Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bucs Run Out of Rallies, Lose In 14 To Arizona 6-5

Chad Kuhl started off by giving up a double and a walk; he closed out with three swinging K's to end up with a Jeckyl-and-Hyde scoreless first.  It was all good for Zach Godley with a whiff and two soft comebackers. The second was a clean frame both ways. In the third, Chad was his own worst enemy. Two walks and a two-out triple by Jake Lamb made it 2-0 while Godley continued to cruise. The fourth saw a one-out Snake knock erased by DP; the Bucs got their first two hits with two outs and left them aboard. Cool Chad tossed a quiet fifth, and the Pirates found home after back-to-back doubles by Cutch and Jose Osuna and a pinch-hit knock by Gregory (who was promptly removed for designated pinch-runner Tyler Glasnow) to knot the score.

A brief streak of wildness cost Chad (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Huddy came on in the sixth after Chad's pretty decent afternoon and wasted no time giving up a Paul Goldschmidt homer followed by a Lamb double that came around after a bunt and soft roller to make it 4-2. A leadoff walk to Josh and JJ's single led to a run on Freeser's groundout; Cutch singled with two away but Osuna couldn't bring them home. In the seventh, Wade LeBlanc scattered two hits and two outs; Juan Nicasio took over for him to get Goldschmidt to pop out. Archie Bradley took the ball for Arizona and gave up a knock to Jordy. A strikeout and DP cleaned things up in a hurry. Juan stranded a Snake double in the eighth while Bradley tucked the Bucs away.

Felipe Rivero gave up a one-out double in the ninth but worked around it. Fernando Rodney climbed the hill and walked the first two Buccos (Cutch worked his after falling behind 0-2). Gift predictably bunted; Goldschmidt couldn't handle the play and the sacks were filled with Pirates. Jordy came up and banged into a DP, at least tying the game. J-Bell K'ed and it's free baseball. Tony Watson tossed a clean 10th and Jorge De La Rosa was touched for a two-out JJ double and walk, but got Elais Diaz to ground out.

J-Bell is 3-for-36 in his last eight games (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Johnny Barbato got two routine outs in the 11th, then gave up a bomb to Nick Ahmed, followed by a walk, a knock and another walk as the rains fell (Allegheny County is under a t-storm watch). He got Goldschmidt to fly out to the wall in center to wiggle out of any excess damage. The tarp never came out and the umps said "play on" during a pretty hardy rainstorm. JJ Hoover struck out Cutch and pinch-hitter Gerrit Cole, but the apparently water-resistant Jordy had some magic up his sleeve and drilled a game-tying, two-out homer into the bullpen off an 0-1 heater. J-Bell whiffed as Hoover struck out the side with one notable exception. And then the umps called for the tarp just as the rain slowed, sheesh. Nothing like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, tho the delayed call worked to no one's particular advantage. The tarp was rolled up a little after five and apparently the baseball gods agreed with the decision by sending a rainbow over PNC Park.

Jhan pitched well, but not well enough (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Jhan Marinez gave up a leadoff double to start the 12th an hour and 33 minutes after the 11th, but a pair of whiffs and a tapper back to the hill calmed those seas. TJ McFarlane waded in and worked a quiet frame. The 13th also went by in a blur; an intentional walk to Cutch to get to Marinez was all the action. The Snakes got a leadoff knock; Jhan fell behind Goldschmidt 3-0 but came back to get him on a weak roller, moving up the runner. That led to an intentional walk to Lamb, and Chris Owings cashed in a run on a grounder single to right with a couple of  blotches. First, J-Bell left the hole the ball went through to cover first; apparently a pickoff play was called but never executed, as pointed out post-game by Root Sports. Then JJ exacerbated the situation with a bobble and a poor throw behind a wide turn; both runners moved up on the miscue. Marinez got a K and a grounder to dam the tide but it was enough; McFarlane closed it out quietly.

Well, the Bucs took a shot at trying to steal the game from the Snakes, who went 2-for-18 with RISP and stranded 13 runners. Marinez accounted fairly well for himself during this outing; he worked well in jams and was done in by a couple of grounders that wouldn't cooperate. Arizona is a team that can stroke the ball; the Pirates didn't have the firepower to keep up. So it's off to New York, a welcome day off and then a weekend series against the Metropolitans.

Notes:
  • JJ had three hits while Cutch and Jordy added a pair, with Andrew also walking twice. Fraze had one of those days at the plate; he went 0-for-7. J-Bell's cold spell also continued; he went 0-for-4 off the pine. Ah, regression.
  • The game itself took four hours, 40 minutes to play, plus a hour and 33 minute rain delay.
  • The Pirates bench/bullpen was down to Trevor Williams and Ivan Nova as Clint ran through 23 players.
  • There were 20,990 at the game when it started. It was student scholars day at the ballyard.

Wednesday: Getaway Day, Kuhl v Zack Godley, Lineup, Notes

Today: The game starts at 12:35 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. There should be lots of tots; this is another school kid afternoon special.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Jose Osuna 1B, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P. J-Bell has been pretty icy in the past 10 games and is getting a break. We are a bit surprised that Cervy is starting today after a night game instead of Elias Diaz but we're guessing that his hot bat and tomorrow's off-day both played into the decision.

No day of rest for Amore (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers:  Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.29) v Zack Godley (1-1, 1.99). Cool Chad is getting to the point where the Bucs may plug in Steven Brault or Nick Kingham if he doesn't start to fly right. He tends to leave the ball up and  badly needs a way to keep lefties at bay. They're slashing .340/.406/.660 against him, and until he masters the changeup to back them off, opposing skippers will keep stacking the lineup against him. We'll see how Chad fares today. It's the first time he's faced the Diamondbacks. Godley has been strong for the Snakes this year after replacing Shelby Miller. He's getting a lot of soft contact by mixing his four-pitch repertoire - fastball, change-up, curve and cutter - resulting in a 66% ground ball rate. Godley hasn't given up more than three runs in any of his five starts, and three have ended up with one or zero tallies. He's only face the Pirates once in a 2015 relief appearance. Quite a contrast between a pair of pups on the bump today.

Notes:

  • Fran has been on fire; he's on an 8-for-19 streak at the dish.
El Coffee is close to coming back (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Gregory left the lineup with his ankle injury just as he was heating up. He had an eight-game hitting streak before Monday's ankle sprain (still does; he went 1-for-2 before hitting the wall). He's lost the walking boot, so he may be able to see action again during the upcoming Met series.
  • The Pirates head to New York for a weekend series with the Mets. They'll leave today and have Thursday off  to roam the Big Apple before starting the three-game set.
  • The entire Central Division lost last night.
  • Jameson Taillon will make a rehab start Friday with Indy after tossing a bullpen session at PNC Park yesterday.

5/31 Events: HBD Russ, Joe & Kenny; Coke Trail Verdict; Satch & the Grays; Rainy Day; Heismann Vic; Clemente Day

  • 1888 - S/O to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects “This Date In Pirate History.” The Alleghenys forfeited a game to the New York Giants when they failed to show up at the Polo Grounds while it was raining. The Pittsburg Press wrote “ Manager Phillips claimed that he had word that there would be no game and that it rained from 3:30 to 4 (the game’s starting time). President Nimick will protest the game.” He did; the league didn’t buy the story and the Pittsburgh nine forfeited the match.
  • 1930 - Umpire Russ Goetz was born in McKeesport. After 13 seasons of honing his craft in the minors, he was an AL umpire from 1968 to 1983. Goetz was part of the blue crew for two All Star Games, four AL playoff series, and two World Series, including the Bucs 1979 battle against the Baltimore Orioles. Russ went into umping after serving in the Navy during the Korean War and being deployed in Korea and China. He started his sporting days as a basketball player for the Tigers and remained in Tube City after he retired.
Satchel Paige 1936 Grays (photo via Leon Day Foundation)
  • 1942 - Satchel Page rejoined his old Grays teammates when they played against the Dizzy Dean All-Stars in an exhibition game at Washington’s Griffith Park. The drew 22,000 fans (the major league Senators averaged just 5-6,000 per game) and beat the Deans 8-1. Clark Griffith, the Sens’ owner, told Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard after the game that he was going to “break up your league” and sign black ballplayers, but he never made good on the promise.
  • 1953 - Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play MLB when he appeared as a pinch runner for the Pirates in the first game of a doubleheader loss to the Dodgers.
  • 1962 - Joe Orsulak was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. A sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 2008 draft, he was seen as the Bucs future lead-off man and CF’er. In his four years in Pittsburgh (1983-86) he never managed to secure the job, though he did hit .272. He lasted 14 years in the show, hitting .273 lifetime as primarily a platoon outfielder.
Kenny Lofton 2003 Upper Deck
  • 1967 - OF Kenny Lofton was born in East Chicago, Indiana. The Bucs signed him as a free agent for $1.025M and he had a nice year in 2003, hitting .277 with 18 swiped sacks. He became part of perhaps the biggest salary dump in Pirates history when he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback. Lofton and A-Ram helped Chicago to the 2003 NL Central title. Kenny played until he was 40, retiring after the 2007 campaign with 17 seasons, 11 playoff years and six All-Star berths on his resume. After Lofton left baseball, he went into film and television, his major at the U of Arizona. He does some media gigs and founded FilmPool Inc., a movie company.
  • 1985 - A Federal grand jury indicted seven for cocaine distribution and sales in baseball, none of which were Pirates (the players that testified were granted immunity). GM Joe Brown hoped the indictments would “...remove the shadow that has existed over the Pirates…” but his hope was in vain. The coke trials tainted the team’s clubhouse culture and several Bucs, notably Dave Parker and Rod Scurry, in the eyes of the fans.
  • 2016 - Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that this date would be Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball. The highlight of the celebration was to be a game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Unfortunately for Roberto’s homeland, the game was moved to Miami after a Zika outbreak on the island, and his special day was pushed back to its usual floating September celebration.

5/31 Games: Babe Wins 'Em Both, 1-0 Twinbill Sweep, Double Your Pleasure, Barry's First Knock, Game Tales...

  • 1909 - Babe Adams won both ends of a doubleheader at Exposition Park against the Cardinals. He worked the final two frames of a 5-4 win in the opener, then tossed a complete game 4-2 victory in the second match. Dots Miller had five hits during the twin bill with Hans Wagner adding three more knocks. The two games drew 20,633 fans.
Bill Hinchman 1916 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1915 - The Pirates swept the first place Cubs by identical 1-0 scores at Forbes Field in front of 15,000 fan as Wilbur Cooper (three hits, eight K) and Al Mamaux (five hits, five K) hurled complete game whitewashes. The Pirates won the first game when RF Bill Hinchman was plunked with the bases loaded to force home C George Gibson (they wouldn’t win another 1-0 game via the plunk again until 2017) and the second on a wild pitch that allowed Hinchman to plate from third. As Ralph Davis of The Pittsburg Press noted, “This was getting the breaks...it was the luck of the Buccaneers to profit twice from slips made by Chicago twirlers.”
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 6-1, sixth inning deficit by scoring nine times in the final four frames to nip the Cubs 10-9 at Forbes Field. 1B Joe Harris was on fire, going 5-for-5 with two triples, a double, four RBI and two runs scored.
  • 1937 - The Reds beat the Pirate 8-3 in the opener of a doubleheader at Crosley Field. It was the only game Cincinnati won against the Pirates in 1937. Starting with a 7-5 loss in the nightcap - Pep Young’s three run homer was the big blow - Cincy lost the next 17 straight to the Buccos, and dropped 21 of 22 games‚ tying the MLB record set by the Cubs over the Braves in 1909 and the Yankees over the Browns in 1927. In fact, the Reds would drop the first three to open 1938 for a 20 game losing streak against Pittsburgh, another MLB record.
Elmer Riddle 1994 Eureka Sports Stamps
  • 1948 - At Wrigley Field‚ the Cubs set a paid attendance record when 46‚965 fans passed through the turnstiles during a doubleheader split with the Pirates on Memorial Day. The Bucs lost the opener 4-3 after Chicago scored in the ninth off Kirby Higbe. Pittsburgh rallied in the nightcap behind Elmer Riddle to win 4-2. Danny Murtaugh chased home a pair of runs and scored once to provide Riddle with some working space.
  • 1961 - Pittsburgh bashed out nine doubles (two by Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, with one each from Joe Gibbon, Dick Groat, Hal Smith, Gino Cimoli and Dick Stuart) in a 9-1 laugher at Forbes Field against the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Gibbon tossed a six hitter with 10 strikeouts to earn the win over Warren Spahn.
  • 1964 - Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Pirates 6-4 at Forbes Field, but had to survive a towering blast by Roberto Clemente to do it. The Great One hit a ball halfway up the light tower 450’ away in center field. Post Gazette writer Jack Herndon estimated the drive would have measured 500’ if the lights hadn’t been in its way.
Willie Stargell 1973 Topps
  • 1973 - The Bucs topped the Atlanta Braves 3-1, backing up Nellie Briles three hitter with Willie Stargell’s three-run blast in the eighth at TRS. Stargell’s ball went 468’ and landed in the upper deck. Of the 12 shots that carried into the cheap seats in TRS history, Pops launched the most; this was his fourth and final second-tier homer. It broke up a gem by Gary Gentry; he had a shutout going into the eighth when with one out, an infield single and 3-2 walk that raised the hackles of Bravo manager Eddie Matthews was followed by Willie’s blast. Briles went the distance for the win, sending Atlanta to their seventh straight loss.
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds collected his first MLB hit, a first-inning double off Rick Honeycutt, as the Bucs beat the LA Dodgers 4-0 at PNC Park. Bonds must have been excited; he was picked off a batter later. BB had debuted a day earlier, but went 0-fer. Bill Almon’s two-run homer and Bob Kipper’s eight shutout innings keyed the win.
  • 1994 - It wasn’t a good day to be a Pirate pitcher. San Diego scored 13 runs in the second inning on the way to a 15-5 whipping of the Bucs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Cooke and John Hope were the hapless hurlers in that unlucky frame.
Jose Castillo 2006 Topps Heritage
  • 2006 - Jose Castillo homered in his fifth straight game as the Pirates defeated Milwaukee 6-1 at PNC Park. Castillo hit a two run shot off Chris Capuano in the second inning to continue a streak that began on the 26th against Houston’s Taylor Bucholtz, the third longest in franchise history behind Dale Long’s eight game streak and Jason Bay’s six-gamer. Ian Snell and three relievers combined on a three hitter against the Brew Crew.
  • 2008 - SS Luis Rivas had four RBI, two runs scored, a homer and double as the Bucs pounded St. Louis 14-4 at Busch Stadium to ruin Tony LaRussa’s 2,000th game as St. Louis skipper. Ronny Paulino added three RBI with three hits and a homer of his own while Jose Bautista chipped in with four knocks. Xavier Nady and Freddie Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates pounded out 19 knocks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ray Shuts Down Pirates 3-0

Hope you got to your seat in time or you missed the start; Ivan Nova took six pitches to tuck Arizona away while Robbie Ray used up 11 tosses, but then he struck out two Buccos. The second was also well-hurled with Cutch's two-out single the only action. The third was a clean frame, and it was another perfecto for Ivan in the fourth. J-Hay got a gift double to open the fourth when his routine fly was lost by the LF'er and moved to third on a grounder, but Freeser and Amore fanned (Ray's fifth & sixth victims) to douse the flame. Jake Lamb opened the fifth with the Snakes first hit; an out later he was erased via the ol' around-the-horn DP. Ray tucked the Bucs away with another pair of whiffs. The D-Backs drew first blood with a single and two-out Chris Owings' double in the sixth. Nova tried to rally the troops with a leadoff knock, but a Jordy DP calmed the inning down in a hurry.

No support for Ivan tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Though only at 52 pitches to start the seventh frame, Nova began to struggle. Paul Goldschmidt doubled off the top off the wall (an ump review confirmed it wasn't a homer) and he was bloop singled to third. After a whiff , Ivan got a grounder but Jordy couldn't do much with it and it became an RBI infield knock. A walk loaded 'em up and a dribbled out up the right side was soft enough to chase home a second tally and make it 3-0. Pittsburgh went down in order. Huddy was back in his eighth inning spot, albeit w/o the lead, and tossed a 1-2-3 frame. The Bucs managed a knock in their half by pinch-hitter Fraze. Wade LeBlanc worked the ninth, giving up a stranded double. Jordy and J-Hay made solid contact off Ray in the ninth, but both lined out to third. J-Bell fanned and that was the ballgame.

Won't win many games without scoring, and Robbie Ray has spun 24-2/3 straight shutout frames during a breakout campaign. But Clint may have given the boys a better chance if he had played Fraze in left and J-Hay at second, especially against a pitcher with no discernible split instead of taking the load-em-up with righties approach. An argument also could be made that the pen should have heated up earlier for the seventh, but the killing knocks were more well-placed than well-hit; Goldschmidt's ball was the only rocket. The bottom line: you can't manage your way into winning with a zero on the board.

Time to play Adam everyday.(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Notes:
  • Ivan Nova was 0-for-28 before his sixth inning single.
  • Gregory didn't have his walking boot on today, so he may have lucked out with his ankle sprain.
  • It was a big night for Robbie Ray. It was his first complete game and first shutout in the majors, tossing a 116-pitch four-hitter with 10 K and no walks.
  • One thing about pitching duels - they're quick. This one took two hours and 10 minutes in front of 14,996 fans and an unknown number of pooches.
  • Neil Walker got his 1,000th hit tonight.

Tuesday: D-Backs & Bucs, Nova v Robbie Ray, Lineup, Notes (Stew DL'ed, Elias Up)

Today: The only night game of the set will start at 7:05. It will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. And *tail wag* it's a Tuesday Pup Night. An added plus: a fine evening is forecast.

Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Josh Harrison LF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Jose Osuna RF, Gift Ngoepe 2B & Ivan Nova P. With a lefty, we can understand Jordy at the top of the order; we're a little more confused about Jose and Gift, who hit .207 and .111 respectively against southpaws in, of course, minuscule MLB samples. Maybe Clint figures they're due...

And batting leadoff... (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (5-3, 2.83) and Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.45) hook up in what should be a pretty good evening of pitching. Both guys are quality hurlers and they usually get deep into games. Nova has kinda settled into a mid-rotation performer after a Cy Young start, although his last start was strong and only marred by keeping him in the game a little too long. Ivan has won 4-of-5 so the Bucs are always in his outings, and he's been especially tough at PNC Park this year (3-1, 2.39). He hasn't tossed against the D-Backs since 2014. Ray doesn't give up many hits though he does sometimes have walk issues. He's on a roll, tossing goose eggs deep into the game in his last two starts. The last time the lefty was roughed up was by the Pirates. Three outings ago they chased him in the fourth at Phoenix with four runs and a pair of homers. But he's a different animal on the road, where he slashes 3-1/0.81 with a WHIP of .084 and 11.6 K per nine in five starts. In counterpoint, RR hasn't had much luck against the Bucs in four lifetime starts; he's 0-2, 8.00 and only lasted 18 IP.

Notes:
  • Stew strained his left hamstring and Gregory has a sprained ankle (at first, he feared it was broken) from yesterday's game and was in a walking boot. He's still on the active roster. Stew was placed on the 10-day DL (partly caution, mostly because ya need two functional catchers) and replaced by Elias Diaz, who is 2-for-11 in four earlier Pirates outings this year.
Gregory hasn't been DL'ed - yet (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Andrew swatted his sixth walk-off homer to win Monday's game. The blast tied him with Hall-of-Famers Ralph Kiner and Willie Stargell for the most walk-off HRs by a Bucco. Small sample, but Andrew has gone 5-for-14 (.357) with a double, two home runs and four RBI in the four games he's hit from the six-hole.
  • Fraze has returned to earth - he's in a 1-for-17 funk and ditto J-Bell, who is in a 3-for-26 snap. Jordy and J-Hay have picked up the slack. Jordy has six multi-hit games in his last eight outings while Harrison has five in his last seven games.
  • The Ivan Nova effect? Bucco pitchers have issued just two walks in the last three games and nine in the past six games. Only the Dodgers (143) have walked fewer batters than the Pirates (144) in the NL.
  • Before the Bucco win on Memorial Day, Arizona had been on a 5-0 run in the opening game of a series and the Bucs were on an 0-6 string.
  • Local prepster in the news: Latrobe HS's Zach Kokoska was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. He's an OF/P who hit .565 with five home runs and 27 RBIs while slashing 4-0/1.52 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 23 innings on the bump. Zach committed to Virginia Tech for college, pending the draft.

5/30 TRS-PNC Park Era: HBD Tony, RIP Max, Moose Surgery, Squeakers & Romps, Game Stories

  • 1971 - Willie Stargell launched a Ken Holtzman pitch into the upper deck in right field, the third of four that he’d ship to the top tier at TRS in his career, to cap a 10-0 win over the Cubs. Roberto Clemente and Bob Robertson also went long. Bob Moose didn’t need much help; he fired a three hitter and fanned seven.
Bob Moose 1974 Topps
  • 1974 - Bob Moose had surgery to remove a blood clot from his arm after it had swollen to double its size. The clot wasn’t thought to be baseball related, but it cost Moose the rest of the season as one of his ribs also had to be removed. He was having an outlier year anyway, with a 1-5 record and 7.57 ERA, easily the worst numbers of his career and related to his arm woes. Moose never again reached the 100 IP mark after averaging 213 IP and 30 starts in 1972-73 before meeting a tragic end in a car wreck after the 1976 campaign.
  • 1976 - Hall of Fame OF’er Max Carey passed away in Miami. In 17 Pirates seasons, he hit .287 (a very strong average for the deadball era) with 688 stolen bases and a reputation as the best center fielder in the game. After he retired, Carey went on to be a Pirates coach in 1930, then was the skipper of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932-33. Max won a NL-record 10 stolen base titles and ranks among the top ten all-time in outfield chances per game (6,937 total) seventh in assists (339) and third in double plays (87).
  • 1977 - Dave Parker was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the story “Battle Royale In the East.” The Buccos finished second in the NL East race with 96 wins, five games behind the Phils. The Cobra played in a team-high 159 games with 21 HR and a .338 BA.
Tony Watson (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1985 - LHP Tony Watson was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The ninth round pick of the 2007 draft was a converted starter that moved to the pen, and made his debut with the Bucs in 2010, evolving into a solid bridge man for the Pirates and then taking over Mark Melancon’s eighth inning role last season in spectacular fashion, posting a 1.63 ERA with a couple of saves, 34 holds and 9.4 K per nine innings. The media coined the phrase "It's elementary, Watson" to describe his consistent excellence.
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall hit a walk off bases loaded single to cap a three run ninth and give the Pirates an 8-7 win over the Montreal Expos at TRS. It was Kendall’s third hit of the day and his second RBI. Manny Martinez hit a two run homer and Kevin Young banged out four hits. Three Pirate relievers tossed four goose eggs, with Jason Christiansen earning the victory.
  • 2003 - Kenny Lofton homered against the Cards in a 7-3 win by Jeff Suppan to keep his 26 game hitting streak alive. He would go 0-fer the next day against the Cards Woody Williams and Jeff Fasaro, falling a game short of tying the club record during a 5-4 Pirate victory tossed by Kip Wells.
  • 2006 - The Bucs walloped the Milwaukee Brewers 12-1 at PNC Park behind a pair of Jose Castillo homers. Jose added a single & double to chase home six runs while scoring three times. Freddy Sanchez also had four knocks and Jack Wilson added three as the Pirates collected 17 raps, seven for extra bases, to help Victor Santos to victory.
Neil Walker 2013 Bowman
  • 2013 - For the second time in three days, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers, 1-0 in 11 innings. The Bucs used four pitchers - Mark Melancon got the W - and a Neil Walker homer to win at Comerica Park on the 28th, then came home to PNC Park and won with Bryon Morris and five other pitchers, cinched by a Russell Martin walk-off single off the wall in left center field. This one was a stolen win as the Tigers stranded 11 runners during the game. The squeaker was the club’s fourth 1-0 win in an 11 game span and their 16th win in the past 20 contests.
  • 2016 - The Pirates rolled over Miami at Marlins Park 10-0. Gregory Polanco hit his first MLB grand slam, Sean Rodriguez added a two run blast, and David Freese went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. The big story was lefty Jeff Locke, who pitched a complete game shutout, the first time he had gone the distance in 101 career starts. It was the Bucs first CG since 2014, when Vance Worley went wire-to-wire. Locke gave up three hits without a walk, and thanks to two DPs, faced the minimum amount of batters until two were gone in the ninth when he was touched for a bloop single. It was a textbook example of pitching to contact; the Pirate southpaw had just one K.

5/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Turkey Mike & Al, Triples Galore, Twin Killing for Fido, Leach Deal, Game Stories

  • 1878 - OF Mike “Turkey” Donlin was born in Peoria, Illinois. Mike played one of his 12 big league campaigns in Pittsburgh, hitting .316 as a 34-year-old in 1912. Known as "Turkey Mike" because of his strut, Donlin’s baseball career was compromised by his bid for stage stardom. While a player, he spent three off seasons touring in a play called “Stealing Home” and after his retirement moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in 50+ films but as a bit player.
  • 1892 - Mark “Fido” Baldwin, a native Pittsburgher alleged to have the best fastball in the league, tossed both ends of a Pirates doubleheader sweep of the Baltimore Orioles at Exposition Park, winning 11-1 and 4-3. Baldwin went 26-27/3.47 with 45 complete games and 440 IP in ’92.
The devious Jake Beckley 1994 Origins of Baseball
  • 1893 - From Baseball Chronology: "Jake Beckley successfully pulls the 'ancient’ hidden-ball trick on Baltimore Oriole Joe Kelley as Pittsburgh wins 9-1.” The Bucs swept a doubleheader from the Birds (they were managed by former Pittsburgh field general Ned Hanlon, who in a three-year span skippered the Alleghenys, Burghers and Pirates) at Exposition Park, also claiming a 10-3 victory. It was a pretty good Pirates club; the team finished 81-48, five games behind the NL Champs, the Boston Beaneaters.
  • 1894 - RHP Al Mamaux was born in Pittsburgh. He went to Duquesne University and pitched for the Pirates from 1913-17. Mamaux was 49-36/2.61 during that time, and had strong seasons in 1915-16, going 42-23 with back-to-back 21 win campaigns. He spent the off-season as a crowd pleaser of another sort, touring as a vaudeville singer touted as "The Golden Voice Tenor.”
  • 1912 - In a not-so-hot deal, the Pirates sent veteran 3B/OF Tommy Leach and P Lefty Leifield to Chicago for UT Solly Hofman and P King Cole. Leach, 34, started the next two years for the Cubs and came back to retire as a Pirate in 1918. Lefty pitched five more seasons, going 57-25. Cole lasted one year in Pittsburgh, going 2-2/6.43 while Hoffman played two years for the Pirates, getting into 45 games and hitting .246.
Jimmy Zinn 1920 (photo via tnfoto/OOTP)
  • 1921 - There were four NL doubleheaders on this date, and all four resulted in a sweep. The Pirates did their part by taking two from the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field, 13-0 and 6-3. Jimmy Zinn tossed a five hitter in the opener, backed by four RBI from George Cutshaw and Possum Whitted, with Max Carey scoring four times. The nitecap was led by Whitted and Walter Schmidt who both went 3-for-4, with Possum scoring three times and Schmidt driving in a pair. Chief Yellow Horse, the third Pirate pitcher, went 7-⅔ shutout innings for the win and recorded the only strikeout of the day by Pittsburgh’s moundsmen.
  • 1925 - The Pirates set a MLB record by hitting eight triples against the St. Louis Cardinals in spacious Forbes Field during the nitecap of a twinbill. Max Carey and Clyde Barnhart each banged out a pair of three-baggers while Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor (who added two doubles), Glenn Wright and Eddie Moore each had one. Barnhart had four hits, four runs and five RBI in the game as the Bucs ran their win streak to seven with a 15-5 romp. The Bucs took the opener 4-1 behind Emil Yde. Max Carey had a pair of RBI and George Grantham had three hits, including two doubles, in that match.
  • 1927 - The Bucs lost the opener of a Forbes Field Memorial Day doubleheader to the Cubs 7-6 in 10 innings, ending the Pirates 11 game win streak. The big play was made by Cubs’ SS Jimmy Cooney, who snared Paul Waner's liner, stepped on second to double up Little Poison, and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first for an unassisted triple play. Pittsburgh came back to win the nitecap‚ 6-5‚ also in 10 innings. Lloyd Waner collected seven hits during the twin bill.
Johnny Rizzo 1939 Play Ball
  • 1939 - Johnny Rizzo set a club record that still hasn’t been matched by driving in nine runs against the St. Louis Browns in a 14-8 win at Sportsman's Park, gaining a doubleheader split for the Bucs. He banged a pair of homers and two doubles.
  • 1958 - The Milwaukee Braves beat the Bucs and ElRoy Face 7-4 at Forbes Field. The Baron of the Bullpen gave up four runs, two unearned, but came back strong; he wouldn’t lose again until September 1959, claiming 22 straight wins.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bucs Win Ninth Inning Home Run Contest, Take Opener From Arizona 4-3

Bah, first inning. Dave Peralta was ruled hit by a pitch via review, and with two outs a pair of ground ball singles off Trevor Williams made it 1-0. Jordy singled with an out and was the back end of a strike 'em out, throw 'em DP with J-Bell up to make an easy start for Randall Delgado. Trevor bopped another batter in the second, this one leading to no damage, and the Bucs went down quietly. The third was quiet; no bopped batters for Williams and Alen Hanson's single was erased on a caught stealing that he slowed down on, maybe a hit-and-run gone bad. Well, at least the Pirates aren't stranding runners so far. The Snakes got a two-out single in the fourth and the Pirates evened up on Jordy's triple and J-Bell's sac fly. Arizona stranded a two-out double in the fifth while Delgado K'ed the Bucco side.

This was Trevor's best start of the campaign (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It was a 1-2-3 sixth for Trevor, but the Bucs got a worrisome red flag when Gregory left with a gimpy leg when he jammed it into the wall chasing a foul, causing "right ankle discomfort." The Pirates got a two-out knock from Jordy that chased Delgado. Andrew Chafin came in to fan J-Bell. Juan Nicasio pitched a strong seventh and JJ Hoover took the hill. Jose Osuna doubled when his shot caromed off the SS's glove and died in the short outfield. Cutch walked an out later, and Stew came through with a two-out three-bagger to The Notch to put the Bucs ahead 3-1. Stewie appeared to "discomfort" his hammy on his trek around the bases (on the slide, actually) and left the game. *holy MASH Unit* Ty Glasnow pinch-ran, Fraze pinch-hit and lefty Jorge De La Rosa came on. All the brain churn resulted in a ground out.

And yet more brain churn: Clint made these changes in the eighth - Felipe is on the bump, Fran's catching, Fraze is in left, Gift at second, JJ at first and Juan, J-Bell and Hanson went to the pine. Rivero walked the first guy and the second dribbled a single up the left side to bring up Paul Goldschmidt. Felipe got a DP ball hit to Jordy, but JJ dropped Gift's relay to leave Snakes on the corners. Rivero picked him up, getting a pop into short left and a roll-over grounder to third to hose out the flames. That's some big-time twirling. Tom Wilhelmsen climbed the hill. With two outs, a walk, knock and wild pitch set up JJ, but he was late on heater down the middle and flew out to left. Tony Watson buzz-killed the ninth. With two outs, Daniel Descalso singled and Chris Iannetta yanked a 3-2 changeup over the fence in the left field corner to knot the score. Archie Bradley took the ball and sent the crowd home happy when his third pitch, a 97 MPH fastball up and away, was drilled over The Clemente Wall by Cutch.

Felipe waded through the hot water (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Nice finish with Cutch's sixth career walk-off homer and what appears to be a more patient batting plan with a nice start by Trevor Williams (six IP, one run, four hits, two HBP, three K on 67 tosses). Not so nice that the Bucco string of players down continue; we'll have to see how badly banged up Stew and Gregory are. And today's question - why does the guy who is carrying a 4.03 ERA close and the guy with a 0.68 ERA set-up?

Notes:
  • The Snakes shut down J-Hay but not Jordy, who had three hits today. Jose Osuna added a pair while Cutch had a knock and a walk.
  • Stew has two triples in his 11-year MLB career, both spanked in the last five weeks.
  • 16,939 showed up on a Bucs and Pucks holiday in Pittsburgh.
  • Long time Sports Illustrated writer and NPR commentator Frank Deford passed away today at age 78. Locals should remember his 1985 SI piece "The Boxer and the Blonde" about Billy Conn the boxer and Greenfield Jimmy Smith, the blonde's father.

D-Backs In Town, Williams v Randall Delgado, Lineup, Notes

Today: Arizona celebrates Memorial Day with the Bucs with a 4:05 game at PNC Park. The contest will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, John Jaso LF, Cutch CF, Alen Hanson 2B, Stew C and Trevor Williams P. We didn't get the Sunday lineup yesterday, but here it is today with Freeser, Fraze and Fran getting blows. We understand wanting to get the suddenly hot stick of JJ in the lineup, but geez, lotta grass to cover in left. He's played three innings there this year and last started at the spot in 2015 with Oakland. Well, at least Andrew won't have to worry about being called off any balls today.

Alen Hanson dives into a starting role today (photo via MLB Pipeline)

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.93) opens the series against Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.82). Williams will be making his fifth start (#4 as Jamo's replacement); his last outing was OK but marred by the pen letting a couple of inherited runners score. He's been getting to the five inning mark OK, but the third time through the lineup has been a challenge so far. Trevor has already face the Snakes this season and did pretty well, giving up a solo homer early and then retiring 12 in-a-row in his best start to date. This is Delgado's second start of the year and only his sixth since 2013 when he was converted from the rotation to a pen arm. It's a little tough to translate relief work into start chops, but he's been more than solid in the last month. Still, he's going to need stretched out. He went four innings last time out in his first start of the year and the 61 pitches he tossed was only the second time he's topped 50 pitches this season. He's on a 70-75 toss pitch count today. The Bucs showed little patience or discipline against Matt Harvey last night; they could use some this afternoon.

Notes:
  • The Bucs' Energizer Bunny J-Hay has gone 17-for-44 (.386) during his current 10-game hitting streak and had multi-hit games in five of his last six contests.
  • Gregory extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 10-for-27 in that time. He also has a side string of 12 consecutive games with a hit against Arizona.
Jordy is shaking his traditional slow start (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)
  • Jordy Mercer has five multi-hit efforts in his last seven games and hit safely in 10 of his last 13 outings to raise his BA over that period from .203 to .242.
  • Amore has gone 11-for-26 in his last eight games to lift his BA from .217 to .255 over that span.
  • The Pirates have won five straight and seven of their last nine games played against Arizona at PNC Park. The Snakes are 4-12 in their last 16 cracks at Pittsburgh. But that weekday mojo is in play; the Bucs are on a 3-13 streak for Monday games.

5/29: Big Bill Visits, Stuffy & Rollie Deals, HBD Charlie, Cannonball's Intro, Court Rules, Game Stories

  • 1884 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys were no-hit by Columbus Buckeyes hurler Ed “Cannonball” Morris at Recreation Park during a 5-0 whitewash. Morris walked just one in a near perfect performance. The Alleghenys had been no hit just five days earlier by Al Atkinson of the Philadelphia Athletics, who hit the first batter and was perfect the rest of the way. Cannonball joined the Alleghenys the following year and won 129 games over the next five seasons. He played a final year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League in 1890 before retiring to run his North Side bar.
  • 1895 - Jake Beckley blasted a three run homer in the ninth to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Washington Senators at Boundary Park. The 1B ended the year with five homers, second on the team to Jake Stenzel’s seven, with a club-leading 111 RBI.
Pittsburgh Press clipping
  • 1909 - President William “Big Bill” Taft visited Exposition Park (Forbes Field would open a month later) to catch a Bucs-Cubs match, and made himself at home in the cheap seats, delighting the 14,091 fans. The Pirates weren’t so delightful, tho, as they went down to Three Finger Brown in 11 innings, 8-3, with Lefty Leifield taking the loss. The Prez must have made the Buccos nervous as the loss was the only time the team was defeated in a 19 game stretch.
  • 1922 - In a decision that was pretty big for the Pirates as well as MLB, the US Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not a business, and exempted it from antitrust and interstate commerce laws.
  • 1925 - 1B Jack “Stuffy” McInnis was signed as a free agent. The veteran was a reserve, getting into 106 games over two seasons, starting 64 of them. But his bat still held up; in 1925-26, he hit .337 for Pittsburgh, and .286 in the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. He played one more game after leaving Pittsburgh for his original club, Philadelphia, in 1927 before hanging ‘em up.
Steve Swetonic 1994 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1929 - The Pirates leapfrogged the Cubs into a first place tie with the Cards after a 7-2 win at Forbes Field, their eighth victory in a row. Paul Waner had a triple, two runs scored, and two RBI. Pie Traynor added a pair of knocks with a three-bagger and three runs chased home; Dick Bartell also had a two hits. Rookie Steve Swetonic held the Cubs scoreless for seven frames before fading and got the W with help from Carmen Hill. Though the Bucs would jockey for first throughout July, they finished the campaign with just 88 wins, 10-½ games behind the Cubs. A blah August (13-16) dropped them out of contention.
  • 1931 - C Earl Grace was traded by the Cubs with cash to the Pirates for C Rollie Hemsley. Grace caught five years for the Bucs and hit .275 over that span, retiring after 1937. Hemsley ended up playing 15 more years for five teams, hitting .262 and playing on five All-Star teams.
  • 1955 - At the age of 20 years and 284 days, Roberto Clemente became the second youngest player to hit three doubles in a game in MLB history, behind the Braves’ Eddie Mathews (ironically against the Pirates in 1952). The Bucs beat the Phillies 11-5 at Forbes Field; the young Clemente was the leadoff hitter, and banged his two-baggers off three different pitchers.
Roberto Clemente 1965 Topps
  • 1965 - Despite allowing three runs in the first inning, the Pirates rallied to defeat the New York Mets 7-4 at Shea Stadium. The Buccos were led by Roberto Clemente, who went 4-for-5, collected two RBI, scored three runs, and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The Pirates put the game away in the seventh when a two-out walk followed by four singles plated three runs. Don Schwall took the win and Al McBean got the save.
  • 1965 - 3B Charlie Hayes was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Charlie manned the hot corner and played a little first base for 14 big league seasons for seven teams (and three of them he played for twice), spending most of 1996 with the Pirates. He hit .248 as a Bucco starter before being sent to the NYY for a minor-league guy. The deadline deal worked out great for Charlie; he ended up a member of the Yankees ‘96 World Championship club after leaving the Buccos, a Central Division bottom feeder that campaign. Hayes now runs the Big League Baseball Academy in Texas, and his son Ke'Bryan was selected 32nd overall by the Pirates in the 2015 draft and is one of their hot prospects at his dad’s old spot, 3B.
  • 1991 - The Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 at Busch Stadium as Zane Smith threw the second one-hitter of his career, striking out five to earn his seventh win on the season. Orlando Merced led the attack with two hits and two RBI for the Bucs.
Barry Bonds 1992 Topps All Star
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh rocked the San Francisco Giants 13-3 at TRS. Barry Bonds went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI, Jose Lind chipped in with three runs driven in and Andy Van Slyke had three hits to give Vincente Palacios the win and Bob Patterson a save for tossing the final three frames. The Pirates used a 13 hit, 10 walk attack and an eight run seventh inning to pull away.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mets Roll Over Pirates In Rubber Match 7-2

The stormy weather stayed north and east, so it ended up a fine night for a ball game. Tyler Glasnow liked it; he gave up a double in the first but no blood was shed. Matt Harvey had a clean opening round. Three ground outs for the Mets in the second while the Pirates touched home on Gregory Polanco's bomb to center. The third was quiet on both fronts other than J-Hay's two-out knock. New York got back-to-back soft raps with an out in the fourth, and with two gone a wild pitch moved them up. Asdrubal Cabrera doubled them home with a drive off the wall that eluded a leaping Cutch to make it 2-1. Freeser legged out an one-out dribbler and Andrew followed with a single. A wild pitch advanced them a sack, but Harvey fanned the next pair to ice them.

Josh just keeps on swatting (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Harvey got his first hit of the year with an out in the fifth, a roller up the middle. A double moved him to third and a Jose Reyes liner to right that zipped past a lunging J-Hay made it 3-1. Reyes stole second and Bruce's double sent two more Met runs home before Ty put it to bed. The Bucs got back-to-back hit from J-Hay and J-Bell, but El Coffee bit on a slider down and in to stop the music. The Mets greeted Jhan Marinez with consecutive raps in the sixth. After two K's, Curtis Granderson had the green light on a 3-0 pitch and singled home another NY tally. The Bucco action was a Cervy walk. Lucas Duda lit up Marinez for a four-bagger in the seventh off a fastball that split the middle of the plate. Paul Sewald took to the hill and JJ greeted him with a single. It didn't spark a flame; Fraze hit into a 6-4-3 DP and J-Hay whiffed.

Johnny Barbato got the eighth inning call and gave up a two-out knock off J-Bell's mitt. Granderson fouled off three pitches and then singled to right before JB roped the Mets in. Gregory beat out an infield knock and was balked to second. Freeser doubled him home as the rain finally arrived. JB worked a 1-2-3 ninth. Neil Ramirez took the ball and walked Jordy & pinch hitter Jose Osuna around a K before barring the gate.

Freeser is getting back into the swing of things (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Tyler had another big-inning implosion; as the game progressed, his control faded and he was up in the zone. Harvey was locating his fastball pretty well and his slider had some bite tonight, but the Bucs showed very little patience in testing him. Anyway, bad start to the short homestand. They have a chance to get back on track against the Snakes tomorrow.

Notes:
  • J-Hay kept his blistering pace with a pair of hits while Gregory & Freeser added two more apiece; Amore walked twice. The Bucs stranded 10 runners over the evening.
  • The Pirates were 3-0 in rubber games until tonight.
  • There were 21,828 at the yard for the contest.
  • Next up for JT will be a bullpen session Tuesday at PNC Park. 
  • Another guy returning from injury is Nick Kingham, who went 6-1/3 IP, giving up a run on three hits with a walk and five K after 97 tosses for Indy in his second AAA start.

Sunday: Buc-Mets Finale, Glasnow v Matt Harvey, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Mets and Bucs finish up the series at 8:00 with a rubber match in PNC Park. It's a rare Sunday evening booking as the contest is ESPN's Sunday Night Game with radio coverage on 93.7 The Fan. Kids 14-and-under will get a Pirates beach towel, compliments of Coke. It's forecast to be a little dark and stormy night, so the towels should come in handy.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Cutch CF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Tyler Glasnow P. Since it's night game, the usual Sunday lineup shuffle is not in effect.

Ty looking to become the guy (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow (2-3, 6.69) closes the set against Matt Harvey (3-3, 5.36). Tyler tossed it pretty well against Atlanta in his last outing (two runs in six IP) and went 3-for-3 to boot. He's getting his walks under control, although he does have a five-game home run streak that he'd like to shake as he continues to take small steps toward holding his own in the rotation. He's never faced the Mets. Harvey has a had a bumpy ride with NY in a couple of ways and hasn't made it through the sixth in his past five starts after a pretty good April. A little patience at the dish should bring the Met bullpen into play sooner rather than later. Considering yesterdays pitcher-burning, how far into the game either starter can go might be tonight's key. Harvey is 0-1/5.29 in three starts against the Bucs, but he hasn't seen them since 2015.

Notes:
  • J-Hay has a nine-game hitting streak goin' on.
  • Last night the Pirates won when trailing after eight innings for the second time in four games and for the third time this season. The Pirates won a total of three games when trailing after eight innings last year.
  • Per Elias Sports: The last Pirate to tie a game in the ninth and then walk off in the 10th was Al Oliver against Houston on May 1st, 1977; it took JJ 40 years to replicate the feat.
  • Jamo tossed three innings in his first rehab stint since cancer surgery. He fanned six and gave up a hit & a walk in three innings/47 pitches for Altoona.
Austin is heatin' up (photo via MLB Pipeline)
  • Austin Meadows is starting to figure it out at Indy. He had his fourth straight multi-hit day (and sixth in seven games) and has reached base safely in his last 17 outings.
  • The Astros put Charlie Morton (5-3, 4.06) on the DL with a lat strain. In 10 big-league campaigns, Ground Chuck has finished the year north of 25 starts/150 IP just twice.
  • Alex Presley was recalled by the Tigers.
  • The blog Everything Bluebirds posts the Frankie Liriano has to learn to pitch to catchers not named Russ Martin. Kinda interesting POV.
  • Jim Bunning died Saturday at 85. Bunning pitched for the Pirates from 1968-69 and in a 17-year Hall-of-Fame career threw no-hitters in both leagues including a perfect game. After retirement, he became a Kentucky congressman and senator, so Jim packed a lot of juice into those 85 years.

5/28 TRS-PNC Park Era: Mack's Big Day, Four Long Gones, Bay Bombs, Bonds All Day, Holiday Walk-Off

  • 1988 - The Pirates whipped the Reds 5-2 at Riverfront Stadium behind an unstoppable leadoff man Barry Bonds. BB went 2-for-2 and was walked three times, scoring three runs with a RBI to rev the Bucco engine. Bobby Bonilla and Darnell Coles both added a single and double to help Bob Walk to the win with a Bob Kipper hold & Jeff Robinson save.
Chico was the man 1990 Topps Big
  • 1990 - Memorial Day seemed like it was going to be more memorable for Dodger pitcher Tim Belcher, who was working on a one hitter through eight innings at TRS, than anything the Bucs would do. But in the end, the Pirates provided the holiday fireworks, scoring five times in the ninth off two Dodger relievers to take an improbable 6-5 win from LA. The Bucs trimmed the lead to 5-3 and loaded the bases with two down in the final frame. Jose Lind spanked a 3-2 liner through the right side and RF’er Hubie Brooks tried to cut down the tying run, Gary Redus, at the plate. The throw was up the line and C Mike Scioscia tried to pick the ball and swipe the runner. It didn’t pan out; he missed the throw entirely and it rolled to the back wall, allowing Don Slaught to lumber in from first to plate the game winner for Bill Landrum, who had worked the ninth for Pittsburgh.
  • 2004 - In the lidlifter of a twin bill, utilityman Rob Mackowiak smacked a two-out, walk-off grand slam for a 9-5 Pirates victory barely nine hours after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first child, Garrett Matthew. In the second game, he drilled a two-run shot, the 500th homer at PNC Park, into the same right center field seats as the one he hit three hours earlier to send the nitecap into extra innings, later won by Craig Wilson’s 10th inning homer, for a 5-4 sweep of the Cubs. It was the first time since 1967 that a doubleheader was won by walkoff homers. Chicago’s Matt Clement also tied a MLB record when he plunked Bobby Hill, Jason Kendall and Craig Wilson in the fifth inning of the opener.
  • 2006 - The Pirates lost to the Astros 5-4 at PNC Park. Houston scored four times in the ninth off three different Pirate pitchers to tie the game, then won it in the tenth on a Preston Wilson knock off Salomon Torres. The game did have a bright side. Jason Bay homered off Fernando Nieve in the fourth inning to run his consecutive game HR streak to six contests, the second longest in Pirate history after Dale Long’s 1956 skein. It started on the 22nd against Arizona’s Orlando Hernandez. Bay had a pair of bombs on the 20th, too, giving him nine home runs in eight games.
Andrew led an unlikely parade of big swingers -  2011 Topps Toppstown
  • 2011 - Four Pirates - Andrew McCutchen, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Ronnie Cedeno - went long as Pittsburgh whipped the Cubs 10-1 at Wrigley Field. Paul Maholm tossed a three hitter for the complete game victory.
  • 2013 - The Bucs rode strong pitching and an eleventh inning home run by Neil Walker off Jose Ortega to edge the Tigers at Comerica Park 1-0, despite striking out 14 times. Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello started the game while Jason Grilli finished it in style with swinging strikeouts of Motown’s Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order to earn his 21st save and Mark Melancon’s first win as a Pirate.

5/28 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Dale's HR Streak; HBD King, Steve & Kirk; Reddy; Game Stories

  • 1881 - RHP James “King” Brady was born in Elmer, New Jersey. King worked two of his five MLB seasons with the Bucs in 1906-07, where he didn’t get much work going 1-1, 2.16 in four starts (although he averaged 11.5 hits every nine innings) and was shipped to the minors early in 1907 after taking a liner off the bean. He spent eight years on the farm, winning 85 games. The source of his nickname is uncertain, although it’s thought that a Pittsburgh writer gave it to him after a good outing.
  • 1903 - OF Romer “Reddy” Gray‚ brother of author Zane Grey (they were both originally Grays; their dad changed the spelling allegedly to dodge some bills), made his MLB bow as a Buc. He went 1-for-3 in his only big league game as the Pirates beat Boston 7-6. Gray scored a run, knocked in another, drew a walk, and caught the only ball hit his way in the OF. He played on loan from the nearby Worchester minor league club as the Pirates, due to some injuries and personal issues, found themselves short handed for the game against the Beaneaters at the South End Grounds. Gray was an early AAAA ballplayer; he never found a home in MLB but had a career .311 minor league BA. His author brother was also a ballplayer in his younger days. They were teammates on both the Jaxons and Findlay Sluggers of the Interstate League in 1895, and Zane went on to pen several baseball themed stories.
Steve Nagy 1947 (photo via Baseball Birthdays)
  • 1919 - LHP Steve Nagy was born in Franklin, New Jersey. Steve was teammates with a couple of famous folk, notably TV star Chuck “The Rifleman” Connors (who played for Brooklyn and then the Cubs before going on to Hollywood) at Seton Hall University and Jackie Robinson as a Montreal Royal, but their fame didn’t give him any coattails. He pitched briefly in the majors for two years, spending 1947 as a Pirates reliever and going 1-3, 5.79. Steve missed some time during WW2 while in the navy, but still managed to play 14 minor-league campaigns before he retired from the game after the 1958 season.
  • 1921 - Pittsburgh protested their 4-3‚ 10-inning loss to the Reds and won. After Reds P Dolf Luque misfired the ball into the Cincinnati dugout‚ Clyde Barnhart was called out going to third when the ball was tossed back into the field. The Pirates said no way; it was a dead ball, and NL president Heydler agreed. The game was later replayed from that point (it was 3-3), and the Bucs took full advantage of their second chance, turning the table to win 4-3 on June 30th.
  • 1956 - First baseman Dale Long set a major league record by hitting a homerun in his eighth consecutive game, a 3-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Forbes Field. The liner was hit off of Carl Erskine in front of 32,221 Forbes Field fans who didn’t settle down until the big first baseman made a curtain call, said to be the first in MLB history. The record was later tied by Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
Dale Long 1956 (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1957 - OF Kirk Gibson was born in Pontiac, Michigan. He spent 1992 as a Pirate toward the end of his 17-year MLB run, coming over from KC in a swap for P Neal Heaton, and the 35-year-old was released in May after hitting .196. He closed out the final three years of his career with the Tigers after Sparky Anderson talked him out of retirement. The 1988 World Series hero has since worked as a coach, manager and announcer.
  • 1960 - More Destiny’s Darlings lore: Roberto Clemente was on third and Hal Smith on first with two outs in the eighth with Maz up at Forbes Field. He fanned on a ball that hit in the front of the plate, ricocheted off ump Al Barlick and to Phillies pitcher Jim Owens. Maz froze, Smith jogged to second and Clemente went halfway down the baseline. Owens chased Roberto as his bench called for him to throw to first. In the run-down‚ Clemente knocked the ball out of C Jim Coker's glove to score the tying run. The Pirates won 4-2 in the 13th on Don Hoak's two-run HR.
  • 1963 - Called out at first on a close play for the second time in the game‚ Roberto Clemente twice jostled ump Bill Jackowski while arguing the decision. Clemente was ejected‚ and skipper Danny Murtaugh got his Irish up, challenging the man in blue to duke it out until he was pulled away. The Great One was fined $250 and suspended for five days by the league. To top the day off, the Pirates lost 5-1 to the Phils at Forbes Field.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bullpen, JJ Overtake the Mets in 10 Frames 5-4

Cole Train wasn't sharp again in the first as Jay Bruce took him deep and he was also touched for a single/double combo that caused no added damage. The Bucs went quietly against Zack Wheeler. It didn't improve a lot in the second; Curtis Granderson's leadoff triple came home to make it 2-0 with NY'ers left at second and third again. The Pirates had an answer this time as Freeser walked and jogged home ahead of Cutch who drilled one into the center field shrubbery. The third was quiet, with J-Hay's two-out two-bagger the only noise for either club. The fourth saw Travis d'Arnaud homer; it could have been worse as Mets were stranded at second and third. The Bucs got two hits and a walk but no runs as Freeser's DP short-circuited their half of the frame. Lucas Duda went long in the fifth, the ball landing on the concourse, and the Metropolitans left runners at second and third for a fourth time, so Gerrit had a tough outing (five IP, four runs, 10 hits, 98 pitches and eight stranded) but kept the club alive. Pittsburgh went down in order.

Cutch happening kept the Bucs in the game early (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Wade LeBlanc took over in the sixth and tossed a clean frame. J-Bell opened with a knock and plated when Andrew drilled a ball up the 3B line for a two-out double. He was nailed at home, tho, when he hit third and headed for the dish on Amore's grounder in the hole to short. Cutch apparently thought the throw would go to first but instead Asdrubal Cabrera flipped to the catcher and cut down Andrew. Wade zipped through the NY gang in the seventh and Neil Ramirez climbed the hill. Jordy led off with a ground-rule double and moved up on a grounder. Fraze was up and the Mets countered with lefty Jerry Blivins whose diet of curves sat Adam down. J-Hay walked but J-Bell's bouncer shut the door. Juan Nicasio answered the eighth inning bell and struck out the side on 12 pitches. Blivins got Gregory on a foul pop and righty Fernando Salas was waved on, getting a Freeser bouncer and Cutch fly-out to the track.

Felipe Rivero entered for the ninth and had an easy time of it with two whiffs and a roller. Addison Reed got Cervy on a warning track fly to center that Juan Lagares ran down; he didn't have that luck when Jordy doubled off the fence. A wild pitch moved pinch-runner Gift up ninety feet and he was chased home by JJ's opposite field knock. Fraze was jammed with two strikes but managed to roll the ball into right, sending JJ to third on the rap. J-Hay froze him tho with a grounder to third. J-Bell barreled up, but his liner was nicely gloved by Lagares to send it into extras. Tony Watson gave up a pair of singles in the 10th but the Mets continued their strand 'em all MO. Tyler Pill, just called up as a long man/spot starter, came in to toss. Lagares grabbed a smoked liner a step short of the fence to deny Gregory. Freeser singled, Cutch was bopped by a pitch and Cervy worked an eight-pitch walk. Gift hit a pop fly to right, icing Freese. Lefty Josh Edgin took over to face JJ. The battle went nine pitches and to a full count; Jaso won the duel by sending the last pitch into right to send Freeser home.

Juan and the Bucco bullpen was lights-out (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Both sides had plenty of chances to put the game away, with the Mets squandering early chances against Cole Train and the Bucs squeezing sawdust in the later rounds. The Pirates are tough when you let them hang around; this was their third walk-off win of the year. They only had four in all of 2016. So the rubber match is tomorrow night on ESPN when Tyler Glasnow takes on Matt Harvey.

Notes:
  • JJ hadn't had a hit against a lefty all year and had just one last season. He had two knocks in two tries tonight; Cutch, Fran and Jordy also had a pair of raps.
  • This was the first time in Cole Train's career that he's surrendered three homers in a game.
  • The Pirates warning track power was in it's full glory late in the game. In the ninth and 10th innings they hit four balls to fence; only Jordy's double eluded Lagares.
  • With a double and homer tonight, Cutch passed up Bill Mazeroski for eighth place in extra-base hits smacked by a Pirate. ( thx to @JohnDreker )
  • The Mets again stacked the lineup with seven lefties; remember when the Pirates used to have a slew of southpaws in the rotation?
  • Clint said Huddy will return to his set-up role after a couple of strong outings as the seventh-inning bridge. Won't be tonight, tho, as he gets a day of rest after working two frames last night.
  • 31,658 turned out tonight (there were quite a few Met fans in the house) , so the last couple of contests have spun the turnstiles pretty well.
And look who will be back on the bump tomorrow... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • The Pirates announced that Jameson Taillon will begin a rehab assignment at Altoona tomorrow.

Saturday: Bucs & Mets, Cole Train v Zach Wheeler, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Mets & Pirates get it on at 7:15 in PNC Park. Fox "Saturday Night Baseball" will cover the TV side regionally and 93.7 The Fan will handle the radio call. The Bucs will hand out free ball & bat t-shirts to the first 20,000 fans.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Cutch CF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P. This is about as solid a crew as Clint can muster; hopefully Wheeler won't be as tough as deGrom was last night.

All aboard... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.36) tackles Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74). Gerrit had his roughest outing of the year against Atlanta in his last start, a combination of an off day on the mound and some shaky fielding, so tonight is a bounce-back opportunity for the Bucco's top gun. He's 1-2/4.15 in three career starts against the Mets and didn't face them last season. Wheeler is on a roll. His ERA is up because of a rough April, but from the end of that month into May he's only surrender six runs (five earned) in his last four starts. His Achilles Heel is control; he's walked four or more in three of those outings, so he's another five-or-six inning guy who requires some plate discipline. He's never tossed against the Bucs, so it's a first look for both clubs. Tommy Milone (1-2, 7.91). It's been a while since the Bucs have seen a lefty after a pretty steady diet of southpaws earlier in the month.

Notes:
  • J-Hay has hit safely in eight straight games (14-for-35, .400) and in nine of his last 10 contests (16-for-43, .372). He went 2-for-4 last night and now has 10 hits in his last 19 at bats.
  • Cutch has 1,221 career appearances in the outfield and will bypass Dave Parker for eighth place on the club’s all-time list for most games played in the outfield tonight. Willie Stargell is next on the ladder at seventh with 1,293 outings in the pasture (he was a LF'er in his younger, more svelte days).
  • Yesterday was Neil Walker's fifth career multi-homer game and it was his first at PNC Park.
  • Antonio Bastardo and Josh Lindblom will begin their rehab assignments today at Indy.

5/27:Eight Straight for Cooper, Four Bombs, TV Dale, Brett's Big Day, Vinegar Bend Deal, B-Days & Game Stories

  • 1921 - Wilbur Cooper won his eighth straight game, this one by a 5-4 count at Forbes Field against Cincinnati when the Pirates pushed across a ninth inning run. All eight of Cooper’s victories were complete games. Rabbit Maranville’s sac fly brought in Walter Schmidt with the winning tally in the home half of the ninth. Maranville also tripled and scored twice for the Pirates. Between June and July, Cooper would go on an 8-of-10 win streak, and his two hot spells would carry him to a 22 win season for the Pirates.
Wilbur Cooper 1922 Exhibits
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 7-1 deficit by scoring six times in the sixth and seventh innings to defeat the St. Louis Cards in 10 innings at Forbes Field by an 8-7 count. They ran their victory streak to nine games; it reached 11 before being snapped. Kiki Cuyler had three hits to spark the Bucs. Guy Bush pitched three innings of one hit ball for the win.
  • 1929 - RHP George O’Donnell was born in Winchester, Illinois. The epitome of a AAAA player, the knuckleballer was signed out of high school by St. Louis in 1948 but only got one MLB shot, for the Pirates in 1954 when he slashed 3-9/4.53. O'Donnell tossed in the minors through 1961 as part of the Browns, Pirates, LA Dodgers and Senators systems. In all, George appeared in 530 MiLB games w/1,948 IP and a career 127-93/3.44 line with two 20 win campaigns. He also played in Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. George retired to farm and then took a job with the state of Illinois.
  • 1956 - On the way home from a Philadelphia rainout, 1B Dale Long took a detour and stopped in NYC as a guest of Ed Sullivan on his show “Toast of the Town” after hitting homers in seven straight games. After the appearance, he hurried back to Pittsburgh and hit his eighth against Brooklyn.
Ross Baumgarten 2003 Topps
  • 1955 - LHP Ross Baumgarten was born in Highland Park, Illinois. Ross tossed the last of his five big league campaigns with Pittsburgh in 1982, coming to town as the key piece of the Vance Law deal, and went 0-5, 6.75. Ross, who finished fourth in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting in 1979, hurt his arm as a Pirate, though the injury remains a mystery to even him. He told Ed Sherman of Spotlight Stories that “I went to see seven of the top doctors in the country, and I got like seven different diagnoses. In those days it was totally different than now. You know, there was no MRIs.” But he landed on his feet, using his U of Florida training to land a job in finance in 1984 and has been building portfolios ever since.
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh acquired 29-year-old LHP Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell from the Cardinals‚ along with LF Dick Gray‚ for minor leaguers IF Julian Javier and RHP Ed Bauta. Javier started at 2B for the Cards for a dozen years, but he was blocked in Pittsburgh by a guy named Bill Mazeroski. Mizell went 13-5 for the Bucs with a 3.15 ERA, solidifying their staff during their World Championship run.
  • 1965 - OF Jacob Brumfield was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Jacob spent the middle part of his seven year career as a Pirate from 1995-96, traded here for Danny Clymer. He hit .268 in Pittsburgh before being dealt to Toronto for a minor leaguer. He’s best remembered for his head-on collision with fellow outfielder Dave Clark. The two met full speed ahead and Clark broke his collarbone while Brumfield had 15 stitches worth of cuts on his face. 1999 was his final MLB year, followed by a season in the minors and one more season playing indie ball before he hung ‘em up for good.
Ken Brett 1974 Topps
  • 1974 - It was a big day for Ken Brett in a DH sweep against the San Diego Padres at TRS. In the opener, he carried a no-hitter into the ninth, settling for a two-hit, 6-0 win in a game that wasn’t decided until the Bucs put up a five spot in the eighth. In the nitecap, his two-run pinch hit triple primed a five-run seventh that keyed the Bucs 8-7 victory (the match was eventually won in the ninth on a two-run, two out homer by Richie Hebner). Brett ended the day going 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and three RBI to go along with his two-hitter in one of the Bucs’ top “do it all” performances.
  • 2006 - The Pirates won an 8-7, 18-inning match at PNC Park against the Astros when Jason Bay flattened Astros' catcher Eric Munson to score on Jose Bautista’s sac fly. The game time of five hours, 49 minutes tied it as the longest contest ever played in Pittsburgh. Bay also hit a homer in his fifth consecutive game, the first Pirate player to do so in 50 years.
  • 2015 - The Pirates scored five times in the seventh against the Miami Marlins after the bases were empty with two outs to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 win at PNC Park for their sixth victory in a row. Chris Stewart, Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison singled, scoring a run. Pedro Alvarez dribbled one through the SS hole against the shift to bring home the tying tally, then Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases. Starling Marte took a 3-2 pitch down and away for a run-producing free pass. Jung-Ho Kang drilled a final two run single, and that was the ballgame. Gerrit Cole got his seventh win while Mark Melancon earned his 12th save.
Jung Ho Kang 2016 Donruss
  • 2016 - The Pirates banged out four homers, hit by Starling Marte, Jung Ho Kang, Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen, to defeat the Texas Rangers easily at Globe Life Park 9-1. Jon Niese went six innings for the win, with help from Wilfredo Boscan and Rob Scahill. They defeated former NL nemesis Cole Hamels, who had a 19-start streak without Texas losing (he personally went 12-0 during that span) snapped by the Buccos.