Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday: Jameson Taillon v Wade Smiley, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 10:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (1-1, 4.50) takes on southpaw Wade Miley (6-3, 5.28). JT is still feeling his way around in the bigs in the first lap of his career, and has been a little flat and up with his heater. He's still searching for a comfort zone that will allow him some consistency with command. The veteran Miley pitched a rehab game game Friday, and this will be his first start since being DL'ed after his June 12th start with a minor shoulder impingement. He's 2-1/2.14 v Pittsburgh lifetime in five starts, having last faced them in 2014 when he spun an eight inning, four hit, two run, 10 K outing for a no decision.

JT takes the bump tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy SS, Gregory Polanco DH, Cutch CF, Davud Freese 1B, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling Marte LF, S-Rod RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Erik Kratz C, Taillon P. Gregory DH'ng against a lefty; we like it. Still not pushing Stew, and that's understandable, too.

  • The Pirates have gone 9-22 since May 28th. 
  • Ryan Vogelsong will throw a sim game Friday. Man, it's good to see him bounce back so quickly after that gruesome beaning, and better yet, the docs sad he can participate 100% in baseball activities now. Fran and Cole Train will join him in the Friday scrimmage.
  • Indy's next-in-line duo of Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell were named to the International league's All-Star squad.

6/29: Expo Closes, HBD Rock, #400 For Pops, Kiner Cover, Freddy Snaps Streak & More

  • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach gunned down Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17 game winning streak snapped.
  • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps after the game concluded.
1909 Pgh Press
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post‚ and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field.
  • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards 2-1 at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm rained out the remainder. The rain also pulled the plug on local son (he was from Donora) Stan Musial’s 24 game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy.
  • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, The Rock hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He’s now an analyst on Root Sports’ TV team. 
John Wehner 1992 Score "Rising Star"
  • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirate player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected at Busch Stadium in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win. Bill Robinson had a four bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage combined for a seven-hitter.
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in ten innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the extra inning win.
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double, and Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete game, four hit shutout for the win.
  • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL with a broken toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game in St. Louis on the 26th (an eventual 10 inning, 5-4 Pirate win) and was out of action for 10 weeks.
Ollie Perez 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings
  • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer.
  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI.
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director.

Niese Chased, Bats Quiet In 5-2 Loss

The first two innings between Jon Niese and Hisashi Iwakuma were calm, with each hurler allowing one runner. The Bucs went quietly in the third; not so the Mariners. A single followed by a perfect bunt that Niese should have just eaten turned into a throwing error that almost got JJ's arm mangled and left runners on the corners. A DP cleaned it up at the cost of a tally, putting the Bucs down 1-0.

The Seattle gloves came into play big time in the fourth. Gregory bunted for a hit, then Cutch rocketed one that was ticketed for extra bases until RF Franklin Gutierrez sweetly ran it down. Starling looked like he shot a ball into left, but SS Ketel Marte kept it all in the clan by making the play and turning two in the process. Jon began to struggle; a one-out single, walk, single sequence put him in a jam (and just a jam at this point thanks to some suspect baserunning by the Mariners), but he wiggled out with just a run surrendered via a sac fly.

Another rough day in the office for Jon Niese (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The fifth opened with coach Jeff Branson getting the boot for some bench jockeying (plate ump Ben May has been quite bad tonight both ways, but was especially generous on Iwakuma's sloooow curve) and Clint joined him in the shower a heartbeat later. Matt Joyce opened with a single, but a hit-and-run with Freeser backfired as his liner to center became a twin killing. With two gone, Niese lost it completely. A walk, wild pitch, single triplet brought home one run and Nelson Cruz's shot into the second level (c'mon, you didn't think Jon was getting through this line up without a dinger, right?) made it 5-0. He gave up two more knocks before Arquimedes Caminero got that elusive third out.

The sixth went quietly for Pittsburgh; Arquie struck out the side, although he did allow a two out double.  The Bucs showed some life finally in the seventh. Gregory doubled, went to third on a Cutch fly and scored on a Starling triple. Marte plated after a two out Freeser knock, and Adam Frazier followed with another rap. So long, Hasashi, hello Edwin Diaz, who ended the uprising. Arquie gave up a two out single followed by a double, but a Cutch-Jordy-Stew relay team cut down the lead man at home (Dae-Ho Lee with not represent South Korea in the Olympic sprints), withstanding a Seattle blocking the plate challenge.

Gregory had a pair of knocks for the Bucs (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Diaz 1-2-3'ed the Corsairs in the eighth. Jared Hughes got the call and tossed a clean frame. Steve Cishik came in for the save. Cutch singled and Starling almost hit into a DP but Lee dropped the relay. Another grounder moved him to second, and yet a third ended it.

Iwakuma had put together a string of nice starts before getting shelled at Detroit, but he got back on the bike tonight, unlike Niese. Jon struggled mightily for the fourth straight game, giving up 22 runs in 21 IP during that span. The middle bullpen, configured of Schugel, Nicasio and Caminero, has found its way lately, but the spate of five inning starts will wear down any bridge group. And it's just not the pitching; the Bucs are hitting .228 for June, admittedly against some top line pitching, but still... Gotta get better, right?

  • Gregory continues to rake with two more knocks, while Cutch, Starling and Freeser were held to a hit each but were squaring up pretty well.
  • RHP Trevor Williams at Indy is starting to knock off some of the rust. He went six innings last night, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and six whiffs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday: Jon Niese v Hisashi Iwakuma, Lineup, Notes, Preview

Tonight: The game starts at 10:10 at Safeco Field. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jon Niese (6-5, 4.93) begins the match against Hisashi Iwakuma (6-6, 4.45). After a six-game string of strong starts, Niese has been tagged for 12 runs in his past two outings, lasting 10-2/3 IP. Iwakuma has followed roughly the same path. He put together six solid outings where he worked at least seven innings before a beat down and fifth inning exit against Detroit, so both guys are looking for bounce backs. Niese hasn't faced Seattle since 2013; Iwakuma has never twirled against the Bucs. One thing for sure - the outfielders should play deep tonight; both guys give up plenty of bombs (Jon 18; Hisashi 17).

Adam Frazier gets a start today (photo via 2080 Baseball)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco DH, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Matt Joyce RF, David Freese 3B, Adam Frazier 2B, Jordy SS, Stew C, Niese P. Gregory's back, so that's good even if it is as DH. It's not a surprise that Mr. Frazier is getting to show his stuff - Josh is hitting below the Mendoza line in June. JHK is batting .158 in his last 10 games, w/Freeser just a hair higher at .235; Clint's hoping to get one them jump started.

Preview: This is the beginning of a nine game road trip for the Pirates. This quick two game set will be followed by an off day Thursday, then three games at Oakland and four more against the Cards at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh cruises into the ASB with a three game series at PNC against da Cubbies; that's seven pretty big games to close out the first half of the campaign.

  • The geeky fivethirtyeight mag has a Neil Paine piece on the travails of Cutch and what it may portend. 
  • Gerrit Cole threw off a mound today for the second time, using all his pitches, so there's a light at the end of his tunnel.
  • Breaking bad: One-time Bucco prospect Adrian Sampson, sent to Seattle for JA Happ last year, made his major-league debut for the Mariners last week and would have been on schedule to face his former organization this trip. But he had elbow pain warming up for his next outing, and it was determined that he would need surgery to repair a flexor bundle injury in his elbow, killing his rookie campaign. 
  • So long, Figgy: The LA Dodgers claimed IF Cole Figueroa off waivers and optioned him to AAA Oklahoma City.
  • OF Austin Meadows (US team) & Lithuanian RHP Dovydas Neverauskas (World team) of Indy were selected as members of  the 2016 Sirius All Star Futures Game.
  • The Pirates announced the signing of 11th-round pick,  RHP Max Kranick from PA's Valley View HS, who had committed to Virginia, the second prep overdraft they inked through underdrafting to save (and redirect) some bucks in the first ten rounds.
  • OF Alex Presley was DFA'ed by the Brewers.
  • Eric Fryer, one of a legion of 2011 Bucco catchers, was DFA'd by Cards.

6/28: Finale at Forbes Field, Pops Hits #300, Cole Train Rolls, Mad Dog Deal, HBD Mike & More...

  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01.
  • 1894 - Although he was still several seasons from being a Pirate (1900), Hall of Fame OF’er and later manager Fred Clarke had one of the greatest debuts in MLB history, going 5-for-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies for the Louisville Colonels at Eclipse Park to spark an 11-9 victory.
Fred Clarke (image by Sanjay Verma)
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2, with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh.
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the final games at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs tenth straight loss.
Forbes Field swan song (6-29-1970 Post Gazette)
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter.
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323).
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia.
Alex Presley 2011 Bowman Chrome
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Second Verse, Same As the First: Liriano/Hughes Blow Early Lead; Bucs Fall 5-4

Frankie gave up a leadoff walk (surprise) but got of the inning undinged, thx greatly to a pop fly that dropped between a couple of Bucs but was still turned into a heads-up forceout. Scott Kazmir walked Jordy to open, and he was chased to third an out later on Cutch's two bagger. Another walked juiced 'em, and Starling brought a run home by poking a slider into right. Josh couldn't cash in, popping out, but S-Rod did, drawing the third walk of the frame. Kazmir hung a two strike changeup to Erik Kratz, who dropped the pitch into center for an extra pair of points before Frankie's bouncer ended the dance 40 pitches after it began.

Frankie frittered away a big lead last time out, but tossed a 1-2-3 second (w/a very nice pick and stretch by Freeser, saving JHK an error), as did Kazmir. Liriano left an 0-2 slider down but mid-plate, and Chris Taylor spanked it for a triple to start the third, with a whiff and a walk next. Justin Turner's RBI sac fly was a nice bit of hitting, lifting a down and tight slider to make it 4-1. Kaz got two fan jobs and a bunt back to box to tuck the Bucs away neatly. LA got a two out single and walk in the fourth before out number three was gloved. Kazmir ran his streak of Buccos buried to 10.

Where oh where has our Frankie gone? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the fifth, Liriano issued a one out walk and Turner doubled him to third. Yet another walk loaded the sacks and Yasiel Puig's knock plated a pair. Jared Hughes came on. A single tied it. Kratz tried a pickoff; this time it backfired with a bad throw, moving Puig to third. A steal put Dodgers at second and third, and an infield rap gave LA the lead. The first three Bucs hit ropes off Kazmir; only Cutch's two out liner found grass. JHK walked, but the run ended when Starling swung through a heater. Hughes tossed a clean sixth. The Bucs had S-Rod on second after a double with two outs. Matt Joyce grabbed a stick and the Dodgers called on lefty JP Howell. Howell won the southpaw challenge, getting Joyce swinging at a 3-2 knuckle curve.

Juan Nicasio came on in the seventh and worked a quiet frame. Joe Blanton took the ball for the Blue and walked Jordy. After a whiff, Cutch hit into a force and then was caught stealing to put the pin in the balloon. Juan's eighth went walk, fly, DP for a 1-2-3 affair. Pedro Baez answered the phone and struck out JHK and Starling. Kelly Jansen was waved in after that for some reason and completed the hat trick by whiffing Josh.

Juan's been lookin' good coming out of the pen. (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Nicasio gave up an opening walk and single in the ninth, and two outs later a plunked batter filled the bases with Dodgers, but he got through it. Jansen coaxed a pair of easy outs before walking JJ; Adam Frazier came in to run and stole second. Fraze died there as Jordy poked a fly to right that Puig cradled.

The Liriano/Hughes pairing hasn't panned out so well this homestand; they've managed to hand over 6-1 and 4-0 leads for two of the four losses. The offense tried to carry the day with one big frame in both matches, when grinding out an extra run or two, especially when you get into the opponent's bullpen early, would have made a world of difference. Still, they took 3-of-4 and can keep pushin' with Seattle and Oakland next up. It'd be nice to go into the St. Louis & Chicago sets before the break with some mojo risin'.

  • Cutch had two of the Bucs five hits. On the flip side, he's now 2-for-7 on steal attempts this year.
  • Clint said before the game that Gregory was sitting because of his hammy, not southpaw syndrome. He's cleared for base running only.
  • Fangraphs Dave Cameron said that now isn't the right time to move Cutch...but there are some indicators that the time is approaching. In a related post, Enos Sarris looks at the development of Austin Meadows.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has updated his scouting report of Chad Kuhl.
  • Altoona lefty Brandon Waddell was named the AA Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week.
  • Bradenton LHP Stephen Tarpley was named High-A Florida State League Pitcher of the Week. He went 2-0.

Monday: Frankie v Scott Kazmir, Lineup, Notes

Today: The Dodger finale is a matinee, getaway game that begins at 12:35 as the Bucs look for a four game sweep. The contest will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Frankie Liriano (4-7, 5.03) v Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.52). Liriano has been wild and homer prone; his last outing saw him staked to a 6-1 lead that eventually became a 7-6 loss. He's been in a month long tailspin with four straight losses, and the Bucs need him to start flying right. In five career starts vs. the Dodgers, Liriano is 4-0/2.73. He faced them twice last year, going 1-0 with one good Frankie, one bad Frankie, outing. The Dodgers' veteran lefty has mostly been workmanlike for LA, with a handful of strong outings and a sprinkling of stinkers thrown in the mix. He has been quite solid over his last half dozen starts, with a 3.38 ERA and 11 K per game. Kazmir has become a five or six inning pitcher, so the Bucs might be able to get to him early.

Frankie toes the rubber today (photo Associated Press)

Lineup: Jordy SS, David Freese 1B, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling LF, Josh Harrison 2B, S-Rod RF, Erik Kratz C, Frankie P. It's the fourth game in a row for Gregory on the bench, with his sore hammy compounded by a couple of tough lefties. Kratz gets the call for a day-after-night game, and Jordy's back.

  • Since 2014, Pittsburgh has gone 13-3 against the Dodgers.
  • The Bucs last sweep was a three-gamer against the Arizona D-Backs between May 24-26th. The Pirates have been involved in seven sweeps this year; they've taken three and been broomed four times. Last year, they were 14-6 in swept series.
  • Jordy passed his concussion protocols after taking a knee to the noggin last night, and said he felt much better after the game. Guess he passed with flying colors, as he's back in the lineup.

6/27: Clutch Clemente, HBD Daryle, Cumpton v deGrom, Grilli Deal & More...

  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground rule double to center in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
Roberto Clemente 1964 Topps Giant
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”
  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell’ as his drive hit the facsimile Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veteran’s Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI.
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002.
Daryle Ward 2004 Topps Total
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee."
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.
Jason Bay 2005 Donruss Studio
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win.
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013. Grilli is now working for Toronto while Frieri has moved around and is currently a free agent.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Kids Are OK, Freeser's Big Knock & Shutdown Pen Send Kershaw Down 4-3

Chad Kuhl had some early command issues (nerves?), and was touched for a walk, single, walk with two gone. He bore down and got Yasiel Puig to bounce out, and his first MLB inning was in the books. jordy opened with a knock against Clayton Kershaw. Freeser bounced into a force; Jordy's gawky slide broke up a DP, but left him woozy. A wild pitch moved David to second, where he stayed.

Jordy left the game; Adam Frazier moved to right and S-Rod to short. Chad had no issues in the second, picking up his first two K's against the bottom of the order. Josh singled with an out and Stew followed with another knock. S-Rod drew a rare Kershaw walk. Kuhl fanned, but made Clayton throw eight pitches before sitting down. It may have worn him down; Fraze dumped an RBI knock into short left. The next pitch was a heater down the middle to Freeser; his double to the RC gap swept the bases to make it 4-0 Buccos.

Kuhl was welcomed into the show in the third by a Cory Seager double and ump reviewed HR by Justin Turner (Starling couldn't get there quite in time as it barely cleared the fence; the umps checked for fan interference) to cut the lead in half. Kershaw pshawed the Bucs 1-2-3. The back end of LA's lineup went down in order in the fourth. S-Rod singled with an out and was bunted up. Fraze took another pitch the opposite way, but no run resulted this time as Sean was cut down at home. Good wave, better play by LA as the tag just beat Rodriguez to the dish.

Chad may not have had the best command tonight, but there was no questioning his compete level (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Seager drew a one out walk in the fifth, and Turner plated him again, going with an 0-2 slider and doubling to right off the Clemente Wall on a ball that Frazier had trouble corralling. Rookie mistake; that pitch has to be off the black in that count in the majors. An out later, with Turner at third, a passed ball turned into the final out as he was caught trying to score, with Kuhl covered the plate like he was an old-timey catcher. Chad gave up three runs on four hits with four walks and five whiffs on 82 pitches. He threw virtually all sinkers and heaters, with good velocity at 95-97. He was up and sometimes sprayed the ball, maybe suffering from opening night jitters; he'll get another outing. Clayton, meanwhile, rolled through the Pirates without a burp.

Juan Nicasio came in for the sixth against his old mates and tossed a clean frame.Starling opened with a knock, but was nailed stealing an out later. It was bang-bang, but no Bucco challenge was offered, and it hurt when Stew followed with a double. S-Rod was intentionally walked, and Gregory grabbed a stick in place of Juan. El Coffee got killed by the first two called strikes, both well low, and whiffed by missing a fastball down the middle.

Adam Frazier had a coming out party - two hits against Clayton and a sweet grab (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

AJ Schugel took over in the seventh. Kershaw was hit for as AJ tossed an easy frame, highlighted by Fraze making a tumbling grab in right. Casey Fien climbed the bump and tucked the Bucs away. Oh, and also got Cutch ejected. Plate ump Chris Conroy has had a ridiculously low strike zone (both ways) tonight and rung up Andrew on a ball down, to his displeasure. So now Fraze is in LF, Starling in CF and Matt Joyce in RF. No diff to Schugs; he mowed down the Dodgers in the eighth. The Bucs couldn't add anymore up against Fien. No need; Melancon went dancin' without any drama to put away the Dodgers and claim the Buccos third win in a row.

This was a great game for a national audience, well played throughout. The Bucco babes, Chad Kuhl and Adam Frazier, acquitted themselves well. A couple of clutch two out knocks provided the offense, and the bullpen held onto a one run lead for four innings to close it out. Knock on wood; maybe Juan and AJ can prove to be the bridge guys the pen has been so sorely lacking.

AJ tossed two clean frames to hand the torch to The Shark (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • The 7-8-1 hitters (S-Rod, Stew, Jordy & Fraze) went 6-for-8 with two walks and scored three times.
  • Jordy has an 11 game hitting streak after tonight. He left after his head and Chase Utley's knee met during a first inning slide. The Pirates announced that he had "...head and right ear discomfort. He is being evaluated."
  • Stew is  9-for-17 off Clayton Kershaw in his career after going 2-for-3 in this match.
  • Adam Frazier became the second lefty hitter this season to have a multi-hit game against Kershaw, joining Dee Gordon, per Inside Edge
  • This is the second most runs scored against Kershaw this year. The last time he gave up more than a pair in an outing was April 26th. Six innings equals his shortest 2016 performance.
  • The game drew 32,228 fans.
  • Gerrit Cole threw off a mound today and has a couple of side sessions on tap; looks like they expect him back, if there are no bumps in the road, shortly after All Star break.

Sunday: Chad Kuhl v Clayton Kershaw, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The rare Sunday nite game starts at 8:05 with coverage by ESPN and 93.7 The Fan. For the kids, there's a Cutch jersey giveaway.

Chad makes his MLB debut tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl vs. Clayton Kershaw (11-1, 1.57). First MLB start on national TV against Clayton Kershaw? Hey, no pressure. Kuhl slashed 6-2/2.58 at Indy, tho his FIP is a run higher and he sports a pretty high 83.5% strand rate, both indicators that he's had some luck behind those counting numbers. He relies heavily on a sinker, pitching to contact with good command. His off speed deliveries aren't as developed, which lead many to believe his future is less as a starter and more in the Tony Watson mold. He's mostly tossed to a 90 pitch count in AAA, so six innings would be a good outing for Chad.  Meanwhile, Clayton leads the league in starts, IP, wins, ERA and strikeouts; he's pretty dang good. But in six career starts at PNC Park, he's just human with a slash of 1-0/3.63, and last year, the Bucs won the two games he started against them, 5-4 and 3-2, so...

Lineup: Jordy SS, David Freese 1B, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Stew C, S-Rod RF, Kuhl, P. Not certain of Gregory's condition; he just may be getting another recuperation day with a strong lefty on the hill.

  • To make space on the 25-man and 40-man rosters for Chad, Kyle Lobstein was optioned to Indy and Curtis Partch was DFA'ed.
  • Nick Cafardi of the Boston Globe is doing a little trade rumor mongering re: Frank and Mark the Shark. He speculates that Miami (and we've already heard Baltimore, too) might be interested in Liriano, while the Astros, Giants, Mets and Red Sox could be "fits" for Melancon.
  • Cory Luebke was given his unconditional release after he refused an assignment to Indy, making him a FA. He was DFA'ed earlier this week to create roster space.