Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pirates Pitcher Gives Up Homer, Pirates Lose 1-0

Well, same old Buccos. Trevor Williams gave up a solo homer to Domingo Santana in his five innings of work and left the game down 1-0. The Pirates stranded a runner at second in the first and had a big chance in the sixth with runners on first and third, no outs and the middle of the order up. Cutch K'ed, with Marte stealing second, and then J-Bell and El Coffee popped up. It didn't get better; Chris Bostick beat out an infield rap in the eighth for the next Bucco hit while Dovydas Neverauskas, Huddy and Edgar Santana kept the Brewers quiet. George Kontos left Suds City runners at second and third in the ninth with a swinging strikeout. Corey Knebel had no issue at all in the ninth, notching his seventh save in seven chances against the Pirates.

Sometimes a run is one too many to surrender (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

The Pirates certainly don't seem too concerned about job security. The guys that are starters aren't looking over their shoulders, and why should they - none of the young guys are closing the gap, even with a couple of bench spots likely to be opening up next year. Maybe a little competition in 2018 might sharpen their focus a bit.

Notes:
  • Starling Marte had two hits and two stolen bases tonight.
  • The Pirates have lost seven games in a row and 12 of their past 13. In those 12 losses, they scored 15 total runs. Pittsburgh has now gone 63 inning, seven full games, w/o holding the lead. 
  • Trevor Williams went five IP, giving up a run on three hits and two walks with six K after 87 pitches.
  • Ivan Nova tossed his bullpen earlier today with no calf problems, so he's still in line to start Friday.
  • 13,929 was tonight's announced attendance. That's the Pirates’ third-lowest crowd this year, ahead of a couple of early April dates.
  • Yoo Je Ho has a two-part interview (Part 1Part 2) in the Yonhap News (English version) with Jung Ho Kang re: his lost season and future.
  • Zack Von Rosenberg, a sixth-rounder who the Pirates drafted out of HS in 2009 as a RHP and signed a $1.2M bonus, walked on to LSU as a football player in 2016 after he was released by the Bucs. He was recruited by the Tigers in his prep days and now the 6-5, 250 pounder is a punter/QB.
  • KC's Alex Gordon tonight hit HR #5,694 of 2017, the most ever for a single MLB season.

Tuesday: Milwaukee at Pittsburgh, Trevo v Chase Anderson, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: Milwaukee is here for round two, first pitch at 7:05. AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan will air the contest. And for those coming to the the North Shore, don't forget Pups in the Park!

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanoc RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Elias Diaz C, Max Moroff 3B & Trevor Williams P. Starling is back in the fray and Mad Max is in the lineup.

Trevo should be fresh tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (6-8, 4.26) has his hands full tonight against Chase Anderson (10-3, 2.88). Trevo will be making his 30th appearance (23rd start) after an 11-day layoff, not a badly timed break as he had a clunker last time out after a couple of shutout performances. His 105 strikeouts (in 139 IP, averaging seven whiffs per nine) are the most by a Pirates rookie since Paul Maholm had 117 in 2006. He hasn't seen the Brewers since June when he took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning at Miller Park but came away with a no-decision as the bullpen couldn't hang on. Anderson has been plenty tough and is 15-4/2.77 over his past 34 starts. He's 2-0/2.38 v the Buccos this year, giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 11-1/3 IP in two outings. The Pirates have hit two homers off him and have gone 4-of-5 in stolen base tries, so they might be able to generate something off him.

Notes:
  • Cutch has homered three times in his last seven games. His 26 homers this year are his second-highest single season total behind the 31 he hit in 2012.
  • In the past 12 games, Pittsburgh pitchers have gone 9-for-22 (.409). The rest of the hitters have batted 76-for-372 (.204). s/o @joe_block 
  • Among NL rookie pitchers with at least 100 IP, Trevo ranks third in ERA (4.26), fourth in innings pitched (139.1), fifth in strikeouts (105) and first in HR/per 9.0ip (0.78).
  • How much difference does the count make? The Pirates slash .298/.473/.511 when they are ahead in the count and put the ball in play; the line is .187/.201/.270 when the pitcher's ahead.

9/19 Happenings: HBD Yank, Mouse, Stuffy, JJ & Robinzon; Ralph's #4 Retired; Danny's 26, Jay's 8...

  • 1859 - IF Yank Robinson was born in Philadelphia. Yank had his heyday from 1885-89 with the American Association’s St Louis Browns. He could play just about anywhere and was patient at the plate: From 1887-90, Robinson drew 472 free rides (427 walks w/45 HBPs) and 400 hits for an OBP of .412. Yank got into a beef with the Browns’ owner in 1889 triggered by a pair of tight pants and jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers the following season, keeping up his old tricks. During the season, Robinson had just 70 hits for a .229 BA, but his 101 bases on balls jacked up his OBP to .434, fourth highest in the Players' League. That was his only Pittsburgh term. He was also noted because he played the field bare handed and could throw ambidextrously; the combination made him a dangerous fielder who could either make an outrageously difficult play or take a routine two-hopper off the pinky for an error. It’s thought that his nickname dates back from childhood as he was born just prior to the Civil War. 
Ed Glenn 1889 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1860 - OF Ed “Mouse” Glenn was born in Richmond, Virginia. Ed played every other year in the majors, making stops in 1884-86-88, with the Alleghenys being his team in the middle. He hit .191 (his rep was as a gloveman), spent a year in the minors and split time in the NL in 1888. He lost his chance to repeat his two-year cycle when he injured himself badly crashing into another player while chasing down a fly while on the farm at Sioux City; he sat out 1890 and eventually passed away from injuries caused by the collision in early 1892. 
  • 1882 - Rookie Guy Hecker of the American Association Louisville Eclipse (aka Colonels) tossed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, winning 3-1 at Eclipse Park. He would join the Pirates in 1890, albeit for his final MLB season. 
  • 1890 - 1B Stuffy McInnis was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Stuffy, a solid contact hitter and glove man, spent the tail end of his 17-year career as a Pirate in 1925-26. McInnis still had a sharp stick, hitting .337 over that span and .286 in four games of the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators, retiring after the 1927 campaign. He picked up his nickname as a youngster playing in Boston, where his feats on the field brought shouts of "that's the stuff, kid." 
Stuffy McInnis 1925-26 (photo Conlon Collection)
  • 1949 - In a 6-4 loss to the NY Giants at Forbes Field‚ Ralph Kiner hit his 50th home run (he finished the season with 54) off Kirby Higbe. With that blast, the 26-year old outfielder became the first NL’er to hit 50 bombs in two different seasons. It would take until 1965 for Willie Mays to match Kiner’s record. 
  • 1953 - Danny O'Connell hit safely in his 26th game‚ a 4-1 loss to the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds. The streak ended the next day as the second longest in Pirate history, trailing Jimmy Williams’ 27-game streak of 1899 (Williams had a 26-game streak earlier in 1899 and Kenny Lofton also put together a 26-game run in 2003).
  • 1983 - 1B/OF John Jaso was born in Chula Vista, CA. The Bucs signed the 32 year old to a two-year, $8M deal after Jaso hit .286 and produced a .380 OBP/.839 OPS in 70 games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015. JJ was primarily a catcher and DH in the show until the 2015 campaign, when concussion woes necessitated a switch of positions. He was converted by Pittsburgh to a full-time first baseman to replace Pedro Alvarez after El Toro was non-tendered following the 2015 season. JJ’s adjusted to the field, pinch-hitting and playing 1B/OF off the bench. 
Robinzon Diaz 2010 Topps
  • 1983 - C Robinzon Diaz was born in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic. He was the return for the Jose Bautista swap with Toronto in a deal that Neil Huntington would no doubt like to claim a mulligan. Diaz played briefly in 2008-09 for Pittsburgh, hitting .289 in 43 games but he couldn’t beat out Jason Jamarillo for the back-up spot due to defensive shortcomings. After bouncing around in AAA, he took a gig in the Mexican League. 
  • 1987 - Ralph Kiner’s #4 was retired. The Mets won the game at TRS 5-4 in front of 20,933 fans in a match that he announced. The slugger was a Hall-of-Famer, and in his eight years as a Buc, he hit .280 with 301 HR and 801 RBI. 
  • 1997 - The Pirates held a Roberto Clemente commemoration night, unveiling a video of his career highlights followed by his widow Vera tossing out the first pitch at TRS before playing the Cards. They lost 6-5 in front of 16,235. 
  • 2003 - Jason Bay drove in eight runs (the franchise single game record is nine, set by Johnny Rizzo in 1939) during a 10-9 loss to the Cubs, hitting a pair of homers and a double in the first game of a DH split at PNC Park. It was a tale of two games; Chicago scored the final run in the top of the sixth and there was just one more hit between both clubs over the final 3-½ innings. The Buc bats stayed hot in a 10-6 response with Matt Stairs going long and five different Pirates collecting a pair of hits to give Salomon Torres the win.

9/19 Games: Veale 10-Inning 1-Hitter, Clemente Clutch, Doug 20 & Barry 30/50, 9-Run Frame, Game Stories...

  • 1908 - Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press wrote “In the presence of a grand out-pouring of more than 25,000 fans and in one of the most stubbornly fought battles ever waged at the Polo Grounds, the Pirates defeated the New York Giants by the score of 6-2 after ten innings of strenuous work.” The better part of that battle was fought by Lefty Liefield, who went the distance to outlast Red Ames and Doc Crandall. Ed "Batty" Abbaticchio knocked home a pair of runs in the 10th, and an error followed by Chief Wilson’s hit brought in the final two tallies. 
Abby - Colgan Stars of the Diamond
  • 1925 - The Pirates edged the Braves, 2-1, at Forbes Field as Kiki Cuyler had four hits and Pie Traynor added three more. The two teams combined for 23 hits and drew seven walks but managed to strand 23 runners, hitting into two DPs and getting three runners thrown out trying to steal. The Bucs and opportunity took nine innings to get together - Pittsburgh left the bases loaded with one away in the eighth and needed a two-out, bases-packed single by Glenn Wright in the ninth to squeak out the win for Vic Aldridge. 
  • 1943 - Rip Sewell whipped the Reds, 10–3 for his 21st win, which would top the MLB chart that season. Rip also stole a base to finish the year with seven swipes. Elbie Fletcher had three hits and two RBI; Bob Elliott inverted that with two hits and three RBI. The Pirates swept the twin bill 2-1 as three Pirate pitchers (Xavier Rescigno, Hank Gornicki & Max Butcher, who got the W) combined to outlast Johnny Vander Meer. Pittsburgh was its own worst enemy in the nightcap, hitting into a DP, going 0-for-2 in stolen bases and getting a runner tossed out a home before scoring twice in the ninth on singles by Vince DiMaggio and Elliott. 
  • 1959 - Bill Mazeroski, who homered earlier, drilled a two-run triple in the 12th as the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3, at Forbes Field. Elroy Face gave up a run in the top of the 12th but got the win thanks to Maz. Face’s record was 18-1‚ and he won eight straight games in extra innings. He ended the year with the top winning percentage (.947) of any pitcher with 15 decisions, capping a season for the ages for the relief ace. 
Bob Veale 1965 Bazooka
  • 1965 - Bob Veale allowed one hit, a two-out sixth inning single by Tony Taylor, and struck out 12 to earn a 1-0‚ 10-inning win over the Phillies at Forbes Field. Roberto Clemente's two-out single off Philadelphia reliever Jack Baldschun to score Bob Bailey was the game winner; Veale had been thrown out at home the batter before, trying to score on Manny Mota’s single. 
  • 1966 - The Bucs took an 11-inning victory from the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park by a 6-1 score, sparked when Roberto Clemente ignored manager Harry “The Hat” Walker’s instructions. Clemente, leading off and in an 0-for-13 funk, was told to bunt for a hit; instead he swung away and homered. Bob Bailey added a grand slam to close out the frame, giving Pete Mikkelson the win in relief of Bob Veale. 
  • 1970 - Roberto Clemente, out of action for two weeks, returned to score one run and chase home another with a key double in Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory over New York, keeping their 1-½ game pad over Chicago intact. The Bucco D turned four DPs to give Luke Walker the win, with the final four frames closed down by the bullpen. With Roberto back, the club would go 12-5 to close out the month and win the division by five games, but were stopped by the Big Red Machine in the NLCS. 
  • 1974 - Pittsburgh put up a five spot in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 win from the St. Louis Cards at TRS. The big blow in the frame was Richie Hebner’s three-run homer, giving Ramon Hernandez the win with a Dave Giusti save. The win moved the Bucs within ½ game of first, and they won the pennant over the Cards by sweeping the Cubs in the last series of the season. 
Richie Hebner 1975 Twinkies
  • 1978 - In one of Pittsburgh’s lighter moments, 38 year old Willie Stargell attempted to steal 2B against Chicago (he did have 3 steals that year) quite unsuccessfully. As Cubs' SS Ivan DeJesus waited at the bag with the ball, Stargell slid in 10 feet short of the base, looked up and called for time-out. The Bucs won despite Pops’ baserunning antics, 12-11. Dave Parker’s homer, his second of the day, in the 11th off Bruce Sutter, gave the Bucs their seventh straight win and 30th in their last 38 games. 
  • 1990 - Doug Drabek won his 20th game and Bobby Bonds hit his 30th and 31st HRs as Pittsburgh beat Chicago 8-7 at Wrigley Field. Bonds and his dad became the first father-son members of the 30/30 club. Two days later, Bonds swiped his 50th base of the season to became the second MLB player to join the 30/50 club. 
  • 1993 - A Buc rally fell short as the Cards prevailed 7-6 at Busch Stadium. Dave Clark swatted a two-run, pinch hit homer in the ninth to give the Bucs a 6-5 lead, but Mark Dewey surrendered the game after two outs with a walk (the second of the inning; the other was charged to Denny Neagle) and a double just inside the line by Mark Whiten that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Carlos Garcia and Jeff King each had three hits in the heartbreaker. Clark’s homer would be the last for another decade to give the Bucs the lead in the ninth after trailing going in until Rob Mackowiak’s blast defeated the Reds in 2003. 
Emil Brown 1999 Upper Deck Signature
  • 2000 - The Pirates rode a nine-run sixth inning to a 12-8 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The Bucs sent 13 batters to the plate, with the big hits being a two-run knock by Emil Brown and a bases loaded double by John Wehner. The Phils made a game of it in the ninth, scoring three runs off Scott Sauerbeck before Mike Williams came on to end it. 
  • 2005 - Ian Snell pitched eight innings to earn his first MLB win as he beat Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros 7–0 at PNC Park. Snell allowed just three hits, retiring the final nine batters he faced before José Mesa closed out the four-hit shutout in the ninth. Four different Pirates - Tike Redman, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson & Freddy Sanchez - had three hits, and every Buc starter except JJ Furmaniac had a hit and scored/drove in a run (or both). Though a loss, the game checked off another notch on Clemens’ bucket list - he had now pitched in every major league ballpark currently in operation. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates were dueling with the Milwaukee Brewers for the last wild card spot and losing late 2-0 at PNC Park, unable to dent long time nemesis Yovani Gallardo. Jonathan Broxton came on in the eighth, and after giving up singles to Starling Marte and Neil Walker, watched Russ Martin launch a ball into the right center field seats to give the Bucs a 3-2 lead, with the electrified sellout crowd of 37,974 fans demanding a curtain call. Ike Davis singled in an insurance run as John Holdzkom earned his first MLB win after a strong start by Jeff Locke, with Mark Melancon nailing down his 31st save. It also marked the 21st time that the Pirates won a game during their last at-bat that season. 
John Holdzkum 2015 Topps Autograph
  • 2015 - Francisco Liriano and the Pirates beat LA ace Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium 3-2 to snap a four game losing streak. Frankie K’ed nine and retired 16 straight batters during one stretch; Tony Watson and Mark Melancon finished up the game, with Mark the Shark recording a club record-setting 47th save. Andrew McCutchen and Aramis Ramirez provided the offense with doubles; Cutch’s drove in a pair and A-Ram’s was the game-winner.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pirates September Sleepwalk Continues 3-0

Maybe you've read the script before: strand guys early, give up a homer to break up a scoreless tie, TOOTBLAN on the bases, leave a play in the field and let a pitcher (Brent Suter) who hasn't gotten past three innings this month go five frames...hey, welcome to the September Pittsburgh Pirates. It went like so:

Leave a couple on in the first, leave a couple on in the third. Watch Jamo's first mistake of the night leave the yard as Ryan Braun homers in the fourth. Neil Walker singles in an insurance run in the sixth, chasing JT, but the gate is shut by AJ Schugel. Edgar Santana pitches a nice seventh; Eli was thrown out trying to stretch a one-out double by a base; can't blame Joey Cora, either, as Diaz never bothered looking for his aid. George Kontos gave up a run in the eighth; after two ground ball singles, he got a DP bouncer hit to Jordy. He lifted his glove, the ball scooted under it and instead of the inning ending, another run crossed. To add a little salt to the wound, it was ruled a hit. Johnny Barbato left a Brewer at third; Gregory got tossed out trying to stretch a two-out single, with the score 3-0 in the ninth, into a double.

Cutch was worth the price of admission tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

This would strike us as a good time to install a little discipline, like maybe sitting down guys who go off on suicide runs around the bases or commit other equally little-league infractions. Maybe let the kids play to pump a little energy into the unit; they miss the J-Hay/Cervy vibes and surely Max Moroff couldn't do much worse than S-Rod (who, btw, we think is a fine pickup, but another guy who is maybe pushing their body a little faster than need be.) Most of all, give the team a little direction instead of divvying up playing time by grab bag.

Notes:
  • Cutch had three hits; no one else reached base more than once tonight.
  • Pittsburgh is 68-83. They've lost 11-of-12 and scored 15 runs in the losses.
  • The steady losing is showing up in the Bucco pocketbook: The team averaged almost 31,000 tickets sold per game in 2015 but are down to the 24,000 range this yer, per KDKA-TV. And that's just tickets sold, not actual attendance with its peripheral financial spinoffs. Today's attendance was 16,283.

Monday: Brew Crew in Town; Jamo v Brent Suter, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Brewers visit PNC Park tonight with first pitch at 7:05. AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan will carry the game. The Pirates Puppy Pound is off the leash against Milwaukee as Jamo, Trevo and Steven Brault (with Tyler Glasnow to piggyback) toeing the slab this series. The clock is not a friend of the Brew Crew. Milwaukee is four games behind the Cubs and 2-1/2 games in arrears for the second wildcard spot with 13 games remaining.

Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Jordan Luplow LF, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Sean Rodriguez 2B, Elias Diaz C & Jameson Taillon P. No, we don't know...the lineups this entire year have baffled us and being w/o Starling, Amore & J-Hay while J-Bell (.225 v LHP and in a slump; understandable) & Fraze (.327 v LHP; not so understandable) get scratched by auto correct against lefties doesn't leave much of a menu selection.

Jamo on the rubber (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon takes on Brent Suter (2-2, 3.66). Jamo hasn't pitched since giving up six runs and 11 hits in 4-2/3 IP to the Cubs on the 7th. JT's line in his last 11 outings is 2-4/7.17, and he's 1-2/3.76 in five career starts against the Brew Crew. He's 1-0 this season, winning a 4-2 decision over Jimmy Nelson on July 20th at PNC Park. We know the Bucs are trying to get him a good start to end the season, but with all he's been through this year, we would have shut him down and start working on getting on track for 2018. In three starts since coming off the DL, Suter hasn't gone longer than three innings/50 pitches. His last outing was against the Pirates on Tuesday, and he worked three frames at Miller Park, giving up two runs on three hits w/three K and a walk.

Notes:
  • The Pirates have posted a 6-1 record and a 2.08 ERA in the seven games played against Milwaukee at PNC Park this season, winning the last four games. Pittsburgh is up 9-7 so far in the series this year.
  • Tyler Glasnow's next appearance will be Wednesday out of the bullpen. He'll get a clean inning after Steven Brault's start. And yes, if you believe the Pirates are operating without any direction at all this month, you would be right.
  • Cervy will be shut down for the year per Clint; that's the right move.
  • Cole Train has not only set a career high by giving up 30 homers this season, but he's close to the franchise mark of 32, set by Murry Dickson in 1951. Murry had 45 outings (35 starts) and 288-2/3 IP under his belt that year while Gerrit has made 31 starts and tossed 192 frames this campaign.

9/18 TRS-PNC Park Era: HBD Jody & Donnie; BB's 30/30, Team of the Century, WS Plaque,Game Stories

  • 1971 - The Bucs clinched at least a tie for the Eastern Division title (they sewed it up two games later) with a 4-0 win against the New York Mets at TRS. Richie Zisk smacked his first career home run to drive in a pair of runs and Dave Cash’s two-bagger plated the other two. Steve Blass tossed a two-hitter for the win. 
Jody Gerut 2005 Topps
  • 1977 - OF Jody Gerut was born in Springfield, Illinois. A touted outfield prospect, the Bucs got him at the 2005 deadline from the Cubs for Matt Lawton. He barely played for the Bucs (four games & 18 at-bats) as he haggled with the FO over a knee injury and sat out most of 2005; he wanted surgery, the Pirates felt it unnecessary, and a grievance was filed. Though the two sides settled, Gerut didn’t play in 2006, was released and after a season in the Dominican League returned with the Padres in 2008. By 2010, he was done; his numbers were good but he never got to 300 PAs for a season. A Stanford grad, he went into financial advising for MLB players and later became a player agent. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates scored three times in the first inning against the Expos at Olympic Stadium, then laid goose eggs for nine frames before finally solving Montreal pitching in the 11th to pull out a 5-3 victory. Willie Stargell had the game-deciding blow, a two-run homer in extras to win the game for Grant Jackson. 
  • 1984 - LHP Donnie Veal was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Veal was a second-round pick of the Cubs in 2005 and the Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft of 2008. He stuck on the roster in 2009, being used as a reliever rather than starter, and put up a line of 1-0, 7.16 with 16 K in 16-⅓ IP but also 20 BB. He missed 2010 with TJ surgery, spent a year on the farm and then he was signed by the Chicago White Sox where he had two decent seasons in 2012-13 before arm troubles again laid him low. 
Donnie Veal 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter
  • 1987 - In a wild west shootout at TRS that took over 3-½ hours to play, the Pirates outhit the Mets to take a 10-9 victory. Mike Diaz went 4-for-5 with a 2B, 3B and four RBI, Junior Ortiz knocked in a pair, Felix Fermin had three hits and John Cangelosi homered, providing enough firepower for John Smiley to get the win in relief of Brian Fisher, with Jim Gott closing it out. 
  • 1992 - Barry Bonds hit his 30th homer of the season off Philadelphia's Terry Mulholland in the Pirates' 5-2 win at Veteran’s Stadium. Bonds became the fifth MLB player to date with a pair of 30-HR‚ 30-stolen bases seasons. The others were his dad Bobby‚ Willie Mays‚ Howard Johnson‚ and Ron Gant. 
  • 1998 - A state historical marker was dedicated outside TRS to honor the first World Series, with games 4-7 played at Exposition Park between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Americans in 1903. 
Photo: Brian Merzbach Ballpark Reviews
  • 1999 - The Pirate “Team of the Century,” voted on by fans, was announced. The winners were: C Jason Kendall, 1B Willie Stargell, 2B Bill Mazeroski, SS Honus Wagner, 3B Pie Traynor, LF Ralph Kiner, CF Lloyd Waner (barely over Andy Van Slyke), RF Roberto Clemente (leaving Paul Waner off the club), LHP Harvey Haddix (his perfect game eliminated the Pirates’ winningest pitcher, Wilbur Cooper), RHP Vern Law, RP Kent Tekulve (in a close race with ElRoy Face) and MGR Danny Murtaugh.

9/18 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Heinie, Kitten, Ken & Roger; Ray & Vern's 20; Bucs Clinch; Paul's 200; Game Stories

  • 1865 - The Philadelphia Athletic Base Ball Club began a two-day series of four games against Allegheny City teams. The Enterprise, Lincoln, and Allegheny Clubs, as well as an all-star team of the best players from the three clubs, challenged the touring Athletics. The “Great Base Ball Tournament,” played in the Allegheny West Commons (then in Allegheny City and now known as North Side's West Park), marked the first time an out-of-town club visited the area, the first time a bleacher structure was built for fan seating locally, and likely the first time fans were charged admission to see a game (25 cents per game; 50 cents for all four). The Philadelphia AC won the four matches by a combined score of 247-42, per the Heinz History Center. 
  • 1889 - 3B Heinie Groh was born in Rochester, New York. He spent 15 years manning the hot corner for the NY Giants and Cincinnati Reds. The speedy Groh was an leadoff hitter extraordinaire, playing his invention, the bottle bat, to a .292 lifetime tune with a .373 OBP and 180 SBs. In 1927 Groh ended his career with Pittsburgh, playing only 14 games during the regular season (he had badly injured his knee in 1925, rendering him a bench player) and made his final big-league appearance as a pinch-hitter in the 1927 World Series; it was the fifth Fall Classic of his career. Per Sean Lahman of SABR: “When his playing days were over, Groh stayed in baseball, first as a minor league manager and later as a scout. He eventually returned to Cincinnati where he worked as a cashier at River Downs Race Track.” 
  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenies switched their match against the Cleveland Spiders from Recreation Park to Canton’s Pastime Park, a minor league field (some cite Mahaffey Park, tho Pastime seems the more likely). It was the first of two games that season played at a neutral site (although 30 or so home games were played at opponent’s parks) in hopes of attracting a crowd larger than the team roster. The Spiders, who finished seventh in the NL with 44 wins, took the match 11-10 behind Ohio boy Cy Young, pitching in his rookie year. Pittsburgh would become baseball’s worst team ever at the end of the season with a 23-113 record; they would lose the top spot to the Spiders a decade later when Cleveland finished 20-134 in 1899. 
Fred was clutch (photo The Sporting News)
  • 1903 - The Bucs swept a twinbill from the Boston Beaneaters (aka Nationals) at Exposition Park in a pair of nail-biters, 7-6 & 6-5, to clinch the NL crown. The Pirates scored three times in the ninth in the opener and took the nightcap with a ninth-inning rally, too. In the first game, Fred Clarke was on first with two out when Hans Wagner doubled. Kitty Bransfield’s knock chased them both home and he scored the game-winner on Claude Richey’s knock. Clarke was the sparkplug in the second match, too, tripling in the ninth and scoring on Jimmy Sebring’s single. Sam Leever and Gus Thompson were both bloodied on the mound but each went the distance to earn the wins. The Boston Americans claimed the AL title the day before, and the teams announced that they would meet in the first World Series between the leagues to determine a champion. 
  • 1909 - Vic Willis stopped the Brooklyn Superbas on one hit‚ a Baltimore chop off the plate in the third inning by Zack Wheat. It was the nearest anyone came to a tossing a no-hitter at Forbes Field. Pittsburgh won‚ 6-0, with two hits each from Honus Wagner and Tommy Leach. 
  • 1925 - LHP Harvey Haddix was born in Medway, Ohio. The Kitten (he got that moniker as a rookie in St. Louis because of his similarities to veteran mentor Harry "The Cat" Brecheen) worked for the Pirates from 1959-63 with a line of 45-38/3.73. He won two games against the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, including the seventh, and tossed 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26th, 1959, losing in 13 frames, a game considered by many to be the best pitching performance in major league history. He was also the Pirates pitching coach from 1979-84. 
Kiki Cuyler 1925 Exhibits
  • 1925 - Kiki Cuyler collected four hits to launch a five-game hitting streak during which he banged out 15 knocks (he had three four-hit games in the span). C Earl Smith joined him with a four-rap day in a 9-7 win over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field to give the Pirates third hurler, Emil Yde, the win. The Pirates won all five of Kiki-streak games on their way to the NL and WS titles while Cuyler finished the campaign batting .357, the highest average of his career. 
  • 1930 - Ray Kremer picked up his 20th win of the year when he slipped by the Phils 6-5 at the Baker Bowl. He went the distance, surviving a pair of Chuck Klein homers behind a balanced Bucco attack that saw every Pirates position player reach base. It was Kremer’s second 20-win campaign; he won 20 in 1926, too. 
  • 1931 - The Bucs split a twinbill with Boston at Forbes Field, losing the opener 6-1 and taking the nitecap 4-1. It was a memorable day for Pie Traynor. He doubled and drove in a run in the first game, then went 4-for-4 in the closer with a HR & 2B, scoring twice and bringing home a pair. His three RBI for the day were #99, 100, & 101, giving him his fifth straight 100 RBI season, which set the franchise record. He finished the year with 103 runners chased home. In his career, Pie had seven 100+ RBI campaigns and drove in 1,273 runs, the fourth highest total in franchise history, behind only Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner and Roberto Clemente. 
Pie Traynor 1931 W517 Strip Card
  • 1937 - Paul Waner established a 20th century NL record with his eighth year of 200+ hits (he finished the year with 219 raps) when he collected three knocks against the Brooklyn Robins in a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Pittsburgh’s Cy Blanton outlasted Freddie Fitzsimmons for the victory behind Gus Suhr’s pair of RBI. Big Poison had a string of 14 consecutive campaigns with 150+ hits that finally ended in 1940 when he was 37 years old. 
  • 1938 - Pitching on one day’s rest (he worked 6-⅓ innings against the Braves on 9/16), Russ Bauers threw a complete game four-hitter at the Phillies and took a 1-0 victory as Paul Waner drove in pinch runner Johnny Dickshot in the ninth at Shibe Park. The second game was also a pitching duel between the Bucs’ Ed Brandt and Syl Johnson, but was called after five innings because of darkness with the score 1-1. 
  • 1948 - LHP Ken Brett was born in Brooklyn. The 14-year vet spent 1974-75 in Pittsburgh, winning an All-Star berth in ‘74 as the Pirates sole rep and winning the game. He went 22-14, 3.32 for the Bucs and hit .281 with three homers before being sent to the Yankees as part of a package for Doc Medich. After his career, Ken was an announcer, college coach and minor-league team owner. Sadly, after a six-year battle with brain cancer, he died in 2003 at age 55. 
Roger Mason 1992 Fleer Update
  • 1957 - RHP Roger Mason was born in Bellaire, Ohio. The nine-year vet rejuvenated his career in Pittsburgh from 1991-92, slashing 8-9-11/3.82. He worked for two World Series clubs and seven teams in his career while setting the dubious record of having the first three batters he faced in a game homer off him (They were San Diego Padres Marvell Wynn, Tony Gwynn and John Kruk. But that’s just a footnote; Mason’s Giants won the game.) He retired to his hometown after the 1994 season.  
  • 1960 - Vern Law joined the 20-win club with a complete game, 5-3 win in the lidlifter of a Sunday doubleheader at Cincinnati's Crosley Field. The Deacon won the 1960 Cy Young award with a 20-9 record and 3.08 ERA. The Bucs didn’t have another 20 game winner until John Candelaria went 20-5 in 1977. His support came from Dick Stuart and Don Hoak, both of whom homered, doubled and drove in two runs. The Pirates took the nitecap 1-0 as Vinegar Bend Mizell tossed a three hitter against the Reds and Bob Purkey. Ducky Schofield drove in the game’s only run.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Big Inning, Long Balls & Quiet Bucco Bats Give Reds the Sweep 5-2

Let the circle be unbroken. The Pirates and Reds entered the sixth at 0-0; Robert Stephenson and Gerrit Cole had each given up one hit (the Bucco rap was a double that belonged to Cole; it set up a second & third with no outs and top of the order situation. A strikeout and two pop ups took care of the only real threat the Pirates would mount.). The Corsairs continued to make young Mr. Stephenson look like the reincarnation of Cy Young (actually, you can replace Stephenson's name with just about anyone they've faced this month) in their half of the inning. We know that in tight contests, the Pirates pitchers will eventually walk someone and/or give up a homer to let it get away.

Cole Train did both. First he lost Jesse Winkler and then gave up a long ball to Eugenio Suarez, then rinse, lather, repeat: he walked Joey Votto and served a gopher ball to *sigh* Scooter Gennett. Huddy came in, got two quick K's, then hit Zach Vincej (who was taking his fourth major league at-bat) before getting banged for a triple by Tucker Barnhart. It's getting so the Fat Lady doesn't even hang around for the final three frames anymore before warbling, taking a bow and exiting stage right.

The big inning and the long ball (and no support) bit him again (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Deck McGuire did the honors in the seventh, getting nicked for a J-Bell knock before adding another zero to the board. Jack Leathersich got a pair of whiffs to go with a walk in his half of the frame. Luke Farrell took his turn in the eighth and did the walk/dinger thing, tossing four wide ones to Chris Bostick and then feeding a meatball to JJ to make it 5-2. He settled down after that and Johnny Barbato took the ball for the Bucs and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Michael Lorenzen came on to turn out the lights; took him eight pitches.

For our money, Fraze and J-Bell should be playing everyday and the guys who don't have a MLB resume yet should be building one; we kinda know what S-Rod, JJ, Stew, Freeser, and for that matter, all the starters, bring to the table. Let all the kids loose for two weeks.

Notes:

  • J-Bell was the only Bucco to reach safely twice with a walk and a knock. The Pirates drew more free passes (4) than had hits (3).
  • Gerrit Cole has given up a career-high 30 homers this year; he had never given up more than 11 in any season prior to this.
  • The Pirates finished 6-13 v the Cincy Reds; they're just two games ahead of them in the battle for the basement. They're 5-11 for September and have lost 10-of-11, scoring 15 runs in the 10 defeats. 

Sunday: Reds Go For Sweep, Cole v Robert Stephenson, Lineup, Notes

Today: Familiar ground - the Bucs will try not to get swept again; the first toss at redemption is scheduled for 1:10. The game will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: John Jaso RF, Jordan Luplow LF, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Sean Rodriguez 2B, Stew C, Gerrit Cole P. September Sunday lineup.

Cole Train toes the slab (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (11-10, 4.04) tries to get that pesky ERA under four today as he takes on Robert Stephenson (4-5, 5.45). Cole Train's last start was a 5-2 loss in Milwaukee; everyone oohed and aahed over his 10 K in six innings when the important number was the five runs. Still, he's been solid, going 8-4/3.50 over his last 17 starts. Cole Train has been a road warrior, slashing 7-1/2.90 in his last nine away outings. Traditionally, he's been thoroughly El Stinko v the Reds, but this year he's been good, bad and in-between, so we could see a gem as easily as a lump of coal. Like Sal Romano yesterday, Stephenson is overcoming some early rough waters with a nice stretch starting in August. He's gone 4-1/2.97 since then, throwing strikes (60%), notching whiffs (40 in 33-1/3 IP) and holding opponents to a .218 BA with his Achilles Heel being walks/pitch counts. In that six week span, he's faced the Bucs twice and held them to three runs in 11-1/3 frames, with Cincy taking both decisions.

Notes:
  • The Pirates were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night.As a sidebar, the loss left them 6-12 v the Redlegs this season.
  • Starling has been out the past couple of days with a sore shoulder; he's day-to-day.
  • After this afternoon's game, the Pirates head home for the start of an eight-game homestand against Milwaukee tomorrow. After a day off Thursday, the Bucs host St. Louis for three games and then close out the home schedule against Baltimore on September 26-27th after another day off on Monday.