Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bucs Baked By Fish 10-3 In Series Finale

Tom Koehler's not-so-hot body of work continued against the Bucs in the first. J-Hay doubled, J-Bell went deep, Gregory doubled and JJ singled him home to make it 3-0 from the gate. The Fish got a couple of singles and a stolen base off Chad Kuhl, but he left the Marlins stranded at second and third. The Pirates left a knock and a walk on base in the second while Miami led off the inning with back-to-back doubles for a run and an infield knock to third, which fortunately froze the lead runner and allowed Cool Chad to escape further damage after a DP and K. The third was a clean frame for both pitchers.

Chad took one off the leg today; no report yet (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Pirates hit into their own DP to make the fourth a quiet frame, and their porous D reared its ugly face again when J-Hay's throw-away on a force to set up a run, tho another was saved when Marcell Ozuna was cut down at home trying to score on a grounder. Dustin McGowan came in for Miami, and he left the bases filled with Bucs in the fifth. Then ouch - Dee Gordon lined one off Cool Chad's leg; Kuhl dropped and was removed after getting back to his feet and trying a couple of tosses; Trevor Williams took over. He got two outs, then literally lost control, walking the next two Fish on nine pitches and then giving up a two-run knock. Juan Nicasio climbed the hill - he seems to have taken over Jared Hughes' trouble-shooter role - and put the inning to bed with a whiff.

David Phelps worked the sixth. He handed over a walk; the Pirates said "no thanks" and hit into another DP. Felipe Rivero took the ball and got into a one-out jam thx to a walk and a rap, but a whiff and routine grounder calmed the seas. Kyle Barraclough came out for the seventh and put up a zippo, with Cutch's two-out walk/stolen base the only nick. Huddy answered the phone. With one gone, and infield bleeder and a Justin Bour bomb made it 6-3. A plunked batter and double that JJ couldn't quite get to brought home another run, with J-Bell dropping the relay just to make sure. A single plated another run. Johnny Barbato climbed the hill and gave up a walk, single and run (charged to Hudson) before the smoke, making the count 10-3 Marlins.

Huddy had another rough outing today (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates) 

Brad Zeigler and Barbato put up zeroes the rest of the way, and so the Bucs had to be satisfied with a series win rather than a sweep, still not a bad way to open a long road trip. We're not sure on the status of Fran and Chad; that should be clearer by tomorrow. We're also wondering how long it takes for Felipe to take the set-up role from Huddy, back-to-back lefties or not.

Notes:
  • J-Bell had two hits and a walk while Gregory, JJ and Stew had a walk and a knock.
  • Justin Bour was 4-for-5 with a homer and six RBI today against the Bucs.
  • Just before the game, the Pirates called up C John Bormann from High-A Bradenton and optioned OF Danny Ortiz back to Indy. Apparently Fran was a late no-go and the Bucs scrambled to find the closest catcher to Miami. With the Marauders playing in Port Charlotte, John drove across the state and was in a Bucco uni by the sixth inning. Tho a good glove guy, Bormann was batting .136, so we'd expect Elias Diaz to replace him on the roster tomorrow in Cincy, assuming Amore remains in "discomfort." As for JB, he became the fifth rookie to get his first taste of MLB in the past 10 days when he pinch-hit in the ninth.
  • The amazing part of Ivan Nova's 95-pitch, nine-inning shutout last night is that even with five complete games as a Pirate under his belt, that's the second highest amount of pitches he's thrown in a game for Pittsburgh. He tossed 98 in a win over Houston last August.

Sunday: Pirates Look to Broom Miami, Kuhl v Tom Koehler, Lineup, Notes

Today: The game with Miami begins at 1:10 as the Pirates look for sweep at Marlins Park. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, John Jaso RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Alen Hansen 2B, Stew C and Chad Kuhl P. Hansen gets the call at second today; Clint seems to have settled on a five-man rotation for the spot. With all the guys out for various reasons and Amore getting his R&R day (and he needs one; he's been playing through some nicks and bumps), there's not much muscle in the middle of the order.

Stew is calling the game today (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) closes the set against Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14). Chad has been up-and-down, with his major issue being location. When he sinks his stuff down in the zone, he's fine, but when it stays up he's in trouble. His command is key; he's been a wild child with 11 walks in 19 IP so far in 2017. He's 0-1, 3.00 in one career start against the Fish, suffering his first MLB loss against them on August 20th, 2016 by a 3-1 count at PNC Park. Koehler has anchored the back end of the Fish rotation since 2012 and is generally fairly solid although he's off to a relatively slow start this season, bitten by the twin bugaboos of walks and long balls. He hasn't had much luck against Pittsburgh, going 0-4, 5.14 in five career starts.

Notes:
  • Andrew has reached base safely in 18 straight games and J-Bell has reached base safely in 13 straight games, going 12-for-37 with seven walks. On top of that, his defense at first has been head and shoulders above his play from last season. Per Fangraphs, his UZR/150 in 140 innings this year is 5.0; it was -32.8 in 150 frames in 2016.
Josh is having the opposite of a sophomore jinx this month (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • This afternoon the Pirates are looking for their third sweep of the season. History says it will be a tough task - Pittsburgh hasn’t swept a three game series in Miami since September 14th-16th, 1993. On the other hand, the Pirates are on a three-game winning streak and the Fish on a four-game slide, so...
  • Pittsburgh’s road trip will continue tomorrow night in Cincinnati with a four game series at Great American Ball Park

4/30 TRS-PNC Park Era: Phil, Bert, Mad Dog, Jeff, Pat, Dave & X-Man

  • 1980 - Phil Garner had his first two homer game, good for three RBI, and Bill Robinson added another as the division leading Pirates took a 5-0 victory over the Expos at TRS. Jim Bibby tossed a six-hitter for the win. The long balls were a birthday gift to himself; Scrap Iron turned 31.
  • 1980 - Pitcher Bert Blyleven left the team and announced that he would retire if he wasn’t traded, citing “the non-support and lack of confidence from his manager,” unhappy that Chuck Tanner wouldn’t let him pitch deeper into games. He did finish out the year, going 8-13/3.88 with 216 IP and was granted his wish when he was sent to the Indians during the off season.
  • 1984 - Bill Madlock was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Have Bats - Will Hit.” Not quite...Mad Dog tried playing through a sore elbow and eventually had surgery in August to remove bones spurs. He hit just .253 for the campaign.
  • 1996 - For the second time in his career, Jeff King hit a pair of bombs in the same inning - one a grand slam - to lead the Bucs to a 10-7 win over the Reds. The first baseman joined Andre Dawson and Willie McCovey as the only MLB’ers to have accomplished the feat twice. The Bucs tallied nine times in the fourth frame to spark the victory at Cinergy Field, sending Cincinnati to its eighth straight loss.
  • 1999 - Pat Meares, 30, was signed to a one year, $1.5M contract by Cam Bonifay. He broke his wrist in spring training (the Pirates misdiagnosed it as a sprain), and a week after he came off the DL was given a four year, $15M extension. He played 240 games for the Pirates and 2001 was his last season, reaching a settlement that paid him for 2002-03 without him playing.
Dave Williams 2001 Bowman
  • 2002 - Buc starter Dave Williams turned hog wild when he hit two batters and committed two balks in the fourth inning of a 10-0 thumping by the Rox at Coor Field. The Bucs mustered just three hits against Mike Hampton; the Rockies banged out 13 knocks, including a pair of homers.
  • 2008 - Pirate RF’er Xavier Nady went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks while driving in three runs during a 13-1 rout of the Mets in New York. Nady’s three RBI increased his total to 26 for the month of April. That was tops in the NL at the time, and the most for a Pirate in the season’s first month since Willie Stargell’s 27 in 1971.

4/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: IA & NL Openers; Hans Statue; HBP Ray, Scrap Iron & Jeff; 8-In-A-Row & More

  • 1877 - Jim “Pud” Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys tossed the International Association’s first shutout‚ defeating Columbus 2-0 at Union (Recreation) Park. The IA disbanded after the season. He tossed for 15 years, was MLB's first 300-game winner (he won 365 games) and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965.
  • 1887 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first NL game, defeating the defending champion Chicago White Stockings 6-2 behind Pud Galvin in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Recreation Park. In pre-game ceremonies, Fred Carroll’s beloved pet monkey (the chimp was also the team mascot), which had passed on to simian heaven, was buried beneath home plate. The team wouldn't become the Pirates until 1891, when they "pirated" the services of second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics.
Fred and his monkey were inseparable 1887-90 Goodwin Old Judge
  • 1924 - At Cubs Park, Rabbit Maranville lined a triple in the 14th inning and then stole home to beat Chicago‚ 2-1. Johnny Morrison was the winner over Elmer Jacobs as both pitchers went the distance. The Pirates had 12 hits, led by Max Carey’s three, but shot themselves in the foot via four DPs during the day.
  • 1938 - 3B Bill Brubaker set a modern MLB record by committing four errors in a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati at Crosley Field. Bill’s boots didn’t contribute to the loss; both Red runs (one off Russ Bauer and the other off Mace Brown) were earned.
  • 1945 - Ray Miller was born in Takoma Park, Maryland. He spent ten years as the Pirates pitching coach (1987–96) under Jim Leyland, replacing Ron Schueler, and worked with Cy Young winner Doug Drabek. Miller also managed for Minnesota and Baltimore and as pitching coach tutored Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone for the Os.
Phil Garner 1978 Hostess
  • 1949 - Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He spent five years (1977-81) with the Pirates, playing second base for the 1979 World Series club. Scrap Iron hit .267 and stole 112 bases while a Bucco. After his playing career, Garner managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros.
  • 1955 - A statue of Honus Wagner, created by Frank Vittor, was unveiled outside the left field gates at Forbes Field. It’s been moved twice: first to TRS, then to PNC Park where his likeness greets fans at the main gate.
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh scored ten times in the second inning against the Reds at Crosley Field on the way to a 12-7 win, their eighth victory in a row. Roberto Clemente, Billy Maz and Dick Stuart each drove home three RBI.
Jeff Reboulet 2003 Pirates Promo
  • 1964 - Utility man Jeff Reboulet was born in Dayton, Ohio. Jeff had a 12-year MLB career as a jack-of-all-trades, playing every position on the diamond except pitcher. He closed out his big league run with Pittsburgh in 2003 as a back-up infielder, batting .241, just about his lifetime average (.240). After living on a bench-warmers pay during his baseball days, Jeff turned that experience into his second career - when he retired, Reboulet co-founded Horizon Wealth Management and became a financial advisor.
  • 1967 - Juan Pizarro struck out eight batters and tossed a four hit shutout in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Jerry May knocked in both of Pittsburgh’s runs with a run-scoring single in the second inning and a solo home run in the fifth frame.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nova Tosses Three-Hit Maddux As Fish Flounder 4-0

Dan Straily worked a 1-2-3 first frame against the Bucs; Ivan Nova put up a zero, working around a Martin Prado two-bagger. The Pirates drew first blood in the second when Gregory doubled up the third-base line and Jordy singled him home. The Fish went down without a splash. The third was quiet for both nines, and the fourth saw another opposite-field double by El Coffee but no other action by either side. Amore came up gimpy trying to leg out a hit, but he stayed in the game. The Pirates went down w/o a peep in the fifth while the Miami stranded a lead-off single.

Gregory had a pair of opp-field doubles (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

With an out in the sixth, a J-Bell knock followed by Cutch and El Coffee walks stirred the pot. Another walk, this time to Cervy (Fran and El Coffee were both behind 0-2 before working their free passes) brought home a run. Brad Ziegler came on to face JJ, who fell behind 1-2 and then waited out a fourth straight walk. Jordy wasn't as patient; he hit into a first-pitch 4-6-3 DP, getting on top of a center-cut sinker. Ivan kept cruisin'. David Phelps stranded a walk in the seventh; Nova mowed down the Marlins. Junichi Tazawa tossed a calm eighth. The Fish opened with a single, but a pitch later and as quickly as you can say J-Hay-to-Gift-to JJ, that threat was erased. A fly to right - Danny Ortiz, a true OF, is manning the spot now - brought us to the ninth.

AJ Ramos started the final frame with a heater just above the belt, outside half and JJ turned it into a souvenir to make it 4-0 Buccos.Nova served up another three up, three down frame to cap a three-hit, seven K Maddux whitewash of the Marlins.

It seems the FO knew something when they dealt for and then re-signed Ivan
(graphic Positively Pittsburgh)

Nova was brilliant again; his pitch count is always low because the batters know he's throwing strikes, but that swing attitude doesn't always translate into hits, especially when the hook is nasty as it was tonight. The gloves were in play too. J-Hay put on a clinic at the hot corner as did the Marlins Adieny Hechavarria at short. Walks were the key, and when you get into that kind of contest, Ivan always wins. As for the team, Kang and Marte are gone long-term, Freeser and Fraze are out for 10 days and the squad can't catch a cold, but if they do broom the Marlins tomorrow afternoon, they'll be .500 after a killer April schedule. As the Gunner would say "How sweet it is!"

Notes:
  • Ivan Nova shut out Miami on 95 pitches for a "Maddux" (a complete game shut-out using fewer than 100 pitches) It's the first Bucco Maddux since Jeff Karstens tossed one on July 15th, 2011 against the Astros. He five-hit the Houston and used only 83 tosses (no walks, two whiffs).
  • In his 16 starts with the Pirates, Nova has more complete games (five) than walks (four).
  • Gregory and Jordy each had two hits while JJ had a knock and a walk.
  • Indy RHP Josh Lindblom was dinged by a comebacker that found his left foot this afternoon and removed from the game.

Saturday: Bucs at Fish, Nova v Dan Straily, Lineup, Notes (Freeser on DL; Ortiz Called Up)

Tonight:The game opens at 7:10 at Marlins Stadium. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, J-Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Fran Cervelli C, John Jaso RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Gift Ngoepe 2B & Ivan Nova P. Gift gets his second start and it looks like J-Hay will be the hot corner dude for a spell as Freeser went on the DL today.

J-Hay locked into third (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) goes against Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92). Nova just keeps on throwing strikes and collecting outs; we'll see if the club can get him some runs to work with tonight. This will be his first trip to the mound against the Marlins. Straily has been a pretty honest pitcher against the Bucs. Last year was his first full campaign in the NL (w/the Reds) and he went 2-2, 3.38 in five starts (six outings) v Pittsburgh. In his 32 IP, he gave up 24 hits and was a little wild with 14 walks but countered with 27 punch-outs. He K'd 14 Padres in his last outing, and has credited his rebound over the past couple of seasons to a plyometric program he began to strengthen his shoulder.

Notes:
  • David Freese was placed on the 10-day DL retro to 4/26 and OF Danny Ortiz was called up. Danny is 27-years-old and will be the fourth Pirate rookie from Indy to report to the big club since April 21st. Ortiz doesn't hit worth a lick (he's batting .217 at Indy on the heels of a .234 campaign last year) but is a real outfielder who can play all three spots in the pasture. It will be his first taste of MLB.
Danny Ortiz joins the gang (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Cutch has reached base safely in 17 straight games and Josh Bell has a 12-game string going.
  • The Pirates had three players - Dovydas Neverauskas, Gift Ngoepe & Jose Osuna - make their MLB debuts this week (all three started the year at AAA Indy) after having 12 players begin their big-league careers in 2016.
  • Miami has lost three in a row
  • Looks like the Buccos woke up the Cards. After the sweep by Pittsburgh earlier in the month dropped St. Louis to 3-9, the Redbirds have since won 9-of-11.

4/29: Greenlee Field Opens; Big Sticks; Sunday Ball; Sac Fly Day; Justin No-No; HBD JVW, Tony Jr & Steven

  • 1930 - Rollie Hemsley, George Grantham, and Charlie Engle combined for 11 hits and 12 RBI to lead the Pirates to a 13-9 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs rallied from a 7-1 deficit with a seven run sixth inning and never looked back. Ralph Erickson got the win (his only MLB victory) in relief of Ray Kremer with a save going to Steve Swetonic. Pittsburgh and Chicago were just holding up their end in a day of MLB fireworks - in the seven games played on this date, an average of 17+ runs per game plated.
Greenlee Field (photo Teenie Harris)
  • 1932 - Greenlee Field in the Hill, home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, opened in front of 4,000 fans. Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were the battery as the Pittsburgh Crawfords lost the opener to the New York Black Yankees 1-0 in a pitching duel with Jesse "Mountain" Hubbard. Paige struck out 10 and allowed six hits, but Hubbard was better, surrendering just three knocks. The Allegheny County commissioners, Pittsburgh's mayor, and the city councilmen caught the opener from the field boxes. It was the first ballfield built specifically for a black team, erected by team owner Gus Greenlee. When finished, the grounds would seat 7,500, with lights added in 1933. It was demolished in 1939 to clear space for the Bedford Dwellings.
  • 1934 - Red Lucas won Pittsburgh’s first Sunday home game as the Pirates beat Cincinnati 9-5 at Forbes Field, backed by Gus Suhr’s three hits and four RBI. Both Suhr and Paul Waner, who also had three knocks, homered. Because of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, Pittsburgh was the last major league city to play a home game on a Sunday after local referendums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia approved Sunday ballgames in the 1933 November elections.
  • 1966 - OF/1B John Vander Wal was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played for the Bucs in 200-01 and in 232 games hit .290 w/35 HR and 144 RBI. The Pirates traded him at the 2001 deadline with Jason Schmidt to the Giants for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios in one of GM Dave Littlefield’s early deals after replacing Cam Bonifay in mid-July.
Tony Armas Jr 2007 Upper Deck
  • 1978 - RHP Tony Armas Jr. was born in Puerto Piritu, Venezuela. Tony worked 10 big league campaigns as a journeyman starter and spent 2007 as a Pirate (4-5, 6.03) after inking a $3.5M deal. It proved to be his final full MLB season as the Bucs didn't pick up his 2008 option and Mets released him the following year after one outing. Junior was the son of All-Star OF Tony Armas who had been a hot Bucco prospect but was traded to the A’s after a cup of coffee in Pittsburgh as part of the Phil Garner deal.
  • 1990 - The Bucs swept San Diego 10-1 behind a four homer barrage at Jack Murphy Stadium. Barry Bonds and Jay Bell hit three-run bombs, Bobby Bonilla banged a two-run blast, and Don Slaught added a solo shot to grease an easy outing for Doug Drabek. It was the Pirates sixth consecutive win.
  • 1992 - LHP Steven Brault was born in La Mesa, California. Drafted by the Orioles in 2013, he was sent to the Pirates as part of the Travis Snider deal. The lefty moved through the system quickly and in July of 2016 made his MLB debut. He slashed 0-3, 4.86 but was in the running for a back-end rotation spot in 2017 camp, where he pitched well but lost out to Tyler Glasnow and was returned to Indy; he’s presumably next up if the Bucs need another arm. 
Steven Brault (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 2000 - For the purists and the believers in productive outs, this was a game for you - the Pirates and Reds tied the MLB record in Cincinnati's 6-5 victory at TRS by hitting five sacrifice flies (the Redlegs also dropped a pair of successful bunts). Neither club was very clutch other than cranking out flies - the two teams combined to go 1-for-19 w/RISP during the game. Pat Meares and Warren Morris both homered in the losing effort, triggered when Cincy overcame an early Bucco lead by scoring five times in the seventh and eighth innings (with two of the runs plating on sac flies).
  • 2012 - Pitching for the AAA Indianapolis Indians against the Durham Bulls, Justin Wilson tossed the first 7-1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter (2 walks, 9 K, 107 pitches), completed by Jose “Jumbo” Diaz and Doug Slaten. He worked his first Bucco game on August 20th.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bucs Go Fishing In Miami, Hook Marlins 12-2

Jordy got the Bucs off on the right foot with a first-inning dinger off Adam Conley; JT tossed a clean frame. The second...whoa, Nelly!The Pirates filled the bases with two walks and a single mixed in with a pair of whiffs. But that third out can sometimes be a bear to get. An infield single, walk, ground ball knock, HBP and an Amore triple (actually a single that scooted under Marcell Ozuna's mitt) made it 8-0 and Jose Urena was waved in. A single, walk and infield single (the Bucs were getting greedy; Clint challenged the original out call and got it reversed) tacked on another run before Taillon whiffed with the sacks full for the second time in the inning. JT put up another zippo. Pittsburgh stranded a pair; the Fish got on the board when a two-out infield knock (turnabout is fair play, after all) brought home a Marlin tally.

Jose went 4-for-5 with a walk (photo via MLB Pipeline)

The Pirates added another in the fourth on four singles but left more runs on the table when Jordy bounced into an inning-ending bases-loaded DP. The Fish went down in order. The fifth was another frame the Buccos ended with a DP ball while the Marlins stranded a pair. The Pirates opened the sixth with a single and grounded into yet another DP. But left with an out, Gift and Alen Hanson hit back-to-back triples to make at 11-1. JT was done after 95 pitches and Johnny Barbato made his first Pirates appearance while Gift went to short and Hanson to second. Miami drew a walk but no blood. Junichi Tazawa gave up a free pass while putting up a zippo in the seventh but surprisingly couldn't coax a twin killing. It was 1-2-3 for Johnny.

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against Kyle Barraclough. He got a force at home before he was nicked for J-Hay's RBI sac fly. Dustin McGowan came on to K the Goose and quell the uprising. Wade LeBlanc took his turn. He gave up a run on a check-swing double that was barely fair (Clint, who had already issued two challenges tonight, came out to question the call, earning a barrage of boos from the Miami fans) and a pair of two-out infield singles. Ichiro was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch (borderline high, but the umps like to get home, too) to escape the jam. The Bucs stranded a walk in the ninth, the Marlins left a single go to waste and it was time to raise the Jolly Roger.

Gift went 3-for-3 with a triple and two walks (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

No carping tonight; the guys fielded cleanly, piled up a dozen runs and put 27 runners aboard (18 hits, 8 walks, one HBP). Too bad JT couldn't keep his pitch count down, but after an off day, the pen should be OK despite working four frames.

Notes:

  • Per Joe Block: Gift Ngoepe is the first Pirate since Eddie Moore in 1923 to reach base five times (3-for-3, two walks) in his first MLB start. It wasn't Jose Osuna's first start (it was his fifth if you're keeping count), but he had four hits and reached base five times too (4-for-5, one walk). J-Hay had three hits, Fran two hits plus a walk and J-Bell one knock with two walks.
  • This is the first time since August of 2013 that the Pirates hit three triples in a game. It was a good game for the sticks - all eight starters and sub Alen Hanson had hits.
  • With Gift's start at second tonight, Clint has penciled in five different guys for the spot in the past six games.
  • Miami pitchers threw 211 pitches tonight. If the club looked a little bushed on the field, there was good reason: this is their first game home after finishing a franchise-record 7,162-mile road trip.
  • 22-year-old RHP Luis Heredia, a once highly touted prospect who has been with the Pirates since 2011, has been promoted to AA Altoona. That's good news on a couple of fronts. Not only is he finally in an upper level, but he started the year in extended training with some physical issues. Luis dropped 20 pounds and is ready to rock 'n' roll.

Friday: Bucs Visit Marlins, Taillon v Adam Conley, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game at Marlins Park starts at 7:10. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. The Miami staff will be well rested; they were all pushed back a day after a rain out earlier in the week.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy SS, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Fran Cervelli C, Jose Osuna RF, J-Bell 1B, Gift Ngoepe 2B & Jameson Taillon P. Interesting that Gift rather than Alen Hanson gets the start against the lefty. It also tells us that Freeser isn't ready to return yet; the Bucs list him as day-to-day. Jose Osuna looks like JJ's platoon mate in right.

Gift gets his first MLB start tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13) toes the rubber against lefty Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00) . JT ripped off three strong starts before having an atypically poor outing against the Yankees last time out, suffering from lack-of-command issues. He's looking to climb back on the bar stool tonight. Taillon has never faced Miami. Conley is in his third year on the Miami staff and had to win the last rotation spot in camp. He's got a low-90s heater, slider and change. The book on him is to be patient at least the first time around as he likes to work the fringes of the dish, though walks haven't been a real big issue yet this year and his 1.11 WHIP is pretty strong. Conley has tackled the Bucs once in his career. It was last year and he tossed six innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out nine. And he's a lefty, so...

Notes:
  • Andrew has reached base safely in 16 straight games and J-Bell in 11 straight.
  • After a slow start, Amore has thrown out a runner attempting to steal in each of his last two games.
Fran is starting to find the range (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • How rarely does Clint opt for a four-out save? Tony Watson got his first multi-inning save since April 22nd, 2015 (he went two IP for his only save of the campaign) on Wednesday. It was the team's first multi-inning close in over a year, last seen when Mark the Shark performed the honors on April 22nd, 2016.
  • The Pirates are tied for the most errors (20) and most unearned runs surrendered (15) in the NL. Think how good the starting rotation would be if the team backed them with some leather.
  • The Marlins had Pittsburgh's number last year, going 6-1 against them.
  • Old Bucco infield coach Perry Hill has been with Miami since 2011 and they have had one of the best-fielding clubs in baseball during his tenure. Under his hand in 2009, the Pirates led the MLB in fielding % (.988) and set the club records for the most games played without an error in one season (101) and fielding %. Beside slick glove work, watch for the Fish to shift early and often; they've embraced the concept this season. 
  • Financial concerns don't just affect the payroll - the Pirates, FWIW, are the second-slowest team in baseball to pay its vendor/contracting bills, coughing up the money day a full 31 days after the due date per the Philly Inquirer. Whether that's just a Bob Nutting business practice or a red flag, we can't say.
  • Another old Bucco got the call - the Red Sox added utility man Chase d’Arnaud to their 25-man roster.

4/28: Bucs Take 1st; Good Day v Cubs, Brewers; HBD Red, Snake, Freeser & Danny

  • 1902 - RHP Red Lucas, The Nashville Narcissus (his nickname was penned by Colonel Bob Newhall, a reporter for the old Cincinnati Tribune, when Red was a fast flowering player with the Redlegs, per SABR’s Allen Quimby) was born in Tennessee. The righty spent the last five years of his career (1934-38) with Pittsburgh after coming over in a deal with the Reds. He put up a 47-32/3.73 line for the Bucs. Lucas was also a good stickman; he pinch hit in more games as a Pirate than he pitched, though his .238 BA was well below the .300 average he carried with Cincy. Oh, and he remembered well the team that traded him - he was 14-0 against the Reds during his Pirate era.
Red Lucas 1938 (photo George Burke)
  • 1924 - Bucco rookie SS Glenn Wright hit his first homer off Vic Keen in a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. Wright was better known for his mitt than his thunder; he set a MLB record during the season with 601 assists, a mark that lasted until 1980, when Ozzie Smith had 621 Astroturf assists. “Buckshot” was the Pirate SS until 1928 when he was traded to Brooklyn Robins. He hit .298 over during his Pirates tenure.
  • 1930 - RHP Tom Sturdivant was born in Gordon, Kansas. Nicknamed “Snake” because of his nasty curve, he was an outstanding pitcher for the Yankees until he suffered a rotator cuff injury in 1958 that threw up a speed bump on his promising career: after posting 16 wins in 1957, he never again reached double-figures in season victories. He persevered as a seven-team journeyman, not leaving baseball until after the 1964 season. Snake hurled for the Bucs from 1961-63 with a 14-7-3/3.49 slash.
  • 1966 - The Pirates scored one run in each of the final five innings of regulation and added four more in tenth to outlast the Cubs at Wrigley Field 9-6. The tying run scored with two out in the ninth. Roberto Clemente fell behind Ted Abernathy 0-2, worked the count full and drew a walk after fouling off eight straight pitches. He then came around on Willie Stargell’s double. The Bucco tenth was highlighted by a delayed double steal, with Clemente swiping second and Manny Mota home.
Roberto could beat you lots of ways - 1966 Topps
  • 1970 - The Bucs 6-1 victory at Forbes Field ended Chicago’s 11 game winning streak. Luke Walker, Bruce Dal Canton and Dave Giusti combined for a three hitter while Manny Sanguillen hit a pair of homers and had three RBI. Gene Alley, known more for his leather than wood, went 3-for-4.
  • 1983 - 3B David Freese was born in Corpus Christi. He began his career in St Louis and had a dream postseason in 2011, winning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors along with the Babe Ruth Award. Freese was traded to the Angels in 2014 and signed a one-year FA contract with the Pirates worth $3M in March of 2016 to fill the dance card while Jung Ho Kang recuperated from leg injuries suffered the season before. Freeser held up his end, hitting .270 w/13 HR and the Pirates inked him to a two-year agreement during the season with a guaranteed $11M/team option year that put him under team control through 2019. That deal proved a godsend after Kang was picked up for DUI during the winter.
  • 1986 - LHP Danny Moskos was born in Greenville, South Carolina. He was the fourth overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Pirates out of Clemson. GM Dave Littlefield announced that they projected Moskos as a closer, raising a storm of criticism from the fans and media who were anticipating Josh Vitters (who was taken one pick ahead of Moskos and fizzled) Matt Wieters (who signed for $6M and thus fit into the “cheap Pirates” narrative), or perhaps Jason Heyward to be the selection. Moskos was signed by scout Greg Schilz to a $2.475M deal, but ended up a bust. He tossed for part of the 2011 season for the Bucs in his only MLB campaign, going 1-1, 2.96 but with serious control issues. He’s pitching indie ball this year.
Daniel Moskos 2011 Topps Update
  • 2010 - The Pirates defeated the Brewers for the second consecutive game to take the series at Miller Field with a 6-5, 14-inning victory. The Bucs tied the game in the ninth on a Ryan Doumit homer off Trevor Hoffman (the second straight game that Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, had blown a save against the Bucs) and went ahead in the 10th on a Cutch long ball. The Brew Crew came back to tie it off Octavio Dotel, who left the bases full of Brewers before escaping the frame. Garrett Jones doubled home Akinori Iwamura with two down in the 14th while DJ Carrasco worked three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief for the win.
  • 2013 - The Pirates beat St. Louis 9-0 behind rookie Jeff Locke’s seven-inning, three-hit performance at Busch Stadium to take the division lead. C Russell Martin had three hits - a pair of homers and a double - while RF Garrett Jones also had three knocks including a HR and two-bagger. The victory was also Clint Hurdle’s 700th win as a big league manager. The Bucs turned the corner during this campaign, finishing with their first winning season since 1992 (and what a monkey-on-the-back that losing streak was!), coming in second place in the NL Central with 94 wins and advancing to the NLDS where they lost in five games to the Cards.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4/27 TRS-PNC Park Era: 6-Hit Wally, Pops Hot April, Tim Tosses 172, Matty Mo Released, Dewey Granny & More

  • 1971 - Willie Stargell set a then-MLB record with his 11th HR in the month of April, a shot over the TRS center field wall against LA’s Pete Mikkelsen, in a 7-5 loss. The record stood for 36 years until it was broken by Albert Pujols, who hit 14 opening-month bombs in 2006.
  • 1990 - Wally Backman became the first NL’er to get six hits in one game in 15 years when the 3B’man went 6-for-6 against the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in a 9-4 Pirate win. The Bucs banged out 19 hits, with Barry Bonds collecting four, including two homers and a double. Neal Heaton claimed the win.
Wally Backman 1990 Topps Big
  • 1991 - The Bucs had their way with the Mets at Shea Stadium, winning 10-1. Randy Tomlin and Bob Patterson combined on a four hitter while a trio of Pirates had three hits - Bobby Bonilla, who had four RBI and a run scored, Spanky LaValliere, with two runs driven in and one scored, and Curtis Wilkerson, who plated three times. Pittsburgh took over sole possession of first place, and never lost it as they won the division by 14 games.
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield threw 172 pitches in defeating Atlanta‚ 6-2‚ in 11 innings at Fulton County Stadium, and he didn’t even go the distance. He was relieved by Paul Wagner in the 11th after issuing a leadoff walk. It was the most pitches tossed by one pitcher in a single game during the nineties and the most ever by a Pirate. Fernando Valenzuela was the last to throw that many pitches in a game back in 1987. The Pirates took command of the game when Mike Stanton threw away a bunt attempt by Wakefield in the 11th, setting up a pair of two-out knocks and four unearned runs.
  • 1985 - Pittsburgh traded minor league C Steve Herz to the Phillies for utility PH Mike Diaz. Diaz fit in nicely as a bench player for a couple of seasons, putting up a line of .250/28/89 in 606 PA while Herz never made it out of AAA.
Jose Mesa 2005 Fleer Tradition
  • 2005 - Jose Mesa sat Houston down 1-2-3 in the ninth to save Kip Wells’ 2-0 victory. It was his 300th career save, making Mesa the 19th pitcher in MLB history to reach that mark. Jason Bay and Jack Wilson drove home the runs at PNC Park.
  • 2008 - RHP Matt Morris was released by the Pirates after going 1-2/3 innings against the Phillies and giving up six runs on six hits. The 33-year-old compiled an 0-4 record with a 9.67 ERA in his five outings with Pittsburgh in 2008. He retired soon after, but the Bucs ate $11,037,283 in salary, including a $1M buyout for 2009. Pittsburgh replaced him by calling up RHP John Van Benschoten.
  • 2010 - A five-run ninth inning sparked by Ryan Doumit's grand slam and Ronny Cedeno's solo shot off Trevor Hoffman ended the Pirates 22-game losing streak in Milwaukee as the Bucs took a 7-3 victory at Miller Park. The Brew Crew's hometown hex over the Bucs was the longest held by one team over another since the Browns/Orioles lost 27 consecutive contests to the Indians in Cleveland from 1952-54.

4/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Reds Routed, Lots of Cubby Games, Home Sweet Home, B2B B2B,

  • 1893 - The Pirates opened the season against the Cleveland Spiders and were spanked by Cy Young, losing 7-2 in front of 7,600 fans at Exposition Park. The team had a strong season despite that sluggish start, finishing second in the National League with a 81-48 mark. Louie Bierbauer had two hits, as did Jake Beckley and Denny Lyons. Frank Killen took the loss (The Pittsburgh Press, somewhat unkindly, noted that “Killen was an easy mark for the visitors”) after surrendering four first inning runs. But it was a noteworthy game - it was the last time a season-opening game was played in Pittsburgh until 1954, a 61-year streak of road trips.
Frank Killen 1896 Team Photo
  • 1902 - Pittsburgh whipped Chicago 2-0 at Exposition Park‚ as Deacon Phillippe bested rookie Jim St. Vrain. St. Vrain only gave up a single to Ginger Beaumont, but it came after the Pirates had loaded the bases on an error sandwiched between a pair of plunked batters in the eighth inning. Phillippe fanned seven and all the other outs were recorded by the infield, with 1B Kitty Bransfield recording 16 putouts. St. Vrain wasn’t quite as sure of himself in the box as he was on the mound. He grounded a ball to Honus Wagner in the seventh and lost his bearings; the confused 19-year old ran toward third base as the astonished Hans threw him out rather easily, per Gene Alston’s Journal column.
  • 1912 - The Pirates walloped Cincinnati 23-4 at Forbes Field‚ and without a home run (although they had five doubles and three triples among their 27 hits). Bobby Byrnes and Dots Miller had five knocks apiece. Reds reliever Hansey Horsey surrendered 14 hits and 12 runs in four innings in what would be his only MLB appearance. Vice President James “Sunny Jim” Sherman, a big baseball fan, attended the game along with PA Congressman Jim Burke, Lieutenant Governor JM Reynolds and an assortment of politicos and generals.
  • 1930 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game 9-5 over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. OF Adam Comorosky went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Gus Suhr drove home three more and Ira Flagstead homered.
Adam Comorosky 1929 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1954 - Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch hit back-to-back homers in back-to-back at-bats in the sixth and eighth innings, the first Pirates to accomplish the feat in the 20th century (Neil Walker & Gaby Sanchez matched the feat in 2014). It wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh lost to the Reds 8-7 at Crosley Field as Ted Kluszewski hammered a pair of long balls for Cincy.
  • 1970 - Steve Blass lost a pitching duel to Joe Decker and the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at Forbes Field. Blass surrendered just four hits over eight innings. One was a two-out triple by Glenn Beckert; he tried to stretch it into an inside the park HR and was dead at home, but Manny Sanguillen whiffed on the relay throw to allow the unearned, and only, run of the game to score. Roberto Clemente was thrown out at the plate twice during the game, once trying to score on a Willie Stargell double and again in the ninth when he tripled but was caught in a rundown a batter later, trapped following a comebacker. The Cubbies ran their winning streak to 11 games with the victory, a string the Pirates would snap the next day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bucs Start Off On Fire, Then Hang On To Take 6-5 Win From Chi-Town

Tyler Glasnow survived the first although two walks and an infield single - no one covered second base on what should have been a force out - did cause him to burn 29 pitches. J-Hay led off with a homer off Jon Lester; it barely made it over the left field fence and if Kyle Schwarber had been a little less leisurely he may have pulled it in. With two gone, Gregory legged out an infield knock and Amore brought him home with a double to make it 2-0. With two on and two outs in the second, a walk and HBP - Anthony Rizzo was nicked in the hand, and his hand is always in the strike zone - made it 2-1.

Tyler took a step backward tonight (photo Kim Clement/USAT)

But a Goose double got that run back when he chased home J-Bell who had reached on a left side dribbler. A grounder and walk to J-Hay put Bucs on the corners and a comedy routine broke out - Harrison was picked off on the break (altho it may have been Clint's notorious delayed double steal), he and Goose juked around with both being in rundowns at one point or another, and somehow it ended up as a successful double steal, Gosselin scoring w/o a slide. Jordy's infield knock put Pirates on the corners again and a Cutch double plated J-Hay. The Pirates missed a golden opportunity to really pile on as Gregory and Fran left the ducks at second and third. But it is 5-1 Buccos and will be a long night - both guys are already well over 50 pitches and the game is at the 1:08 mark.

Ty gave up two more hits in the third but a caught stealing helped bigly. Red flag: he's at 75 tosses. Lester sat the Pirates down on 10 pitches. A walk and one out double that Gregory should have gloved - it was off his mitt - made it 5-2 in the fourth and brought Wade LeBlanc in. Also entering the game was Gift Ngoepe, who went to second as part of a double switch; big day for him.  A Rizzo single cut the lead to 5-3. A walk (that's five to go w/HBP) sandwiched around two bouncers finished the frame. Gift singled up the middle in his first MLB at-bat; J-Hay whiffed and Jordy banged into a DP. With an out in the fifth, Wade walked Lester and Jon Jay doubled him to third. The infield wasn't in, but J-Bell made a heads-up play by cutting down Lester at home on Schwarber's grounder. Juan Nicasio got the call to face Kris Bryant and got him on a swinging bunt. It took eight pitches for Lester to retire the Buccos.

Gift had a day to remember (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Juan tossed a quick and clean sixth. With one gone, J-Bell got a 3-2 center-cut heater and lined it over The Notch to make it 6-3. Gift walked with two away followed by another infield knock, bringing on Pedro Strop. He walked Jordy to fill the bags with Bucs, but Cutch K'ed looking, frozen by a changeup. Felipe Rivero took the ball in the seventh and gave up just a generously ruled infield hit that Jordy coulda & shoulda eaten up. Mike Montgomery toed the pitching plate and worked a clean frame thanks to Fran being caught stealing after a walk.

Daniel Hudson worked the eighth, and a single and Anthony Rizzo bomb made it a game again at 6-5. With two gone, Tony Watson came out to face Jason Heyward, presumably for the rare (for Clint) four-out save and got the first of those four easily enough. In a two-fer, Alen Hanson was sent to right field to  replace Jose Osuna. Carl Edwards Jr. chopped down the Pirates in their half, and onto the ninth. Will Contreras opened by singling on an 0-2 pitch. After a force, Jordy muffed another grounder. But Tony kept serving up those worm burners, and a fourth straight grounder got the results he wanted as Jordy gloved this one, flipped to Gift and on to JJ to close the gate.

Jordy had some holes in his glove tonight but was there to start the game-ending DP
(2014 Topps)

Walks, bad D...and still they somehow navigated their murderers row of games against the Cubs, Cards and Yankees at 6-6. Now a day off and a long road trip on tap as the Bucs continue to bumble, fumble and stumble through the schedule but still keep their heads above water.

Notes:
  • J-Hay had two hits and a walk, J-Bell also had two knocks.
  • Felipe Rivero has made nine straight appearances without allowing an earned run and has been charged with just one earned run in his 14 games this season.
  • Welcome to the club, Gift - Gerrit Cole got Ngoepe's first MLB-hit ball and keeping with tradition, gave it the fake toss-into-the-stands. In fact, Cole Train actually threw the ball toward the fans but into the new security screen.
  • The Cubs put up a Bucco-esque RISP line, going 2-for-12.
  • Just 16,904 in the park tonight.
  • This was the first Monday-Thursday game the Pirates have won this year.
  • Root announcer Bob Walk's father passed away late this afternoon in California. Our prayers to the Walk family.
  • 1B Michael Morse was called up by the Giants today. It's his first MLB gig since being released by the Pirates last April.

Wednesday: Windy City Finale, Glasnow v Jon Lester, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: It's a 7:05 contest at PNC Park. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Should be a beautiful night to catch the Buccos, especially since they'll be gone for 14 of the next 17 games.

Most Buc bats may have gone quiet but Cutch has found some thunder in his.
(photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran cervelli C, Jose Osuna RF, J-Bell 1B, Phil Gooselin 2B and Tyler Glasnow P. Freeser is still out with a sore hammy while Goose gets the nod over Alen Hanson for the start at second. We're a little surprised, as with Fraze and Freeser out, this would be a perfect time to throw Hanson into the fire and see what he's got.

Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94) goes against Jon Lester (0-0, 2.66). Ty is learning on the fly and Chicago becomes the first team that he's seen twice in the majors. He went against Jake Arrieta earlier in the month and received a no-decision in Pittsburgh’s 8-7 win at Wrigley Field. He had a start to forget and trailed 4-0 after one inning but straightened out to strike out seven. Yep, another lefty in Lester, and he was tough on the Pirates in his first outing, getting a no-decision after going seven innings of scoreless, three-hit ball at Wrigley. No surprise there; tho he's just 4-3 in nine starts against the Bucs, he has a sterling 2.35 ERA and averages almost a K per inning.

Gift is in the show (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Notes:
  • IF Mpho' Gift Ngoepe was called up today. He had a hot spring, but is hitting .241 with a 33% K rate at Indy so far this season. Still, the 27-year-old can field with anyone in the Pirates system and runs pretty well, plus he's a great story line, becoming the first MLB African-born player. 
  • Gift Ngoepe cost the first native-born MLB Lithuanian his job for the time being as Dovydas Neverauskas was optioned back to the minors. That puts the bullpen and bench back at regular strength. It's also glad tidings in that Freeser wasn't put on the DL to make space for Ngoepe, so maybe David will be ready to go against the Fish Friday.
  • Andrew McCutchen has reached base safely in 15 straight games and J-Bell has a 10-game string.
  • Cutch drew his 621st career walk last night, tying him with Roberto Clemente for 10th place on Pittsburgh’s all-time free pass list. Andrew is four shy of catching Elbie Fletcher, who ranks ninth in franchise history with 625 walks.
  • Ripley stuff: The Pirates are winless (0-11) in games played from Monday-to-Thursday but are 8-1 from Friday-to-Sunday, giving the phrase weekend warriors a whole new twist.
  • Busy Bucs: The Pirates are off tomorrow before starting a stretch of 17 straight games (14 on the road!) Pittsburgh gets the next day off and then embarks on another string of 16 consecutive games (12 at PNC Park).

4/26 TRS-PNC Park Era: HBD Francisco & S-Rod; Score Early, Score Late; Brew Crew Curse; Opening Day Blues, Kiner Statue & More

  • 1972 - RHP Francisco Cordova was born in Cerro Azul, Mexico. He spent his five year MLB career (1996-2000) as a Pirate, first as a reliever who notched 12 saves in his rookie year before becoming a starter. His slash was 42-47-12/3.96. He was part of one of the great Pirate moments on July 12th, 1997 at a sold out Three Rivers Stadium when he pitched nine innings of a combined 10-inning no-hitter, with Ricardo Rinc√≥n closing it out. The Pirates won the game on a three-run, pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith.
Francisco Cordova 1998 Upper Deck Highlight
  • 1978 - Ed Ott hit an 11th-inning home run at Shea Stadium to give the Bucs and Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game six hitter, a 1-0 win. It took 35 years for another Pirate, Neil Walker, to homer for the only run in a Bucco extra inning victory.
  • 1980 - The Pirates scored five times in the first inning and cruised to a 9-2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh pounded out 17 hits, led by three apiece from Mike Easler and Dave Parker. John Candelaria went the distance, allowing two runs on eight hits as the Pirates split a brief two game series with Chicago.
  • 1985 - Utilityman Sean Rodriguez was born in Miami. In his career, S-Rod has played every position but pitcher and catcher. The Bucs traded for him during the 2014 off season and he played around the field for Pittsburgh. He was signed up again for 2016 after hitting .246 and playing six different spots in 2015. The super-sub had a super year, batting .270 w/18 HR and turned that into a nice FA deal with Atlanta. He’ll miss the campaign, tho, due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-season car accident.
S-Rod 2015 Topps Update
  • 1995 - 34,841 fans at TRS disrupted a delayed Opening Day by throwing whatever was handy (mainly giveaway day Bucco pennants) on the field to show their displeasure with the freshly resolved player’s strike and some shoddy play by the Bucs. The game was delayed for 17 minutes until the announcer told the unruly crowd that the contest was about to be forfeited. It might as well have been; Montreal won the game 6-2, chasing Jon Leiber in the fifth.
  • 2008 - Alhambra, California, dedicated a bronze statue to honor of its native son Ralph Kiner for his "accomplishments and contributions to the game of professional baseball and sports broadcasting.” The former Pirates slugger, a member of the Hall of Fame, grew up in Alhambra and graduated from its high school in 1940.
  • 2010 - The Brewers romped over the Bucs 17-3 for their 22nd straight win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park after they had already taken the opening series of the year by 8-1, 8-0 and 20-0 tallies. The curse, dating back to 2007, was snapped the next day 7-3 by the Pirates, who also took the third game of the series for good measure.
Cutch flexed his muscles 2016 Topps Heritage
  • 2016 - Pittsburgh pounded five home runs in the thin air of Coors Field to claim a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit three long balls and chased home five runs. With his second career three-dinger match, Cutch joined Ralph Kiner (four), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two) on the list of players who have multiple three-homer games as Pirates. Starling Marte and David Freese added to the fence busting party, propelling Gerrit Cole to victory.

4/26 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: No Expo Luck, HBD Fire Trucks, HBD Amos, Rallies

  • 1900 - The Bucs drew 11,000 to the newly expanded Exposition Park, the biggest Pittsburgh baseball turnout to date, with a couple of thousand more fans trying to get in. The Pirates were fortified by the recent influx of Louisville players like Honus Wagner, but dropped a 12-11 slugfest to Cincinnati as the Reds lit up Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro. The Bucs made a game of it by rallying for seven ninth inning runs.
Honus at the bat (Max Stein postcard)
  • 1905 - The Cubs beat Pittsburgh at Exposition Park, 2-1 as Chicago’s Jack McCarthy became the only major league OF’er to throw out three runners trying to score in one game. All three assists were on tag-up tries and resulted in double plays.
  • 1917 - Coach Virgil “Fire” Trucks was born in Birmingham, Alabama. After a long pro career, he became the bullpen coach/batting practice pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1960 and stayed with the Pirates until 1963. Trucks later operated baseball camps for the Bucs. Jack House, sportswriter for the Birmingham News, gave him the apt moniker “Fire,” not because he chased red engines but because of his blazing heater; Trucks tossed two no-hitters for Detroit in 1952.
  • 1940 - After putting up four runs in the eighth the day before and falling just short, the Bucs crossed home seven times in the eighth this day to roll over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 at Forbes Field. Debs Garms and Joe Bowman both had homers with three RBI to spark the rally and earn Mace Brown his second relief win in four days.
Joe Bowman 1939 Play Ball
  • 1947 - OF Amos Otis was born in Mobile, Alabama. He played the final year of his 17-season career with the Pirates in 1984, coming over after 14 campaigns with the KC Royals. (He actually had been dealt to the Bucs during the 1976 off season, but as a 5 & 10 year player vetoed the trade of him and Cookie Rojas for Al Oliver.) His TRS season wasn’t much of a swan song for the 37-year-old: in 97 at-bats, he hit .165 and he was released in August. Amos worked briefly for the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies as a hitting instructor after he left the playing field and then retired to Las Vegas.
  • 1958 - With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati knotted 4-4 at Crosley Field heading into the eighth, Bill Mazeroski took over. First, he drilled an eighth frame solo shot to put the Pirates on top, then his three-run bomb in the top of the ninth sealed the deal, 8-4. It was the first of eight multi-homer games in his career, with his next coming less than a month later on May 10th. 1958 was also the year Maz earned his first of seven All-Star spots. Billy’s heroics gave Don Gross the win after he spun four innings of one-hit relief, with Roberto Clemente, Bob Skinner and Ted Kluszewski adding three hits apiece to aid the cause.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cole On Fire But Bucs Lose On Airball 1-0

The first inning was quiet. Gerrit Cole 1-2-3'ed the Cubs; Kyle Hendricks gave up a J-Bell walk. Cole Train struck out the side in the second, but in between Addison Russell doubled and Alen Hansen threw away a grounder to let him plate. The Bucs stranded a Fran walk and Jordy single. In the third, the Cubs went in order; J-Hay led off with a single and was caught stealing to make it easy on Hendricks. Both sides went down w/o a peep in the fourth. Cole cruised through the fifth and singled in the Bucco half but was left on the pond. With two gone in the sixth, Kris Bryant rolled over on a ball but got the second Cub knock with an infield single. He stole second *sigh* but Cole Train left him there after winning a battle with Anthony Rizzo. El Coffee singled with two away and swiped a sack but Fran whiffed, swinging over a changeup.

Cole Train was rolling tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The seventh was another walk in the park for Gerrit. Hendricks was done and Koji Uehara took up his torch. JJ greeted him with a two-bagger on an 0-2 heater and a Jordy fly moved him to third. Hansen couldn't atone for his error, striking out and looking bad doing it. Jose Osuna hit for Cole, who was dominating tonight: one unearned run, two hits, and eight K's on 78 pitches over seven frames. And Jose didn't help; he swung through a couple of high heaters before flying out. Juan Nicasio walked the first hitter and used a dozen more on Jan Jay, but it ended well with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP followed by a first-pitch garden-variety hopper. Hector Rondon took his turn, walking and stranding Cutch after Gregory hit a rocket right at Jason Heyward in right.

Felipe Rivero worked a clean ninth. Wade Davis answered the phone and apparently left a suitable sacrifice to the bullpen hit-'em-where-they-are gods as he gave up a pair of liners to the outfield and a ball to the track but worked a 1-2-3 inning for his fifth save.

Fran hasn't quite figured out that "hit 'em where they ain't" thing (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Not much to be said about today's loss except the Bucs gift run to the Cubs cost them dearly tonight. The Pirates best chance was laid on the shoulders of rookies Alen Hanson and Jose Osuna in the seventh; both were antsy and chased out of the zone while leaving the only Buc runner to reach third, John Jaso, ninety feet short. It begs the question "where was Freeser?" The answer: he was on the pine with a sore hamstring. Kinda hard to put together a lineup w/o Fraze and Freeser with Starling and Jung Ho out of the picture for the long run. Tyler Glasnow will try to stop the bleeding against Jon Lester tomorrow.

Notes:
  • Fran and Gregory had one hit between them but hit a half-dozen bullets. The BABIP blues have struck Amore particularly hard in the early going; Fangraphs had him at a 42% hard-contact rate going into tonight.
  • Antonio Bastardo was placed on the 10-day DL with left quad strain suffered last night, not from the arm/hand weakness he had been complaining about lately. Recent Yankee acquisition RHP Johnny Barbato, a multi-inning reliever, was called to Pittsburgh to replace him. That move keeps the bullpen a man up (Tyler Glasnow goes tomorrow) and the bench a man down.
Antonio is on the DL (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Pirates second basemen have committed four errors in the past five games; the team has a league-leading 19 boots in 20 outings.
  • 15,326 attended tonight's contest. It was supposed to be a nice night but ended up a little chilly with intermittent drizzle. Hope the pups in attendance stayed dry.
  • Josh Ruga of The North Shore Nine noted that this was the first time the Pirates had lost a nine-inning ball game at home while allowing only two hits to the opposition since 1985. Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, this the first time the Cubs won a game without earning an RBI since July, 2011.
  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was at the game to help launch a Pirates youth baseball/softball initiative. He told the press that Starling, contrary to early reports, did not appeal his suspension and that rather than have umps mic'ed to explain review decisions, he would prefer the ruling would be shown on the scoreboard to get the game moving again.

Tuesday: Cubbies at PNC,Cole v Kyle Hendricks, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Cubs and Pirates begin at 7:05 on the Northshore. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's supposed to be a nice evening and is the second Pup Night of the season, so bring your fur fan to the game to woof, woof, woof for the home team...

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Fran Cervelli C, John Jaso RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Alen Hanson 2B and Gerrit Cole P. It's hard losing Fraze at the top of the order; J-Hay hits lefties well but is batting .243 v righties. The middle is softer too with Freeser starting the day on the bench.

Alen Hanson sighting! (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70) goes against Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19) in an early rematch. Cole Train has been looking sharper as the season goes on and is ache-free, so it's a good start so far. He's 9-2/3.00 in 12 career starts v the Cubbies. This year against Chicago, Cole Train has already taken a 4-2 decision over Hendricks at Wrigley Field. Hendricks was kryptonite to the Pirates last year but he was chased after fifteen outs and charged with all four runs in his head-to-head with Gerrit earlier in the season, taking a 4-2 loss. His primary concern is loss of velocity on his fastball; it makes his bread-and-butter changeup less effective. But the Cubs have been mashing lately and the Pirates have dropped 5-of-7, so it will be a challenge for Cole as he looks to get Pittsburgh back on track tonight.

Notes:
  • Josh Bell has a seven-game hitting streak.
J-Bell has been swinging a hot stick (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Nice move last night - Clint took out the first ball tossed by Dovydas Neverauskas both as a keepsake for Dovy and as a historic horsehide delivered by the first Lithuanian-born MLB player. Neverauskas also became the 140th Altoona Curve (the club began in 1999) alum to reach the majors.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a profile of Dovy, his stuff and his MLB projection.
  • The Pirates elected to shore up the bullpen and go short-handed on the bench when Fraze went on the DL. The cavalry consists of John Jaso/Jose Osuna (RF platoon), Phil Gosselin, Alen Hanson, and Stew.

4/25 TRS-PNC Park Era: Starg & Kip Go Long, ASV Cap-er, Pedro 2-Fer, HBD Trevor, Big Three Fall, 26th Man

  • 1970 - Willie Stargell homered over the RF roof at Forbes Field off Hoyt Wilhelm‚ the second time he'd done it in a week‚ as the Pirates edged the Braves‚ 8-7. Eighteen balls carried over the Oakland yard’s roof, with seven launched by Stargell. No one else hit more than a pair. Roberto Clemente had three hits (two were doubles) and four RBI as he shared some of the offensive thunder with Cap’n Willie.
Willie Stargell 1970 Topps
  • 1992 - In the Pirates 1-0 win over the host Cubs‚ the Bucs were helped by a wayward hat. With Kirk Gibson on first‚ Jay Bell hit a potential DP grounder that struck Gibson's helmet which had flown off as he headed to second, and the Cubs had to settle for a force. Andy Van Slyke noted‚ “the play goes 7-1/2 to 4 to 5 to 6" on your scorecard. Bell then scored when Van Slyke followed with a double for the game’s only run. Randy Tomlin was the winner over Greg Maddux.
  • 1992 - RHP Trevor Williams was born in San Diego. His brief initial cruise in 2016 wasn’t all that smooth; after mowing down hitters in AAA, he went 1-1/7.83 for the Pirates in a handful of outings. In 2017, he broke camp with the team as a multi-role bullpen arm after a strong spring. He was a second round draft pick of the Marlins in 2013 and came to Pittsburgh for a career minor-league player, Richard Mitchell. Many thought the seemingly one-sided deal was actually compensation for the Fish signing the Pirates pitching assistant Jim Benedict earlier.
  • 2003 - Kip Wells became the second player and first pitcher to homer into the batter’s eye at PNC Park with a third inning, 457’ blast off the Dodgers Odalis Perez. LA had the last laugh when they rallied for five ninth inning runs off Wells and Mike Williams to take a 5-2 victory.
Kip hit better than he tossed - 2003 Fleer Hardball
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez homered in both games of Pittsburgh’s doubleheader split against Colorado at PNC Park, becoming the second Pittsburgh player in the last 22 seasons to hit home runs for the Pirates in two games played on the same day. El Toro joined Rob Mackowiak, who also went long twice in a DH on 5/28/04 against the Cubs on the memorable day his wife gave birth to their first child.
  • 2012 -The Pirates and the Rockies became the first teams in MLB history to add an extra player to the roster for their twin bill at PNC Park. The new CBA permitted teams to carry 26 on the active roster for doubleheaders to save the paper shuffling that calling up an extra pitcher entailed. The Bucs brought up Jared Hughes, who had started the season with Pittsburgh but was sent down when AJ Burnett came of the DL.
  • 2013 - The Bucs beat the Phillies for the third straight time at Citizen’s Bank Park by a 6-4 score. It was the first time in the eighteen outings that Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee threw back-to-back-to-back games that the Phils lost all three matches. The Pirates lost the first outing of the four game set, beaten 3-2 by an unheralded Jonathan Pettibone who was making his first MLB start.

4/25 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Tom, Dutch, Fred, Jimmy, Ed & Bob; Wally, Roberto, Hans Come Up Big

  • 1864 - C Tom Quinn was born in Annapolis, Maryland. He played three years in the show, getting a cup of coffee with the Alleghenys in 1886 (0-for-11) and finishing with the outlaw Pittsburgh Burghers (.213) in 1890. Tom got a job with the state after he was done with baseball and lived in Swissvale the remainder of his days.
  • 1868 - 3B Fred “Dutch” Hartman was born in Allegheny City (Northside). He began his career as a Pirate in 1894 and hit a strong .319. After a couple of years of seasoning, he returned to the big leagues in 1897 after a trade to the Browns, where he was considered a highly touted addition to the club. He never took off and Dutch ended up pretty much a league-average player, hitting .278 during a six-year career. After baseball, he remained in the area, living in McKeesport.
Fred Haney w/owner John Galbreath & GM Branch Rickey
(photo April 13, 1954 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • 1896 - Fred Haney was born in Albuquerque. He managed the Bucs as a favor to Branch Rickey from from 1953-1955. His record reflects the fact that he was brought in during the early stages of a youth movement, losing 104, 101 and 94 games for a 163-299 (.353) slate, although he was used to the drill after managing the sad-sack St. Louis Browns from 1939-41. But he delivered when finally given some players. He moved on to Milwaukee and won back-to-back NL titles and the 1956 World Series. Later, he was the LA Angels first GM.
  • 1899 - In a sign of things to come, Pittsburgh lost to Louisville 2-1 at Eclipse Park as future Bucco SS Honus Wagner went 4-for-4 with 2 HRs‚ the second being a ninth-inning game winner. The Colonels were managed by future Pirate skipper (and player) Fred Clarke. The following season, most of Louisville’s top players followed owner Barney Dreyfuss to Pittsburgh.
  • 1910 - IF Jimmy Brown was born in Jamesville, North Carolina. A seven-year major league vet with an All-Star game under his belt, he was signed by the Bucs in 1946 after a two-year hiatus in the Army Air Force. He played three infield spots and hit .241 off the bench in his last hurrah. In 1947 he became a manager in the Pirates farm system at Indianapolis and New Orleans before returning to the NL as a coach for the Boston Braves in 1949. After leaving Beantown in 1952, he managed minor league teams for the Cardinals, Braves and Reds.
A dapper Ed Vargo (photo via Ancestry.com)
  • 1930 - Umpire Ed Vargo was born in Butler. He was a NL ump from 1960-1983 and the umpire supervisor from 1984-1997. Vargo worked the first night World Series game in 1971, two of Sandy Koufax's no-hitters, the last games at Forbes Field/the Polo Grounds, four All-Star Games, four NLCS, four World Series, the first game at Candlestick Park and the game in which Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's career home run record. Ed was inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame 1994. (bio via Baseball Reference)
  • 1943 - RHP Bob Johnson was born in Aurora, Illinois. He pitched for the Bucs from 1971-73, beginning as a starter and ending in the bullpen. He went 17-16-7/3.34 as a Pirate and appeared in a pair of NLCS and in the 1971 World Series.
  • 1948 - Wally Westlake homered, doubled, and drove in six runs while Ed Stevens added five more RBI to lead the Bucs to a 13-10 win over the Reds in the second game of a twinbill at Crosley Field. Pittsburgh lost the opener 7-6 in the ninth.
Roberto Clemente 1958 Topps Classic
  • 1958 - Roberto Clemente was in fine form as he led the Bucs to a 4-3 win against Cincinnati at Crosley Field. He scored in the sixth after a leadoff double and then smacked his first long ball of the year, a two-out, three-run shot in the seventh that stood as the game-winner. Vern Law claimed the win after an ElRoy Face save while future Bucco Harvey Haddix took the loss.