Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4/26 TRS-PNC Park Era: HBD Francisco & S-Rod; Score Early, Score Late; Brew Crew Curse; Opening Day Blues, Kiner Statue & More

  • 1972 - RHP Francisco Cordova was born in Cerro Azul, Mexico. He spent his five year MLB career (1996-2000) as a Pirate, first as a reliever who notched 12 saves in his rookie year before becoming a starter. His slash was 42-47-12/3.96. He was part of one of the great Pirate moments on July 12th, 1997 at a sold out Three Rivers Stadium when he pitched nine innings of a combined 10-inning no-hitter, with Ricardo Rinc√≥n closing it out. The Pirates won the game on a three-run, pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith.
Francisco Cordova 1998 Upper Deck Highlight
  • 1978 - Ed Ott hit an 11th-inning home run at Shea Stadium to give the Bucs and Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game six hitter, a 1-0 win. It took 35 years for another Pirate, Neil Walker, to homer for the only run in a Bucco extra inning victory.
  • 1980 - The Pirates scored five times in the first inning and cruised to a 9-2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh pounded out 17 hits, led by three apiece from Mike Easler and Dave Parker. John Candelaria went the distance, allowing two runs on eight hits as the Pirates split a brief two game series with Chicago.
  • 1985 - Utilityman Sean Rodriguez was born in Miami. In his career, S-Rod has played every position but pitcher and catcher. The Bucs traded for him during the 2014 off season and he played around the field for Pittsburgh. He was signed up again for 2016 after hitting .246 and playing six different spots in 2015. The super-sub had a super year, batting .270 w/18 HR and turned that into a nice FA deal with Atlanta. He’ll miss the campaign, tho, due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-season car accident.
S-Rod 2015 Topps Update
  • 1995 - 34,841 fans at TRS disrupted a delayed Opening Day by throwing whatever was handy (mainly giveaway day Bucco pennants) on the field to show their displeasure with the freshly resolved player’s strike and some shoddy play by the Bucs. The game was delayed for 17 minutes until the announcer told the unruly crowd that the contest was about to be forfeited. It might as well have been; Montreal won the game 6-2, chasing Jon Leiber in the fifth.
  • 2008 - Alhambra, California, dedicated a bronze statue to honor of its native son Ralph Kiner for his "accomplishments and contributions to the game of professional baseball and sports broadcasting.” The former Pirates slugger, a member of the Hall of Fame, grew up in Alhambra and graduated from its high school in 1940.
  • 2010 - The Brewers romped over the Bucs 17-3 for their 22nd straight win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park after they had already taken the opening series of the year by 8-1, 8-0 and 20-0 tallies. The curse, dating back to 2007, was snapped the next day 7-3 by the Pirates, who also took the third game of the series for good measure.
Cutch flexed his muscles 2016 Topps Heritage
  • 2016 - Pittsburgh pounded five home runs in the thin air of Coors Field to claim a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit three long balls and chased home five runs. With his second career three-dinger match, Cutch joined Ralph Kiner (four), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two) on the list of players who have multiple three-homer games as Pirates. Starling Marte and David Freese added to the fence busting party, propelling Gerrit Cole to victory.

4/26 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: No Expo Luck, HBD Fire Trucks, HBD Amos, Rallies

  • 1900 - The Bucs drew 11,000 to the newly expanded Exposition Park, the biggest Pittsburgh baseball turnout to date, with a couple of thousand more fans trying to get in. The Pirates were fortified by the recent influx of Louisville players like Honus Wagner, but dropped a 12-11 slugfest to Cincinnati as the Reds lit up Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro. The Bucs made a game of it by rallying for seven ninth inning runs.
Honus at the bat (Max Stein postcard)
  • 1905 - The Cubs beat Pittsburgh at Exposition Park, 2-1 as Chicago’s Jack McCarthy became the only major league OF’er to throw out three runners trying to score in one game. All three assists were on tag-up tries and resulted in double plays.
  • 1917 - Coach Virgil “Fire” Trucks was born in Birmingham, Alabama. After a long pro career, he became the bullpen coach/batting practice pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1960 and stayed with the Pirates until 1963. Trucks later operated baseball camps for the Bucs. Jack House, sportswriter for the Birmingham News, gave him the apt moniker “Fire,” not because he chased red engines but because of his blazing heater; Trucks tossed two no-hitters for Detroit in 1952.
  • 1940 - After putting up four runs in the eighth the day before and falling just short, the Bucs crossed home seven times in the eighth this day to roll over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 at Forbes Field. Debs Garms and Joe Bowman both had homers with three RBI to spark the rally and earn Mace Brown his second relief win in four days.
Joe Bowman 1939 Play Ball
  • 1947 - OF Amos Otis was born in Mobile, Alabama. He played the final year of his 17-season career with the Pirates in 1984, coming over after 14 campaigns with the KC Royals. (He actually had been dealt to the Bucs during the 1976 off season, but as a 5 & 10 year player vetoed the trade of him and Cookie Rojas for Al Oliver.) His TRS season wasn’t much of a swan song for the 37-year-old: in 97 at-bats, he hit .165 and he was released in August. Amos worked briefly for the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies as a hitting instructor after he left the playing field and then retired to Las Vegas.
  • 1958 - With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati knotted 4-4 at Crosley Field heading into the eighth, Bill Mazeroski took over. First, he drilled an eighth frame solo shot to put the Pirates on top, then his three-run bomb in the top of the ninth sealed the deal, 8-4. It was the first of eight multi-homer games in his career, with his next coming less than a month later on May 10th. 1958 was also the year Maz earned his first of seven All-Star spots. Billy’s heroics gave Don Gross the win after he spun four innings of one-hit relief, with Roberto Clemente, Bob Skinner and Ted Kluszewski adding three hits apiece to aid the cause.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cole On Fire But Bucs Lose On Airball 1-0

The first inning was quiet. Gerrit Cole 1-2-3'ed the Cubs; Kyle Hendricks gave up a J-Bell walk. Cole Train struck out the side in the second, but in between Addison Russell doubled and Alen Hansen threw away a grounder to let him plate. The Bucs stranded a Fran walk and Jordy single. In the third, the Cubs went in order; J-Hay led off with a single and was caught stealing to make it easy on Hendricks. Both sides went down w/o a peep in the fourth. Cole cruised through the fifth and singled in the Bucco half but was left on the pond. With two gone in the sixth, Kris Bryant rolled over on a ball but got the second Cub knock with an infield single. He stole second *sigh* but Cole Train left him there after winning a battle with Anthony Rizzo. El Coffee singled with two away and swiped a sack but Fran whiffed, swinging over a changeup.

Cole Train was rolling tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The seventh was another walk in the park for Gerrit. Hendricks was done and Koji Uehara took up his torch. JJ greeted him with a two-bagger on an 0-2 heater and a Jordy fly moved him to third. Hansen couldn't atone for his error, striking out and looking bad doing it. Jose Osuna hit for Cole, who was dominating tonight: one unearned run, two hits, and eight K's on 78 pitches over seven frames. And Jose didn't help; he swung through a couple of high heaters before flying out. Juan Nicasio walked the first hitter and used a dozen more on Jan Jay, but it ended well with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP followed by a first-pitch garden-variety hopper. Hector Rondon took his turn, walking and stranding Cutch after Gregory hit a rocket right at Jason Heyward in right.

Felipe Rivero worked a clean ninth. Wade Davis answered the phone and apparently left a suitable sacrifice to the bullpen hit-'em-where-they-are gods as he gave up a pair of liners to the outfield and a ball to the track but worked a 1-2-3 inning for his fifth save.

Fran hasn't quite figured out that "hit 'em where they ain't" thing (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Not much to be said about today's loss except the Bucs gift run to the Cubs cost them dearly tonight. The Pirates best chance was laid on the shoulders of rookies Alen Hanson and Jose Osuna in the seventh; both were antsy and chased out of the zone while leaving the only Buc runner to reach third, John Jaso, ninety feet short. It begs the question "where was Freeser?" The answer: he was on the pine with a sore hamstring. Kinda hard to put together a lineup w/o Fraze and Freeser with Starling and Jung Ho out of the picture for the long run. Tyler Glasnow will try to stop the bleeding against Jon Lester tomorrow.

Notes:
  • Fran and Gregory had one hit between them but hit a half-dozen bullets. The BABIP blues have struck Amore particularly hard in the early going; Fangraphs had him at a 42% hard-contact rate going into tonight.
  • Antonio Bastardo was placed on the 10-day DL with left quad strain suffered last night, not from the arm/hand weakness he had been complaining about lately. Recent Yankee acquisition RHP Johnny Barbato, a multi-inning reliever, was called to Pittsburgh to replace him. That move keeps the bullpen a man up (Tyler Glasnow goes tomorrow) and the bench a man down.
Antonio is on the DL (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Pirates second basemen have committed four errors in the past five games; the team has a league-leading 19 boots in 20 outings.
  • 15,326 attended tonight's contest. It was supposed to be a nice night but ended up a little chilly with intermittent drizzle. Hope the pups in attendance stayed dry.
  • Josh Ruga of The North Shore Nine noted that this was the first time the Pirates had lost a nine-inning ball game at home while allowing only two hits to the opposition since 1985. Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, this the first time the Cubs won a game without earning an RBI since July, 2011.
  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was at the game to help launch a Pirates youth baseball/softball initiative. He told the press that Starling, contrary to early reports, did not appeal his suspension and that rather than have umps mic'ed to explain review decisions, he would prefer the ruling would be shown on the scoreboard to get the game moving again.

Tuesday: Cubbies at PNC,Cole v Kyle Hendricks, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Cubs and Pirates begin at 7:05 on the Northshore. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's supposed to be a nice evening and is the second Pup Night of the season, so bring your fur fan to the game to woof, woof, woof for the home team...

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Fran Cervelli C, John Jaso RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Alen Hanson 2B and Gerrit Cole P. It's hard losing Fraze at the top of the order; J-Hay hits lefties well but is batting .243 v righties. The middle is softer too with Freeser starting the day on the bench.

Alen Hanson sighting! (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70) goes against Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19) in an early rematch. Cole Train has been looking sharper as the season goes on and is ache-free, so it's a good start so far. He's 9-2/3.00 in 12 career starts v the Cubbies. This year against Chicago, Cole Train has already taken a 4-2 decision over Hendricks at Wrigley Field. Hendricks was kryptonite to the Pirates last year but he was chased after fifteen outs and charged with all four runs in his head-to-head with Gerrit earlier in the season, taking a 4-2 loss. His primary concern is loss of velocity on his fastball; it makes his bread-and-butter changeup less effective. But the Cubs have been mashing lately and the Pirates have dropped 5-of-7, so it will be a challenge for Cole as he looks to get Pittsburgh back on track tonight.

Notes:
  • Josh Bell has a seven-game hitting streak.
J-Bell has been swinging a hot stick (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Nice move last night - Clint took out the first ball tossed by Dovydas Neverauskas both as a keepsake for Dovy and as a historic horsehide delivered by the first Lithuanian-born MLB player. Neverauskas also became the 140th Altoona Curve (the club began in 1999) alum to reach the majors.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a profile of Dovy, his stuff and his MLB projection.
  • The Pirates elected to shore up the bullpen and go short-handed on the bench when Fraze went on the DL. The cavalry consists of John Jaso/Jose Osuna (RF platoon), Phil Gosselin, Alen Hanson, and Stew.

4/25 TRS-PNC Park Era: Starg & Kip Go Long, ASV Cap-er, Pedro 2-Fer, HBD Trevor, Big Three Fall, 26th Man

  • 1970 - Willie Stargell homered over the RF roof at Forbes Field off Hoyt Wilhelm‚ the second time he'd done it in a week‚ as the Pirates edged the Braves‚ 8-7. Eighteen balls carried over the Oakland yard’s roof, with seven launched by Stargell. No one else hit more than a pair. Roberto Clemente had three hits (two were doubles) and four RBI as he shared some of the offensive thunder with Cap’n Willie.
Willie Stargell 1970 Topps
  • 1992 - In the Pirates 1-0 win over the host Cubs‚ the Bucs were helped by a wayward hat. With Kirk Gibson on first‚ Jay Bell hit a potential DP grounder that struck Gibson's helmet which had flown off as he headed to second, and the Cubs had to settle for a force. Andy Van Slyke noted‚ “the play goes 7-1/2 to 4 to 5 to 6" on your scorecard. Bell then scored when Van Slyke followed with a double for the game’s only run. Randy Tomlin was the winner over Greg Maddux.
  • 1992 - RHP Trevor Williams was born in San Diego. His brief initial cruise in 2016 wasn’t all that smooth; after mowing down hitters in AAA, he went 1-1/7.83 for the Pirates in a handful of outings. In 2017, he broke camp with the team as a multi-role bullpen arm after a strong spring. He was a second round draft pick of the Marlins in 2013 and came to Pittsburgh for a career minor-league player, Richard Mitchell. Many thought the seemingly one-sided deal was actually compensation for the Fish signing the Pirates pitching assistant Jim Benedict earlier.
  • 2003 - Kip Wells became the second player and first pitcher to homer into the batter’s eye at PNC Park with a third inning, 457’ blast off the Dodgers Odalis Perez. LA had the last laugh when they rallied for five ninth inning runs off Wells and Mike Williams to take a 5-2 victory.
Kip hit better than he tossed - 2003 Fleer Hardball
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez homered in both games of Pittsburgh’s doubleheader split against Colorado at PNC Park, becoming the second Pittsburgh player in the last 22 seasons to hit home runs for the Pirates in two games played on the same day. El Toro joined Rob Mackowiak, who also went long twice in a DH on 5/28/04 against the Cubs on the memorable day his wife gave birth to their first child.
  • 2012 -The Pirates and the Rockies became the first teams in MLB history to add an extra player to the roster for their twin bill at PNC Park. The new CBA permitted teams to carry 26 on the active roster for doubleheaders to save the paper shuffling that calling up an extra pitcher entailed. The Bucs brought up Jared Hughes, who had started the season with Pittsburgh but was sent down when AJ Burnett came of the DL.
  • 2013 - The Bucs beat the Phillies for the third straight time at Citizen’s Bank Park by a 6-4 score. It was the first time in the eighteen outings that Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee threw back-to-back-to-back games that the Phils lost all three matches. The Pirates lost the first outing of the four game set, beaten 3-2 by an unheralded Jonathan Pettibone who was making his first MLB start.

4/25 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Tom, Dutch, Fred, Jimmy, Ed & Bob; Wally, Roberto, Hans Come Up Big

  • 1864 - C Tom Quinn was born in Annapolis, Maryland. He played three years in the show, getting a cup of coffee with the Alleghenys in 1886 (0-for-11) and finishing with the outlaw Pittsburgh Burghers (.213) in 1890. Tom got a job with the state after he was done with baseball and lived in Swissvale the remainder of his days.
  • 1868 - 3B Fred “Dutch” Hartman was born in Allegheny City (Northside). He began his career as a Pirate in 1894 and hit a strong .319. After a couple of years of seasoning, he returned to the big leagues in 1897 after a trade to the Browns, where he was considered a highly touted addition to the club. He never took off and Dutch ended up pretty much a league-average player, hitting .278 during a six-year career. After baseball, he remained in the area, living in McKeesport.
Fred Haney w/owner John Galbreath & GM Branch Rickey
(photo April 13, 1954 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • 1896 - Fred Haney was born in Albuquerque. He managed the Bucs as a favor to Branch Rickey from from 1953-1955. His record reflects the fact that he was brought in during the early stages of a youth movement, losing 104, 101 and 94 games for a 163-299 (.353) slate, although he was used to the drill after managing the sad-sack St. Louis Browns from 1939-41. But he delivered when finally given some players. He moved on to Milwaukee and won back-to-back NL titles and the 1956 World Series. Later, he was the LA Angels first GM.
  • 1899 - In a sign of things to come, Pittsburgh lost to Louisville 2-1 at Eclipse Park as future Bucco SS Honus Wagner went 4-for-4 with 2 HRs‚ the second being a ninth-inning game winner. The Colonels were managed by future Pirate skipper (and player) Fred Clarke. The following season, most of Louisville’s top players followed owner Barney Dreyfuss to Pittsburgh.
  • 1910 - IF Jimmy Brown was born in Jamesville, North Carolina. A seven-year major league vet with an All-Star game under his belt, he was signed by the Bucs in 1946 after a two-year hiatus in the Army Air Force. He played three infield spots and hit .241 off the bench in his last hurrah. In 1947 he became a manager in the Pirates farm system at Indianapolis and New Orleans before returning to the NL as a coach for the Boston Braves in 1949. After leaving Beantown in 1952, he managed minor league teams for the Cardinals, Braves and Reds.
A dapper Ed Vargo (photo via Ancestry.com)
  • 1930 - Umpire Ed Vargo was born in Butler. He was a NL ump from 1960-1983 and the umpire supervisor from 1984-1997. Vargo worked the first night World Series game in 1971, two of Sandy Koufax's no-hitters, the last games at Forbes Field/the Polo Grounds, four All-Star Games, four NLCS, four World Series, the first game at Candlestick Park and the game in which Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's career home run record. Ed was inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame 1994. (bio via Baseball Reference)
  • 1943 - RHP Bob Johnson was born in Aurora, Illinois. He pitched for the Bucs from 1971-73, beginning as a starter and ending in the bullpen. He went 17-16-7/3.34 as a Pirate and appeared in a pair of NLCS and in the 1971 World Series.
  • 1948 - Wally Westlake homered, doubled, and drove in six runs while Ed Stevens added five more RBI to lead the Bucs to a 13-10 win over the Reds in the second game of a twinbill at Crosley Field. Pittsburgh lost the opener 7-6 in the ninth.
Roberto Clemente 1958 Topps Classic
  • 1958 - Roberto Clemente was in fine form as he led the Bucs to a 4-3 win against Cincinnati at Crosley Field. He scored in the sixth after a leadoff double and then smacked his first long ball of the year, a two-out, three-run shot in the seventh that stood as the game-winner. Vern Law claimed the win after an ElRoy Face save while future Bucco Harvey Haddix took the loss.

Monday, April 24, 2017

At Least It Was Over Quick...Bucs KO'ed Early In 14-3 Thumping

Ah, Buccos. Chad got two outs, then issued a walk. That was followed in order by a stolen base (Anthony Rizzo broke while Kuhl was set and would have been an easy pickoff, but no one on the field - ahem, Fran & J-Bell - alerted Chad), another walk, a single, and a dropped tag by Amore at home (Jose Osuna's throw had the runner) to make it 1-0. Next came a Jason Heyward homer and a double and it was quickly 4-0.  Cutch drew a two-out walk from Brett Anderson and so did Gregory. Freeser singled home a run but the party ended on Fran's liner to second.

Chad was bad tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The next frame flamed up with one out with a single, double, walk (intentional after falling behind Rizzo 2-0) ahead of Ben Zobrist knocking a changeup to the wall in right. Osuna had the ball hop out of his glove; the ruling was a base-clearing double. A couple of more walks, a couple of more knocks and Trevor Williams came in on the short end of a 9-1 count to get the last out. It was double, walk, force-out bunt, 6-4-3 DP for the Bucs. The contest mercifully settled into playing it out; the Bucs emptied their bench in top of the fifth. Trevor carried it two outs into the sixth when Antonio Bastardo took over. ESPN's telecast had given up on the game by then and derailed into a steroid debate. Between that and the score, this was not a good night for the Pirates PR people.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh got a pair back, with Osuna's triple behind an error and ahead of J-Bell's single being the linchpin. With two outs and the bases empty in the seventh, AB filled the sacks and a wild pitch added another brick to the wall. Dovydas Neverauskas worked the eighth. After an early double and single chased his butterflies, he traded a DP ball for a run and closed with a whiff, then tossed a clean ninth. The Cub bullpen held the Buc bats at bay over the last three frames, and 14-3 was entered in the books. Well, it looked a lot like yesterday with shoddy fielding and a couple of DP balls, but without the great mound work. They were 3-for-8 with RISP, tho, but Chicago bested them there too, going 9-for-18. Gerrit Cole will try to right the ship tomorrow against Kyle Hendricks, a Wrigley Field rematch from earlier in the month.

Dovydas had a memorable - and frantic - debut (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Notes:
  • The Pirates placed Adam Frazier on the 10-day DL and called up reliever Dovydas Neverauskas from Indy. Fraze has a left hammy sprain with the DL stint retroactive to yesterday, and Dovydas was called up to augment a bullpen that's carrying an ineffective Antonio Bastardo. Dovy hopped a plane, reported to the Pirate bullpen during the game and was warming up by the seventh frame. With his appearance in the eighth inning, he became the first born-and-raised Lithuanian (Joe Zapustas was Lithuanian and played in 1933, but he was born in Latvia and raised in Boston) to play MLB.
  • Jose Osuna finished a homer short of the cycle and had three of the Pirates seven hits. J-Hay had a knock and two (!) walks; J-Bell singled and walked. 
Jose's stick was smokin' but his glove was icy (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Adam Berry of MLB.com noted "Chad Kuhl has made 18 starts in the Majors. He's allowed three or fewer runs in 15 of them. The other three have all been against the Cubs."
  • 13,445 bought tickets for the game and not that many showed up. Smart people.
  • Curious who plays the deepest CF after all the ado about postioning last year in Buccoland? Here's Statcast's average depth played by MLB center fielders, with Starling and Andrew just about at the same jump-off point in the middle of the pack. Carlos Gomez plays the deepest if you were curious; Billy Hamilton plays furthest in.

Monday: Cubs Come to Town, Kuhl v Brett Anderson, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Cubs come to town after being swept in the first meeting at Wrigley. The game starts at 7:05 and will be carried by Root Sports, ESPN, and 93.7 The Fan. Interesting race in the Central - the Cubs are first at 10-8, the Bucs last at 8-10. The five teams are separated by two games as mediocrity seems to be the April MO.

Lefty on the hill, Jordy at leadoff (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, J-Hay 2B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jose Osuna RF, J-Bell, 1B and Chad Kuhl P. Lefty up, Fraze down. Seems like the Bucs want to give Osuna a good look; he's only hitting .100 with 10 at-bats but has been making fairly solid contact, so he's not overmatched...we'll see after the league has a book on him.

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-1, 2.60) opens against Brett Anderson (1-0, 4.40). The 24-year-old Kuhl is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Cards, but has been eye-opening effective during April. He'll be making his fourth start of the season and the 18th of his nascent MLB career. Caveat emptor: the Cubs treated him rudely last year when Cool Chad slashed 0-2/10.45 in two starts. Anderson, a 29-year-old FA signed by the Cubs, had a couple of good starts to open the season and then suffered a beatdown by the Brew Crew. Same trend against the Pirates: he shut them down in two 2014 starts, then was clocked in his outing against them as a Dodger last year (albeit after a long layoff due to disc surgery). Still, he's a lefty and the Bucs have had problems squaring them up so far this season.

Chad's been up to the task so far (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Notes: 
  • Ken Davidoff of the NY Post has a piece on how Ivan Nova has found a comfort zone in Pittsburgh that was missing in the Big Apple.
  • Odd weekend - Saturday was the first game that the Pirates lost when scoring four or more runs; Sunday was the first they won when scoring fewer than four.
  • More odd stuff - Ivan Nova's 154-batter string of not issuing a walk ended when he ran the count full before losing an AL rookie pitcher in his first MLB at-bat. In fact, Yankee puppy Jordan Montgomery never even drew a minor-league free pass because he never had a plate appearance (in the upper minors, only NL-affiliated clubs playing one another bat their pitchers; lower levels use a DH). Not too surprisingly, Jordan never offered at a pitch. He K'ed on four pitches the next time he was up.
  • Allegheny Andrew: Cutch is the all-time leader in homers (84) and RBI (321) at PNC Park.
  • Road trip: Beginning Friday against Miami, the Bucs are scheduled to play 14-of-17 games on the road.
JaCoby dodged a bullet over the weekend (photo MLB.com)
  • Detroit OF'er JaCoby Jones, an ex-Bucco traded to the Tigers for Joachim Soria, was placed on the 10-day DL with a left lip laceration after being hit in the face by a fastball Saturday. He had concussion/fracture worries, but escaped with nine stitches, his teeth, and a king-size headache.

4/24: Allen No-No; Chris Cranked; Firsts For Fred & Paul, Chase Field Shootout, HBD Dixie, Hans, Gashouse Gang Falls

  • 1891 - Fred Carroll hit the first home run by a Pirate in Exposition Park (they played the year prior in nearby Recreation Park as the Alleghenys) as the Bucs defeated the Chicago Colts 11-8 for their first victory ever in Pittsburgh. They had become the Pirates in the off season, when they “pirated” Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia A’s.
Fred Carroll 1887-90 Old Judge
  • 1903 - Honus Wagner was having a bad day in the field, booting three balls that helped the Cardinals head into the ninth with a 7-6 lead at Exposition Park, but his bat helped erase the deficit. He tripled in the ninth and scored the tying run on a Kitty Bransfield single. Then with two away in the eleventh, the Flying Dutchman walked, stole second and came around with the game winner on another Bransfield knock. Wagner collected four hits including two triples along with two runs scored, four RBI‚ and three stolen bases.
  • 1915 - Pittsburgh Rebel southpaw Frank Allen tossed a 2-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Terriers at Handlan Park in the last year of the Federal League, the short-lived (1913-15) major league “outlaw” option to the National and American Leagues. Allen went on to pitch a couple more seasons for the NL Boston Braves. The Federal League was absorbed by the NL & AL, and a suit the FL filed eventually led to the still existent ruling that exempted baseball from antitrust laws.
  • 1920 - C Dixie Howell was born in Louisville. The journeyman backstop began his MLB career as a Pirate in 1947 after being part of the Kirby Higbe deal and hit .276, but was lost to the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 pick after the camapign. He spent 1949-56 as a back-up catcher for the Reds and later the Dodgers.
Fred Lindstrom 1934 (photo Conlon Collection/TSN)
  • 1934 - The Bucs rallied to defeat the Gashouse Gang from St. Louis 5-4 at Forbes Field in their home opener. Behind 4-2 going into the ninth, Freddie Lindstrom homered over the LF wall with two aboard and his walk-off gave the Pirates the win over the future NL champs.
  • 2007 - Paul Maholm tossed his first major league complete game after allowing three hits and throwing 99 pitches in the 3-0 shutout victory over the Astros at PNC Park. The game took just 1 hour and 57 minutes to complete. Jason Bay had three hits and drove in a pair while Ronny Paulino added a solo shot.
  • 2010 - In the first inning of his first appearance of the year, Chris Jakubauskas was struck in the head by a liner off the bat of Houston's Lance Berkman. The 31-year old right-hander left the field on a stretcher, but was later diagnosed with just a concussion and not a fracture as first feared. Jaku wouldn’t pitch for the Bucs any more that year, but tossed for Baltimore the following season. The Pirates lost the game 5-2.
Jaku had one of the Bucs scarier moments in 2010 (photo Bob Levey/Getty)
  • 2016 - The Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks took advantage of hitter-friendly Chase Field and after the smoke cleared, the Bucs hung on for dear life to take a 12-10, 13 inning victory. Pittsburgh got ahead early, leading 8-4 after four frames (every Pirate starter had scored or chased home a run by that time) but blew two run leads in both the ninth and 12th frames to a unrelenting D-Back attack. Both benches were shot by the end; pitchers Zack Grienke and Patrick Corbin of the Snakes along with Jon Niese for the Buccos had to pinch hit (Greinke and Niese singled; Niese had an RBI) while Arizona hurler Shelby Miller manned left field and batted. Neftali Feliz was credited with the blown save/win combo after Arquimedes Caminero ended the game, striking out a pair of pitchers. Starling Marte had four hits; David Freese and Gregory Polanco had three each while eight different Pirates scored; 10 had RBI.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Can't RISP? Can't Catch? Good Thing You Can Pitch - Bucs Take Series 2-1 Behind Nova & Clutch Bullpen

Ivan Nova had a smooth first inning; the Bucs had a chance to run away early. A Jordy walk followed by J-Hay and Cutch knocks bode well, but the plate was dented only a sac fly by Freeser; Gregory's K hurt bigly. It was a quiet second for NY; the Pirates were treated to a rarity with a Stew triple with one out; he too was left aboard. Spot a trend yet? No NY damage in the third. The Pittsburgh side cashed in. Cutch drew a one-out walk and Gregory went up the line for a two-bagger. Andrew ran through Joey Cora's stop sign to score, and his aggressive but accurate read on the play would prove eventually to be a game-winner. Nova got into his first jam in the fourth following back-to-back one-out knocks, but he got Aaron Judge to roll one to Jordy for a 6-4-3 inning-ending DP. The Bucs went with barely a peep themselves, chipping in their own DP ball.

Ivan Nova was the man again (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Both sides collected singles in the fifth; NY stranded their runner while the Bucs hit into another DP. The Pinstripers went down quietly in the sixth; the Pirates - hey, how about a third DP in three innings? This one was triggered by Jose Osuna's liner that trapped El Coffee off first. Jacoby Ellsbury homered off Nova in the seventh to halve the lead. Bryan Mitchell got the ball and a single sandwiched between two walks with no outs got him into instant hot water. But a Jordy pop to left, a J-Hay liner and a Cutch K left three more runners. Huddy took over for the Bucs in the eighth (Ivan gave up a run on four hits, *gasp* a walk and seven K in seven IP, using 87 pitches). With one gone, a walk and single put him in the red zone. A short two-out wild pitch put the tying run 90' away, but Daniel coolly K'ed Starlin Castro with high heat. Three up, three down for Pittsburgh.

Of course the drama wasn't over. Tony Watson looked to close and started with an out that was followed by a knock and a walk. But he looked like he got out of it with a tailor-made DP ball to J-Hay, who muffed the play and loaded the sacks. Tony is used to the Fat Lady waiting out his inevitable pickle and struck out Aaron Hicks, then served up a harmless game-ending grounder to coax her on stage to sing while the Jolly Roger was hoisted.

Tony's usual drama wasn't all self-inflicted today (image Positively Pgh.)

Another 1-for-10 RISP day, three DPs and blowing the game-ending DP, so what else is new? Ivan was dominant as usual and the pen had the right stuff again, so strong pitching overcame missing fundamentals elsewhere. The Cubs roll into town for a three-game set tomorrow with Chad Kuhl and Brett Anderson to open the series.

Notes:
  • Stew's triple was the first in his career, covering 1,184 PAs. He had two hits today as did J-Hay and Gregory. Cutch had a single and walk.
  • This was Tony Watson's eighth appearance. None have been clean and in 6-of-8, he's faced five or six batters.
  • 27,840 spun the turnstiles for the game.
  • The Pirates have, surprise, been looking for an OF'er. The consensus seems to be, with a weak roster of available FAs and only Danny Ortiz & Austin Meadows available at Indy, that the FO is scouring the DFA list or perhaps in minor-deal mood for a fourth outfielder type.
  • Jamie Romak, 31, who came to Pittsburgh back in 2007 as part of the Adam LaRouche deal, is still around. He's hitting .345 with nine HR (the most in pro baseball) for San Diego's AAA El Paso club in the PCL. Jamie did get some showtime in 2014-15 with the Angels and D-Backs.