Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bucs Broomed By Brewers 4-2

Gregory walked in an otherwise quiet first frame for Matt Garza. Frankie didn't have such luck. Hernan Perez singled with two outs, stole second and didn't stop until he touched home when Eric Fryer's throw was deflected into right center off Josh. Cutch's toss home beat the runner but short hopped its way past the catcher. The Pirates can't do anything right in this yard. That was followed by a walk, single and walk before Frankie got a whiff to restore some sanity.

Freeser opened the second with a knock to no avail. Garza is leaving balls in the zone to be hit, but the Bucs aren't. Keon Broxton led off with a homer. Broxton was hitting .135 coming into the series; he's 4-for-7 w/2B, 3B, HR, two walks & SB so far. With two out and two strikes in the third, Garza hung a hook to Gregory and he sent it over the fence to cut the lead to one. Milwaukee small-balled the Bucs; a bunt single, walk and blooper loaded the bases with no outs, but Frankie served a 6-4-3 DP, allowing a run to score but squashing a big inning. The fourth was quiet. The Bucs scored in the fifth on a Jordy knock, error and grounder; the Brewers answered with a Chris Carter dinger.

Gregory had a homer and walk today (photo Charles Kirbey/Getty)

The sixth and seventh were zippo frames. Corey Knebel and Carlos Torres handled the Bucs. Juan Nicasio got into a second and third with one out pickle that he solved by striking out the final two Brewers he faced, then fanning the next trio in the seventh. The Bucs made no noise in the eighth against Will Smith, and Felipe Rivero made his first Bucco appearance. He gave up a single and walk, but worked out of it. Jeremy Jeffress got his third save of the series, giving up a Cutch knock before cruising through the ninth. 

The Pirates were swept, and deservedly so. The pitchers all stumbled out of the gate, made too many fundamental blunders and hit like they had broomsticks instead of bats against two guys (Anderson & Garza) that the league has feasted on. Let's hope during the off day tomorrow that the FO fills the roster with the best 25 MLB players it has instead of playing musical chairs with the pups and the team can take off from there. The schedule is still soft and they can make a run, ut they can't do it with one arm tied behind their back. We know the FO likes to hoard options as much as they can, but they have to step it up; the roster game has gone on too long.

  • The Pirates had five hits. Gregory Polanco was the only Buc to reach twice with a homer and walk.
  • Frankie notched his 1,500th K.
  • Keon Broxton sent Josh tumbling on a first base collision in the sixth, and Harrison left the game with "left knee discomfort."
  • Max Moroff was called up rather than Josh Bell because his stay is expected to be just a few days, until one of the Indy pitchers is recalled to take the bump against Cincy. We think the Pirates are being a little too cute in manipulating their roster, but hey... Moroff pinch hit and K'ed.
  • The Pirates are 18-63 at Miller Park since 2007. In this set, they scored six runs and several times played like a little league club regarding fundamentals .
  • Tyler Glasnow threw briefly (15 pitches) off the front of the mound today, the first time since being DL'ed on July 24th that he hasn't tossed off a flat surface.
  • On his Sunday radio show, Neal Huntington said that the Bucs never expected a "Chapman-type haul" for The Shark. He added that there were a handful of clubs in on Mark, tho he didn't mention how far along any of the discussions with other clubs had progressed. NH said the club is still looking to add - they're willing to do something "dumb, (but) not insane" - and Adam Berry of MLB.com tweeted that the Pirates did scout the Drew Smyly - Nathan Eovaldi match yesterday.

Sunday: Frankie v Matt Garza, Lineup (Moroff Up, Brault Down), Notes

Today: The getaway matinee starts at 2:10 with the game carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. The Brew Crew is looking to broom the Bucs at Miller Park.

Pitchers: Francisco Liriano (6-10, 5.38) closes the set versus Matt Garza (1-4, 5.74). Frankie had given us reason to believe, then the wheels came off against Seattle. So who knows which Liriano is going to show up? Garza climbed the bump five straight times without so much as a quality start, tho he did finally get one last outing. The Bucs got to him for five runs in five innings last time out to take a 5-3 win. We're thinkin' we'd take the over on this afternoon's line.

Will Jekyll or Hyde show up on the hill today? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Freeser 3B, Josh 2B, Jordy SS, Eric Fryer C, Frankie P. JJ's back at leadoff.

Heads up: we're not going to look at the Pirates deadline deals individually. They have moves to make, and we'll let you know how they stand in our eyes Monday afternoon after the deadline has passed. The FO has quite a bit of shuffling to do yet, and we expect (or at least hope) the dog days roster will take shape by then. As far as yesterday's move, they were diligent to strike while The Shark had optimal value. The proof of the pudding will be how Tony and Neftali perform in their new roles, and of course how Rivero develops; Taylor Hearn is a lotto ticket right now.

  • IF Max Moroff (.229/.360/.368) was called up, Steven Brault was optioned back down, and Felipe Rivero has arrived. Don't ask us why Max was chosen; Josh Bell was available (his 10 day window has passed). If Moroff gets in a game, he'll be the 10th rookie to debut this season.
  • Ryan Romano of Beyond the Box Score has a look at Felipe Rivero and his toolkit. He finds one nit to pick.
  • @RyanSheets_ reports that Chad Kuhl is supposed to take the bump at Indy tomorrow, so it appears his triceps tweak wasn't nearly as serious as the one Cole Train suffered. He could be back up to pitch Saturday against the Reds.
  • Once-upon-a-time Bucco Justin Morneau became the 14th active player to homer against all 30 teams yesterday. 
  • The Cards picked up Zach Duke (2-0-1, 2.63) from the White Sox for OF Charlie Tilson.
  • Brew Crew news: Jonathan Lucroy exercised his no-trade clause and vetoed a trade from the Brewers to the Indians after the Tribe just dealt for Andrew Miller. He wanted his 2017 option year scrapped and the Indians felt that was a large part of his value. C'est la vie.

7/31 - Deadline Deals: Jay Bay, Gonzo/Freddy, X-Man, J-Mac, Matty Mo & More...

  • 1939 - The Pirates obtained 6' 9" LHP Johnny Gee from Syracuse of the International League for $75,000 and four players. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (and as the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never fully recovered from a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September of 1988. Not too surprisingly, he also went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals.
Johnny Gee (photo via Out of the Park Development)
  • 1987 - The Pirates traded RHP Don Robinson to the San Francisco Giants for C Mackey Sasser and $50K. The Giants turned Robinson into a starter the next season and he became a rotation pitcher for the next three years while Sasser was flipped to the Mets in 1988, where he had a long run as a backup catcher.
  • 1993 - RHP Jon Lieber was traded by the Kansas City Royals along with reliever Dan Miceli to the Bucs for closer Stan Belinda.
  • 2001 - The Pirates traded the well-traveled LHP Terry Mulholland to the Dodgers for pitchers Mike Fetters and Adrian Burnside. Mulholland, from Uniontown, pitched for 11 teams in a 20-year career, and had a pair of stints with the Cubs, Phils and Giants. The FO also swapped Mike Williams to the Astros for RHP Tony McKnight. It was actually more like a lend-lease, as Williams signed with the Bucs again as a free agent after the season.
Mike Williams 2001 Fleer Tradition
  • 2002 - The Bucs sent first round bust OF Chad Hermansen to the Cubs for OF Darren Lewis, who refused to report to the Pirates and retired instead.
  • 2003 - Pitchers Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez and Jeff Suppan were traded by the Bucs to the Red Sox for LHP Mike Gonzalez, 2B Freddy Sanchez and cash. Originally, Gonzalez had gone to Boston for Lyons and Martinez a few days earlier, but Lyons flunked the physical causing a reworking of the deal. The mulligan panned out pretty well for the Bucs.
  • 2004 - GM Dave Littlefield reportedly rejected an offer to deal pitcher Kris Benson to the Phillies for a power-hitting prospect named Ryan Howard, who would eventually become a NL MVP. The Bucs thought they had a Howard clone already in their system with Brad Eldred.
  • 2005 - The Cubs sent young OF Jody Gerut to Pittsburgh for vet OF Matt Lawton. The Cubs shipped Lawton to the Yankees for a minor leaguer in August. Gerut, hampered by a bum knee, barely played and was released after 2006, appearing in just four games as a Pirate.
Jody Gerut 2005 Topps
  • 2006 - Busy at the deadline: The Pirates traded pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Pittsburgh also sent P Kip Wells to the Rangers for P Jesse Chavez, traded OF/1B Craig Wilson to the Yankees for P Shawn Chacon and acquired RHP Brian Rogers from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for 1B Sean Casey.
  • 2007- The Bucs traded OF Rajai Davis and IF Stephen McFarland to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Matt Morris, who was being paid $7.5M in 2007 and under contract to make $9.5M in 2008 with a $1M buyout for 2009. He was released on April 27th of 2008 after going 3-8 with a 7.04 ERA in 16 Pirate starts. Many believed this deal was the straw that broke the back of GM Dave Littlefield’s era in Pittsburgh.
  • 2008 - Jason Bay and Josh Wilson were traded to the Boston Red Sox in a three team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andy LaRoche with Bryan Morris to the Pirates from LA, with Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen coming to the Bucs from Beantown. None of the prospects panned out for Pittsburgh, and Bay’s career was hamstrung by injury. Reports were that Tampa Bay was interested in dealing and offered SS Reid Brignac & P Jeff Niemann for Bay, but the Bucco FO wanted Wade Davis, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson instead of Niemann, ending that talk in a hurry. It was also rumored that Miami was an early player, but the Pirates were focused on an 18-year-old outfielder named Mike Stanton, another untouchable.
  • 2010 - A lot of dealing: RHP James McDonald was traded to Pittsburgh with OF Andrew Lambo by the LA Dodgers for RHP Octavio Dotel and cash. The Bucs also flipped LHP Javier Lopez to the Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and OF Joe Bowker. In a big house cleaning/change of scenery deal, SS Bobby Crosby, RHP D.J. Carrasco and RF Ryan Church were sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash, C Chris Snyder and SS Pedro Ciriaco. 
James McDonald 2013 Topps Opening Day
  • 2011 - OF Ryan Ludwick was sent to the Pirates by San Diego for cash. He hit .232 with two homers during the dog days and then signed with the Reds in the off season.
  • F Ryan Ludwick was sent to the Pirates by San Diego for cash. He hit .232 with two homers during the dog days and then signed with the Reds in the off season.
  • 2012 - 1B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Kyle Kaminska went from the Marlins to the Pirates for OF Gorkys Hernandez and 2013’s sandwich compensation draft pick five minutes before the deadline expired. Gaby stayed as a platoon 1B and bench bat through 2014 with Pittsburgh, hitting .241, and then went to Japan to play. Before that trade, the Bucs dealt 3B Casey McGehee to the Yankees for RHP Chad Qualls; both ended up as stretch run rentals for their respective clubs.
  • 2015 - The Bucs picked up 1B/OF Michael Morse, who had just been traded to and DFA’ed by the LA Dodgers from Miami, for OF Jose Tabata and cash. The Beast hit .275 with a .390 OBP in 45 games during the stretch, mainly off the bench. In a late deal spurred by AJ Burnett’s same-day trip to the DL due to elbow inflammation, Pittsburgh then sent minor league RHP Adrian Sampson to Seattle for veteran lefty JA Happ, who turned in a masterful slash of 7-2/1.85.

7/31 Happenings: HBD Joe, Peanuts, Vic & Mike; Pops HoF; Batting Demon, Bad Behavior & More...

  • 1870 - C/1B Joe Sugden was born in Philadelphia. Sugden spent the first five seasons (1893-97) of his 13-year big league career with Pittsburgh, hitting .277.
  • 1892 - LHP Erv ”Peanuts” Kantlehner was born in San Jose. Working mostly as a starter for the Bucs from 1914-16, he went 13-29 with a 2.85 ERA.
  • 1896 - After a disputed call‚ Pirate P Frank “Lefty” Killen punched umpire Daniel Lally in the face. When Lally responded in kind‚ hundreds of fans charged onto the field and eventually Killen was arrested for disorderly conduct, according to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. Pittsburgh won in spite of the rhubarb 9-7 over the Cincinnati Reds at League Park.
Lefty Killen 1896 from team photo
  • 1936 - OF Vic Davalillo was born in Churuguara, Venezuela. He played for the Bucs from 1971-73, hitting .290 while a platoon player in the outfield and first. Vic played on two Pirate playoff clubs, and when he was traded to Oakland in 1973, he was on his third.
  • 1957 - Manager Bobby Bragan was ejected for arguing a call (actually, he held his nose) during a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After being tossed, he went slightly bonkers. Bobby got an orange drink from the stands; the umps told him to take it into the clubhouse, and he threatened to toss the juice into their faces. He quickly relented and offered them all a sip, but they weren’t amused. After their report to the league, Bragan was fined $100 and threatened with suspension if he didn’t clean up his act. After the game, Bragan was quoted by the Pittsburgh Press’ Les Biederman as saying “My only regret is that the hot dog didn’t arrive in time.” Bragan was fired three days later and replaced by Danny Murtaugh on a temporary basis. “Temporary hire” Murtaugh managed until 1964 and was brought back as skipper three more times after that.
  • 1959 - RHP Mike Bielecki was born in Baltimore. His first four years (1984-’87) were spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 10-17 with a 4.57 ERA. He was the Pirates first round pick in the 1979 draft (secondary phase) and went on to have a workmanlike 14 year MLB career.
Mike Bielecki 1986 Fleer
  • 1961 - C Smoky Burgess, OF Roberto Clemente, P ElRoy Face and 1B Dick Stuart repped the Bucs in the second All-Star game of the year at Fenway Park, a 1-1 tie called after nine innings because of rain. Clemente went 0-for-2, Burgess and Stu 0-for-1, and the Baron of the Bullpen was uncalled upon by manager Danny Murtaugh.
  • 1976 - Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances.
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, in addition to his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits.

7/31 Games: AJ, Jose Gems, 19 Wild Innings, Red String Snapped, More...

  • 1912 - The Pirates scored three runs in the 19th inning and then barely held off Boston to take a 7-6 decision at the South End Grounds. 38-year-old Honus Wagner was the man of the hour, stealing home and later driving in the final, game-winning run for Pittsburgh against the Braves.
  • 1964 - It happens to the best of them. The San Francisco Giants took advantage of three errors by Bill Mazeroski and three more by his teammates to edge the Bucs 8-6 at Forbes Field. Maz's last error, a dropped catch on a potential around-the-horn DP ball in the ninth, would have ended the game with the Pirates on top 6-5 if he had held on to turn the pivot.
Even Maz has a bad hair day 1964 Topps
  • 1983 - Rookie Jose DeLeon held the Mets hitless for 8-1/3 innings before Hubie Brooks singled, but Mike Torrez countered with 11 shutout innings as New York won 1-0 in 12 frames. In his previous start‚ DeLeon had held the Padres hitless for 6-1/3 innings.
  • 1985 - The Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the 10th to rally past the Phillies 4-3 at TRS. Cecilio Guante picked up the win in spite of himself, allowing a home run in the top of the 10th and tossing a wild pitch in the ninth that tied the game. Former Bucco Kent Tekulve suffered the loss after Steve Kemp lined a two-out walkoff single to left to bring home Larry McWilliams, pinch running for Jason Thompson. The batter before Kemp, Marvell Wynne, hit into a force that plated Lee Mazzilli and knotted the score again.
  • 1997 - Kevin Young played through a case of the flu, and good thing as his three-run, eighth inning homer carried the Bucs to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at TRS. Jason Schmidt went eight frames for the win with Rick Loiselle earning the save.
Kevin Young 1998 Ultra
  • 1992 - Knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield made his debut against the Cards at TRS, replacing Zane Smith who was hurt, and pitched his way to a 3-2 win. He was in hot water early giving up a couple of unearned runs in the fifth after working his way out of second and third frame jams. But he left the bases full of Redbirds in the fifth and cruised afterward. He got all his support from a pair of bombs, a two run shot by Barry Bonds and a solo homer off Jay Bell’s bat, and made the three scores stand up. The Bucs went into first after the win and never looked back.
  • 2012 - AJ Burnett held the Cubs hitless through 7-2/3 innings before giving up his only knock, a single to right by Adrian Cardenas. The Bucs won 5-0 at Wrigley. Burnett pitched a complete game while Neil Walker had all five RBI.
  • 2013 - The Pirates swept a four game series over St. Louis with a 5-4 win at PNC Park. With Card ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, Pittsburgh rallied three times from early deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Neil Walker opened with a single and tagged to second after Pedro Alvarez’s drive to left died in the corner for the second out. Russell Martin turned on a slider and lined it into short left center for the game winner. The Pirate bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in the victory, with Tony Watson getting the win and Mark Melancon earning the save.
Russ Martin 2013 Topps Chrome
  • 2015 - Behind Starling Marte’s ninth-inning defensive prowess and Jung-Ho Kang’s stick, the Pirates snapped a six game losing streak at GABP by hanging on the beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4. Marte threw out Brandon Phillips at home for the second out of the ninth, then made a tumbling, grass-top grab of Todd Frazier’s low, hooking liner to end the game, giving Mark Melancon his 31st straight save conversion. JHK ripped three straight doubles, scored twice (once on a heads-up sprint home following a short wild pitch) and drove in a run. Kang finished July with a .379 BA & 13 extra-base hits, the most productive month for a Pirate rookie since Paul Waner hit .381 with 14 multi-base contests in September of 1926. Jeff Locke got the win for the Bucs.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pirates Lackluster In 5-3 Loss

Well, Chase Anderson had it going in the first, striking out the side. Jameson Taillon didn't. Jonathan Villar legged out an infield knock, stole second and jogged home when Hernan Perez clubbed an inside, belt high heater over the fence in left. JT finished with a pair of whiffs, but it's 2-0 Brew Crew. Starling opened the second with a double the opposite way. A whiff, caught stealing and roller to first extinguished the frame. The Brewers started with a single but no drama followed.

Josh started the third with a single and never advanced. It was a quick 1-2-3 frame for Jameson. With one gone in the fourth, an error and walk put the Bucs in business. JHK singled in a run, but Starling's happy feet ran into another out as he was caught between second and third; he and Villar have been playing little mind games this series as the NL steal leaders, and maybe that's been getting into Marte's head. Fran walked and Josh singled, but JHK was thrown out easily at home; not even a bad relay helped. Not a good frame to be a go-go-Bucco. JT gave up a bunt single before tucking the Brewers away.

Starling - two hits, an assist, and two baserunning blunders (photo Pgh Pirates)

The Bucs went 1-2-3 in the fifth; JT shot a liner to right, but was a bit too leisurely going down the line and was gunned down 9-3. Freeser was given the heave-ho between innings after beefing once too often about a strike call. JT had another rockin' chair frame. Milwaukee milked Anderson for what he was worth; Carlos Torres took over in the sixth. Starling beat out an infield rap with two gone for the only noise. Scooter Gennett slapped a single the opposite way on a pitch that was halfway in the opposite batters box followed by a Perez knock. Even with a wild pitch, Jamo worked out of it to keep the count 2-1.

Tyler Thornburg put the Bucs down in the seventh. Arquimedes Caminero took over after a nice job by JT, and Keon Broxton ripped a one-out triple off him down the LF line; it would be a double for most anyone else, but KB can fly. Clint and the trainer came out, but Arquie stayed in and walked the next batter (who promptly stole second). They cut down a run at home on a comebacker, then Jon Niese came in. Gennett blooped home a run, and in came Jared Hughes. A stolen base was followed by a single; one run scored and another was cut down at home by Starling.

Will Smith climbed the mound for the eighth, and Gregory homered to make it 4-2. Neftali Feliz gave it right back when Kirk Nieuwenhuis took him deep. With two outs, Clint waved Tony Watson in; we have no idea why. Broxton got another knock before the gate shut. Jeremy Jeffress took the ball in the ninth. Fran singled and Josh walked with two gone. Jordy singled a run home, but all good things come to an end, and S-Rod's liner to center ended the rally. Good wood, bad aim.

Josh had his first two-hit game in four weeks tonight (photo Alex Trautwig/MLB)

Bad series to sleepwalk through; today both Lucroy and Braun were on the bench, making the loss especially painful. Clint was in a tough spot in the seventh. With The Shark swimming in new waters, he couldn't plug in Feliz. AJ Schugel would have been the natural option, except he was optioned. The FO has to straighten out the cattle call pitching. Rivero should be here tomorrow, but they have to do something with Jon Niese and Jeff Locke. We're still not sure why the FO is rumored to be looking for starters; JT, Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault look ready, with Tyler Glasnow just a buff and rub away.

The lineup needs work; we've been pounding for more at-bats from Matt Joyce and Adam Frazier against righties, while Josh Bell is sitting at Indy while JJ sits in Pittsburgh. The team needs to get its best 25 on the active roster, and they've not really handled the transition very well in the past three or four weeks. It's time for the suits to give Clint a better toolkit to work with. There are 60 games left, and the club is three games out of a playoff spot. The post-season is certainly attainable once Pittsburgh settles on a team.

  • Starling and Josh each had a pair of knocks. It was Harrison's first multi-hit day since July 1st.
  • JT has gone 24 IP without giving up a walk.
  • The Bucs used five relievers. None pitched more than 2/3 inning, but all gave up at least a hit and as a group gave up three runs in two IP.

Saturday: Jameson Taillon v Chase Anderson, Lineup, Notes, Melancon Dealt

Tonight: The first pitch is scheduled at 7:10 and the action will be aired will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.83) faces Chase Anderson (5-10, 5.40). JT has been inconsistent with his fastball command. When his heat is down in the zone, he's tough, but when it flattens out and elevates, ouch. Though his command has been iffy, his control hasn't - in 40 MLB frames, he's fanned 31 and walked just five. He's seen the Brew once and gave up a run on five hits with three whiffs in six frames on July 19th. Chase has been pretty bad, although his last four starts have kept the Brewers in the game, including a 9-5 Milwaukee win in Anderson's last start against Pittsburgh on the 20th. He hasn't gone longer than five IP since June 8th, so the preferred plan is to get to him early and dig a hole for the Brew Crew, because you're not likely to see him for a third trip through the lineup.

JT toes the rubber tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: David Freese 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Starling LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Fran C, Josh 2B, Jordy SS, JT P. JJ takes a seat today. Freeser should be in the lineup every day, even if at lead off.

  • The big news: The Pirates sent closer Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals for a pair of hard throwing lefties (both have touched 100), reliever Felipe Rivero and prospect Taylor Hearns. The Shark was a bullpen backender that came over in the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston. In four years w/Pirates, he went 10-10-174/1.80. Rivero is a 25 year old with a 0-3-1, 4.53 ERA/3.26 FIP line who averages over a K per frame; lots to like but some questions about his durability. Hearn is a lanky 21-year-old with an upper 90s heater and control issues who’s working A Ball. He’s been on the Bucco radar; he was the Pirates 22nd-round pick in 2012, but didn’t sign and went to Oklahoma Baptist. Adding some power arms and team control - Rivero has five years to go before FA - also figured in the decision.
Good luck, Mark - we'll miss ya (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick: The Pirates are operating on multiple fronts and could acquire a reliever. The Pittsburgh FO is among the half-dozen most aggressive players in bullpen market, says one exec. Felipe Rivera's arrival may dampen that action.
  • Reports on Fran are that he doesn't have a fracture, but a new bruise on top of an old bruise and he's back in the lineup tonight. But in case you've forgotten, the biggest red flag for Cervelli was his durability. His injury list: broken wrist (2008), concussion after beaning (2010), broken foot (2011), broken hand, Biogenesis suspension (2013), hamstring, cluster migraines (2014), hamate (2016). None of the injuries are chronic, but the Pirates have to keep their fingers crossed that he earns his $31M by being on the field more often than not in the next three years. Fran has caught 100+ games just once in his career, and that was last season.
  • Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy isn't in today's lineup; maybe he's next up on the trade parade.
  • For the armchair baseball historians among us, here's a precis list of the SABR convention presentations. It's a long one, as the presentations are all under 1/2 hour, but the gamut of subjects is wide ranging, covering topics from baseball cards to projected Negro League salaries if the guys were playing MLB ball. The SABR gang uses numbers to put some mud and blood on players and historic hardball hot buttons.

7/30 - Deadline Deals: Joe Blanton, Joakim, Travis Snider, Josh, Derrek Lee, Joey Bats Comes & Goes, Jack Wilson, V-Song

  • 2000 - The Bucs got SS Jack Wilson from the Cards in exchange for LHP Jason Christiansen. Wilson was the starter at short when healthy from 2001 until he was traded in 2009, and won a Gold Glove and All-Star berth in 2004.
Jack Wilson 2002 Fleer Tradition
  • 2001 - The Bucs sent RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal to the Giants for OF Armando Rios and RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt went 7-1 the rest of the year for SF and then signed a big four-year contract. Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery two months later.
  • 2004 - The Pirates traded RHP Kris Benson and IF Jeff Keppinger to the Mets for 3B Jose Bautista (who they had lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft), IF Ty Wiggington and RHP Matt Peterson. Bautista became the tenth major leaguer to play for four teams in a season, having been on the rosters of Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In fact, he was actually on five teams, as he was acquired by the Mets from the Royals but sent to Pittsburgh the same day.
  • 2009 - The Pirates shipped lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs in exchange for IF Josh Harrison and RHPs Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio.
  • 2011 - The Pirates traded minor league 1B Aaron Baker to the Orioles for 1B Derrek Lee, the first time that Pittsburgh was a buyer at the trade deadline since dealing for SS Shawon Dunston in 1997 to bolster the “Freak Show” lineup.
Derrek Lee 2011 Just Fair
  • 2012 - In a trade of 2006 first rounders, Pittsburgh sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Toronto for OF Travis Snider. Lincoln is back in the organization while Snider was traded to Baltimore in 2015 for a pair of prospects.
  • 2015 - Keep the phone charged: The Pirates acquired veteran RHP Joe Blanton, 34, from the Royals for cash after he had been DFA’ed. Blanton posted a 3.89 ERA in 15 games (four starts) with KC in 2015. RHP Vance Worley was released to make room for him. In a bigger deal, RHP Joakim Soria was picked up by the Pirates from the Tigers for Altoona SS prospect JaCoby Jones. The Detroit closer, slotted to work the back end of the bullpen behind Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, had 23 saves and a 2.85 ERA for Motown. Finally, IF Justin Sellers, who had been DFA’ed, was sent to the Chicago White Sox for cash.

7/30 Happenings: HBD Clint, Casey, Bill Hal & Johnny; Skipper Shuffle; Pud Umps; Bing Chooses & More...

  • 1886 - Enjoying an off day between games against the Metropolitans in New York, Allegheny pitcher Gentleman Jim Galvin decided to take in the NY Giants-St. Louis match at the Polo Grounds, and ended up with the best seat in the house. Still steaming over some verbal blasts unleashed during the prior day’s game, ump John Gaffney demanded a pre-game apology from the Giants. With none forthcoming, he stormed off the grounds, and Pud was pulled from the stands to ump. He must have done OK; the Giants edged the Maroons 2-1 and he escaped in one piece.
  • 1870 - C/1B Bill Merritt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The reserve played for the Pirates from 1894-97, with a brief stop in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh was one of Bill’s six MLB outposts). He hit .280 with Pittsburgh.
Bill Merritt 1898 Pepsin Gum Badge
  • 1890 - OF Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The old Perfesser spent 1918-19 as a Pirate, with a .280 BA, and performed his famous “bird in the hat” stunt as a Bucco.
  • 1891 - The Pirates got off to a 31–47 following a disastrous 23–113 season, demoted captain/manager Ned Hanlon (who had left the team in 1890 for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the Alleghenys after that league folded) and hired Bill McGunnigle as skipper. McGunnigle managed the club to a modest 24–33 record over the remainder of the year. He was replaced by Tom Burns, who didn’t make it through the 1892 season before losing his job to Al Buckenberger.
  • 1905 - C Hal Finney was born in Lafayette, Alabama. He was a reserve that played for the Bucs from 1931-34 & 1936. He spent his MLB career in Pittsburgh, finishing with a .203 BA.
Hall Finney 1931 (photo Mears Collection/The Sporting News)
  • 1912 - OF Johnny Rizzo was born in Houston. He burst on the scene in 1938, hitting .301 with 23 HR and 111 RBI as a rookie; his HR mark for a first year Pirate stood until Jason Bay bettered it in 2006. He cooled off after that red hot start, and early in 1940 was traded for Vince DiMaggio after putting up a line of .283 with 29 HR and 168 RBI in Pittsburgh.
  • 1956 - Sports Illustrated wrote that “Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.”
  • 1957 - Clint Hurdle was born in Big Rapids, Michigan. After a 10 year stint as a player and then managing the Colorado Rockies from 2002–2009 with a World Series appearance, Hurdle took over the Pirate reins in 2011, replacing John Russell. He broke the Pirate 20-year losing season streak in 2013 when he guided the club to 94 wins and the playoffs.
Clint Hurdle 2012 Topps Heritage
  • 1962 - In the second All-Star game of the year, this one played at Wrigley Field, the AL bashed the NL 9-4. Dick Groat went 2-for-3 and was HBP while driving home two runs. Roberto Clemente went 0-for-2 and Bill Mazeroski 0-for-1.

7/30 Games: Bucs Claim First, Long Ball Barrage, Matty Dropped, Streaks...

  • 1909 - The Bucs ended NY Giant’s Christy Mathewson’s 13 game winning streak by a 3-1 score at Forbes Field. Tommy Leach doubled in Fred Clarke and Alan Storke, and was chased home by Dots Miller in the first. That’s all the support Vic Willis would need, scattering nine hits for the complete game win.
  • 1922 - Max Carey went deep twice as the Pirates beat the Giants 7-0 at the Polo Grounds. Carey hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning and then connected for another two-run blast as part of Pittsburgh’s 13-hit attack. Johnny Morrison went the distance for the Pirates, allowing seven hits in the shutout.
  • 1948 - Pittsburgh unleashed a four-homer barrage against Brooklyn to take a 10-5 win at Ebbets Field. Wally Westlake hit for the cycle, while Max West, Monty Basgall and Clyde Kluttz homered to chase Dodger workhorse Ralph Branca. Bob Chesnes went the distance to claim the win.
Monty Basgall on the pivot in 1949 (photo Acme Telephoto)
  • 1975 - The Pirates had to delay the start of the game at TRS by 18 minutes to let the Ladies’ Day promotion crowd of 43,260 get to their seats. It was worth the wait as the Bucs pounced on the Phils’ Steve Carlton on the way to an 8-1 win. Jerry Reuss went the distance, as Manny Sanguillen had a big day, going 5-for-5 with a homer. Al Oliver (HR, 2B), Willie Stargell (2B) and Dave Parker (2B) each had two-hit days. There were 21 hits banged out between the clubs, but the game still took just 2:25 to play.
  • 2002 - Pittsburgh snapped a six game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Bucs broke open a pitching duel between Kris Benson and the Rox’s Denny Neagle in the eighth, scoring three times with two outs. The rally was keyed by Adam Hyzdu’s two-run double. Mike Williams earned the save of Benson’s win.
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh concluded a five game winning streak by taking a 2-1, 10 inning victory from the SF Giants at PNC Park. Jose Castillo’s leadoff homer in the ninth forced the game into extras, and Jose Hernandez’s single in the 10th scored Jack Wilson with the tie breaker. Both starters, Zach Duke and Matt Morris, put up zeroes but were gone before the seventh was done, and it took 11 more pitchers to finish up what they had begun.
Jose Hernandez 2006 (photo Getty Images)
  • 2013 - The Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Cards by 2-1 and 6-0 scores at PNC Park to vault over them into first place in the NL Central. The opener went 11 innings, with the winning run scoring after Alex Presley’s apparent DP ball deflected off pitcher Kevin Siegrist’s glove and into left to plate Russ Martin. Vin Mazzaro got the win. The key blow in the nitecap was Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer that bounced off Matt Holliday’s glove and into the second row of seats in left. Rookie Brandon Cumpton went seven frames for the win, tossing three hit ball. C Tony Sanchez took his MLB bow behind the dish and became one of seven Pirates to call a shutout in his first game; the last was Jason Kendall in 1996.
  • 2014 - The San Francisco Giants broke a six game losing streak largely thanks to a DP via a walk. The Pirates, who had won three in a row, led 5-4 in the sixth when Chris Stewart drew a one-out walk with runners on second and third. Giant hurler Jean Machi got the ball back from the catcher and noticed Travis Snider had wandered off second base, apparently thinking it was a bases-loaded walk (he later admitted that was the case). Machi picked him off, and Gaby Sanchez, who was at third, was caught in the backwash and picked off, too. The Bucs went on to lose 7-5 at AT&T Park, wasting long balls by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Guerra Shuts Down Pirates 3-1

Junior Guerra tossed a clean opening frame. Steven Brault left a two-strike slider over the dish and Jonathan Villar yanked it just inside third for a two-bagger. Almost got out of it; with two outs, Chris Carter crushed a 3-2 slider just under the knees to make it 2-0 in a hurry for the Brew Crew. Starling opened the second with a double; he moved to third after a two-out wild pitch and died there. The Brewers stranded a single and walk at second and third.

Pittsburgh went down in order in the third. The Brewers led off with a dink hit; an out later, it appeared a DP cleaned it up, but a challenge turned it into a force only (the right call; the Bucs were a little lackadaisical converting). The reversal didn't come back to bite, tho.  The Pirates went quietly in the fourth. With an out, ol' Bucco Keon Broxton walked for the second time and stole second, followed by another free pass. A bunt moved them up, but Little Steven played out of the jam.

Steven struggled but kept the Bucs in the game (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Guerra made it 12 sit-downs in a row in the fifth. Brault had a calm inning - out, single, DP. Jordy started the sixth with a knock. Brault bunted into a force. No diff; a K and roller to first followed. Scooter Gennett doubled with an out. Broxton, who's hitting .135, ran the count full and got a meatball of a slider that he banged for a double to make it 3-0.Clint, for some reason, didn't have anyone up in the pen before then (with two days off, thx to the sked & Cole's CG). Fortunately Steven got through the 8-9 hitters in his last frame. He allowed three runs on seven hits, with three walks and three K after 106 deliveries.

The Bucs went down w/o a peep in the seventh. Villar opened with an infield knock and stole second (withstanding a Bucco challenge) against Jared Hughes. He was bunted to third, but was nailed trying to score on Jonathan Lucroy's grounder to JHK, who made a smooth play to get the speedy Villar.  It was 1-2-3 in the eighth for Guerra. Juan Nicasio took the bump and put up a zero. But some bad news; Fran took a pitch off the inside of his ankle (it nicked Gennett and redirected a bit) and left the field without putting any weight on his foot. Looks like it may be more than "discomfort" to us; hopefully it's just a bad bruise.

Starling just keeps on with two more hits (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Matt Joyce opened the ninth with a single and JJ walked. Craig Counsell paid Guerra a visit and kept him in. He got grounders from Gregory and Cutch to allow a run. Starling kept the Bucs alive by smoking a single to center, off ump Brian Winter's noggin. Winters was OK, but Junior's day was done with an out to go. Jeremy Jeffress took over, and one pitch later had the save after a weak roller by JHK.

Brault struggled today; his slider was flat and his fastball command iffy. But he kept the guys in the game. Clint probably stretched Steven an inning too long, tho he was basically a six inning starter at Indy. Before that, he was one pitch away from a zero. It might be time to adjust the lineup a bit instead of always finger pointing at the pitchers. It would also help to find a way to win at Miller Park; Pittsburgh still has nine more games there this season.

  • Starling Marte was the only Buc to reach base twice with a single and double. The rest of the squad added two singles and a walk.  
  • We waited to post after the locker room opened post-game to get a report on Fran's foot. We should have known better - it's "right foot discomfort."
  • OF Austin Meadows will begin a rehab assignment with the Low-A West Virginia (Morgantown) Black Bears. He's missed a month with a hammy injury.

Friday: Steven Brault v Junior Guerra, Lineup (AJ Optioned), Notes, Preview, Shark on the Block?

Tonight: The game begins at 8:10 at Miller Park and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Steven Brault (0-0, 2.25) opens the set against Junior Guerra (6-2, 2.85). Brault took his MLB bow on July 5th against the Cardinals, allowing one earned run on four hits in four innings, but tossing 80+ pitches. The lefty's toolkit consists of a fastball, slider and change, to go along with pretty good command. We'll see if the butterflies have fluttered away and he can give the Bucs six good frames tonight. He's been on a roll at Indy - in his last two starts, he's tossed 12 scoreless frames, giving up just three hits and whiffing 16. Guerra's been a rock for the Brew Crew in his second season, and in his last outing against Pittsburgh got a no-decision in a 3-2 Pirates win. He went six, surrendering a pair of runs. Junior's not a big swing and miss pitcher, but he excels at inducing soft contact. He can be wild at times, so the Bucs would be wise to avoid fishing expeditions.

Brault on the bump (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Fran C, Josh 2B, Jordy SS, Brault P. JHK and Freeser continue to play musical chairs on the A team.

Preview: The Brew Crew just took 3-of-4 from the D-Backs and have won 13-of-18 games against the Bucs played at Miller Park in the past two seasons and taken 61 of 78 contests there since 2007, so there's still that Milwaukee ambience to deal with. The shiny sidebar to this series is the looming trade deadline. The Brewers have a couple of guys who have been dangled in the marketplace, while the Pirates have a glut of pitchers to sort through, so there could be a lot of moving pieces to track during this series, lasting up to last call on Monday afternoon.

Our thought is that the Brewers will sell, and we think the Bucs FO should tread lightly. The names they've been associated with in the pitching market have quite frankly underwhelmed us and the prices have been brutal. So unless they're looking at a top-to-mid-rotation type who is under control for a while or a bridge reliever, it doesn't look like there's much out there that would be difference-making. In fact, it may be a good time to shed an asset or two, like Matt Joyce, John Jaso, The Shark if overwhelmed, and of course Niese/Locke.

  • Ken Rosenthal reported that the Washington Nationals are talking to Pirates about Mark the Shark, and that they're not alone - multiple teams are pursuing Melancon.Without being specific to Mark, Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors noted that "In addition to the Nationals, we’ve seen the Dodgers, Cardinals, Indians, Rangers and Giants linked to top-tier bullpen help."
  • Chirs Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish resurrected the rumor that a reunion with the Mets may be in the cards for Jon Niese.
  • Tyler Glasnow tossed the ball around today, a good omen that he may be able to start pitching off flat ground shortly. Ryan V-Song is also with the team and is slated to throw a side session tomorrow.
  • Po' AJ - Schugs were optioned back to Indy again to clear an active roster space for Steven Brault.
  • The Arizona Fall League teams were announced today. The Pirates will send their contingent to the Surprise Saguaros. Altoona Curve hitting coach Kevin Riggs will be on the staff.
  • Cole Figueroa was DFA'ed by Miami, the third time he's been cut loose this season.

7/29: HBD George & Mike, Hans Granny, Frank's 21-Gamer, Freddy, Jack & Ian Dealt, More...

  • 1886 - 2B George Cutshaw was born in Wilmington, Illinois. He came to the Bucs in exchange for Burleigh Grimes, and manned second base for four seasons (1918-21). Cutty hit .275 as a Pirate. His best year was his last, when he hit .340. But he was injured in August, and the 35-year-old was sold to Detroit, where he spent the last two years of his career.
George Cutshaw 1921 American Caramel E220
  • 1915 - Honus Wagner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Brooklyn Dodger Ed Pfeffer (It was “a dandy drive” per the Pittsburg Press) during the Pirates 8-2 victory at Forbes Field. The inside-the-park round tripper made the 41-year old infielder the second oldest player ever to hit a homer with the bases juiced, a record set by 42-year old Cap Anson in 1894. (Cap's mark stood until 1985 when 44-year old Tony Perez of the Reds claimed it.) Erving Kantlehner scattered nine hits while going the distance for the win, helped by an unassisted DP when RF Bill Hinchman snared a short line drive and raced to first base to double off Pfeffer.
  • 1940 - The Bucs scored six times in their final at-bat, with the lead run thrown out at the plate as Frank Gustine tried to score from first on Vince DiMaggio’s single. It was a big play; the Dodgers pushed across a two-out run in the bottom half as the Pirates went down 7-6 at Ebbets Field. The game was marked by a ninth inning brawl started when Brooklyn C Babe Phelps spiked P Mace Brown at a play at first. Manager Frankie Frisch was fined $100 and ejected, and three of his players were hit with $25 fines.
  • 1947 - Frank Gustine went 4-for-5 against the Boston Braves to lead Pittsburgh to a 6-5 win at Forbes Field. It ran his hitting streak to 21 games before it was snapped the next day. Tiny Bonham went the distance for the win.
Frank Gustine 1943 Play Ball
  • 1968 - RHP Mike Williams was born in Radford, Virginia. In six seasons (1998-2003), he went 15-23 and saved 140 games for Pittsburgh with a 3.78 ERA. His mark of 46 saves in 2002 is still a team standard, but fame is fleeting - he was out of baseball after 2003.
  • 1971 - Gene Clines was the hero of the Bucs 8-5 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. His three-run homer was the big blow in a six-run sixth inning, and the CF went 4-for-4 with four RBI and a pair of runs. Bob Robertson and Willie Stargell also went yard in the win that was cemented by 5-2/3 scoreless frames tossed by the bullpen.
  • 2000 - Brian Giles went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles while Warren Morris and Emil Brown homered as the Bucs ran up a 10-2 count against the San Diego Padres at TRS. Francisco Cordova got the win as three Buc pitchers scattered six hits in front of a Saturday night crowd of 30,118.
Brian Giles 2000 Topps
  • 2009 - 2B Freddy Sanchez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Tim Alderson. The Bucs also traded RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson to the Mariners for RHP Aaron Pribanic, RHP Brett Lorin, 1B Nathan Adcock, SS Ronny Cedeno and 1B Jeff Clement. Snell was out of baseball by 2010 while Freddy & Jack were snake-bitten by injury. For the Bucs, the only contributor was Cedeno, and he wore out his welcome after 2011.
  • 2014 - The Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 at AT&T Park behind Francisco Liriano’s 11 whiffs and homers by Travis Snider and Josh Harrison. After an April-May slump that saw them fall nine games behind in the NL Central race and eight games below .500, the Bucs pulled within a game of first and even in the loss column plus they moved into the second wild card spot.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday Notes: Injuries, Controllable Arms, Base Running, Prime Pirate Pups, Etc...

Off days happenings and randomness:
  • Injury report: Chad Kuhl is throwing (from flat ground), Tyler Glasnow isn't yet. Stew is doing baseball-type activities and is thought to be a week or so away from rehab. Ryan Vogelsong went seven innings yesterday at Indy, so he's probably ready and just treading water until the trade deadline passes at 4PM on Monday.
  • Something to keep in mind - several of the press gang have written that the Pirates are interested in pitching, but only guys that still have some years of team control left contractually. So if you're looking for a big name rental to ride to the rescue, you'll prob be disappointed. It will be interesting - and somewhat telling - to see whom, if anyone, they consider an upgrade over all the young controllable arms the Bucs already have.
Pirate base running has always been a bone of contention, but stat-wise, it's pretty average (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)
  • Some Pirates base running stats from Baseball Reference - the Bucs are above average at stealing bases, average in converting runners into runs, average in runners lost on the base paths, and way low at taking the extra base.
  • The Bucs have six of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects, and MLBP also included their Top 30 Pirate pups, with a couple of newer names added to the roster.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays signed C Erik Kratz to a minor league pact after he was DFA'ed by the Bucs and became a free agent. He'll join another ex-Bucco, Tony Sanchez, at AAA Buffalo; Sanchez is hitting just .201.
  • The Steelers reported to camp today. Remember when not-so-long ago that used to be the official end of baseball season in Pittsburgh?

7/28 Happenings: Trades Made & One That Wasn't, Frank Thomas on SI...

  • 1939 - The Pirates traded veteran 1B Gus Suhr to the Phillies for RHP Max Butcher. Suhr was nearing the end of his career (he was released after playing just 10 games in 1940, his last MLB season), but Butcher became a mainstay for the Bucs, pitching for seven seasons, making 154 starts and winning 67 games in Pittsburgh.
Max Butcher 1940 Play Ball
  • 1958 - Frank Thomas was featured as the cover story of Sports Illustrated in an article titled “Nobody Knows Him But Everybody Wants Him.” In case you’re among the gang that doesn’t know him, the Pittsburgh native hit 163 HR in eight years as a Bucco and 286 bombs in his 16 seasons in the majors.
  • 2000 - The Bucs sent OF Wil Cordero to the Indians for IF Enrique Wilson and OF prospect Alex Ramirez. Cordero played respectably through 2003, while Wilson was traded again in 2001 and Ramirez began a long career as a slugger in Japan after the 2000 season.
  • 2005 - The Bucs traded for IF JJ Furmaniak from the San Diego Padres in exchange for C David Ross. Furmaniak batted 52 times as a big leaguer with a .186 BA while Ross still in the show.
JJ Furmaniak 2006 Bowman
  • 2013 - The final page in a deal that didn’t happen was turned when the Astros passed on the Bucs final offer of Luis Heredia & a competitive balance pick for Bud Norris. The give and take was released as part of Astro e-mails leaked by St. Louis Cardinal staffers. The Pirates offered one of Heredia, Tyler Glasnow or Alen Hanson for Norris; Houston GM Jeff Luhnow wanted Glasnow and either Heredia or Nick Kingham as a package, offers that Neal Huntington wisely rejected. (Thanks to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review).

7/28 Games: Alvin's Excellent Day, Barry Goes Inside-the-Park, Suppan Wins Six-In-A-Row, Winning Streaks, ESPN Victory & More

  • 1932 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from the NY Giants‚ winning 10-7 and 9-1. Earl Grace had three hits and three RBI during the lidlifter to pace the Pirate attack. In the nitecap, Tony Piet smacked a grand slam and three-run homer to go along with two more hits for a seven RBI, three run day to plow the road for Heinie Meine.
  • 1940 - The Pirates won their eighth of nine games and fifth in a row after sweeping Boston at Braves Field by 5-2 and 7-3 scores. Maurice Van Robays was the hero of the opening match, homering and driving in three runs to give Dick Lanahan all the support he needed. The Bucs used a balanced attack to support Max Butcher’s four-hitter in the nitecap.
  • 1968 - Al McBean had one of those can-do-no-wrong Sundays. He gave up 13 hits to the Cards at Forbes Field, but still went the distance for a 7-1 win. The big blow? McBean’s grand slam in the fifth off Larry Jaster, coming with two down after Milt May was walked to get to Alvin. Donn Clendenon added a two-run blast to the cause. McBean became one of five Pirates pitchers in franchise history to bang out a grand slam.
Al McBean 1968 Topps
  • 1971 - Luke Walker spun a four-hit, complete game whitewash at Los Angeles in a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium. Bob Robertson homered and had a sac fly to bring home two runs. The Bucs nickled and dimed the Dodgers; every position player had a hit, four different guys scored and three had RBI as the club put up their runs one at a time in four different frames.
  • 1987 - Barry Bonds hit 176 homers while wearing the Bucco colors, but only one was an inside-the-park job. In an otherwise blah 5-2 loss to the Phillies at TRS, rookie Bonds drilled a two-out liner to right off Shane Rawley that kicked around, allowing him and Junior Ortiz to score the only Pirate tallies of the day. "Glenn Wilson tried to cut the ball off and missed it," Rawley recalled for the AP. "It rolled around the corner and ricocheted all the way around. By the time he got the ball, there was no way to get Barry." The hit was payback for Bonds, who Rawley had plunked twice. It was the first of three Bonds’ homers that didn’t clear the fence among his 762 long flies. The other two were hit in 1997 with the Giants.
  • 1996 - Orlando Merced hit two home runs and tallied four RBI while Al Martin & Mark Johnson had four hits each as the Bucs beat the Phillies 12-8 at TRS. Reliever John Ericks twon the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball match. It would be the last SNB appearance for the Bucs until 2014.
Orlando Merced 1996 Fleer
  • 2000 - Aramis Ramirez drove in six runs with a pair of homers, Emil Brown went long to plate four more runners while John Vander Wal also went yard in a 16-5 romp over the San Diego Padres at TRS. A-Ram, Jason Kendall, Kevin Young and Vander Wal scored three times each.
  • 2001 - Pittsburgh became only the second team in NL history (the Cubs were the first in 1952) to win a game by scoring seven runs with two outs and nobody on base in the ninth inning. Brian Giles capped the scoring with a walk-off grand slam off Astros ace Billy Wagner to win the game 9-8 after Pat Meares had hit a two-run shot earlier in the frame. The game was the opener of the first home day-night doubleheader in franchise history before a crowd of 32,977 at PNC Park. There was no drama in the nightcap as Houston rolled 12-3.
  • 2003 - Jeff Suppan won his sixth consecutive start with a 3-0 decision over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, scattering seven hits. He was backed by Reggie Sanders’ homer and three hits from Randall Simon. Suppan was flipped to the Red Sox three days later as part of a deal for Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez.
  • 2004 - In one of their more frustrating losses, the Bucs collected 11 hits but were shut out by the Braves 1-0 at PNC Park. Ollie Perez threw a five-hitter with 10 K, but Chipper Jones’ fourth-inning homer was enough run support for the Bravos. John Smoltz came out of the bullpen to save the game for Russ Ortiz.
Ollie Perez 2004 Topps
  • 2012 - The Pirates won for the ninth time in 11 games, taking a 4-3 decision from the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Alex Presley and Neil Walker had solo shots, and Rod Barajas singled in Andrew McCutchen with the game-winner with two out in the eighth. They remained two games back in the NL Central race.
  • 2014 - The Pirates laid some small ball on Madison Bumgarner in the first inning, and it led to a big frame. The Bucs used three hits, two walks, an error and a pair of sac flies to jump ahead of the SF Giants 4-0, and then added on a final run when Josh Harrison homered. The rest of the night at AT&T Park belonged to Vance Worley, who tossed his first MLB shutout and just his second career complete game. He allowed four hits, facing two batters over the minimum  thanks to three DPs and a caught stealing, to toss the Bucs first complete game shutout since AJ Burnett turned the trick in 2012.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bucs Break It Open Late Behind Kang, Cutch; Cole Goes the Distance In 10-1 Romp

Cole Train had a typically rough first, giving up a leadoff double and adding a plunked batter to the mix, but a pair of whiffs kept the scoreboard clean. James Paxton whiffed a duo himself in a clean frame. In the second, Gerrit tossed a quiet frame while Starling singled for the only dent against Seattle.

The third was 1-2-3 for the Mariners, featuring a Globetrotter-ish Freeser behind-the-back flip to Gerrit, who made a running bare-handed catch at first for the out. The Bucs came up with the game's first runs. Josh opened with a triple that glanced off Norichika Aoki's mitt (only a brief stumble on his cruise toward home kept him at third) and he scored on Jordy's two-bagger. There were Bucs on the corners with one gone after Freeser's infield knock. Cutch doubled home a second tally, and Starling was bopped by a ball to load the sacks. Kang hung pesky after falling into an 0-2 hole and drew an eight-pitch walk for a gift RBI. A single could have let the Bucs run away and hide, but one wasn't forthcoming. 3-0 is nice, but it didn't turn the trick last night, so some piling on would be good to see.

Andrew had himself a night w/three hits, including a bomb (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Cole was touched for a bloop single in the fourth while Pittsburgh went down in order. Gerrit has been dealing and kept on in the fifth, with the best part being that he's only used 57 pitches so far. Freeser started it off with a double and stayed there. Aoki led off the sixth with a double. A bouncer moved him along and a fly brought him home. Drew Storen climbed the bump and got three routine grounders.

Gerrit got through his usually five-alarm seventh inning behind shiny glovework by Josh, S-Rod and JHK. Cole opened with a knock off Storen and Jordy's bleeder put Buccos at first and second. A whiff and another infield knock loaded the bases. Of all people, Starling worked eight pitches and took a walk. Nathan Karns was handed the ball and his pitch to JHK got spanked for a bases-clearing double. He did manage to commit the daily TOOTBLAN, tho, getting tossed out at third, but we'll accept that smack as adequate piling on. A single and K ended the frame with Pittsburgh up 7-1.

Jordy had three hits and three runs scored (photo Justin Aller/Getty)

It was a clean inning for Gerrit, with a diving snag by S-Rod. He's working to contact, the guys are catching everything, and he's at just 80 tosses - with 20 in the first frame! David Rollins came in to twirl, and with two gone gave up a knock and walk, then Cutch happened, driving a ball 417' into the CF shrubbery. Starling followed with a double before JHK's fly ended the two out lightning strike.

After a pop-up, Robinson Cano fought Cole for 10 pitches before sending a fly to right. After a pair of brilliant plays, S-Rod muffed this ball. But no sweat; Cole Train served up a DP ball to put this one to bed.

5-3 on the home stand; could have been better, but still on track. Tomorrow's an off day, then off to Milwaukee and Atlanta for six more. They're still trailing Los Angeles, New York, Miami and St Louis for a wildcard spot and are eight games behind Chicago.

  • The top of the order was smoking today. Jordy & Cutch had three hits while Starling and Freeser added a pair. The foursome went 10-for-17 with four doubles, a homer, two walks and HBP, scoring eight times and chasing home six. And the fifth guy in the order, JHK added a base-loaded double and had four RBI on the night.
  • Gerrit Cole had made the most starts (87) in Pirates history without a complete game before tonight's gem. Indeedy, this was only  the second time he's gotten an out in the ninth. Ross Ohlendorf reclaims the top spot with 64 incomplete starts.
  • Andrew tied with Dave Parker for fifth place in Pirates history with 166 home runs. It took Cutch eight seasons and 4,923 PA while the Cobra needed 11 seasons and 5,267 PA.
  • Tonight's crowd was 35,483. 
  • Ryan Vogelsong went seven innings in a rehab start at Indy, giving up two runs on five hits (two solo homers) with a walk and two whiffs. He's about due to leave the DL; his rehab time was supposed to end on 7/23 but was extended because of his neck cramp.

Wednesday: Cole Train v James Paxton, Lineup

Tonight: First pitch is at 7:05 with the game carried on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's also Star Wars night with PNC Park filled with SW critters.May the force be,...ah, ya know. There will also be free Jedi tees for the first 2,000 fans.

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole closes out the wham bam set against lefty James Paxton (3-4, 4.18). Gerrit had a strong outing last time out, his second after getting off the DL, so that's good news as far as his arm (and the rotation) is concerned. Paxton also was strong in his last mound trip after suffering through a rough stretch in July. We'll see if he's turned the corner. He's a fastball (95)/slider power guy who averages a K per frame.

All aboard the Cole Train... (photo Jason Vinlove/USAT)

Lineup:  Jordy SS, Freeser 1B, Cutch CF, Starling LF, JHK 3B, Fran C, S-Rod RF, Josh 2B, Cole Train P. Little bit of a shake 'n' bake lineup against a southpaw as Clint has penciled in all the RH bats. We're not really sure why; Paxton's splits don't show any particular dominance against lefties, tho we're sure Clint has a handful of printouts to justify his batting order.

7/27 TRS/PNC Park Era: O Canada, Tony's Mark, Turn Back the Clock, Fort-itude & More...

  • 1979 - The Bucs swept Montreal in a DH at Olympic Stadium in front of a crowd of 59,260, the biggest baseball turnout in Canada. They took the opener 5-4, three times losing leads to the pesky Expos before Phil Garner’s eighth-inning single scored Dave Parker with the game winner. Garner had a big game, with three hits and a homer. Kent Tekulve allowed an inherited runner to score in the seventh to tie the game, but got the win, with Enrique Romo picking up the save. Bob Robertson went long and had four RBI while Phil Garner went 3-for-4 again with four runs scored in the Bucs 9-1 win in the nitecap. Bert Blyleven went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out nine as the Bucs cut the Expos lead to 1/2 game.
  • 1982 - Larry McWilliams tossed a three-hitter and struck out 11 in a complete game shutout win over Philadelphia, 4-0, at TRS. Jason Thompson drove home a pair and Bill Madlock homered to provide the cushion against the Phils.
Bill Madlock 1983 Donruss Action All Star
  • 1991 - Jay Bell had the first two-homer game of his career, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and four runs scored in Pittsburgh’s 11-5 win at Houston’s Astrodome. Bell hit a one-out homer in the first off the Jimmy Jones, then a three-run shot in the sixth inning off Jim Corsi to extend the Bucs’ lead to 11-0. Barry Bonds added three RBI and scored twice as Randy Tomlin picked up the win.
  • 1998 - 2B Tony Womack set a record of 888 consecutive at bats without grounding into a double play in an 8-7, 13 inning loss to the Rox at Coors Field. The previous record had been held by Brooklyn's Pete Reiser, set in the mid-forties. Tony eventually went 219 straight games and 915 at-bats without hitting into a double-play. Jose Guillen had four hits and a homer and Kevin Young also went long with three RBI in the defeat.
  • 1999 - In one of baseball’s weirder promotions, the Pirates defeated the Mets‚ 5-1‚ in the first of MLB's "Turn Ahead the Clock Nights," sponsored by Century 21 Real Estate. Each team wore futuristic uniforms (the Bucs had red jerseys with yellow sleeves and a giant Bucco head logo)‚ with the hometown squad becoming the "Mercury" Mets for the night. The pre-game rap was “Greetings, earthlings. Welcome to Shea Station 4C. Blastoff time is 7:40.” The theme was carried on throughout the evening‚ with the scoreboard flashing computerized graphics of the players of the future as each came to the plate. Rickey Henderson‚ for example‚ was given three eyes and pointy ears‚ and played "left quadrant." Al Martin hit the first of his two HRs in the first "sector‚" and rookie Kris Benson went the distance for the win.
Kris Benson turns back the clock (photo Osamu Honda/AP)
  • 2009 - In an otherwise unremarkable 4-2 loss to Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park, Delwyn Young added a little spice to the show. Randy Winn’s bloop into right went off right fielder Garrett Jones’ mitt, then off his knee, and he kicked it into the air with his foot for good measure. Young, playing second, dove after the cowhide hacky-sack and made a lunging barehanded grab. Alas, the ump blew the call and gave Winn a hit, which was pretty much how the Pirates’ luck ran back then. Nevertheless, Tribune Review writer Joe Starkey called the catch the “Best play of the decade.”
  • 2013 - Mike McKenry showed why MLB catchers are a different breed of cat. He caught the final three frames of a 7-4 win against Miami at Marlins Park after tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee during a slide, an injury that required season-ending surgery three days later. The reserve catcher soldiered through the game because starting catcher Russell Martin had tweaked his knee the previous night, and still went 4-for-5. The Fort was the battery mate of Charlie Morton, who took home the win with a save by Mark Melancon.

7/27 Expo/Forbes Field Era: Nick Tops Matty, Vic v Dazzy, Harris Takes Two, Buck Bomb & More...,

  • 1908 - Honus Wagner and Chief Wilson led the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the NY Giants and Christy Mathewson at the Polo Grounds. The Flying Dutchman had a pair of doubles good for two runs and a RBI while Wilson had two knocks including a triple, scored once and drove in a pair. Nick Maddox got the win while Irv Young came on the get the last out in the ninth. 
Hans 1909 Colgan's Chips
  • 1927 - Vic Aldridge tossed a five-hitter and the Bucs scored twice in the eighth to beat Dazzy Vance and the Brooklyn Robins‚ 2-1 at Forbes Field to take over undisputed possession of first place. Kiki Cuyler’s single scored Paul Waner, who had three hits on the day, and George Grantham for the win.
  • 1932 - Bill Harris notched a pair of wins in a twin bill against the Giants at the Polo Grounds‚ tossing three innings in the opening 9-8 win followed by two perfect frames in a 4-2 nitecap victory. In the first game, Lloyd Waner had four knocks while Arky Vaughan and Tony Piet homered. The Pirates scored three in the ninth to take the second match with C Earl Grace knocking home two of his three RBI and Harris singling in another. The Pirates increased their NL lead over the Cubs to five games, but would finish the season four games behind Chicago in the pennant race.
  • 1941 - Homestead Gray 1B Buck Leonard launched a three-run homer at Comiskey Park to lead the East to an 8-3 win over the West in the Negro League All-Star Game. The contest drew a record crowd of 50,256.
Buck Leonard 2005 Upper Deck Classics
  • 1961 - Giants’ Manager Alvin Dark said before the game that "Juan Marichal will go all the way" and kept his bullpen in the dugout to emphasize the point. And he was right. Marichal threw a complete game, five-hit shutout at Forbes Field, winning 2-0 over Vinegar Bend Mizell.
  • 1968 - Matty Alou was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Pistol Packing Pirate.” Mateo was indeed packing - he hit .332 for his third straight .330+ campaign as a Pirate and earned a spot on the NL All Star team for the first time.