Friday, July 31, 2015

Kang, Marte Lead the Way To 5-4 Win

Gregory opened with an infield knock and immediately stole second, against a pitch out. Starling then took a pitch to the hand (called a foul, then overturned to a HBP). Two outs later, JHK drilled a ground rule double to plate one run. That big hop cost as Starling would have scored easily had it stayed in play, but it is 1-0 against Michael Lorenzen. With two outs, Joey Votto walked after being behind 0-2 and reached second on a wild pitch but Jeff Locke left him there by whiffing Todd Frazier.

The second went quietly enough for Pittsburgh with just a walk; not so for the Reds. Marlon Byrd singled of A-Ram's glove, and an out later, Ivan Dejesus Jr. sent a first-pitch change over the wall to make it 2-1. Lorenzen singled and hey, why not walk Billy Hamilton while we're at it? Locke left an 0-2 curve over the plate, and Brandon Phillips lined it to left to load the bases. Jason Bourgeois made it 3-1 on a 6-5 fielders choice, a heads up play by JHK & A-Ram. A double steal and another walk to Votto loaded the bases, but Locke got Frazier.

1-2-3 went the Bucs in the third, as did the Redlegs. JHK continued to rake, doubling to open the fourth. An out later, Pedro banged one through the right side, and it was 3-2 after Jeff tossed another clean frame. with two gone in the fifth, Lorenzen tried to sneak a heater away to Andrew; he drilled it into the RF seats. Bourgeois opened with a knock, but was erased by his happy feet when he was doubled up by Gregory after Votto's lineout to right. Another out took us into the sixth 3-3.

JHK keeps raking (photo Ezra Shaw/Getty)
Someone tugged on Kang's cape tonight; he opened the frame with his third straight two-bagger. Two outs later he was at third, and Fran was intentionally walked to get to Locke; Clint sent up Ishy. A short wild pitch got Fran to second, and Travis eventually walked. The Reds brought in Jumbo Diaz, a hard throwing righty, to face Gregory as Cincy has been challenging him with fastballs tonight, whiffing El Coffee twice. Kinda backfired; a wild pitch brought in a run and moved the Bucs to second and third. Polanco walked to load them once again. Starling singled in another run on a liner to left, but Ishy was cut down by a mile trying to score. Put the blame for that TOOTBLAN on Rick Sofield, who could chill with the arm waving, especially with Cutch on deck.

Jared Hughes came on, and Byrd greeted him with a huge homer to center to make it 5-4. Brayan Pena followed with a double; sheesh, the bullpen. But Hughes settled in and left him stranded. JJ Hoover stopped the Bucs in the seventh. Joakim Soria got his first call as a Bucco; after two easy outs, he walked Votto, Frazier singled and Byrd drew an eight pitch pass. Clint kept him in, after 27 pitches and with a lefty, Pena, up. Soria fell behind 3-0, but came back to get him two pitches later on a liner to the box, caught purely in self defense.

Burke Badenhop took the ball in the eighth and worked a rocking chair inning. S-Rod took over first and Tony Watson took over the hill, working a clean frame with two punch outs. Ryan Mattheus retired the Pirates in order in the ninth.

Mark the shark gave up a lead off single to Phillips on a hung 1-2 curve. he was bunted to second, and Votto drew a walk; can't get a call when he's up. After that, it was no longer Melancon's game; it was a Marte partay.

Frazier singled to left past a floundering A-Ram (maybe when Pedro comes out, so should Ramirez) and Jim Riggelman waved Phillips home; Marte cut him down like he was standing still (tho the play did have to undergo a plate-blocking review, the dumbest rule in baseball). Then Byrd got ahead 3-0; the Shark came back to make it a full count, then Marlon hit a sinking, hooking liner to left. Starling dove and tumbled, snatching the ball an inch or two above the grass to preserve the win. Pasture mates Cutch and El Coffee tipped their caps to him; Mark gave Starling a very unshark-like hug in the post game lineup.

The Bucs did enough to win and finally get off the schneid at GABP. Tomorrow, Gerrit Cole goes against Raisel Iglesias. The Bucs missed Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, both due to pitch in this series, because of trades; hopefully Pittsburgh can take advantage. Give the Reds credit, too - the team lost a couple of long-time teammates and top gun starters, yet they're still playing hard in their yard.

  • Starling has a 10 game hitting streak.
  • Pittsburgh had seven hits; Jung-Ho had three of them.
  • After a meeting pre-game between Clint and AJ, Burnett ended up on the 15-day DL because of right elbow inflammation; LHP Bobby LaFromboise was called up to replace him. For LaFromboise, it's his second stint with the big club this year; he was up once last season, too, and has pitched creditably well. He went 1-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 43 IP for Indy this season. 
  • The Bucs added another pair of players to the roster. 1B/OF Mike Morse joined the club from LA for Jose Tabata, and LHP JA Happ was sent to Pittsburgh by Seattle for Indy RHP Adrian Sampson.
  • Not a big surprise: RHP Deolis Guerra was DFA'ed to clear roster a spot for Joakim Soria, who is in uniform tonight.

Deadline Deals: JA Happ, Mike Morse, Joakim Soria, Joe Blanton, A-Ram

The Pirates picked up LHP JA Happ from Seattle for Indy RHP Adrian Sampson. Happ, 32, went 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 21 appearances (20 starts) this season for the Mariners. He has a career record of 55-59 with a 4.29 ERA and 790 strikeouts in 185 games (160 starts) between Philadelphia (2007-10), Houston (2010-12), Toronto (2012-14) and Seattle (2015). For the time being, it looks like he'll plug into AJ's spot while he's on the DL. Happ's a rental, going into free agency in 2016. In fact, the surprise deal actually resulted after the Pirates had determined Burnett was DL-bound.

Sampson, 23, projects as a back-end starter/ long relief guy who's close to big-league ready in those roles. A neat little twist: he's from Redmond, Washington, and is returning home.

1B/OF Mike Morse had three pretty good years for the Nats from 2010-12, was bad for Seattle & Baltimore in 2013 (.215/13/27), bounced back for the Giants in 2014 (.279/16/61) and is in the midst of another nosedive this year as a Marlin (.213/4/12).He's a right-handed bat to caddy for Pedro Alvarez, but an OF'er in name only, so we don't expect to see him as a viable option for Gregory against lefties.

Morse has virtually no career platoon split, so he's handy off the bench. With the Corey Hart experiment having gone south, Morse is the resurrection of Petey's new playmate. He cost the Bucs Jose Tabata, Pittsburgh's black sheep, as the FO finally found someone to take his contract. Morse is no bargain; he's making $7.5M this year and $8.5 in 2016, so the Pirates made sure they had some cash (an undisclosed amount right now) tossed into the pot.

The Bucs got a much needed back-end reliever to spell Tony Watson and Jared Hughes in Joakim Soria. Soria's a serious closer, so high leverage situations should be his cup of tea. He has 23 saves and a 2.85 ERA (3.29 SIERA), using a fastball/cutter combo with a slider, cahnge and curve in the toolbox. Soria is a rental, becoming a FA after the season.

SS JaCoby Jones, 23, who was his trade mate, is fast, athletic and has some pop for a SS. He also K'es a lot and walks a little; at age 23, he's like buying a lotto ticket, with a chance to hit big but a much greater likelihood to crap out.

RHP Joe Blanton, 34, was DFA'ed by KC and the FO picked him up for cash. In 15 games (four starts), Blanton has a 3.89 ERA and 40 strikeouts with seven walks in 41-2/3 innings. The Pirates DFA'ed VAnce Worley to make space; they saw similar pitchers, but in Blanton they got a guy who they can use as anything from a spot starter to a bridge arm, and that versatility is the reasoning behind that move. He's also a rental

3B Aramis Ramirez gives the Bucs a competent finger to stick in the dike until Josh and Jordy return, altho he and JHK on the left side aren't exactly an athletic duo They club gave up RHP Yhonathan Barrios, a converted infielder who touches three figures, but has no secondary pitch; the Brewers are taking a chance on being able to coach him up some.

The roster counter moves?  For Mike Morse, we'll find out, and for JA Happ, AJ Burnett went on the DL. Joakim Soria was swapped out for Deolis Guerra. To clear Joe Blanton's space, Vanimal was DFA'ed. Brent Morel got the same treatment when A-Ram arrived.

Jeff Locke v Michael Lorenzen; Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Jeff Locke (5-6, 4.01) meets Michael Lorenzen (3-5, 4.58) tonight. Locke has been frustratingly up-and-down. His pattern is to have a bad fourth inning (second time around syndrome?), then settle in until the seventh where he's generally gassed. Still, he's posted a 2.53 ERA in his last eight starts, helped because he hasn't given up a long ball over that span. Jeff is 2-2 with a 3.26 ERA in nine career starts against the Redlegs. This season, tho, he's already lost a 7-1 decision to Lorenzen and had a no decision in a 7-6 win at PNC, giving up a 2015 total of eight runs in 11 innings against Cincy.

Jeff Locke takes his turn against the Reds (photo Charles LeClaire/USA To0day)
Lorenzen has been plagued by control issues - he walks five per game - and long balls, giving up 1.6/nine innings during his rookie campaign. Still, he handled the Bucs easily in his only outing against them, winning 7-1. Lorenzen went six, giving up three hits and three walks while whiffing four. Overall, he's been pretty solid, giving up three runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts.

The game starts at 7:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup - Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, A-Ram 3B, Jung-Ho Kang SS, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Locke P.

The usual suspects.

  • Joakim Soria arrived in the clubhouse about 4PM, so we suppose he'll be good to go tonite. No confirmation yet on who he's replacing.
  • Starling Marte leads MLB with 25 infield hits and NL hitter in overall knocks with 92. He's also in the midst of a nine game hitting streak.
  • Pedro's homer off David Holmberg yesterday was his first off a LHP since 4/17/14 vs Milwaukee's Wei-Chung Wang.
  • Gorkys Hernandez cleared waivers and was returned to Indy.

7/31: Deadline Dealing - Jay Bay, Jon Lieber, J-Mac, Ollie Perez, Matt Morris, Don Robinson & More...

  • 1987 - The Pirates traded RHP Don Robinson to the San Francisco Giants for C Mackey Sasser. The Giants turned Robinson into a starter the next season and he became a rotation pitcher for the next three years while Sasser was flipped to the Mets in 1988, where he had a long run as a back-up catcher.
  • 1993 RHP Jon Lieber was traded by the Kansas City Royals along with reliever Dan Miceli to the Bucs for closer Stan Belinda.
  • 2001 - The Pirates traded the well-traveled LHP Terry Mulholland to the Dodgers for pitchers Mike Fetters and Adrian Burnside. Mulholland, from Uniontown, pitched for 11 teams in a 20 year career, and had a pair of stints with the Cubs, Phils and Giants. The FO also swapped Mike Williams to the Astros for RHP Tony McKnight. It was actually more like a lend-lease, as Williams signed with the Bucs again as a free agent after the season.
  • 2002 - The Bucs sent first round bust OF Chad Hermansen to the Cubs for OF Darren Lewis, who refused to report to the Pirates and retired instead.
Chad Hermansen 2001 Upped Deck series
  • 2003 - Pitchers Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez and Jeff Suppan were traded by the Bucs to the Red Sox for LHP Mike Gonzalez, 2B Freddy Sanchez and cash. Originally, Gonzalez had gone to Boston for Lyons and Martinez a few days earlier, but Lyons had an iffy physical causing a reworking of the deal. The mulligan panned out pretty well for the Bucs.
  • 2004 - GM Dave Littlefield reportedly rejected an offer to deal pitcher Kris Benson to the Phillies for a power-hitting prospect named Ryan Howard, who would eventually become a NL MVP. The Bucs thought they had a Howard clone already in their system with Brad Eldred.
  • 2005 - The Cubs sent young OF Jody Gerut to Pittsburgh for vet OF Matt Lawton. The Cubs shipped Lawton to the Yankees for a minor leaguer in August. Gerut, hampered by a bum knee, barely played and was released after 2006, appearing in just four games as a Pirate.
  • 2006 - Busy at the deadline: The Pirates traded pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Pittsburgh also sent P Kip Wells to the Rangers for P Jesse Chavez, traded OF/1B Craig Wilson to the Yankees for P Shawn Chacon and acquired RHP Brian Rogers from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for 1B Sean Casey.
Sean Casey - Pirate Promo
  • 2007- The Bucs traded OF Rajai Davis and IF Stephen McFarland to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Matt Morris, who was being paid $7.5M in 2007 and under contract to make $9.5M in 2008 with a $1M buyout for 2009. He was released on April 27th of 2008 after going 3-8 with a 7.04 ERA in 16 Pirate starts. Many believed this deal was the straw that broke the back of GM Dave Littlefield’s era in Pittsburgh.
  • 2008 - Jason Bay and Josh Wilson were traded to the Boston Red Sox in a three team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andy LaRoche with Bryan Morris to the Pirates from LA, with Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen coming to the Bucs from Beantown. None of the prospects panned out for Pittsburgh, and Bay’s career was hamstrung by injury. Speculation was that Tampa Bay was very much interested in dealing and offered SS Reid Brignac & P Jeff Niemann for Bay, but the Bucco FO wanted Wade Davis instead of Niemann.
  • 2010 - A lot of dealing: RHP James McDonald was traded to Pittsburgh with OF Andrew Lambo by the LA Dodgers for RHP Octavio Dotel and cash. The Bucs also flipped LHP Javier Lopez to the Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and OF Joe Bowker. In a house cleaning & change of scenery deal, SS Bobby Crosby, RHP D.J. Carrasco and RF Ryan Church were sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash, C Chris Snyder and SS Pedro Ciriaco.
DJ Carrasco (photo Getty Images)
  • 2011 - OF Ryan Ludwick was sent to the Pirates by San Diego for cash. He hit .232 with two homers during the stretch run and then signed with the Reds in the off season.
  • 2012 - 1B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Kyle Kaminska went from the Marlins to the Pirates for OF Gorkys Hernandez and 2013’s sandwich compensation draft pick five minutes before the deadline expired. Before that trade, the Bucs dealt 3B Casey McGehee to the Yankees for RHP Chad Qualls.

7/31: Starg Enters the Hall; HBD Joe, Peanuts, Vic & Mike; Wakefield Debut; Bragan Goes Bonkers; Bucs Sweep Cards

As we did yesterday, the deadline deals will be on a separate post.
  • 1870 - C/1B Joe Sugden was born in Philadelphia. Sugden spent the first five seasons (1893-97) of his 13 year big league career with Pittsburgh, hitting .277.
  • 1892 - LHP Erv ”Peanuts” Kantlehner was born in San Jose. Working mostly as a starter for the Bucs from 1914-16, he went 13-29 with a 2.85 ERA.
  • 1896 - After a disputed call‚ Pirate P Frank “Lefty” Killen punched umpire Daniel Lally in the face. When Lally responded in kind‚ hundreds of fans charged onto the field and eventually Killen was arrested for disorderly conduct, according to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. Pittsburgh won in spite of the rhubarb 9-7 over the Cincinnati Reds at League Park.
  • 1912 - The Pirates scored three runs in the 19th inning and then barely held off Boston to take a 7-6 decision at the South End Grounds. Honus Wagner was the man of the hour, stealing home and later driving in the final, game-winning run for Pittsburgh against the Braves.
Honus Wagner (photo via Dugout Legends)
  • 1936 - OF Vic Davalillo was born in Churuguara, Venezuela. He played for the Bucs from 1971-73, hitting .290 while a platoon player in the outfield and first. Vic played on two Pirate playoff clubs, and when he was traded to Oakland in 1973, he was on his third.
  • 1939 - The Pirates obtained 6' 9" LHP Johnny Gee from Syracuse of the International League for $75,000 and four players. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (and as the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never fully recovered from a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. Not too surprisingly, he also went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals.
  • 1957 - Manager Bobby Bragan was ejected for arguing a call (actually, he held his nose) during a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After being tossed, he went slightly bonkers. Bobby got an orange drink from the stands; the umps told him to take it into the clubhouse, and he threatened to toss the juice into their faces. He quickly relented and offered them all a sip, but they weren’t amused. After their report to the league, Bragan was fined $100 and threatened with suspension if he didn’t clean up his act. After the game, Bragan was quoted by the Pittsburgh Press’ Les Biederman as saying “My only regret is that the hot dog didn’t arrive in time.” Bragan was fired three days later and replaced by Danny Murtaugh on a temporary basis. “Temporary hire” Murtaugh managed until 1964 and was brought back as skipper three more times.
Bobby Bragan (photo via Sports Memorabilia)
  • 1959 - RHP Mike Bielecki was born in Baltimore. His first four years (1984-’87) were spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 10-17 with a 4.57 ERA. He was the Pirates first round pick in the 1979 draft (secondary phase) and went on to have a workmanlike 14 year MLB career.
  • 1961 - C Smoky Burgess, OF Roberto Clemente, P ElRoy Face and 1B Dick Stuart repped the Bucs in the second All-Star game of the year at Fenway Park, a 1-1 tie called after nine innings because of rain. Clemente went 0-for-2, Burgess and Stu 0-for-1, and the Baron of the Bullpen was uncalled upon by manager Danny Murtaugh.
  • 1964 - It happens to the best of them. The San Francisco Giants took advantage of three errors by Bill Mazeroski and three more by his teammates to edge the Bucs 8-6 at Forbes Field. Maz's last error, a dropped catch on a potential around-the-horn DP ball in the ninth, would have ended the game with the Pirates on top 6-5 if he had held on to turn the pivot.
  • 1976 - Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances.
  • 1983 - Rookie Jose DeLeon held the Mets hitless for 8-1/3 innings before Hubie Brooks singled, but Mike Torrez countered with 11 shutout innings as New York won 1-0 in 12 frames. In his previous start‚ DeLeon had held the Padres hitless for 6-1/3 innings.
  • 1985 - The Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the 10th to rally past the Phillies 4-3 at TRS. Cecilio Guante picked up the win in spite of himself, allowing a home run in the top of the 10th and tossing a wild pitch in the ninth that tied the game. Former Bucco Kent Tekulve suffered the loss after Steve Kemp lined a two-out walkoff single to left to bring home Larry McWilliams, pinch running for Jason Thompson. The batter before Kemp, Marvell Wynne, hit into a force that plated Lee Mazzilli and knotted the score.
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, in addition to his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits.
  • 1992 - Knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield made his debut against the Cards at TRS, replacing Zane Smith who was hurt, and pitched his way to a 3-2 win. He was in hot water early giving up a couple of unearned runs in the fifth after working his way out of second and third frame jams. But he left the bases full of Redbirds in the fifth and cruised afterward. He got all his support from a pair of bombs, a two run shot by Barry Bonds and a solo homer off Jay Bell’s bat, and made the three scores stand up. The Bucs went into first after the win and never looked back.
  • 2012 - AJ Burnett held the Cubs hitless through 7-2/3 innings before giving up his only knock, a single to right by Adrian Cardenas. The Bucs won 5-0 at Wrigley. Burnett pitched a complete game while Neil Walker had all five RBI.
  • 2013 - The Pirates took their fourth straight game of the series over St. Louis with a 5-4 win at PNC Park. With Card ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, Pittsburgh rallied three times from early deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Neil Walker opened with a single and tagged to second after Pedro Alvarez’s drive to left died in the corner for the second out. Russell Martin turned on a slider and lined it into short left center for the game winner. The Pirate bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in the victory, with Tony Watson getting the win and Mark Melancon earning the save.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

GABP Curse Continues: Bucs Bombed 15-5

David Holmberg gave up a bunt single to Gregory to open the game, but a couple of flies and a liner later put the Bucs away. AJ, on the other hand, remained in his doldrum. With an out, back-to-back Redleg knocks were followed by Marlon Byrd smoking a ball into the seats, making it 3-0 after a frame. More ominously, AJ topped out at 90; with most of his pitches in the upper 80s, a troubling sign.

In the second, El Toro got a run back when he lost a ball over the right center wall. The Reds went down with just a single; the bad news is AL didn't even get to 90 that frame. Pittsburgh left another runner aboard in the third, and the Reds added another run when Joey Votto's double - he's on fire recently - was cashed in on a sac fly. AJ's velocity is returning; maybe he just had trouble getting loose.

Fran walked with two away in the fourth but Pedro went down looking; Joe West is having another of his days with the amorphous strike zone. Billy Hamilton bunted his way on with an out, running out of the baseline as he evaded Pedro's tag without a call. He stole second, natch, and scored when Brandon Phillips tapped a curve off the end of his bat slowly through the right side; the infield was playing partially in. Phillips went to second on a pitch to the backstop and then stole third; Ivan Dejesus Jr. walked, much to AJ's displeasure. Votto walked on a full count. A whiff looking (TY, Joe West) and sharp grounder got him out of it.

Cutch & the top of the lineup had a nice night, anyway.

The Kid opened the fifth with a base on balls. He was bunted to second, and Gregory walked. The rally quickly fizzled when Starling banged into a 6-4-3. With an out, AJ plunked eight hitter Tucker Barnhart with a curve and Holmberg singled him to third with a flare on a hit-and-run (yep, a pitcher-catcher hit-and-run). Not a very good night for Burnett, and it got worse when Pedro fired a DP try into left field.

So Deolis Guerre got the call with runners on second and third. Phillips lined a curve into the cheap seats, and it was 9-1. Guess we can figure who's going when Soria arrives tomorrow. A single, walk, wild pitch, double and two whiffs later, it was 11-1.

Stew's sac fly made it 11-2; Phillips homer off Deolis made it 14-2. Ryan Mattheus was touched for three runs when five straight Pirates reached with two gone in the seventh, the inning ending when West mistook ball four for strike three. Marte got plunked that frame; Jay Bruce ditto to open the Red half as Antonio Bastardo at least kept that scorecard even, tho he did score when AB walked three following batters. Arquimedes Caminero mopped it up.

The Bucs went quietly in the eighth; Jaff Decker climbed the hill to take one for the team. Spotting his 80 MPH heat, he gave up a couple of hits but kept the Reds off the board. The Bucs left a couple on in the ninth, and it was finally over.

The only thing worse than getting a butt-booting is to have to take it with Joe West behind the dish. Nothing to do but wash off and get 'em tomorrow, with Jeff Locke facing Michael Lorenzen.

  • The Pirates first four batters, Gregory (2), Starling (2), Cutch (3) and A-Ram (2), collected nine hits tonight.
  • Jaff Decker was the first position player to pitch for the Buccos since Travis Snider June 18th, 2014, also against the Reds.
  • Tonight was the most runs given up by Pittsburgh in a game this season, not exactly the way Clint wanted to spend his birthday.
  • This is the third straight start that AJ has allowed five+ runs and 10+ hits.
  • Detroit closer Joakim Soria has joined the Bucs in exchange for Altoona SS JaCoby Jones. He'll join Tony as an eighth inning arm.
  • The Pirates traded infielder Justin Sellers, recently sent outright to Indy, to the White Sox. in a cash deal
  • The Athletics signed Brent Morel to a minor-league contract.

AJ v David Holmberg; Lineup & Notes; Joe Blanton Joins Club; Vanimal DFA'ed

Today's Game - AJ Burnett (8-4, 2.68) and lefty David Holmberg set the table for the Reds series. AJ's been regressing of late; hopefully, the karma will even out and he'll give the Bucs a solid run down the stretch. He's been pretty dependable against the Reds, going 8-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 19 career starts against Cincy, with a 1-0/2.45 ERA slash in three starts against them this year.

The lefty Holmberg has made eight big league appearances, including five starts with the Reds last season with none of his outings against Pittsburgh. The 23 year old is 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA lifetime. He's a pitch-to-contact, low K guy who was susceptible to surrendering the long ball this year in AAA. The game starts at 7:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup - Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, A-Ram 3B, Jung-Ho Kang SS, Fran Cervelli C, Pedro 1B, Neil Walker 2B, AJ P.

Gregory has answered the bell this month (photo Gene Puskar/AP)
Not often that you see Pedro batting 7th and The Kid 8th. And tho he had a couple of hits yesterday, we'd still rather see Ramirez swap lineup spots with Kang (not that anyone asked).

The Bucs are 0-3 at Great American Ball Park this season (they've lost five in a row there) and are 2-7 overall against the Reds this season. Can't be moaning about the Cards when you're only 17-24 in the Central Division.

  • The Pirates bought RHP Joe Blanton from the Royals after he was DFA'ed. Blanton posted a 3.89 ERA in 15 games (4 starts) with KC this year. He's expected to be here tonight. The Bucs DFA'ed Vance Worley,as he never did settle into a bullpen role.
  • In his last six games, Francisco Cervelli has produced five multi-hit games.
  • With 2480 career strikeouts, A.J. Burnett enters tonight’s action ranked 33rd on the all-time list. Don Drysdale (2486) ranks 32nd.
  • ESPN Stats: Most Defensive Runs Saved due to shifts this season - Orioles 22, Astros 21, Rays and Pirates 15.
  • The Cleveland Indians traded 1B/OF Brandon Moss to the St. Louis Cardinals for LHP Rob Kaminsky, a 2013 first rounder who was ranked as their #5 prospect coming into the season by Baseball America.

7/30: Deadline Dealing - Jack Wilson, Jason Schmidt, Kris Benson, Gorzo, Derrek Lee, Bad Brad, Joe Blanton

 Not as busy as tomorrow's list, but with enough action to merit its own page:

  • 2000 - The Bucs got SS Jack Wilson from the Cards in exchange for LHP Jason Christiansen. Wilson was the starter at short when healthy from 2001 until he was traded in 2009, and won a Gold Glove and All-Star berth in 2004. 
Jack Wilson 2002 Fleer Tradition series
  • 2001 - The Bucs sent RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal to the Giants for OF Armando Rios and RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt went 7-1 the rest of the year for SF and then signed a big four-year contract. Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery two months later.
  •  2004 - The Pirates traded RHP Kris Benson and IF Jeff Keppinger to the Mets for 3B Jose Bautista (who they had lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft), IF Ty Wiggington and RHP Matt Peterson. Bautista became the tenth major leaguer to play for four teams in a season, having been on the rosters of Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In fact, he was actually on five teams, as he was acquired by the Mets from the Royals but sent to Pittsburgh the same day.
Joey Bats 2002 Topps rookie card
  • 2009 - The Pirates shipped lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs in exchange for IF Josh Harrison and RHPs Kevin Hart & Jose Ascanio.
  • 2011 - The Pirates traded minor league 1B Aaron Baker to the Orioles for 1B Derrek Lee, the first time that Pittsburgh was a buyer at the trade deadline since dealing for SS Shawon Dunston in 1997 to bolster the “Freak Show” lineup.
  •  2012 - In a trade of 2006 first rounders, Pittsburgh sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Toronto for OF Travis Snider. Lincoln is back in the organization while Snider was traded to Baltimore in 2015 for a pair of prospects. 
  • 2015 - The Pirates acquired veteran RHP Joe Blanton, 34, from the Royals for cash after he had been DFA’ed. Blanton posted a 3.89 ERA in 15 games (4 starts) with KC in 2015.

7/30:HBD Clint, Casey, Merritt, Rizzo & Finney; Bucs Move Into First; Westlake Cycle; Groat's Big ASG;

Little different format for the next couple of days; since there were so many deadline trades on the 30th & 31st, we're going to post them separately a little later.

  • 1870 - C/1B Bill Merritt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The reserve played for the Pirates from 1894-97, with a brief stop in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh was one of Bill’s six MLB stops). He hit .280 with Pittsburgh. 
Bill Merritt 1898 Cameo Pepsin Gum pin
  •  1886 - Enjoying an off day between games against the Metropolitans in New York, Allegheny pitcher Gentleman Jim Galvin decided to take in the NY Giants-St. Louis match at the Polo Grounds, and ended up with the best seat in the house. Still steaming over some verbal blasts unleashed during the prior day’s game, ump John Gaffney demanded a pre-game apology from the Giants. With none forthcoming, he stormed of the grounds, and Pud was pulled from the stands to ump. The Giants edged the Maroons 2-1 and Jeems escaped in one piece.
  • 1890 - OF Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The old Perfesser spent 1918-19 as a Pirate, with a .280 BA, and performed his famous Brooklyn “bird in the hat” stunt as a Bucco.
  • 1891 - The Pirates got off to a 31–47 following a disastrous 23–113 season, demoted captain/manager Ned Hanlon (who had left the team in 1890 for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the Alleghenys after that league folded) and hired Bill McGunnigle as skipper. McGunnigle managed the club to a modest 24–33 record over the remainder of the year. He was replaced by Tom Burns, who didn’t make it through the 1892 season before losing his job to Al Buckenberger.
  • 1905 - C Hal Finney was born in Lafayette, Alabama. He was a reserve that played for the Bucs from 1931-34 & again in 1936. He spent his MLB career in Pittsburgh, finishing with a .203 BA. 
Hal Finney 1931 (photo: TSN/Mears Collection)
  • 1909 - The Bucs ended NY Giant’s Christy Mathewson’s 13 game winning streak by a 3-1 score at Forbes Field. Tommy Leach doubled in Fred Clarke and Alan Storke, and was chased home by Dots Miller in the first. That’s all the support Vic Willis would need, scattering nine hits for the complete game win.
  • 1912 - OF Johnny Rizzo was born in Houston. He burst on the scene in 1938, hitting .301 with 23 HR and 111 RBI as a rookie; his HR mark for a first year Pirate stood until Jason Bay bettered it in 2006. He cooled off after that sizzling start, and early in 1940 was traded for Vince DiMaggio after hitting .283 with 29 HR and 168 RBI as a Bucco.
  • 1922 - Max Carey went deep twice as the Pirates beat the Giants 7-0 at the Polo Grounds. Carey hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning and then connected for another two-run blast as part of Pittsburgh’s 13-hit attack. Johnny Morrison went the distance for the Pirates, allowing seven hits in the shutout.
  • 1948 - Pittsburgh unleashed a four homer barrage against Brooklyn to take a 10-5 win at Ebbets Field. Wally Westlake hit for the cycle, while Max West, Monty Basgall and Clyde Kluttz homered to chase Dodger workhorse Ralph Branca. Bob Chesnes went the distance to claim the win.
Monty Basgall 1952 Topps series
  • 1956 - Sports Illustrated wrote that “Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.”
  • 1957 - Clint Hurdle was born in Big Rapids, Michigan. After a 10 year stint as a player and then managing the Colorado Rockies from 2002–2009 with a World Series appearance, Hurdle took over the Pirate reins in 2011, replacing John Russell. He broke the Pirate 20-year losing season streak in 2013 when he guided the club to 94 wins and the playoffs.
  • 1962 - In the second All-Star game of the year, this one played at Wrigley Field, the AL bashed the NL 9-4. Dick Groat went 2-for-3 and was HBP while driving home two runs. Roberto Clemente went 0-for-2 and Bill Mazeroski 0-for-1.
  • 1975 - The Pirates had to delay the start of the game at TRS by 18 minutes to let the Ladies’ Day promotion crowd of 43,260 get to their seats. It was worth the wait as the Bucs pounced on the Phils’ Steve Carlton on the way to an 8-1 win. Jerry Reuss went the distance, as Manny Sanguillen had a big day, going 5-for-5 with a homer. Al Oliver (HR, 2B), Willie Stargell (2B) and Dave Parker (2B) each had two-hit days. There were 21 hits banged out between the clubs, but the game still took just 2:25 to play.
Jerry Reuss 1974 Topps series
  • 2002 - Pittsburgh snapped a six game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Bucs broke open a duel between Kris Benson and the Rox’s Denny Neagle in the eighth, scoring three times with two outs. The rally was keyed by Adam Hyzdu’s two-run double. Mike Williams earned the save of Benson’s win.
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh concluded a five game winning streak by taking a 2-1, 10 inning victory from the SF Giants at PNC Park. Jose Castillo’s leadoff homer in the ninth forced the game into extras, and Jose Hernandez’s single in the 10th scored Jack Wilson with the tie breaker. Both starters, Zach Duke and Matt Morris, put up zeroes but were gone before the seventh was done, and it took 11 more pitchers to finish up. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Cards by 2-1 and 6-0 scores at PNC Park to vault over them into first place in the NL Central. The opener went 11 innings, with the winning run scoring after Alex Presley’s apparent DP ball deflected off pitcher Kevin Siegrist’s glove and into left to plate Russ Martin. Vin Mazzaro got the win. The key blow in the nitecap was Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer that bounced off Matt Holliday’s glove and into the second row of seats in left. Rookie Brandon Cumpton went seven frames for the win, tossing three hit ball. C Tony Sanchez took his MLB bow behind the dish and became one of seven Pirates to call a shutout in his first game; the last was Jason Kendall in 1996.
  • 2014 - The San Francisco Giants broke a six game losing streak largely thanks to a DP via a walk. The Pirates, who had won three in a row, led 5-4 in the sixth when Chris Stewart drew a one-out walk with runners on second and third. Giant hurler Jean Machi got the ball back from the catcher and noticed Travis Snider had wandered off second base, apparently thinking it was a bases-loaded walk (he later admitted that was the case). Machi picked him off, and Gaby Sanchez, who was at third, was caught in the backwash and picked off, too. The Bucs went on to lose 7-5 at AT&T Park, wasting long balls by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bucs Steamroll Hapless Twins 10-4

Windy day, high sun, 25 hits and five errors  all conspired to make the getaway game an interesting one, as what was featured as a pitching duel ended up anything but.

Ervin Santana had no problems with the Buccos in the first, and Frankie gave up just a single for a quiet beginning. Jung-Ho is liking the Twin Cities; in the second, he pounded a 1-2 fastball into the seats for back-to-back homers following last night's game winner. Minnesota got it right back when Eddie Rosario tripled off Cutch's mitt and came in on a grounder.

JHK finding that power stroke (photo Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press)
In the third, a walk and an error put Bucs at second and third with an out, but Starling flew out to short left, Cutch was walked intentionally, and A-Ram bounced out. With one gone in the Minny half, Brian Dozier smacked a hanger off the top of the wall in left-center; Aaron Hicks singled him home and went to second when Starling bobbled the ball. He plated an out later on Miguel Sano's knock. Further damage was averted when Sano was caught in a rundown trying to test Gregory's arm and tagged to end the frame.

Both sides stranded a runner in the fourth; the big news that frame was Gregory leaving the contest with an achy knee.

The Bucs tied it up in the fifth. With two gone, Starling dropped a lob into right and Cutch followed with a 408' liner that cleared the fence. A-Ram followed with double, his first hit as a Pirate since 2003, but was left at second. A double was followed by a one-out single off A-Ram's glove (it froze the runner at second when JHK's back-up kept it in the infield), but Frankie got a pair off grounders to put up another zero.

Pittsburgh broke it open in the sixth. The Kid opened with a single and was forced on Pete's grounder. He was chased to third on Fran's double, scoring soon afterward on a wild pitch (well, prob should have been a passed ball, but same result). Ishy and Jaff Decker walked, then Starling lifted a sac fly to mike it 5-3 Pittsburgh. 

Cutch lined a ball to right that bad hopped past Eddie Rosario and went to the wall, allowing Travis and Jaff to score as Andrew steamed around the sacks. The relay went through the 3B'man's wickets; Cutch headed home while Eduardo Nunez chased after the ball. Both were looking different directions and the inevitable collision was NFL-worthy. Neither was hurt, despite their human tumbling dice impressions, and Cutch was awarded home on an interference call. it was a textbook little league homer. Blaine Boyer took over for Santana and got the final out.

Frankie couldn't hang on, though, and was pulled with two outs and Twins on the corners for Antonio Bastardo. He punched out Shane Robinson to quell the threat.

Three of the first four Bucs reached against Boyer, but a DP in between kept Pittsburgh from lighting up the board again. In the bottom of the seventh, AB was his worst enemy. He picked up another whiff, but also walked a pair and threw ball away on a comebacker. That mess brought on Jared Hughes with the bases jammed and an out. No prob; a K and a grounder to first later safely closed the frame.

Ryan O'Rourke pitched a clean eight, and so did Arquimedes Caminero, tossing the first 1-2-3 inning by a Pirate hurler so far in the brief series.

JR Graham worked the ninth, giving up knocks to A-Ram and JHK plus a two-run double to Pedro to make it 10-3. Deolis Guerra K'ed the first two twinkies, then gave up a single, wild pitch and double, which oddly enough ended the frame; Sano was gunned at third by Jaff to close out the contest.

Well, wasn't pretty, and if Neal Huntington doesn't see a need for an arm or three for the pen, well, we do. But winning ugly sure beats losing ugly. The Bucs have taken 5-of-6 and move on down the line to Cincy, where AJ takes on David Holmberg tomorrow night.

  • JHK had three hits, while The Kid, Cutch,A-Ram and Fran had a pair of knocks.
  • Gregory Polanco's early exit ended a six game hitting streak and 18 game on-base string. His knee has been sore for a while, and there was no official word on whether he'll be available tomorrow.
  • It was the Pirates 11th sweep of the season. That's the most Bucco broomings since they took a dozen sets back in 1992. 
  • The club is done with interleague play, finishing the year finish 13-7 against the AL.
  • A-Ram went into the game 0-for-14 as a 2015 Bucco before getting his first hit. .
  • The Pirates sold LHP Jayson Aquino to Indians; he had been DFA'ed to make room for Pedro Florimon.