Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday: Bucs-Bravos, Glasnow v RA Dickey, Lineup, Notes & News

Tonight: It's a 7:35 start for the second bout at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta. The game will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. The game shouldn't be played in the rain tonight, although tomorrow looks iffy right now.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, Fran Cervelli C, John Jaso RF, Alen Hanson 2B, Jordy Mercer SS & Tyler Glasnow P. Good to see Jordy back; we thought he'd miss a game or two. Hanseon is getting a start over Freeser, whom they've been bringing back slowly since his hammy sprain.

Hanson gets the nod tonight (photo Mike Pronzato/Pirates)

Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow (2-3, 7.34) takes the bump against R.A. Dickey (3-3, 4.13). Glasnow has been a tease so far, putting together nice stretches of pitching but always serving up one multi-run frame to burst his balloon and walking batters left and right. Now it's a matter of focus while going through the grind as he continues to learn his craft at the highest level. And even with the bumpy path, logic dictated that he be thrown in the deep end to swim or sink; there was really no challenge remaining at the AAA level. This is his first outing against the Bravos. The 42-year-old knuckleballer Dickey has been pretty much pitching to his ERA; he has given up 2-4 earned runs every start and has gotten into the sixth in seven of his eight outings. The Pirates chased him in the sixth in April while winning 6-4 thanks to some Braves gifts that led to three unearned tallies. His floater has proven troublesome to the Bucs in the past. His career Corsair line is 3-3/2.54 in nine appearances (eight starts) with a 1.15 WHIP.

Notes:
  • Adam Frazier has a .500 OBP since returning from the DL on May 12th.
  • John Jaso has hits in four straight games and reached base safely in his last eight contests.
JJ is heating up some at the dish tho still a project in the OF (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Talk about roster churn: Jhan Mariñez was the 35th different player to appear in a game for the Pirates this season.
  • It's been a tough season so far for Tyler Glasnow, but his pure stuff is still evident. The 23-year-old righthander enters today tied for the MLB lead among rookie hurlers with 37 strikeouts, averaging 9.7 K/nine innings.
News:
  • The Bucs have joined the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Tigers and Twins in offering a SRO ticket plan called the Pirates Ballpark Pass. For $29.95/month, you can download an e-ticket from a phone via the MLB.com Ballpark app and watch any game from the left field rotundas, Iron City Skull Bar, Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club, Block House Corner Bar, and Miller Lite Crow's Nest among other designated areas scattered around PNC Park. Season ticket holders are obviously less than pleased, but this is becoming a thing for baseball to help get warm bodies in the house. The program begins in June. The long-term affect on season ticket sales and the dynamic pricing concept should be interesting. 

5/23 From the 50s Forward: Vogey Beaned; Whalin' Willie; Skinner for Lynch; HBD Mike; Candy, Kendall & Da Cubbies

  • 1950 - After traveling a twisted trail (he was signed out of high school by the Tigers, granted free agency by the league with a handful of other Detroit farmhands due to some contractual hanky-panky, then signed with the Pirates for $20,000 and become their first “bonus baby” to reach Forbes Field) Bill MacDonald made his first major league start. It was a good one as he shut out the Phillies‚ 6-0, twirling a complete game three-hitter against the future NL champs. “Whalin’ Willie” (his bread-and-butter was the fastball) went 8-10/4.29 for the last-place Bucs, making 32 outings (twenty starts) with two shutouts and six complete games to his credit. His major drawback was a wild streak; he averaged over five walks per nine. MacDonald then missed the 1951–52 seasons when he was in the service during the Korean War years, and when he returned in 1953, he had lost it. Bill pitched poorly in four more games (12.27 ERA), was sent to the PCL and retired after the 1954 campaign.
Bill MacDonald 1951 Bowman
  • 1952 - It took 13 frames, but Johnny Merson’s double scored Gus Bell with the game winner to end an eight-game losing streak as the Bucs topped the Cubs 6-5 at Forbes Field. The Pirates scored four times in the opening inning, but Bob Friend couldn’t hold on. Ted Wilks spun the last 5-⅔ frames without yielding a run to end the drought.
  • 1963 - The Bucs sent OF Bob Skinner to the Reds for Jerry Lynch, who started his career in Pittsburgh. Lynch spent his last four years as a Pirate and set the MLB pinch hit home run record of 18 (since surpassed by Matt Stairs) in a Bucco uniform. Skinner spent nine seasons with Pittsburgh, compiling a .280 BA, and lasted five more years in the show.
  • 1978 - Reliever Mike Gonzalez was born in Corpus Christi. He was drafted by the Pirates and pitched his first four seasons (2003-06) in Pittsburgh. Gonzo became a rare LH closer in 2006, earning 24 saves before being sent to Atlanta in the off season as part of the Adam LaRoche deal. He last pitched in the majors in 2013 for the Brewers.
  • 1984 - Bucco lefty John Candelaria struck out 12 batters in eight innings of work as the Pirates beat Cincinnati, 7-2, at Three Rivers Stadium. It was Candelaria’s fourth win of the year. The Pirates took the lead with six runs in the fifth inning and never looked back. Catcher Tony Pena went 3-for-4 with a triple.
Tony Pena 1984 Donruss
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall had a big if somewhat painful day at Pro Players Stadium against Florida in Pittsburgh’s 10-4. He went 3-for-3 with three RBI. After his first ining single knocked in a run, he was rewarded with a pair of HBPs; he responded by doubling and singling to plate two more runs and touch the dish once. Turner Ward also drove in three runs and Tony Womack scored three times as Jon Lieber and Ricardo Rincon got the win and save.
  • 2016 - In one of PNC Park’s scarier moments, witnessed by 34,529 stunned fans, Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was hit in the face with an 0-2 fastball by the Rockies Jordan Lyles in the second inning and was carted off the field with facial fractures. Ryan was temporarily blinded in one eye after the beaning, but his vision slowly recovered to nearly normal. He had surgery and against the odds returned to the mound on August 4th and pitched well (six innings, one run, three hits) in his return. The Bucs, btw, won the match against Colorado by a 6-3 score and Lyles was introduced to instant karma - he lost the game and then was sent to the minors the next day.

5/23 Through the 20s: HBD Deacon,Hugh & Clyde; Swipe-Fest; Colts Corraled; Meadows Deal

  • 1872 - RHP Charles “Deacon” Phillippe was born in Rural Retreat, Virginia. The Deacon spent 12 years with Pittsburgh (1900-11) with a line of 189-109/2.59. He went 3-2 in the 1903 World Series with a 3.07 ERA and closed out two games in the 1909 World Series, pitching six scoreless innings. Phillippe was perhaps the greatest control pitcher of the modern era, won 20 games six times, and was voted by Buc fans as the greatest right-handed pitcher in Pirates history. He came about his nickname honestly, being a devout Lutheran and clean living guy in an era noted for its rowdy ballplayers. He also went by “The Great Phillippi” due to his pitching prowess.
Deacon Phillippe 1970 Fleer
  • 1885 - 1B Hugh Bradley was born in Grafton, Massachusetts. After spending three years with Boston (he was the first player to homer at Fenway Park), he spent a season in the minors and then signed with the Pittsburgh Rebels. He was the starting 1B in 1914, hitting .307, but was bumped to reserve duty when veteran Ed Konetchy joined the team the next season. Spending time in the pasture and not happy about it, he was released and moved on to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. They likewise let him go and he became a member of of a third Federal League club, the Newark Peppers. Brad spent from 1916-23 in the minors, umpired after that and then got on with his life. Fun factoid: for a while, Bradley spent the off seasons with a vaudeville act of Boston players called the “Red Sox Quartette,” a barbershop quartet.
  • 1890 - During a 17-10 New York victory at the Polo Grounds‚ the Giants swiped a record 17 sacks against the battery of rookie P Fred “Crazy” Schmit and veteran C George “Doggie” Miller. The Alleghenys added three steals of their own to set a game record of 20. Crazy was thought nuts by the other players because he was the first pitcher to keep a book on hitters, warmed up at 75' rather than 60’ tossing a water-soaked ball to make it heavier and used other quirky personal tricks of the trade to get ready for a game. He also answered to “Germany” for more obvious reasons. The 1890 Alleghenys, it should be noted, may have been baseball’s worst team ever, winning just 23 games and allowing 447 stolen bases, nearly four per game - and the catchers had a 31% toss-out rate!
Mike Smith Ar Longa Art Card
  • 1892 - The Pirates ended the Chicago Colts 13 game winning streak with a 5-4 win at South Side Stadium in front of 2,000 Windy City fans. The Pirates overcame an early 4-0 deficit, led by extra base knocks by Jake Beckley, Doggie Miller, Mike Smith and Lou Bierbauer, generating just enough offense to push Mark Baldwin to victory. As recapped by The Pittsburg Press: “The Pittsburgs defeated the Chicagos in a very close and exciting game. The Pittsburgers were outbatted, but their hits were more timely and counted more than those made by the Colts.” Part of the excitement was the fielding; each side surrendered just one earned run, with the clubs combining to boot five balls.
  • 1923 - Pittsburgh sent 2B Cotton Tierney and P Whitey Glazner to the Phils for 2B Johnny Rawlings and P Lee Meadows. Meadows went 87-51 over the next five years as Glazner's rotation replacement, winning 20 games once and 19 twice. Whitey was out of baseball after winning 14 games in two seasons for the Phils while Cotton was done after the 1925 camapign.
  • 1924 - Coach Clyde King was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina. King never played for the Bucs, but after hangin’ up the mitt he managed the Hollywood Stars in 1957 and the Columbus Jets in 1958, both Pirate farm clubs. After time coaching outside the organization, he returned as a member of Harry Walker’s staff from 1965 to 1967. He continued to coach in the minors and the MLB as manager of the SF Giants, Atlanta Braves and NY Yankees.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pirates Sloppy In 5-2 Loss to Bravos

The game opened with Mike Foltynewicz tossing a clean frame; Cole Train was touched for a single. JJ doubled in the second and was left aboard; a Bravo knock was erased on a DP for a 1-2-3 inning. The Bucs drew first blood in the third. A Jordy single and Fraze walk paid off when J-Hays one-out grounder was misplayed into an infield single; a run scored and the runners ended up on second and third. Cutch, who has been icy against RHP (.168 BA, .231 OBP), K'ed and J-Bell's bouncer left the ducks on the pond. Gerrit had a rough frame; a double and single tied it, although Fraze helped the cause by throwing out Darby Swanson at second as he tried to claim an extra sack. It helped when Brandon Phillips, who owned Cole as a Red, took him deep to make it 2-1. To start the fourth, Freeser was called out on strikes on a ball that was clearly not over the dish; he beefed and was bounced. Clint joined him in the showers after he added his two cents worth. With two gone, a walk and a knock caused some smoke, but Cole Train couldn't help his own cause.

Cutch has been bedeviled by righties this year (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Between innings, Josh moved to third and Alen Hansen to second. A pair of singles and a bopped batter with one away put Gerrit in a bind, but he cooled the 8-9 hitters to keep it a one-run game. Cole's laboring tonight and already at 76 pitches, but he's keeping his club alive. Fraze opened the fifth with an infield knock. An out later, Andrew's day stayed as dark as the clouds as he banged into an around-the-horn DP. The Bravos got a leadoff single and went to third on Phillip's knock; JJ played the ball like a 1B allowing it to fall. A rocket to J-Hay turned into an error and it was 3-1. Cole Train got the DP a batter later, with Jordy shook up. The ball hit his throwing hand tho he still got off the feed, and after a visit from the trainer stayed in the game. Matt Adams got a two-out, two-strike curve and crushed it for a two-run shot. A walk followed and that brought in Johnny Barbato; Cole Train was at 100 tosses. JB gave up a rap before shutting it down.

J-Bell, Hanson and JJ opened the sixth with knocks to plate a run and leaving Corsairs on the corners. Jason Motte took the ball and K'ed Cervy after falling behind 3-0, then got Jordy to chase a 3-2 offering that was ball four. So the ol' runner at third, less than two outs at-bats have resulted in three Pirate whiffs, all swinging. Jose Osuna grabbed a bat and at least put the ball in play, grounding out. Gift went to SS as Jordy's hand was achy and Jhan Marinez took the bump. He gave up just a knock (to Ender Inciarte, who is 4-for-4) in his first Bucco outing. Jose Ramirez got the call for the seventh and sat the Pirates down in order. The Bravos went quietly too. Arodys Vizcaino worked the eighth and walked J-Bell who was left anchored. Jhan walked the leadoff Brave and with two gone, Inciarte collected his fifth hit and a following walk filled the sacks. Huddy came on, with Danny Ortiz going to right in a double-switch, and fanned Matt Kemp. Jim Johnson put it to bed in the ninth.

Jhan Marinez worked 2-2/3 bumpy but scoreless frames in his Bucco debut.
(photo via MLB.com)

It was the April Pirates flashback. Bad glovework, runners left on third, and shutdowns by opposing bullpens. Cole Train labored, but with a little help in the field, his line would be a lot more palatable. Might as well get it out of the system now and go get 'em tomorrow.

Notes:
  • Fraze's multi-hit string was snapped, but he did have a knock, a walk and was plunked. JJ and Jordy had two hits and J-Bell had a rap and a free pass. And no word yet on Jordy's hand; we'll find out more tomorrow.
  • Gerrit Cole had gone six innings or more giving up two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts; tonight snapped both streaks. The 10 hits he surrendered tonight are his season high.
  • Both clubs left runs all over Sun Trust Park - they combined to go 4-for-19 w/RISP and strand 19 runners.
  • The Bucs were OK on the road last year at 40-41 but are just 8-16 so far this campaign.
  • Ender Inciarte's five-hit game (all singles, but mostly well stroked) was his career best.

Monday: Bucs at Bravos, Cole Train v Mike Foltynewicz, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Bucs open the series at 7:35 in Atlanta's Sun Trust Park. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. That depends a lot on the weather gods. As of this afternoon, Atlanta has an 80-90% chance of thunderstorms for the next three days and 50% chance of showers for Thursday's getaway game. Springtime in Georgia...

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, John Jaso RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P.  In Gregory's absence, this is the new normal lineup.

Cole Train on the tracks tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (2-4, 2.84) opens the four-game set against Mike Foltynewicz (2-4, 4.10). Gerrit finally got a couple of runs from his mateys last outing to claim the win and record withstanding, he's in the middle of a fierce streak of pitching. He's posted a 1.98 ERA over his last seven starts. Cole Train has been tough on the Braves. He's 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five career starts, and the Bucs are 5-0 in his outings v Atlanta. Cole faced them last in 2016, getting a no decision in a 6-5 Bucco win. Foltynewicz had a pair of rough starts to open the campaign, but since then has settled down to toss five decent outings in his last six appearances. The Bucs chased him in the fourth back in early April in a 5-4 win. The 25-year-old righty hasn't had much luck against the Pirates - he's 0-3/9.00 in three lifetime starts and lasted just 12 IP.

Notes:
  • Smokin': Fraze has multiple hits in each of his last six starts, going 15-for-28 (.536) with two doubles, seven RBI and six runs scored.
  • The Bucs swept a three-game series from the Braves at PNC Park in early April and have gone 15-6 in their last 21 meetings against Atlanta.
  • More deep stats: Yesterday's victory was the first time the Bucs won a game 1-0 on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch since May 31st, 1915, against the Cubs per Elias Sports. Wilbur Cooper beat Jimmy Lavender at Forbes Field that day in front of 15,000. It was the first game of a twin bill; the Pirates took the second game 1-0 with that run scoring on a wild pitch - and it was Hinchman who scampered home to win that contest.
  • For those wondering about the projections of Pirates prospects who are on or spent time with the big team, John Sickels of Minor League Ball has an index of all the league's pups to scroll through.
  • Hey, Indy - both International League Players of the Week are Pirate pups. The Hitter OTW is Jason Rogers, who batted .400 w/2 HR and 11 RBI (.291, 6 HR, 22 RBI/season) and the Pitcher OTW is Steven Brault who went 1-0/0.69 w/10 K in 13 IP (2-3, 2.54, 45 K in 49-2/3 IP - season). It's the first time the Tribe has had both weekly awardees since it joined the IL in 1998. 
  • Altoona OF Connor Joe made Jonathan Mayo's MLB.com Prospects of the Week list. 


5/22 From the 40s Forward: Josh Bomb, Pops Big Day, Ducky Traded, Cover Boy Starg, Frankie, HBD Jose & Julian

  • 1946 - Josh Gibson hit a homer an estimated 490’ over the left center wall at Forbes Field to lead the Homestead Grays to an 11-8 victory over the New York Black Yankees. Gibson hit .379 that season and led the Negro League with 16 homers in 49 games. It was the opener for the defending Negro National League champion Grays, played in front of 5,000 fans; Homestead CF’er Jerry Benjamin led both teams with four hits.
Josh Gibson  2006 Upper Deck
  • 1965 - The Pirates sent IF Dick Schofield to the Giants for IF Jose Pagan. Pagan spent seven years with Pittsburgh, hitting .263 and driving in the winning run in the seventh game of the 1971 World Series. Ducky played until 1971, but the light-hitting utilityman only batted above .221 twice during that span, most notably in 1960 when he swatted .333 replacing injured SS Dick Groat late in the season.
  • 1966 - RHP Jose Mesa was born in Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic. The two-time All-Star and 1995 Reliever of the Year (he had 46 saves for the Indians and a 1.13 ERA) signed with the Pirates late in his 19-year major league career, looking for a place where he could again compete as a closer. He won the job in Pittsburgh and in 2004-05 picked up 70 saves, although with a 3.93 ERA and 12 blown saves. He went on to play two more seasons as a set-up man for Colorado, Detroit, and Philadelphia before retiring in 2007.
  • 1968 - With the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field‚ the Pirates came from four runs down to defeat the Cubs 13-6. Willie Stargell hit three home runs and just missed a fourth, drilling a double that bounced off the left field railing and back onto the playing field. Pops also smacked a single for 15 total bases and seven RBI on the day.
Julian Tavarez 2003 (photo Ezra Shaw/Getty)
  • 1973 - RHP Julian Tavarez was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Tavárez had been starter, but suffered a shoulder injury in 2002 as a Marlin that he pitched through not very successfully. The 30-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Pirates the following season. They converted him to the bullpen (where he had started his career) and he put up a career-high 11 saves, going 3-3-11/3.63. The Bucs lost him to free agency the next year when he signed with the Cards. Julian had a 17-year MLB run, playing for 11 teams before his final campaign in 2009.
  • 1981 - Willie Stargell was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Streaking Slugger.” The Captain was on the downside of his career, being a sub/pinch hitter from 1980 until his retirement after the 1982 season. He only got 66 PA in 1981 playing behind Jason Thompson and for the first time since his rookie campaign, when he had just 31 AB, he went without a homer though he did bat .283.
  • 2013 - Francisco Liriano outdueled the Cubs Jeff Samardzija 1-0 at PNC Park; the only run scored in the first, when with two outs Andrew McCutchen doubled and Garrett Jones singled him home. Liriano gave up two hits, a walk and K’ed nine in seven innings. It was only the second time in Pirate history that a pitcher began his Pittsburgh career by allowing a run or less in his first three outings, the other being Dave LaPoint in 1988.

5/22 Through the 30s: Firebugs; Sweet Steve; Bucs v Giants; HBD Tom, Hooks & George

  • 1884 - RHP Tom McCarthy was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Tom makes today’s list as one of the Bucs flipped so quickly that hardly anyone knew he was here. He started the year as a Red, had one terrible outing and was sold to the Pirates in May. He pitched twice for the Buccos, once as a starter and once in relief, and reversed his fortune by giving up one unearned run and three hits in six frames. Then in mid-June, he was part of a deal with the Boston Doves for Irv Young, joining his third team in a span of 39 days. Tom tossed pretty well for the Beaneaters into 1909, then was traded to the minor league Hartford club (then independent clubs rather than affiliates) for Chick Evans. That was the end of Tom’s baseball road pretty much - he had two good minor league seasons, then had to retire due to a balky back.
  • 1894 - 3B Hoke “Hooks” Warner was born in Del Rio, Texas. Hooks played for the Bucs in 1916 as the starting third baseman after being purchased from Dayton in August and returned for cups of coffee in 1917 and 1919 (he spent 1918 in the army). Warner hit .232 over that span, and would play just 14 more MLB games with the Chicago Cubs in 1921. After his playing days, he managed a restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Expo Park 1903 - the disgruntled stockholders didn't quite burn it down
(photo Boston Public Library)
  • 1900 - Exposition Park was plagued by a series of fires set in the stands. The Pittsburg Press wrote that “It is believed the fires were started by persons who formerly held passes but whom the new management refuses to recognize,” referring to small stockholders who were cut out of the action by new owner Barney Dreyfuss and apparently took the loss of their comps hard.
  • 1921 - In their first meeting of the season, the first place Pirates defeated the second place NY Giants 8-6 at the Polo Grounds. After trailing for most of the game, the Pirates scored twice in the eighth and six times in the ninth. Possum Whitted went 3-for-3 with a homer, George Cutshaw went 4-for-5 with two doubles, Cotton Tierney added three knocks and Max Carey belted a four bagger. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win. It was a 2-0 game in favor of Gotham going into the eighth; the G-Men had no quit in them either and scored once in the eighth and three times in the ninth to keep it interesting. NY lost that battle but won the war; the Giants took the 1921 NL title by four games from the Bucs.
  • 1925 - The Bucs scored five times in the first inning, keyed by Glenn Wright’s three run homer, and then didn’t score again until the 10th, but it was enough to edge the NY Giants 6-5 at the Polo Grounds. Pie Traynor shot a liner off Wayland Dean’s shin that ricocheted into short RF for a double and scored on a two-out knock by George Grantham for the game winner. Vic Aldridge got the win; Dean was a hard luck loser, working 9-2/3 innings of one-run relief only to get tagged with the loss (and a bruise).
Glenn Wright 1925 (photo National Photo Company)
  • 1932 - Mt. Pleasant’s Steve Swetonic, a Pitt grad, had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 26 frames when Pepper Martin hit a seventh inning solo homer, but ended up with a three hit, 5-1 win over Dizzy Dean and the St. Louis Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park. Steve would finish 11-6/2.86 for the year, but a bum arm short-circuited his career; he would have only one more healthy season left, missing all of 1934 and retiring in 1935.
  • 1937 - OF George Spriggs was born in Jewell, Maryland. The Bucs signed the speedy Spriggs from the fading Negro Leagues and he led the AA Southern and AAA International League in stolen bases from 1964-66. In 56 games for the Pirates from 1965-67, Spriggs hit just .182 though he was 5-for-5 in stolen bases. He got two more MLB years as a bench guy for the Kansas City Royals. George also logged time in Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and independent leagues in addition to his 10-year minor league stint.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kuhl & Pen Outpitch Nola & Phils 1-0 To Take Series

Chad Kuhl and Aaron Nola traded clean first frames on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. The second was also quiet, with JJ's single the only action.  In the third, the Phils drew a walk and Fraze singles and the fourth was 1-2-3 for both sides; this game is starting out like Cy Young and Big Train Johnson are on the bumps. The Phils made some noise in the fifth with a one-out double and walk, but the 8-9 guys were due and Chad fanned them both. JJ drew a leadoff walk and eventually made it to third, were he died. Chad left after 82 pitches for a two-out, two-on pinch hitter (Jose Osuna flied out), giving up a hit, two walks and fanning five.

Wade - four outs for win #3 (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Wade LeBlanc put up a sixth inning zippo while the Pirates sputtered their way to a run. Fraze and J-Hay opened with singles to put Pirates on the corners and Josh stole second. An out later, J-Bell was walked intentionally and Freeser took one for the team to force home a run. JJ had a chance to provide some breathing room; instead, he hit into a 4-6-3 DP. The Bucs went into their prevent D with Danny Ortiz to right, Jaso to 1B and J-Bell to the pine. Wade was touched for a one-out knock in the seventh and Juan Nicasio came on to get the last two outs while Pittsburgh was unable to dent Nola as Ortiz's fly was hauled in short of the fence.

Felipe Rivero climbed the hill for the eighth. With two gone Cesar Hernandez reached on an error; Rivero's throw to first was short and JJ couldn't come up with it. Freddy Galvis followed with a foul fest before pushing a ball off the end of his bat past short on the ninth pitch to put a pair aboard. Aaron Altherr got ahead 3-1, but Felipe came back to record his second whiff. Edubray Ramos took the ball and walked Fraze. An out later, he was caught stealing ahead of Cutch's walk. Alen Hanson singled. Luis Garcia came in to face Freeser and won the battle with a comebacker. Tony Watson looked to close it out and did so easily with a whiff, tapper and routine bouncer for save #10; Wade got his third win.

Tony Watson picked up his tenth save (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

It was good to see Cool Chad back in the groove and the bullpen do its thing. It wasn't quite as good to see the offense shoot itself in the foot, but at least for today, one run was all it took. So that's back-to-back-series wins and off to Atlanta for a four-gamer.

Notes:
  • Fraze had two hits and a walk; JJ had a knock and a walk.
  • In a very good sign, Chad not only had five K in five innings but also got seven of the in-play outs on the ground, a strong pointer that his sinker arrived at the bottom of the zone today instead of the belt.
  • His peripherals may not support the old-school stat line, but Tony Watson has converted 10 of his 11 saves this season and is 25-for-29 in save opportunities since taking over the closer role.
  • The Pirates have won 6-of-8 games and are getting closer to .500 with a 20-24 record a series at a time.
  • There were 24,445 slightly soggy fans in the house today. The game couldn't have ended at a better time; it is quickly followed by a couple of strong showers.  
  • The Pirates aren't the only ones whose nerves are frazzled by the Cubs. Milwaukee had a Saturday doubleheader with them rescheduled after a damp AM, then the rain stopped well before game time. Per Dan Benton's post on Larry Brown Sports, Brew Crew skipper Craig Counsell said "It's the first time for us that we've had players treated for sunburn after a rainout."

Sunday: Phil Series Finale, Cool Chad v Aaron Nola, Lineup, Notes

Today: First pitch is at 1:35 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Kids 14-and-under get a Bucco mitt.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, J-Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, John Jaso RF, Stew C, Gift SS and Gerrit Cole P. Jordy gets a well-earned day off; he and Cutch have been Bucco ironmen so far this season. Stew is in for Cervy, and all-in-all, it's a pretty solid group for a Sunday lineup.

Chad is looking to straighten up and fly right today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-4, 6.69) closes the set against Aaron Nola (2-0, 5.40). Cool Chad has hit upon a string of not-very-long nor effective starts (21 runs in his last 17-2/3 IP), plagued by rain, liners off the knee and mainly by staying up in the strike zone way too much. So his mission to locate better. His velocity is top notch at 94-96 MPH, but his go-to is the sinker, and that needs to come in knee-high rather than at the belt. His ground ball rate was 44% last season; it's under 38% in 2017. There's been talk of Kuhl being better suited for the bullpen; he needs to step it up if he wants to dispel that narrative. Chad was effective in his one start against the Phils last year, giving up two runs on four hits with five whiffs in six innings. Nola is coming off a month-long visit to the DL with a cranky back after a couple of strong rehab outings in AAA. His stuff doesn't blow you away, but he mixes pitches and gets grounders by the bushel-load (54-55%) when he's right. His early stat line has bitten by some bad luck - his FIP is 3.08 and his BABIP is north of .400 - so Nola may not be ace material but he's not a guy to sleep on. either. He's seen the Bucs once when they chased him after four innings last year.

Notes:
  • Fraze is en fuego. Adam has banged out back-to-back three hit games as a starter while knocking in six runs.
Juan-derful so far this season... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Juan Nicasio has spun 12 consecutive scoreless outings.
  • The Buccos are on a mini-roll, winning 5-of-7 since their six-game winless streak.
  • Following today’s contest, the Pirates head to Atlanta’s SunTrust Park for a four-game set with the Bravos. It's also the dads trip so the proud papas can watch their kids at work. Afterward, it's a six-pack at PNC v the Mets and the Snakes.
  • Indy is on fire. The Tribe beat Toledo 8-7 last night and has won seven in a row, 15 of the last 17 games, are 16-3 in May and after an icy start are five games above .500.

5/21 From the 60s Forward: TRS Strike, HBD Steve, Brian's Inside-The-Park Run, Travis Granny, Game Stories

  • 1962 - The Bucs beat the Cubs 8-4 at Forbes Field behind the top two guys in the order, Bill Virdon and Dick Groat. The duo went 8-for-9 with a walk, two doubles, scored twice and drove in six runs. Tom Sturdivant earned the win with 6-⅓ shutout frames in relief of Earl Francis.
Dick Groat & The Quail were money in the bank for the Bucs - 1962 Topps Bucks
  • 1968 - OF Steve Pegues was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Steve joined the Bucs in 1994 after starting the year with Cincinnati and and stayed through 1995, getting into 89 games and hitting .264. Steve was a toolsy guy but it never translated. He was drafted by the Tigers in the first round of the 1987 draft (21st overall) and spent 11 years in the minors with another campaign in an indie league, but his 94-95 campaigns were his only MLB years.
  • 1976 - The Pirates tried to come back from a 5-0 hole but fell 5-4 to the Cubs at Three Rivers Stadium. The bigger issue was the umps. The regular crew in blue passed on the game, supporting the striking TRS vendors, so the Bucs lined up some sandlot guys. By all reports, they did an adequate job. Also out were the ground crew and other union workers - “everyone but the players,” per one newspaper - but the club got through it as things returned to normal after a two day work stoppage.
  • 2002 - Brian Giles hit a three-run, opposite-field inside-the-park homer to highlight a 12-1 Bucco win at Wrigley Field in the lidlifter of a twin bill. It was his first inside-the-park blast and the first by a Pirate in three years. Kevin Young had a homer and two doubles while Chad Hermansen went long and added a two bagger to back Jimmy Anderson and Sean Lowe’s three-hitter to ice Chi-town. The Cubs rallied to take the nightcap 4-3. Pittsburgh jumped off to a 3-0 first-inning lead but Sammy Sosa’s three-run shot in the sixth off Josh Fogg earned a split for Chicago.
Brian Giles 2002 Donruss Production Line
  • 2005 - Before a sellout crowd of 37,504 at PNC Park, Ollie Perez surrendered a pair of hits and two runs while striking out eight batters in five innings on the bump as the Pirates beat the Rockies 8-3. C Humberto Cota did the heavy work at the dish with a pair of hits, including a double, and four RBI. The victory was Lloyd McClendon’s 300th as the Pirates’ skipper.
  • 2013 - The Cubs scored first and last, but the Bucs scored enough in the middle, keyed by a sixth inning Travis Snider grand slam, to eke out a 5-4 win. Snider’s grannie was his first ever and the first Buc pinch hit slam at PNC Park since Craig Wilson’s in 2003, rallying the Pirates from a 3-0 hole to a 5-3 victory. Wandy Rodriguez got the win over Matt Garza.
  • 2014 - Neither Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez nor the Orioles Chris Tillman made it through the first two innings of the game. It was the first time in either club’s history that both starters were removed so early in a game; the quick hooks were also a first in interleague play. (Rodriguez was designated for assignment the following day after giving up six runs in 1-⅔ innings.) The score was 8-6 Pittsburgh after two frames; the O’s tied the game late, then the Pirates rallied to take a 9-8 decision at PNC Park. The middle of the Buccos order - Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte and Ike Davis - went 11-for-17 with six runs scored and chased home six more.

5/21 Through the 50s: HBD Sure Shot,Bunny, Mace & Fitz; Kitty Calls; Shin Guard Skirmish; Game Stories

  • 1859 - IF Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap was born in Philadelphia. The slick fielder played for the Alleghenys from 1888-90, hitting .240. He also managed the club to a 61-71 record as a player manager in 1889. His declining stick - he was still a whiz at defense - led to a contract cut in 1890, causing him to jump to the NY Giants of the outlaw Player’s League early in the season. Per Wikipedia, he earned the nickname "Sure Shot" for the strength and accuracy of his throws to first base, and was also sometimes referred to in the 1880s as the "King of Second Basemen."
Sure Shot Dunlap Goodwin Old Judge
  • 1891 - LHP Charles Bunn “Bunny” Hearn was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Bunny spent one of his six big league seasons in Pittsburgh with the Rebels in 1915, going 6-11/3.38. Hearn joined John McGraw's 1913 world touring team and during its London stop, Hearn demonstrated pitcher’s grips to King George V, leading to a lifetime humblebrag that he taught the King of England how to throw a curve. After his pitching days, he managed in the minors and at North Carolina University for 17 years where he won eight league titles.
  • 1907 - NL president Harry Pulliam dismissed the protest of Pittsburgh manager Fred Clarke over NY Giant’s C Roger Bresnahan's donning of shin guards. He was the first, and at the time only, receiver to add them to the tools of ignorance. A safety-first kinda guy, Bresnahan also developed a prototype batter’s helmet.
  • 1909 - RHP Mace Brown was born in North English, Iowa. He tossed seven years (1935-41) for the Pirates and in every role, from starter to closer, with a line of 55-45-29/3.67. Brown was an All-Star in 1938, when he led the NL in outings with 51, winning 15 games and saving five.
Mace Brown 1938 (photo Original News Service)
  • 1913 - The Pirates beat Brooklyn 5-2 at Ebbett’s Field and set a small-ball MLB record with four sac bunts in the eighth inning (two Dodger errors allowed the bunters to reach base). Babe Adams got the win. His curve was on, as noted in the Pittsburg Press: “Adams was working a big sweeping outdrop that he would swing across the plate time and time again…” One Dodgers batter, Jake Daubert, and the Pirates Dots Miller were both given the boot by ump Bill Klem for griping over strike calls. The Bucco victory snapped a seven game winning streak for Dodgers hurler Pat Ragan.
  • 1917 - Per BR Bullpen: The Giants took over first place with a 4-3 win over the Pirates behind the pitching of Big Jeff Tesreau and the iffy umpiring of Kitty Bransfield. Kitty made an out call in the ninth on a grounder that the Pirates Doug Baird clearly beat after earlier missing that G-Man Art Fletcher had left third base early before scoring on a sacrifice fly. Kitty was a former Bucco and didn’t harbor any grudges but was noticeably raw at calling a game. The Pittsburg Press wrote that “Kitty is a mighty fine fellow, but at the gentle art of umpiring, he still has considerable to learn.” In fact, Bransfield was teamed with the best-reputed ump of the era, Bill Klem, in order to bring his game up to speed. The contest itself was meaningless in the context of the season as the New York club finished first and the Pirates last, a whopping 47 games off the pace.
Kitty the ump 1994 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1924 - C Ed Fitz Gerald was born in Santa Ynez, California. He spent six (1948-53) of his 12 big league years in Pittsburgh mainly as a reserve, hitting .247. Ed had a career moment when he caught Cliff Chambers' no-hitter on May 6th, 1951. Fitz spent the second half of his career as a Washington Senator.
  • 1948 - Frankie Gustine went 5-for-5 to lead Pittsburgh to an 8-4 win over the Dodgers. He scored four runs and drove in a pair at Ebbets Field. 1B Max West helped the cause by blasting a two-out, three run homer in the fifth and Fritz Ostermueller picked up the win.
  • 1950 - The Pirates had a big day at the Polo Grounds, sweeping the NY Giants by 4-2 and 8-6 scores to even its record (tho not for long; the Bucs finished the year last with 57 wins and stayed below .500 from May 25th onward). The hero of the day was Ralph Kiner, who homered in the first game and had three hits in the nightcap, including a 475’ triple in the oddly shaped ballyard.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pirates Even Series With 6-3 Victory; Ivan Backed By Fraze, Freeser & Fran

Ivan Nova got into quick trouble, giving up a single/double combo to open the game. But as usual, he kept the damage to a minimum and just allowed a run to score. The Bucs went down 1-2-3 to Vince Velasquez. All the action for either team in the second was Freeser's single. The Phils got a couple of third-inning knocks, but a DP in the middle defused any threat. The Pirates tied the game when Fraze singled with two outs, J-Hay walked and Cutch's knock plated Adam with a little help from an outfield bobble. A J-Hay boot was erased in the fourth on another DP; Pittsburgh slipped ahead on Freeser's long ball, a hooking golf drive that landed just a couple of rows inside the LF pole. Fran singled but the Bucs didn't add on. All the action in the fifth was a Philly single.

Fraze just keeps hitting the ball (photo Pittsburgh Pirates) 

The sixth was quiet for Ivan but big for the Bucs. With an out, Freeser walked and JJ singled. A pickoff throw from the catcher went astray, moving them up 90', and Amore singled them home. Marl Leiter took over and lost Jordy. With the infield creeping in, Ivan pulled back and took a hack at the ball; his grounder was as good as a bunt, advancing the duo. It helped the cause as Fraze's knock chased them both home. J-Hay walked, but the Pirates settled for the four-spot. A single, grounder ball and another rap brought home a Phil run while the Bucs went quietly in the seventh. An infield single (actually, a bad throw by Nova) and double earned the chipping-away Phillies another tally in the eighth. The Bucs loaded the bases with two outs against Edubray Ramos on a Jordy walk and singles by Fraze and J-Hay to set up Cutch, but Andrew, after dodging a ball whistling at his noggin, went down swinging. Tony Watson worked a clean ninth, and up went the Jolly Roger.

Nice to see Ivan keep on piling up solid starts. It's even nicer to see Fraze keep on smokin' the ball, for Freeser to get comfortable at the dish again and for Cervy to find some grass. Cool Chad will battle Aaron Nola in the series tie-breaker tomorrow afternoon.

Notes:
  • Fraze led the parade with three hits, Freeser homered with two knocks with a walk and Fran added a pair of hits. J-Hay had a hit and drew two walks (!) while Jordy also worked a couple of free passes.
Freeser snapped a cold spell with a homer today (photo Marty Morrow/Pirates)
  • There were 32,572 in the yard today, finally a nice crowd for the Buccos.
  • Reliever Jhan Marinez reported to the team today. Josh Lindblom was the guy he replaced as Josh went on the 10-day DL with left side discomfort.
  • Dieter Kurtenbach of Fox Sports has a list of the 15 likeliest players to be dealt by the deadline. The names include Cutch, Gerrit Cole and Josh Harrison.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Astros have big interest in Gerrit Cole and a system deep enough to pay the price. He added that Felipe Rivero is being called "the poor man's Aroldis Chapman" and writes that he won't be making league minimum much longer with the way he's throwing.
  • Max Moroff has been on a home run tear this month at Indy. Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com featured Mad Max in an article and credits the performance to Indy Skipper Andy Barkett's call for aggression.

Pirates & Phils - Vince Velasquez v Ivan Nova, Lineup, Notes

Today: The Philadelphia game is a late afternoon affair, with the first pitch from PNC Park slated for 4:05. Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan will air the game. The first 20,000 fans will get the coveted Bob Walk chair-fail bobblehead.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, J-Hay 2B, Cutch CF, J-Bell 1B, Freeser 3B, John Jaso RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS and Ivan Nova P. FWIW, this is the A-Team lineup.

Ivan on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48) takes the hill opposite Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.63). Nova has been just workmanlike in his past three starts, and one thing to watch for is that he's given up three dingers in his past two outings, an issue during his Yankee days. But the vet has kept the Bucs in those games and he's due as he has yet to notch a win this month. He's faced off against the Brotherly Love nine once in 2015 and again last year, giving up one earned run (two overall) in 12-2/3 IP. Velasquez uses a lot of pitches - he averages a K per inning and also issues four free passes per nine - and has given up eight long balls in 38 IP. But since mid-April, he's only had one game that's gotten out of hand, so Vince is pretty much a "quality start" sort of guy who doesn't overwhelm so much as hangs around. VV tossed against Pittsburgh once, and that was last year. He gave up four runs in six frames, hurt by walks and a homer.

Notes:
  • Ivan Nova has gone six innings or more in all eight of his starts, a godsend to a bullpen that's faced a couple of long stretches of non-stop games and been called to work early and often to bail out the back end of the rotation.
Fraze & J-Hay have been providing some giddy-up at the top of the order.
(photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • In 12 games the leadoff batter, Adam Frazier is hitting .382 with seven RBI and eight runs scored. J-Hay has been penciled in 19 times at the top the order and is hitting .286 with nine RBI and 10 runs. All in all, the leadoff spot has been a pleasant surprise, with the #1 batters slashing .281/.335/.416 with 20 RBI and 25 runs scored. That's the top spot for runs scored (as intended) but is also second for chasing runners home. Unfortunately, the heart of the order (2-3-4) is hitting just .225 behind them.
  • BTW, Milwaukee leads the NL Central with a 25-16 slate, 6-1/2 games ahead of last-place Pittsburgh (18-24).
  • MLB Trade Rumor's Jeff Todd has an early list of the Top 30 Deadline Trade candidates and the Bucs have three - Cutch, Tony Watson and Freeser.
  • Gerrit Cole was on MLB Network's interview/show-and-tell program "Play Ball" this morning.
  • Bradenton SS Cole Tucker came in at #4 on this week's Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

5/20 TRS-PNC Park Era: Pops & Lawton Bombs, HBD Tony, Can't Go Home Again, Game Stories

  • 1978 - Batting against Wayne Twitchell of the Montreal Expos, Willie Stargell hit the only fair ball ever to reach the upper deck of Olympic Stadium. The red seat where the ball landed, 535’ away, was painted yellow to mark the spot (and tho baseball has long left, the seat memorial yet remains). The Bucs won 6-0 as Bert Blyleven tossed a three hitter with eight strikeouts, amply supported by Pops’ five RBI.
Willie Stargell 1978 Topps
  • 1988 - Former skipper Chuck Tanner and MVP Willie Stargell were booed at TRS for coaching rival Atlanta. The Bucs won rather handily despite facing their old legends by a 10-3 score as Junior Ortiz and Mike Diaz teamed up to drive home six runs. Mike Dunne got the win in a game finished by Jim Gott.
  • 1988 - C John Anthony “Tony” Sanchez was born in Miami. He was drafted in the first round (4th pick) of the 2009 draft out of Boston College and first appeared as a Bucco in 2013. he hit .259 from 2013-15, serving as a call-up third catcher. He was DFA’ed after the 2015 season and has bounced around since then.
  • 2000 - C Keith Osik made the second mop-up relief appearance of his career, allowing five runs on five hits‚ two hit batters‚ a wild pitch and a home run in the ninth inning of a 19-4 loss to the Cards at TRS. Osik became just the second position player since 1900 to both give up and hit home run in the same game when he took Pat Hentgen deep in the eighth inning before surrendering a long ball to Thomas Howard.
Keith Osik 2002 Topps
  • 2004 - The Bucs were down 7-1 after two, but Daryle Ward and Jason Bay each had a pair of homers and three RBI to lead the Bucs to a 9-7 comeback win over the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. Mike Gonzalez got the win and Jose Mesa the save. Despite the homers and nine runs scored, the Bucs went 0-for-7 with RISP.
  • 2005 - Matt Lawton hit the longest Pirate homer to date at PNC Park, blasting a 463’ rocket off Colorado’s Jamey Wright in a 9-4 Bucco victory. Lawton and Rob Mackowiak had three RBI each and Tike Redman went 4-for-4.
  • 2011 - Neil Walker hit a homer and double, driving in five runs, to lead Pittsburgh to a 10-1 win against Detroit at PNC Park. Jeff Karstens earned the win, sealed by a trio of relievers.

5/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Waner Doubles & Long HRs; HBD Horace, Moon & George; Game Stories

  • 1856 - Horace Phillips was born in Salem, Ohio. He was an early manager of the Alleghenys from 1884-89, and led them to their first winning season ever in 1885. His best finish was second the following year, when his team went 80-57. He shepherded the club from the American Association into the NL in 1887. Phillips was yellow rag fodder during the era for various financial peccadilloes, and the effect showed. After he quit managing, Phillips spent the rest of his years in various insane asylums.
  • 1891 - 1B Joe “Moon” Harris was born in Coulter (now part of South Versailles Township). Harris was a war hero, and recovered from serious injuries (in fact, his war record won him reinstatement to the majors after he had been suspended for playing with an indie team) to play MLB ball for five teams over 14 seasons, including the Pirates in 1927-28. He hit .329 in 145 games as a Buc and was part of the 1927 WS club. A local kid, Joe got his start playing for the McKeesport Tubers, and when he retired, he ran a pool hall/bowling alley in Renton. He went by the nicknames of “Coulter Joe” and “Moon,” one for his birthplace and who knows for the other.
Joe Harris 1927 (photo George Rinhart/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1896 - Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects “This Date In Pirate History,” Pittsburgh played Brooklyn at Expo Park. The Bucs fell behind 6-0 after three innings when it began to rain and manager Connie Mack told his team to go easy in the field, hoping that the game would drag on and be called. Pirate pitchers started lobbing the ball over the plate, tho Brooklyn caught on quickly enough and tried to make outs to make sure the game reached five innings. It was never called as the weather cleared up, leaving the Pirates in a 17-0 hole after five innings. When they realized the game was going to be official they began to play hard again. The Bridesgrooms’ pitcher, Bert Abbey, was told not to strain his arm and began lobbing the ball too, allowing the Pirates to score six runs in the last two innings for a 25-6 final.
  • 1900 - 1B George Grantham was born in Galena, Kansas. He played seven years (1925-31) for the Bucs, hitting .315 with a .410 OBP. Grantham played for the 1925 and 1927 World Series clubs, hitting .364 against the Yankees in the 1927 match-up. His biggest season was 1930, when he hit .324 with 18 homers, 99 RBI and 120 runs.
  • 1932 - Paul Waner tied the MLB record with four doubles in five at bats during the Pirates 5-0 win over the Cards at Sportsman’s Park. Big Poison set an NL record that season with 62 two-baggers. Larry French fired a two-hitter for the win.
Paul Waner 1932 R328 US Caramel
  • 1947 - Talk about your small ball! The Bucs beat Milwaukee 4-3 at Forbes Field as the teams combined for 22 hits, and every one was a single. Hank Greenberg knocked home the winning run in the tenth, making Tiny Bonham a winner. The teams added nine walks, too, and stranded 20 runners between them.
  • 1948 - The Bucs bombed Boston 13-0 behind a big eight run fourth frame primed by a Ralph Kiner homer and double, while Elmer Riddle tossed a four hitter at Braves Stadium. Six Bucs had multiple hits, five had multiple RBI (led by Kiner’s three), and eight different players scored.
  • 1950 - An ugly brooming: The Bucs were no-hit for 9-2/3 frames by the Dodgers’ Ralph Branca‚ Jack Banta‚ and Dan Bankhead at Ebbets Field to lose the back end of a twin bill 4-3 in eleven innings. They dropped the opener to Brooklyn 3-2 when Gil Hodges pounded a two out, two run double in the eighth of Mel Queen; both runs were unearned.
Dale Long in the middle of his 1956 HR streak (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1956 - The Pirates drew their biggest crowd in five years (32‚326) and celebrated with a DH sweep over the Milwaukee Braves‚ 6-5 and 5-0, at Forbes Field. Dale Long homered in each game and drove in seven runs. Bob Friend won the opener and Ron Kline tossed a six hitter for the victory in the nitecap.
  • 1960 - The Pirates stretched their NL lead to 1-1/2 games by edging the Giants‚ 5-4‚ on Roberto Clemente's single in the 12th inning. Clemente had three hits to raise his average to .378. Willie McCovey's homer in the ninth tied it for San Francisco‚ and a score in the 12th put them ahead. Don Hoak's single and a run-scoring double by Dick Groat set the stage for Clemente’s game winner at Forbes Field.
  • 1962 - The seven and eight hitters for Pittsburgh, Don Hoak and Bill Mazeroski, went 4-for-7 with a walk, double, triple and homer, four runs scored and five RBI to carry the Bucs and Vern Law past the Reds 8-2 at Forbes Field.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Phils Flummox Pirates 7-2, Notes & News

Trevor worked a clean, nine-pitch opener. Jeremy Hellickson didn't; J-Hay single and scored on J-Bell's double to The Notch. Joshua came around after a two-out throw-away of Fran's bouncer to make it 2-0 from the gun. The second was clean for both pitchers. A leadoff single that rolled past third turned into a double when a fan snagged the live ball. It was moot after Trevor lost Hellickson an out later. Another knock cut the lead in half before Williams finished the third round. Cutch walked with two gone for all the Bucco action. The fourth was a quiet frame both ways; Hellickson has had some luck in reaping hard-hit outs so far. Trevor twirled another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Pittsburgh didn't even bother with a loud out in their half, twice hitting into comebackers. The Pirates haven't had a hit since the Joshes opened the game with knocks.

Trevor put up a workmanlike outing tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

A leadoff walk bit Williams when a jam-shot, chalk-duster double and grounder tied the game in the sixth. A sac fly gave Philly the lead and Odubal Herrera ran Trevor's pitch count to 93 with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended in a single. Clint waved in Josh Lindblom who promptly picked off Herrera, catching him on the break for the Bucs to eventually run down. Jeremy looked like Cy Young, needing just six pitches to tuck the Corsairs away. The Phils opened the seventh with a Maikel Franco rap, a grounder moved him up and Hellickson's two-out, two-bag liner into left plated him. It did take a toll; Jeremy had to leave the game after his dash. Pat Neshek toed the rubber and ran the Bucco sit-down streak to 13 hitters.

Philadelphia stranded a two-out single in the eighth and then sent Joaquin Benoit to the mound. Even pinch-hitter Fraze couldn't light a fire as the Bucs were 1-2-3'ed again. Tony Watson climbed the bump for the ninth. A single on a bloop into short right and misthrow on a bunt by Freeser put Phils on the corners. Cameron Rupp's homer then sent what was left of the TV audience to the Pens game. J-Bell broke up the late-starting no-hitter with a leadoff single off Hector Neris, which was the Bucs' last hurrah.

Josh Lindblom may be the odd man out when Jhan Marinez reports
(photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Trevor pitched decently for a second straight game; his downfall was a fisted dink that was the linchpin of the Phil's sixth inning. Everybody put the ball in play as there were just four whiffs total on the night (one served by Pittsburgh pitchers). Enough of Philly's balls dropped; Pittsburgh had a warning track power surge tonight, good for an ooh and aah but not worth much in the run column. The team's .264 BABIP is unlucky, but their line drive/soft contact rates are among the league's worse so it's not all on the baseball gods. A little more consistency in the lineup might help, but it's hard to cobble something together when three of your everyday guys - Cutch, Cervy and Jordy - are hitting under .220. Fraze and J-Hay are the only regulars hitting above the .250s and the team itself hits around .220.

Notes:
  • J-Bell has an extra-base hit in seven consecutive games. The Pirates had three hits tonight; he had two of them.
  • Freeser's had a tough time regaining his eye since his trip to the DL - he's just 1-of-19 since his return with seven whiffs.
  • 25,795 were in the park, not much of a crowd for a fireworks night.
  • Phil Gosselin, who collected four hits in 19 Pirate games with a .138 BA has an eight-game hitting streak at Indy.
  • Altoona fell behind 7-0 before they even batted, scored five in their half of the first (neither starter made it through the opening frame) and kept banging to take an 11-10 win over Erie. Kevin Kramer had three hits, including a HR, and is hitting .359.
News:
  • The Pirates claimed reliever Jhan Mariñez off waivers from the Brewers. Jhan was out of minor-league options and is a middle reliever with a mid-nineties fastball, slider, and change-up.The 28-year-old Dominican righty has tossed for the Marlins, White Sox, Rays and Brew Crew with a slash of 1-4/3.63. He went 0-2, 5.40 in 15 outings for Milwaukee, but put up a 3.18 ERA last season and is a ground ball machine. No roster moves yet; that will be determined when he joins the team.
JT's fought plenty of battles and is ready to take on the latest challenge.
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Jameson Taillon has a presser today about his bout with testicular cancer. The docs believe they got it all, although he's awaiting the results of blood tests to confirm that. JT is starting light baseball activities and will get into a more strenuous recovery rehab after the test results give him the green light. So no new news but it was still good to see him up and about. He showed off a giant fan card offering best wishes and was contacted by other survivors like Lance Armstrong, Andrew Lambo, Chad Bettis and John Kruk to provide him with a support group.

Bucs Host Phils, Williams v Jeremy Hellickson, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Bucs home stand continues with the Phils coming to PNC Park for a  7:05 match. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. If you're thinking of going, it's supposed to be a nice evening and it's a Zambelli fireworks night to boot, so...

Lineup: Josh Harrison, 2B, J-Bell 1B, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jose Osuna RF, Danny Ortiz LF, Jordy Mercer SS and Trevor Williams P. Hey, a new second baseman...oh, wait. We're assuming this is a pre-determined rest day for the red-hot Fraze after starting five straight; at least we hope so. Maybe even more surprising is that JJ got a day off after three consecutive starts. Change is the only constant...

Trevor is on the bump (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates) 

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.41) v Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71). Trevor will be making his third start of the campaign as JT's replacement. He was treated rudely in his first go, but after a bumpy inning or two his last time out, he settled in as the Bucs beat the D-Backs 4-3. Hopefully he keeps it going and gets a good jump out of the gates against Philadelphia, a team which he has never gone against. Jeremy's name has been out there as trade bait as he approaches free agency at the end of the year, and he's a solid guy. He coaxes weak contact with his bread-and-butter changeup, is stingy with walks and is a consistent, veteran mid-rotation arm. But he's had a rough May so far; in three outings, he's given up 12 runs in 13-2/3 IP and not made it into the sixth inning, so the Bucs may be catching him in a lull period. He's met the Pirates twice; last year he did a good job of shutting them down, tossing 6-1/3 IP of one-run,  three-hit ball with six K.

Notes:
  • After a strong start, the Phils have returned to earth, losing 15-of-18. The yo-yo Buccos are on a little roll, taking 4-of-5. The Pirates are 33-17 all-time against the Phillies at PNC Park and are 11-4 in the last 15 games played in Pittsburgh.
  • J-Bell has a six game hitting streak with four homers during that stretch.
  • Danny Ortiz got his first MLB hit yesterday and will make his first big-league start tonight.
Big day for Danny Ortiz (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Pretty quick payback: J-Bell got his first-ever crack at batting cleanup yesterday and made Clint look good by becoming the first Pirates player since 1900 to homer in the first inning of his first major-league start in the number-four slot per Elias Says.
  • The Pirates are playing their 42nd game - Cutch has started 41 of them and Jordy 40.
  • Tony Watson will be a FA at the end of the year and decided to switch agents for his coming-out party by hiring Scott Boras, per Steve Adams of MLB Trade  Rumors.
  • In The Daily Gammons, Peter Gammons offers a pretty compelling reality check argument for Cole Train to be dealt.

5/19 TRS-PNC Park Era: Pedro Splash-Down, Kendall Cycle, Bobby's Big Day, Bibby Gem, Rallies, HBD Brandon

  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente drilled Riverfront Stadium's first-ever inside-the-park home run off Gary Nolan. Clemente added a triple and two singles with three RBI and three runs to lead Pittsburgh to a 6-1 decision over the Reds, helping Bob Moose to the W.
Richie Zisk 1976 Towne Club Disc
  • 1976 - The Pirates scored six runs in the last two innings to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-6, at Busch Stadium. Richie Zisk had a double and a homer in the final two frames, ending the day with three hits, three RBIs and two scores to help give Bob Moose the win in relief. Manny Sanguillen was hot, too, adding three hits and walking twice.
  • 1977 - IF Brandon Inge was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Bucs grabbed him in 2013 in his 13th season hoping that he could provide some bop off the bench. Instead, he hit .181 with one long ball and was released in July. He retired to raise his boys and work his 400-acre farm in Lynchburg.
  • 1981 - Jim Bibby tossed a near perfecto, giving up a bloop leadoff single to the Braves Terry Harper and then retiring the next 27 batters in a 5-0 victory over Atlanta at TRS. Bibby coaxed Atlanta to hit ‘em where they were; he only whiffed three Bravos. C Steve Nicosia called the game and had a pair of runs driven in while Mike Easler scored twice.
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall hit for the cycle, the first ever at TRS, and added five RBI as the Bucs beat the Cards 13-1. The last Buc to hit for a cycle was Gary Redus in 1989. Kris Benson tossed a three hitter and struck out 11 Redbirds in the win.
Jason Kendall 2000 Bowman's Best
  • 2009 - Washington rallied from a 5-0 deficit to tie the Bucs in the ninth but lost 8-5 when future National Adam LaRoche doubled home a pair in the tenth off Joe Beimel, who became a Pirate reliever in 2011. Brandon Moss had three RBI and Andy LaRoche added two more in the W at Nationals Park. Tom Gorzelanny, who also made a later stop in DC, earned the victory.
  • 2015 - Pedro Alvarez became the third player, after Daryle Ward and Garrett Jones, to reach the Allegheny on the fly at PNC Park when his 461’ drive landed in a docked boat. Otherwise, the night didn’t go so well as Minnesota whipped the Bucs 8-5. Frankie Liriano gave up seven runs in two innings, and the Bucs chipped away but could never put together a big inning. Pittsburgh had 13 hits but 11 K, 10 stranded runners and a 4-for-17 RISP performance to keep them from challenging the Twins.

5/19 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Longs Streak Begins, Clarke's Toys, HBD Bud, Fireball & Ed, Bad Day, RIP Sam

  • 1890 - As Pirates Prospects John Dreker noted in “This Date In Pirates History,” this day was a tough one for Pittsburgh baseball fans. Not only did the Alleghenys lose by an 18-2 score, but the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Player’s League lost big, too, 16-3. It launched the Alleghenys on an 11-game losing streak; the Burghers lost seven in row.
Bud Culloton (photo Conlon Collection/Getty Images)
  • 1897 - RHP Bernard Aloysius “Bud” Culloton was born in Kingston, New York. His big league time consisted of 13 outings for the Pirates from 1925-26 with a line of 0-1, 3.28 in 24-2/3IP. He spent most of his last campaign at Class A New Haven and called it a career.
  • 1913 - RHP Theolic “Fireball” Smith was born in Wabbaseka, Arkansas. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1936-38, going 4-11 in 16 starts. It was the start of a well-traveled career that lasted until the 1955 season with stops in the Negro League, Mexican League, and Pacific Coast League. Fireball was not only an All-Star pitcher several times over, but hit well enough to be used as an outfielder. His nickname fit him a couple of ways - it described his fastball and also his quick temper.
  • 1915 - Player-manager Fred Clarke filed a patent application for flip down sunglasses that he designed to be used in the outfield. In addition to the shades, which the future Hall of Famer believes are "good for motorist, too", he also created and was issued patents for a sliding pad and a mechanical field tarpaulin.
Fred was the Edison of baseball (1912 photo Frank Bingaman)
  • 1953 - RHP Sam Leever, who spent his entire 13 year career in Pittsburgh (1898-1910) died in his hometown of Goshen, Ohio. Leever went 194-100/2.43 and won 20+ games four times. Leever wasn’t a hard thrower, but his curve and outstanding control made him one of the era’s better hurlers. Mark Armour of SABR passed on this Leever tale: “In 1924 Leever was startled to discover that he was dead, or believed to be so. As reported in The Sporting News, "he had a great deal of enjoyment out of reading his own obituary, and he appreciates all the nice things that were said about him, but he insists that he is not even half-dead. In fact, Sam says he never felt better in his life, and he has no thought whatever of cashing in." The misinformation was due to the passing of a distant relative with the same name; Sam didn’t shuffle off this mortal coil until three decades later.
  • 1955 - RHP Ed Whitson was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. He never worked a full season during his 1977-79 tenure in Pittsburgh, compiling an 8-9-5/3.73 slash. But he lasted 13 years in the show as a fairly durable starter, even making an All-Star appearance as a SF Giant. He’s also noted for his stormy stretch as a Yankee, highlighted by an altercation with manager Billy Martin.
  • 1956 - Dale Long's ninth inning home run against the Cubs’ Jim Davis was the first of eight consecutive games in which he homered. The Bucs won the game 7-4 at Forbes Field. Long also doubled and had four RBI while Nellie King picked up the victory.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Buc Bats Keep Smokin' In 10-4 Series-Clincher v Washington

Hey, a clean first frame with two punchouts for Tyler Glasnow. Fraze singled to open against Tanner Roark and J-Bell rang the gong with a long fly into the Clemente Wall stands to give Ty some early breathing room. Daniel Murphy made it a one-run game in the second when he went long in the second; Glasnow stranded a pair of later walks. The Pirates repaid in kind by leaving a pair of ducks on the pond. The Nats had a quiet third; Roark gift-wrapped a couple of Bucco runs thanks to three walks; one scored and another was with the bases loaded.

Ty was just one pitch-and-catch away from a strong outing
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The game continued back-and-forth; a walk, single and double for the Nats made it 4-2 in the fourth. Ty should have stopped the bleeding there, but with two outs, he snagged a grounder by Roark and then airmailed the ball into right, knotting the game. God helps those... The Pirates were held without a peep. It was a 1-2-3 fifth for Washington and the Bucs reclaimed the lead on a JJ dinger into the bullpen. Wade LeBlanc took the ball in the sixth and thx to a DP ball had calm sailing. Pittsburgh took command in their half. Stew singled and Gift walked before Blake Treinen was waved to the hill. Fraze greeted him with a two-run two-bagger, went to third when the ball was kicked around and scored on J-Hay's sac fly.

Wade had some problems in the seventh A walk and single put Nats in scoring position with no outs. He came up with a big whiff and then a cut-down at home on a grounder. With Washingtonians on the corners, Felipe Rivero took over to face Bryce Harper and whiffed him with 100 MPH heat. Jordy opened with a walk and was picked off by Enny Romero, but the Bucs weren't done. Danny Ortiz banged out his first MLB hit and Stew followed with another; some more Nat ball-bobbling moved them up a station. With two outs, Fraze's knock chased the duo home. It was a no drama finish as Johnny Barbato and Huddy put up zippos for the Bucs, Shawn Kelly did the same for the Nats, and the Pirates booked a 10-4 win.

Wonder how much the Nats wish they still had Felipe in their bullpen?
(photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Nice series for the Buccos; they finally threw off that  season-long weekday hex. Tyler had a nice outing, if only he could peg a ball to first; still, he held DC to three hits and K'ed six in five frames. Now to see if they can work the weekend hoodoo on the Phils...

Notes:
  • Fraze's four RBIs are a career high. He had three hits on the day; Cutch had a pair, as did Stew. J-Bell and JJ each had a homer and a walk.
  • Wade LeBlanc must be stretched out; he was called on for rare back-to-back multi-inning outings, going two frames/40 pitches yesterday and 1-2/3 IP/28 tosses today - and that's with a day game following a night match, so he didn't have much recovery time between appearances.
  • Odd month for John Jaso. JJ is 7-for-42 (.166) with seven walks (.286 OBP) in May, but of his seven hits, four have been doubles and two homers.
  • Bucco prez Frank Coonelly is a new member of the Competition Committee, charged with examining on-field issues in baseball.
  • 27,778 fans, mostly kids on an "Education Day" special, took in the win.