It's been awhile since the Pirates could play spoilers and offers a good playoff atmosphere for the youngsters to finish up the season.

  • Starling Marte (back) for sure and maybe Jordy (forearm) will sit the series out, per Clint. 
  • Pirates PR took a hit when it announced over the PA that last night's tickets could be exchanged for ones next season only to run afoul of a MLB rule that specifies the opposite if a game is played, even to a tie (in fact, no official MLB game has ever issued rain checks). Not a big deal, but the FO could wipe a little egg off their face because of that ooopsie promise by coming up with some other token of appreciation, especially as most of last night's fans were season ticket holders, a team's backbone. Maybe as a goodwill gesture they could send the ticketholders a Frankie bobblehead; they have a bundle of those stored somewhere.
  • The Cards got a break when the Reds failed to challenge St Louis' game-winning double last night. Yadier Molina's two-out two-bagger scored a man from first, but had actually bounced off the back wall and kicked back, making it a ground-rule double that should have froze the runner at third. Reds' skipper Bryan Price didn't appeal until the umps were leaving the field and the crew wouldn't accept his beef in the runway, citing timeliness. More St Louis pixie dust, for sure, but given the situation, Price's bad for being asleep at the wheel. 

9/30 TRS/PNC Era: 3,000 For Roberto, Bucs Clinch In '79 & '90, Losing Streak Goes On, Dewey's Day & More...

  • 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. As an added bonus, Clemente scored and his run was the game winner when Manny Sanguillen chased him home with the Pirates’ first tally. 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. Dock Ellis took home the W and Bob Johnson worked three innings for the save; the pair combined on a two-hitter.
Roberto after #3,000 (photo AP)
  • 1972 - Al Oliver was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Swat Artist.” That he was; the Bucco center fielder slashed .312/18/89 and scored 88 times on the way to his first of seven All-Star selections.
  • 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, who had earlier swatted a grand slam, whiffed and Phil Garner bounced out to end the rally.
  • 1979 - The Pirates clinched the NL East crown with 5-3 win over the Cubs on the last day of the season in front of 42,176 jubilant fans at TRS. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve got the win and save, Dave Parker had three hits, Phil Garner added a RBI, and Bill Robinson’s two-run single in the seventh was the key blow as the Bucs finished the season two games ahead of the Montreal Expos, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Steve Carlton and the Phils. Willie Stargell became the Pirates all-time RBI leader when he bombed a solo homer in the fifth to overtake Honus Wagner. Pops’ pair of RBI were numbers 1,475 and 1,476; he would finish his career with 1,540.
Willie Stargell Topps 2014 Fond farewells
  • 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 (the Bucs finished the year four games up). It took Drabek just 80 pitches to go the distance.
Doug Drabek 1990 Score
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield shut out the Phillies on four hits (although he did walk six) in a 5-0 whitewashing 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 and Tom Foley, who had three hits including a two-bagger.
  • 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 behind Jeff Karstens. 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 knocks and five RBIs in a 13–1 Pirates victory over the St. Louis 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.

9/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Kiner's 54th & Walk-Off, Strong Finishes, Bro Act, Billy Herman, 16 Innings

  • 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, disgusted by the league.
  • 1908 - The Pirates beat the Cards 7-5 at Forbes Field behind Sam Leever, who relieved starter Vic Willis, and “Wee Tommy” Leach’s home run.. Pittsburgh fell behind 5-0 in the home finale, tying the game in the seventh and pushing the winning runs across in the eighth. The victory put the Bucs in a virtual tie for first with the NY Giants and ½ game ahead of the Chicago. In a wild NL finish, the Cubs would take the pennant by a game over both the Pirates and Giants.
Wee Tommy in 1909 (Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1921 - RHP Phil Morrison got his only big league outing, tossing ⅔ of an inning against St. Louis in a 12-4 defeat, giving up a hit and getting a K. He’s noteworthy as one of the Pirates’ early brother acts, as he joined sib “Jughandle” Johnny Morrison, who pitched eight years for Pittsburgh, on the roster that season.
  • 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. Even Herman 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 behind Bob Chesnes four-hitter. The monthly total eclipsed Cy Williams' 1923 NL mark, and 54 homers is still the Pirate standard for long balls in a season.
Ralph was the Buccos' cover boy. 
  • 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. Bill Werle, the Pirates third pitcher, got the win.
  • 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. Al McBean went the final 3-⅔ frames for the victory.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bucs Tie Cubs 1-1 In the Rain, Head to Birdland

Ivan Nova spun a 1-2-3 opening frame against the Cubby B-Teamers. Rob Zastryzni faced a mix-n-match Buccp lineup and was unmarked other than losing Cutch on a 3-2 pitch. In the second, a pair of infield singles sandwiched around a bunt put Cubs at the corners and a sac fly made it 1-0. A two-out double raised an alarm that was silenced by a whiff of Zastryzni. The Pirates again went down w/o a peep. As a reliever who's been tough, we'd expect the Z-Man to be solid the first time around the order.

Ivan's last start was a good one albeit against the B-Team (photo Pgh Pirates)

The Cubs went quietly in the third. The Bucs got a single, booted bunt and walk to juice the sacks with nobody out. J-Bell hit a sac fly to tie it; Cutch hit into a 6-4-3 DP to finish it. That wasn't bad enough; it started to rain though the troops soldiered through it. Nova allowed a single in the fourth, ditto for the Z-Man, who was relieved with two away by Travis Wood. The rain picked up in the fifth but didn't bother Nova or Wood. The ground crew spread the Diamond-Brite around, but after an out in the sixth, the umps chased everyone into the locker room and waved in the tarps.

Took awhile, but the match was called. It's a suspended game that will become a tie in the books, so the stats will count. (It doesn't have to be made up because it has no effect on playoffs.) One thing it does is make it impossible to have a .500 year now. At 78-80, they have to sweep the upcoming Cards three-gamer to have a winning season; a loss guarantees them a losing slate for 2016. And it does kick off Ivan Nova's FA season with a bang.

  • The Bucs last tie was August 24th, 1998, v the Cards at TRS; it finished 5-5. The game tonight lasted 1:15; the delay before calling it lasted 1:23.
  • The Pirates finished 4-14-1 against Chicago. They finished the campaign 38-42-1 at PNC Park.
  • Pittsburgh is 20-9-1 v LH starters, winning 10 of the last 11 with tonight's draw against southpaws.
  • AJ Schugel's second opinion confirmed his initial diagnosis of rotor cuff inflammation, with rest & rehab as the cure. The overall late season injury report was compiled by the Trib's Bob Cohn. 

Thursday: Ivan Nova v Rob Zastryzny, Linep, Notes For the Home Finale

Tonight: The Bucs last home game will begin at 7:05 and be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan if a gloomy night doesn't sabotage the contest with rain.

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (12-8, 4.37; Pittsburgh 5-2, 3.49) faces Rob Zastryzny (1-0, 1.46). Ivan's been on a so-so streak, sizzling roll, and now a two-game stretch of labored starts, so what we get tonight is anyone's guess as he makes his last appearance before presumably diving into the FA pool. The Z-Man has worked 12-1/3 strong MLB innings from the pen and the rookie will be rewarded with his first big league start tonight. Though he started in AA-AAA (10-5, 4.31) this year, his longest stint in the show has been 3-2/3 IP and he hasn't thrown more than 49 pitches, so he'll probably be on a fairly short leash for the Cubbies. Joe Maddon already has plans to make this a bullpen game as he rests his guys some before the playoff gauntlet.

Will Ivan be making his last Bucco start? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy SS, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, S-Rod LF, David Freese 1B, Alen Hanson 2B, Eric Fryer C, Nova P. Hanson is getting a look at 2B; Fraze can drill a baseball, but catching one has proven a bit more problematic. Gregory is still out with a stiff neck, which we presume is a hangover from his previous face plant. Fran and Starling are prob down for the season, but it is nice to see Jordy back. And po' Jaso - he hits for the cycle and then the Cubs come back with a LHP. The home finale will offer an opp to see both teams benches on display tonight.

  • There was a little glove controversy last night thx to an unorthodox bunt defense by the Cubbies, as explained by
  • Combos you don't think of: John Jaso became the second player in major league history to catch a perfect game and hit for the cycle, joining Ray Schalk who puled of the feat in 1922 (he did it in the same season). JJ caught Felix Hernandez’s perfecto in 2012. Jaso also became the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle/catch a no-hitter since Jason Kendall, who caught the Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon 10-inning no-hitter in 1997, and hit for the cycle, also for the Buccos, in 2000, per The Sporting News.
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs takes a look at Frankie's resurgence with Toronto.
  • With the Royals' elimination from the AL Wild Card race yesterday, MLB's record for consecutive years without a repeat champion will reach 16.

9/29 From the 50s Forward: Teke Takes Two, 6 In A Row, Cutch Walk Off, HBD Ken, Brown Day, Bucs Close Polo Grounds

  • 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. Ken is retired and now lives in Latrobe after serving a stint as a pre-game analyst for Root Sports.
  • 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.
Johnny Powers 1958 Topps
  • 1978 - Kent Tekulve won both ends of a season-ending 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. Bruce Kison made the pitcher trivia rounds in the second game when he homered off Steve Carlton. That gave him a season natural batting cycle of a single, double, triple and homer in that order. Of course, for a hitter, a natural cycle begins with his first at-bat; with pitcher Kison, it started with a single on July 20th (with a few outs sprinkled in between). The twilighter drew 45,134 fans as a September run by the Bucs cut the Phils lead to 1-½ games after their 24th straight win at TRS. Pittsburgh finished two games back, but the late season run pointed the way to 1979.
  • 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.
  • 1999 - In an oddity noted by BR Bullpen, the Bucs 1-2-3 hitters against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium were Adrian Brown, Emil Brown and Brant Brown. Adrian had two hits and Brant drove in a run, but the Brown line wasn’t enough to save the day as the Pirates fell 5-2.
Adrian Brown Best 1997
  • 2012 - Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off homer to right center off Jonathan Broxton of the Cincinnati Reds with one down in the ninth inning for his 31st long ball of the season. It earned the Pirates a 2-1 win at PNC Park in front of a Saturday night crowd of 38,623. Kyle McPherson started the game, and Joel Hanrahan finished for the win.

9/29 Through the 40s: HBD Cannonball, Howie & Tiny Gems; Grays in the WS, Brother Act & Aubrey's Outing

  • 1862 - LHP Ed “Cannonball” Morris was born in Brooklyn. Morris was considered by many to be the first great lefty to pitch in the majors. 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 in 1890, his last season in the majors. Afterward, he ran a hotel/saloon on Pittsburgh’s North Side and was a deputy warden at Western Penitentiary. He remained a fan, rarely missing a Pirates game, and in 1934 he was tapped by the team to pitch an inning during the Silver Anniversary of Forbes Field. As you may have guessed, he was nicknamed "Cannonball" for the velocity of his ol’ number one.
Ed "Cannonball" Morris 1889 Goodwin
  • 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.
  • 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. Aubrey caught pneumonia after the season, although he did recover in time to report to 1936 camp. He couldn’t win a roster spot and spent the next six seasons in the minors. He was nicknamed “YoYo” for reasons we couldn’t find, although playing for 10 minor league teams at five different levels may have contributed.
(image via Diamonds in the Dusk)
  • 1942 - Satchel Paige of the KC Monarchs tossed 5-2/3 innings of hitless relief against the Homestead Grays (by that time, they split dates between Pittsburgh & Washington), winning 9 - 5 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia to cap a four game sweep of the 1942 Colored World Series. The series featured seven members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, three from the Monarchs (Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown) and four from the Grays (Josh Gibson, Jud Wilson, Ray Brown, and Buck Leonard). Paige had actually been slated to start but showed up late at the ballpark, claiming he was tardy because of a speeding ticket on the way to the park.
  • 1947 - Tiny Bonham tossed a two-hit whitewash as the Bucs defeated the Reds 7-0 at Forbes Field to end a dismal season in Bill Burwell’s only game as a manager (he replaced Billy Herman, who resigned). Pittsburgh finished 62-92, 32 games out of first. Dixie Howell and Frank Gustine homered in front of 33,794 fans. The Bucs had won just 64 games the year before, but would take 83 the following season under new skipper Billy Meyer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jamo One-Hitter, JJ Cycle Lead Bucs To 8-4 Win Over Jake & the Cubs

Wouldn't be a Cub game w/o Anthony Rizzo going long; he took an up-and-in heater and dropped it barely into the RF seats after fouling off four pitches. It looked like a fan may have helped it over, but a review said no, and Jameson Taillon and the Bucs were down 1-0. Fraze and J-Bell started off with back-to-back knocks off Jake Arrieta. A short wild pitch moved Fraze up just before Andrew served the house specialty, a GIDP, tho it did bring in a run. The second featured a couple of walks by Jamo, a rarity, but it only bit him by turning the order over. JJ dropped a lob into left and stayed rooted at first.

JT had his game face on tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Cubs went in order in the third as did the Pirates. A walk, DP (a safe call at first was overturned after a challenge; Jason Heyward never touched the bag) and K took care of the Chicago fourth. Matt Joyce was plunked and S-Rod singled him to third. This time, a Buc hit it in the air - JJ caught a thigh-high hook and sent it on the line over the Clemente Wall in right. The Bucs got a couple more aboard, leaving them on but took a 4-1 lead. JT tossed a clean fifth. S-Rod doubled with two gone; Chris Coghlin had to leave the game after meeting the wall while leaping for the ball. JJ followed with another two-bagger, and what the heck, Freeser banged out another. Eric Fryer couldn't quite keep up, but he did manage an RBI knock off a glove to make it 7-1 before the dance ended.

Fraze dropped a pop up in the sixth, but all it cost were a few extra tosses by Jamo. Mike Montgomery took the ball while the Cubbies swapped some guys out, and held the Pirates to a J-Bell knock. Jared Hughes replaced JT, who was at 90 pitches, in the seventh. He bopped a batter and walked another, then Freeser threw a ball away, allowing a run to score. Zach Phillips climbed the hill, and an out, wild pitch and single brought in two more to make it 7-4. Juan Nicasio was waved in and ended the madness. Pedro Strop extracted a little revenge by drilling S-Rod; warnings were issued but the Bucs had the last laugh - JJ completed the cycle with a triple. He was stranded, but hey, why be greedy on the one day it shouldn't matter?

JJ landed in the Bucco history books with his cycle (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Felipe Rivero gave up a knock but no other damage in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman came in to break a sweat and hardly did, striking out the side. Tony Watson got a ninth inning call and booked it, tho he did surrender a two bagger.

Good night for a change. Jamo finishes the year 5-4, 3.38, in 18 starts and 104IP. John Jaso makes a little history. The ol' Jake curse looks like it's history. The contest only lasted three hours. And the four game losing streak came to an end. Hey - let's do it again tomorrow!

  • John Jaso's cycle was the first one completed at PNC Park. It was the first by a Pirate since Daryle Ward's in 2004 at Busch Stadium. The last home Bucco cycle was by Jason Kendall in 2000 at TRS - and he was the only Pirate to hit one there. JJ chased home five runs and scored twice.
  • J-Bell, S-Rod and Eric Fryer each had a pair of knocks tonight.
  • From @BrinkPG - Jamo walked three batters in a start for the first time since August 22nd, 2013 against AAA Rochester.
  • Clint told the press gang that he'll probably "back off" using Fran because of a left hand bruise and they'll be cautious re: Jordy's forearm tightness. He added *spoiler alert* that Neftali Feliz is likely done for the season.
  • If you're keeping count, Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Josh Harrison, Neftali Feliz, AJ Schugel and Stew have more-or-less missed September.

Wednesday: Jameson Taillon v Jake Arrieta, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The first pitch is at 7:05 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Should be an interesting night, at least in the stands, as it's the Zombie game - fans are supposed to don their undead costumes, and a 1,000 Zombie Night tees will be handed out. And it's sorta fitting with the way the team's been playing lately.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (4-4, 3.49) and Jake Arrieta (18-7, 2.85) will duke it out. JT hasn't really gotten it back in gear yet since skipping a turn, and it would be reassuring to see him finish up the year on a high note. Jamo hasn't seen the Cubs since June, when he gave up four runs in four frames. Jameson, btw, has worked 159-2/3 IP after missing two straight seasons. His previous high was 147-1/3 frames in 2013.  After three typical shut-down starts against the Bucs to start the season, Jake has been touched up for 12 runs in 12-1/3 IP in his last two outings against the Corsairs, but is still 9-2, 2.44 in 14 career starts against the Pirates.

JT looking to close out strong (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Matt Joyce LF, S-Rod SS, John Jaso 1B, David Freese 3B, Eric Fryer C, Jameson Taillon. Doesn't look like a kid's day line, but more like a nod to the bench guys. It's tough sledding against Jake under the best of circumstances, but w/o Gregory, Starling, JHK, Jordy or Fran in the lineup?

  • Have mercy -  Chicago is 14-3 against the Pirates, outscoring the Bucs 109-64 in 2016. 
  • Five games to go; everyone's start from today on will be their last of the campaign.
  • The Giants won last night, so Pittsburgh is mathematically eliminated from the post season for the first time since 2012.
  • Per Forbes Magazine, the Pirates TV ratings are #5 percentage-wise in MLB, but dropped 21% from last year. The raw viewing audience is just outside baseball's Top Ten. Indy had a good year, too - per @RyanSheets_ the club topped minor league teams in total attendance (636,888). The Tribe also led in total website visits with 2,912,975 and was second in unique hits with 666,568.
  • The Pirates and Blue Jays will play two spring games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 31st and April 1st just before the Bucs start the season April 3rd against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Big O games should draw rowdy crowds to end camp on a high note (La Belle Ville fans always show up, and the Pirates-Expos were a thing back in the day), and it's tough to beat a campaign-opening series in Boston, a franchise that the Pirates first played back in 1887 as the Alleghenys.