Sunday, August 31, 2014

Heisey Homers Power Reds Over Bucs 3-2

It was a promising start; Frankie Liriano struck out the side in the first while Josh Harrison took Johnny Cueto's first pitch, a slider, over the fence. Liriano kept dealing in the second, and Jordy cracked a hung slider into the seats to make it 2-0; unfortunately for the Bucs, Starling Marte was picked off first before Jordy connected.

The Reds got a walk in the third while the Pirates action was a double by Andrew Lambo; neither led to any damage. Cincy managed a two-out knock in the fourth; the bucs blew a chance. Ike singled, but was quickly erased on a Marte DP that took a challenge to confirm; Jordy followed with a single. Chris Stewart's pop up closed the book.

Frankie walked the first batter, Ryan Ludwick, in the fifth on four pitches, then Chris Heisey crushed a first pitch change up into the seats to tie the game. A single, walk and wild pitch put Reds at second and third with two gone, but a Brandon Phillips comebacker ended the frame without further bloodshed. The Pirates went down quietly. In the sixth, both teams exchanged singles.

Billy Hamilton singled with two gone in the seventh and stole second, and a fly to Cutch kept him there. Pittsburgh went down in order.

Jared Hughes came on in the eighth and tossed a 1-2-3 frame. The Bucs got Josh and Cutch, both of whom singled, to second and third with two down, but Kris Negron's diving, back-to-the-ball grab of Ike's foul pop left them stranded. With an out in the ninth and Hughes on the hill, Heisey golfed a sinker that was down and in off the plate just inside the left field foul pole to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. Jared got another out, then gave up a single. That brought Justin Wilson in to finish up the inning.

Aroldis Chapman diced up the Bucs in the ninth, hitting 101 with the heater and the high eighties with the slider, and the Reds salvaged a game of the series.

if this home stand is any indicator, hang on to your defibrillator. Looks like a lot of down to the wire, grind 'em out games are in store for the stretch run. we just hope the bullpen holds up; Clint has shortened it noticeably now that it's crunch time.

Gerrit Cole takes on Lance Lynn as the Pirates travel to St. Louis to open a big 10 game road trip.
  • The Pirates are two games behind the Brewers and Cards for first in the NL Central, and three behind the Giants for the top wild card.
  • For the fifth time this year, the Pirates failed to extend a winning streak to five games. 
  • Despite the weather, 37,591 fans showed up for the 18th sellout of the season.
  • In 38 plate appearances against the Bucs, Chris Heisey has three HR's. In his other 216 PA's against the rest of the league, he has four long balls.

Liriano v Cueto, Lineup, 4-In-A-Row, Pitch To Win, On The Road...

Francisco Liriano (3-10, 3.98) takes the bump opposite Johnny Cueto (15-8, 2.26) this afternoon, weather permitting. This is the last scheduled date at PNC Park for the Reds, so while the doppler doesn't look promising, they'll try hard to get the game in today.

Frankie tossed six scoreless innings in his last start on Monday, but received a no-decision. He's the Bucs poster child for non-support, going 2-4 but with a 3.12 ERA in nine starts since returning from the disabled list. One thing to watch for is his home splits: Liriano has posted a 1-5 record and a 4.78 ERA at PNC Park this season after owning the yard in 2013 when he went 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA.

The Reds have been his Achilles' heel. Francisco has gone 0-5 with a 4.25 ERA in seven career regular season starts against them (he did have that four-hit win in the wild card), and 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts this season.

Johnny Beisbol is human; he's lost his last two decisions after reeling off seven wins in a row. So maybe he won't oust Clayton Kershaw from his Cy Young throne, but he's sure on the short list of guys talented enough to do it.

Cueto feasts on the Buccos. He's 3-0 in four starts this year against Pittsburgh, giving up 18 hits in 30 IP and just six runs (1.80 ERA), though the last couple of outings the Pirates at least nicked him some. That's even better than his 16-4, 2.16 ERA line against them in 25 career starts.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Andrew Lambo RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Ike Davis 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Chirs Stewart C and Liriano P. Hey, who said Russ was allowed to take a day off? He's been an ironman behind the dish; this is his first game off after donning the tools of ignorance for eight straight contests.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Going For Five: The Bucs have again tied their season-high with a four game winning streak. It's the fifth time this year they've strung that many wins together.
  • Coin of the Realm: In the last nine games, Pittsburgh starting pitchers have posted a 2.31 ERA while tossing at least six innings eight times.
  • On the Road: Starting tomorrow afternoon, the Pirates are scheduled to begin an 11-day, 10-game road trip with the first of three games in St. Louis, then three with the Cubs and four with Philadelphia.
  • Minor League Draw: With a sell-out crowd of 15,250 on hand to witness a 4-2 win at Indianapolis' Victory Field, the largest single game crowd in five years, the Tribe broke its all-time attendance record with 660,289 fans spinning the turnstiles in 2014.

8/31: Red, Ray, Ramon, Bye-Bye Baron, Johnny Ray, Mad Dog Deal, A-Ram, Shawon Dunston & More...

Red, Ray, Ramon, Bye-Bye Baron, Johnny Ray, Mad Dog Deal, A-Ram, Shawon Dunston & More...
  • 1868 - RHP Phillip “Red” Ehret was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He played for Pittsburgh from 1892-94 and put up a 53-59/3.79 line in 109 starts and 15 relief appearances. Red also played some outfield and got 438 PA in that span (mostly as a pitcher), though he hit just .201. 
  • 1907 - C Ray Berres was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a Bucco back-up from 1937-40, a good glove guy that hit .225. After his playing days, he was the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1949 through 1966, then mid-season of 1968 through 1969, primarily under manager Al Lopez. He and Lopez had an interesting history together. Berres served as Lopez’s back-up coming up, and then was later traded to the Pirates for him. 
  • 1940 - LHP Ramon Hernandez was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The reliever tossed six years (1971-76) in Pittsburgh after being signed by Howie Haak, going 23-12-39/2.51, and was a bullpen member of the Bucco division champs of 1972, 1974 and 1975 (he was a September call-up for the 1971 team). In a nine-season career, Hernandez’s line was 23–15-46/ 3.03. 
Ramon Hernandez 1974 Topps series
  • 1953 - The Pirates sold RHP Johnny Lindell to the Phillies. His knuckler fluttered wildly that year, leading the league in walks and wild pitches. He was listed as a pitcher with the Pirates, but was often used as a pinch-hitter and hit .286, once tying a game with a three-run ninth-inning homer. The Phillies released him in May 1954 after his hybrid pitcher-outfielder role proved to be a not very strong pairing. Lindell was an odd story; he entered the league in 1941 as a pitcher, then was converted to outfield, where he played from 1943-50, earning an All-Star berth once with the Yankees, and then tried to come back again as a pitcher after a couple of years in the minors. 
  • 1968 - Steve Blass got the first out against the Atlanta Braves‚ and then moved to LF. ElRoy Face, 40, was in the process of being sold to the Tigers, and the club sent him in for one last appearance (legend has it he was asked whether he wanted to start or relieve, and opted to make his last outing from the pen). He retired Felix Millan on one pitch to tie Walter Johnson's MLB record of 802 pitching appearances with one club. Then manager Larry Shepherd came out for him, Blass returned to pitch and the Pirates won 8-0 at Forbes Field. 

Elroy Face 1958 Topps series
  • 1981 - The Pirates acquired 2B Johnny Ray and two PTBNLs (pitchers Randy Niemann and Kevin Houston) from the Houston Astros in exchange for IF Phil Garner. Ray spent seven years in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, and was Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1982 to Steve Sax. 
  • 1985 - The Pirates traded former batting champion Bill Madlock to the Dodgers for prospects RJ Reynolds‚ Cecil Espy‚ and Sid Bream in a pretty solid deal for the Buccos. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game, defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-3 at TRS. Andy Van Slyke went 3-for-3 with a homer and walk, scored three times and drove home a pair as Mike Dunne went the distance, tossing a six hitter. 
  • 1991 - The Pirates rode six innings of perfect relief by Roger Mason, Bill Landrum and game winner Bob Kipper to a 3-2, 12 inning victory over San Diego at Jack Murphy Stadium. The Buc tallies came in the second on Barry Bonds’ two-run shot and a leadoff homer to left by Don Slaught off Jose Melendez in the 12th. 
  • 1994: In one of their better international deals, the Pirates signed 16 year old Aramis Ramirez as an amateur free agent. 
A-Ram 2001 Fleer series
  • 1997 - The Bucs became buyers instead of sellers when they obtained SS Shawon Dunston from the Cubs to bolster the chances of the “Freak Show” team sneaking into the playoffs after Kevin Polcovich injured his ankle. Dunston hit .394 with five homers, but after an 18 game Bucco career was lost to the Indians in free agency after the season. 
  • 1999 - The Bucs rallied in dramatic style to top the Rox at Coors Field in ten innings by a 9-8 score. Kevin Young gave the Bucs an 8-4 lead with a two out, first pitch grand slam down the LF line in the ninth. In the bottom half, six straight runners reached off Mike Williams to make it 8-8, but Angel Echevarria was thrown out at home by Brian Giles to keep the game knotted. The Bucs came up with four hits and a walk in the tenth, but could only tally a run to take a shaky lead. With two away for Colorado, Dante Bichette singled off Jose Silva and was waved around on Vin Castilla’s double to left center, but was cut down by Al Martin to Mike Benjamin to Keith Osik (7-6-2) to preserve the win.
  • 2011 - Pittsburgh shipped OF Matt Diaz to the Braves for a PTBNL, who ended up being P Eliecer Cardenas, who was quickly released. Diaz hit .259 in his brief spell as a Buc and spent two more bench years before hanging up his spikes after the 2013 season.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vanimal, Pen Make The Kid's Bomb Hold Up In 3-2 Win

With one away, Vance Worley walked Todd Frazier, but an around the horn DP ball smacked by Brandon Phillips ended the frame, and *whew* Vanimal has escaped the first. Andrew Lambo singled the opposite way off Alfredo Simon with one gone and Cutch walked. The Kid got a fastball middle-out, and popped it over the right center fence to give the Bucs a quick 3-0 edge. Russ followed with a double to center before Simon doused the flames.

The Reds went down in order in the second. Josh banged a two-out single, but was erased trying to swipe second on a bang-bang call. Cincy went three up, three down in the third, and Worley has navigated the first trip through the lineup successfully. Simon settled down with his first quiet frame.

Vanimal's control, spotty so far today, cost him when with one out in the fourth Frazier creamed a knee-high 3-1 fastball over the deepest part of The Notch over the 410' mark. Simon picked up a couple of K in a 1-2-3 frame. Both guys have four whiffs after four innings.

Brayan Pena walked to open the fifth, but Vanimal worked out of it without breaking a sweat. The Bucs added two more whiffs to Simon's total as they sat down without a peep. With one down in the sixth, Hamilton dropped a bunt single when Josh, who was on the grass, couldn't pick the ball with his bare hand. No sweat; an out later he was caught trying to swipe second by Russ. The Pirates didn't get a ball out of the infield; Simon has retired 16-of-17 batters since going soft, especially with the splitter, after his rough first frame.

With an out in the seventh, Devin Mesoraco was plunked on the ninth pitch of his at-bat and Pena rolled a single through the left side. That brought in Justin Wilson, and he K'ed Jay Bruce, who is having a terrible year trying to play through a knee injury. Zack Cozart popped one into short right that dropped between Walker, Lambo and Ike; Ike was hit with the error (it looked like Walker's ball, but either should have been able to make the grab; Lambo was a little late to the party) that allowed a run to score and sent Pena to third. Wilson whiffed Schumaker, but the Bucs put Cincy back in hunt at 3-2.

Russ worked a 10 pitch walk off Simon to open the Bucco half. Ike got a 2-0 fastball he liked; he flew out to center, but deep enough to move Russ up a station. Starling bounced out to third, freezing Martin. Jordy put wood on the ball, but his liner to third was gloved by Frazier. Interesting; after going soft most of the game, Simon went back to the fastball this inning.

Tony Watson climbed the hill in the eighth and used 11 pitches to get three outs. Fireballer Jumbo Diaz came in for the Reds and faced JT, who flew out to right. Josh walked, but was cut down on a 4-6-3 DP of Lambo's bat. It's Mark the Shark time, with the middle of the Reds order due up in the ninth. Melancon got one of everything - a fly (and it was a deep one by Mesoraco), a grounder and a K - as the Bucs iced a third straight series win and keep chipping away at the front runners.

Well, it would be nice to add on after a big opening frame, but whatever works, right? Tough to get two better starts than Eddie and Vanimal put up against the Reds, and it doesn't seem like there's gonna be any run explosion tomorrow either with Frankie and Johhny Cueto closing out the series. The Pirates have got into a knack recently of blasting three-run homers; somehow, they've been channeling the inner Earl Weaver ("pitching, defense, and the three-run homer") and it's been working.
  • Neil Walker leads all NL second basemen with 18 homers and is one HR away from the club record for second basemen in a single season, held by Bill Mazeroski.
  • Today's crowd of 38,023 was the 17th sellout of the season; Pitt should have drawn so well.
  • There's a lot of reports out on Charlie Morton, and none sound promising. He's more than a long shot to help the team this year, and it looks like the biggest decision will be whether he should rest his hernia during the off season or go under the knife.
  • The Bucs did make it official - Brent Morel is up and Jeff Locke, who isn't due to pitch until Tuesday, was optioned (on paper) to Indy. That move and Cole's yesterday suggest that it'll be at least a couple of more days before Travis Snider and Pedro are due back, if not longer.

Worley v Simon, Lineup (Lambo In), Morel Back, Josh, JT, Bench Bats, Streaks, Oh So Close...

Vance Worley (5-4, 3.14) faces Alfredo Simon (13-8, 3.26) in today's sun-deck special.

Vance has lost his last three decisions, and needs to come out of the chute ready to go, having surrendered 10 first & second inning runs in his last two starts (eight in the first frame alone).

He hasn't done very well against the Reds, going 1-1 with a 5.21 ERA in four career games (three starts) against them. But Vanimal hasn't started against them since 2012, so that's not a lot of help. Cincy did jump him for two runs in two frames as a reliever this year, but given his recent spate of rough opening innings, that's not surprising.

After a brilliant first half, the Reds have lost all six of the games Simon has started post All-Star. His record is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and .317 BAA. Hopefully, the Bucs can chase him back into the bullpen where he has spent most of his career. Spoiler alert: he was sharp in his last outing against the Braves, so maybe a second wind is blowing behind him now.

He's beaten the Pirates twice this year without being overly impressive; in 13 IP, he's given up five runs (3.46 ERA) on nine hits and eight walks.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Andrew Lambo RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P. No word on Pedro or Travis' injuries; probably one (or both) should be DL bound, though the expanding rosters make that unneccesary.

The game starts at 4:05 and will be on Fox Sports 1, Root Sports and KDKA 1020 AM.
  • More Moves: Rob Biertempfel of the Trib reports that Brent Morel is in the house today, and that Jeff Locke, like Gerritt Cole yesterday, will be optioned in a paper move as the rosters expand Sunday; tho  that's not been confirmed by the team yet..
  • Bang for the Buc: Josh Harrison has drilled 25 extra base hits since the All-Star break. To compare, last year Pedro and Cutch led the team with 27 extra base hits following the break.
  • Quietly clutch: Jose Tabata is hitting .353 with runners on base and .406 with RISP this season.
  • Fitting right in: Andrew Lambo singled as a pinch hitter and scored the game-tying run while making his 2014 Pirate debut last night. Pittsburgh’s pinch hitters lead all MLB teams in hits (51), RBI (38) and runs scored (23) this season.
  • Streakin': The Pirates have won 6-of-8; the Reds 4-of-6. For the Pirates, their winning ways have coincided with the starters posting a 2.42 ERA during those last eight contests.
  • Heartbreak City: The Redlegs have suffered a MLB-leading 32 one-run defeats this season.

8/30: Kiki, Robby Cycle, Pie, Waners, Long Ball, Arky, Elroy, Arlin Returns, Deals, Steady Freddy, Cutch, Frankie & GI, More...

Kiki, Robby Cycle, Pie, Waners, Long Ball, Arky, Elroy, Arlin Returns, Deals, Steady Freddy, Cutch, Frankie & GI, More...
  • 1898 - OF Hazen Shirley “Kiki” Cuyler was born in Harrisville, Michigan. The Hall-of-Famer spent his first seven seasons (1921-27) as a Pirate, hitting .336 with a .399 OBP. The end of his Pittsburgh era was rocky. In 1927, Cuyler was benched for nearly half the season because of a dispute with rookie manager Donie Bush. The Pirates went to the World Series, but Cuyler was on the pine, and that November, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He played 11 more seasons and ended his career with a .321 BA. 
  • 1921 - Dave Robertson connected for the cycle to lead the Bucs to an 8-2 win over the Brooklyn Robins at Ebbet’s Field. He scored twice and drove in three runs. George Cutshaw and Clyde Barnhart had three hits each as Whitey Glazner cruised to victory. 
  • 1929 - Pie Traynor went 5-for-5 to lead a 21-hit attack to take an easy 15-0 win from Chicago at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine tossed a three hitter as Pittsburgh dominated. It was the Pirates' fourth win over the Cubs in three days, with the Windy City snapping their losing streak with a 7-6 win the following day. 
Pie Traynor 1970 Rold Gold Pretzels series
  • 1930 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from Cincinnati 5-0 and 3-2 to win their 12th game in 14 outings. The Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd, scored all five runs in the opener, with George Grantham driving them in three times. Spades Wood tossed a six hitter for the win. Grantham was big in the second game with three hits, two runs and an RBI as Larry French outlasted the Reds’ Larry Benton. 
  • 1951 - The Pirates rallied from an 8-1 deficit to take a 10-9 victory from the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Frank Thomas hit his first MLB homer and Ralph Kiner won it with a long ball in the ninth. Gus Bell and Pete Castiglione also homered for the Bucs. Pittsburgh climbed back to take the lead in the eighth only to have the Giants tie it, but the G-Men were trumped by Kiner in the end. Murry Dickson blew the save but ultimately got the win, one of 20 he earned during the campaign. 
  • 1952 - Arky Vaughan, 40, and friend Bill Wimer drowned in California’s Lost Lake. While the two were fishing, their rowboat overturned. Wimer couldn’t swim, and both men went under when Vaughan tried to save his bud. Vaughan retired with 1,173 runs scored, 926 RBI, 118 steals, a .318 BA and a .406 OBP. His .385 batting average, .491 OBP, and 1.098 OPS in 1935 are Pirate team records, and the batting average is a 20th century record for NL shortstops. Arky was a Hall-of-Famer, included in the Ritter/Honig book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time and cited by Bill James as the second greatest SS in history, behind only Honus Wagner. 
Arky Vaughan 1989 Pacific Legends series
  • 1953 - Led by Jim Pendleton's 3 HR‚ the Milwaukee Braves tied the Yankees' 1939 MLB record for the most homers in a game with eight in their 19-4 pasting of Pittsburgh in the first game of a doubleheader. Eddie Mathews (2)‚ Del Crandall‚ Jack Dittmer‚ and Johnny Logan also went yard. The Pirates were also walloped in the nitecap by an 11-5 tally, giving up four more homers, making for 9,458 disappointed fans at Forbes Field and one very deflated pitching staff. 
  • 1959 - ElRoy Face notched his 17th straight victory of the year, earning a 10 inning win against Philadelphia 7-6 at Forbes Field after Dick Stuart’s two run double in overtime. The Bucs rallied from a five-run ninth inning deficit on the strength of Danny Kravitz and Stuart homers to sweep the doubleheader. They took the opener 2-1 behind Harvey Haddix’s arm and Bob Skinner’s two-out, ninth inning knock that scored Dick Hoak. Face had also won the last five decisions of 1958, giving him a 22 game winning streak. He finished the year 18-1, and his 18 relief wins remains the major league record. The Baron went a month (6/11-7/12) without giving up a run. 
  • 1960 - The Pirates defeated Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 5-2 at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Bob Friend, with late help from ElRoy Face, picked up the win supported by homers from Dock Groat and Roberto Clemente, who was the only right handed hitter beside Frank Howard to hit one out of the Coliseum the opposite way during the 1960 season. 
  • 1972 - Bob Prince turned the mike over to ex-KDKA announcer Harold Arlin, the first man to ever broadcast a live baseball game. The Gunner allowed him to call a few innings in Pittsburgh while Harold’s grandson‚ Steve Arlin‚ was on the mound for San Diego. Pap didn’t have much to brag about as the Bucs won 11-0, with Manny Sanguillen and Dave Cash combining to drive in seven runs on five hits. 
The Gunner & Harold Arlin - photo from National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
  • 1990 - The Pirates picked up vet OF/1B Carmelo Martinez from the Phillies for OF’s Tony Longmire, Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero. Martinez lasted less than a season with the Bucs, while the young outfield prospects ended up with bench roles during their brief careers, with Chamberlain the only solid producer of the three. 
  •  1991 - The Rangers traded 3B Steve Buechele to the Pirates for young pitchers Kurt Miller and Hector Fajardo. Buechele, a FA, signed with the Pirates after the season, but was moved at the next deadline for Danny Jackson. 
  • 2005 - The Milwaukee Brewers fell 6-0 to the Bucs behind Paul Maholm’s four hitter at Miller Park. It was an oasis in an otherwise arid stretch of games that saw Pittsburgh lose 11-of-12 contests. The Bucs put up a five spot in the first inning, keyed by Jack Wilson’s three run, bases loaded double. The Bucs had the bases empty with two outs, but Doug Davis walked four of next the five batters, all on 3-2 pitches, before Wilson cashed in. 
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh scored three times in the 11th inning to come back against the Cubs 10-9 at PNC Park. Chicago scored twice off Marty McLeary (who got the win), but the Bucs scored on Jose Castillo’s single to cut the lead to one. Ryan Dempster walked Jose Bautista on four pitches to load the bases for Freddie Sanchez, who lined a two run, two out single to right for the win, giving him four RBI on the night. Castillo had four knocks while Jason Bay and Xavier Nady had three hits apiece. 
Jose Castillo 2005 Topps series
  • 2011 - Andrew McCutchen hit a ninth inning homer against the Houston Astros in an 8-2 loss at Minute Maid Park, becoming the eighth Pirate to ring up 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in one season, and the first since Nate McLouth in 2008. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cards 5-0 at PNC Park behind Francisco Liriano’s two hitter and a 3-for-4 night by Garrett Jones, who had four RBI and was a triple short of the cycle. The HR was #100 of his career. Pittsburgh moved back into a Central Division tie for first with the Redbirds in front of a sellout crowd of 38,036.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Josh & Eddie Carry the Bucs To 2-1 Win

It was 1-2-3 for Edinson Volquez in the first, and almost as easy for Mike Leake. Josh blooped a single to lead off, but JT hit into a 6-4-3 DP even with Josh on the move, and Cutch bounced out. Devin Mesoraco got hit with a curve to open the second, but never moved up. Leake tossed a clean frame. Plate ump Fieldin Culbreth's strike zone is generous, so Leake has been working the edges and down.

Eddie was dealing in the third with a routine grounder and pair of called K's. After Starling failed to drag bunt his way aboard, Jordy legged out an infield knock. Eddie whiffed trying to move him up; bunts are not working very well this frame. No diff; Josh sent a fly to deep center but Billy Hamilton gloved it on the track.

Volquez worked another quick frame; he's at 41 pitches after four IP. Cutch dropped a soft one-out single to center. He didn't last long; The Kid bounced into a 6-4-3 DP to end the frame. with two gone in the fifth, the Reds got their first base runner when Scott Schumaker walked, but Zach Cozart's tapper to the hill ended it quietly. The Pirates went down in order.

Hamilton drew a one-out walk in the sixth with a patient, nine-pitch at-bat. He stole second and went to third when Russ' throw got away. Eddie came up big by whiffing Todd Frazier. Brandon Phillips cracked a liner on the next pitch, but Josh was there for the grab and the Reds had another zero. With two outs, Josh turned on a fastball for a ground rule double, becoming the first Pirate to reach second base. JT singled into the shortstop hole to put runners on the corners. Cutch went after the first pitch, a high and tight heater, and popped out to third to kill the first Bucco threat of the night.

Mesoraco got the first Cincy hit when he rolled a 2-2 curve into left in the seventh. Bruce followed with an infield knock; The Kid knocked it down but couldn't finish. The pressure eased some when Josh dove to grab Kris Negron's grounder, reached down to tag third and went across the diamond for a DP in a spectacular play. Schumaker walked as Eddie may be running out of gas after 95 pitches, but he had enough left in the tank to fan Cozart. Ike singled with two down, but Starling lined out to the box in a "look what I found" snag by Leake.

Volquez surprisingly came back out at 98 pitches to face Leake and the top of the order in the eighth; we can only assume Clint is giving him a last chance for a win. Chris Heisey hit for the pitcher, tho Leake was at just 82 pitches, and bounced out to first. Hamilton singled; you hate having him aboard in a game like this. He stole second, and was frozen there as Frazier grounded out to Jordy.

Phillips was HBP on a tight change, the one pitch that Eddie hasn't thrown well tonight. The Pirates challenged; tho it may have hit the knob of the bat before the hand, the ruling stood. That was it for Volquez, who pitched a great game - three hits, three walks, two HBP and six K after 7-2/3 IP and 114 pitches with his best curve of the season - as Tony Watson came in to face Mesoraco. He got a 1-2 sinker that was up and over the plate and blooped it into left; Marte overran the ball and Hamilton scored, although Phillips was cut down at home when a hustling Josh recovered a misplayed relay. Clint's gamble with Eddie backfired.

Jordy lined out against Jonathan Broxton, and Andrew Lambo hit for Watson. He singled sharply off Frazier's glove at first. The next pitch was a fastball down the middle, and Josh shot it into right for a triple to tie the game. It's a big at bat for JT, who hasn't hit the ball out of the infield tonight. But he picked a good time to find some grass, chopping a ball through the drawn-in left side to give the Bucs the lead. Broxton got Cutch and The Kid, but the Bucs now have the lead 2-1.

Mark the Shark took the ball in the ninth to face the Reds' 5-6-7 hitters. Melancon got a whiff, a liner to Josh and a bouncer to Jordy as the Bucs took game one.

Go figure - the guy who pitched 7-2/3 innings and left the mound with a shutout gets a no decision, while the guy that faced one batter and gave up a go-ahead run on a knock gets the win. Still, no doubt that Eddie and Josh carried the team tonight. This was one of Volquez's top outings and Josh made play after play in the field - forget Pedro ever returning to third -  while his triple (one of three hits) was the key to win; he was Superman in Black & Gold tonight. Great start to the series; hopefully the Pirates can keep it going and not see Aroldis Chapman at all this series.

Vance Worley (5-4, 3.14) takes on Alfredo Simon (13-8, 3.26) tomorrow afternoon. And if you're coming and don't have a pre-paid parking spot, drop the jalopy off in town and take the bridge; the North Shore lots are sold out with the Pitt game also going on.
  • Starling Marte's hit string ended at six.
  • The Pirates recalled OF Andrew Lambo from Indy and optioned pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Bristol Pirates. It's a paper move to give the Bucs an extra bat while Pedro and Travis are on the mend; the Cole Train will be back on the roster Monday, when it's his turn in the rotation.
  • Josh Harrison was awarded the Heart & Hustle honor in a pre-game ceremony. Fitting and well deserved, we'd say.
  • Tonight's crowd of 37,209 was the 16th sellout of the season.
  • IF Tommy Field cleared waivers and was optioned back to Indy.

Volquez v Leake, Lineup, Starling, Warm Fannies, Minor League/Ex-Bucs Report

Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.56) opens the Cincy series against Mike Leake (10-11, 3.51).

Eddie has been worth his money this year, going 10-4 since mid-June and winning seven of his last eight decisions. His games haven't always been pretty, but in 20 of his 26 starts he's held the opponent to three earned runs or less.

Volquez is 0-2 against the Reds this year, pitching one strong game and getting chased early in the other after giving up eight runs in just 2-2/3 IP. He hasn't fared very well historically against his former club, going 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in five career starts.

Leake can be tough when he keeps his two seamer, cutter and slider arsenal down in the zone, as he showed last outing when he went six shutout frames against the Cubs, but he's been erratic this season and the Pirates' patient approach should match well against him.

The Red righty is 5-0 in 11 starts against Pittsburgh since a 3-2 loss on May 5, 2012, although he got a no-decision in his only appearance this year, a game the Pirates eventually won 6-5. Overall, he's 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA in 18 career starts against the Bucs.

Pittsburgh is four games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central race and 2-1/2 games behind the Cards for the first wild card spot. The Pirates are two games behind the Giants and 1/2 game behind the Braves for the final qualifier with 29 games left. It should be a dogfight, with the Bucs *knock on wood* due to put together a nice winning streak, something they haven't been able to do all year.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jose Tabata RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Volquez P. No word on how Pedro's sprained foot or Travis Snider's hammy are feeling today; and it could be another short bench game.

The game starts at 7:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Starling Marte has a six game hitting streak and is batting .379 with four doubles, a triple, four home runs and 10 RBI in his last 18 games. 
  • The Pirates have posted 15 sellouts this season and are expected to play in front of capacity crowds this entire weekend. Pittsburgh had a club-record 23 sellouts in 2013 during the regular season and will go over the two million mark in season attendance tonight in their 69th home date. That's the club’s earliest date for reaching that milestone number since 2001 (63rd date) and the sixth time in team history they will have topped two million.
  • Charlie Morton's Altoona outing: four innings, four hits, two runs, a walk, six K, six ground-outs on 73 pitches.
  • OF Austin Meadows got a mention in Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • 2B Dilson Herrera, 20, who the Bucs traded last year to the Mets for Marlon Byrd, was called up by NY from AA to fill in with Daniel Murphy injured. Herrera hit .333 with a .946 OPS in 274 PAs at Binghamton this season after being promoted from Hi-A ball.
  • Jason Grilli's got some interesting things to say in his Long Beach Press-Telegram interview with Robert Morales "Unwanted by the Pirates..."

8/29: Pep, Booby Byrne, Billy Cox, Bob Friend, Big Poison, Johnny Ray, Dave LaPoint, Wagner & Benson One-Hitters & More...

Pep, Booby Byrne, Billy Cox, Bob Friend, Big Poison, Johnny Ray, Dave LaPoint, Wagner & Benson One-Hitters & More...
  • 1907 - IF Lemuel Floyd “Pep” Young was born in Jamestown, North Carolina. He played eight years (1933-40) for the Bucs, hitting .264 and playing mainly second, but with some short and third thrown in. The high tide of his career was in 1938, when he received some votes for the NL MVP after hitting .278 in 149 games. As fate would have it, he hurt his knee the next season, and played just 93 games over the final three years of his career (1940-41; 1945). 
  • 1909 - The Pirates traded 3B Jap Barbeau, 2B Alan Storke, and cash to the Cardinals for 3B Bobby Byrne. Byrne had his best years as a Buc, playing through the 1913 season and hitting .277 while helping the Pirates to the 1909 World Series title. 
  • 1919 - SS Billy Cox was born in Newport, located in central Pennsylvania. He got a September call-up in 1941, spent four years in the service and became the starting Bucco shortstop in 1946-47, batting .280. He was traded to Brooklyn, moved to the hot corner, and played seven seasons for them and in three World Series. 
Billy Cox Being Tutored By Hans Wagner - undated Associated Press image
  • 1958 - The Bucs squeaked out a 3-2 win against Milwaukee at County Stadium. Dick Stuart went long to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Bob Skinner made it 2-0 in the fourth with another solo homer. The Bucs pushed across the winning run in the seventh when Hank Foiles brought Frank Thomas home to give Bob Friend the win with ninth inning help from Don Gross. 
  • 1959 - Bob Friend helped himself by driving in three runs with a two-out, bases loaded double and tossed a nine hitter against the Phils in an 11-1 romp at Forbes Field. Smoky Burgess also plated a trio of runs with a pair of homers while Dick Groat added four hits. 
  • 1965 - Hall of Fame OF’er Paul “Big Poison” Waner died in Sarasota, Florida at age 62. Among his many marks were a .333 lifetime BA, 3,152 hits and a 1927 MVP award. During retirement, he owned a batting cage in Harmarville, and one of the guys he helped develop there was rookie shortstop Dick Groat. 
  • 1984 - God helps those who help themselves: RHP Don Robinson pitched two scoreless innings of relief, knocked in the go-ahead run and scored the insurance marker as the Pirates beat the Astros, 4-2, at The Astrodome. Robinson broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th inning with a two-out single and touched home for the fourth run after Tony Pena followed with a double. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates traded 2B Johnny Ray to the Angels for two minor leaguers, 3B Bill Merrifield and LHP Miguel Garcia. With Jose Lind in the wings, the Pirates thought Ray was expendable after seven years and a .286 BA. Maybe he was, but they Bucs sure didn’t get much - Merrifield and Garcia were gone by 1988 while Ray won an All-Star berth and hit .296 in four seasons for the Halos before closing his career in Japan. 
Johnny Ray 1984 Donruss series
  • 1988 - LHP Dave LaPoint became the first Pirate starter to begin his career here with three one-run or fewer starts when he whipped the Reds 8-1 at Riverfront Stadium. He was obtained for reliever Barry Jones in August from the White Sox, finished the year 4-2, and then signed with the Yankees as a FA the following season. 
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds went 3-for-4 with five RBI to lead the Bucs to a 10-0, rain-shortened seven inning win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton Stadium. Jeff King added three RBI, two off sac flies, as Doug Drabek won his 17th game. The game ended a four game losing streak and followed a clubhouse meeting held by manager Jim Leyland after a lackadaisical 9-0 loss the night before. 
  • 1995 - RHP Paul Wagner came within one strike of a no-hitter with a one-hit, 11K, 4-0 win over the Rox at TRS. With two away in the ninth, 1B Andres Galarraga chopped a 3-2 pitch past the mound and over second, where Nelson Liriano made the grab but couldn’t beat The Big Cat to first with his throw. For Wagner, it was just his third win against 13 losses, and the win snapped a six game Pittsburgh losing string. 
  • 2000 - Kris Benson shut out the Giants 8-0 at TRS. He gave up one hit in eight frames, a first inning single to Barry Bonds. The Pirates banged four doubles, a triple and a homer off Livian Hernandez, who only managed to get six outs before getting the hook. 
  • 2006 - The Pirates scored twice in the 11th on an error and bases loaded walk to defeat the Cubs 7-6 at PNC Park. Matt Capps picked up the win while Xavier Nady went 3-for-5 with a double and couple of runs scored. 
Matt Capps 2006 Fleer series
  • 2012 - The Pirates made their last push of the year by dropping the Cards by a 5-0 score behind Wandy Rodriguez at PNC Park. Pedro Alvarez banged a three run homer to lead the attack. The Bucs moved within a game of the wildcard, having shut out the Redbirds 9-0 the day before with El Toro adding another pair of homers and four RBI in support of James McDonald. It was just a tease; Pittsburgh finished September 7-21 and ended the season with just 79 wins.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Call-Up Cheat Sheet, Pedro-Garvey, Notes On An Off Day...

Our sense of the upcoming call-ups, covered by about all of the Bucco blogosphere, is that there won't be many.

Among pitchers, Charlie Morton is one if he's able, Stolmy Pimentel, Casey Sadler and maybe Ernesto Frieri (although he has a 5.40 ERA at Indy with two homers surrendered in five frames) are on the 40-man and been in the show before Vin Mazzaro (4-3-4, 2.59) and Drew Oliver (3-3-13, 2.39) have tossed strong ball, but aren't on the 40-man and the Bucs have shown no inclination to add them so far this year, though  both could work low leverage innings.

Outside shots: big righty John Holdzkom, who has K'ed 42 in 33-1/3 minor league frames, and Bobby LaFramboise, who has nothing going for him except for being a lefty and on the 40-man roster.

As for position guys, sure shots are Gregory Polanco, Tony Sanchez, Andrew Lambo and maybe Brent Morel/Mike Martinez. They're both on the 40-man and with Pedro at first, the Bucs may bring one (or maybe both) up just to occupy a seat. Jaff Decker is a long shot - the Bucs have a zillion outfielders.

We'd expect the Pirates to set the roster at 35 players as our over/under
  • Charlie Morton is tossing tonight for Altoona to see if he can work through his herna
  • Pedro isn't traveling uncharted ground - Steve Garvey of the Dodgers journeyed on the same career path 30 years ago, per Tom Singer of MLB.com..
  • Buster Olney of ESPN has a piece on Cutch playing through the pain, but to get further than the lede you need to be a subscriber.
  • The KC Royals have claimed IF Jayson Nix off waivers from the Bucs.
  • Jon Heyman of Baseball Insider reported that the Brewers won the waiver claim on Justin Morneau, the current NL batting leader, but were unable to swing a deal with the Rox for him.
  • West Virginia Power SS Jacoby Jones, the Pirates' third round pick in the 2013 draft, was selected to the outh Atlantic (SALLY) League post-season All-Star team. He hit .292 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI this season.
  • Gonzo Buc outfielders - Houston 's (via Minnesota) Alex Presley (.252/.291.359 5 HR); Philly's Marlon Byrd (.271/.317/..468 - 24 HR) and the Indians' Chris Dickerson (>232/.318/.337 - 2HR).

8/28: Jolly Cholly, Howie Haak, Ray Brown, Roberto, Neagle-for-Schmidt, Pedro Bomb, Byrd's Debut & More...

Jolly Cholly, Howie Haak, Ray Brown, Roberto, Neagle-for-Schmidt, Pedro Bomb, Byrd's Debut & More...
  • 1898 - Charlie “Jolly Cholly” Grimm was born in St. Louis. The 1B played six years (1919-24) in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, but made his reputation with Chicago in the following dozen years after a big 1924 trade sent him to the Cubs. 
  • 1911 - Pirate super scout Howie Haak was born in Rochester, NY. Pittsburgh discovered much of its legendary Latino talent from the mid-1950s through the 1980s thanks to Haak's efforts. He recommended that Pittsburgh draft Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn system and signed Manny Sanguillen, Omar Moreno and Rennie Stennett of Panama; Julian Javier, Tony Pena, Jose DeLeon, and Cecilio Guante of the Dominican Republic; Al McBean of the Virgin Islands and Roman Mejias of Cuba. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates hung on to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-9 at the Baker Bowl. Kiki Cuyler had four hits, including a pair of inside-the-park homers, Eddie Moore and Clyde Barnhart added three knocks apiece and George Grantham homered. But it was a struggle: Babe Adams and Tom Sheehan gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth. Ray Kremer had to come on to get the final out with the bases juiced, retiring pinch hitter Nelson “Chicken” Hawks, who was batting for the second time in the inning and already had a hit and run under his belt.
Eddie Moore 1926 - The Sporting News Collection Archives
  • 1929 - Donie Bush resigned as the Pirate manager and coach Jewel Ens was named to replace him. Bush took the team to the World Series in 1927, where they were swept by the Murderer’s Row Yankees and played without Kiki Cuyler, who Bush had benched. The Pirates had lost 8-of-9 when Bush resigned and were 14-½ games behind the eventual titlists, the Chicago Cubs. 
  • 1930 - The Pirates scored in double figures for the third straight game, beating the Cincy Reds 11-2 at Forbes Field. They defeated Cincinnati 16-12 in the game before, and started the streak at Wrigley Field with a 10-8 win over the Chicago Cubs. 
  • 1940 - Homestead Grays RHP Ray Brown earned his 27th consecutive victory over a two year span when he shut out the Baltimore Elite Giants 5-0 on three hits, bringing his record to 12-0 (he finished 15-4). Brown played for Cum Posey's Grays from 1932 to 1945, winning 109 games in his career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. 
  • 1951 - The Bucs ended the New York Giant’s winning streak at 16 games, the longest since 1935, when LHP Howie Pollet tossed a six hit shutout for a 2-0 win at the Polo Grounds. The Pirates only had three hits (two by rookie Frank Thomas), but were issued eight free passes (three to Ralph Kiner), and both Bucco runs were unearned. 
Howie Pollet 1952 Bowman series
  • 1956 - The Bucs spotted Warren Spahn and the first place Milwaukee Braves a four run lead at County Stadium, then scored four times in the seventh to tie the game on the back of Dale Long’s three run homer. The Pirates took command the next frame when Dick Groat’s two-out infield knock to the SS hole plated Frank Thomas. A tag team sixth-inning catch may have ignited the Bucs: per The Milwaukee Journal's Cleon Walfoort "Clemente and Bill Virdon robbed Spahn of an extra-base hit and the Braves of one or more runs. Clemente got his glove on the ball against the fence and Virdon grabbed it as it squirted out. It was just after this remarkable catch that the Pirates came to life." 
  • 1959 - Vern Law whitewashed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-0 on five hits at Forbes Field, striking out seven and backed by three solo homers off the bats of Roberto Clemente, Smoky Burgess and Rocky Nelson. Clemente’s was an inside-the-park four bagger that hit off the flagpole in left center 457’ away on one hop, the deepest part of FF. Pittsburgh banged out ten hits and also drew nine walks to help the cause. 
  • 1967 - Roberto Clemente had three hits, including two homers, to lead the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the Braves. He hit the game winner with two out in the tenth at Atlanta Stadium. 
  • 1974 - The Giants banged out 14 hits at Candlestick Park, but the Bucs took home the win 3-1 in 11 innings on Ed Kirkpatrick’s two out double. San Francisco stranded 16 runners as Jerry Reuss and game winner Dave Giusti bent but didn’t break. 
Ed "Spanky" Kirpatrick 1977 Topps series
  • 1988 - The Atlanta Braves sent IF Ken Oberkfell and cash to Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Tommy Gregg. Oberkfell spent a season and change with the Bucs as a seldom used reserve, and Gregg played nine more years, mostly as a reserve outfielder. 
  • 1996 - LHP Denny Neagle was traded to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jason Schmidt, OF Corey Pointer and 1B Ron Wright. Schmidt continued in the mold of starters developed by the Bucs who blossomed elsewhere because of salary. 
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez hit the longest homer by a Pirate to date at PNC Park, bombing a sixth inning Brandon Dickson delivery 469’. The shot cleared the seats in center and bounced onto the Riverwalk beside the Allegheny River during the Bucs 9-0 win over St. Louis. El Toro also added a 422’ shot in the third off Jake Westbrook as James McDonald got the win. 
  •  2013 - Newly acquired Marlon Byrd hit a homer and tallied three RBI in his first game with the Bucs to ice Pittsburgh’s 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park, with Charlie Morton getting the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Byrd was the third Pirate player to hit a home run and have at least three RBI in his first game with the team after playing for another MLB team earlier in the season. Derrek Lee hit two dingers and had three RBI on August 1st, 2011 after being traded from the Orioles and Shawon Dunston hit two long balls and drove in four runs on September 2nd, 1997 after dealt by the Cubs.
Marlon Byrd - photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ike Gives Locke All The Help He Needs As Pirates Win 3-1 & Take Series

Kind of an up-and-down first frame for Jeff Locke. Randall Grichuk banged a first-pitch fastball to right for a one out double. With two away, Matt Adams walked. Russ picked him off first, but Ike dropped the ball; Davis was charged with an error and Martin picked up an assist. And give Locke an assist; he whiffed Jhonny Peralta to strand both guys. Adam Wainwright put down the Bucs with a whiff, another whiff, and a pop up.

Jon Jay singled to open the second; Tony Cruz hit into an around-the-horn DP. Daniel Descalso singled and Waino flew out to keep the scoreboard clean. With one gone, Wainwright bopped Russ with a curveball. A pitch later, Ike squashed the horsehide, going over the wall in right center and hitting a stadium speaker to prevent the ball from bounding into the Allegheny. That was followed by a pair of routine outs.

The Cards halved the lead in the third when with two away, Matt Holliday caught all of a first pitch change up and dropped it over the left-center wall. The Bucs looked like they were going to have a big frame - Locke opened with a single, Josh followed with another and Travis dropped a drag bunt down successfully to juice the sacks. Cutch hit a sac fly, but Wainwright K'ed The Kid and Russ to escape a big hurt. Speaking of hurt, Snider left the game that inning with left hamstring cramps.

The fourth was quiet; Locke tossed a clean frame and Wainwright worked around a walk to Ike. Descalso got a knock in the only Card action in the fifth thanks to Josh, who made a diving stop and throw to rob Grishuk of an RBI double. The Bucs just kept on stranding runners. Josh singled to lead off, and then two outs later The Kid and Russ hit back-to-back knocks to fill the sacks. Ike tried to add on, but he lined out to second.

The sixth was fairly calm - Adams singled for the Redbirds, Locke for Pittsburgh and neither went anywhere. St. Louis went down 1-2-3 in the seventh. Carlos Martinez took the bump for Wainwright. Cutch singled with an out. Walker got ahead 3-0, took a fastball and then went after the next, flying out just short of the track in center. Martin singled Cutch to third and stole second. Ike left them there, flying out to left.

Locke walked Matt Carpenter to open the eighth, and after getting Grichuk to fly out, gave way to Tony Watson. He got a K and a tapper to close down the frame. Starling started the Bucco half by reaching via error, but a botched bunt and DP took the air out of the frame. Mark the Shark got his call. Peralta greeted him with a knock, but Melancon took care of business to retire the next three Birds and closed it out for his 24th save and Jeff Locke's 6th win.

Jeff had one of his nice games; not too much nibbling, not much in the middle of the dish and pitch to contact. It resulted in a 98 pitch outing lasting into the eighth, giving up a run on six hits and just two walks with six strikeouts. That's the Jeff Locke the Bucs have been looking for. It was a big series to take, especially after the letdown of losing the opener. Now a day to catch their breath, and here come the Reds.

September call-ups may just be around the corner, but don't expect Clint to using the fresh troops very much. He's been increasingly going to the guys he trusts, so look for the newbies to find a quiet corner of the bench and not get much in the way of a test run.

The Pirates are off tomorrow and then open a three-game home series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. Edinson Volquez will take on Mike Leake.
  • Per ESPN Stats: Ike Davis' second inning HR was calculated at 447 feet, the longest home run allowed by Adam Wainwright since 2010 (Jonny Gomes- 451).
  • 29,905 were on hand for this afternoon's game.
  • The Pirates took all three home series against the Cardinals this year.

Locke v Wainwright, Lineup, HR's, Injuries

Jeff Locke (5-3, 3.69) closes the St. Louis set against Adam Wainwright (15-8, 2.52)

Locke hasn't exactly been sharp as a pistol of late, living off the plate instead of going after guys, but it's been working as he's gone 3-0 in his last four outings. He's walked 12 in his past 16-2/3 IP, but has countered that by keeping the ball in the park this month after a July that saw him surrender eight long balls in six starts

This will be his first go at the Redbirds in 2014. Overall, Locke is  1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against St. Louis, with the trio coming in 2013.

Wainwright is one of the league's top guns, but he's been struggling in August, by his standards. In his last four games, he's gone 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 IP. He's had success in his career against the Bucs, going 10-5 even though the Pirates have hung a 4.18 ERA on him. But he's been murder this year on the home team, going 1-1 but yielding just two runs in the 22 frames he's logged while working on a 15 inning string of goose eggs.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Locke. The good news is that Cutch is back and Jordy is OK, tho it is a bit surprising that Russ is working a day game; guess he figures tomorrow is an off day, so...

The game starts at 12:35 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • ESPN Stats: Ike Davis' HR last night was calculated to have gone 442 feet, the longest for a Pirate player at home this season. It was his third pinch hit home run and the teams' seventh, matching last year's total.
  • Starling Marte enters the day with a five game hit streak.
  • Pedro left yesterday's game with a foot sprain and left the locker room in a walking boot; he's expected to miss a couple of games. Cutch said he took himself out last night as a precautionary measure. Jordy was off because of a scheduled rest day, not because his forerm was any crankier than usual. 
(Sorry we're late; Clint posted the lineup later than usual as he tried to figure out which of his walking wounded were ready for today's combat.)

8/27: The Byrd Is the Word, Josh, Tiny, Great One, Jordy, Pedro & More...

The Byrd Is the Word, Josh, Tiny, Great One, Jordy, Pedro & More...
  • 1910 - Babe Adams, who took the hill in spite of a stomach bug, tossed a six hitter to down the Superbas 4-2 at Forbes Field. The outfielders played as an afterthought; the only out recorded in the pasture was a fly caught by Chief Wilson, and Brooklyn’s sole contribution was an assist by Zack Wheat, who threw out Bobby Byrnes trying to stretch a double into a triple. The one OF put out set an NL record. 
  • 1925 - The Bucs tossed their second straight shutout against Boston at Braves Field, winning 1-0. The Pirates Vic Aldridge and Boston’s Larry Benton traded four-hitters; Pie Traynor drove in Eddie Moore in the third with the game’s only run. The day before, Lee Meadows threw a nine hit, 2-0 whitewash of the Braves, and did it without striking out a soul. 
  • 1936 - The Pirates beat the Brooklyn Dodger 6-3 at Forbes Field. The highlight came after the game, when losing pitcher Van Lingle Mungo, in a snit because of the four errors the Dodgers made that led to four unearned runs, left the team and returned to Brooklyn. He would later become famous when the 1969 song "Van Lingle Mungo" by Dave Frishberg hit the charts. 
  • 1939 - Game Two of the Negro League East-West All-Star game was held at Yankee Stadium. The East, behind Homestead Gray C Josh Gibson’s four RBI, won 10-2. 
Josh Gibson 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes series
  • 1948 - The Phillies lost on a walk off homer by Bucco pitcher Kirby Higbe, who went long in the ninth at Forbes Field to give himself a 4-3 win. Higbe had worked a scoreless final inning of relief. Pitcher Ernie “Tiny” Bonham won his last MLB start by an 8-2 count over Philadelphia. The ten year vet had complained of stomach problems, and died September 15th at the age of 36 after surgery performed the week before at Presbyterian Hospital uncovered intestinal cancer. His wife Ruth was the first baseball widow to collect a death benefit under the new player pension plan, receiving $90 a month for the next 10 years. 
  • 1965 - The Bucs scored six times in the ninth at Forbes Field to take the Astros into extra frames, eventually winning their seventh game in a row in 11 innings 10-9. Andre Rodger’s two-run knock was the key blow in the ninth; Harry Walker sent him up to pinch hit for Willie Stargell against lefty Danny Coombs. Al McBean, the Pirates sixth pitcher, took home the win. Roberto Clemente threw out a runner going from first to third the hard way. The Pirates ran a wheel play with runners on first and second, and Bob Lillis rolled the ball through the infield. Bill Mazeroski described what followed in BR Bullpen "Roberto raced in from right field, dove for the ball, and with his face in the dirt threw out the runner going to third base!" Walker told Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press that “Clemente made the doggondest (sic) play I ever saw.” It kept the comeback alive; Houston banged out two more hits after his play. 
  • 1986 - SS Jordy Mercer was born in Seiling, Oklahoma. He was third-round draft choice in 2008, and the Oklahoma State product also played for Team USA. Mercer rode the pine in 2012, but saw some playing time in 2013 and won the starting job the next season. 
  • 2008 - Pedro Alvarez was placed on the restricted list after the MLBPA filed a grievance against MLB over draft picks being signed minutes after the August 15th deadline. On September 22nd, Álvarez agreed to renegotiated terms on a four-year major league contract at $6.4M to resolve the complaint. 
Pedro Alvarez 2010 eTopps (minor league) series
  • 2009 - The first and last hits left the yard, and that was enough for a 3-2 win against the Phils and JA Happ at PNC Park. Cutch opened the game with a long ball, and Garrett Jones ended it with a two run walkoff shot in the ninth. 
  • 2013 - Looking to strengthen the roster down the stretch, the Pirates pulled off a waiver deal with the NY Mets for OF Marlon Byrd, C John Buck and $250K for minor league IF Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later (RHP Victor Black).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ike Saves The Day For The Bucs With Late Bomb As Pirates Win 5-2

The first went down easily; neither Gerritt Cole nor Lance Lynn allowed a runner. In the second, Cole issued a two-out walk, missing a couple of edge-nicking calls. Russ doubled with an out, and with two away, Starling and Clint Barmes drew walks. Cole couldn't help himself, tapping back to the hill.

Cole tucked away the Redbirds in the third, helped by an wall-banging sno-cone grab by Cutch. Gerritt could stand an efficient inning - after five whiffs and a walk, his pitch count is up to 51. Lynn tossed a clean frame against the top of the order.

It was 1-2-3 for the Cards in the fourth. The Kid walked on four pitches to lead off. Russ fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and banged a heater through the right side to put Buccos on the corners. Pedro went down looking at a pitch off the plate (LH strike zones are murder) after failing to catch a couple of heaters under the letters. Starling was plunked to juice the sacks. Barmes' bouncer to third went for a forceout - the relay to first was off target - and RBI. Cole's grounder ended the frame.

After two outs in the fifth, AJ Pierzynski was hit on an 0-2 pitch, followed by an Oscar Taveras ground out that went off Cole to Walker; score it 1-4-3. Josh tried to bunt his way on; the ball rolled foul and good thing as he launched the next pitch into the left field stands to make it 2-0. The Kid singled to right with two gone and Russ' knock chased him to third. Lynn fired three heaters at El Toro; he fouled a pair and popped the third behind the plate to end the frame.

That's seven stranded and 0-for-6 with RISP in five frames. And worse, Cutch came out with "rib discomfort," whether from banging into the wall or because of his last at-bat we don't know, with JT going to RF, Starling to center and Travis to left.

With two gone in the sixth, Kolton Wong lined a tight heater up the line to right for a two-bagger and the first St. Louis hit. Cole K'ed Holliday; two pitches after a 99 MPH heater, he spun a curve past him on his 104th pitch. Great outing; one hit, one walk, nine whiffs and great movement and velocity. He even mixed in his off speed stuff. Marte singled to open the Buc half. Barmes fought for eight pitches before lining out to medium center. Cole batted and bunted Starling up a station; maybe Clint is going to try to milk another frame from Gerritt. Josh K'ed, so we'll soon see.

Cole did come out, and it was a bad decision by Hurdle, especially with lefty Justin Wilson warmed up. Matt Adams doubled off a curve to open the seventh and Jhonny Peralta fought off a pitch on the hands to single through the left side put Redbirds on the corners. That brought on Tony Watson with an ovation for Cole ringing in his ears.

Jon Jay spoiled some pitches away, then got a slider he could handle well enough for a sac fly to halve the lead. Pierzynski went down swinging, but Taveras blooped a knock into center to chase Peralta to third. Randall Grichuk, just called up today (he had played earlier in the year), grabbed a stick and dropped another flare into center to knot the score and send Taveras 90' away from home. Carpenter grounded out, but two softly hit drop shots have tied the game. Sam Freeman climbed the mound and worked an easy frame, retiring the suddenly free-wheeling Pirates on five pitches.

Watson stayed on, though he had thrown 22 pitches already. He gave up a one-out single to Holliday, but a pair of K calmed the seas. Another Bucco dropped; Pedro left the game with a sore foot and Gaby took his spot.

Righty Seth Maness took the horsehide. After a Russ whiff, Gaby singled and so did Starling. Barmes hit the ball hard, but Jay grabbed it in center. Ike hit it harder, drilling a 2-2 change that spun in the middle of the dish over the wall (and almost over the back fence behind the last row) in right center. The Cards had a LHP warmed up; no idea why Mike Matheny didn't match up. Josh went down chasing a better placed change, but the Bucs were three runs up with three outs to go.

Mark the Shark got the call. With an out, Pierzynski walked, and a grounder moved him to second. There he stayed as Daniel Descalso went down swinging three pitches later.

It's a good win, and one the Bucs had to have. With Adam Wainwright on the hill and the possibility of Cutch, Pedro and Jordy being hurt and Russ getting his day-following-night break, it could shape up to be the scruberoos against the A-Team. Of course, a three-run homer or two, and who knows what could happen...?

It's also good news that both Cole and Frankie were on top of their games the last two nights. Another five or six strong starts from them would be a godsend, especially as Clint doesn't seem to have much faith in his pen outside of Watson, Melancon and maybe Hughes right now.

Jeff Locke closes out the series against Adam Wainwright in the get-away day game tomorrow.
  • Ike is tied for the MLB lead with three pinch-hit homers.
  • The once scorching Travis Snider is now 1-for-20.
  • Tonight's attendance was 25,521.
  • Indy was eliminated from the International league playoffs today. Their schedule ends on September 1st, so the minor league reinforcements should arrive the following day.
  • The Pirates announced the eight players they're sending to the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League: P Tyler Glasnow, P Nick Kingham, P Adrian Sampson, P Tom Harlan, OF/1B Josh Bell (he'll play first after spending the season as an OF'er), P Joely Rodriguez, C Elias Diaz and IF Dan Gamache.

Cole v Lynn, Lineup, Odds & Ends...

Gerrit Cole (7-4, 3.69) continues his comeback tour against Lance Lynn (14-8, 2.78) as he looks to even the series against the Rdbirds.

Cole was on the DL between 7/9 and 8/19 with right lat soreness, and has one MLB start under his belt since then, a good performance against the Braves (seven innings, two runs) that netted him a no-decision (with the injury, he hasn't won since July 4th). The good news is his arms woes seem over; he kept his velocity throughout the late innings and woke up the next day without any undue soreness.

The Cole Train has faced the Cardinals four times. He's 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two regular season starts this year, and 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against St. Louis during the 2013 NLDS.

Lynn often spent time in Mike Matheny's doghouse last season, but this year he's picked it up a notch. His peripherals aren't a lot different than in the past except in three key areas - he's learned to deal with left handed sticks (he actually has a slight reverse split this season), his HR rate has dropped dramatically and he's turned his temper toward the hitters rather than imploding.

The righty held Cincinnati to four hits over seven scoreless innings for a win Wednesday and is 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in four starts this month. He's split two meetings with Pittsburgh earlier this season, winning at home and losing at PNC Park. Lifetime, Lynn is 5-3/4.88 against the Pirates

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Pedro 1B, Starling Marte LF, Clint Barmes SS and Cole P. Jordy gets a day off; his recent 4-for-21 isn't horrendous, but he may be getting a blow for his forearm tonight.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Bradenton did good this year: OF Josh Bell was named the Florida State League Player of the Year while RHP Tyler Glasnow was named the FSL Pitcher of the Year.
  • Ex Bucs & Elias Sports Stats: AJ Burnett whiffed a dozen last night to become the first pitcher in MLB history to have a 12-K game for 5 different teams: PHI, FLA, TOR, PIT & NYY.

8/26: Brian Giles Deal, Mike Smith, Chief Wilson, Big Poison, Chez, Pie, Ralph, Tim Wakefield & More...

Brian Giles Deal, Mike Smith, Chief Wilson, Big Poison, Chez, Pie, Ralph, Tim Wakefield & More...
  • 1892 - The Bucs mauled the Philadelphia Phils 11-3 at Exposition Park. Elmer “Mike” Smith, Doggie Miller and Jake Beckley led the way with a pair of hits each. Smith, usually an OF’er, was the pitcher (he appeared in 17 games, starting 13), and per the Pittsburg Press, the “(Phils Ed) Delahanty found a package of lard in centerfield and the Phillies tried to work up a story that the ball had been greased...” The Pirates pleaded innocent, and the game stood. 
  • 1912 - In a doubleheader split against Boston at Forbes Field, Chief Wilson collected three triples. He finished the year with 36, which is still the league standard. 1926: Paul Waner went 6-for-6 with two doubles and a triple as the Pirates beat the New York Giants 15-7 at Forbes Field. He used six different bats to collect the hits. Pie Traynor and George Grantham each had three hits; Traynor and Johnny Rawlings added three RBI apiece. 
  • 1927 - The Boston Braves defeated the Pirates‚ 6-4 at Braves Field. Paul Waner‚ who went 4-for-4 the day before‚ started off with three more consecutive hits off two Brave pitchers before ending his streak at seven. 
Paul Waner 1931 W517 series from Dan Austin's Virtual Card Collection, image from Mike Mackie
  • 1934 - Chester Williams of the Pittsburgh Crawfords led the East with three hits in the East-West Negro League All-Star game at Comiskey Park. The East won 1-0 in front of 30,000 fans when Jud Wilson drove in Cool Papa Bell in the eighth inning, giving Crawford Satchel Paige the win. 
  • 1935 - Player-manager Pie Traynor blasted a grand slam and ended the day with five hits and six RBI as the Bucs battered the NY Giants 10-2 at the Polo Grounds. Woody Jensen and Tom Padden also homered to smooth the path for Ralph Birkofer’s win. 
  • 1947 - The Pirates scored four times each in the first and second innings and added seven more in the fifth as they rolled over the Brooklyn Dodgers 16-3 at Ebbet’s Field. Wally Westlake homered, doubled, and drove home five runs as Billy Cox and Cutley Rikard added long balls. Ralph Kiner went 5-for-5 with a walk and Frank Gustine added four hits to help Fritz Ostermueller cruise to victory. Brooklyn’s Dan Bankhead, via the Negro League Memphis Red Sox, became the first black pitcher to work an MLB game when he came on in relief of Hal Gregg. The Bucs lit him up on the hill, scoring eight runs in his 3-1/3 frames, though he did swat a two run homer in his first big league at-bat to help even out his rough debut. 
Wally Westlake image by Gerald Carpenter
  • 1951 - The Pirates scored eight runs in the seventh frame to overcome a 9-2 fifth inning deficit and beat the Dodgers‚ 12-11 at Ebbet’s Field in the opener of a twin set. Pete Castiglione and Bill Howerton had three RBI each to lead the comeback. They dropped the nitecap 4-3 in 10 innings. 
  • 1975 - The first eight Pirates hit safely against the Braves’ Jamie Easterly and Ray Sadecki before P Larry Demery flied out‚ tying the MLB record. The Buc scored six runs on their way to an 8-2 victory at TRS. 
  • 1992 - Pirate rookie Tim Wakefield defeated Tom Candiotti of the Dodgers 2-0 in the first matchup of knuckleballers in the NL since 1982 when Phil Niekro and Joe Niekro faced off in a Braves-Astros game. Wakefield scattered six hits for the victory. Jose Lind provided the offensive spark with a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored. 
  • 2003 - The Pirates shipped Brian Giles to San Diego for Jason Bay, Ollie Perez, and Corey Stewart. Pittsburgh had wanted Xavier Nady in the deal, but SD refused and threw in Bay instead. He worked out pretty well, as Bay ended up the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004 and the Bucs reeled in the X-Man in 2006. 
Brian Giles 2001 Bowman series

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bucs Blow Early Chances, Fall 3-2 To Cards

Frankie looked good in the first frame; he sat down the Redbirds in order with a couple of K. Jon Lackey, on the other hand, escaped a bullet. Josh doubled to open, but was froze by a grounder to third by Travis Snider. Not moving him up cost; Cutch lined a single to left to chase Josh to third, but The Kid banged into a 6-4-3 DP; going the opposite way didn't do Snider nor Walker much good. The part that hurt is that Neil drilled the ball; he hit an at 'em grounder so hard the Cards turned two even with Cutch off on the pitch.

Jordy booted a ball with an out in the second, but it didn't faze Liriano, who routinely chopped down the other hitters. Pittsburgh got a run when Pedro smacked a one out homer; maybe Lackey will figure out what the other NL pitchers know and keep that heater in his pocket when El Toro is up. The Bucs got back-to-back infield knocks from Starling and Jordy, who were bunted up by Frankie, but Josh's fly out left more ducks on the pond.

Frankie gave up a two out walk in the third; the Pirates stranded Cutch, who singled with one gone. Jhonny Peralta got the Birds' first hit with a two out single in the fourth, but was left aboard. Pedro led off by lining a bullet off Kolton Wong's mitt, but the Pirates continued to shoot themselves in the foot with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP with Starling up, then Jordy K'ed to end the frame. The Bucs have seven hits in just four innings, but only one run.

Wong singled to start the fifth and was forced out by Tony Cruz, who went to second on a bunt. Matt Carpenter K'ed to end the mild threat. Frankie walked to start the Bucco at-bats. A Josh fly and Travis 6-3 DP put quick brakes on the frame; three DPs in four innings will slow down an attack.

Frankie was running on fumes in the sixth, even though he was just at 80 pitches. A one out double by Matt Holliday and a pair of walks put him in a jam. But he had enough gas in the tank to serve Oscar Tavaras a 5-2-3 DP to dodge the raindrops. The Bucs hit three flies and jogged back on the field.

Wong opened the seventh with an infield single. Jared Hughes came on and picked off Wong; good thing, as he gave up a bloop single to Cruz; the runner was bunted up and Carpenter walked. Jon Jay came off the bench to single in the tying run; the runners moved up on Cutch's throw home. Holliday hit a grounder with eyes through the left side, leaving Josh and Jordy sprawled in the dirt, to bring in another pair. Justin Wilson took the ball and finished the frame, with the Cards now up 3-1. Lackey did what good pitchers do; he got three grounders and sat down.

Wilson worked an efficient eighth and Pat Neshak took the bump for St. Louis. With an out, Josh reached on an error, but the Bucs took no advantage; Snider grounded into a 4-6-3 DP, his second twin killing. John Axford came in for the ninth. He gave up a single to Shane Robinson, who was quickly erased trying to steal between a pair of ground outs.

Trevor Rosenthal climbed the hill, Cutch was clutch again; he led off with a homer, ripping a liner to left. Russ walked with one gone, with Pedro up. He got a first pitch heater right down the middle - and tapped it back to the mound softly enough, at least, to move Russ to second. Marte flew out to center, at that was it.

Hard to believe, but the Bucs have lost back-to-back games by giving up seven runs with the bases empty and two outs. But this game was about the early innings. The Pirates keep putting guys on base, but they just can't cash them in. Of course, four DPs will cut down the chances pretty drastically. The Cards put together their frame on a bloop, a walk, a throw home that should have went to second and a routine grounder that was perfectly placed. Such are the plays that decide playoff races.

Gerritt Cole takes on Lance Lynn tomorrow night; Cole is stepping into Charlie Morton's rotation slot.
  • Pedro's homer was his first at PNC Park since June 29th.
  • The Pirates are 2-1 in a stretch of 15 consecutive games against Central Division foes. The Bucs have gone 24-31 this season against the Central (13-14 at home and 11-17 on the road).
  • Charlie Morton will make rehab start on Thursday for Altoona, with a 75 pitch limit.
  • Pirate IF prospect Alen Hansen is effectively done for the year; he was put on the the minor league DL with a hammy injury suffered last week.
  • The New York-Penn League and the Pittsburgh Pirates announced today that the Jamestown Jammers, Pittsburgh's Class A Short Season affiliate, will be relocating to Morgantown for the 2015 season. The deal that will have the Bucs club share a new ballpark with the WVU baseball team.

Liriano v Lackey, Lineup, JT & Barmes Back; Polanco & Nix Sent Down

Francisco Liriano (3-10, 4.18) takes on John Lackey (12-8, 3.88/1-1, 5.40) to kick off the Cardinal series.

Who would have guessed that the Bucs would still be in the race with Frankie sitting at three wins on August 24th? He was pummeled by the Braves in his last outing and has lost his last three decisions. Part of the problem is that home cookin' doesn't agree with him this year nearly as much as it did last season. He's posted a 1-5 record and a 5.23 ERA at PNC Park this year after going 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA in Pittsburgh last season.

Liriano is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in seven career starts against the Redbirds, and is 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA in three starts this season. Francisco is running out of starts to turn it around, and the Bucs need the 2013 version to reappear during the stretch run.

Lackey was picked up by the Cards in early August for useful but still spare parts Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. The 35-year-old veteran of 12 major league seasons is an old pro in the post season and World Series with 19 games and a 6-5/3.03 slash, which was surely part of his allure. He's been fairly dependable for St. Louis in his four starts, with his NL line bloated by a beat down by the Orioles in interleague. Against NL clubs, he's 1-0 in three starts, going 20 IP and giving up six earned runs (2.70 ERA) on 16 hits.

The righty has had very few interleague starts and this will be his first outing against Pittsburgh.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison, 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Snider C, Pedro 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Liriano.

The games starts at 7:05 and will be broadcast by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Gregory Polanco was optioned back to Indy after whiffing three times yesterday. The Tribe's regular season schedule ends 9/1, so he gets a week of regular swings at the dish and the Bucs shave a week from his service time. The Pirates called up Jose Tabata, who spent the past two months in the minors, to replace him.
  • The Pirates activated IF Clint Barmes from the DL and DFA'ed IF Jayson Nix. That served two purposes, by clearing an active roster spot for Barmes and a 40-man roster spot for JT, who had been dropped from it when he was sent down.
  • The Pirates have won both home series against the Cards and lost both road trips; their record this season against the Redbirds is 6-7.

8/25: Wilbur Cooper, Burner Byrnes, Miked Ump, Dunne Diamond, Redus Cycle, Rallies, Cutch Walk Off & More...

Wilbur Cooper, Burner Byrnes, Miked Ump, Dunne Diamond, Redus Cycle, Rallies, Cutch Walk Off & More...
  • 1901 - The Pirates traded for 20 year old LHP Arley “Wilbur” Cooper from Columbus of the American Association for a pair of PTBNL. He became the Pirates all-time leader in wins with 202, lasting 13 seasons (1912-24) as a Bucco. He started 369 games and appeared in 469 outings for Pittsburgh with a 2.74 ERA.
Wilbur Cooper 1924 Diaz Cigarettes series
  • 1910 - In the 12th inning at Washington Park, Bobby Byrne doubled, stole third, then swiped home to beat the Brooklyn Superbas, 4-3. It was the NL's first twentieth century extra-inning steal of home. 
  • 1929 - The fans were able to hear the calls of home plate umpire Cy Rigler, who was wired for sound, a first in major league history. Wearing a mike and metal-plated shoes, standing on a flat metal sheet, Rigler's calls were broadcast over the Polo Ground speakers as he somehow avoided electrocution. The Giants topped the Pirates, 10-5 as the Bucs committed three errors and allowed six early unearned runs. 
  • 1959 - The White Sox sent 3B Bob Sagers and OF/1B Harry "Suitcase" Simpson packing to Pittsburgh in exchange for vet 1B Ted Kluszewski, looking to improve their bench. Klu hit .297 during the rest of the season and .391 with three homers in the World Series for the Sox. Simpson retired after the season and Sagers was a career minor leaguer. 
  • 1962 - The Pirate players called off a threatened walkout in objection to a rained out game that was rescheduled as part of a Saturday doubleheader with another doubleheader scheduled on Sunday. Bob Friend, team rep, was irked that the players were bypassed in rescheduling the game. Friend lost the opener 3-2 to St. Louis at Busch Stadium, giving up a run with two down in the ninth. The Bucs took the second game 4-0 behind Earl Francis, who tossed a three hitter and was backed by homers off the bats of Dick Groat and Dick Stuart. They also split the next day’s twinbill. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs scored twice in the ninth after two were out and no one aboard to send the game into extra innings, eventually winning 4-3 in 19 frames over the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium. Dave Roberts pitched out of a pair of bases loaded jams, once with no one away, to earn the win. The contest lasted six hours and twelve minutes, the longest Pirate contest until the Jerry Meals 19-inning game at Atlanta in 2011. 
Dave Roberts 1980 Topps series
  • 1982 - The Pirates gave up a 4-1 lead at TRS, allowing San Diego to edge ahead in the eighth. But they tied the game in their half when Tony Pena’s grounder scored Lee Lacy and walked off with a ninth inning victory over the Padres when Jim Morrison singled in Enrique Romo, running for Willie Stargell, with the game winner. Kent Tekulve claimed the W. 
  • 1987 - Mike Dunne fired a two hitter as the Bucs defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 at TRS. Dunne made a first inning Johnny Ray RBI single that scored Andy Van Slyke stand up. He struck out seven, allowed just one runner to reach second, and retired the last 10 batters. 
  • 1989 - OF Gary Redus hit for the cycle in a 12-3 win over the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, scoring three times and driving in four runs as the Pirates won their fifth game in a row. Barry Bonds homered and Andy Van Slyke banged a pair of doubles to pave the road for Jeff Robinson and Mike Smith. 
  • 1991 - Pittsburgh banged out four homers from Cecil Espy, Jay Bell, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla to whip the SF Giants 8-3 at TRS. Bell scored three times with a pair of RBI while Espy added three RBI and a run to back John Smiley’s win. 
  • 1992 - Andy Van Slyke had three hits, including a homer and double, and drove home four runs while scoring twice as the Bucs beat LA 10-3 at Dodger Stadium. Leadoff hitter Alex Cole had three hits and scored three times as Danny Cox got the win in relief of Danny Jackson.
Andy Van Slyke 1989 Topps series
  • 1997 - Joe Randa and Mark Smith homered in the ninth inning for a 4-3 win over the Dodgers at TRS to give the Bucs a DH split. Both blows came off Todd Worrell, who didn’t record an out, giving up a walk and then back-to-back bombs to Renda and Smith. Marc Wilkins, who worked the last two frames, got the win. Pittsburgh was clobbered 8-2 in the opener. 
  •  2009 - Andrew McCutchen hit his first walk off homer in the ninth to beat Philadelphia and Brad Lidge 6-4 at PNC Park. Brandon Moss had tied the game moments earlier with a single and trotted home with the winning run ahead of Cutch. Matt Capps gave up a pair in the ninth for the rare daily double of a blown save and win.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bucs Run Out Of Come Backs Today, Drop 4-3 Decision To Brew Crew

Mike Fiers wasn't fooling around in the first. He whiffed the first two guys and got Cutch on a pop out. For the Bucs and Vance Worley, well, the early innings still bite. He got have gotten out if it easily with a decent hop or two. With two gone, Ryan Braun hit a swinging bunt for a knock, followed by three more consecutive singles, one off Josh's glove and another a well-placed grounder, and it was 2-0.

After two were down in the second, Pedro walked and stole second. He needn't have bothered; Starling blasted a 3-2 cutter, up and over the outside half out of the yard in center to tie the game.

But uh-oh; Carlos Gomez doubled with two outs on a ball Cutch catches 99 times out of 100, and it cost a run when Jonathan Lucroy singled to right. Braun walked on four pitches and A-Ram rolled a single into right to plate another Brewer. Scooter Gennett followed with yet another single, but this one had a better ending as Braun was cut down at home by Gregory Polanco. Eleven batters (nine for the Brew Crew) have reached base already - and all after two outs!

Both sides went down in order in the third. With two away in the fourth, Russ singled, followed by a Pedro pop out. And with two Brewer outs, Lucroy doubled but Braun bounced out; both hurlers are getting a little better at recording that third out.

Marte opened the fifth with another sizzler to center, but Gomez ran this one down by the track. The next two outs were routine. Worley remained in his groove, sitting down the Brewers in order. The Pirates sat down quickly in the sixth. Gerardo Parro broke up the rhythm of the day by singling to lead off, and was bunted up but left stranded.

The Buc bats were a no-show in the seventh, too. With one gone, a Braun liner and a Ramirez bloop put Brewers at first and second. That was it for Vanimal as Justin Wilson took the ball. He channeled his inner Jared Hughes and had his second pitch rolled to short for an inning-killing 6-4-3 DP.

Jeremy Jeffress took over for Fiers in the eighth. Jordy singled with one away, but Ike and Josh couldn't cash him in. Mark the Shark got some work. After a liner to Jordy, Parra singled on a bunt and tried to go to second when Russ' throw to first got away, but The Kid was backing up and nailed him at second. A whiff ended the frame.

Francisco Rodriguez took over in the ninth, looking for the save. Travis flew out to begin things, then Cutch kept the team on life support, battling for ten pitches before sending some high cheese over the wall in left center. The Kid hit a tapper back to the mound, then Russ walked. Rodriguez stayed soft on Pedro and put him away on three pitches. Seems like everyone but Pedro knew he wasn't seeing a fastball..

Well, if the Bucs had continued their otherwordly defensive play - and they did make a handful of nice saves behind Worley - it may have been different. Maybe not; after yesterday's bloop barrage by the Bucs, the Brew Crew was due for a couple of seeing-eye hits themselves. And once again, the Pirates had problems with a soft tosser. Even a little harder to see was Gregory Polanco remain in his hitting funk; he batted three times and K'ed three times to cap a 1-for-30 stretch.

Still, they took the series, which was the goal, and didn't lose ground to anyone but Milwaukee (Atlanta, St. Louis and the G-Men lost). So strap 'em up and get after those Redbirds. They play St. Louis six of the next nine games, so there's a lot on the line in the near future.

Francisco Liriano opens the Card series against John Lackey at PNC tomorrow night.
  • Pedro is 8-for-10 stealing bases this year; he was 4-for-4 in his career before this season.
  • The Pirates have claimed LHP Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from San Diego and optioned him to Indy. He's a 27 year old reliever with a fastball/change combo and what's been described as a "funky" sidearm delivery who had a cup of coffee with Seattle in 2013. IF Tommy Field was DFA'ed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Worley v Fiers, Lineup (Pedro, Polanco In), Russ, Josh D, Numbers...

Vance Worley (5-3, 2.92) shakes the broom at Mike Fiers (3-1, 1.29) in the series closer.

Vanimal took a first inning beating during his last appearance, then strung together a decent outing. He's not the most toolsy guy; when his stuff flattens out instead of sinking and stays upstairs, the batter's box turns into Cape Kennedy in full launch mode. But that hasn't happened often, and hopefully he'll climb back on the bar stool with a strong outing today.

He doesn't have a great track record against the Brewers. Vance is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against Milwaukee, all as a starter for the Phillies. But he hasn't faced them since August, 2012, so we'll see how he fares today.

Fiers, after a bullpen callup in June, threw strong ball at AAA Nashville and stepped into the rotation when Matt Garza went down. Since then, he's 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA. Fiers has 25 strikeouts and three walks in that 21 inning span, giving up two runs and eight hits. He throws a fastball, cutter, curve and change, with the heater averaging just 88. Fiers depends on filling up the strike zone, keeping the ball down, and a little deception; his ball is hard to pick up out of his hand.

The good news is that he's just 1-3 against the Bucs with a 6.64 ERA in six outings (four starts). Two of those losses came last year, one in relief and the other as a starter.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Pedro 1B, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P. Pedro & Polanco in; we're surprised Russ didn't get the usual night-to-day blow.

The game starts at 2:10 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Russ Martin leads all MLB catchers in OBP (.414), is third in hitting (.292), fifth in RBI (51) and leads NL backstops in RISP (.382). Martin also shares the league lead in fielding percentage (.997), having made just two errors in 634 chances, and is tied for second with 20 caught stealings
  • Josh Harrison's stick has been the big news, but his glove has been pretty solid, too. He has a UZR/150 of 9.1 at third, 4.8 in the outfield and 4.6 at second (don't ask about short, lol). For comparison, Pedro's is -19.8 at the hot corner, The Kid's -16.6 at second and Travis at -14.4 in the pasture.
  • Pittsburgh is four games behind the Brew Crew in the NL Central and 3-1/2 behind the Cards for the top wild card spot. They're 1-1/2 games behind the Giants and 1/2 game in back of the Braves in the race for the second wild card position.
  • The Pirates won four consecutive games over two series at Miller Park last season, but a win this afternoon would give them their first three-game sweep in Milwaukee since the 2004 season (April 30 - May 2).
  • The Bucs lead all MLB teams with 49 pinch hits and 35 pinch-hit RBI.