-- This Day In Bucco History: On September 30th, 1972, in a game at Three Rivers Stadium, Roberto Clemente hit a double off Jon Matlack of the New York Mets for his 3,000th hit in the final regular season at-bat of his 18 big league years.
-- James McDonald's line since becoming a Pirate: eleven starts, 4-5, 3.51 ERA, with 61 strikeouts and 24 walks in 64 innings. And so far this year, his poise has been better than his stuff. Even when struggling with command and pitch count, he's kept the game within reach.
-- How have the Pirate pups handled the dog days of September? In the last 28 days, their lines have been:
Andrew McCutchen - .333/.427/.548 4 HR, 13 RBI, 21 RS, 5 SB
Jose Tabata - .290/.309/.376 12 RBI, 13 RS, 4 SB
Neil Walker - .264/.356/.418 3 HR 15 RBI 13 RS
Garrett Jones - .286/.333/.452 1 HR 12 RBI 11 RS
Pedro Alvarez - .300/.354/.567 4 HR 14 RBI 12 RS
McCutch, Jones and El Toro have all raised their games; JT is pretty much on mark, and The Pittsburgh Kid is having just a so-so month at the dish. But it bodes well that none have fallen into a September swoon, a fate common to many young guys as the grind of a long year takes its toll.
-- Pedro Alvarez has a nine-game hitting streak; McCutch has a 24 game on-base skein.
-- With a 16-61 road record, Pittsburgh must win at least one of their final four games to avoid becoming the first team to play an 162 game schedule and finish with fewer than 17 wins.
The 1963 Mets finished 17-64 on the road a year after they went 18-63 away from home during their inaugural expansion season. Those two clubs remain the only teams to win fewer than 20 road games playing a modern schedule. Unless the Pirates sweep Florida, they'll become the third.
-- "Winning the Curve's first championship and being named Eastern League Manager of the Year wasn't enough for Matt Walbeck to keep his job. The Pirates informed Walbeck late Wednesday night that he would not be retained in any capacity by the organization" reports Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror.
Walbeck, who turns 41 on Saturday, has now won three league titles and four manager of the year awards in six seasons. The Pirates had no comment; apparently he ran the Curve ship contrary to their by-the-book management guide for minor-league player development or was bucking for a promotion that wasn't in the cards; maybe it was a bit of both.
A lotta noise about this move, but we don't think it's a big deal. Walbeck managed his team to win games, and at his level, the Pirates are more interested in someone who will work on developmental issues for the players. Sometimes that goes hand-in-hand; this time it didn't. He'll land on his feet, and Altoona will find another guy equally as qualified to lead the troops.
Still, it's another black mark on the Pirates' PR checklist; they should have announced his dismissal before he leaked it to the press. Good spin doesn't seem to be their forte.
-- This upcoming draft will mark the fourth shot Pittsburgh has had at the #1 pick. The others: RHP Bryan Bullington in 2002, RHP Kris Benson in 1996, and 3B Jeff King in 1985. Not much of a track record there.
-- After missing the early part of the season due to shoulder surgery, Freddy Sanchez is hitting .296/.345/.408 with 7 HR and 45 RBI for San Fran in 108 games. And he's still Steady Freddy in the field, making 4 errors in 448 chances. How about Tim Alderson, who he was traded for? Well, let's just say he's not doing quite that well.