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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bucs Batter Blue Bullpen In 12-7 Win

Not a sparkling inning for Vance Worley, but one we'll take. He got a pair of quick outs, one on a challenge at first when ump Laz Diaz fell asleep at the wheel on a routine out, then gave up back-to-back knocks to Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. But he got a little help on a called third strike to sit Andre Ethier down. Carl Crawford in left did the honors for Josh Beckett, hauling in flies by Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider, then being in the right place at the right time when Cutch smoked a liner at him, corralled in front of the track at the 383' mark.

Vanimal looked much more at home in the second, throwing strikes and staying on the edges for a 1-2-3 frame. Beckett had an easy frame except for a mistake pitch or two. He hung a curve to The Kid, who barely dropped it over the Clemente Wall railing (thank God no fan had happy hands!) and grooved a heater to Ike, who blasted on out in right center to make 2-0.

But not for long; everything that could go wrong for Worley in the third did. Beckett reached second on a throwing error by Pedro and was bunted to third. Justin Turner walked, taking a couple of pitches that just slid off the edge. Gonzalez got a call on a two-strike pitch, then lifted the next ball into right for a sac fly. Matt Kemp hit one back to the box; Vanimal bent to pick it up and kicked it instead for a single. It cost him another run when Ethier dropped a flare between Travis Snider and Jordy, and it was 2-2.

With an out, El Coffee untied it when he sent a cutter over the Clemente Wall fence in right. Travis rolled one up the middle and came home an out later when Walker went the opposite way and doubled into the left field corner. Russ was banged in the elbow on an 0-2 hook that didn't, but Ike popped out to end it at 4-2.

With two away in the fourth, Beckett drew a 3-2 walk, but Gordon hit into a force two pitches later. The Bucs opened by crushing a couple of balls off Beckett. Pedro smoked a two-bagger off the Clemente Wall, and Jordy hit one about as far as you can and still keep it in the park, flying out deep in the Notch. Worley whiffed, and Beckett headed for the showers as Paul Maholm came on to face Polanco, who bounced out.

LA went down in order in the fifth, with Gonzalez smoking another ball, but Cutch was there for this one. Josh came in to play third, but not because of Pedro's error. El Toro was in some discomfort running the bases, and was pulled as a cautionary move. Maholm got the Bucs on three routine grounders.

The Dodgers teed off on Vanimal with a little help in the sixth. The first two Blue lined shots at third; Harrison grabbed Ethier's, but Crawford's found grass. Then Juan Uribe's slow roller to Josh was thrown into the seats to put runners at second and third, and they both came home when Worley fed AJ Ellis a 1-2 heater right down the pipe that was drilled into center, with the trail runner scoring easily when Cutch tossed an airball home. Maholm whiffed and Gordon flew out, but the Pirates have been the gang that couldn't shoot straight tonight, and it's 4-4 thanks to those two errors.

Russ and Ike opened with knocks, and Jamey Wright was waved in by Don Mattingly. Josh bunted them up, but Jordy whiffed in a pretty undisciplined at-bat; he still can't lay off those sliders. Gaby walked to load them for El Coffee. He fell behind 1-2, worked the count full, then dropped a high cutter into center to score a pair. Travis siblged home another run, then Cutch got clocked in the shoulder, going down but eventually taking first. A wild pitch plated one more tally before Walker's grounder, right up the middle but into a shift, ended the music with a 8-4 lead.

Justin Wilson came on briefly; he hit Turner with the second pitch above the elbow after buzzing him with the first and was ejected, even though no warning had been given (nor does one have to be.) Clint came out to debate the point, and he was bounced, too. Hey, there were years Cutch was clocked and no one had his back, so beside good theater, it's good baseball. Jared Hughes got the ball when order was restored.

Gonzalez greeted him with a homer. The Pirates should just walk the guy whenever he's up - he's 5-for-6 with a line out to deep center in the series. Jared settled down after that, giving up a walk but whiffing a pair to close out the frame. wright hit Russ in the back with a slow hook; it didn't look intentional and the ump let it go, though you can bet the fans didn't. The only other excitement was a reversed DP; Martin had pretty clearly beat the force at second (he was running on the pitch), but it didn't lead to anything.

Tony Watson took the bump in the eighth. With one gone, Scott Van Slyke got a full count heater and pounded it over the wall in left to cut the lead to one. That was followed by a walk to Gordon, but a short fly to right and a 4-3 by Gonzalez - the first ball he hasn't squared up this series - shut down the frame. Chris Perez got the call for LA. After Michael Martinez popped out, Perez walked the next four Bucs, and Brandon League answered Mattingly's call. He did his job, getting a couple of grounders, but Russ and Ike's balls had eyes and made it through the infield; it was 12-7 when the smoke finally cleared.

Ernesto Frieri climbed the hill, giving up a two-out walk but otherwise slamming the door to take the Bucs home a big winner.

The Pirates tried like heck to throw the game away. We were complimentary of the LA bullpen last post, but just the back end; they're built to close games in the last two innings, not in the middle of games, as the Bucs proved tonight. Worley didn't get a lot of help, but by the third time through the order, the Dodgers were on him. Of all the starters, he has the least margin of error with his location without a dominant pitch. But his effort was good enough to run his record to 3-1.

So the series will be decided tomorrow night when Dan Haren will mix it up against Francisco Liriano.

  • El Coffee and Ike each had three hits; the 4-5-6 batters (Walker, Martin, Davis) went 7-for-12 with three runs scored and four RBI. 
  • Ike is supposed to be an Adam LaRoche clone, starting his motor after the All-Star break. His homer was his first since June 9th, so let's hope that thought holds true. Maybe he just needs more Josh Beckett; two of his six homers have come off him.
  • Gregory Polanco's single with the sacks juiced was his first MLB hit with the bases loaded; he had been 0-for-6 prior to that at-bat.
  • The Pirates announced only that Pedro left because of "left knee discomfort."
  • Today's attendance was 30,629.

Worley v Beckett, Lineup, More Rumors to Spread & More..

Vance Worley (2-1, 3.38) takes on Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.26).

Vance hasn't started since July 8th and has given up nine runs, an opponent BA of .298 and a pair of homers in his last 14 IP (5.79 ERA). Vanimal has to find the edges of the zone again, as he did when he sizzled through his first three starts, especially with Gerrit Cole on the mend. This is probably not the ideal foe for him to get back on the bike. In two games against the Blue (2011, 2012), he has no decisions but a 10.83 ERA.

Beckett hasn't started since July 6th, missing one turn before the All-Star break to allow a cortisone shot to settle down a torn labrum and two cysts in his hip, an injury that he'll try to pitch through for the rest of the year. He's been a load this season despite the aches and owns the season's first no-hitter. Beckett has faced the Pirates three times and is 1-2, but with a sterling 2.16 ERA and 18 K in 16-2/3 IP.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Travis Snider LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P. Marte is down again, not really sure why.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • John Perralta of the Beaver County Times has some interesting trade rumor mongering - he's heard the Bucs are poking around Steve Cishek, Ian Kennedy, Jon Lester and AJ, plus Seattle is showing interest in prying Starling Marte away from the Bucs...
  • The Buc bullpen must be deep if this is the kinda pitching they let go: Bryan Morris is 3-0/0.36 with 22 K in 25-1/3 IP for Miami while Jason Grilli is 1-1/0.96 with 9 K in 9-1/3 frames at LA. Ernesto Frieri, swapped for Grilli, is 1-1/ 9.00 with 5 K in 6 IP while Morris' return, a #39 draft pick, was turned into Connor Joe in the draft.
  • The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association announced today that Josh Harrison is the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner.
  • One of the best views in America? Try PNC's upper deck, says Travel & Leisure magazine.

7/22: A-Ram Trade, Mooney, Ginger, Deacon, Stargell Cycle, Teke Saves Two, Going Deep, SI Cover and More...

A-Ram Trade, Mooney, Ginger, Deacon, Stargell Cycle, Teke Saves Two, Going Deep, SI Cover and More...
  • 1880 - C George “Mooney” Gibson was born in London, Canada. He played a dozen years for the Bucs (1905-16) as a defense-first catcher, batting .238 but tossing out 949 runners (46% throw-out rate, back in the days when baseball was a go-go league; 1,101 runners actually did steal off him against the Pirates) and once catching 140 straight games. He finished his career as a NY Giant and later returned to Pittsburgh as a manager, first in 1920-22, then from 1932-34, finishing second three times with a record of 401-330. Mooney was the first baseball player elected to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. 
George "Mooney" Gibson - 1911 Piedmont Cigarettes series
  • 1899 - The Pirates rolled over the Philadelphia Quakers by an 18-4 count at Exposition Park. OF Ginger Beaumont went 6-for-6 at the top of the order, scoring six times, without hitting a ball out of the infield. Rookie second baseman Jimmy Williams drove in three runs with a pair of triples. 
  • 1910 - Deacon Phillippe hit a second inning inside-the-park grand slam off Brooklyn’s Fred Miller as part of a 14-1 win at Washington Park. Mel Stottlemyre was the next pitcher to hit an inside the park grannie - in 1965! The Pirates swept the Superbas in a four game set. 
  • 1911 - The Pirates paid St. Paul of the American Association $22‚500 for RHP Marty O'Toole‚ the most expensive purchase of a player to that date. Barney Dreyfuss spent another $5‚000 for his battery mate Bill Kelly. In 1912‚ O'Toole went 15-17 and lead the NL with 159 walks. He was out of Pittsburgh by 1914, winning a total of 26 games while walking 300 batters in 599-1/3 IP. Kelly was a back up catcher, hitting .290 for Pittsburgh and out of MLB after 1913.
  • 1934 - 1B RC Stevens was born in Moultrie, Georgia. The 6’5” slugger was signed out of Moultrie HS, but one-trick stick never translated in the show. As a back up, he hit decently, with a .260 BA and eight homers in 108 PA from 1958-60, getting into 71 games, but he couldn’t outpace Ted Kluszewski, Dick Stuart and Rocky Nelson in the first base race. 
RC Stevens - 1958 Topps series
  • 1939 - Boston committed seven errors in a 9-3 loss to the Bucs at Braves Field, allowing five unearned runs to cross the plate. One frustrated Bee’s fan jumped out of the stands and took a swing at Braves’ catcher Al Lopez after he dropped a popup. But it wasn’t entirely bad glovework. The Bucs also banged out 13 hits, led by Lee Handley’s 3-for-4 effort. 
  • 1963 - Utilityman Denny Gonzalez was born in Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic. He played parts of four seasons for the Bucs (1984-88) but never spent a full season on the active roster, hitting .206. 
  • 1964 - Pittsburgh scored four runs in the first and never looked back as they whipped the St. Louis Cardinals 13-2 at Busch Stadium. Bill Mazeroski knocked in five runs with a double and homer while Willie Stargell hit for the cycle with four runs scored and three more driven in. Jerry Lynch also went yard and added three ribbies as Bob Veale cruised to victory. 
  • 1977 - RHP Ryan Vogelsong was born in Charlotte, NC. He worked five years for the Pirates (2001, 2003-06), going 10-19 with a 6.00 ERA. He took a hiatus to Japan, but came back in 2011 to his original team, the SF Giants, and pitched strong ball for the G-Men, earning an All-Star spot. 
  • 1979 - Kent Tekulve saved both ends of a doubleheader as the Pirates swept the Braves 5-4 and 3-2 at TRS. Teke scattered four hits over three scoreless innings in the first game of a twin bill, closing out Don Robinson’s win (which Robinson helped along with two RBI and a run scored), then tossed the final inning in relief of Jim Bibby (who was also a hitting hero with a two-run homer) in the second game for his 15th and 16th saves of the year. 
Teke - 1982 Donruss series
  • 1988 - In a trade of players that never quite panned out for the Pirates, Pittsburgh sent Darnell Coles to Seattle for Glenn Wilson. 
  • 1993 - The Bucs scored four times in the ninth to rally past the Braves 8-7 at TRS. Jay Bell drove in the first run in the final frame, and with two outs, Dave Clark’s single got the Bucs within a run. The next hitter, Kevin Young, dropped a soft liner into right center, plating Lloyd McClendon and Clark, who scored all the way from first, to give Blas Minor the victory. 
  • 2003 - The Pirates traded 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton, and cash to the Cubs for SS Jose Hernandez, P Matt Bruback, and 2B Bobby Hill in Dave Littlefield's darkest day of salary dumping. 
  • 2009 - The Pirates traded Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox for two minor leaguers, shortstop Argenis Diaz and pitcher Hunter Strickland. 
Adam LaRoche 2009 O-Pee-Chee series
  • 2009 - The Pirates used five homers to hold off the Brewers 8-7 at PNC Park. Brandon Moss went long in the ninth off Mitch Stettler for the walk off win; Ryan Doumit added a pair of blasts while Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones each had one. 
  • 2013 - Jason Grilli was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the poster boy for Ben Reiter’s story “The Playoff Bound Pirates and Their Sharknado Bullpen.” It was purely coincidental that he was injured pitching the same day, put on the DL, and out of action until September 3rd.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bucs Drop 5-2 Yawner To Dodgers

Edinson Volquez got off to a good start, whiffing the first two Dodgers. Then Adrian Gonzalez ripped one into right and slipped into second just ahead of Michael Martinez's throw; the Bucs challenged and lost (it did look like he was under the tag). Matt Kemp walked on four pitches, but Andre Ethier bounced out to end the frame quietly. Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed a clean opening frame.

Eddie again got two easy outs in the second, then he caught AJ Ellis with a curve (Ellis ducked into it and got clocked in the head, but was OK), allowing the Blue to turn the order over. With one gone, The Kid went the other way for a knock. He was left aboard after a Russ K and a fly out to the track in right by Jordy.

To start the third, Dee Gordon barely caught a piece of a two-strike, shoe-top change up and legged out the bleeder. Justin Turner hit into a force, taking some elite speed off the bases. Eddie walked Gonzalez on four pitches and paid. Kemp turned on a belt high heater to drive in one run and Ethier bounced out to short, plating another before Carl Crawford K'ed. Ryu had another rocking-chair frame.

Back-to-back singles by Juan Uribe and Ellis (on a bad hop) in the fourth put Dodgers on the corners with no outs. Ryu bunted Ellis to second. The Bucs caught Uribe at home; he was off on contact as Gordon bounced to The Kid. Turner turned on a 2-2 curve, banging sharply on one hop to third and off Josh's mitt into left; it scored a pair and went as a double. It was a hot shot, but should have been the inning-ender. Gonzalez dropped a flare into center just over Walker, and it was 5-0.

Cutch singled with a rope that Gordon knocked down but couldn't make a play on with one gone. Gaby sent a liner to center, corraled just short of the track by Ethier. Walker drew a free pass, and Russ brought a run home with a full count single to right. Jordy followed with another opposite field single, and it was 5-2 before Martinez bounced out to end the fun.

Uribe singled with two outs in the fifth, but that was all Eddie allowed. Pittsburgh went down in order. With an out in the sixth, Gordon rolled a single to left and stole second. But Gordon went a sack too far, and was picked off breaking for third. Good thing; Turner hit yet another ground ball single, and a wild pitch and intentional walk set the stage for reliever Jeanmar Gomez and Matt Kemp to match up. Gomez won, getting Kemp on a fly ball. Pittsburgh went down without a peep.

Crawford singled with one away in the seventh and stole second. Ellis was walked intentionally with two gone to get to Ryu, who bounced out. The Bucs got a two-out single from Martinez in their half, and it was Ernesto Frieri's turn in the eighth. He got the first two outs before allowing a Gonzalez double, but retired Kemp on a bouncer to short. Still no change up, though he's sprinkling some sliders with his heater.

Brian Wilson took the bump for LA. Josh helped him; he saw six balls in seven pitches, yet flew out on a 2-2 pitch. Marte went down swinging; the last two pitches were in the opposite batter's box. Cutch singled, and that brought up Ike to hit for Gaby, and lefty JP Howell to pitch for Wilson. Ike bounced out, and it was a bad inning for old school baseball. The leadoff guys were facing a bad pitcher in a spot where the Bucs needed runners and swung away. We think Clint messed up too; he left all LH on the bench, making it easy for a late inning match up, and in fact was probably better off leaving Gaby to hit against the righty Wilson.

Stolmy Pimentel got the ninth inning call. He was sharp, tossing a clean frame with a pair of whiffs and a 95 MPH heater. Kenley Jansen came in and tossed a 1-2-3 frame to finish the Bucs off.

Pretty ho-hum loss all the way around. The Pirates found another starter they couldn't solve, but the Dodger pen is stronger than Colorado's, especially without any plate discipline. Eddie in no way sharp, but neither was he beaten about as the stat line might suggest. He got a lot balls on the ground today, and some days they find holes, as they did today. It's still a 2-2 game if Josh spears that one hopper.

This does point out one of the Bucs bench holes, though. Clint can't sit Polanco, Alvarez and Davis against a lefty like he did tonight, no matter how sound the reasoning, and expect any offense; he doesn't have the personnel. The Pirates prefer to have a glove guy as their reserve infielder, and unless Josh fills that Barmes spot on the bench, a switch-hitting fourth outfielder would be a nice toy for Clint.

Vance Worley faces Josh Beckett tomorrow night.
  • The Pirates have scouts in Philly, but not necessarily for AJ. Tom Singer of MLB.com is speculating a peek at Cliff Lee, while Rob Biertempfel of the Trib wonders if Antonio Bastardo is on their radar. Fox's Ken Rosenthal confirmed that the Bucs are one of a posse of clubs looking for relief help. Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan tweeted that he heard the Bosox's Jon Lester's name pop up, too.
  • Gerrit Cole will toss a sim game against live hitting on Wednesday. If that goes well, he may be ready to get a rehab start or two starting next week.
  • Tonight's attendance was 28,255, which is pretty decent for a Monday night game not involving the Steelers.
  • Indy's Brandon Cumpton tossed an eight inning, two-hit shutout last week, earning him International League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Volquez v Ryu, All RH Lineup, Trade Rumors, Hansen In Hot Water & More...

Edinson Volquez (8-6, 3.65) faces lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-5, 3.44) in the first game of the LA series.

Volquez is coming of a complete game win at St. Louis and has surrendered just three earned runs in his last four starts. He's won a career-high tying four straight decisions. Eddie is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue, and has a 5-3 win against Zach Greinke and LA so far this year.

Ryu is coming off a 1-0 win against the Padres, going six innings with 10 K. The southpaw primarily features a fastball and changeup combo, but has been adding in more curves and sliders to the mix, so his arsenal is pretty much loaded. He's 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA against Pittsburgh with a 12-2 win this season when Barandon Cumpton imploded at LA in late May.

The Bucs are catching LA at a good time. They played the national Sunday Night game, so had to catch a red-eye to out fair city. Zach Greinke's and Clayton Kershaw's turns will miss this series. Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are banged up. Pittsburgh won three of the four games played earlier this season in Los Angeles and have gone 5-2 in their last seven games overall against the Dodgers. Hopefully, the Pirates can take advantage and keep the good times rolling. They're just 1-1/2 games behind top dogs St. Louis and Milwaukee, the closest the Pirates have been to the NL Central lead since April 10th.

The lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Jordy Mercer SS, Michael Martinez RF and Volquez P. Starling's back, El Coffee and El Toro get a blow after a diet of lefties. That's a little odd as Ryu has a pretty even split and isn't a lefty-killer.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Bucs are kicking the tires of back-end relievers Joaquin Benoit of the Padres and Joakim Soria of the Rangers.
  • Matt Kelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, in the story that won't die, said the Pirates had a scout at AJ's last start. 
  • GM Neal Huntington has made the rounds of the local media, and his story has been pretty much the same - there are players available that could help us and we're willing to upgrade, but we have no glaring holes and have to weight current v future roster make-up. As usual (and smartly), NH is playing it close to the vest.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rox set was first time that the Pirates swept a series of three or more games with a different reliever earning the victory in each game since June 1978, when Ed Whitson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve were credited with wins out of the bullpen in a three-game sweep of the Padres at TRS.
  • Gerrit Cole threw 35-40 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday morning. So far, so good.
  • Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror reports that hot SS prospect Alen Hanson has been sat down by the Curve for the second time this season because of "several lack of hustle incidents," the latest being a pop he didn't run out.
  • After tossing a one-hitter, Altoona's Adrian Sampson was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week.
  • Dejan Kovacevic has resigned from the Tribune Review and gone over to the dark side of blogdom, albeit of the upscale variety. His new page will be called "DK on Pittsburgh Sports," a corporate-sponsored, subscription-based web site; no details yet.

7/21: Sweep, Satchel v Josh, Streak Snapper, Jerry Lynch, Pops Last Blast, Retired Jerseys and More...

Sweep, Satchel v Josh, Streak Snapper, Jerry Lynch, Pops Last Blast, Retired Jerseys and More...
  • 1923 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from Boston at Braves Field 14-4 and 6-4. In the first game, Pie Traynor (who homered), Rabbit Maranville and Carson Bigbee each had three hits and combined for seven RBI/six runs to back Johnny Morrison’s complete game effort. Wilbur Cooper took the nitecap, not only going the distance but adding a pair of hits, including a triple, and three RBI to aid the cause. Traynor, Maranville and C Walter Schmidt had two knocks each, scoring five times. 
  • 1927 - IF Dick Smith was born in Blandburg, Cambria County. The Bucs signed him out of Lock Haven, and from 1951-55 he yo-yoed back and forth between Pittsburgh and the minors. In 70 games over that span, he hit .134. 
  • 1932 - The Pirates tied the Chicago Cubs in the seventh on a Dave Barbee triple and Gus Suhr sac fly, then with the bases empty and two outs in the ninth rallied for a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Pie Traynor singled and came all the way around in the final frame when Lloyd Waner, who had entered the game in the eighth inning, took the next pitch to left center to plate Pie with a walk off double. Ray Kremer tossed a complete game seven hitter for the win over Jumbo Elliott. Little Poison’s pinch knock kept alive a 22 game hitting streak, and gave him hits in 31-of-32 games. 
Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner - Dick Perez Art
  • 1942 - At Forbes Field‚ KC Monarchs pitcher Satchel Paige walked the bases loaded to face the Homestead Gray’s legendary basher Josh Gibson. Years earlier‚ Paige had told Gibson that one day he would strike him out with the bases loaded, and the showman decided now was the time. "Three fastballs‚ Josh‚" Paige said‚ and then blew three past him. Later that year, Paige won three Negro League World Series games against Homestead to lead KC to the title. 
  • 1947 - Frankie “The Fordham Flash” Frisch was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Though he never played for the Bucs, he managed the club from 1940-46. His teams were usually competitive but never serious contenders, and Frisch's years with the Pirates were remembered more for his on-field antics and umpire-baiting than victories. 
  • 1956 - Brooks Lawrence had his 13-game winning streak snapped by Roberto Clemente, who hit a one out, three run homer in the top of the ninth as the Pirates edged the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3 at Crosley Field. Elroy Face, who tossed two scoreless innings, won in relief of Bob Friend. 
  • 1960 - The eventual World Champs chalked up a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at the LA Coliseum. Vern Law, who would win the 1960 Cy Young Award, tossed a complete game, surrendering five hits to defeat Johnny Podres. Hal Smith hit a pair of solo home runs and Roberto Clemente knocked in the other two RBI in the victory. 
Hal Smith 1962 Post Cereal series
  • 1962 - Jim Marshall came off the bench in the 11th frame and delivered a bases-loaded single to vault the Pirates past his former club, the San Francisco Giants, by a 7-6 score at Forbes Field. Don Hoak led the attack with three hits, including a triple, and three RBI. Roberto Clemente extended his hitting streak to 18 games before the Giants snapped his string the next day. 
  • 1963 - Pinch hitter Jerry Lynch drilled a three-run home run off Chicago's Lindy McDaniel in the ninth inning to tie the Cubs 5-5 at Forbes Field. Lynch’s homer was his 14th career round-tripper off the bench, tying the MLB mark set by former Cincinnati teammate, George Crowe. The Bucs eventually won the contest in 14 innings, 6-5, on Bill Virdon’s two-out infield single to salvage a doubleheader split. The Pirates had 22 hits during the game, but stranded 15 runners. Roberto Clemente hit into a 3-6 triple play in the second frame, lining out to first baseman Merritt Ranew, who stepped on first to force Manny Mota and then threw to second to retire Ducky Schofield, giving an early indication of what kind of grind-it-out contest was on tap for the Bucs. 
  • 1982 - Willie Stargell hit his final bomb, a club record 475th home run, against the Reds’ Tom Hume. It was an eighth inning, game-winning, pinch hit solo shot in a 3-2 victory at Riverfront Stadium to give Larry McWilliams the win, backed by a two-inning save by Kent Tekulve. 
  • 1997 - The Pirate “Freak Show” stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Curt Schilling and The Phillies at Veteran’s Stadium. Philadelphia jumped ahead 2-0 on Esteban Loaiza, but Al Martin’s homer off a hanging forkball in the sixth tied it. Keith Osik led off the next frame with a double and went to third on a grounder, but a suicide squeeze attempt by Kevin Polcovich fizzled and Osik was caught at home. Kevin made amends, working the count full and then yanking a heater over the fence in left. Matt Reubel, Marc Wilkins and Rich Loiselle closed the door after that, and despite striking out 17 times, the Bucs were still in the race after the victory. 
Kevin Polcovich 1998 Pacific series
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs became the first player to hit two home runs into the Allegheny River (on the bounce) with a splashdown during a 5-3 win over Houston. He hit his first river ball while playing for the Cubs two years before. 
  • 2003 - The Mike Williams era ended in Pittsburgh when he was sent to the Phils for LHP Frank Brooks, who had a cup of coffee in the show. Williams, a righty closer, went from setting the Pirate saves record in 2002 with 46 close-outs and back-to-back All Star appearances to a guy with 25 saves but a 6.27 ERA in 2003, which was his last MLB season. 
  • 2007 - The Pirates retired Paul "Big Poison" Waner's #11 in a ceremony before their game vs. the Astros on the anniversary of his 1952 Hall of Fame induction. Waner was the first NL player since Honus Wagner, 28 years before, and the seventh batter in history, to reach 3,000 knocks. (He got #3,000 against his old teammate Rip Sewell on June 19th, 1942, as a Boston Brave.) The team had a video presentation, the family on the field, and rolled his #11 into the outfield grass for the contest. The Bucs celebrated by ending a seven game losing streak, toppling Houston 7-3, although they returned quickly to form and lost seven of the next eight contests.
Paul Waner Big League Chewing Gum series (year u/k)
  •  2008 - The Bucs ended a six-loss-in-seven-games streak with a 9-3 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park. Freddy Sanchez had three hits, including a homer, and four RBI. Jason Bay went 4-for-5 with a homer, Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady had three hits and Adam LaRoche chipped in with a home run. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates snapped a three game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Reds at GABP. Jeff Locke yielded one hit over six, but allowed a run on back-to-back walks, a bunt, and a two-out wild pitch. Mark Melancon gave up the other score, giving up a ground ball single sandwiched around a pair of walks with no outs, but gladly gave up the tally in exchange for a Joey Votto DP ball. The Pirates staff only surrendered three hits to Cincinnati, but seven walks gave the Reds scoring opportunities. The Buccos scored on a Garrett Jones solo homer and RBI knocks by Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bucs Come from Behind Again To Sweep Rox 5-3

Not the kind of start we expect from Jeff Locke, who has given up walks and homers most grudgingly this year. He lost Bradon Barnes on five pitches to open the game, the Josh Rutledge banged a 1-2 fastball over the left field wall to make it 2-0 in a hurry. Jeff got three pop outs after that around a two-out single by Drew Stubbs. Tyler Matzek put the Bucs away in order.

In the second, The Fort caught a change up and belted it over the fence in left (and changing the warm welcome he got into a chorus of boos) to put the Rox up 3-0. Locke gave up another two-out single, this one to Barnes, but erased him neatly as he picked him off as Barnes broke to second 1-3-6.

The Bucs did have an answer this time. The Kid and Gaby hit back-to-back ground ball singles and ended up at second and third when Gaby moved up a base on the throw to third after his knock. Jordy shot a ball up the middle to make it 3-2. Chris Stewart smacked a two-bagger that scored Jordy, but got stuck in the padding at the wall with Mercer being sent back to third.

Our guess is that the umps blew that one; LF Barnes didn't complain until after the play was over (we believe the general rule is that the OF'er notifies an ump of a problem; if he plays it instead, it's a live ball - there is no specific PNC Park ground rule for that situation that we could find), and it probably should have stood as it happened on the field. But umps being umps, it didn't, and the Bucs stranded the pair - oh, and were playing the game under protest as Clint didn't buy the ump's decision.

Rutledge opened the third with a knock but was quickly mopped up thanks to a Carlos Gonzalez DP. He banged one to Gaby, who stepped on first and tossed to second, where Jordy tagged Rutledge. Another grounder ended the frame. The Bucs tried for some two-out lightning after a Walker free pass and Gaby knock, but Jordy flew out to stop the music.

In the fourth, Jeff whiffed the side around a two-out Mike McKenry walk; Matzek K'ed the side. It was 1-2-3 for the Rox in the fifth. For the Bucs, Josh reached second on a bunt single and error, but was left there.

With one gone in the sixth, Nolan Arenado and Stubbs hit back-to-back singles, but Charlie Culberson's grounder started an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. With two outs and Jordy at second thanks to a walk and stolen base, the Pirates tied the game as Stew banged another ground rule double, this one hopping the wall.

Locke was done after six IP and 85 pitches, and Jeanmar Gomez took the ball for the seventh. The Fort opened with a single and was bunted to second, but two grounders after an intentional walk added up to another goose egg for Colorado. Matt Belisle came in. He walked Josh, who stole second and plated after Cutch ripped a 3-0 pitch into center. Andrew was caught stealing running against a pitchout and Gaby popped out, but The Kid lost a fastball in the shrubbery of the Batter's Eye in center field to make it 5-3. Jordy and Pedro followed with singles, bringing in Brooks Brown. He ended Stew's double streak, getting him to pop out.

Tony Watson took command in the eighth, working a clean frame with a couple of strikeouts. Brown got two quick outs, then Josh singled, stole second and went to third on a bad throw. Andrew was walked intentionally. It almost cost the Rox as Gaby hit one on the nose, but right at 1B'man Culberson, who had been holding Cutch. No diff - mark the Sharl tossed a quiet ninth, and the Bucs broke out the broom against the hapless Rockies.

It's a nice way to start the break with a sweep of the league's worst team; they did what they were supposed to do. But the Bucs stranded 11 and didn't beat up the Rox not-too-strong starters, but the weak sister bullpen as all three wins were come-from-behind. But it is all good right now; the Pirates sit two games behind the Cards, pending the outcome of tonight's TV game, and alone in third in the NL Central. The Dodgers come into town next, and the competition will ratchet up a couple of notches.

Hyun-Jin Ryu and Edinson Volquez open the Dodger series tomorrow night.
  • The Kid and Jordy teamed up in the 5-6 spots to go 5-for-7 with a walk, three runs scored and three runs driven home.
  • Neil Walker passed Max Carey and Ryan Doumit for second place all-time for career HRs by a Pirate switch hitter with 68 bombs. He's got a bit to go to catch up to Bobby Bo and his 114 HR.
  • Talk about baseball being a funny game: Cutch was caught stealing for the first time in 16 attempts this year. It was Michael McKenry's second throw-out in 23 attempts. The Pirates were successful 4-of-5 tries against The Fort, though.
  • For the record, Starling Marte didn't suffer a concussion when he was beaned, but according to the Pirates had a "head trauma."
  • The Bucs completed just their second sweep of the season. They've matched their season high water mark of six games over .500.
  • Today's attendance was 35,609.

Locke v Matzek, Lineup, Comeback Kids, Home Cooking, Twin Killings...

Jeff Locke (2-1, 2.89) takes on Tyler Matzek (1-4, 4.97) in another southpaw matchup.

Locke would be off to a dazzling start with some help from his friends. In his first eight starts, he's left four of the games with a lead only to lose the W to a blown save. He's been that good, charged with just 12 earned runs in his last seven starts (all, needless to say, quality starts) and just as tough at home, with a 1-1 slate and 1.86 ERA in his last four outings at PNC Park. He's faced the Rox once, getting a no decision in a 3-2 loss last year at Coors Field.

Matzek, 23, was a first round pick (#11) in 2009 who has been in the show since June 11th.  Coors has been his cross to bear; on the road he's posted a 3.63 ERA in three starts but at home it's 5.92 in four starts.

His stuff is great with a low-90s tailing fastball and a good slider that can reach the mid 80s that miss bats, but his command, not so much, as his accuracy both in and out of the strike zone is inconsistent. Matzek is tough on lefties, and if control issues and a basic two pitch toolkit limit his ability to start, he's in line to become at least a LOOGY in the Rox scheme of things.

The Lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jordy Mercer SS, Pedro 3B, Chris Stewart C and Locke P. Starling Marte may or may not be available from the bench today, depending on how his pre-game routine goes. The Bucs insist he didn't get a concussion when he was beaned Friday night, but the blow sure must have rung his bell pretty well.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Buccos have come from behind in 24 of their 51 wins, and Saturday night’s 11-inning victory was Pittsburgh’s MLB-leading ninth walkoff win of the season. Jordy Mercer became the seventh different Bucco to supply a walkoff RBI in 2014. Mercer is on fire, hitting .358 in his first 15 games this month. Cutch is right behind him at .356.
  • The Pirates have won five straight games played at PNC Park and 11 of their last 13 on home turf. Pittsburgh’s 31-20 home record is the best in the NL and the third-best in the majors behind the Angels (33-16) and Athletics (31-16). Last year the Pirates went 50-31 at home, setting a record for the most wins at PNC Park in a single season.
  • The Bucs have turned a total of 22 double plays in their last 12 games, including a season-high tying four last night. Pedro Alvarez leads all NL third basemen with 24 double plays turned and chances, with 305. El Toro leads all third basemen in assists (222) and unfortunately, errors and errant throws (21/20).

7/20: Hyzdu's Big Day, OK Corral, In The Pinch, Joe Gibbon, Brew Crew News, Pops Recognized & More...

Hyzdu's Big Day, OK Corral, In The Pinch, Joe Gibbon, Brew Crew News, Pops Recognized & More...
  • 1894 - Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 7-6 in 10 innings when George "Germany" Smith‚ homered with two outs. Pirate OF Elmer Smith was prevented from retrieving the game-winning hit in the LF bleachers‚ as permitted per Cincinnati’s League Park ground rules‚ by zealous Reds fans. One of them pulled a revolver on Smith after he fought with several other spectators in an attempt to reach the ball, per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. Quite a finish to the NL’s first extra-inning game of the year. 
  • 1901 - Hall of Fame LF Heinie Manush was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Manush spent the last two years of his career (1938-39) in Pittsburgh as a pinch hitter, getting just 28 PA (four hits, three walks) before being released, oddly enough, for another future HoF’er, Chuck Klein. He was a .330 hitter during his 17 year career with 1183 RBI and 1287 runs scored. 
  • 1955 - The Bucs were down 3-0 in the seventh when pinch hitter Preston Ward smacked a three run dinger off the Milwaukee Brave’s Ray Crone at Forbes Field. Another PH, Jack Shepard, singled off Dave Jolly with the bases loaded in the ninth to earn the Pirates and Dick Littlefield a 4-3 comeback win. 
Preston Ward 1955 Topps series
  • 1961 - Joe Gibbon tossed a four hitter with nine whiffs as the Bucs beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 at Forbes Field. The big blow was Bill Mazeroski’s two run single in the fourth. The Bucs had lost three games prior to the win, and would drop six more afterward. 
  • 1973 - The Bucs tied the first game of a twinbill against San Diego in the eighth and went on to win 5-4 in 10 innings at TRS. Rennie Stennett went 4-for-5 with a walk off homer in the extra frame. The Pirates had an easier time with the Padres in the second game, winning 7-0. Stennett had three more hits, including another homer, and Jim Rooker tossed a six hit complete game whitewash with eight whiffs. 
  • 1980 - After scoring four times in the first, the Pirates had to plate a pair in the bottom of the ninth to salvage an 8-7 split against the Dodgers at TRS. Lee Lacy was 5-for-5 and a homer away from the cycle, while Bill Robinson homered and Ed Ott had the walk-off, bases loaded single to earn Grant Jackson the win. Pittsburgh lost the opener 4-2 as LA’s Burt Hooton and Steve Howe kept the Bucco bats under control. The double dipper was a big to-do in other ways, too. It was Willie Stargell Day with a ceremony between games, and was also the day that Dave Parker, fresh off the first $1 M/year contract in sports, was pelted with a Duracell battery while in the outfield. 
  • 1996 - In the opening game at the Olympics in Atlanta, the US team topped Nicaragua 4-1 behind future Pirate pitcher Kris Benson’s seven hitter. Benson was 2-1 during the games as the US finished by winning the bronze medal. 
  • 2002 - OF Adam Hyzdu had a day to tell his grandkids about at PNC Park. He drove in seven runs on four hits‚ including a pair of HR, in a 15-6 pasting of the first-place St. Louis Cards. Hyzdu became the first Buc since Don Slaught nine years earlier with seven RBI, and the crowd of 35,101 called him out of the dugout after his second blast. The performance came on top of a four-RBI game the day before. It was the Pirates eighth win in ten games, attracting a walkup sale of 7,650, and Kris Benson’s third straight victory. 
Adam Hyzdu 2003 Fleer Tradition
  • 2003 - Pittsburgh traded RHP Mike Williams to the Phillies for minor league P Frank Brooks. Williams saved 140 games in six seasons for Pittsburgh, but his outings were becoming increasingly adventurous. He didn’t fare much better in Philadelphia, and 2003 ended up his last season in MLB. The fall was sudden: in 2002, he set the Pirate team record for saves with 46. 
  • 2009 - The Bucs finally broke a 12-game losing streak to the Brewers with an 8-5 victory at PNC Park. Cutch had three hits and Delwyn Young tacked on three RBI with a homer. Jesse Chavez had the fans on the edge of their seats by giving up three runs in the ninth, but struck out Prince Fielder to ice the win. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates scored nine runs in the first inning during their 11-9 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park. The scoring in the opening frame was highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam, one of two Alvarez long balls smacked during the game. El Toro finished with five RBI and Neil Walker went 5-for-5 with a double against Milwaukee. They needed the quick start as the Brewers cut the lead to 10-9 by the sixth, but were blanked on two hits in the final three frames by Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel. 
  • 2012 - The US Postal Service issued a set of four commemorative stamps depicting Willie Stargell along with Ted Williams, Larry Doby and Joe DiMaggio. The release was held in Cooperstown, NY as part of the Hall's annual induction week-end.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jordy Walks It Off In the 11th As Bucs Squeeze Out a 3-2 Win

Ah, Charlie. He was ahead of opening batter Charlie Blackmon 0-2 and then plunked him with an inside heater. Nolan Arenado cleaned that up three pitchers later, grounding one to Jordy to start a 6-4-3 DP. Carlos Gonzalez, who whiffed five times last night, decided not to take the bat off his shoulders and drew a 3-2 walk. Charlie quickly regained the zone and punched out Tulo on three pitches. Brett Anderson got a pair of easy outs before Arenado made an errant toss of Cutch's grounder at third, but a soft liner to second by Russ ended the frame.

Cory Dickerson started the second with a bunt single to the left side; Gaby couldn't pick Pedro's not-too-bad throw. This time it took two pitches to get Wil Rosario to bounce into an around-the-horn DP followed by a Charlie Culberson ground out. The Kid whiffed and Gaby walked. Pedro singled sharply off Tulo's glove, followed by a Jordy force at second - and it was bang-bang there, as Tulo was deep in the hole, and maybe challengeable - to put Bucs on the corners for Charlie. He gave it the old college try, fouling off a couple before popping out.

The Rox went down in order in the third. With two down, Cutch lined a single to center and was stranded. Charlie had an easy fourth and has mowed down eight Rockies in a row. Tulo left the game; he came up limping after trying to beat out a slow roller and was replaced by Josh Rutledge.

Walker kicked off the Buc half by bouncing a double over the bag and into left. Gaby pounded a two-strike slider down the middle into left for a ground rule double and a 1-0 Bucco lead. Pedro couldn't move him up, bouncing out to short. Jordy tapped back to the mound, and Gaby was caught and nailed in a rundown with Mercer getting to second. No diff; Charlie went down swinging.

Dickerson started the fifth with a liner to right for a knock. An out later (thanks to a sliding grab by Cutch), Russ gunned him out trying to steal second and Culberson K'ed. Anderson tossed a clean frame as his off speed stuff has kept the Bucs pretty much at bay tonight. Blackmon singled with two away in the sixth and stole second - at least until the challenge; on replay, he looked DOA. NY agreed, ending the inning. It was 1-2-3 for the Bucs again; Anderson is tossing a pretty nice game, leaving little in the middle of the dish.

Arenado began the seventh by drilling a heater to center for a two-bagger. CarGo caught a two strike curve, that hung and dropped it  a yard or two inside the foul pole in right to put Colorado up 2-1. The rest of the inning passed quietly, but the Buc bats have to go to work. Yah, sure - Pedro went down looking, Jordy didn't see a strike and went down swinging, and Michael Martinez went down looking.

Ernesto Frieri got the call in the eighth against the bottom of the order and posted a perfect frame with a pair of K to celebrate his happy 29th B-Day. No change up yet, but he did mix in three or four sliders, so that's progress.

Lefty Rex Brothers took the ball for the Rox. He got El Coffee on a liner to left, then headed for the showers as RHP Adam Ottavino came in. He lost Josh and wild-pitched him to second, and may have gotten away with a balk or two during the process. Cutch walked. Russ fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and rolled over on a slider. He placed it well, bouncing it in the SS hole, and with the runners on the go it went for an infield hit to juice the sacks. Ottavino left and Tommy Kahnle inherited the mess. The Kid knocked his first pitch into right to tie the game, but Cutch was thrown out at home by Gonzalez; he didn't seem to get much of a jump and may have been Nick Leyva's bad. The umps quickly reviewed the play for blocking, but the call stood. Travis Snider came in to hit for Gaby and went down looking.

Mark the Shark climbed the bump in the ninth, and used all of five pitches to tuck the Rox away. Kahnle walked Jordy with one gone and Ike picked up a stick (he came in after Gaby was pinch hit for earlier). His roller to first moved Jordy up a station. He stayed there as Polanco's at 'em ball liner to right was hauled in by CarGo.

Justin Wilson was waved in for the tenth and gave up a bleeder single to Rutledge on the left side. Dickerson hit into a force, putting plenty of speed at first. He didn't get to use it as Rosario bounced the next pitch to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Melancon and Wilson have used up 10 pitches to get the last six outs. Brooks Brown came in for Colorado. The 29 year old pitched at Indy last year; this is his rookie season in the show. He whiffed Josh, got Cutch to ground out and Russ tapped back to the hill. On to the 11th.

Jared Hughes raced to the scene and promptly plunked Culberson, who was bunted up. Hughes had a good shot at second, but went for the sure out. Stubbs rolled over on a two-strike slider; it ended up a soft infield knock. Blackmon hit a liner back to the box that Hughes speared and then with a heads up reaction went to third to double up Culberson. Baseball is funny that way - bleeders fall in and liners turn into DPs.

Chad Bettis took the hill. The Kid battled him for eight pitches before bouncing a ball up the middle. Chris Stewart, the last bench player, assuming Marte is out, pinch hit and bunted Walker to second. That got Pedro an intentional walk. Jordy spoiled the strategy by banging a gapper to the left center bullpen, and the Bucs worked the grindstone to take a 3-2 victory.

Morton and Anderson both pitched well; the depth in the Bucco bullpen was the difference tonight. The last two relievers the Rox sent out had ERAs of 9.82 and 8.59, so the odds of them holding down the fort were pretty slim. Melancon and Wilson each threw five pitch innings but didn't work a second frame. Guess Clint is saving 'em for tomorrow with a day-following-night game, and his gamble worked. Oh, and turning four DP didn't hurt the cause any, either. Between them, the caught stealings, the homer and generally sweet pitching, the Rox left only two men on base in 11 frames.

Tyler Matzek faces Jeff Locke tomorrow afternoon as the Bucs look for the sweep.
  • Tonight was the third time this season Russ has thrown out two or more would be base runners in a game.
  • Some good news out of today - while Polanco is still trying to work it out against lefties, he hit the ball on the nose twice against the righties he saw, though they didn't drop.
  • Troy Tulowitzki exited the game with a muscle cramp in his left thigh.
  • Tonight's attendance of 37,396 for fireworks night was the 12th sellout of the season.
  • Starling Marte, who was held out of today's game after a beaning last night, is tied with Yasiel Puig for most outs made on base with 12.

Morton v Anderson, Lineup (No Marte), Looking At Kennedy, Leftie Love...

Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.32) takes on LHP Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.95) tonight.

Charlie muddled through another bad inning last game, but settled and and the Bucs came around to win 6-5. He's especially tough at home, going 3-0 in his last three starts at PNC Park and 3-3 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts this year at home. He's done pretty well against the Rox, posting a 2-0 slate with a 3.33 ERA in four career starts. He's been charged with two or fewer earned runs in three of the four starts, but he hasn't seen them since 2012, so take that with a grain of salt.

Anderson, 26, has been on the 60-day DL with a broken left index finger since April 14th), an injury he suffered while at San Francisco. He's made two rehab starts for AAA Colorado Springs going 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA, but we wouldn't expect him to get real deep into the game. Anderson was beat up last start, but don't sleep on him; the 6'4" lefty was the Oakland A's 2013 Opening Day pitcher. He's never faced Pittsburgh.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Russ Martin C, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Morton P. Starling Marte is out; we're surprised he stayed in yesterday's game after taking a fastball off the helmet.

The 7:05 game will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Bucs were among the teams scouting the Padres Ian Kennedy.
  • Love us some lefties: Jordy Mercer’s .361 average against left-handed pitchers over the last two seasons ranks second among all National League hitters behind Atlanta’s Chris Johnson (.398). Starling Marte ranks fifth with a .353 average vs. southpaws in that time and Andrew McCutchen is seventh at .348.
  • Neil Walker leads all NL second basemen this season with 13 home runs. Pedro's 15 home runs are second-most among NL third basemen behind Cincy’s Todd Frazier (18).
  • The Pirates have sold out seven of their last 11 home games and have averaged 33,552 for the last 12 games played at PNC Park.

7/19: Arky Cycle, Hans Debuts, Rallies, Deacon Goes 18 IP, Eight In A Row, Raffy Streak, Hangin' On, B-Days & More...

Arky Cycle, Hans Debuts, Rallies, Deacon Goes 18 IP, Eight In A Row, Raffy Streak, Hangin' On, B-Days & More...
  • 1873 - OF/1B Harry “Jasper” Davis was born in Philadelphia. Jasper played early in his 22 year MLB stint for the Bucs, from 1896-98, and hit .278. He went on to a long career, mainly with his hometown Philadelphia A’s, and led the league in homers from 1904-07. 
  • 1887 - Honus Wagner made his NL debut with the Louisville Colonels, owned by Barney Dreyfuss. He got a hit and stole a base in a 12-2 win over the Brooklyn Grays. In 1900, Dreyfuss bought the Pittsburgh franchise and maneuvered most of his Louisville club onto the roster, including the Flying Dutchman. 
  • 1891 - LHP Earl Hamilton was born in Gibson, Illinois. The little southpaw spent six of his 14 big league seasons (1918-23) as a Pirate, putting up a line of 55-55/3.35. He won 115 games overall, tossing for four clubs. 
Earl Hamilton 1922 Nielson's Chocolate's series
  • 1904 - The Pirates rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth off Giants ace Christy Mathewson to take a 2-1 victory at the Polo Grounds. Shut out on five hits going into the final frame, Honus Wagner tripled to left, and an out later Jimmy Sebring banged out another three-bagger, rapping a shot off the first base bag that rolled into the corner. Pinch hitter Claude Ritchey followed with a RBI knock, and Mike Lynch made it stand up in the bottom half, tossing a complete game four hitter against NY. After the game, manager John “Mugsy” McGraw and Mathewson got into a jawing match with the crowd, a verbal (and profane) sparring session that lasted until they got back to their hotel. The Pittsburg Press had a couple of juicy lines regarding the affair: “McGraw is not liked here...Some day he will carry things too far, and some husky Pittsburger will thump him” and took this shot at Christy: "Matty... has to buy a cap a size larger after every victory…” 
  • 1939 - Arky Vaughan hit for his second career cycle against the Giants at the Polo Grounds, scoring four times and driving home a pair of runs. Fern Bell added three RBI in the 10-3 Pirate win. Mace Brown went the distance for the victory. 
  • 1950 - Frank E. McKinney resigned as president of the Pirates. He sold his interests in the club to partners John Galbreath and Tom Johnson‚ with Galbreath assuming the presidency. Vice President Bing Crosby retained his minority interest. McKinney and the group had bought the Bucs in 1946 from Barney Dreyfuss’ family. 
  • 1955 - Vern Law pitched 18 innings against the Milwaukee Braves in front of 10,000 Forbes Field fans. And he didn’t even get the win; Bob Friend worked the 19th frame of the 4-3 victory. Law left giving up two runs - one was unearned - on nine hits with two walks and 12 whiffs. Friend came in and gave up a run, but the Bucs came back with a pair of tallies on Gene Freese’s single, Dale Long’s double to plate the first run and the game winning knock by Frank Thomas. Law took the hill on just two days rest; he got the start when the scheduled hurler, Joe Gibbon, became ill. 
Vernon Law - Sports Illustrated October 1960
  • 1963 - RHP Vincente Palacios was born in Manlio Fabio Altamirano, Mexico. He tossed five years (1987-88, 1990-92) for the Bucs as a spot starter and long man. and was a member of the powerhouse 1990-92 teams of Jimmy Leyland. Palacios went 12-8-6/4.03 during his time in Pittsburgh. His career was hampered by a pair of shoulder surgeries, and after his Pirate career he yo-yo’ed between MLB and primarily the Mexican League. 
  • 1977 - The NL outslugged the AL 7-5 at Yankee Stadium during the All Star game. Dave Parker went 1-for-3, while Bucco closer Goose Gossage made it interesting by giving up a two run homer in the ninth. John Candelaria was also on the squad, but didn’t see any action. 
  • 1983 - The Pirates won their eighth in a row in workmanlike fashion over the Dodgers 4-1 at TRS. Brian Harper went 2-for-3 with a homer to lead the attack while John Candelaria notched the win with relief help from Rod Scurry. The streak would end the next day when the Dodgers edged the Bucs in 11 innings 3-2. 
  • 1988 - Rafael Belliard enjoyed the last day of an eight game hitting streak that started on July 8th. In true Raffy style, his first eight hits were infield singles. He went 13-for-31 during that span, with two ground ball knocks, a bloop, a liner, and his only extra base hit, a triple following his eight leg hits. It didn’t help a whole lot; he still hit just .213 during the season. The Bucs split a doubleheader with San Diego, and Raffy’s string ended in the second game. 
Rafael Belliard 1988 Score series
  • 2001 - The Pirates overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the sixth and seventh innings to end a five game losing streak by defeating the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at PNC Park. The key blow was a two out, two run single by Aramis Ramirez off a 1-2 pitch from Julian Taveras. It came with the bases loaded in the sixth following an intentional walk to John Vander Wal. 
  • 2002 - Adam Hyzdu went 3-for-5 with a homer, four RBI and three runs to lead the Bucs to a 12-9 slugfest win over St. Louis at PNC Park. After the Cards tied the game with five runs in the seventh, Rob Mackowiak put Pittsburgh back in control by countering with a two run pinch hit homer in the Pirate half. 
  • 2011 - The Bucs shut out the Reds for the second straight game, beating Mike Leake 1-0 at PNC Park and holding on to sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the last time. James McDonald, with help from Joe Beimel, Chris Resop and Joel Hanrahan, got the win when a weak roller to short by Cutch in the first inning cashed in Josh Harrison, on third after a Neil Walker double.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bucs Overcome Sloppy Play To Pull Out 4-2 Win

Corey Dickerson opened up the game with a soft roller up the left side that he legged out for a hit, and that was followed by a walk to Drew Stubbs, not exactly the start Frankie Liriano wanted. A free-swing Carlos Gonzalez whiffed, but Tulo drew a five pitch walk to juice the sacks. Things looked bleak when Nolan Arenado went up 3-0, but a called strike followed by a grounder to Pedro to start a 5-4-3 DP averted a potentially disastrous start. Jorge De La Rosa retired the first two Bucs handily before losing Cutch, but Russ flew out on the next pitch to cap the frame.

With an out in the second, Frankie tried to come in on Charlie Culberson's hands on an 0-2 pitch, but it was fought off for a bloop single. DJ LaMahieu popped a 3-2 change into short left and the flare fell out of Mercer's mitt for an error. To compound things, De La Rosa dropped one down, and he reached on a bunt single that Pedro didn't handle very well (he fielded it, took a step back, doubled clutched and lost the grip). Dickerson hit into a force - Jordy flubbed a DP ball - plating a run. Dickerson stole second, but Liriano got Stubbs swinging on a foul tip. The last thing a laboring pitcher needs is his D to be asleep at the wheel, too.

After one was gone, Gaby banged a 2-0 fastball the other way off the Clemente Wall for a double, but was stranded.

Frankie worked a clean third, whiffing CarGo and Tulo, but he's at 67 pitches. Liriano opened with a single off De La Rosa, and an out later Marte walked. Cutch and Russ left them there, with Martin thwarted on a nice barehand play by Arenado at third. The fourth was another 1-2-3 inning for Francisco who has been tossing pretty well after a rugged opening frame, though he was aided by a solid running grab by Gregory of a ball hit deep to right by LaMahieu. De La Rosa cruised too, getting three balls hit into the dirt.

Dickerson walked with an out in the fifth, and after a Stubbs whiff stole second. The Bucs challenged the bang-bang play and lost;. It was no biggie, as CarGo went down, Frankie's third K of the frame. With two gone, El Coffee rolled a soft single past the hill. Marte made it count by banging a ball into the left field corner; it hopped past Dickerson to get Polanco home, but Marte was nailed at the plate, running through Nick Leyva's stop sign. Maybe he forgot who hits behind him...ah, Cutch woulda walked, anyway.

Jared Hughes came on in the sixth; funny that Hurdle let Frankie bat and then yanked him. Still, a very nice start after a dicey first, with eight K. With two out, Wil Rosario reached on, yep, a throwing error by Pedro, ironically after a very nice pick. Culberson singled on a grounder to right, and LaMahieu inside-outed a sinker into right to give the Rox the lead 2-1. Polanco made the play close at home, with a throw that was just a little too far up the 3B line, allowing Rosario to slip the tag. The Kid walked with two down - one of the outs was a fine catch by Stubbs on a ball that Cutch launched to the track in straight center - but Gaby flew out to end the frame on De La Rosa's 100th pitch.

Justin Wilson grabbed the ball in the seventh. With an out, Stubbs hit a bleeder; Wilson fielded it and whipped it past first, allowing Stubbs to steam into second. After punching out Gonzalez, Tulowitzki was walked intentionally and Arenado popped out. Wilson had the good heater tonight, and used it for every one of his 22 pitches.

Rex Brothers climbed the hill for Colorado. With one gone, Jordy turned on a tight heater and singled into left. He moved to second on a wild pitch. Josh grabbed a stick, and bounced one to third; Arenado's throw to first was high, leaving Bucs at first and second. El Coffee lined a single to left to load the sacks; Leyva held up Jordy, probably wisely. That put a fork into lefty Brothers and Adam Ottavino was waved in. Marte fell behind 0-2, then got plunked for an RBI beaning.

And it was a beaning; Starling was hit in the head and went down as his helmet and bat went flying. He recovered his senses, though, and jogged down to first after a scary moment. Cutch was swinging for the fences and went down on a slider in the dirt; there's something about hitting a timely fly ball that seems to disagree even with the most accomplished of Bucco batters. Russ flew out, and the Pirates left the lead run stranded at third.

Josh stayed in and went to third, so Marte must be OK as he's still in left. Tony Watson took the bump in the eighth. Rosario dropped a fly into right for a leadoff single. Culberson fouled off a pair of bunt tries and eventually K'ed. Two routine outs later and the Bucs were back at the bat rack.

Matt Belisle took over, and The Kid greeted him with a single to center and went to third on Gaby's knock. Travis Snider hit for Watson. He fell behind 0-2, worked the count even and then doubled to right on a slider, scoring Walker after CarGo's dive for the ball fell short. Mercer whiffed on a curve, and with an out, Michael Martinez came in to run for Gaby at third. Tom Kahnle took the ball to face Josh; the wheels are all spinning. Bless his heart; Harrison lifted a sac fly to bring home an insurance run. Polanco legged out a single to short to put Bucs on the corners - or did he? The Rox challenged, and it looks like they have a case. They won, and it's time for Mark the Shark to face the top of the order, with Snider to left and Ike to first.

Dickerson led off with a soft drop shot to right, but the next three outs were routine. The Bucs were sloppy, but there were two bright spots: they managed to win and Frankie looked like his old self after a sluggish start.

Brett Anderson faces Charlie Morton tomorrow night.
  • Travis Snider is now tied for the most PHs in the majors with 11.
  • Carlos Gonzalez had a perfect day at the plate; he was up five times and K'ed five times facing three different pitchers.
  • Tonight's attendance of 37,833 was the 11th PNC Park sellout of the season.
  • Gerrit Cole threw 30 fastballs/change ups from a mound yesterday and felt good today as the Pirates consider the next step in his rehab.
  • David Manel of Bucs Bullpen has the scoop on what they're working on with Ernie Frieri, and it's a load - arm slot, consistent arm speed, and change up grip.
  • From last year to this, the Pirates are third in attendance increase at 9.82%.
  • The Astros bungled the draft up pretty well, failing to sign the first pick and two other over-slot guys because of losing the pool money as accusations fly. Ah, the problems that Josh Bell and that $5M second round bonus caused...
  • The Braves released 2B Dan Uggla, eating $20M worth of his remaining 2014-15 contract years. He was hitting .162 so far this season after batting .179 last year.

Liriano v De La Rosa, Lineup, Bucs v Lefties, Rotation, MiLB News...

Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.72) takes the bump against Jorge De La Rosa (10-6, 4.56) in a battle of lefties.

Frankie was way rusty in his return from the DL just before the All-Star break. The home run doesn't bother us; that happens at GABP. But the six walks do. Let's hope he was just antsy and overthrowing. If the Pirates are going to keep on pushin' in the second half, they need a return to 2013 form from their ace, and he's a guy who needs to get ahead in the count to be effective. His record against the Rox testifies to that: Liriano is 1-2 lifetime with a 7.16 ERA, due greatly to 10 walks issued in 16-1/3 IP.

De La Rosa is an oddball regarding his splits: he has a 3.73 ERA at Coors and a 5.87 ERA on the road. He's added a cutter to his toolkit, and is getting a pretty solid 50% ground ball rate, but still averages just 5-1/3 frames per start. He's been respectable against Pittsburgh, going 4-3 with a 4.01 ERA in 13 games, nine of them starts.

Frankie was Lekyl and Hyde against De La Rosa last year. He allowed a career-high 10 runs on 12 hits in 2-1/3 innings and lost a 10-1 decision against him on 8/9 at Coors Field, but before that on 8/3 he scattered two hits over seven scoreless innings while winning a 5-2 decision at PNC Park. Home looms large; the Bucs are e 12-2-1 in 15 series against the Rockies all-time at PNC Park.

The Rox have won De La Rosa's last four starts and were riding a three game winning streak under dropping the last pair going into the break after a couple of horrible months. The Bucs need to continue beating up on the non-contenders and get Francisco going again, and no better time to start than tonight.

The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Russ Martin C, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy SS and Liriano P. Let's see now...Greg Polanco (in miniscule sample size) .133 BA/.445 OPS v LHP; Pedro (career) .200 BA/.600 OPS v LHP, Josh (career) .256 BA/.689 OPS v LHP. Guess which one is sitting.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Beginning tonight the Pirates are scheduled to face four straight left-handed starters. The last time Pittsburgh faced four consecutive starting southpaws was in 2010. The Bucs have faced the fewest left-handed starters in the Majors since the beginning of last season at 43 outings (31 in 2013, 12 so far this year).
  • The rotation behind Frankie will be Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Edinson Volquez and Vance Worley.
  • Pittsburgh is scheduled to play 15 straight games and 18 of the next 21 against teams from the NL West. That should be a good thing as the Bucs are 9-4 against the West this year.
  • Indy finally has it's outfield intact. Even though Chris Dickerson was traded, Andrew Lambo is back after rehabbing his thumb, JT returns after suffering a bruised arm and Jaff Decker was dropped to the Tribe to make room on the active roster for Starling Marte.
  • RHP Tyler Glasnow (#1) and SS Alen Hanson (#4) are in this week's Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

7/18: Big Three, Ralph Kiner, Spahn Chased After a Record, 11 In a Row, Charlie Morton, On Top & More...

Big Three, Ralph Kiner, Spahn Chased After a Record, 11 In a Row, Charlie Morton, On Top & More...
  • 1905 - The Pirates collected eight hits, including a home run by George Gibson against Christy Mathewson, and won 2-1 over NY at the Polo Grounds. The game was briefly stopped by umpire Jim Johnstone after a Giants fan tossed a pop bottle at Pirate RF Otis Clymer while he was chasing down a single. Clymer had already made one great play in the pasture and apparently the home crowd didn’t want to see another. Charlie Case tossed a five hitter for the win. 
  • 1916 - OF Johnny Hopp was born in Hastings, Nebraska. He played three years in Pittsburgh (1948-50) with a .291/24/244 line as a Bucco during his 14 year big league career. 
  • 1930 - George Grantham and Adam Comorosky each homered and along with Pie Traynor combined to go 9-for-14 with nine RBI and seven runs scored as the Pirates defeated Boston 12-4 at Braves Field. Glenn Spencer went the distance for the win. 
  • 1948 - It was a lousy day for the Pirates as they dropped a twinbill to the Boston Braves by 10-2 and 3-1 scores at Forbes Field. But it was a record setting afternoon for Ralph Kiner, who hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth off Vern Bickford in the nitecap for his 100th career homer in 385 games, a pace that wasn’t surpassed until Ryan Howard did it in 325 games in 2007. 
Ralph Kiner 1993 Topps Archive series
  • 1951 - Ralph Kiner drove in seven runs and hit three HRs‚ including his 10th grand slam‚ in a 13-12 slugfest win over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. His final bomb‚ a solo shot off Erv Palica in the eighth‚ broke a 12-12 tie. In Kiner's final at bat in the ninth‚ Carl Furillo hauled in the sluggers long drive near the CF gate. Kiner set the franchise record with four games with three homers, later to be tied by Willie Stargell. Joe Garagiola and Gus Bell also went long for the Bucs. 
  • 1957 - Ernie Banks and future Bucco skipper Chuck Tanner of the Cubs both hit inside-the-park homers at Forbes Field. Chicago still lost 6-5 when the Pirates scored four runs off three Chicago pitchers in the ninth. Dick Groat’s two run triple tied the game and he crossed the plate with the game winner following Bill Mazeroski’s single, giving Luis Arroyo the victory. 
  • 1964 - The Milwaukee Braves got blown out at County Stadium, losing 8-2 to the Pirates, paced by Bob Bailey and Roberto Clemente’s three hits to back Bob Veale’s seven hitter. The Bucs also helped Brave legend Warren Spahn reach a milestone. Seven of Pittsburgh's 15 hits came against the southpaw, who lasted just 3-2/3 frames, but he managed to complete his 5,000th MLB inning, putting him in an elite group; he still ranks eighth all-time in IP (sixth since post-1900) and joined a club with just a dozen other 5K workhorse members. The Hall-of-Famer usually fared better against the Buccos; he beat them 49 times over his two-decade career. 
Bob Bailey 1965 Topps series
  • 1967 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was fired as manager when the Bucs started out 42-42, despite winning 182 games and finishing third in back-to-back seasons. Old standby Danny Murtaugh returned to the bench in his stead. 
  • 1971 - The Bucs won their eleventh straight game when they swept a DH from the Dodgers, 3-2 and 7-1 at TRS. The Pirates took the opener when Gene Alley opened the ninth with a triple and plated on Gene Clines tapper. Richie Hebner and Milt May homered in the nitecap. Luke Walker had a no hitter going into the ninth during the second game, losing the no-no on a homer to Joe Ferguson. 
  • 2000 - The Bucs snapped a six game losing streak with an 8-6 win over LA at Dodger Stadium. The Pirates scored five times in the first two innings, but the Dodgers came back with a six spot in the third. The Bucs prevailed thanks to three RBI days from Jason Kendall and Wil Cordero, both whom also homered. Five Pirate relievers combined to toss seven innings of scoreless three hit ball to cement the win, which went to Jose Manzanillo. 
  • 2009 - Charlie Morton went seven innings of three hit ball to stop the Giants 2-0 at PNC Park. Matt Capps made it exciting, putting runners on second and third with an out in the ninth, but came back to get a K and grounder to preserve the win. Ryan Doumit scored once and had an RBI to provide some spark to the attack. 
Charlie Morton 2014 Topps Heritage series
  • 2011 - The Pirates took a 2-0 decision at PNC Park against Cincinnati as Charlie Morton tossed a three hitter against the Reds. The Bucs played small ball in the fourth for the win. Chase d’Arnaud and Neil Walker led off with singles against Dontrelle Willis, with Walker taking second behind the play when the throw was aimed at d’Arnaud going to third. Andrew McCutchen’s tapper drove in one run and Matt Diaz’s sac fly another, and that was the day’s offensive output.
  • 2012 - The Pirates spent their last day tied for the top of the NL Central after taking a 9-6 decision from the Rockies at Coors Field. Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Casey McGehee and Rod Barajas homered for the Bucs.