Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday: Bucs Close Out Brewer Series - Nova v Chase Anderson, Lineup, Notes (Amore Back on DL)

Today: The getaway game is scheduled for 2:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: John Jaso LF, Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Bell 1B, Elias Diaz C, Andrew McCutchen CF, Max Moroff 2B, Jordy Mercer SS & Ivan Nova P. Getaway day lineup today, with Eli & Mad Max starting and JJ in left field.

Ivan will be w/o Fran for a while (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91) closes the series against Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92). Ivan has won four of his last five decisions and six of his last eight and pitched at least six innings in each of his starts. He's 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee, both coming in 2016. Chase has been all that in the last month for The Brew Crew - four of his last five starts have gone seven IP+ and he's 3-1/1.04 with a K per frame and .161 Opp BA during that span. He's 3-2/3.43 in eight lifetime starts against the Bucs

  • Fran was placed on the 7-day concussion DL; seems his "flu" was actually post-concussive symptoms and he's returning to Pittsburgh for more tests. Jacob Stallings was recalled. Clint says there are no issues with Stew to make him keep three catchers, but he wants Eli's bat available as a pinch-hitter when he's not starting.
  • Jordy brings an 11-game hitting streak into today's game.

6/22: Hans, Clyde, Max, Lights Out, HBD Brant, Gregory, Dovy...

  • 1882 - The Reds beat the Bucs at Exposition Park‚ 5-2 in 14 innings, ending the game with a triple play. With runners on first and second‚ Cincinnati SS Chick Fulmer let a pop fly drop, then with the runners in limbo, went around the horn to close out the game. The infield fly rule was put into effect in 1885 by the NL, and was crafted into its current form in 1901.
  • 1908 - Honus Wagner smacked his 2,000th hit against Jake Weimer of the Reds during a 4-0 loss at Exposition Park. Back in the day, there wasn’t much ado about career milestones (nor were hits and such even accurately counted, so this date may be taken with a grain of salt) and the Pittsburgh media made nary a mention of the feat.
  • 1917 - The Pirates held a Honus Wagner Day at Forbes Field to honor the star SS who announced (again) that this would be his last season. The fans were all given ribboned pins with the Flying Dutchman’s picture (there were no bobbleheads back in the day) and Wagner received an engraved ("Presented to John P. Wagner By His Admirers Friday June 22, 1917 Wagner Day.") silver loving cup. The Bucs eked out a 4-3 win over the Cubs, with Hans walking off the winning run with a 10th inning single off Hippo Vaughan.
Hans in 1917 (photo Bains News Service/Library of Congress)
  • 1925 - Max Carey got two hits in each the first and eighth innings as the Pirates beat the Cards at Sportsman's Park, 24-6. The two-hits-in-two-innings feat wasn’t repeated again until Rennie Stennett did it against the Cubs in 1975. The Pirates smacked six homers that game, with two from George Grantham, grand slams by Kiki Cuyler and Pie Traynor and more long balls from Clyde Barnhart and Earl Smith, helped along by seven Cardinal errors along the way. Every Pirate starter, including the pitcher, had at least a hit and either scored a run, drove in a run, or both. It was the Pirates biggest run outburst of the 20th century. The Bucs were really rolling; the game before they tattooed the Brooklyn Robins 21-5, banging out four HR, three 3B and three 2B. Kiki Cuyler went 4-for-5 with two homers, a triple, six RBI and five runs.
  • 1927 - LF Clyde Barnhart ran his hit streak to 23 games with a single in an 11-9 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. It would end the following game against the Cubs’ Charlie Root. The heroes of the day for the Bucs were Kiki Cuyler and Glenn Wight with three knocks and two RBI each, along with pitcher Carmen Hill. “Specs” spun 6-⅔ IP of relief for the win and went 2-for-3 at the dish.
  • 1951 - A power failure at Forbes Field delayed the start of the game with Dodgers by two hours, and rain held up play in the sixth inning by another 36 minutes‚ pushing the game’s end to 1:56 AM. Brooklyn’s night owls won easily, 8-4. Of the 24‚966 fans there at the start of the Friday night game, an estimated 10‚000 were still on hand for the bitter end.
Forbes Field when the lights were on (photo via The Allegheny Conference)
  • 1971 - OF/1B Brant Brown was born in Porterville, California. The Bucs swapped Jon Lieber for Brant after he had hit .291/14 HR with the Cubs in 1998, but in 130 Pirates games he hit just .232, although he did swat 16 homers and chase home 58 runs. He was sent to the Padres after the year for Bruce Aven and 2000 was his last big-league season. Since he’s retired, Brown has been a coach in the Rangers and Mariners minor-league systems.
  • 2010 - RHP Dovydas Neverauskas pitched for the GCL Pirates during an 11-4 loss to the Yankee rookies, becoming the first native Lithuanian to appear in organized baseball.
Gregory Polanco 2014 Topps Update
  • 2014 - Rookie Gregory Polanco’s team-record streak of 11 straight games with a hit to open his career ended at Wrigley Field, but the Bucs prevailed 2-1. Travis Snider’s home run and Josh Harrison’s two-out single gave Brandon Cumpton just enough breathing room, with Mark Melancon coming on to earn a save. Polanco would continue his on-base streak, which reached 14 games before he finally had a contest without a hit or walk. El Coffee had barely kept his hit streak alive in the prior game, winning a challenge for an infield single that had originally been ruled an out.

Bucs Miss Early Chances, Homer Off Huddy Carry Brew Crew To 4-3 Victory

Bit of bad luck in the first for the Bucs. J-Hay walked and stole second off Junior Guerra, then JJ lined a bullet up the first base line; sadly, it was an at 'em ball to 1B Jesus Aguilar, who turned the RBI bid into a 3-6 DP. Trevor Williams had a good start. After a knock, he struck out the side. With an out in the second, J-Bell singled and consecutive walks loaded the sacks; Stew GIDP on a ball hit up the middle that a dive-and-flip by 2B Eric Sogard converted. Guerra is a guy that way outperforms his peripherals (2.84 ERA, 5.98 xFIP) and so far, he's showing why. It was another three-up, three down for the Brew Crew. Fraze and J-Hay hit back-to-back doubles with an out in the third; Josh's was a bloop single hustled into a two-bagger. But he was caught trying to advance on a ball in the dirt, with the original safe call overturned by review as Junior's ball luck continues. The lead didn't last long as The Crew turned an infield hit, bunt (Stew had a play at second but took the sure out; it cost) and two-out single into the equalizer.

An inning too long for Trevor (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

The Bucs wasted two walks in the fourth. A double and a stolen base, thx to Freeser who for a second night was sloppy with a tag, followed by a two-out walk put Trevor under the gun. Another steal and an intentional walk loaded the sacks for Guerra, who stung the ball but saw it hauled in on the run by Andrew. Fraze doubled with one gone in the fifth and JJ's two-out two-bagger through the shift & up the line sent him home. Williams tossed a clean frame with a couple of Ks. J-Bell went ding(er) to open the sixth, making it 3-1. Cutch singled and moved up on a wild pitch but was left aboard as a couple of well-struck balls found OF leather. T-Will tossed seven pitches to put away Milwaukee. Oliver Drake worked the seventh and was nicked for a J-Hay knock. Ouch in the seventh. The first two Brewers singled and doubled, both turning on pitches low and inside, so good pitching lost to better hitting. And in came...Tony Watson? A grounder made it 3-2 followed by a K, then Huddy got the call (good job, Tony) v RH Domingo Santana. Bad decision; Santana homered and the Brewers took the lead 4-3.

Jacob Barnes toed the slab in the eighth. J-Bell was rung up on a 3-2 pitch that everyone in the park but the ump saw as ball four. Jordy singled with two outs, but pinch-hitter El Coffee got the same blind mouse treatment from ump Jerry Layne and whiffed; Clint barked throughout the at bat. Wade LeBlanc got the wave and gave up a rap that caused no damage. Corey Knebel came out for the save in the ninth. Fraze singled with an out and a wild pitch moved him up, but he died two bases short of the plate.

Fraze was strokin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs lost this one early when they had Guerra on the ropes and couldn't deliver the KO. They finished 2-for-12 w/RISP tonight after a stretch of clutch at-bats. Clint's bullpen use always causes head-scratching and it's a fair debate whether or not Felipe Rivero should have gotten the call in the seventh. Rivero, of course, can't pitch every inning. The pen needs one more consistent back-end arm to join Felipe and Juan Nicasio to finish the last three frames. Andrew Miller isn't really a comparable - he has two guys behind him with ERAs of 2.00 or less and no one in the Tribe bullpen has an ERA over 3.31; the surrounding cast is key.

  • Fraze had three hits and scored twice while J-Hay and J-Bell had two knocks and walk. Cutch had a hit and walked twice, while Jordy had a rap and a walk.
  • Andrew had a streak of reaching base safely seven straight times and 9-of-10 at-bats before K'ing in the eighth, missing a high 99 MPH heater.
  • Road warrior: J-Hay has hit safely in 17 straight away games.
  • Amore is getting tested for a mystery flu-like ailment that's been bothering him off-and-on since April. His illness goes a long way in explaining the Bucs current three-catcher bench set-up.
  • Austin Meadows was pulled from today's game at Indy with a right hammy tweak and is getting an MRI. 
  • The Pirates announced some more signings of second-day draft picks: Alex Manasa (11th round), Hunter Stratton (16th), Will Reed (20th), Robbie Glendinning (21st), Brett Pope (22nd), Benjamin Bengtson (23rd), Lucas Tancas (26th) and Matt Seelinger (28th). That brings them to 20 agreements, with the deadline for signing still having some time to go, running until July 7th.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday: Pittsburgh - Milwaukee, Williams v Junior Guerra, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 8:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan as the Pirates go for three-in-a-row in Milwaukee.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Trevor Williams P. JJ gets a spin on the merry-go-round and Fran is still out; he had a flu bug.

Trevor will do the spinning tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16) tries to keep the good times rollin' against Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84). Trevor will be making his ninth start and it's been a series of ups-and downs; his last couple of outings have been decidedly meh.  A key is how he comes out of the blocks; he's given up 11 runs in the first inning of the 25 total tallies he's surrendered as a starter. He's faced the Brew Crew once in a relief appearance last year, allowing a run in 2-2/3 IP. Junior is a pitch-to-contact guy who's been solid. His last couple of outings have been just fair, though, and he's given up four homers in his past 17 IP, not a good look for Miller Park. He has been tough on the Pirates in four outings (three starts) - he's 1-0/1.42 against them. This will be his first trip to the hill in 2017 v the Buccos.

  • Jordy has a 10-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 27 of his last 32 games. Cutch has a 10-game hitting streak at Miller Park, going 19-for-43 with four home runs and 13 RBI.
  • Andrew has hit 14 or more home runs in nine straight seasons. The only Pirate with more consecutive seasons of 14+ homers was Willie Stargell, who did so in 13 straight campaigns between 1964 and 1976.
  • Bounce-back kid: Huddy has been scored on just twice (three runs total) in his last 15 appearances (14-1/3 IP, 1.88 ERA).
  • Just when yer ready to write them off...the Pirates have gone 7-3 since Miami beat them June 9th. At the time, it was the Bucs fourth straight loss, putting them nine games under .500.

6/21: HBD GI, Gene Joins the Ranks, Bonus Baseball, Walk Off, Game Stories

  • 1888 - Chicago’s George “Rip” Van Haltren no-hit the Alleghenys in a rain-shortened, seven inning outing at West Side Park that the White Stockings won 1-0. Van Haltren would convert to the outfield in 1891, and spent a couple of years in Pittsburgh (1892-93) roaming the pasture, with a dozen games at SS.
  • 1893 - Pittsburgh rallied past Cleveland 6-5 by scoring five in the bottom of the ninth at Exposition Park. The Spiders committed a pair of errors in the last frame, and Jake Beckley blasted a three-run triple to right for the walk-off win.
Jake Beckley 1894 (photo via Field of Dreams)
  • 1922 - Carson Bigbee banged out five hits, including two doubles and a triple good for three runs batted in, while Clyde Barnhart added four hits and four RBIs, but it was for naught as Brooklyn won in ten innings 15-14. Bigbee and Barnhart each booted a ball, along with Pie Traynor, in the extra frame to lose to the Robins at Ebbets Field.
  • 1927 - The day after his extra-base hit streak ended at 14 games‚ Paul Waner's 23-game hitting streak was stopped by Dolph Luque during a 7-6 loss to the Reds in 10 innings at Forbes Field. Big Poison did draw a walk, but went 0-for-3 against Cincinnati.
  • 1961 - Gene Baker became the first African-American manager in organized baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia Pirates farm club in the New York-Penn League. A couple of seasons later, he became a Bucco coach, and later finished his off-field career as a Pirate scout. Baker was an eight-year MLB vet as an infielder, and he spent 1957-61 seasons with Pittsburgh.
Skipper Gene Baker 1961 (photo The Sporting News)
  • 1971 - Bob Robertson set a MLB record for most assists in a nine inning game by a first baseman with eight in a 6-0 win over the Mets at TRS, helping Dock Ellis to an eight hit shutout. Ellis was busy, too, setting the NL record for putouts by a pitcher with five. The extra-inning mark for assists was also eight‚ set by the Buc’s Bob Skinner in 1954.
  • 1981 - 1B/OF Garrett Jones was born in Harvey, Illinois. He was a Bucco platoon middle-of-the order presence against RHP from 2009-13 after being signed as a minor league FA from the Minnesota Twins organization. He hit 100 HR and had a .256 BA in Pittsburgh before moving on as a FA in 2014. Garrett was known as "GI Jones," a play on GI Joe.
  • 1989 - Doug Drabek and Greg Maddux hooked up in a classic pitching duel, though neither was around at the finish, as the Cubs beat the Bucs 1-0 at TRS. Maddux went 10 frames of six-hit ball while Drabek went nine, giving up five knocks. Future Bucco skipper Lloyd McClendon’s sac fly off Doug Bair brought home future Bucco coach Gary Varsho in the 11th for the game’s only tally.
  • 1998 - Three Pirate relievers surrendered five runs to the Brew Crew in the final two frames, but the Bucs hung on to take an 8-7 win at County Stadium. The Pirate hero was Jose Guillen, who smacked a grand slam in the third inning off Jeff Juden. Esteban Loaiza won his fifth game in spite of the bullpen meltdown.
Brian Giles 2003 Donruss Elite Aspirations
  • 2003 - The Pirates edged the Indians‚ 7-6, for their second straight 15-inning victory over the Tribe, claiming a 5-4 win the day before. It was the first time since 1996 that two teams had played consecutive 15 inning contests. The win was highlighted by a web gem grab by Brian Giles, stealing a two-run homer bid from Brandon Phillips in the eighth inning and as described by ESPN: “Giles pushed off the fence with his foot to elevate himself, stretched his glove over the 6-foot fence and pulled the ball back from the second row of the stands.” The yard was rockin’ as the crowd of 36,856 included many Cleveland fans and was the Pirates' first sellout of the year.
  • 2005 - Matt Lawton drove in five runs and scored twice, banging a homer and double, to lead the Pirates to an 11-4 win over the Nationals at PNC Park. Lawton went 3-for-5, Daryle Ward drove home three runs, and Ollie Perez pitched six frames for the win. The Pirates banged out 14 hits, seven for extra bases (one HR & six doubles).
  • 2008 - In a pre-game ceremony at PNC Park, the Pirates officially presented the family of Roberto Clemente with his trophy after being named to Rawlings’ All-Time Gold Glove Team. The Bucs went on to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 behind two run homers by Jay Bay, Raul Chavez and Jose Bautista in front of 27,014 fans.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bucs Never Look Back In 7-3 Win Over Milwaukee's Finest

Nice first frame, Buccos. After an out, a bopped batter, four straight singles and Jose Osuna's homer made it 6-0 before anyone could calculate Zach Davies new ERA. Heck, the Pirates even stranded Jordy, who followed that parade with a triple. Cool Chad gave up a double and walk but no runs. Zach recovered with a scoreless second, just giving up a walk. Nick Franklin's bomb got a run back for the Brew Crew and Milwaukee had runners on second & third before Chad finished up. Cutch led of the third with a long ball; keep it going, Bucs. The Crew got it back with  pair of doubles. In the fourth, the Pirates stranded a pair and the Brewers left one aboard. Each club iced a runner on first in the fifth; Chad had some help via a very nice Gregory grab. Josh Hader took over in the sixth and plunked J-Hay, his second bruise of the night. Josh stole second but died there.

It wasn't a thing a beauty but it was Chad's first win since April (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Edgar Santana took the hill for Pittsburgh and had a rough outing. An infield single that was that close was upheld by review and followed by an RBI double by Keon Broxton. In a what would prove a big play, he got happy feet and was gunned down trying to swipe third; that call went to review also (Freeser almost blew the tag). Then came a walk and a call for Tony Watson. A whiff and another double put Brewers at second and third but Tony closed the gate with help from Freeser making a nifty save. The seventh was quiet with Huddy replacing Tony. Carlos Torres gave up a Jordy knock in the eighth for his only black mark.  Juan Nicasio opened with a walk, but another sweet grab by Freeser sandwiched around a pair of K keep the seas calm. It was 1-2-3 for the Pirates in the ninth. Felipe Rivero was waved in and seven pitches later the Brew Crew called it a night.

Jose's three-run shot got the Bucs off and running (image Positively Pittsburgh)

The quick-start attack was great although adding on would have been a help, but on a night when the Brew Crew was smoking the ball, the Bucco gloves shined. Freeser and Jordy had a couple of big-time plays each while Fraze and Gregory, a pair usually not associated with elite leather work, both came up with great grabs. It takes a village...

  • Cutch was 3-for-3 with a HR & walk, three RBI and two runs. Gregory and Jordy had a pair of raps. Freeser had a knock and a walk while J-Hay was plunked twice.
  • J-Hay now leads the league with 14 HBP. Prior to 2017, he had never been nicked more than seven times in a season. Since the start of the 2013 season, Pittsburgh batters have been hit a MLB-leading 371 times; thank you, Reds.
  • Amore was scratched from the lineup shortly before game time with the flu; Clint chose beauty over age by replacing him with Eli rather than Stew.
  • The Brewers scored 17 consecutive runs as the result of homers. Nick Franklin, who homered in the second to extend the streak, doubled in a run in the third to end it.
  • The Pirates announced they've signed two more draft picks: OFs Calvin Mitchell (2nd round - Rancho Bernardo HS) and Conner Uselton (comp round - Southmoore HS). No financials were given. 9th round OF Bligh Madris, who was announced as in the fold this afternoon, signed for $130K (slot - $142.7K) per Jonathan Mayo.
  • Joe West umped his 5,000th game today.

Tuesday: Bucs & Brewers, Kuhl v Zach Davies, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: First pitch is at 7:40 with the game carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Jose Osuna 1B, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P. Jose gets the call at first base tonight.

Jose gets the start tonight (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-6, 5.61) takes the bump v Zach Davies (7-3, 4.91). The Cool Chad has tossed solid ball in four of his last five outings. But he hasn't worked more than five innings since mid-April and lost his last six decisions so he's due for a little ball luck. One thing in his favor is that he's been strong on the road. Chad hasn't won in five starts but put up a solid 3.42 ERA. The 24-year-old is 1-0/ 1.76 in three career starts against The Crew. He's faced them once this year in a scoreless three-inning stint at PNC; he was given the rest of the night off following a rain delay. Davies has been for the most part a "quality start" pitcher for the Brew Crew. He hasn't gone past six innings yet this year and has been dinged at Miller Field with a 4-3/5.40 slash and 1.636 WHIP. He does have a victory over Pittsburgh this year, going 5-2/3 IP in a 6-2 Brew Crew win.

  • Jordy has a nine-game hitting streak going on.
  • The Jekyl and Hyde Bucs are 6-3 after going through a four-game losing streak after winning 5-of-6.
  • Juan Nicasio was available from the pen last night; he was shut down for a day after a bout of fatigue.
  • Mitch Keller pitched two rehab innings for West Virginia in his first outing after recovering from a back injury. He gave up a hit and struck out four in two innings/30 pitches, his limit.
  • The Pirates signed eight more college players: C Jason Delay (4th round, Vandy), C Deon Stafford (5th round, St. Joe’s), LHP Blake Weiman (8th round, Kansas), OF Bligh Madris (9th round, Colorado Mesa), RHP Beau Sulser (10th round, Dartmouth), INF Tristan Gray (13th round, Rice), RHP Gavin Wallace (15th round, Fairfield) and INF Nick Valaika (24th round, UCLA). They signed RHP Shane Baz (1st round - Concordia Lutheran HS - $4.1M) and OF Jared Oliva (7th round, Arizona - $200K) earlier. The bonuses for today's gang of draftees wasn't announced. Three prep picks from the first day have yet to ink a deal.

6/20 TRS-PNC Park Era: HBD Mack, Hebner's Big Days, 1-0 Wins, Game Stories

  • 1971 - Richie Hebner homered, doubled and had four RBI while Pops Stargell went long in a 7-1 win over Montreal at TRS in the opener of a twin bill. Steve Blass went the distance for the victory. Stargell hit a grand slam (one of four in the majors on this day) and Al Oliver went 4-for-4 to lead the Pirates to a 7-3 sweep over the Expos in the second game with Nellie Briles earning the W.
  • 1976 - Rob Mackowiak was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois. A 53rd round draft pick in 1996, he played five years (2001-05) for the Pirates, hitting .259. 2004 was his most memorable season, when he had a career high of 17 home runs and 75 RBI. He had a career day on May 28th during a DH against the Cubs at PNC Park, hitting a walk-off grand slam in the first game and a game-tying 9th inning home run in the second game, on the same day that his son was born.
Big Mac Attack 2002 Fleer Ultra
  • 1983 - The Bucs swept the Cubs at TRS, taking a 5-4 ten-inning triumph in the opener and a 6-5 thirteen-inning win in the nightcap. Richie Hebner’s pinch hit homer against Bill Campbell to lead off the 10th gave Kent Tekulve the win in the first game; Jason Thompson also homered. The Cubbies made the second game exciting by scoring twice in the ninth on a two-out single by Ron Cey off Don Robinson. The potential lead run was cut down at the plate when Robby retrieved an errant throw home and got the ball to Steve Nicosia in time to nail Bill Buckner. Robinson later settled in and tossed shutout ball the rest of the way, getting the win when Marvell Wynne singled home Dale Berra to broom Chicago. Berra, Lee Lacy and Jim Morrison went long during the contest, with Berra collecting four hits.
  • 1993 - The Pirates scored twice in the ninth to edge the Mets 3-2 at TRS. After an intentional walk to Jeff King loaded the bases, John Franco walked in the tying run, losing Kevin Young on a 3-2 pitch. The next batter, Don Slaught, singled home the winner after Franco fell behind him 2-0. Stan Belinda won in relief of Steve Cooke.
  • 2008 - The Buccos outlasted Toronto 1-0 in 12 innings at PNC Park. Tyler Yates, the last of four Buc pitchers, tossed two innings for the win. Pittsburgh claimed the W when SS John McDonald couldn't come up cleanly with Jason Michaels' weak bases loaded grounder, scoring Doug Mientkiewicz. The two teams combined to strand 21 runners during the game.
Tyler Yates (Photo Day - Getty Images)
  • 2010 - The Pirates won their second in a row from the Indians 5-3 at PNC Park when they scored twice in the bottom of the eighth on a Pedro Alvarez sac fly and Bobby Crosby knock. Pittsburgh had lost twelve consecutive games before the modest streak, and began a six game losing streak after the contest. June 20, 2013 - Pedro Alvarez smacked a single, double and homer to chase home five runs in the Bucs 5-3 win over the Reds in front of nearly 41,000 fans at GABP. Brandon Cumpton started, reliever Bryan Morris came away with the win and Tony Watson claimed the save as St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh continued their combat in the NL Central. The division rivals had the three best records in the major leagues on this day and were separated by four games.
  • 2015 - Max Scherzer no-hit the Bucs at Nationals Park and came within a strike of tossing a perfect game. With two outs in the ninth and an 0-2 count on Jose Tabata, a mini-battle began with JT fouling off several pitches. With the count 2-2, Scherzer tried to sneak a slider past Tabata; it backed up a bit and clipped JT on the elbow pad to spoil the perfecto. Josh Harrison flew out to the track in left to end it, with Washington claiming a 6-0 win.
Erik Kratz (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 2016 - The Pirates took an unlikely 1-0 victory from the SF Giants at PNC Park. Jeff Locke, who had given up 18 runs in his previous two starts, pulled a U-turn and tossed 6-⅔ IP of five hit ball against Giant ace Madison Bumgarner, who was on a seven game winning streak and entered the game with a 1.91 ERA. Additionally, the Bucs were on a five game losing streak while the G-Men had claimed eight straight wins. The winning blow was a homer by C Erik Kratz, who was hitting .045, a drive to left that Angel Pagan’s leap had momentarily gloved, only to lose the ball as he crashed down into the fence.

6/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Short Cut; Hans the Thief; Triple-Chief; Max Cycle; HBP Cum, John, Bill, Scooter & Gary

  • 1890 - Cumberland Willis “Cum” Posey was born in Homestead. He was an outfielder, manager and eventual owner of the Negro League powerhouse Homestead Grays from 1911-1946. At one time or another had 11 of the 18 current Negro leagues Hall of Famers playing for him. He also wrote a regular sports column for The Pittsburgh Courier.
  • 1894 - Per Baseball Chronology: “Denny Lyons scores the winning run in the ninth inning to lead Pittsburgh to 7-6 win over Washington. Lyons gets into scoring position by running from 1B to 3B - across the pitcher’s mound – on a fielder’s choice. The umpire did not see Lyon’s transgression, a common one in the 1890s.” The Pittsburg Press in its game story didn’t include Lyons shortcut but did castigate the ump for missing a call at third. In a separate notes column, the paper mentioned that “Dennis Lyons was accused of cutting second base in running to third on (Jack) Glassock’s sacrifice but he could have scored from second, however, on (Lou) Bierbauer’s hit.” Despite the skulduggery, it was a nice win for Pittsburgh which overcame a 6-1 deficit to rally for the decision at Exposition Park. It took a few more sleight-of-hand tricks by the players for it to come about, but in 1898 the league went to a two umpire system partly because of “transgressions” like these.
Denny Lyons (photo NY Public Library)
  • 1901 - In a 7-0 win against the Giants at the Polo Grounds, Honus Wagner became the first player in the 20th century to steal home twice in one game. Jack Chesbro tossed the shutout.
  • 1902 - IF John Beckwith was born in Louisville. Considered one of the great sluggers of black baseball (his nickname was “The Black Bomber”), John played with the Homestead Grays in 1924, again from 1928-29 and for a last stint with them in 1935 toward the end of his 23-year career. He rarely stuck around for long periods with one club; he was a jack of all trades but master of none as an infielder and had a sometimes disruptive clubhouse attitude.
  • 1912 - In a doubleheader at Cincinnati’s Redland Field, Owen “Chief” Wilson hit two triples in the opener, including a big blow the 10th to key a 6-4 win, then bopped another in the nitecap, a 5-3 loss. It was his fifth straight game with a three-bagger. Wilson swatted 36 triples that season, a major league record, although he never hit more than 14 in any other year of his career. Chief was a pretty big guy for the era and not much of a speedster, but he was a slugger; many of his triples weren’t gappers but balls drilled over the outfielder’s heads in an age of deep pastures. Forbes Field was chief among the spacious yards and the Pirates joined with Chief to set the MLB team triples record with 129 that year.
Chief Wilson 1911 Turkey Red
  • 1919 - RHP Bill Clemensen was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He pitched for the Pirates in 1939, 1941 and 1946, going 1-1, 5.57 in 15 appearances. He was a guy whose potential career was cut short by WW2. Bill’s best season was 1941 (1-1, 2.77 in 13 IP) and he looked like he would break camp with the Pirates for the ‘42 campaign, but Uncle Sam had different plans and he ended up spending four years in the Army Air Corps. Even though he played Army ball, he couldn’t overcome the layoff after his military stint. Clemensen made one more MLB outing and spent the rest of 1946-47 in the minors before leaving the game.
  • 1925 - Max Carey became the first switch hitter to hit for the cycle during the Pirates 21-5 victory over the Brooklyn Robins at Forbes Field. Carey went 4-for-6 with four RBI and two runs, and shared the spotlight with a pair of teammates. Glenn Wright, who was a single shy of the cycle, drove in five runs and scored three times. Kiki Cuyler carried the biggest stick of the day, hitting two homers, one a grand slam, and a triple with six RBI and five runs scored. Babe Adams went the distance for the win. And the Buc bats weren’t done - they lit up the scoreboard for 24 more runs in the next game against St Louis.
  • 1925 - IF Clem “Scooter” Koshorek was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Clem played pretty regularly in 1952, batting .261, but in 1953 got into one game for the sum of his MLB career after losing a competition for the SS spot to Dick Groat. Clem was 5’4”; hence his nickname.
Clem Koshorek 1953 Bowman
  • 1934 - Newly named player/manager Pie Traynor, replacing George Gibson, gave his charges a short pep talk (“Hustle”) and then let his stick provide the leadership. Pie banged out three doubles & a single, then scored the winning run in the ninth inning in a 6-5 win over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field, ending a five-game skid. Arky Vaughan went 4-for-4 to help Traynor in the transition. Leon Chagnon, in relief of Red Lucas, was the winner.
  • 1948 - Ralph Kiner homered twice in a 7-5 win over the Phillies at Shibe Park. It capped a remarkable streak of Sunday homers; he went eight consecutive Sundays with long balls during May and June, finishing the year with 17 round trippers in 38 Sunday games.
  • 1961 - OF Gary Varsho was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin. He played three years for the Bucs, in 1991-92 and 1994 with a .251 BA as a pinch-hitter and extra outfielder, appearing in the 1991 and the 1992 NLCS. He was the Pirates bench coach during manager John Russell’s regime, serving from late 2007 until August, 2010 and returned to the club in 2016 as a scout.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Brew Crew Shut Off As Cole, Cutch & Bucs Roll to 8-1 Victory

Gerrit Cole and Matt Garza exchanged clean opening frames, a good thing for Cole Train who has been bitten hard and often in the first. In the second, the Bucs again went quietly but another Cole issue reared it's head; Travis Shaw went deep. The Bucs got a walk and a knock from Fran and J-Hay to start the third. They were bunted along and scored on Fraze's knock. Jordy barely beat the rap; a nice slide-by got him the call. The Pirates got two more aboard to load the bases with two gone, but J-Bell's bouncer (on what looked like ball four) ended the music. The Crew went down 1-2-3. Each club left a duck on the pond in the fourth and the fifth was six-up, six-down. The Pirates got a couple in the sixth when Freeser singled and Cutch happened; Andrew's long ball also swapped out Garza for Wily Peralta who stopped the party. Milwaukee got a single and passed ball (Fran's second; he and Gerrit must not always get the same memo) but a couple of K's kept the Cole Train rollin'.

Cole Train is pickin' up steam (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pittsburgh broke big in the seventh. Gerrit singled, Fraze walked, then J-Hay and Gregory banged doubles (El Coffee's later changed to 1B/E7; the LF'er tripped over himself charging the ball). Freeser and Cutch singled and another run crossed the dish as Wily got a reprieve and Paolo Espinosa came on. He got a GIDP a few batters late with the Bucs now up 8-1. Gerrit celebrated the big seventh with a seven-pitch frame. The Pirates calmed down in the eighth. Jhan Marinez got himself into a second-and-third jam and then worked out of it. The Bucs left a couple on ice in the ninth and the Brew Crew stranded one more as Pittsburgh cruised home.

It's great news to see Gerrit back in form; he's shut down two of the NL's big bangers in the Brewers and Rox. And no one has to worry about Cutch's value anymore. This was a nice bounce back after a disappointing Chicago series. But they have a ways to go yet; the club is still six games under .500 although just four games behind The Crew and the Cubs in the loss column.

  • Cutch had two hits, including a homer and three RBI, Freeser had two knocks and a walk, Gregory rapped out a pair, and Fraze & Fran had a hit and free pass. Fraze plated a pair of runs and seven different Buccos scored.
  • Holy Moly - Pittsburgh was 5-of-9 w/RISP; the home-run-or-no-count Brewers were 0-for-9.
  • Jordy extended his hitting streak to nine games.
  • Jim Callis of reported that seventh-round pick Jared Oliva, an Arizona OF'er, signed w/Pirates for $200K, his slot value.

Monday: Bucs-Brewers, Cole Train v Matt Garza, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: First pitch is at 7:40. The game will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P.

Cole Train on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (4-6, 4.54) starts the set against Matt Garza (3-2, 4.17). Hard to believe that Gerrit is only 26 after all the ups and downs, bumps and bruises and  his 108 Bucco starts since he was drafted in 2011. Anyway, enough nostalgia; after a horrible four-game stretch, he tossed a beaut against the Rox in his last outing, so let's hope that's an omen of things to come. He's 2-3/3.42 against The Crew in eight career starts. Cole Train has a no-decision in one start (seven IP, one run) against them this season; a 2-1, 10-inning Bucco win at PNC Park. He didn't face Milwaukee in 2016. This is Garza's second start since coming off the DL after bruising his chest in a collision. He started off the season pretty well but has been banged around in thee of his last four outings. Garza faced the Pirates once this year an gave up a run in seven innings on eight hits. Last year in four outings v the Pirates, he was 1-3/4.66.

  • Felipe Rivero has three straight four out + saves, matching Joel Hanrahan's mark from 2011. Julian Tavarez is the last Pirates pitcher with four or more saves of four outs + in a season (seven in 2003) and is the last Bucco with three or more consecutive saves of four+ outs (four).
  • This four-gamer is the first of three Bucco visits to Miller Park this season, with a two-game stop on August 15-16th and a three-game series from September 11-13th also on the card. The Pirates have won six of their last seven games played in Milwaukee after being swept in the first Miller Park set of 2016, finishing 6-4 in Brew Town last season.
  • Since Andrew made his MLB debut in 2009, only two NL players have hit at least 150 home runs while also stealing 150 or more bases - Cutch (187 home runs & 166 stolen bases) and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (221 home runs and 156 stolen bases).

6/19 TRS-PNC Park Era: Roberto's RBIs, Simmons Resigns, '60 Reunion, HBD Doug, Game Stories

  • 1972 - Roberto Clemente’s two-run homer off Mike Strahler in the eighth inning of a 13-3 romp over the Dodgers at TRS gave him the franchise lead in RBI with 1,274. He would finish his career with 1,305 runs batted in, third on the all-time Pirate list behind Honus Wagner and Willie Stargell.
Doug Mientkiewicz 2008 Topps Heritage
  • 1974 - IF Doug Mientkiewicz was born in Toledo, Ohio. Doug had a 12-year MLB career and spent 2008 in Pittsburgh playing 1B, 3B and RF while batting .277. He retired the following year after playing for the Dodgers and coached briefly for them in the minors. He now coaches in the Twins organization.
  • 1975 - Jerry Reuss gave himself a birthday gift by shutting out the Cards 5-0 at TRS, tossing a complete game six-hitter with seven K. Homers by Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bill Robinson gave the southpaw all the run support he needed.
  • 1993 - GM Ted Simmons resigned after suffering a heart attack on June 8th. He was succeeded by Cam Bonifay.
  • 2010 - 38,008 fans showed up at PNC Park to take part in the 1960 World Series team reunion. The old champs provided some inspiration for the new crew, who broke a 12-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Indians 6-4. Lastings Milledge was a homer short of the cycle and had four RBI while Andrew McCutchen had a pair of hits, drew three walks and scored four runs.
  • 2010 - The Pirates fired racing pierogi Andrew Kurtz after he criticized John Russell and Neal Huntington’s secret contract extensions on his Facebook page. The 24-year old, who was reinstated by Pittsburgh after much media ado, was offered a position by the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League to become one of its racing hot dogs; like lefty relievers, speedy snacks have a long shelf life.
  • 2014 - The Bucs scored three times in the fifth on a balk and two out singles by Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, but it took them 12 innings to subdue the Reds 4-3 at PNC Park. A single, balk, intentional walk and hit batter loaded the bases for Russ Martin with two outs, and he drew a walk-off walk for the win. Justin Wilson, the sixth Pirate pitcher of the day, got the win.

6/19 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Big Poison's Streak & #3,000; HBD Frank, Bill, Jerry & Fernando

  • 1856 - UT Frank McLaughlin was born in Lowell, Massachusetts by some sources; others say he was born in Ireland. Frank stopped in Pittsburgh between 1883-84, seeing not a lot of action as an Allegheny and then with the Stogies the next season. He hit .219 with the Alleghenys in ‘83 as a shortstop and went 0-0/13.00 in nine innings of mound work. Frank then went the Union League route, batting .239 as a 2B before joining the KC Unions, with which he finished out his career in 1884.
  • 1908 - RHP Bill Swift was born in Elmira, New York. He tossed eight seasons (1932-39) for the Bucs, with a 91-79/3.57 record. Swift was a staff workhorse, going 200+ innings and picking up double-digit wins in his first five seasons, topping out with 16 W in 1936. He wasn’t a power guy, with just 3.4 K/nine during his Pittsburgh career, but gave up less than two walks per game and a homer just once every 18 frames.
Paul Waner 1927 Spaulding Die Cut
  • 1927 - Paul Waner doubled twice in a 14-7 loss to the Cubs to extend his NL record extra base hit streak (12 doubles‚ 4 triples‚ 4 homers) to 14 straight games. The streak ended the next day but has held up well, being matched only by Chipper Jones in 2006.
  • 1942 - Paul “Big Poison” Waner‚ now 39 and a Boston Brave‚ joined Cap Anson and Honus Wagner as the only NL players with 3‚000 hits with a fifth inning single to center off Rip Sewell, appropriately at Forbes Field. The game was stopped as the ball was presented to him, and both teams gathered round to offer their congratulations. Pittsburgh won the game in 11 innings, 7-6. Waner’s hit should have been 3,001. Two days earlier, he was given a hit on a ball that glanced off a glove; Waner had the scorer change it to an error so his 3,000th would be a clean knock.
  • 1949 - Jerry Reuss was born in St. Louis. The lefty spent six seasons with the Pirates (1974-78, 90) and put up a 61-46/3.52 line as a rotation mainstay. He won 220 games in a 22 year big league career. Jerry spent time as a coach and major/minor league announcer after his playing days ended, also writing his 2014 autobiography “Bring In the Righthander.”
Fernando Gonzalez 1974 Topps
  • 1950 - IF Fernando Gonzalez was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Fernando had a couple of stints with the Bucs, beginning his career with cups of coffee in 1972-73 and contributing as a role player in 1977-78 before being waived to the Padres. He hit .257 as a Pirate and played all the infield spots except first base and manned both corner outfield spots.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cubs Run Away With Series By 7-1 Tally

Well, JT joined Buc starters with the first inning blahs; two of the first three Cubbies doubled and it was 1-0 before the Bucs hit the dugout. They weren't there long as John Lackey worked a 1-2-3 frame. Chicago got a single in the second of no consequence; the runner was tossed out trying to stretch it by Amore on an overthrow. The first two Pirates reached on a single and boot; the next three went without a peep. In the third, Chi-town loaded the bases on two singles and a walk with nobody out. A Wilson Contreras double then plated a pair, tho JT recovered enough to strand the back pair. The Bucs got a couple of walks and left them stranded. A double, bunt and soft single in the fourth made it 4-0 Chicago. Pittsburgh got a walk, whiff and GIDP in their half. It was a quick frame in the fifth for the Cubs; the Bucs got on the board when Jordy went deep, pulling a hung curve just inside the pole.

Edgar was a bright spot with two K in a clean inning of work (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

JT's day was done; Wade LeBlanc tossed a calm sixth; the Pirates also went down in order. Jay singled and Anthony Rizzo homered to open the seventh, and Jhan Marinez had to come in to close it down, giving up a another hit in the process. Carl Edwards Jr took the bump for Chicago and 1-2-3'ed the Pirates thanks to a DP. Edgar Santana and Hector Rondon exchanged clean eighths. Tony Watson worked the ninth and gave up a homer and single as his woes continue. Brian Duensing got three rollers to cruise out.

It was an old-time take-'em-behind-the-shed spanking delivered by the Cubbies. The Pirates had three hits, the same number of knocks Anthony Rizzo, Wilson Contreras and Jon Jay had individually. If you have a day when you can't pitch or can't hit, might as well get it out of your system.


  • Home sweet home didn't do much for the Bucs; they finished their longest home stand of the year at 5-5.
  • For all the debate over too much usage, the Bucco bullpen is ninth in MLB (sixth in NL) in innings with 239-2/3 and 21st in appearances (13th NL) with 204 outings coming into the game. Of course, burning five guys in a game like today's a few times could spike those numbers in a hurry.
  • The Pirates begin a four-game series against the Brewers tomorrow at Miller Park. The Bucs won their last two series there last season (they and the Brew Crew exchanged sweeps in the first two sets) and finished 6-4 in Brew Town.
  • Pittsburgh fans must like it hot and muggy; 34 539 turned out today. 

Sunday - Bucs Close Out Homestand Against Cubs, JT v John Lackey, Lineup, Notes

Today: The contest begins at 1:35, aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Kids ages 14 & younger and their dads (it is Fathers Day, after all) get a replica Military Cap for the Sunday giveaway.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Elias Diaz C, Jordy Mercer SS & Jameson Taillon P. Stew's back but Eli gets the Sunday call as maybe a parting gift; otherwise the A-Team as Clint spurns the usual Sunday lineup for a second week.

Jamo on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-1, 2.90) closes it out against John Lackey (4-7, 5.26). The 25-year-old Jamo will be making his eighth start of the season and his second since cancer treatment without missing a beat. He went five scoreless frames in his first turn back tho he did have to dodge a few raindrops in dropping the Rox. JT was 2-1/2.65 ERA in 2016 against Chicago in three starts. Lackey is having a tough year after cobbling together a strong 2016 campaign. He's struggled in the first inning (11 runs in 13 IP) and given up homers (2.23 per nine) by the bushel. In Lackey's last six starts, he's gone 1-4/6.48. It could be that Father Time has finally caught up to the 38-year-old, 15-year vet. Against Pittsburgh, he's 2-2/3.48 lifetime in seven starts and in 2016 Lackey was 1-0 in two starts. But his ERA was 4.91 with a WHIP over 1.5 as he was lit up in one match and tossed pretty well in the other.

  • Felipe is off today; Juan Nicasio's status is TBD - could be a five man pen today with Huddy, Wade,  Jhan Marinez, Tony and Edgar Santana.
  • Cutch has an eight-game hitting streak.
  • He's back...Chris Stewart has been reinstated from the DL and Jacob Stallings has been optioned back to Indy.
  • Josh Bell has banged 26 extra-base hits so far this season. The last Pirates rookie with 26 extra-base hits prior to the All-Star break was Johnny Ray in 1982. Since 1933, only four Pittsburgh rookies have had 27 or more extra-base hits prior to the break - Dale Long (29 in 1955), Richie Hebner (28 in 1969), Lee Walls (28 in 1956) and Ralph Kiner (27 in 1946).
  • Buster Olney of ESPN thinks J-Hay could end up one of the major All-Star snubs this year.

6/18: HBD Ben, Chippy & Ron; One-Punch Earl; Conn KO's Game; One-Swing Don & Game Stories

  • 1893 - 1B/C Ben Shaw was born in La Center, Kentucky. Ben’s MLB career was a short sip of sarsaparilla, lasting for four months and 23 games with the Pirates from 1917-18 while batting .184. Not much is known of him after that other than he managed some in the late 20s-early 30’s in the low levels of the farm.
  • 1890 - RHP George “Chippy” Britt was born in Macon, Georgia. He pitched for the Homestead Grays from 1926-33 and again in 1940 earning one all-star appearance; the stats on his career are wildly incomplete. He played with 16 teams from 1917 to 1945 and manned every position on days that he wasn’t on the hill. His nickname was well-deserved. Per Baseball Reference “He was known as one of black baseball's ‘four big bad men’ along with Jud Wilson, Oscar Charleston and Vic Harris, and someone once said ‘he could whip the whole ballclub.’ In Mexico City, he once was declared ‘Public Enemy Number One’ when he challenged some armed revolutionaries in the crowd.” When Chippy retired, he took a job as a nightclub doorman.
Chippy Britt (photo via Find A Grave)
  • 1927 - Continuing a feud that dated back to Pirate C Earl Smith's days with the Braves‚ Smith dropped Boston manager Dave Bancroft with a right to the kisser after they jawed in the seventh inning. Bancroft was carried off the field, and Smith drew a $500 fine and 30-day suspension. The Pirates won 7-4 at Forbes Field. Smith went 1-for-2 before being ejected, with Ray Kremer taking home the victory with Johnny Gooch as his replacement battery mate.
  • 1932 - Minor league legend RHP Ron Necciai was born in Gallatin, Fayette County. In 1952, Necciai struck out 27 batters while throwing a 7-0 no-hitter for the Bristol Twins and followed that with a two hit, 24-K performance. The Bucs called him up later from Class A, but the 20 year old Necciai posted just a 1-6 record with 31 strikeouts and a 7.08 ERA in 54-2/3 IP from August 10th to September 28th, 1952, the span of his entire MLB career. He went into the service in 1953, and chronic ulcers and a torn rotator cuff ended his career before it could begin.
  • 1941 - Local boxer Billy Conn fought Joe Louis at New York City's Polo Grounds in a legendary slugfest for the heavyweight championship. The Pirates and the New York Giants, playing at Forbes Field, were called into their dugouts while the 24,738 fans in attendance listened to the radio broadcast of the 56 minute bout. The game went 11 innings and was called with the score tied 2-2 at 1:10 AM.
Wally Westlake 1947 W461 Exhibits
  • 1948 - The Pirates spoiled Robin Roberts five-hit debut‚ beating the Phils' rookie 2-0 at Shibe Park behind Elmer Riddle’s five hitter. Wally Westlake homered and Frankie Gustine singled home Ed Fitz Gerald for the Bucco runs. But Roberts was in the show to stay. He lasted 19 years, won 286 games and entered the Hall of Fame.
  • 1960 - The Bucs were down 3-0 in the ninth at LA Memorial Coliseum with two outs and Gino Cimoli up with one swing left, behind in the count 1-2. That ignited a fast and furious comeback against the Dodgers when Cimoli eked out an infield hit to short and Hal Smith homered. Don Hoak singled, Maz walked and Smoky Burgess tied the game with another knock. Smith was the hero again in the 10th, banging a ground ball single to left off Larry Sherry that brought home Roberto Clemente and gave the Bucs an in-and-out of the jaws of death 4-3 win. ElRoy Face picked up the victory.
  • 1961 - C Don Leppert made his MLB debut a memorable one with a HR in his first at bat off Curt Simmons in a 5-3 win over Cards at Forbes Field in the opener of a DH. The Bucs dropped the nightcap by a 7-3 count.
Don Leppert 1962 Topps
  • 1966 - Roberto Clemente was a cover story (“Some Swinger”) for The Sporting News. The blurb was a little misleading. The actual article was written by local TSN correspondent/Pittsburgh Press beat writer Les Biederman and titled "Clemente Uses Bat to Send ‘All Well’ Message to Family." No need for them to worry - Clemente won the league's MVP Award that season, hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBIs.
  • 1971 - The Pirates stormed back in the late innings to force the Montreal game into extra time and eventually took a 9-8 Friday night victory at TRS. The Pirates scored twice in the eighth on Al Oliver’s two-out single and four more times in the ninth when Bill Mazeroski singled home a run followed by back-to-back homers from Dave Cash and Richie Hebner off Mike Marshall. Cash had the walk-off winner when he singled home Gene Clines, who had led off the 11th frame with a triple off Claude Raymond, making Dave Giusti a winner.
  • 2005 - The Pirates whipped the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a 2-0 count, scoring single runs in the eighth and ninth on Humberto Cota and Ryan Doumit knocks. Three Bucco pitchers - Dave Williams, Rick White and Jose Mesa - combined on a six hitter to stop Boston.
Humberto Cota 2005 Topps Total
  • 2010 - The sad sack Pirates lost their 12th straight game by a 4-3 count to the almost equally inept Cleveland Indians at PNC Park. All the scoring was in the seventh inning, with the Bucs scoring on a bases loaded double by Ryan Church and the Tribe answering. The Pirates came back to take the next two games from the Indians, followed by a six-game losing streak.
  • 2013 - After a defeat at Cincy during which Andrew McCutchen was HBP and Neil Walker was knocked down, Charlie Morton plunked the first Red to step to plate and then led the Bucs to a 4-0 win at GABP. Morton and three relievers combined on a four hitter. The Bucs never looked back, scoring three times in the first, keyed by a two run, bases loaded knock by Pedro Alvarez.
  • 2015 - Behind the pitching of Gerrit Cole, Arquimedes Caminero and Mark Melancon, the Bucs upended the Chicago White Sox 3-2 at US Cellular park. The Pirates scored three times in the first off an Andrew McCutchen RBI single and two-run homer by Jung-Ho Kang to win their eighth in row and their third straight series sweep. The victory was Cole’s MLB-leading 11th. It was also the sixth straight win by the Bucs when scoring three or fewer runs. Finally, it was a red letter day for C Francisco Cervelli. He caught his 56th consecutive scoreless inning, matching Ed Phelps' behind-the-plate shutout streak of 1903.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

El Coffee, Cutch Homers & Nova, Rivero Performances Carry Bucs to 4-3 Win

Ah, nice 10-pitch first frame for Ivan - single, GIDP, whiff. Jake Arrieta tumbled fielding Fraze's swinging bunt, allowing him to reach. Another dribbler moved him up a station but the extra 90' didn't make any difference when the previously frozen bat of El Coffee thawed - he lined a HR into the laps of the Clemente Wall fans. A couple of grounders sandwiched around a walk closed the inning. The Cubs got a knock in the second, but Cutch's two-out diving grab of a sinking liner closed the gate. Jake was back to his old tricks, punching out the side. Anthony Rizzo singled with two outs in the third; Ivan picked him off. Gregory is feelin' it; he doubled off The Clemente Wall with two gone but Freeser went down swinging. Ivan got the first two outs in the fourth, then the apparent third out on a roller in front of the dish resulting in a 2-3 put out. But the third base ump overruled the plate ump and called it foul, causing a brief beef, a honked pitcher and a walk. It cost Nova a half-dozen extra tosses and some heartburn. Jake got a couple more K's; his off-speed stuff has been outstanding tonight.

Ivan gutted out seven innings tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

With two outs (one on a crossing pattern by Cutch and JJ which fortunately didn't turn into a head-on) in the fifth, Ivan gave up a walk to the eight hitter. It proved costly when Jake went long, tucking a ball just inside the pole to tie the game. The Bucs answered. Jordy opened with a two-bagger, moved up on a wild pitch and came home an out later on a Fraze single. Another wild toss moved Adam up and Gregory was intentionally walked with two away. Freeser was HBP and lefty Brian Duensing was waved in to face J-Bell, whose liner to center hung up long enough to become the third out. Ivan tossed a solid sixth and Justin Grimm replaced Duensing. He gave up a first-pitch bomb to Andrew to make it 4-2. Again the seventh inning blues hit Ivan; Addison Russell homered, followed by a single and bunt. Ivan was equal to the task, getting a comebacker and whiff. The K was after he had fallen behind Jon Jay 3-0; when he got the final swing-and-miss on a 97 MPH heater, he double-pumped and the crowd gave him an ovation, earning a hat tip. Cool way to finish an outing.

Carl Edwards Jr took over in the Pirates half and walked Fraze. A K and GIDP killed that frame in a heartbeat. Huddy got the eighth inning call to face the top of the Cubbie order with Felipe loosening up. He got a line out, then Ian Happ hustled into a double; Gregory caught his liner on one hop and his routine toss-in allowed a heads-up Happ to stretch it. Clint called on Felipe; he allowed Huddy to face two lefties and Rivero gets a righty in Kris Bryant, sheesh. Bryant walked on four pitches, but a fly out and a nice snag by the double-switched Max Moroff on a grounder up the middle ended the threat. Pedro Strop got the call and J-Bell doubled with one gone. He was picked off heading to third on a comebacker well-played by Strop and poorly played by Bell. Felipe stayed on for the ninth and no one was tossing in the pen. No need; two balls hit back to the hill around a whiff finished the Cubs; his five-out save took 17 pitches.

Leather and lumber tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

All's well that ends well, but we're thinking Clint has to do a little more tweaking of his bullpen-by-committee planning. This is Felipe's third save of the week of four+ outs; the kid's arm may be rubber, but still... Anyway, very nice win after yesterday's meltdown with tomorrow's rubber match for the marbles. Nice to see Gregory carry his weight; we'll wait to see if it's a thing or just a blip.

  • Gregory had two hits and a free pass; Fraze and J-Bell had a knock and a walk. The Bucs only mustered six hits against the Cubbies.
  • J-Bell hasn't been yanked late in games lately for defensive purposes as Clint told the press gang that “We’ve taken the training wheels off..."
  • 34,383 rocked the park tonight.
  • Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors has a pretty long list of deadline trade candidates including the Pirates usual suspects, adding that Freeser is unlikely to be dangled.
  • Indy LHP Steven Brault is dealing. After winning tonight, he's 5-0 with a 1.32 ERA over his last eight starts (5-3/2.18 overall).
  • The Mariners claimed Indy RHP Pat Light, who was DFA'ed to clear a 40-man spot for Edgar Santana. It wasn't that long ago that the Bucs were combing the waiver wires instead of losing guys from it.

Saturday: ChiTown v Steel City, Nova v Jake, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: First pitch is at 8:15 as it's a Fox Sports Saturday Night Game, covered radio-side by 93.7 The Fan. It's also Jordy Mercer Bobblehead night for the first 20,000 fans.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, John Jaso LF, Jordy Mercer SS & Ivan Nova P. J-Hay gets a rest day (he's 2-for-26 against Jake), tho it seems Gregory is more in need of a break.

Mr Dependable on the bump (image via Positively Pittsburgh)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.83) twirls against Jake Arrieta (6-4, 4.68). Ivan's last outing was back on form as Clint let him loose for six and then let the pen take over. He's won three of his last four decisions and five of his last seven. His six-inning+ streak has reached 13 starts. Nova is the first Pittsburgh pitcher to do so since Eddie Solomon in 1981, who went six+ in his first 17 starts. Bossa Nova likes cookin' at home - he's gone 4-2 with a 2.29 ERA in six starts at PNC Park. He faced the Cubs once, getting a late September no decision last year at PNC Park after going 5-1/3 IP and surrendering a run on four hits. Jake has taken quite the slide this year; his velo is down and the Chi-town story is that he's been pitching with a bad thumb that sometimes splits open during games, as it has in his last two outings. He hasn't tossed mid-outing side sessions for a couple of starts now; whether that helps or not is TBD as they Cubs say the slice has healed. Injury aside, the vaunted curse he had on the Bucs was countered last year when Jake went 3-2/4.93 against the Pirates in six starts. He had a no-decision in early April when he went 5-2/3 IP and gave up three runs at PNC Park in a game the Bucs eventually won 8-7.

  • Andrew has a seven-game hitting streak (13-for-26, .500) and is hitting .432 (19-for-44) in his last 11 contests. No surprise there; June has traditionally been Cutch's take-off time. His .314 career batting average in June since 2009 ranks first among NL players (min: 750 AB) and third among all MLB players behind Miguel Cabrera (.327) and Adrian Beltre (.321). Cutch’s 144 RBI total ranks third among all players behind Albert Pujols (169) and Cabrera (153) during that span.
  • Another Nova factoid: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other Pittsburgh pitcher since 1900 has walked seven or fewer batters in his first 13 starts of a season. Babe Adams issued only five walks in his first 13 starts in 1920 and did it again in 1922 when he walked six in his first 13 assignments.
  • Draft hot take by JJ Cooper of Baseball America: "In recent years, Pittsburgh has emphasized productive college players at the top of its draft. This year it went for more upside and more risk with four preps." It'll be interesting tracking the young blood as they move through the system; the Bucs have have some big hits and big flops in their prep picks.

6/17: HBD Pete, Bob, Zeb, Joe & Bennie; Cutch's First HR: Bro-Bombs; Pedro's Big Day & Game Stories...

  • 1861 - OF Pete Browning was born in Louisville. One of the great hitters (and terrible fielders - he was known as “The Gladiator” because of his fights with fly balls, although others claim it was due to his tussles with league suits and the media) of early baseball, he played 50 games for 1891 for Pittsburgh, batting .291. He may not have played here long, but he had an influential 13-year career. Per Wikipedia: One of the ballers to jump to the outlaw Players League (he actually helped create it), Browning's decision to sign with Pittsburgh in 1891 helped cement the team's new nickname of "Pirates." When the PL collapsed, its members were supposed to return to their original franchises. Pittsburgh, though, signed several players who were theoretically under the control of other clubs, starting with second baseman Lou Bierbauer. Other franchises decried these acts of "piracy", and the name stuck. Browning is also remembered as the inspiration behind the Hillerich & Bradsby's iconic "Louisville Slugger" (another of his nicknames) bats. He was the first player to buy bats from the company and they used the name a few years later to both recognize its roots and cash in on Pete’s fame. Finally, The Gladiator retired with a .341 lifetime BA, leading SABR to name him as an overlooked but deserving 19th Century Hall of Fame player. The fact he was an early union agitator and helped form the Players League (plus his later bouts of alcoholism, which made his relations with the media contentious) didn’t help his cause.
  • 1887 - OF Bob Coulson was born in Courtney, in New Eagle Township in Washington county and raised in Donora. The Mon Valley community is noted for nurturing stars like Stan the Man and Junior, but Bob was its first contribution to the majors. He played three years for three MLB teams, then the Penn State product spent two more seasons in the bushes spanning the continent with stints in Newark, Kansas City and Portland. He finally got a chance to finish his career at home, playing 18 games for the Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914, hitting .203 before retiring to Washington county where he became a Register of Wills, Department of Labor inspector and Assessment Officer. He’s buried in Beallsville Cemetery.
Zeb Terry 1915 (image via The Day Book)
  • 1891 - SS Zeb Terry was born in Denison, Texas. Zebelon spent seven years in the majors, spending the 1919 season with the Pirates, batting .227. He was raised in California and attended Long Beach Poly HS, which has produced 19 MLB players, before going to Stanford and then the majors.
  • 1910 - RHP Joe Bowman was born in Kansas City. He tossed for the Bucs from 1937-41, split between starting and the pen, with a record of 33-38-6 and a 4.35 ERA. Joe knew his way around a batter’s box, too, hitting .281 with 38 RBI as a Pirate.
  • 1932 - RHP Bennie Daniels was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He underperformed in his Pittsburgh years, going 8-16-1 with a 5.84 ERA, though his FIP was a more solid 3.98. He was traded to the Washington Senators, where he put up workmanlike numbers for five more seasons.
  • 1969 - Richie Hebner was the man of the hour in a twinbill sweep at Forbes Field against the first place Chicago Cubs, driving in the game’s only run in a 1-0 victory in the opener and then plating a walk-off RBI in a 4-3 nightcap win. Bob Veale won the lidlifter with a save by Bruce Dal Canton. Steve Blass won the second game in relief, and helped himself by scoring the winning run.
Richie Hebner 1969 Topps Rookie
  • 2001 - The Pirates scored with two outs in the ninth when Brian Giles singled and came around on Aramis Ramirez’s double to claim a 1-0 win for Todd Ritchie against the Cleveland Indians at PNC Park. Ritchie went the distance, giving up just four hits to the Tribe.
  • 2004 - Tike Redman broke up a pitching duel between Kris Benson and Bartolo Colon by banging homers in the seventh and eighth innings to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Angels at PNC Park. Jack Wilson also went long.
  • 2007 - Nate McLouth doubled twice to drive in four runs and Jack Wilson scored three times as the Bucs held off the Chicago White Sox 8-7 at PNC Park. Matt Capps surrendered two runs in the ninth to keep it interesting but hung on for the save of Shawn Chacon’s W.
Nate McLouth 2007 Upper Deck
  • 2009 - Andrew McCutchen hit his first MLB homer off future teammate Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins at the Mall of America Field in an 8-2 Buc win. He added another knock, marking his sixth multi-hit game in 13 starts. Andy and Adam LaRoche both went yard, the first brother combo to homer in the same game for Pittsburgh since the Waners in 1938. Ian Snell won the contest with help from John Grabow and Steven Jackson.
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez had a big day at Progressive Field, driving in six runs in a 9-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. El Toro homered twice and doubled, banging his first bomb off future teammate Jeanmar Gomez.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bullpen Toxic in Ninth; Bucs Drop 9-5 Decision to Cubbies

It took three pitches to get Joe Maddon's clock wound. Anthony Rizzo's long drive was called a homer, then reversed on an ump review. Joe let the blue crew know he didn't like it. They likewise showed their displeasure by bouncing the theatrical Cubbie manager. He should of stuck around. Rizzo eventually walked, followed by a single. After two outs, a walk loaded 'em up. A wild pitch brought in a run and a Wilson Contreras two-bagger on a 1-2 slider made it 3-0; a Cutch-to-Jordy-to-Freeser cut down at third of the catcher stopped the music. The Bucs went 1-2-3 to Eddie Butler, who had his white sleeves chopped off on the hill at the umps request. Chicago opened the second with a two hits and runners on the corners, but Trevor worked out of that one. Cutch walked with two away but was picked off at first, a call made by review that overturned the original decision. The third went quietly for both sides.

It took Trevor a bit to get into the groove (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates) 

The Windy City gang went down in order in the fourth, with a dandy grab by Fraze in left followed by a pair of whiffs. J-Hay singled with an out - yay, a hit! - and a catcher's pickoff gone astray got him to second. It almost ignited an uprising. Gregory hit a loud foul much like Rizzos and Clint asked for a review; for the first time tonight a call was upheld (rightly) and the Bucco surge receded. Williams kept cruising; after five, he has retired 12 straight Cubs. J-Bell got the Bucs on the board with a leadoff long fly that carried over the 410' mark of The Notch. Wade LeBlanc came in for the sixth and kept the outs coming. Fraze opened with a knock and Freeser walked two outs later. Like Williams in the first, the two-out walk came back to bite Butler as J-Bell followed with a triple. Pedro Strop was waved in and gave up an infield knock to Cutch, putting the Bucs up 4-3 before he could smother the fire.

Huddy took over in the seventh and an opening walk was moved up on a grounder. No prob; Daniel finished up with a pair of swingin' K's. Justin Grimm worked a clean frame. In the eighth, it was the top of Chicago's lineup and Clint's New Order dialed up Felipe Rivero. Ian Happ doubled with an out, but Felipe won a 10-pitch battle with Addison Russell, punching him out to end the frame. It would eventually become a key at-bat as it took Rivero out of a multi-inning scenario. Koji Uehara took the hill for Chicago. J-Hay reached on an off-line throw by Russell, diving and twisting under the tag try. Koji served up four outs as easily as three. Juan Nicasio was greeted in the ninth by back-to-back doubles. A single left Cubs on the corners and an intentional walk loaded the sacks for Tony Watson, who gave up a first-pitch knock to John Jay and a two-run bloop single to Rizzo; the game has gone south in a hurry. A two-out double chased home another pair before Jhan Marinez got the call and closed it down. A Cutch double opened and Jordy and Fran added singles against Wade Davis to make it 9-5. A walk to Fraze loaded the bases with an out before J-Hay and Gregory fanned.

Apparently Juan & the 9th inning aren't a good pairing (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Not much to say except bad start, bad finish. The Pirates may want to add Edgar Santana to that back-end mix sooner than they prefer. Tony looks fried, Juan has never thrived in the ninth (see notes) and Felipe can't work for the last six outs of every close game. It may be that not just Clint but the team has to feel their way into closer-by-committee mode. We've been spoiled by Joel Hanrahan/Jason Grilli, Grilli/Mark Melancon, and The Shark/Tony Watson killer closer and set-up tandems under the skipper's old system; the new tactic needs a shake-down cruise to fine-tune everyone's role.

  • Cutch (2-of-3, 2B, walk) and J-Bell (2-of-4, HR, 3B, 3 RBI) sparked the attack along with Fran and Fraze who had a walk and knock.
  • The Pirate bullpen is 13-of-23 in save/opps (57%). Last year, it was 51-of-71 (72%).  
  • Juan Nicasio has one lifetime save, earned on May 15th, 2015, as a Dodger when he saved a 6-4 win over the Rox. He is 1-of-8 in save opps over his career.
  • In eight outings, Trevor Williams has given up 11 runs in the first inning of the 25 he's yielded as a starter.
  • Gregory Polanco is in the deep freeze; he's 3-for-32 in his past seven games.
Gregory is in the Arctic at the dish (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 25,420 were at the park with much of the crowd being Cub fans.
  • Clint told the media gang that the team will carry three catchers through the weekend, apparently to make certain that Fran, who is medically cleared from his concussion, stays at 100%.
  • Stew was running the bases at full-tilt (his version, anyway) and should be close to coming off the DL. He's been out since May 30th.
  • RHP Shane Baz, the Pirates first round pick, was officially signed, sealed and delivered in a presser with NH this afternoon before the game. His signing bonus is $4.1M according to reports, just a nudge above the slot value of $4,032,000.
  • Jim Callis of rated the Buc draft as one of the league's top five, especially liking the early picks.