Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Liriano v Hudson, Lineup (no Pedro), Rumors Flyin', Starling, Josh...

Francisco Liriano (2-7, 4.18) takes the bump opposite Tim Hudson (8-7, 2.65) tonight.

Frankie has made three starts since being returning from the DL and has gone 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA while looking pretty sharp in his last couple of outings. The Bucs generally don't score a lot for him; he's gotten more than two runs of support when he has been on the mound in just three of his first 17 starts

First the good news: Liriano has posted a 3.28 ERA with a .191 opponent BA in his seven starts on the road this season. The bad news: He's 1-1 but with a 7.20 ERA in two career starts against the G-Men, with both games last season.

Hudson has been on a roller coaster ride. He was arguably the ace of the Giant staff for April and May, leveled off in June and then went 0-4 with a 6.07 ERA in his final five starts before the All-Star break. Since the break, he's been on fire again, giving up one earned run in his two post-ASG outings.

The 16 year vet - he just turned 39 - has seen the Bucs plenty of times. He's 6-7 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.136 WHIP against Pittsburgh in 14 career starts.

It should be interesting, as both guys have been strong since the All-Star break and both are keys to their club's playoff chances.

The lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Travis Snider LF, Jordy mercer SS and Liriano P. No Pedro again, but the guys that are penciled in have all had hot hands recently, so...

The game begins at 10:15 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

  • Jon Heyman of Baseball Insider claims that the Pirates are among the top contenders in the Jon Lester sweepstakes; OF Josh Bell seems to be the key Pirate prospect involved. As you can imagine, lots of chatter on the web, with the real story to be told in the next 48 hours...
  • Chris Cotilla of Major League Dish writes that "Pittsburgh has been especially aggressive in the bullpen market, and is definitely a destination to watch on (Joaquin) Benoit."
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN posted "Sources say talks between the Pirates and Phillies about an A.J. Burnett reunion in Pittsburgh are all but dead, largely because the Pirates have been unable to get assurances that Burnett won't pick up his player option for next season."
  • Dan Zangrilli of The Fan 93.7 also reports that Tampa Bay has scouts in Altoona for a second night to look at prospects for both the Curve and Detroit's farm club, Erie. Shi Davidi of the Blue Jays adds that nine scouts are watching the Indy-Buffalo (Toronto) game. So we know that the scouts are scouting and the GM's are playing chess, and that's about all.
  • Starling Marte can come off the DL tomorrow; whether he's healthy enough to isn't certain yet.
  • Josh Harrison has gone 6-for-9 with a double, two home runs, three RBI, four runs scored and two stolen bases in the last two games.
  • Pirate bench coach Jeff Banister, Clint Hurdle's right hand man, will manage the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League after the season.
  • Ex-Bucs: 1B Travis Ishikawa was called up by the Giants.

7/29: Cutty, Hans, Frank Gustine, Gene Clines, Brian Giles, Steady Freddy & More...

Cutty, Hans, Frank Gustine, Gene Clines, Brian Giles, Steady Freddy & More...
  • 1886 - 2B George Cutshaw was born in Wilmington, Illinois. He came to the Bucs in exchange for Burleigh Grimes, and manned second base for four seasons (1918-21). Cutty hit .275 as a Pirate. His best year was his last, when he hit .340. But he was injured in August, and the 35 year old was sold to Detroit, where he spent the last two years of his career. 
George Cutshaw - Image from Out Of The Park
  • 1915 - Honus Wagner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Brooklyn Dodger Ed Pfeffer (It was “a dandy drive” per the Pittsburg Press) during Pittsburgh’s 8-2 victory at Forbes Field. The inside-the-park round tripper made the 41-year old infielder the second oldest player ever to hit a homer with the bases full, a record set by 42-year old Cap Anson in 1894. (The mark that stood until 1985 when 44-year old Tony Perez of the Reds claimed it.) Erving Kantlehner scattered nine hits while going the distance for the win, helped by an unassisted DP when RF Bill Hinchman snared a line drive and continued on to to first base to double off Pfeffer. 
  • 1940 - The Bucs scored six times in their final at-bat, with the lead run thrown out at the plate as Frank Gustine tried to score from first on Vince DiMaggio’s hit. It wasn’t enough; the Dodgers pushed across a two-out run in the bottom half as the Pirates went down 7-6 at Ebbets Field. The game was marked by a ninth inning brawl started when Brooklyn C Babe Phelps spiked P Mace Brown at a play at first. Manager Frankie Frisch was fined $100 and ejected, and three of his players were hit with $25 fines. 
  • 1947 - Frank Gustine went 4-for-5 against the Boston Braves to lead Pittsburgh to a 6-5 win at Forbes Field. It ran his hitting streak to 21 games before it was snapped the next day. 
  • 1968 - RHP Mike Williams was born in Radford, Virginia. In six seasons (1998-2003), he went 15-23 and saved 140 games for Pittsburgh with a 3.78 ERA. His mark of 46 saves in 2002 is still a team standard, but fame is fleeting - he was out of baseball after 2003. 
  • 1971 - Gene Clines was the hero of the Bucs 8-5 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. His three run homer was the big blow in a six-run sixth inning, and the CF went 4-for-4 with four RBI and a pair of runs. Bob Robertson and Willie Stargell also went yard in the win that was cemented by 5-2/3 scoreless frames tossed by the bullpen. 
Gene Clines 1974 Topps series
  • 2000 - Brian Giles went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles while Warren Morris and Emil Brown homered as the Bucs ran up a 10-2 count against the San Diego Padres at TRS. Francisco Cordova got the win as three Buc pitchers scattered six hits in front of a Saturday night crowd of 30,118. 
  • 2009 - 2B Freddy Sanchez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Tim Alderson. The Bucs also traded RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson to the Mariners for RHP Aaron Pribanic, RHP Brett Lorin, 1B Nathan Adcock, SS Ronny Cedeno and 1B Jeff Clement.

Bucs Ride Big First Inning, Worley's Arm To 5-0 Win

Pretty good start for the Bucs. Josh drew a five pitch walk off Madison Bumgarner, and Jordy singled him up a station. Cutch took a ball four cuvre on a 3-2 count to load the sacks, and Gaby pounded a ball to deep center; the park held it, but the sac fly made it 1-0. Jordy tagged to third, and The Kid singled him home. Then the Bucs got a break. Bumgarner had Cutch picked off second, but skipped the ball into center to put Pirates on the corners.

Russ rolled a ball up the middle, scoring Cutch and chasing Jordy to third. El Coffee hit a sac fly to right; the throw came home and got through Buster Posey, moving Russ to second. Brent Morel couldn't bring him home, bouncing out to first, but it's 4-0 and Bumgarner is already at 42 pitches. Vanimal got three grounders for an easy start.

After an out in the second, Josh fell behind 0-2, worked the count to 2-2 and then launched a slider into the seats to make it 5-0. Jordy followed with his second line knock, but Cutch and Gaby were retired routinely. Two grounders and a K tucked the Giants away. The third was a clean frame for both hurlers, and all the action for the clubs in the fourth was a two out single by Polanco.

Yusmeiro Petit took the bump in the fifth and put the Bucs down in order. Pedro Sandoval collected the Giants first hit after Worley had cut down 12 G-Men in row, a ground ball into right. Vanimal came right back and got a 6-4-3 DP from Michael Morse and a fly to end the inning quietly.

The Pirates went down without a peep in the sixth. Gregory Blanco bled a single along the left side, but was mowed down trying to steal an out later, and after a third out fly Worley has still faced the minimum 18 batters through six and is sitting petty at 58 pitches. Juan Gutierrez took the bump in the seventh and worked a quiet frame; the Pirates have had 10 in a row retired. Vanimal struggled, if that's the word, a little in the Giant half. Hunter Pence lined out and Joe Spanik drew a walk after a long at-bat on a call that could have gone either way. But he stayed at the minimum by getting Posey to hit into a 4-6-3 DP, and it's all roses.

Pittsburgh went down in order in the eighth. Kung Fu Panda opened with a single up the middle. Two routine outs later, Worley fell behind Blanco 3-1 and tossed what would have been ball four, but the catcher helped by rolling over on the outside heater and bouncing it to Walker, so no Giant has reached second yet tonight.

Russ bounced out to open the ninth, and the Giants then waved in Javier Lopez to face Polanco. El Coffee foiled the plot by breaking the Pirates' 14-out string with an infield single to second. Morel bounced out, moving Polanco to second, not that it helped as Vanimal whiffed.

But he's paid to pitch, and he's earned that paycheck tonight. After an out in the ninth, Andrew Susak gave him a nine-pitch workout before lifting a routine fly to left. pence, a thorn in the Bucs side ever since his Astro days, lined a triple to right, but Vanimal retired Panik on a grounder to earn the complete game, shutout win.

Well, pitching wins games, and a big fat zero is about as good as it gets. Worley faced two batters over the minimum and allowed one runner beyond first, giving up four hits, a walk and whiffing a trio. With Cole due back, Worley has another start to show he can be consistent and perhaps bump Edinson Volquez, with his swing-and-miss stuff, to the pen. But the Bucs have 10 days or so to consider that next move.

While it's obvious that they could use a RH reliever to help in the late innings, it appears more and more that if they go after a starter, it should be a top-end guy; the back end of the rotation is pretty solid. We'll see if Neal Huntington and the brass agree.

Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano mix it up tomorrow night.
  • Vance Worley picked up his first career shutout. He had one complete game before tonight, tossed in 2011 when he was with the Phillies, also against the Giants. It was a three-hitter, and he gave up a pair of runs. That one took him 114 pitches; tonight's gem used up just 100. It was Pittsburgh's first complete game shutout since AJ Burnett tossed a one-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley on July 31, 2012.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the Bucs are in the mix for Jon Lester.
  • Jon Morosi tweets that the Pirates are kicking the tires of the Phils' Antonio Bastardo and Marlon Byrd.
  • Pittsburgh is two games back in the NL Central and 1/2 game away from a second wild-card spot.
  • The Bucs are 16-for-16 this year when scoring in the first inning.
  • Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout frames for Indy in his rehab start tonight. He wasn't exactly sharp, though, giving up five hits and three walks, but he did K seven, throwing 81 pitches.
  • Clint Barmes took BP and some grounders today, so he's slowly getting back into the swing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Worley v Bumgarner, Lineup (Pedro Out), LaTroy, Travis, Stop Thief! & Top Guns...

Vance Worley (3-1, 3.10) gets the call against yet another lefty, Madison Bumgarner (12-7, 3.19).

Worley has come back to earth this month, posting a record of 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA after going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in June. He has one more slated start after this before Gerrit Cole returns. Vanimal is 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in three career starts against the G-Men, bute hasn't seen them since 2012.

Bumgarner and the Giants have had their problems at home. He's gone 4-5 with a 5.22 ERA in 10 home starts with at least four earned runs surrendered in seven of them. The team has dropped 19 of their last 25 at AT&T Park; they're 28-28 overall by the Bay. Bumgarner is 1-2 in three career starts against the Pirates but has a 1.71 ERA and .211 Bucco BA in those matchups with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings.

He will, btw, be the eighth lefty in the past 10 games to start against Pittsburgh. After tonight, the Pirates return to looking at righties with Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum next up for San Francisco.

The Giants are coming off a broom job by the Dodgers and have dropped four in a row. Of course, facing Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in a row will do that to a team; they hit .180 against that foursome. Still, San Francisco squandered what was once a runaway in the NL West, going 10-16 in June and 11-12 so far in July. They're now 1-1/2 games behind LA.

The Giants hold the last wild card spot; they're 1-1/2 games ahead of the Bucs, so this series has implications for October, too.

The lineup: Josh Harrison LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Russ martin C, Gregory Polanco RF, Brent Morel 3B and Worley P. El Coffee had some nice swings against a a couple of lefties yesterday, including a homer. Alvarez gets a seat again.

The game starts at 10:15 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan for the night owl club.
  • Tom Harding, the MLB.com beat man for the Rockies, posted that the Pirates have shown some interest in 41 year old LaTroy Hawkins.
  • Travis Snider leads all MLB players with 12 pinch hits this season and the Pirates lead all big league teams with 42 pinch hits while ranking second with five home runs and tied for first with 27 RBI. The Bucs had seven pinch-hit homers a year ago.
  • Pittsburgh pitchers have caught 11 runners attempting to steal this season, tied with San Francisco for the most among all major league teams. The Pirates' 33 caught stealings is tops among NL teams; the Tigers lead the majors with 34.
  • Gerrit Cole will make a rehab start tonight for Indy. His goal is 80-85 pitches, with one rehab start to follow to get him up to 100 pitches. That schedule would have him return for Thursday, August 7th against the Marlins, with the Padres due the next day.
  • The Bucs had seven of MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects. The RHP Tyler Glasnow was #20, RHP Jameson Taillon #32, OF Josh Bell #33, OF Austin Meadows #50, RHP Nick Kingham #66th, SS Alen Hanson #80 and C Reese McGuire #81. The Top 20 in the Pirate system per MLB.com are linked here.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Rays DFA'ed LHP Eric Bedard.

Deadline Dealing: 2011-13

The deadline is right around the corner, dropping at 4PM on Thursday, and this down-to-the-wire dealing stuff is getting to be old hat now; this will be the fourth year in a row that the Bucs have been active acquiring players instead of shedding them.

The Pirates joined the buyers mart in 2011, the first year the Pirates were contenders into the dog days. For the first time since 1997, when the "Freak Show" added Shawon Dunston to the roster, the Bucs were adding to the roster.

The Bucs had Lyle Overbay at first base (.227) and shored up that spot by bringing in Derrek Lee, 35, from Baltimore for minor league 1B Aaron Baker, 24. Lee hit .398 with seven homers and 18 RBI in 28 games, but was on the DL with a bum wrist while the Pirates slowly swirled around the NL drain. Lee was a strong pick-up for virtually free who retired after the season while Baker never got above AA for Baltimore and was released from the Bird's system this year.

The other addition was OF'er Ryan Ludwick, who was bought from the Padres to add a little muscle to the bench and get some platoon work with Garrett Jones, who was primarily a RF that season. He didn't do much here, hitting .232 with two HR and 11 RBI in 38 games. He left as a free agent to sign with the Reds. Ludwick had a strong 2012 season for Cincy and has been spotty since.

The Bucs did pretty well for themselves in 2011; they weren't really serious contenders yet, brought in a couple of vets and plugged a big hole with Lee without giving up any major league assets.

In 2012, it was a little more of the same; a strong early push with a huge fade at the end. The front office realized that it was still a mirage and went a slightly different route, bringing in future pieces. The big deal, off course, was for 33 year old Wandy Rodriguez. The Bucs sent the Astros Colton Cain, Rudy Owens and Robbie Grossman, with Grossman being the key piece.

Wandy pitched as advertised, going 5-6 with a 3.72 ERA. But injuries derailed him in Pittsburgh. A guy that was hoped to be an inning-eater in Pittsburgh ended up making just 31 starts with 11 wins for the Pirates until his release with a bum knee earlier this year.

Owens has the look of a Quad A guy, Cain is still young at 23 and toiling in AA, and Grossman has spent part of two season with the 'Stros, hitting .240.

They also swapped out Brad Lincoln for Travis Snider. Both were first rounders that never quite lived up to the hype. Neither guy has put up any worthwhile numbers, but at this point in time, Snider is trending up as a fourth outfielder (.256, 6 HR) while Bad Brad is taking his lumps in the Philly system, being demoted from the big club and sent to AAA, not a good sign for a 29 year old reliever.

Pittsburgh also brought in Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins for Gorkys Hernandez, a gifted fielder but weak hitter, and a compensation pick. Gaby has turned into a useful platoon player, hitting .289 against LHP while a Pirate and playing a steady first base. Gorkys is chasing baseballs in Venezuela now, so the comp pick will prove to be the key element of the deal.

In more minor deals, the Pirates deepened the pen by bringing in Chad Qualls for Casey McGehee, who had in effect lost his job when Gaby joined the club, and Hisonari Takahashi was claimed off waivers. Qualls and McGehee are having rebound years while Takahashi is pitching in Japan; none offered more than depth.

Again, the Bucs did OK. They didn't get over the hump, and though the verdict has yet to be rendered because of the youth of the guys they traded, they got a couple of solid bench pieces in Travis and Gaby, though they struck out on Wandy, without losing anything but a little potential bench depth.

Last year was different. It wasn't all smoke and mirrors; the Bucs had a solid club in 2013 with excellent pitching, but needed an offensive bump. They struck two big deals, both in August, to strengthen the lineup.

The biggest difference maker was OF Marlon Byrd, and they paid pretty dearly his rental, sending the Mets RHP Vic Black and 2B Dilson Herrera. The Bucs also landed John Buck, an offensive-minded catcher, to serve as Russ Martin's caddy rather than untested Tony Sanchez. Byrd did all that for the Pirates in right field (.318, 3 HR, 17 RBI in 30 games), and was strong through the playoffs (.364, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 6 games). He left for the Phils after the season; seems like the Bucs already had another right fielder just about ready in Gregory Polanco. Buck was adequate (.333 in 24 at-bats), and he was allowed to go the free agent route too, not having the glove that the Bucs like behind the dish.  

Black has been up-and-down and has the arm to fill a spot in a MLB bullpen but Herrera, 20, was the prize for NY. The youngster represented the Bucs, along with Gregory Polanco, in the 2013 Futures Game. He's already the Mets #8 minor league prospect. Herrera is batting .345 at AA Binghamton, and while he's still working on improving his defense, he could be a starter in the show maybe as soon as 2016.

That's the first deadline deal where the Pirates had to send away a prospect with potential everyday MLB talent in Herrera; it shows the urgency that the FO felt to end the streak, break through to the playoffs and capitalize on all the feel good vibes the club was generating.

The other trade was to bring in Justin Morneau from the Twins to provide a glove and more consistent stick at first while foreshadowing the non-tendering of Garrett Jones. The cost wasn't very high as the Pirates sent Alex Presley and Duke Welker to the Twinkies. Morneau did OK, hitting .260 with a .370 OBP. But three RBI in 25 games from a middle-of-the-order position didn't cut it, and he was released at the end of the year, with Ike Davis eventually filling the first base spot.

Morneau has revived his career at Colorado, hitting .312 with 13 HR and 60 RBI, and the numbers aren't Coors Field phenomena; his home/road splits are not that wide. Could be that the Pirates missed the call on keeping him around for the short-term (The Rox gave him two guaranteed years at $11.75 total, with an option for $9M/$750 K buyout), but at age 33 and with his power numbers non-existent, it was a gamble they were understandably reluctant to make.

Presley is a bench outfielder, and Welker returned to the Bucs in exchange for Kris Johnson. Duke was released after TJ surgery, so again it was another deal of spare parts. They also added Kyle Farnsworth, who they signed to a minor league deal in August and brought up in September.

2014 showed that the higher your target, the more you're willing to give up. The Pirates got exactly the push they needed from Byrd, and to them, that was worth the price they paid.

Now it's time to get that push going for the stretch run. While the rumor mill has been dead, especially as team's approach the deadline wire, we'd expect the Bucs (as does everyone else) to look for a top end or mid-rotation starter; they have the back end covered. Likeliest is some bullpen reinforcement, especially seventh inning or later guys. And it's possible that they'd like to add another infield bench guy, one with a stick if the price is right. But they've been patient, as last year showed, and may wait out the market again.

7/28: Historic Rally, Gus For Max, Hot Streaks, ESPN Fireworks, Al McBean, A-Ram, Jeff Suppan & More

Historic Rally, Gus For Max, Hot Streaks, Al McBean, ESPN Fireworks, A-Ram, Jeff Suppan & More
  • 1932 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from the NY Giants‚ winning 10-7 and 9-1. Earl Grace had three hits and three RBI during the lidlifter to pace the Pirate attack. In the nitecap, Tony Piet smacked a grand slam and three-run homer to go along with two more hits for a seven RBI, three run day to plow the road for Heinie Meine. 
  • 1939 - The Pirates traded veteran 1B Gus Suhr to the Phillies for RHP Max Butcher. Suhr was nearing the end of his career (he was released after playing just 10 games in 1940, his last MLB season), but Butcher became a mainstay for the Bucs, pitching for seven seasons, making 154 starts and winning 67 games in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1940 - The Pirates won their eighth of nine games and fifth in a row after sweeping Boston at Braves Field by 5-2 and 7-3 scores. Maurice Van Robays was the hero of the opening match, homering and driving in three runs to give Dick Lanahan all the support he needed. The Bucs used a balanced attack to support Max Butcher’s four-hitter in the nitecap. 
Max Butcher 1940 Play Ball series
  • 1968 - Al McBean had one of those do-no-wrong Sundays. He gave up 13 hits to the Cards at Forbes Field, but still went the distance for a 7-1 win. The big blow? McBean’s grand slam in the fifth off Larry Jaster, coming with two down after Milt May was walked to get to Alvin. Donn Clendenon added a two run blast to the cause. 
  • 1971 - Luke Walker spun a four hit, complete game whitewash at Los Angeles in a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium. Bob Robertson homered and had a sac fly to bring home two runs. 
  • 1996 - Orlando Merced hit two home runs and brought in four RBI while Al Martin and Mark Johnson had four hits each as the Bucs beat the Phillies 12-8 at TRS. Reliever John Ericks took home the win of the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball match. It would be the last SNB appearance for the Bucs until 2014. 
  • 2000 - Aramis Ramirez drove in six runs with a pair of homers, Emil Brown went long and plated four more runners while John Vander Wal also went yard in a 16-5 romp over the San Diego Padres at TRS. A-Ram, Jason Kendall, Kevin Young and Vander Wal scored three times apiece. 
Aramis Ramirez 2000 Bowman series
  • 2000 - The Bucs sent OF Wil Cordero to the Indians for IF Enrique Wilson and OF prospect Alex Ramirez. Cordero played respectably through 2003, while Wilson was traded again in 2001 and Ramirez began a long career as a slugger in Japan after the 2000 season. 
  • 2001 - Pittsburgh became only the second team in NL history (the Cubs were the first in 1952) to win a game by scoring seven runs with two outs and nobody on base in the ninth inning. Brian Giles capped the scoring with a walk-off grand slam off Astros ace Billy Wagner to win the game 9-8. Pat Meares had hit a two-run shot earlier in the frame as seven straight Bucs reached base. The game was the opener of the first home day-night doubleheader in franchise history before a crowd of 32,977 at PNC Park. There was no drama in the nightcap as Houston rolled 12-3. 
  • 2003 - Jeff Suppan won his sixth consecutive start with a 3-0 decision over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, scattering seven hits. He was backed by Reggie Sanders’ homer and three hits from Randall Simon. Suppan was flipped to the Red Sox three days later as part of a deal for Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez. 
Jeff Suppan - uncredited Best Sports Photos
  • 2004 - In one of their more frustrating losses, the Bucs collected 11 hits but were shut out by the Braves 1-0 at PNC Park. Ollie Perez threw a five hitter with 10 K, but Chipper Jones’ fourth inning homer stood. John Smoltz came out of the bullpen to save the game for Russ Ortiz. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates won for the ninth time in 11 games, taking a 4-3 decision from the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Alex Presley and Neil Walker had solo shots, and Rod Barajas singled in Andrew McCutchen with the game winner with two out in the eighth. They remained two games back in the NL Central race.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It Took Four Hours, But The Bucs Finally Overcame The Rox 7-5

Well, the Bucs didn't have to wait long for a hit today; Josh doubled to open the game against Franklin Morales. Gregory Polanco was called out on strikes, which had more to do with ump Tom Hallion's eye than Polanco, and Cutch walked. But Gaby and The Kid both lifted easy flies to allow Morales off the hook. Edinson Volquez walked Charlie Blackmon, but a quick 6-4-3 DP and another grounder closed the frame.

The Pirates woke up at the dish in the second. Jordy led off with a single, and an out later, Stew and Eddie walked; all Volquez really wanted to do was bunt. Josh singled in a run, and El Coffee took one the opposite way to the track for a sac fly. Cutch whiffed, but the Bucs finally put up a couple of points before the ninth while Morales is already at 60 pitches.

After two more Rox ground outs (one a bit of robbery by Pedro at third), Rosario drilled a fastball for a double and went to third on a wild pitch.  Brandon Barnes walked on a full count as Edinson's command this inning wasn't there. He hung a change to DJ LeMahieu, and the single halved the lead. Eddie tossed nothing but fastballs at Morales and got him on a come-backer. The first two innings have taken an hour to play.

Gaby opened the third with a single, and he went to second on Jordy's knock an out later. Morales stayed outside against Pedro and was rewarded when El Toro rolled over on a 3-2 slider and bounced into a 4-6-3 DP. After two outs, that third again proved elusive. Eddie K'ed Corey Dickerson, but the ball got past Stew and Dickerson reached first. Volquez closed it out on the second try with another grounder.

Stew began the fourth with a knock and was bunted to second. Josh flew out to the track, then Morales worked Polanco inside instead of out, and got him check swinging at a 3-2 fastball. The Pirates have had the leadoff hitter on and a runner at second with an out or less in every frame, but are an unsightly 1-for-8 with RISP in just four frames.

You knew it had to happen; with an out, Rosario rolled a ball to Pedro and he chucked it into the seats to put the catcher at second. They ruled it a single and error, but it was entirely on Alvarez, who again double pumped the throw. Brandon Barnes got a 3-2 fastball down the middle and drove it into the left field seats, and the Bucs were now in the hole 3-2. LeMahieu inside-outed a fastball and singled the opposite way. He was bunted to second. We're not exactly sure what the plan was with Blackmon; he got five change ups, the last two hung, and finally banged one for a double to make it 4-2 before Volquez got the last out. Eddie is already at 85 pitches and Morales at 88 - after four innings! And Colorado is 3-for-5 with RISP; that's the story line so far.

The Bucs got the leadoff man on again in the fifth when Cutch walked, and Gaby followed with another free pass to again put another man at second. After 99 pitches and just 12 outs recorded, Morales was sent to the showers and Chad Bettis came on. The Kid singled to load the bases. Jordy lined out to third, Cutch was doubled off - Arenado's catch carried him toward the sack - and Pedro grounded out. Two hard hit balls and three outs. With an out, Nolan Arenado walked on four pitches and Ben Paulsen doubled over third. Rosario was walked intentionally and that brought in Jared Hughes, who induced a 6-4-3 DP from Barnes.

Chris Stewart opened the sixth with a single, and here we go again...whoops, maybe not. Travis Snider grabbed a stick and launched a 3-2 slider into the stands, and we had a tie game. Josh followed with a ball that dropped in left, and Bettis was switched out for Tommy Kahnle. Josh stole second, overslid the bag, got in a rundown and Houdini-like, slithered into third. The play was reviewed on a Rox challenge, and the safe call was upheld. Polanco whiffed, chasing a fastball in the dirt. Cutch K'ed on a 3-2 count, looking for heat but swinging through a slider. Ike hit for Gaby and made it all better, turning on a 97 MPH fastball and drilling a double to right. Walker bounced out, but somehow the Bucs have the lead at 5-4.

Justin Wilson climbed the hill. He gave up a two-out single to Blackmon but escaped undamaged. The game has passed the three hour mark, with three frames left to go.

Matt Belisle came on in the seventh, and gave up a bloop hit to Pedro. He was off on a hit-and-run, but the Rox sniffed it out and called for a pitchout; El Toro saw it in time and manged to get back to first. Stew struck out looking on another missed call by Hallion, and Michael Martinez banged a liner, but right at LeMahieu. Martinez went to left, Josh to third and Pedro took a seat. Clint went out of the box to bring in Tony Watson, but it backfired as Arenado drove a ball out of the yard in straight center to tie it. Tony gave up a two out knock to Rosario, who hit a routine grounder but against the no-doubles D, and it bounced through, but Watson whiffed Culberson to stop the music.

Rex Brothers took the hill in the eighth. Bad choice for Walt Weiss; Josh and El Coffee hit back-to-back homers off him. And it could have been worse - Cutch grounded out softly, but Ike flew out to the track in left to the right of the 390' mark, and The Kid's slicing liner to right was pulled in on a diving web-gem catch by Carlos Gonzalez. Watson gave up an infield knock to LeMahieu. He went to second on a ground out, but forgot to buckle up his thinking cap and was cut down trying to steal third down by two. Another grounder ended the frame.

Brooks Brown worked the ninth. He got two quick outs, one an at 'em ball by Brent Morel, and then gave up back-to-back knocks to Stew and Martinez. But he got Josh to chase, and it was up to Mark the Shark to hold on to the lead. Nine pitches, nine strikes, a tapper to third and two K ended it.

The Bucs persevered through a four hour game that early on they looked like they were going to throw away. Even with seven runs, they stranded 12 and went 3-for-16 with RISP. But playing all nine innings (and getting into that Colorado pen) made the difference.

Sometimes attitude can carry you; there was a striking difference in how the Pirates hustled running out ground balls while the Rox mailed some in, and that attention to detail and professionalism can turn a inning around and maybe the game. You can debate Clint's on-field decisions, but there's not much question that he has his guys ready to play all day.

Vance Worley opens the Giant series against Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night.
  • Josh went 4-for-6 with two RBI, two runs scored, two stolen sacks and a strong day in field at both third and in left.
  • Travis Snider's homer was his fifth pinch hit bomb of his career and the second of the season.
  • Russ Martin and Chris Stewart have reached base safely 17 times in their last 21 plate appearances. Stew went 3-for-4 with a walk today, the first three-hit game of his career.
  • Clint Hurdle won his 300th game as Bucco skipper today.

Volquez v Morales, Lineup, Lefties, Bosox On the Radar, HoF

Edinson Volquez (8-7, 3.86) faces lefty Franklin Morales (5-5, 5.21) this afternoon.

Eddie wasn't very sharp in his last outing, a 5-2 loss to the Dodgers, but has won four of his last five starts and has been a pleasant if erratic surprise at the back end of the rotation.

He's had a rough time matching up against the Rox, going 3-8 with a 7.80 ERA in 13 career starts and has lost six straight outings dating back to 2012. He's gone 1-5 with an 8.45 ERA in eight career starts at Coors Field so Mile High baseball hasn't been to his liking. On the other hand, he's won his last three road starts, so something has to give.

Morales hasn't been anything special on the hill, losing a spot in the rotation and then reclaiming it by default when injuries decimated the Rox staff. But he's the third of four straight lefties the Bucs will face, and the Pirates have been having problems against southpaws of late.

The lineup: Josh Harrison LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jordy Mercer SS, Pedro 3B, Chris Stewart C and Volquez P. Pedro's back, and the order is a little shaken up without Russ.

The game starts at 4:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Pirates are 9-9 against lefty starters. No wonder; they're hitting .238 with a .649 OPS against southpaw starters.
  • Gordon Edes of ESPN says the Pirates are checking out Boston relievers; the Bosox have a slew of them, and most are available. Rob Biertempfel of the Trib notes interest in Andrew Miller.
  • Congrats to this year's HoF Class, all no-brainers: Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas and Joe Torre.

7/27: Bill Takes Two, Buck, Full House Sweep, Larry Mac, Jay Bell, Turn The Clock Ahead, The Fort & More...

Bill Takes Two, Buck, Full House Sweep, Larry Mac, Jay Bell, Turn The Clock Ahead, The Fort & More...
  • 1908 - Honus Wagner and Chief Wilson led the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the NY Giants and Christy Mathewson at the Polo Grounds. The Flying Dutchman had a pair of doubles good for two runs and an RBI while Wilson had two knocks including a triple, scored once and drove in a pair. Nick Maddox got the win while Irv Young came on the get the last out in the ninth. 
  • 1927 - Vic Aldridge tossed a five hitter and the Bucs scored twice in the eighth to beat Dazzy Vance and the Brooklyn Robins‚ 2-1 at Forbes Field to take over undisputed possession of first place. Kiki Cuyler’s single scored Paul Waner, who had three hits on the day, and George Grantham for the win. 
  • 1932 - Bill Harris notched a pair of wins in a twinbill against the Giants at the Polo Grounds‚ tossing three innings in the opening 9-8 win followed by two perfect frames in a 4-2 nitecap victory. In the first game, Lloyd Waner had four knocks while Arky Vaughan and Tony Piet homered. The Pirates scored three in the ninth to take the second match with C Earl Grace knocking home two of his three RBI and Harris singling in another. The Pirates increased their NL lead over the Cubs to five games, but would finish the season four games behind Chicago in the pennant race. 
Bill Harris Retro Images archive
  • 1941 - Homestead Gray 1B Buck Leonard launched a three run homer at Comiskey Park to lead the East to an 8-3 win over the West in the Negro League All-Star Game. The contest drew a record crowd of 50,256. 
  • 1961 - Giants’ Manager Alvin Dark said before the game that "Juan Marichal will go all the way" and kept his bullpen in the dugout to emphasis the point. And he was right. Marichal threw a complete game, five hit shutout at Forbes Field, winning 2-0 over Vinegar Bend Mizell. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs swept Montreal in a DH at Olympic Stadium in front of a crowd of 59,260, the biggest baseball turnout in Canada. They took the opener 5-4, three times losing leads to the pesky Expos before Phil Garner’s eighth inning single scored Dave Parker with the game winner. Garner had a big game, with three hits and a homer. Kent Tekulve allowed an inherited runner to score in the seventh to tie the game, but got the win, with Enrique Romo picking up the save. Bob Robertson went long and had four RBI while Phil Garner went 3-for-4 again with four runs scored in the Bucs 9-1 win in the nitecap. Bert Blyleven went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out nine as the Bucs cut the Expos lead to ½ game. 
Phil Garner 1978 Hostess series
  • 1982 - Larry McWilliams tossed a three hitter and struck out 11 in complete game shutout win over Philadelphia, 4-0, at TRS. Jason Thompson brought home a pair and Bill Madlock homered to provide the cushion against the Phils. 1991 - Jay Bell had the first two-homer game of his career, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and four runs scored in Pittsburgh’s 11-5 win at Houston’s Astrodome. Bell hit a one-out homer in the first off the Jimmy Jones, then a three-run shot in the sixth inning off Jim Corsi to extend the Bucs’ lead to 11-0. Barry Bonds added three RBI and scored twice as Randy Tomlin picked up the win. 
  • 1998 - 2B Tony Womack set a record of 888 consecutive at bats without grounding into a double play in an 8-7, 13 inning loss to the Rox at Coors Field. The previous record had been held by Brooklyn's Pete Reiser, set in the mid-forties. Tony eventually went 219 straight games and 915 at-bats without hitting into a double-play. Jose Guillen had four hits and a homer and Kevin Young also went long with three RBI in the defeat. 
  • 1999 - In one of baseball’s weirder promotions, the Pirates defeated the Mets‚ 5-1‚ in the first of MLB's "Turn Ahead the Clock Nights," sponsored by Century 21 Real Estate. Each team wore futuristic uniforms (the Bucs had red jerseys with yellow sleeves and a giant Bucco head logo)‚ with the hometown squad becoming the "Mercury" Mets for the night. The pre game rap was “Greetings, earthlings. Welcome to Shea Station 4C. Blastoff time is 7:40.” The theme was carried on throughout the evening‚ with the scoreboard flashing computerized graphics of the players of the future as each came to the plate. Rickey Henderson‚ for example‚ was given three eyes and pointy ears‚ and played "left quadrant." Al Martin hit the first of his two HRs in the first "sector‚" and rookie Kris Benson went the distance for the win. 
Kris Benson (photo uncredited from Studious Metsimus blog)
  • 2009 - In an otherwise unremarkable 4-2 loss to Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park, Delwyn Young added a little spice to the show. Randy Winn’s bloop into right went off right fielder Garrett Jones’ mitt, then off his knee, and he kicked it into the air with his foot for good measure. Young, playing second, dove after the cowhide hacky-sack and made a lunging barehanded grab. Alas, the ump blew the call and gave Winn a hit, which was pretty much how the Pirates’ luck ran back then. Nevertheless, Tribune Review writer Joe Starkey called the catch the “Best play of the decade.” 
  • 2013 - Mike McKenry showed why MLB catchers are a different breed of cat. He caught the final three frames of a 7-4 win against Miami at Marlins Park after tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee during a slide, an injury that required season-ending surgery three days later. It was hard to tell, as the reserve catcher, who soldiered through the game because starting catcher Russell Martin had tweaked his knee the previous night, went 4-for-5. The Fort was the battery mate of Charlie Morton, who took home the win after a save by Mark Melancon.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rox Rock Bucs Again 8-1

Tyler Matzek tossed a 1-2-3 opener; Jeff Locke gave up an opening bunt single to Charlie Backmon and then left him stranded. The Bucs got a two-out single from Russ in the second, and the Rox got a one-out infield knock from Michael McHenry. Neither ball was hit hard and neither runner moved.

Pittsburgh was retired in order in the third. Locke had a rough inning, and it was partially his fault. Matzek poked a single over third base, then Blackmon hit a shot to Gaby. He made a nice pick and went to second for the force, then Jordy's return sailed into the photographer's booth. It was accurate and right over first base; Locke didn't cover the bag. Blackmon went to second, stole third and scored on Jeff Rutledge's single. Nolan Arenado followed with another knock; both were soft dumps on changes away; maybe the Bucs are trying to pitch backwards in the early innings. He went back to his inside heater to Wil Rosario and got a 6-4-3 DP to end the frame.

Jordy led off the fourth with a double off a 3-2 fastball. Cutch bounced out softly, and Gaby hit a hot one hopper. Arenado knocked it down and made a strong throw across the diamond for the out. The Kid cued a soft grounder to first, and Mercer died at third. Drew Stubbs fell behind 0-2 and worked the count full. Locke went for his hands with a fastball; Stubbs turned on it and lost the ball in the stands. Locke rallied to get a pop to center and two K, but it was 2-0 Rox.

Russ led off the fifth with a walk. El Coffee followed with a liner toward the shortstop hole; Arenado leaped to knock it down and get the force. Brent Morel and Locke went down on strikes.

Locke struggled mightly. He walked his mound opponent, and an out later Rutledge lined a single to left. Arenado followed by dropping single into center; Cutch missed his throw to third by a mile, allowing Arenado to get to second. Rosario was walked intentionally, and Corey Dickerson hit for Stubbs, who turned his ankle. Locke was up 1-2 on the lefty, but allowed a chopper up the middle. Mercer looked at second then took the sure out at first. The Fort walked before the last out, and it was 4-0 Colorado.

With an out in the sixth, Jordy got plunked. Lefty killers Cutch and Gaby both flew out, and the Bucs seem powerless against southpaws. Jeff tossed his first clean frame of the game. In the seventh, Russ walked and Polanco lined a single the opposite way with one gone. The rally died quickly when Morel rolled into a tailor made 4-6-3 DP.

With an out in the Rox half, Arenado pulled a pair of balls foul deep into the seats; the third try was the charm as he banged one out in left. An out later, Dickerson turned on a high heater and Polanco settled at wall to grab it, but it dropped into the first row of the stands. That brought on Jeanmar Gomez, with Josh moving to third and Michael Martinez going to left. It took The Fort eight pitches, but he lined a single to left. Gomez finally ended the frame with a fly just short of the track in center.

Nick Masset came in for the eighth, and gave up three grounders. Martinez's was booted, Josh's was a perfectly placed 4-6-3 DP, and Jordy rolled out to third. LeMahieu started with a single and Ben Paulsen followed with a double. An out later, Rutledge singled them both in. Nice plays by Jordy and Josh brought the frame to a merciful end.

Brooks Brown came in to mop up and gave up a pinch hit homer to Ike, an opposite field shot that barely slipped over the left field railing. For the second game, it was all the Bucs could do to avoid a whitewashing. To make a bad day worse, the Cards, the Reds, the Brewers and the Braves all won.

The offense has been as bad as the pitching at Coors. We don't fault Clint - Cutch is in another left side grounder funk, and the offense revolves around him - and without either Indy's Jaff Decker or Jose Tabata as a replacement for Starling Marte in the outfield, his hands are pretty well tied in trying to come up with an effective order against lefties. It should be time to free Pedro; there is no platoon match for his position, especially with Josh in left.

Edinson Volquez goes against Franklin Morales tomorrow afternoon to try to salvage a game of the series.
  • The Bucs have faced the Rox five times; the Rox have scored first all five times. That's a bad recipe, considering their starters have put up a 1.87 ERA against the Pirates over that span.
  • Russ Martin singled in his first at-bat and walked in his next two to reach base safely in 10 of his last 11 plate appearances before popping out. He's drawn five walks in the last two games.
  • Neil Walker's streak of 22 straight games on base ended tonight.
  • Oooops. The Rockies gave out 15,000 Tulowitzki jerseys tonight - and misspelled his name!

Locke v Matzek, Lineup (Pedro Out Again), Trade Talk, On-Base, Cole To Rehab...

Jeff Locke (2-1, 3.05) takes the hill opposite Tyler Matzek (1-4, 4.91) as the Bucs get to see another lefty.

Locke has spun eight straight consecutive quality starts and is an entirely different pitcher this season after his nibble away philosophy led to a second half meltdown last year. He has no record in two career starts against the Rox with a 3.08 ERA.

Matzek, 23, is a fastball/slider guy with work-in-progress off speed pitches, and his problems have come with control issues and RH hitters. His walk rate is fine at 2.8/nine, but his command within the strike zone has been problematic. His OPS split is .842 to .513, so loading up with righties seems to be the thing when he's on the hill.

Neither pitcher was around for the decision when they hooked up last weekend in a game the Pirates won with a late rally by a 5-3 score.

The lineup: Josh Harrison LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Gregory Polanco RF, Brent Morel 3B and Locke P. Pedro's sitting again, and we still have two more lefties coming up. Marte being hurt put Clint in a lineup bind; we're still wondering why Jaff Decker isn't filling the outfield spot, freeing up Josh to play third. Then again, maybe Pedro's knee flared up after a small bit of action last night. Either way, it's pretty far from an ideal lineup.

The game starts at 8:10 and will be broadcast by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Pirates and Phils are still working on an AJ deal, and are trying to thrash out both the player return and how much contract the Phillies will eat. The market is moving; Jake Peavy, who the Pirates were associated with to a slight degree, was traded today to SF.
  • Justin Broyles of Rant Sports likes the match between Bartolo Colon and the Pirates.
  • Russell Martin walked three times Friday night and has reached base safely seven times in his last eight plate appearances. Martin leads all MLB catchers with a .420 OBP and has reached base safely in 55 of his 62 games this season.
  • Neil Walker has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games, the longest active streak among all Major League players.
  • Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS looks at the evolving Pirate offense and the tie between OBP and wRC+.
  • The team announced that Gerrit Cole will make a rehab start on Monday at Indy.

7/26: Jerry Meals Game, Marte's Debut, Yankee Swap, HR Derby, No Hail the King, Waner Bros & More...

Jerry Meals Game, Marte's Debut, Yankee Swap, HR Derby, No Hail the King, Waner Bros & More...
  • 1889 - The Alleghenys defeated the Cleveland Spiders 8-4 at Recreation Park despite giving up a two-run infield homer to Jay Faatz, whose grounder to 3B Jim White bounced off his foot and went into the “free seats” - temporary stands - and couldn’t be dug out in time to stop Faatz from circling the bases. Fred Carroll, Ned Hanlon and Doggie Miller each had three knocks to spearhead a 16 hit Buc attack to give Harry Staley the win. Miller homered over the left field wall, and the Pittsburg Press wrote “The crowd went wild as little George trotted over the circuit and lifted his cap at the plate. An enthusiast threw a silver dollar at him, which (Miller) accepted with a smile.” 
  • 1921 - OF Tom Saffell was born in Etowah, Tennessee. He played for the Bucs from 1949-51, then after three seasons in the minors, returned in 1955. The speedy OF’er hit .239 for the Bucs. He was a minor celeb, though, as he was the pitcher for the 1960 TV show “Home Run Derby.” That show was said to inspire the ASG’s home run derby, and is also part of ESPN’s Classic series. 
Tom Saffell 1952 Topps series
  • 1927 - The Pirates pushed across two runs in the bottom of the eighth to edge the Brooklyn Dodgers 6-5 at Forbes Field to remain tied with the Cubs for the NL lead. They were almost derailed by a former mate, Max Carey, who had three hits, three runs, and three stolen bases. But the Waner brothers parried Carey. Lloyd had three hits and scored twice, both times driven home by Paul. Little Poison took over the league lead in hits while Lee Meadows went the distance for the win. 
  • 1928 - NY Giant future Hall of Famer Carl “King” Hubbell made his MLB debut against the Pirates at the Polo Grounds. He pitched a scoreless first inning‚ but the Bucs scored five times in the second to knock him out of the game, winning 7-5 behind Burleigh Grimes. Paul Waner had three hits and two RBI to lead a balanced Bucco attack. 
  • 1950 - Ray Mueller went 2-for-2 with two walks, a homer, two runs and two RBI, Wally Westlake hit a home run and Bob Dillinger collected three hits as the Bucs beat Boston 8-4 at Braves Field. Mel Queen got the win and Murry Dickson tossed the final three frames for the save. 
  • 2008 - OF Xavier Nady and RHP Damaso Marte were traded to the New York Yankees for RHPs Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen & Ross Ohlendorf along with OF Jose Tabata.
Jeff Karstens 2012 Topps series
  • 2011 - The date of the Jerry Meals game in Atlanta, heralding the end of the Bucco's improbable 2011 pennant run. The ump blew a call at home in the 19th inning, giving the Braves a 4-3 win and starting a downward spiral of epic proportions for Pittsburgh. At 6 hours and 39 minutes, it was the longest game in club history. The Pirates filed a protest (at 2:30 in the morning) but the judgment call was upheld, even though the League Office admitted it was wrong. To add a little salt to the wound, Meals is from Butler! 
  • 2012 - Starling Marte homered to left center against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel on the first MLB pitch he saw. Pittsburgh won 5-3 at Minute Maid Park as AJ Burnett took home the victory.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bats Icy & Frieri Bombed As Bucs Go Down 8-1

Brett Anderson and Charlie Morton picked up where they left off during the weekend: each spun clean first frames. They again had mirror images in the second, as each pitcher gave up a two-out walk and nothing else. The third ended up a little different. The Bucs went down 1-2-3, but DJ LaMahieu opened the Rox half with a triple to the opposite field. Charlie almost worked out of it, getting a soft grounder and K, but a 2-1 change up to Josh Rutledge was banged for a double, and it was 1-0 Colorado.

The Bucs went down in order again in the fourth, and haven't been looking real disciplined at the dish tonight. Ben Paulsen and Wil Rosario connected on back-to-back two out singles, one a ground ball through the right side and the other a sharply hit grounder that Gaby couldn't corral. Another right side hopper was finally gloved to end the frame.

Pittsburgh finally got something going in the fifth when The Kid opened with a single and Russ walked. Jordy ripped one to third; the Rox almost turned an around-the-horn triple play on the shot, but Russ was ruled safe at second, and the Rockies challenged. The call could have gone either way (the question was whether LeMahieu held the bag) and the TV replay was inconclusive, so it stood. Brent Morel was walked intentionally, and Charlie bounced out to end the frame. Colorado was retired in order.

The Pirates at least hit two balls hard in the sixth, with Josh lining out to center and Cutch drilling a two out single, but still no one has reached third base against Anderson. The Rockies went down quietly, with both pitchers at the 90 pitch mark (Anderson -90, Morton - 92).

Russ walked with an out in the seventh, and also chased Anderson, who had a blister open during the at-bat. That brought in Tommy Kahnle. Jordy got ahead of him 3-1, fouled off ball four and flew out. Pedro came up to pinch hit for Brent Morel; he went down swinging at a fastball in the dirt as the Pirate hitters remained their own worst enemies tonight.

Charlie went an inning too far, giving up consecutive doubles to Paulsen and Rosario to make it 2-0 with no outs. LeMahieu singled to put runners on the corners, and Ernesto Frieri was waved in. His fastball was flat tonight after showing some movement in his past few outings, and that's definitely not a good thing. Pinch hitter Drew Stubbs pulled a soft liner down the third base line for another double; it was a catchable ball, but Pedro mistimed his jump and it sailed over him. Blackmon was intentionally walked to load the bases.The next batter, Rutledge, cleared the bases by drilling a double. After an out, Carlos Gonzalez homered as Frieri continued to serve up BP. He picked up a couple of K, way too late, to end the frame at 8-0 Rox.

Rex Brothers took the hill for Colorado. he gave up a two out knock to Josh, and Nick Masset came in to face Cutch, whiffing him. Stolmy Pimentel took the ball, with Chris Stewart catching - we're not sure if Russ is getting a brief blow or if he's sore from a mix-up fastball he took on the wrist from Frieri last inning.

Matt Belisle came to close it out, and promptly loaded the bases with no outs on a Gaby deflected single, Walker free pass and Ike single. Jordy hit a sac fly to get the Bucs on the board. Pedro walked, and that was it for Belisle as Adam Ottavino answered the phone. He got two quick outs to close the rout.

 A couple of things are kinda obvious. The Pirates aren't in waiver wire mode any more, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to carry Ernesto Frieri, especially as Hurdle uses him exclusively in late innings. We'd expect the front office to get a seventh inning guy to replace him before the deadline.

Next, the Bucs are carrying a lot of one-side players. Amont the lefty hitters, only travis snider is hitting over .200 against southpaws, both this season and career wise. Marte being out exacerbates the problem, but they still have too many platoon, or at least should-be platoon, spots on the team as constructed.

The good and bad news is that everyone in the NL Central ahead of the Bucs lost, as did the Braves. So the good news is that they didn't lose ground; the bad news is that they could have picked up a game on the entire field tonight and blew the opportunity. Hopefully they'll shower well, as Clint is fond of saying, and come out ready to play tomorrow.

Jeff Locke tangles with Tyler Matzek tomorrow night.

  • Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Bucs have a high level scout taking notes at the Jon Lester - David Price matchup going on tonight. Lester has been noted as on the Pirate radar; Price, not so much.

Morton v Anderson, Lineup (No Pedro), Records, Injuries

Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.28) goes against lefty Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.00). The same pair hooked up last week in Pittsburgh and both threw strong games, with no decision for either guy as the Pirates eked out a 3-2 win in 11 innings.

Morton is getting closer to becoming a complete pitcher. He's finally gotten enough confidence in his arsenal to go after his bane, left handed hitters, by working tight and trusting his off speed stuff. The key to his effectiveness is to prevent the big inning which has bitten him a few times this season.

Anderson was tough on the Bucs last Saturday, going seven innings and giving up a run on four hits with eight whiffs. He filled up the strike zone and had a good slider working. The Pirates will have to solve the breaking ball if they want to get to him tonight. The Rox starting pitchers did a good job against Pittsburgh last weekend with a lot of first strikes and working ahead in the count, so Bucco hitters may have to get a little more aggressive at the plate.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Jordy mercer SS, Brent Morel 3B and Morton P.  Pedro is sitting against a lefty that he just went 1-for-4 with an IBB against; maybe the five LOB played into the decision. Guess Morel can't be a worse option than Michael Martinez in RF.

The game begins at 8:40 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Bucs are 5-1 since the break ended; the Rox are 1-5 and just broke a seven-game losing streak.
  • Go West, Young Man: The Bucs are 14-5 against the NL West this year, winning each of their first six series against Arizona (2-1), Los Angeles (3-1), San Diego (2-1), San Francisco (2-1), Colorado (3-0) and Los Angeles (2-1).
  • Colorado is still pretty beat up. Justin Morneau's "stiff neck" turned into a sprain and Tulo has a hip flexor sprain as both joined Michael Cuddyer on the DL.
  • Clint Barnes, who went on the disabled list July 6th (retro to June 30th) with a left groin strain started jogging and will begin taking BP next week, so he's recovering at a good pace. Gerrit Cole appears to be on track for an early-to-mid August return, and we're assuming Starling Marte is being evaluated daily for his concussion. Joining Clint, Gerrit and Starling on the DL is Cheese Chester, who broke his foot racing during the last home stand and looks to be out for six to eight weeks.
  • Clint Hurdle is one win away from his 300th victory as skipper of the Pirates.
  • RHP Tyler Glasnow is the Bucs only rep in Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet, but he is #1 for the second week.
  • Ex Bucs: 1B Brandon Moss became the third Oakland Athletics' player to hit a grand slam in three consecutive months. RHP Chris Leroux was DFA'ed by the Yankees.

7/25: The Guv, Jake, Max, Kiki, Bobby's Walk-Off Granny, Doug D, Candy Man, ESPN & Lots More...

The Guv, Jake, Max, Kiki, Bobby's Walk-Off Granny, Doug D, Candy Man, ESPN & Lots More...
  • 1863 - John Tener was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, and moved to the City as a babe. A pitcher for the Pittsburgh Burghers in 1890, he later served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1911 to 1914, and President of the National Baseball League from 1915 to 1918. 
  • 1894 - The Chicago Colts pounded out 26 hits, 12 for extra bases, and laid a 24-6 beating on Pittsburgh at the West Side Grounds. Every Colt had at least a hit and a run, and Chicago batted around in four innings. It could have been worse; the game was called after seven innings so the Pirates could catch a train back home. The Pittsburg Press noted that the game “...resulted in the most disastrous whipping recorded in the annals of the national league of baseball,” adding that “...the Pittsburg fielders were kept busy chasing savage drives...Pittsburg’s weakness in the box was apparent,” as it was in the 18-11 loss suffered the day before. Still, the club did finish the year at 65-65, albeit with a 5.62 team ERA. 
  • 1896 - The Pirates traded 1B Jake Beckley to the New York Giants for 1B Harry Davis and cash. Beckley was a local favorite and would eventually enter the Hall of Fame, so the deal didn’t sit very well with the fans. Both teams got a good year, bad year out of the players, who went on to star for different clubs. Beckley spent seven years with Cincinnati and hit .325 over that span, cementing his HoF path, while Davis spent 16 of his last 17 seasons (he played 22 years) hitting .279 for the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  • 1908 - Before an overflow crowd of 30,000 at the Polo Grounds, the Pirates' Lefty Leifield topped the NY Giants and Christy Mathewson, 7-2. Two errors in the seventh opened the gates for five Pirate runs. Pittsburgh was led by Honus Wagner, who went 5-for-5 to take over the batting lead from a hitless Mike Donlin of the Giants. After each hit, Wagner held up a finger to show the number of safeties he had to RF Donlin, according to the BR Bullpen entry. 
Hans - 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats series
  • 1912 - The Pirates blew an early lead against Brooklyn, but rallied to tied the score in the eighth and then rode Howie Camnitz’s arm to a 14 inning, 8-7 win over the Superbas at Forbes Field. Camnitz gave up just two hits in six innings, and got the win when Dots Miller’s sac fly brought home Chief Wilson, who had singled and moved to third on a Honus Wagner double. 
  • 1913 - Max Carey scored five runs against the Phils without a hit‚ reaching first via an error and four walks‚ as the Bucs won 12-2 at Forbes Field. He also stole four bases and advanced twice on wild pitches to help Claude Hendrix to the win. The Pittsburg Press griped that “The battle was a long, drawn out affair that required two hours and 10 minutes.” 
  • 1917 - 1B George “Highpockets” Kelly was claimed by the Bucs in a waiver deal with the NY Giants. He got in eight games, and after the injured player he replaced (43 year old Honus Wagner) came back, he was returned to the Giants in another waiver deal. Kelly became a Hall-of-Fame player for NY, hitting .297 over 16 seasons. 
  • 1921 - CF Max Carey corralled 11 flies during the Pirates' 6-3 win over New York at Forbes Field. He also scored three times, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Rabbit Maranville, batting behind him, drove home three to support Babe Adams, who went the distance for the win. 
Max Carey - 2004 Upper Deck Legendary Cuts series
  • 1925 - In a ho-hum 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Forbes Field, Kiki Cuyler became the last Bucco to steal second, third and home in a game. 
  • 1931 - Larry French went the distance at Forbes Field during a 14-inning, 3-2 win against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the longest NL contest of the season. It wasn’t exactly a gem, as he gave up 15 hits, but enough of an effort to outlast Fred Heimach, who also went gate-to-gate. Pie Traynor had three hits (two 3B & 2B), two runs and an RBI. It was the second game of a twin bill; the Bucs took the opener 5-2. Spades Wood not only tossed a three hitter, but drove in a pair of runs. Traynor had two hits in that match, including a double, and scored twice. 
  • 1944 - Max Butcher tossed a six-hit goose egg at the Polo Grounds as the Bucs blasted the NY Giants‚ 15-0. Pittsburgh banged out 20 hits and posted a nine run second inning. Bob Elliott had the hot bat with six RBI and a homer while Pete Coscarart and Jim Russell each had four knocks. 
  • 1951 - The Pirates overcame a 4-0 deficit by scoring four times in the seventh and once again in the eighth to storm past the NY Giants 5-4 at Forbes Field. Joe Garagiola’s homer in the seventh was the big blow. The game winner was a bases loaded sac fly by George Strickland delivered an inning later. Ted Wilks got the win after two innings of clean relief work with three K. 
Joe Garagiola 1953 Bowman series
  • 1956 - The Bucs blew a four run lead by giving up eight tallies to the Cubs in the last two innings. But Chicago wasn’t the only comeback club at Forbes Field. Roberto Clemente ripped an inside the park, ninth inning grand slam to bring the Bucs back for a 9-8 win. He banged the pitch off Jim Brosnan, and it ricocheted off the base of the left field light standard and ran along the track into center. Clemente ran through 3B coach Bobby Bragan’s stop sign and as Ernie Bank’s relay headed home "He slid, missed the plate, then reached back to rest his hand on the rubber... as the crowd of 12,431 went goofy with excitement" wrote Jack Herndon of the Post Gazette. It was the first walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam in MLB history. In the same game, Dale Long hit his 20th homer, then a club record for lefties, breaking Arky Vaughan’s 1935 mark. 
  • 1960 - The Bucs regained first place when Bob Friend defeated the Cardinals 4-2 at Busch Stadium behind homers from Bill Virdon, Bob Skinner and Roberto Clemente. Pittsburgh wouldn’t relinquish the top spot for the remainder of the season. 
  • 1962 - RHP Doug Drabek was born in Victoria, Texas. He tossed six seasons (1987-92) in Pittsburgh with a line of 92-62/3.02. Drabek won the Cy Young in 1990 when he went 22-6, but oddly never made an All-Star team as a Pirate. 
  • 1963 - Tommie Sisk pitched five innings of near perfect relief (he walked two) and rode Roberto Clemente’s three run homer to a 6-2 win over league leading Los Angeles and ace Sandy Koufax at Dodger Stadium. Smoky Burgess chipped in with a pair of RBI. Koufax had entered the game with just three losses and a 1.75 ERA. 
  • 1972 - The NL nosed the AL 4-3 at Atlanta Stadium in the All-Star game. Manager Danny Murtaugh had a boatload of Bucs on his roster: P Steve Blass, OFs Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Al Oliver plus C Manny Sanguillen. Blass went an inning and gave up a run. Sangy went 1-for-2, Pops 0-for-1 with a walk, and Scoops went 0-for-1. The Great One didn’t get in the last of his 12 All-Star games; he was voted a starter, but was injured. He did have a pretty capable replacement, though - Hank Aaron played in his stead. 
  • 1982 - John Candelaria faced the minimum 27 batters in a four hit shutout win over the Atlanta Braves. Three DP and a caught stealing took the Brave runners off the basepaths in an 8-0 whipping at TRS. The middle of the Pirate lineup - Bill Madlock, Jason Thompson and Dave Parker - drove home a pair of runs each. 
John Candelaria 1982 Fleer series
  • 1985 - OF Alex Presley was born in Monroe, Louisiana. Picked in the eighth round of the 2006 draft, he hit .261 as a yo-yo part of the Pirate roster between 2010-13, when he was traded to Minnesota as part of the Justin Morneau deal.
  • 1992 - Danny Jackson gave up one hit at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, but it was unfortunately a home run to David Justice as the Braves behind Charlie Leibrandt beat the Bucs 1-0. The Pirates best chance to score was in the first, but both Andy Van Slyke and Lloyd McClendon were caught stealing to run themselves out of the frame - and the game. Pittsburgh didn’t make any noise again until the ninth, when Barry Bonds bounced out with two down and two aboard.
  • 2003 - Pittsburgh won its fifth game in six tries 10-5 over the Cards at Busch Stadium. Reggie Sanders had a homer and triple, Brian Giles a homer and double and Jose Hernandez added a pair of two-baggers against Saint Louis. Brian Meadows got the win in relief of Kip Wells.
  • 2004 - The Bucs won their eighth game in ten outings with a 6-5 decision against the Reds at PNC Park. Tike Redman had a homer and three RBI as Sean Burnett, who was yanked with an out in the sixth, got the win behind 3-2/3 scoreless innings from the pen.
  • 2011 - In their first ESPN-televised game in seven years, the Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 behind James McDonald, who struck out nine in 5-2/3 frames, and four relievers at Turner Field, keeping the Bucs tied for first place in the NL Central for the last time in 2011.
James McDonald 2013 Topps Opening Day series

Thursday, July 24, 2014

7/24: Wandy Deal, Offensive Fireworks Galore, Roberto Clemente, Barry Bonds, Little Poison Inducted & More...

Wandy Deal, Offensive Fireworks Galore, Roberto Clemente, Barry Bonds, Little Poison Inducted & More...
  • 1899 - The Pirates swept a pair from Philadelphia‚ winning both games on ninth inning blasts by rookies. After the Phils scored five in the ninth in the opener‚ Jimmy Williams hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the frame to win‚ 9-8. In the nitecap‚ Ginger Beaumont tripled with the bases loaded to cap a 5-4 victory. 
  • 1901 - The Pirates scored in every inning while defeating the Reds 11-2 at Exposition Park. Jesse Tannehill tossed a seven hitter for the win. Ginger Beaumont had four hits and Claude Ritchey tripled twice as the Bucs banged out 14 hits, four for triples. The Pittsburg Press opined that “The Reds as they are now made up should not be able to win from the Pirates in a hundred years.” 
  • 1927 - OF/1B Preston Ward was born in Columbia, Missouri. Ward came to Pittsburgh as part of the Kiner deal, and was a back up/platoon guy from 1953-56, hitting .240 in 305 games. 
  • 1931 - The Brooklyn Dodgers banged out 21 hits during the game (Babe Herman hit for the cycle) and scored three times in the ninth, but reliever Larry French put down the rally as the Bucs hung on for an 8-7 win at Forbes Field. The Pirates had 13 knocks, seven for extra bases, and had jumped out to an early 8-1 lead behind Pie Traynor’s three RBI and Eddie Phillips’ homer. 
  • 1956 - Honored at a Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce luncheon before the game, Roberto Clemente proved his plaudits were deserved by leading the Bucs to a 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field. Roberto drove in four RBI on three shots to left center: a sacrifice fly, a triple off the wall, and a homer into Schenley Plaza. Ron Kline got the win with help from Howie Pollet. 
Roberto Clemente 1972 Topps series
  • 1964 - Barry Bonds was born in Riverside, California. The slugger, a first round pick in the 1985 draft, spent seven summers in Pittsburgh, putting up a line of .275/176/556 with two All-Star appearances before really busting out with San Francisco, where he became the all-time HR leader. 
  • 1967 - With his induction into the Hall of Fame, Lloyd Waner joined Paul as the first pair of brothers to be enshrined at Cooperstown. 
  • 1969 - The Pirates beat the Padres in walkoff fashion at Forbes Field with a 4-3, 10-inning win. Carl Taylor’s double in the extra frame brought home Matty Alou for the game-winning run. Willie Stargell and Richie Hebner added solo shots. Dock Ellis went the distance for the victory. 
  • 1970 - 43,290 fans showed up for Roberto Clemente day at TRS. Pirate ownership buried him with gifts (cash gifts were, at Clemente’s request, donated to charities), and he put on a show of his own, cracking a pair of hits and making a couple of diving grabs in the field during an 11-0 thumping of Houston. Danny Murtaugh pulled him in the eighth inning so he could get a final ovation on the night (he also had cut his knee making a catch); several fans had made the trip from Puerto Rico to help honor their native son. Dock Ellis tossed a four-hitter behind a 15 hit attack. 
  • 1973 - The NL romped over the AL 7-1 at Royals Stadium in the All Star game. Dave Giusti pitched a clean seventh inning and Willie Stargell K’ed against Nolan Ryan in his only at bat. 
Dave Giusti 1975 Topps series
  • 1979 - A baffling fourth inning call resulted in a 34 minute rhubarb during the Pirates-Reds game at TRS. With Buc runners on 1st and 3rd‚ a 3-1 pitch to Omar Moreno was called a ball‚ but Johnny Bench threw to 2B ahead of the runner from 1B‚ Lee Lacy‚ who was going on the pitch. Lacy was called out by ump Dick Stello even though the runner was entitled to second base after the walk. After questioning the out call, Lacy left the base and was tagged out again by Dave Concepcion‚ igniting the argument. The Bucs protested the game, but NL president Chub Feeney upheld the call and the Pirates 6-5 loss was in the books. 
  • 2004 - The whole Pirate attack chipped in during a 14-4 romp over the Reds at PNC Park. The Buccos had 11 batters with at least a hit and banged out six doubles as 10 different players scored and eight Pirates drove in runs. Jason Bay had three hits and three RBI while Jose Castillo scored four times to lead the attack. The Bucs scored seven times in the sixth to take control. 
  • 2008 - The Bucs won their fourth in a row by hammering the Padres at PNC Park by a 9-1 score. Nate McLouth, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady homered while Yoslan Herrera tossed six scoreless frames to claim the win. For the X-Man, it was his last Bucco blast - he was traded to the Yankees two days later. 
Xavier Nady 2006 Upper Deck series
  • 2012 - Wandy Rodriguez was traded by the Houston Astros with cash to the Pirates for minor league prospects RHP Colton Cain, LHP Rudy Owens and OF Robbie Grossman as the Bucs looked to shore up their stretch run rotation. Wandy ended up injury prone, and made just 31 starts with 11 wins as a Pirate until he was released in late May of 2014.
  • 2013 - Francisco Liriano and Stephen Strasberg hooked up in a 1-0 battle, with the Pirates up, going into the ninth. Both starters turned the game over to the bullpens, and that’s when the fun started. The Bucs put up a three spot on Drew Storen, with Mike McKenry’s two run knock being the big blow, and Washington came back at Nationals Park to score a pair off Justin Wilson until Jason Grilli came to the rescue in a 4-2 Pirate win. The only score in the first eight frames came on a second inning homer by Pedro Alvarez.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bucs Jump Out Early & Coast To 6-1 Win

Roller coaster Frankie. After whiffing Dee Gordon, he lost Matt Kemp on four pitches and  Adrian Gonzalez walked too after being in a 1-2 hole. Then Liriano K'ed Scott Van Slyke and got Juan Uribe to fly out, so maybe he's just having first inning hiccups again.

Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider greeted Dan Haren with back-to-back singles on just three pitches. Cutch smoked one, too, but right at Uribe at third for the first out. The Kid drew a free pass to juice the sacks for Russ, who also walked to bring home a run. Ike lifted a fly the opposite way, scoring Snider and moving Walker to third. Josh ripped a fastball to left for a two-run two-bagger and Jordy was walked intentionally. Frankie even hit the ball hard, lining out to right. Pretty fair start, jumping ahead 4-0.

Liriano was still wild, plunking Carl Crawford on the second pitch to start the second. Crawford helped the cause by breaking for second and getting picked off; down by four, that's not the brightest move. A bouncer and K ended the frame. After Polanco grounded out, Travis turned on a first pitch cutter and dropped it in the last row in right field, 431' away. Haren recovered after that, but the Blue are in a 5-0 hole after two.

The Dodgers went down routinely in the third, as did Pittsburgh. Frankie tossed an easy seven pitch fourth and Haren put the Bucs away in order. With an out in the fifth, Miguel Rojas doubled to the gap for LA's first knock, with Snider's coming up just short as he dove for the sinking hit. But it was quickly made right; Drew Butera lined a shot that Jordy speared with a leap, then flipped to The Kid for a DP. Haren worked another clean inning. He's gone more to a splitter and curve, racking up six K (four looking) and has put away 11 batters in a row.

Justin Turner opened the sixth with a flare to center, followed by a Gordon double to left. A Kemp grounder  to short plated Turner with Gordon holding. Gonzalez flied out to center, moving Gordon to third. A whiff of Van Slyke kept him there. Jamey Wright took the bump and Russ welcomed him with a single. An out later, Josh lined a curve into left to put Pirates at first and second. But it ended there as Jordy bounced one over third that Uribe grabbed, stepped on the sack for the force and threw across for a DP to end the inning.

Uribe started up the seventh with a knock into center; Frankie has labored a bit from the fifth on. Crawford hit one on the screws, but it was an at 'em ball to Josh. Liriano caught a break when Rojas went after a shoe-top slider with the count full and rolled into a force. Butera bounced out, and Frankie's day should be done after seven innings and 96 pitches in another good outing. Paul Maholm took the ball to face Brent Morel. Morel fell behind 0-2, took a couple of chase pitches and then singled to left. Polanco's woes against LHP continued as he grounded into a 4-6-3 DP. Snider walked, then Cutch launched a change up to the center field wall for a two-bagger that chased Travis home to put Pittsburgh up 6-1.

Justin Wilson got the call for the eighth to face Yasiel Puig in his first appearance of the series. After a first pitch strike, the next four were well off the mark for an opening walk, the fourth leadoff hitter to reach tonight. Gordon was late on a heater and lined out to Josh. He went across the diamond to try to double up Puig, who looked like he beat the ball back to the bag easily, but the Bucs challenged - and lost. Kemp walked, but the bleeding stopped as Gonzalez banged into a 6-4-3 DP.

Chris Perez got the call, and Russ rolled a ball into right to start the frame. Ike tapped back to the mound, forcing Martin at second on a play that was a lot closer than the one the Pirates wasted their challenge on in the top half of the frame. No diff; Josh grounded into a 6-4-3 to close the eighth.

Jared Hughes came in for the ninth. After whiffing Van Slyke, Jared gave up a single to Uribe through the left side. Crawford bounced out as did Rojas after a nine-pitch battle, and the Bucs took 2-of-3 from the Blue.

The Pirates caught the Dodgers down a couple of starters with Ramirez Hanley and Puig bruised, and also faced the back end of the rotation. And they did what they should have, taking the series against the league's best road team. The Bucs travel to the coast tomorrow and begin a ten-game trip at Colorado, with the Giants and Arizona to follow.
  • This is the first game that Frankie has won at PNC Park this season.
  • Bench strength: Josh and Travis combined had four hits, three runs scored and three RBI.
  • The Pirates have won 15 in a row when they score in the first inning, and are now a season-high seven games over .500. Pittsburgh was 5-1 during their brief home stand and it's the first time they've won a series (5-2) against LA since 2000.
  • Pedro's knee kept him out of the lineup. He was on the bench, but there was no word on whether he was available to pinch hit tonight. With a travel day tomorrow, it was a smart move to keep him on ice, especially the way the game played out.
  • The attendance was 30,875 as the Pirates continue to draw strong crowds.
  • Gerrit Cole threw 70 pitches today and said he felt good. We'll see if the Bucs make him throw another side or not before releasing him for a rehab assignment.

Marte on DL, Morel Back Up

The Bucs put out a lineup card that didn't include Starling Marte and had a locker set up for Brent Morel, making it kinda obvious that Marte was going on the DL, and that was confirmed at gametime; he's on the seven day DL.

We thought the Pirates pooh-pooh'ed his Friday night beaning rather nonchalantly.You'd think the Bucs would do a little better - OK, a lot better - job of protecting their assets. There's really no excuse for him not have been on the seven-day concussion DL from the get-go.

To have played him on Monday and then have him unavailable the next day...well, we'd have to think the medical protocols could use some fine tuning. It may very well be, and in fact likely, that Starling wasn't complaining of symptoms, but it's up to the team, not the player, to make the call.

Morel, 27, has parts of five seasons in the show with the Bucs and White Sox, getting an early call from Pittsburgh this season and going 0-for-1 in his only at bat. His lifetime BA is .229 with 13 homers in 670 PA. He was hitting .246 with three long balls at Indy. The righty has seen a little action at first and second, but the vast majority of his minor league time has been at the hot corner.

We'rte a bit surprised that Jaff Decker or Andrew Lambo didn't get the call; both are on the 40-man roster and have a stick. With Morel and Michael Martinez on the bench, there's not a whole lot of wood for Clint to call on.

Liriano v Haren, Lineup. Another Rumor, The Road, The Kid & More

Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.43) and Dan Haren (8-7, 4.30) get it on tonight.

Frankie gave us reason to believe after he got out of the first inning against the Rox in his last outing. People have been rightfully looking hard at Liriano's numbers, but here's one that counts, too: he's gotten more than two runs of support while in the game just twice during his first 16 starts. So the guy is always pitching without margin for error. There's little question that the Bucs need Frankie to get untracked in what promises to be a dog-days battle for the NL Central crown and the wildcards, and he showed a flash of the old stuff on Friday.

He hasn't met LA often, but been pretty strong against them. Frankie is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in just two career starts, including eight K in 5-2/3 IP of work in late May to claim a 2-1 win, his only one of the year, over Josh Beckett at Dodger Stadium. Liriano hasn't won at home this year, so it should be about time for him to get off the schneid.

Haren has suffered three consecutive losses with an 11.57 ERA during that time, and a 5.73 ERA since the start of June. His strikeouts and walks are still OK, but his location within the strike zone seems to be his biggest concern, leaving too many balls up and over the plate. Hopefully, it's a problem that lasts at least one more game. His career line 3-2 with a 4.92 ERA against the Bucs in nine starts, so the Pirates have been able to solve him

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Travis Snider LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Liriano P. Starling is still on the bench (it was a "manager's decision" yesterday, and prob the same tonight) and Pedro's knee is still achy.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Fox's Jon Morosi tweets that Pittsburgh is scouting Arizona relievers with a nod toward Ollie Perez.
  • Tonight’s game is the last for the Pirates at home until Tuesday, August 5th. The Bucs leave for Colorado, where they are scheduled to begin a 10-game road trip Friday night. Pittsburgh has posted a 20-26 record on the road this season, but are 13-5 against the NL West.
  • Neil Walker has reached base safely in 20 consecutive games, the longest active streak among all MLB players.
  • Rocco DeMarco has a post in Baseball Prospectus about Pedro and the yips.
  • Not exactly sure how the competitive balance picks work other than its to bolster the small market/revenue teams, but there are 12 picks for 15 clubs. Pittsburgh didn't get one, although St. Louis did. Go figure.
  • Ex Bucs: Joel Hanrahan was shut down by the Tigers after a bullpen rehab session, and there's considerable doubt that'll he'll make it back for this season after 2013 TJ surgery.

7/23: TRS ASG, Ginger, Fred, Pie, Ralph, 9 In A Row, Bobby Bo & Mo'...

TRS ASG, Ginger, Fred, Pie, Ralph, 9 In A Row, Bobby Bo & Mo'...
  • 1876 - OF Ginger Beaumont was born in Rochester, Wisconsin. He played eight seasons (1899-1906) for Pittsburgh, hitting .321 with 757 runs scored and 200 stolen bases. Beaumont led the league in batting with a .357 average in 1902, and in 1903 led in at bats (613), runs (137) and hits (209) while batting .342, helping the team to earn a spot in the first World Series. 
  • 1901 - Fred Clarke hit for the cycle for the second time in his career as the Pirates whipped the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 at Exposition Park behind Jack Chesbro, who struck out 11 batters. Lefty Davis, Honus Wagner and Kitty Bransfield added three hits apiece to the 16 hit Bucco barrage. 
  • 1930 - The Pirates won the first game of a Baker Bowl twin bill against Philadelphia 2-1 as Heinie Meine slipped past Roy “Swede” Hanson, the match decided by a ninth inning Pie Traynor homer. The second game, twice delayed by rain, went 13 innings and ended 16-15 Pittsburgh. With darkness threatening, Traynor was again the hero, blasting a three run shot that barely was enough to hold off the Phils, while going 5-for-7 in the nitecap. The second game set a couple of single game records: With eight total homers and nine doubles, the total bases mark of 83 was established. The other record was total number at bats; the two clubs combined for 117 AB. 
Pie Traynor 1987 Nestle Dream Team series
  • 1947 - Ralph Kiner hit his 24th and 25th long balls of the year of the Phils’ Al Jurisich‚ breaking the club record of 23 set by Johnny Rizzo in 1938 and tied by Kiner in his rookie year of 1946. Pittsburgh beat Philly 6-2 at Forbes Field as Hank Greenberg also went yard. 
  • 1962 - Reds pitcher Jim O'Toole lost his no hit bid when Bob Skinner doubled with one out in the eighth inning, but still finished with a 3-0 one-hit win over the Bucs at Crosley Field. 
  • 1969 - After three years of low scoring games, the All Star contest at RFK Stadium featured some offense, with the NL winning 9-3. Matty Alou went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run while Roberto Clemente whiffed against Sudden Sam McDowell in his only at bat. 
  • 1974 - TRS hosted the 45th All-Star Game, drawing 50,706 fans. The NL romped 7-2 with Pirate lefty Ken Brett, the Bucs only All Star, getting the win after tossing a pair of scoreless frames. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs won their ninth game in a row by a 7-1 count over the Atlanta Braves at TRS. Tim Foli went 3-for-5 with four RBI to lead the attack while Bert Blyleven tossed a four hit complete game. The Bucs pulled off the 500th triple play in MLB history in the second inning of the nitecap when Braves’ pitcher Phil Niekro bounced into a 5-4-3, Bill Madlock-to-Phil Garner-to-Willie Stargell triple killing at TRS, but had the last laugh as he spun a two-hitter in an 8-0 Atlanta romp, ending the Bucco winning string. 
  • 1986 - The Bucs sent RHP Jose DeLeon to the Chicago White Sox for OF Bobby Bonilla. DeLeon had a long and workmanlike career while Bobby Bo earned four All-Star berths with the Pirates, hitting .284 with 114 HR and 500 RBI for the Pirates from 1986-91. The Pirates had originally signed Bonilla out of high school in 1981, but the White Sox claimed him in 1985’s Rule 5 draft. 
Bobby Bo 1989 Donruss Diamond Kings series
  • 1991 - A couple of milestones: Buc bench coach Jeff Banister made his MLB debut and singled off Atlanta’s Dan Petry in his only big league at bat. Banister is a Pirate lifer since being drafted in 1986. In the same game, rookie John "Rock" Wehner, now a Root Sports broadcaster, went 5-for-5 to become the first 'Burgh rook since Richie Zisk in 1973 to collect five hits. The Bucs beat the Atlanta Braves 12-3 at TRS; Gary Redus and Spanky LaValliere combined to drive in seven runs while Redus and Bobby Bonilla homered. 
  • 1996 - The Pirates traded RHP Danny Darwin to the Astros for minor league RHP Rich Loiselle. Loiselle spent his six year MLB career (1996-2001) as a Pirate and claimed 29 saves in 1997 after being converted from a starter to the pen. He finished 9-18-49, going steadily downhill after fairly strong 1997-98 campaigns. The veteran Darwin won 16 more games before hangin’ the spikes up after the 1998 season, closing out 21 years in the show. 
  • 1999 - The Pirates traded OF Jose Guillen and P Jeff Sparks to Tampa Bay for C's Joe Oliver and Humberto Cota. Guillen‚ who had 28 homers and 154 RBI in his first two seasons‚ was having a down year after arriving at spring training a month late due to visa problems. He went on to have a half dozen 20+ HR campaigns, including 31 bombs in 2003.
Humberto Cota 2003 Topps Total Silver series