Thursday, June 30, 2016

6/30 - Off Field Happenings: Hanny to Pgh, McWilliams for Perez, Dreyfuss Honored, HBD Jovo, Hal & Don

  • 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John, in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, tho Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB.
Johnny Miljus 1927 (photo Getty Images)
  • 1902 - RHP Hal Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30 year old, and spent his four year career (1932-35) as a Buc. In that span, he went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA with his time split between starting and the bullpen.
  • 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “what was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams.
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs. 
Barney Dreyfuss stone, now at PNC Park
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell (each won 33 games during his next three years) in an even up deal.
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a more minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

It All Comes Together As Bucs Close Out June With 8-1 Romp

The Bucs went quietly in the first against Wade Miley while Seattle looked like it was going to keep up the offensive drumbeat against against Jameson Taillion. After an out, the M's banged out back to back singles to bring up big bopper Nelson Cruz, but JT was equal to the task, getting a heater banged to JHK, who started an around the horn DP to bank the fire. After that, it was a cakewalk.

Freeser opened the second by dumping an 88 MPH fastball into the seats to draw first blood. An out later, the Pirates added when Starling singled, S-Rod got bopped with a pitch and Josh chased them home with a double. The third went without drama, with Gregory's knock the only action. In the fourth, the Buccos built on their cushion.

JT was all that and a bag of chips v Seattle (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Starling bunted his way on and stole second, plating on S-Rod's two bagger off the RF wall. Two outs later, Jordy's roller to left made it 5-0. Taillon was still dealing, and was working on 10 consecutive Mariners set down. In the fifth, Pittsburgh put the game on ice against Donn Roach. Freeser blooped a single and JHK followed with another knock. Starling walked, and they all came home on S-Rod's first pitch double, drilled up the 3B line. An error left Buc on the corners with two gone, but Jordy couldn't cash in. Seattle finally got to JT when a lead-off double came home after a dying quail single, and that would be the day's final damage.

Nathan Karns came on in the sixth and struck out the side; JT fanned a pair (one an impressive whiff of Cruz, getting him on a pair on nasty sinkers after falling behind 3-1) and stranded a pair in what would be his last inning. The Buccos loaded the bases in the seventh thx to a booted DP ball, but Karns pumped third strikes past Erik Kratz and Jordy. AJ Schugel answered with a clean frame. David Rollins left a pair of Pirates aboard in the eighth while Neftali Feliz 1-2-3'ed the Mariners. Rollins and Tony Watson exchanged clean ninth innings, and the Pirates evened up their Coast road trip with an 8-1 win.

Starling is banging the ball at a .331 clip after three knocks tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

JT did a good job locating rather than spraying his fastball and kept his sinker down in the zone to go with a nasty hammer. In his six IP, he gave up a run on six hits with six K and nary a walk after 95 pitches, a very nice outing after a couple of clinkers. The back end did what it does, and so a miserable June ended with a high note, with the Bucs rallying to take 4-of-6 in the last week. The Pirates are off today, then play in the California sun against the Oakland A's on Friday.

  • Starling and S-Rod, batting 6-7, had themselves a day. They went 5-for-7 ensemble, with two walks and a HBP, five runs scored and four driven home. Freeser added a pair of knocks, runs and RBI. 
  • How to close out a game: AJ Schugel, Neftali Feliz & Tony Watson worked three perfect innings, using up just 28 pitches total.
  • Even with tonight's loss, the Mariners are 9-3 in interleague games this season and have outscored NL opponents by +16 runs per ESPN Stats.
  • Bob Walk added a little more fun to the night when he tumbled out of his seat during the Root broadcast, which was of course caught in film and replayed through the night. 
  • Pedro Alvarez was in the clubhouse tonight. No, the Bucs haven't brought him back; the O's were in town before their series tomorrow against Seattle, so Petey stopped by.
  • The Pirates promoted Curve 1B/OF Jose Osuna to Indy per the Altoona Mirror's Cory Giger. Osuna's slashing .269/6/38, and can play the position, so it's a well deserved boot upstairs. We wonder if that means Josh Bell's arrival in Pittsburgh will be sooner rather than later...

6/30 - Games: Forbes Field Opens, 3 In A Row For Stu, Fan Walkout, 9 Game Streak & More

  • 1909 - A SRO crowd of 30,338 was on hand as the Pirates fell to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Ruelbach tossed a three hitter to top Vic Willis. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel. FF’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, and the first pads to cushion the wall in the forties. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its early years. Some folly; the yard was the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons.
Forbes Field Opening Day Hoopla (Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins.
  • 1960 - Dick Stuart bombed three consecutive HRs to key an 11-6 win as the Pirates split a DH with the second place Giants at Forbes Field. Stuart had seven RBI in the nitecap and joined Ralph Kiner as the second Pirate to hit three homers in a game at Forbes Field. Joe Gibbon worked 7-⅔ innings, giving up six hits and a run after Vinegar Bend Mizell was chased by the G-Men in the second frame. The Bucs were flattened in the opener, losing by an 11-0 count.
  • 1962 - The Pirates clobbered the Cards 17-7 at Busch Stadium. Smoky Burgess had two homers and a double, good for seven RBI. Roberto Clemente had a hot stick, too, going 4-for-5 with a homer, double and five runs driven in. Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart added three knocks apiece as the Pirates drilled 22 hits against St. Louis. 
Smoky Burgess 1962 Topps
  • 1997 - Jon Lieber tossed a five hit, ten K, complete game 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at TRS, backed by homers from Kevin Young and Dale Sveum. But the most memorable part of the afternoon was Lieber’s dominance of Albert Belle, who he whiffed four times. The 28,070 fans loved it; Belle was in the first year of an $11M contract, while the “Freak Show” Pirates had a $9M payroll for the entire team. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline for Bob Smizik’s game story was “Pirates Clang Belle.” Lieber also held Frank Thomas, who was making a mere $7.15M, 0-for-2, though the Big Hurt did draw a walk and had a sac fly for Chi-town’s only RBI.
  • 1999 - The Bucs rode an eight run fourth frame to a 9-1 win over the Phillies at TRS. Brian Giles had a three run homer, Al Martin had a three run bases loaded double and Brant Brown doubled in another pair as the Bucs banged out six hits to go with three walks in their big frame. Jason Schmidt cruised to victory, with ninth inning help from Brad Clontz.
  • 2007 - To protest the team’s small payroll and general ineptitude, a group called “Fans for Change” staged a walkout at PNC Park. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand of the 26,959 on hand who strolled out of the park after the third inning. They picked a bad day for it, as the Bucs beat the Nats 7-2 behind Tom Gorzelanny, who was supported by a three run homer by Adam LaRoche. Though the sentiment was widespread, the boycott had little effect.
Gorzo 2007 Topps Gold
  • 2008 - The Pirates penciled a pitcher in the eight hole for the first time in over 50 years when John Russell had Paul Maholm (.161) bat ahead of Jack Wilson (.312). Didn’t work as the Bucs went down 4-3 to the Reds at GABP after Matt Capps gave up a two run homer in the ninth to Junior. Maholm went 0-for-3; Wilson 1-for-3.
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their ninth straight game 2-1 in 14 innings over the Brewers at PNC Park. The game was delayed in the second inning for nearly 2-1/2 hours, and the bullpens took over with Milwaukee ahead 1-0. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the eighth when his two out knock drove in Starling Marte. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 13th to miss a golden chance, but Russell Martin, the last Pirate position player remaining, singled home Gaby Sanchez, who had an infield knock and stolen base to open the frame, with the game winner in the following go-around. Tony Watson got the win after three scoreless innings. He followed five other Pirate relievers, and the ensemble tossed 12 innings of two-hit, shutout ball without issuing a walk, led by Vin Mazzaro’s perfect five inning stint. It was the first time in franchise history that the bullpen put up that many consecutive zeroes in one game.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday: Jameson Taillon v Wade Smiley, Lineup, Notes

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

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (1-1, 4.50) takes on southpaw Wade Miley (6-3, 5.28). JT is still feeling his way around in the bigs in the first lap of his career, and has been a little flat and up with his heater. He's still searching for a comfort zone that will allow him some consistency with command. The veteran Miley pitched a rehab game game Friday, and this will be his first start since being DL'ed after his June 12th start with a minor shoulder impingement. He's 2-1/2.14 v Pittsburgh lifetime in five starts, having last faced them in 2014 when he spun an eight inning, four hit, two run, 10 K outing for a no decision.

JT takes the bump tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy SS, Gregory Polanco DH, Cutch CF, Davud Freese 1B, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling Marte LF, S-Rod RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Erik Kratz C, Taillon P. Gregory DH'ng against a lefty; we like it. Still not pushing Stew, and that's understandable, too.

  • The Pirates have gone 9-22 since May 28th. 
  • Ryan Vogelsong will throw a sim game Friday. Man, it's good to see him bounce back so quickly after that gruesome beaning, and better yet, the docs sad he can participate 100% in baseball activities now. Fran and Cole Train will join him in the Friday scrimmage.
  • Indy's next-in-line duo of Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell were named to the International league's All-Star squad.

6/29: Expo Closes, HBD Rock, #400 For Pops, Kiner Cover, Freddy Snaps Streak & More

  • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach gunned down Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17 game winning streak snapped.
  • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps after the game concluded.
1909 Pgh Press
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post‚ and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field.
  • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards 2-1 at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm rained out the remainder. The rain also pulled the plug on local son (he was from Donora) Stan Musial’s 24 game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy.
  • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, The Rock hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He’s now an analyst on Root Sports’ TV team. 
John Wehner 1992 Score "Rising Star"
  • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirate player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected at Busch Stadium in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win. Bill Robinson had a four bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage combined for a seven-hitter.
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in ten innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the extra inning win.
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double, and Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete game, four hit shutout for the win.
  • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL with a broken toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game in St. Louis on the 26th (an eventual 10 inning, 5-4 Pirate win) and was out of action for 10 weeks.
Ollie Perez 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings
  • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer.
  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI.
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director.

Niese Chased, Bats Quiet In 5-2 Loss

The first two innings between Jon Niese and Hisashi Iwakuma were calm, with each hurler allowing one runner. The Bucs went quietly in the third; not so the Mariners. A single followed by a perfect bunt that Niese should have just eaten turned into a throwing error that almost got JJ's arm mangled and left runners on the corners. A DP cleaned it up at the cost of a tally, putting the Bucs down 1-0.

The Seattle gloves came into play big time in the fourth. Gregory bunted for a hit, then Cutch rocketed one that was ticketed for extra bases until RF Franklin Gutierrez sweetly ran it down. Starling looked like he shot a ball into left, but SS Ketel Marte kept it all in the clan by making the play and turning two in the process. Jon began to struggle; a one-out single, walk, single sequence put him in a jam (and just a jam at this point thanks to some suspect baserunning by the Mariners), but he wiggled out with just a run surrendered via a sac fly.

Another rough day in the office for Jon Niese (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The fifth opened with coach Jeff Branson getting the boot for some bench jockeying (plate ump Ben May has been quite bad tonight both ways, but was especially generous on Iwakuma's sloooow curve) and Clint joined him in the shower a heartbeat later. Matt Joyce opened with a single, but a hit-and-run with Freeser backfired as his liner to center became a twin killing. With two gone, Niese lost it completely. A walk, wild pitch, single triplet brought home one run and Nelson Cruz's shot into the second level (c'mon, you didn't think Jon was getting through this line up without a dinger, right?) made it 5-0. He gave up two more knocks before Arquimedes Caminero got that elusive third out.

The sixth went quietly for Pittsburgh; Arquie struck out the side, although he did allow a two out double.  The Bucs showed some life finally in the seventh. Gregory doubled, went to third on a Cutch fly and scored on a Starling triple. Marte plated after a two out Freeser knock, and Adam Frazier followed with another rap. So long, Hasashi, hello Edwin Diaz, who ended the uprising. Arquie gave up a two out single followed by a double, but a Cutch-Jordy-Stew relay team cut down the lead man at home (Dae-Ho Lee with not represent South Korea in the Olympic sprints), withstanding a Seattle blocking the plate challenge.

Gregory had a pair of knocks for the Bucs (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Diaz 1-2-3'ed the Corsairs in the eighth. Jared Hughes got the call and tossed a clean frame. Steve Cishik came in for the save. Cutch singled and Starling almost hit into a DP but Lee dropped the relay. Another grounder moved him to second, and yet a third ended it.

Iwakuma had put together a string of nice starts before getting shelled at Detroit, but he got back on the bike tonight, unlike Niese. Jon struggled mightily for the fourth straight game, giving up 22 runs in 21 IP during that span. The middle bullpen, configured of Schugel, Nicasio and Caminero, has found its way lately, but the spate of five inning starts will wear down any bridge group. And it's just not the pitching; the Bucs are hitting .228 for June, admittedly against some top line pitching, but still... Gotta get better, right?

  • Gregory continues to rake with two more knocks, while Cutch, Starling and Freeser were held to a hit each but were squaring up pretty well.
  • RHP Trevor Williams at Indy is starting to knock off some of the rust. He went six innings last night, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and six whiffs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday: Jon Niese v Hisashi Iwakuma, Lineup, Notes, Preview

Tonight: The game starts at 10:10 at Safeco Field. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jon Niese (6-5, 4.93) begins the match against Hisashi Iwakuma (6-6, 4.45). After a six-game string of strong starts, Niese has been tagged for 12 runs in his past two outings, lasting 10-2/3 IP. Iwakuma has followed roughly the same path. He put together six solid outings where he worked at least seven innings before a beat down and fifth inning exit against Detroit, so both guys are looking for bounce backs. Niese hasn't faced Seattle since 2013; Iwakuma has never twirled against the Bucs. One thing for sure - the outfielders should play deep tonight; both guys give up plenty of bombs (Jon 18; Hisashi 17).

Adam Frazier gets a start today (photo via 2080 Baseball)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco DH, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Matt Joyce RF, David Freese 3B, Adam Frazier 2B, Jordy SS, Stew C, Niese P. Gregory's back, so that's good even if it is as DH. It's not a surprise that Mr. Frazier is getting to show his stuff - Josh is hitting below the Mendoza line in June. JHK is batting .158 in his last 10 games, w/Freeser just a hair higher at .235; Clint's hoping to get one them jump started.

Preview: This is the beginning of a nine game road trip for the Pirates. This quick two game set will be followed by an off day Thursday, then three games at Oakland and four more against the Cards at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh cruises into the ASB with a three game series at PNC against da Cubbies; that's seven pretty big games to close out the first half of the campaign.

  • The geeky fivethirtyeight mag has a Neil Paine piece on the travails of Cutch and what it may portend. 
  • Gerrit Cole threw off a mound today for the second time, using all his pitches, so there's a light at the end of his tunnel.
  • Breaking bad: One-time Bucco prospect Adrian Sampson, sent to Seattle for JA Happ last year, made his major-league debut for the Mariners last week and would have been on schedule to face his former organization this trip. But he had elbow pain warming up for his next outing, and it was determined that he would need surgery to repair a flexor bundle injury in his elbow, killing his rookie campaign. 
  • So long, Figgy: The LA Dodgers claimed IF Cole Figueroa off waivers and optioned him to AAA Oklahoma City.
  • OF Austin Meadows (US team) & Lithuanian RHP Dovydas Neverauskas (World team) of Indy were selected as members of  the 2016 Sirius All Star Futures Game.
  • The Pirates announced the signing of 11th-round pick,  RHP Max Kranick from PA's Valley View HS, who had committed to Virginia, the second prep overdraft they inked through underdrafting to save (and redirect) some bucks in the first ten rounds.
  • OF Alex Presley was DFA'ed by the Brewers.
  • Eric Fryer, one of a legion of 2011 Bucco catchers, was DFA'd by Cards.

6/28: Finale at Forbes Field, Pops Hits #300, Cole Train Rolls, Mad Dog Deal, HBD Mike & More...

  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01.
  • 1894 - Although he was still several seasons from being a Pirate (1900), Hall of Fame OF’er and later manager Fred Clarke had one of the greatest debuts in MLB history, going 5-for-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies for the Louisville Colonels at Eclipse Park to spark an 11-9 victory.
Fred Clarke (image by Sanjay Verma)
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2, with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh.
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the final games at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs tenth straight loss.
Forbes Field swan song (6-29-1970 Post Gazette)
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter.
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323).
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia.
Alex Presley 2011 Bowman Chrome
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Second Verse, Same As the First: Liriano/Hughes Blow Early Lead; Bucs Fall 5-4

Frankie gave up a leadoff walk (surprise) but got of the inning undinged, thx greatly to a pop fly that dropped between a couple of Bucs but was still turned into a heads-up forceout. Scott Kazmir walked Jordy to open, and he was chased to third an out later on Cutch's two bagger. Another walked juiced 'em, and Starling brought a run home by poking a slider into right. Josh couldn't cash in, popping out, but S-Rod did, drawing the third walk of the frame. Kazmir hung a two strike changeup to Erik Kratz, who dropped the pitch into center for an extra pair of points before Frankie's bouncer ended the dance 40 pitches after it began.

Frankie frittered away a big lead last time out, but tossed a 1-2-3 second (w/a very nice pick and stretch by Freeser, saving JHK an error), as did Kazmir. Liriano left an 0-2 slider down but mid-plate, and Chris Taylor spanked it for a triple to start the third, with a whiff and a walk next. Justin Turner's RBI sac fly was a nice bit of hitting, lifting a down and tight slider to make it 4-1. Kaz got two fan jobs and a bunt back to box to tuck the Bucs away neatly. LA got a two out single and walk in the fourth before out number three was gloved. Kazmir ran his streak of Buccos buried to 10.

Where oh where has our Frankie gone? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the fifth, Liriano issued a one out walk and Turner doubled him to third. Yet another walk loaded the sacks and Yasiel Puig's knock plated a pair. Jared Hughes came on. A single tied it. Kratz tried a pickoff; this time it backfired with a bad throw, moving Puig to third. A steal put Dodgers at second and third, and an infield rap gave LA the lead. The first three Bucs hit ropes off Kazmir; only Cutch's two out liner found grass. JHK walked, but the run ended when Starling swung through a heater. Hughes tossed a clean sixth. The Bucs had S-Rod on second after a double with two outs. Matt Joyce grabbed a stick and the Dodgers called on lefty JP Howell. Howell won the southpaw challenge, getting Joyce swinging at a 3-2 knuckle curve.

Juan Nicasio came on in the seventh and worked a quiet frame. Joe Blanton took the ball for the Blue and walked Jordy. After a whiff, Cutch hit into a force and then was caught stealing to put the pin in the balloon. Juan's eighth went walk, fly, DP for a 1-2-3 affair. Pedro Baez answered the phone and struck out JHK and Starling. Kelly Jansen was waved in after that for some reason and completed the hat trick by whiffing Josh.

Juan's been lookin' good coming out of the pen. (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Nicasio gave up an opening walk and single in the ninth, and two outs later a plunked batter filled the bases with Dodgers, but he got through it. Jansen coaxed a pair of easy outs before walking JJ; Adam Frazier came in to run and stole second. Fraze died there as Jordy poked a fly to right that Puig cradled.

The Liriano/Hughes pairing hasn't panned out so well this homestand; they've managed to hand over 6-1 and 4-0 leads for two of the four losses. The offense tried to carry the day with one big frame in both matches, when grinding out an extra run or two, especially when you get into the opponent's bullpen early, would have made a world of difference. Still, they took 3-of-4 and can keep pushin' with Seattle and Oakland next up. It'd be nice to go into the St. Louis & Chicago sets before the break with some mojo risin'.

  • Cutch had two of the Bucs five hits. On the flip side, he's now 2-for-7 on steal attempts this year.
  • Clint said before the game that Gregory was sitting because of his hammy, not southpaw syndrome. He's cleared for base running only.
  • Fangraphs Dave Cameron said that now isn't the right time to move Cutch...but there are some indicators that the time is approaching. In a related post, Enos Sarris looks at the development of Austin Meadows.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has updated his scouting report of Chad Kuhl.
  • Altoona lefty Brandon Waddell was named the AA Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week.
  • Bradenton LHP Stephen Tarpley was named High-A Florida State League Pitcher of the Week. He went 2-0.

Monday: Frankie v Scott Kazmir, Lineup, Notes

Today: The Dodger finale is a matinee, getaway game that begins at 12:35 as the Bucs look for a four game sweep. The contest will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Frankie Liriano (4-7, 5.03) v Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.52). Liriano has been wild and homer prone; his last outing saw him staked to a 6-1 lead that eventually became a 7-6 loss. He's been in a month long tailspin with four straight losses, and the Bucs need him to start flying right. In five career starts vs. the Dodgers, Liriano is 4-0/2.73. He faced them twice last year, going 1-0 with one good Frankie, one bad Frankie, outing. The Dodgers' veteran lefty has mostly been workmanlike for LA, with a handful of strong outings and a sprinkling of stinkers thrown in the mix. He has been quite solid over his last half dozen starts, with a 3.38 ERA and 11 K per game. Kazmir has become a five or six inning pitcher, so the Bucs might be able to get to him early.

Frankie toes the rubber today (photo Associated Press)

Lineup: Jordy SS, David Freese 1B, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling LF, Josh Harrison 2B, S-Rod RF, Erik Kratz C, Frankie P. It's the fourth game in a row for Gregory on the bench, with his sore hammy compounded by a couple of tough lefties. Kratz gets the call for a day-after-night game, and Jordy's back.

  • Since 2014, Pittsburgh has gone 13-3 against the Dodgers.
  • The Bucs last sweep was a three-gamer against the Arizona D-Backs between May 24-26th. The Pirates have been involved in seven sweeps this year; they've taken three and been broomed four times. Last year, they were 14-6 in swept series.
  • Jordy passed his concussion protocols after taking a knee to the noggin last night, and said he felt much better after the game. Guess he passed with flying colors, as he's back in the lineup.

6/27: Clutch Clemente, HBD Daryle, Cumpton v deGrom, Grilli Deal & More...

  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground rule double to center in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
Roberto Clemente 1964 Topps Giant
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”
  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell’ as his drive hit the facsimile Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veteran’s Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI.
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002.
Daryle Ward 2004 Topps Total
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee."
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.
Jason Bay 2005 Donruss Studio
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win.
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013. Grilli is now working for Toronto while Frieri has moved around and is currently a free agent.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Kids Are OK, Freeser's Big Knock & Shutdown Pen Send Kershaw Down 4-3

Chad Kuhl had some early command issues (nerves?), and was touched for a walk, single, walk with two gone. He bore down and got Yasiel Puig to bounce out, and his first MLB inning was in the books. jordy opened with a knock against Clayton Kershaw. Freeser bounced into a force; Jordy's gawky slide broke up a DP, but left him woozy. A wild pitch moved David to second, where he stayed.

Jordy left the game; Adam Frazier moved to right and S-Rod to short. Chad had no issues in the second, picking up his first two K's against the bottom of the order. Josh singled with an out and Stew followed with another knock. S-Rod drew a rare Kershaw walk. Kuhl fanned, but made Clayton throw eight pitches before sitting down. It may have worn him down; Fraze dumped an RBI knock into short left. The next pitch was a heater down the middle to Freeser; his double to the RC gap swept the bases to make it 4-0 Buccos.

Kuhl was welcomed into the show in the third by a Cory Seager double and ump reviewed HR by Justin Turner (Starling couldn't get there quite in time as it barely cleared the fence; the umps checked for fan interference) to cut the lead in half. Kershaw pshawed the Bucs 1-2-3. The back end of LA's lineup went down in order in the fourth. S-Rod singled with an out and was bunted up. Fraze took another pitch the opposite way, but no run resulted this time as Sean was cut down at home. Good wave, better play by LA as the tag just beat Rodriguez to the dish.

Chad may not have had the best command tonight, but there was no questioning his compete level (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Seager drew a one out walk in the fifth, and Turner plated him again, going with an 0-2 slider and doubling to right off the Clemente Wall on a ball that Frazier had trouble corralling. Rookie mistake; that pitch has to be off the black in that count in the majors. An out later, with Turner at third, a passed ball turned into the final out as he was caught trying to score, with Kuhl covered the plate like he was an old-timey catcher. Chad gave up three runs on four hits with four walks and five whiffs on 82 pitches. He threw virtually all sinkers and heaters, with good velocity at 95-97. He was up and sometimes sprayed the ball, maybe suffering from opening night jitters; he'll get another outing. Clayton, meanwhile, rolled through the Pirates without a burp.

Juan Nicasio came in for the sixth against his old mates and tossed a clean frame.Starling opened with a knock, but was nailed stealing an out later. It was bang-bang, but no Bucco challenge was offered, and it hurt when Stew followed with a double. S-Rod was intentionally walked, and Gregory grabbed a stick in place of Juan. El Coffee got killed by the first two called strikes, both well low, and whiffed by missing a fastball down the middle.

Adam Frazier had a coming out party - two hits against Clayton and a sweet grab (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

AJ Schugel took over in the seventh. Kershaw was hit for as AJ tossed an easy frame, highlighted by Fraze making a tumbling grab in right. Casey Fien climbed the bump and tucked the Bucs away. Oh, and also got Cutch ejected. Plate ump Chris Conroy has had a ridiculously low strike zone (both ways) tonight and rung up Andrew on a ball down, to his displeasure. So now Fraze is in LF, Starling in CF and Matt Joyce in RF. No diff to Schugs; he mowed down the Dodgers in the eighth. The Bucs couldn't add anymore up against Fien. No need; Melancon went dancin' without any drama to put away the Dodgers and claim the Buccos third win in a row.

This was a great game for a national audience, well played throughout. The Bucco babes, Chad Kuhl and Adam Frazier, acquitted themselves well. A couple of clutch two out knocks provided the offense, and the bullpen held onto a one run lead for four innings to close it out. Knock on wood; maybe Juan and AJ can prove to be the bridge guys the pen has been so sorely lacking.

AJ tossed two clean frames to hand the torch to The Shark (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • The 7-8-1 hitters (S-Rod, Stew, Jordy & Fraze) went 6-for-8 with two walks and scored three times.
  • Jordy has an 11 game hitting streak after tonight. He left after his head and Chase Utley's knee met during a first inning slide. The Pirates announced that he had "...head and right ear discomfort. He is being evaluated."
  • Stew is  9-for-17 off Clayton Kershaw in his career after going 2-for-3 in this match.
  • Adam Frazier became the second lefty hitter this season to have a multi-hit game against Kershaw, joining Dee Gordon, per Inside Edge
  • This is the second most runs scored against Kershaw this year. The last time he gave up more than a pair in an outing was April 26th. Six innings equals his shortest 2016 performance.
  • The game drew 32,228 fans.
  • Gerrit Cole threw off a mound today and has a couple of side sessions on tap; looks like they expect him back, if there are no bumps in the road, shortly after All Star break.

Sunday: Chad Kuhl v Clayton Kershaw, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The rare Sunday nite game starts at 8:05 with coverage by ESPN and 93.7 The Fan. For the kids, there's a Cutch jersey giveaway.

Chad makes his MLB debut tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl vs. Clayton Kershaw (11-1, 1.57). First MLB start on national TV against Clayton Kershaw? Hey, no pressure. Kuhl slashed 6-2/2.58 at Indy, tho his FIP is a run higher and he sports a pretty high 83.5% strand rate, both indicators that he's had some luck behind those counting numbers. He relies heavily on a sinker, pitching to contact with good command. His off speed deliveries aren't as developed, which lead many to believe his future is less as a starter and more in the Tony Watson mold. He's mostly tossed to a 90 pitch count in AAA, so six innings would be a good outing for Chad.  Meanwhile, Clayton leads the league in starts, IP, wins, ERA and strikeouts; he's pretty dang good. But in six career starts at PNC Park, he's just human with a slash of 1-0/3.63, and last year, the Bucs won the two games he started against them, 5-4 and 3-2, so...

Lineup: Jordy SS, David Freese 1B, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Stew C, S-Rod RF, Kuhl, P. Not certain of Gregory's condition; he just may be getting another recuperation day with a strong lefty on the hill.

  • To make space on the 25-man and 40-man rosters for Chad, Kyle Lobstein was optioned to Indy and Curtis Partch was DFA'ed.
  • Nick Cafardi of the Boston Globe is doing a little trade rumor mongering re: Frank and Mark the Shark. He speculates that Miami (and we've already heard Baltimore, too) might be interested in Liriano, while the Astros, Giants, Mets and Red Sox could be "fits" for Melancon.
  • Cory Luebke was given his unconditional release after he refused an assignment to Indy, making him a FA. He was DFA'ed earlier this week to create roster space.

6/26 - Birthdays & Moments: HBD Bill & Jason, Steve's Streak, Bratwurst Meares

  • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history.
  • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs.
  • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. He was on a Hall of Fame track before a string of injuries slowed his career.
Jason Kendall 1996 e-motion
  • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares had been caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t.

6/26: Games - Lloyd Steals First, Little Poison Covers the OF, Maury's 24-Gamer, JT's 4 Homers, El Coffee's Has a Day...

  • 1930 - Larry French tossed a seven hit shutout to beat Phil Collins and the Philadelphia Phils 1-0 in the opening game of a Forbes Field DH’er. The Buc bats woke up in game #2, pounding out an 11-5 win. Paul Waner had three hits, including a double and triple, scored four times and drove in a run to lead the attack. All nine Pirates had hits; seven different Bucs scored and seven had RBI. Ery Brame went the distance for the victory.
  • 1935 - CF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner set a MLB mark when he recorded 18 putouts during a 5-1, 4-2 doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves. He had nine grabs in each game and rapped out five hits during the twinbill at Braves Field to support Buc pitchers Guy Bush and Bill Swift.
  • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the DH, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills.
  • 1984 - 1B Jason Thompson hit two homers in each game (a pair off Dennis Eckersley and then two more off Rich Bordi) of a doubleheader split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 9-0 behind a Rick Rhoden four hitter and dropping the nitecap 9-8. Thompson tied the club record (established by Ralph Kiner on 9/11/47) by hitting four home runs in a doubleheader.
  • 1991 - The Bucs scored five times in the third inning and then hung on to defeat the Cubs at TRS 7-6. Jose Lind had a three run homer, Barry Bonds a two run shot, and Jay Bell went 5-for-5 to prime the attack against Chicago.
  • 2001 - On his 27th B-Day, Jason Kendall was ruled out at first, prompting the most famous steal in Pirate history. Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out, put on a show for the 24,120 fans at PNC Park, and finally pulled the sack off its stanchion and carried it into the dugout in protest. As for the game, the Bucs came back to beat the Brewers 7-6 in 12 frames. They dodged a late bullet when Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-run, two-out eleventh inning homer to keep the game alive after the Brew Crew had taken the lead on back-to-back homers in their half off Mike Williams. Rob Mackowiak singled through a drawn in infield to plate Kevin Young, who had opened the twelfth with a double and moved to third on a ground out, to seal the deal for Omar Olivares and Pittsburgh.
Lloyd steals first... (photo Mike Zarrelli/Getty)
  • 2004 - Randall Simon’s home run in the ninth was all the Pirate pitching needed as they edged the Reds 1-0 at GABP. Ollie Perez gave up three hits over seven frames. Mark Corey got the win and Jose Mesa earned his 17th save.
  • 2005 - The Pirates turned six double plays and beat the Cardinals in St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The six twin killings were a club record and each was scored differently (2-4; 5-4-3; 9-4; 4-6-3; 5-2-3; and 6-4-3). Jason Bay hit a three run HR in the third and a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth. Jose Castillo’s solo shot in the tenth iced the victory. During the game, starter Ollie Perez broke his toe when he kicked a laundry cart in the clubhouse, frustrated that he had been pulled in the seventh inning. He wouldn’t pitch again until September.
  • 2014 - Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, hit his first PNC Park homer and had four RBI to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Mets. Vance Worley got the win.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Jeff Locke, Cutch Team Up to Drop Dodgers 6-1

Jeff started the game off with an easy inning, capped by a sharp stop by Josh and equally sweet pick by JJ. Jaso then drew a four pitch walk off Kenta Maeda to open for the Bucs and went to second on a wild pitch.  A bouncer moved him up 90'. Cutch went down on three pitches and Freeser grounded to short, so no blood drawn. Both guys tossed clean second and third frames. Jeff put the Dodgers away in the fourth, and then a too-long silent bat went boom - Cutch launched a 427' dinger, turning on and crushing a 3-2 curve. Freeser followed with a knock before the fun ended. It was 15 up, 15 down after five for Jeff, aided by a sno-cone snag of a soft lob to left by Freeser. The bottom of the Pirates order went down without a peep.

The magic ended when Scott Van Slyke slapped a shin high change up the third base line for a lead off double in the sixth. He came home when AJ Ellis followed with another two bagger. He napped and was erased, picked off second by Erik Kratz and polished off in a quick rundown. Good thing, too, as Maeda followed with a single. A tapper moved him to second, where he remained.

Jeff flirted with a perfecto until the sixth (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)

JJ walked to start the Buc half, and Starling's slap single moved him ahead a notch. Cutch got ahead 3-0, fouled off a slider and then hammered a heater into the second row of the LF seats; geez, it's good to see Andrew back. Joe Blanton got the call. He lost Matt Joyce after an out. He reached third when Josh whiffed on a 3-2 pitch with Matt running; the throw went into center and Joyce went to third. Matt jogged home ahead of Jordy, who drilled a 3-1 slider into the CF greenery 415' away, making it a 6-1 game.

LA came back with another leadoff double in the seventh, but can't blame Clint with the lead to try to squeeze one more frame out of Jeff. A two out single put Dodgers at second and third when Marte's throw went to third rather than second. No sweat; Jeff struck out Van Slyke on three pitches. Locke gave up a run on five hits with no walks and three K on 89 pitches. Pedro Baez tucked the Bucs away. Tony Watson took over in the eighth. A quick single and double put him in a pickle, and three straight whiffs got him out of it. JP Howell toed the rubber and a pop, walk and DP made for an easy time.

AJ Schugel answered the phone for the last frame. He got the first two outs easily before an infield knock/error (S-Rod tossed the third out away) put a runner at second. It just delayed the inevitable as the Pirates claimed back-to-back wins for the first time since they swept the Mets in early June.

Glove man Jordy is hitting .274 w/a 10 game streak going on (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Give Locke his props; now he has Mad Bum and Kenta Maeda as notches in his holster. We'll see if tonight is an outlier for Cutch or if indeed his balky thumb is on the mend. One of his fireball streaks would be a godsend to a laboring club. On to ESPN and Clayton Kershaw tomorrow, with Chad Kuhl making his MLB bow under a pretty bright spotlight.

  • Jordy has a 10 game hitting streak. And this was Cutch's second multi-homer game of the year, the other being April 26th against Colorado. He also had the only multi-hit day of the night as the Bucs managed jut five knocks. It helps when three of the raps leave the yard.
  • Jeff Locke's seven wins lead the staff. The team has won six of his last eight starts.
  • The Dodgers had hit at least one home run in each of their last 14 games, the longest active streak in MLB, until the Buccos tossed tonight's power outage at them.
  • Gerrit Cole and Fran Cervelli were performing some soft drills today as they begin their rehabs.
  • LHP Steven Brault is back at Indy after rehab (hammy) and started tonight. The rust showed; he lasted just 3-1/3 IP and gave up four runs (two earned; key throwing error by Alen Hansen) and needed 77 pitches to get those 10 outs.
  • The Yankee's DFA'ed Ike Davis as Mark Teixeira made his return.

Saturday: Jeff Locke v Kenta Maeda, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game begins at 7:15 and will be carried nationally by Fox Sports and locally by 93.7 The Fan. The club is handing out Bucco yellow tote bags for the fans.

Pitchers: Jeff Locke (6-5, 5.44) faces Kenta Maeda (6-4, 2.64). With Jeff, it's always a question of which guy shows up - the one who outpitched Mad Bum in his last outing or the BP tosser of his two prior starts? The good news is that he's home, where he's 4-1/3.26 this campaign. Maeda, the 28 year old former Japanese League ace making his MLB debut tour, has been on fire since the end of May, giving up five earned runs in his last five starts, covering 29-1/3 IP, with 31 whiffs for a 3-1/ 1.52 slash over that span. He's also working on an extra day's rest. But hey, after Bumgarner, we know Jeff is willing to take on all comers, and he has tossed five outings where he's given up two or fewer runs.

Jeff goes for win #7; he and Jon Niese share the team lead with 6 each (photo Associated Press)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Matt Joyce RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Jordy SS, Erik kratz C, Locke P. Keep an eye on starling - he was a little gimpy last night, so he may not be at full strength, at leasy running, tonight. El Coffee is still MIA.

  • Gregory Polanco out again with left leg discomfort; his availability tonight is undetermined. 
  • The Bucs are murder on bubble guys. Nick Tepesch was DFA'd after the Pirates pounded him last night.
  • Tyler Glasnow & Josh Bell are part of this week's Baseball America Prospects Hot Sheet.

6/25: The B-Days - Ralph, A-Ram, Paul Maholm, Bobby

  • 1902 - LHP Ralph Erickson was born in Dubois, Idaho. He had a brief and bland career with Pittsburgh, his only big league club, from September 1929 to May 1930, going 1-0 with an 8.40 ERA. But despite that, Ralph did put up one enviable longevity stat - before he passed away in 2002 at the age of 100, he was, for a brief while, the oldest living former MLB player.
  • 1978 - Aramis Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo. Signed as a 16 year old, he played five plus seasons (1998-03) in Pittsburgh with a .286/76/316 line before being sent to the Cubs in a salary dump that is still cited today as the epitome of the Dave Littlefield years. To close the circle, he finished his career in Pittsburgh in 2015, slashing .245/6/33 as a deadline pickup.
A-Ram 2001 Upper Deck SP
  • 1982 - LHP Paul Maholm was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. The 2008 first rounder spent seven seasons (2005-11) with the Pirates, going 53-73/4.35 during the span and starting 227 games for Pittsburgh before being non-tendered in 2012. He worked three more seasons seasons for the Braves and Dodgers.
  • 1986 - LHP Bobby LaFromboise was born in Downey, CA. A depth reliever and LOOGY for the Bucs in 2014-15, he appeared in 17 games, posting a 1.54 ERA. He’s now in the Philadelphia system.

6/25: The Games - Kiner Cycle, Historic Pops Launch, #9000, Clutch Cutch, Five HR Games & More...

  • 1903 - Ed Doheny surrendered just four singles as the Pirates won at Philadelphia 4-3 in ten innings to run their winning streak to 15 games. It would end later in the day as the Phils took the nitecap of the twinbill by a 5-1 tally.
Ed Doheny (image via the Vermont Historical Society)
  • 1912 - The Pirates swept a DH from the Cards by 10-4 and 19-3 scores, banging out 35 hits over the course of the day at Robinson Field. Max Carey and Chief Wilson hit grand slams, and rookie Stump Edington came close, being thrown out at home after clearing the bases with a triple. The Bucs put up a 10 spot in the seventh inning of the nitecap. Claude Hendrix and King Cole were the winning pitchers.
  • 1924 - Pitcher Emil Yde's bases-loaded double tied the score in the ninth inning and in the 14th, the Pittsburgh southpaw's two-run triple beat the Cubs at Forbes Field, 8-7. Beside the two hits and five RBI, Yde hurled 10-1/3 innings of one-run ball to earn the win.
  • 1940 - The Bucs won for the fifth time in six games when they whipped the Philadelphia Phillies 9-7 at Shibe Park. Al Lopez had three RBI, Elbie Fletcher scored three runs and Bob Elliott went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
Bob Elliott 1940 (photo via Out of the Park Developments)
  • 1944 - The Cards edged the Bucs 2-1 in the opener of a twinbill as Red Munger outpitched Rip Sewell. The second ended in a controversial 5-5 tie, called after nine innings because of the Pennsylvania Blue Law. Pittsburgh tied the game in the ninth on a pinch hit long ball by Virgil Davis that went through the screen in front of the RF stands. Cards manager Billy Southworth protested, claiming that the ground rules were that a fair ball stuck in the screen was a double and the same reasoning should apply. Ump Beans Reardon didn’t buy the argument and ruled that since it didn’t stick but went through the fence, it was a homer.
  • 1949 - The Bucs hit five home runs (Ralph Kiner twice, Wally Westlake, Ed Stevens & Dino Restelli) but the Dodgers banged out four of their own to leave Pittsburgh eating their dust at Forbes Field, winning a 17-10 slugfest. Rookie Restelli set a record as his four bagger was the seventh in his first ten MLB games; he would only hit six more in his abbreviated big league career.
  • 1950 - Ralph Kiner led the Pirates to a 16-11 win at Brooklyn by hitting for the cycle. He went 5-for-6 with two homers, a double, triple, scored four times and drove in eight runs at Ebbets Field. Stan Rojek added four hits against the Dodgers, Gus Bell had three and Ted Beard homered. Cliff Chambers got the win in relief of Vern Law though both gave up five runs in four innings.
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell hit the longest home run in Veterans Stadium history against Jim Bunning during a 14-4 win over the Phils. The spot where the ball landed in section 601 was highlighted with a yellow star with a black "S" inside a white circle until Stargell's 2001 death, when the white circle was painted black. The star remained in place until the stadium's 2004 razing. Teammate Richie Hebner quipped "I went up there after he hit that home run and I looked down. It looked like a $20 cab ride from there to home plate."
Willie Stargell (photo Sports Illustrated)
  • 2002 - The Pirates won their 9,000th game with a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Expos at PNC Park, joining the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers in that accomplishment. Kris Benson got the W and Kevin Young went 4-for-4 on the day.
  • 2003 - The Pirates broke a 3-3 tie by scoring three times in the ninth, then barely held on to claim a 6-5 win over Montreal at Olympic Stadium. The Bucs took the late lead on a Kenny Lofton sac fly and back-to-back two-out singles by Jason Kendall and Jeff Reboulet. It was just enough for Mike Williams, who gave up a two run homer to Ron Calloway and had Expos leading off first and second before getting the last two outs.
  • 2008 - In the battle of the Bulldogs, LHP Justin Wilson held Georgia scoreless for seven innings and got the win as Fresno State won its first College World Series by a 6-1 score. Wilson was named to the All-Tournament team and became the Bucs fifth round pick in the draft, pitching for the big club from 2012-14 before being sent to the junior circuit.
  • 2009 - After falling behind the Indians 2-0 at PNC Park, the Bucs chipped away, winning 3-2 on a walk off bloop single in the ninth by Andrew McCutchen that scored Jack Wilson. Cutch was clutch; he scored the first run of the comeback in the sixth and drove in the tying run an inning later by drawing a bases loaded walk on a 3-2 count off Cliff Lee.
Andrew McCutchen 2009 Upper Deck Rookie Signature
  • 2011 - The Bucs downed the Red Sox and one-time Bucco hurler Tim Wakefield 6-4 behind a three run homer by Lyle Overbay and a solo shot by Garrett Jones. Joel Hanrahan earned the save by striking out Adrian Gonzalez, who represented the tying run, in the ninth at PNC Park.
  • 2013 - The Bucs banged five homers for the first time since 2009 and rolled to a 9-4 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Starling Marte led the Pirates' offense with a pair of home runs, his first career multi-homer game, and a triple. Russell Martin, Brandon Inge and Gaby Sanchez also homered. The Pirates went long three times in the second inning off Joe Saunders; Inge and Marte went back-to-back. Jeff Locke coasted to the win, and in the process become the first Pittsburgh lefty to win seven in a row since John Smiley in 1991.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Bats, Back End of the Pen Deliver 8-6 Win Over LA

Jameson Taillon got into a bit of jam giving up back-to-back two out knocks in the first, but got a whiff to waltz away. Cutch singled with two gone against Nick Tepesch, making his first MLB outing since 2014, and that was the extent of the Bucco damage.

LA got a leadoff knock in the second; a quick 4-6-3 DP mopped that up. Another single followed before JT put Tepesch away. Matt Joyce opened by drilling a slider away to The Notch for a double; Jordy singled and went to second when the throw went home. With Bucs at second and third, S-Rod's knock plated the pair home; he took second on another toss to the plate. Two whiffs proved to be one shy when JJ chased Sean home with a two out rip to center. Starling kept the party going one man longer with a RBI double to right center, with a good wave job by Rick Sofield to get JJ home.

Two more hits for Starling (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

But as we all know, no lead is safe for the Pirates. JT gave up back-to-back doubles in the third, and a grounder followed by a balk made it 4-2. The Bucs got one of those back on a HJK homer to left off a 1-2 slider. The fourth went quietly for both sides. JT lost it in the fifth, giving up a walk, double and single; Jared Hughes came in to douse the flames, but it was a 5-4 game now. Pittsburgh got those back in their half when two soft hits, a walk, a HBP and sac fly brought home a pair.

With an out, Hughes was tagged for a Yasiel Puig moon shot in the sixth, and after another knock, the Lobster came in. Two raps later, he got the hook for Neftali Feliz who finally ended things with the tally at 7-6. JP Howe took the hill for LA. Adam Frazier singled off him in his first MLB at bat and a wild pitch moved him to second with an out. With two gone, Cutch was intentionally walked. Casey Fien entered to face JHK and got him to roll out. Bless Neftali; he tossed a clean seventh. Chris Hatcher took the ball for the Dodgers, and Matt Joyce sent one into the night to make it 8-6 after seven frames.

Tony Watson - he gets a blessing, too - tossed a 1-2-3 eighth. Josh had a pinch hit single, but got picked off, and the Bucs couldn't add to the pad. Mark the Shark came on looking for save #21. The first Dodger reached on weak roller and weaker toss by Josh, but no matter - a nice 6-4-3 DP made it moot and a whiff put it in the books. Seems like a long time since we said "Raise It."

Neftali Feliz came up big time for the Bucs (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

JT again had problems with his fastball command; when he loses his downward plane, the ball is up and flat (d'oh, what else would it be?) Our guess is he's overthrowing, and with a couple of more starts under his belt, we're hopeful he'll find a comfort zone. The middle relief is brutal and way overexposed. Juan Nicasio should help that some, but they still need another arm to get to the back end trio. 

  • Man, Matt Joyce. He had three hits tonight, including his 8th homer, with two RBI & two runs...the guy has worked his way back onto the big league radar. Starling added a pair of knocks and S-Rod drove in three runs. 
  • Give the back end of the bullpen (The Shark, Tony & Neftali) their props. They worked 3-2/3 IP, giving up just an infield hit with three K.
  • Jordy has quietly put together a nine game hitting streak. 
  • It took awhile, but Clint finally got his 1,000th managerial win, the 61st MLB manager to reach that mark.
  • Gregory was on the pine tonight because of "left leg discomfort." Be kinda nice to see El Coffee and Starling in the same lineup every so often.
  • Clint made it official - Juan Nicasio is headed full-time to the pen. It looks like Chad Kuhl gets his start, as he's already at PNC Park, so expect his call up to become official Sunday. Nothing like starting your career on national TV against Clayton Kershaw!

Friday: Jameson Taillon v Nick Tepesch, Lineup (Lotta Moves), Notes, Preview

Today: The game starts at 7:05, and it's free T-shirt Friday. For those of use with a dresser full of tees, the game will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (1-1, 3.50) opens the set against Nick Tepesch (0-0. 0.00) in a battle of recent minor league aces. Jameson has been cold, hot and cold in his first trip around the block. The key seems to be his fastball command; when JT's heat is stays down, he's a beast, but when it elevates some, the results end up beastly. Tepesch is a 27-year-old righty who has made 39 big-league starts (9-17/4.56; last MLB outing was in 2014). He joined the Dodgers three weeks ago, after using an opt-out clause with the Texas Rangers. At AAA Oklahoma City, he went 3-0/2.00. His last outing earned him a look: Tepesch went eight innings, giving up one run on three hits while piling up eight Ks.

Adam Frazier has earned a ticket to the show (photo via 2080 Baseball)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Matt Joyce RF, Jordy SS, S-Rod 2B, Stew C, Taillon P. Starling's back, so there's that. Josh is probably getting a rest day, but we're not sure about Gregory's absence, especially as the Dodgers have two lefties slated to go in the series.

Preview: The Dodgers come into town on a roll, with six straight wins and nine victories in their past 10 games while the Bucs are whirling around the drain this month. They'll face another pair of top guns in Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda, tho they will miss 19 year old sensation Julio Urias. This is the first meeting of the season between the two clubs. Pittsburgh was 5-1 against the Dodgers in 2015, sweeping them at PNC Park, but what a difference a year makes...

  • Busy day: the Pirates called up UT Adam Frazier (.333/.401/.425) from Indy and sent Jake Stallings down now that Stew looks able to contribute again. That gives Clint quite a bit more maneuverability off the pine. Juan Nicasio was activated off the restricted list while Jorge Rondon and Cole Figueroa were DFA'ed to clear 40-man roster spots.
  • Yahoo's Jeff Passan's Prospect Heat List features three Bucco youngsters - Tyler Glasnow, Kevin Newman and Tito Polo.