Tuesday, June 27, 2017

6/27 TRS-PNC Park Era: Grilli Deal, Denny's Grand Slam, HBD Daryle & AJ, Game Stories...

  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell” as his drive hit the replicate Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veterans Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI.
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002.
AJ Shugel 2016 (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1989 - RHP AJ Schugel was born in Winter Haven, Florida. A waiver claim by the Bucs, he got into 36 games for Pittsburgh in 2016, going 2-2-1. 3.63 as a long man in the pen with a nice 1.038 WHIP. He started 2017 at AAA Indy with a brief Pittsburgh stop in June.
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985 and just one of five to smack one in franchise history. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee." Paul Wagner got a hold and Dan Plesac the save for Neagle.
  • 1988 - Ishmael Valdez was one batter shy of throwing a perfecto against the Bucs at Dodger Stadium, giving up a leadoff eighth-inning single to Kevin Young. Valdez struck out seven and used just 97 pitches to tame Pittsburgh. Francisco Cordova was the hard-luck loser, a victim of temporary loss of control when with two outs and a runner on third in the sixth, an intentional walk was followed by an unintentional pass to set up Raul Mondesi’s two-run single.
Craig Wilson 2004 Topps
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win.
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013. Grilli is now working for Toronto while Frieri has moved around and is currently with Texas.

6/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Hit Parade; Triple Play; Long Double; HBD Jackie, Minute Man, Roy & Elmo...

  • 1861 - C Jackie Hayes was born in Brooklyn. Hayes played in three leagues - the National League, the American Association and the Players League - and spent two of his seven big league campaigns with the Alleghenys from 1883-84. Primarily a catcher, Jackie also played three infield positions and the corner outfield for Pittsburgh, batting .253. He fit right in with the rowdy bunch on the team at that time, gaining some notoriety for a late-evening brawl in a Cincinnati saloon. Hayes' story had a sad ending, as he died at the age of 43, deaf and suffering from locomotor ataxia, a disease that prevented him from walking unaided.
Deacon Phillippe 1903 Breisch Caramel
  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two-run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
  • 1916 - P Cecil “Minute Man” Kaiser was born in New York. Per BR Bullpen, Kaiser got his start on the sandlots of West Virginia before he debuted in 1945 with the Homestead Grays before heading south to play. Lured by a $700 per month paycheck, he returned to the Grays in 1947 and worked through the 1949 season for the club. He spent the majority of his time in the Latino leagues, getting a shot in the minors when he was 35; unfortunately, his arm was gone by then. He was a small guy in stature at 5’6” but with great control and a killer curve. He got his “Minute Man” moniker because it was said that’s how long it took for him to strikeout a batter.
  • 1926 - C Roy Jarvis was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 17-year-old bonus baby when he played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jarvis then served in the Navy during WW2 and then returned to baseball with the Pirates which had claimed his rights in the 1944 Rule 5 draft. (Roy was the last Pirate to lose a full season to WW2 military duty. Pittsburgh sent 28 MLB players and 15 minor-leaguers to the service in WW2 per “Baseball in Wartime.”) He got a couple of cups of coffee with the Buccos in 1946-47, hitting .163 in 20 games and spent the rest of his career in the minors, retiring to become a salesman after the 1955 campaign.
Elmo Paskett 1963 Topps
  • 1938 - C Elmo Plaskett was born in Frederiksted, Virgin Islands. Elmo got in 17 games for the Bucs between 1962-63, hitting .200. He was a great hitter in the minors, winning a batting title and being named “Player of the Year” with Asheville of the Sally League but it didn’t carry over to the show. He played other positions beside catcher, but wasn’t much with the mitt and when he broke his leg in a winter league game in 1964, it spelled the end of his MLB days in the pre-DH era. He played in the minors through 1969, then retired to operate beisbol programs as a rec specialist for St. Croix, developing Midre Cummings for the Pirates. Plaskett, who died in November, 1998, at the age of 60, had a sunny, Manny Sanguillen-type personality, was dedicated to baseball throughout his life, and is still a hero in the Virgin Islands. The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, inducted Elmo into the Museo Pancho CoĆ­mbre, its sporting Hall of Fame, while the Little Leagues on St. Croix are named after him, per SABR.
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground-rule double to center (it one-hopped the wall) in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26 Birthdays & Moments: HBD Elmer, Babe, Debs, Smoky, Howie, Bill & Jason; Streaks, POs & More...

  • 1893 - RHP Elmer Ponder was born in Reed, Oklahoma. Elmer was an Oklahoma U grad who was of Cherokee descent and was part of the early wave of Native American players (the Bucs also had Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse on the 1921 roster). He played for the Pirates in 1917, then again from 1919-21. He got into three games his first year before he left to join the Army during WW1, and didn’t return until 1919. His late July debut was special; although the Bucs lost to the Phils 6-1, Ponder tossed 5-⅔ perfect innings of relief. No Pirates reliever could claim five or more innings of perfect work until 94 years later, when Vin Mazzaro did it in 2013 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Elmer went 14-21/2.74 for the Pirates before he was traded to the Cubs in ‘21. He finished the year there before being sent to the Pacific Coast League, where he toiled through the 1928 campaign before retiring to Albuquerque and the work-a-day world.
Steve Brodie (photo via Find-A-Grave)
  • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history. Steve was eccentric, even for the era; per the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Kingaman “Brodie talked to baseballs, caught flies behind his back and once nabbed a line drive that had ricocheted off his head. He mumbled to himself in the outfield, passing time by reciting soliloquies from Shakespeare. Once, Brodie chastised himself for committing an error, The Sun wrote: ‘Then, as further punishment, he refused to talk to himself for the rest of the game.’ A solid fielder, he cut a hole in the pocket of his glove, believing he could better grasp the ball with his bare palm. In winter, he stayed fit by donning a catcher's mask and chest protector and wrestling a muzzled black bear in his backyard.”
  • 1903 - OF Floyd “Babe” Herman was born in Buffalo. His stories are legion, such as the time he ended up on third base with two other teammates or of fly balls bouncing off his body in the outfield. In actuality, Babe was an average fielder with a great stick - his lifetime BA was .324 and he retired with a 140 OPS+. Herman played part of his 13-year career in Pittsburgh, batting .235 (the lowest average of his career) in 1935, returning as a coach in 1951 and later serving as a Bucco scout. Per the New York Times, he got his nickname in the minors, playing when Babe Ruth was a star. ''He was put in to pinch-hit, and the first time he got a hit, the manager of the club said, 'You're my Babe,''' Charles Herman, Floyd’s son, told the paper.
  • 1907 - OF Debs Garms was born in Bangs, Texas. Debs played 12 years in the show, mainly as a utility player although he did start three seasons for the Boston Braves. That’s where the Bucs got him from in 1940, and he hit .355 in 358 ABs. That was good enough for him to be awarded the batting title by Ford Frick; there was no minimum at-bat requirement and the NL President used 100 games played as the qualifier (Garms got into 103 contests). Stan Hack of the Cubs was the next highest hitter at .317, compiled in 603 at-bats, and Chicago fans cried “we wuz robbed” to no avail. Thx to Debs, in 1950 the standard was changed to a 400 at-bat minimum and a few years later to 3.1/PA per game (502 PA). There was no controversy the next season as he hit .264 for Pittsburgh. Garms was a good stickman with a .293 career BA, and in 1941 he set the then-record of seven consecutive pinch hits. He retired after the 1945 season to become a rancher and later a quarryman. BTW, Debs wasn’t a baseball moniker - he was named after socialist politician Eugene Debs.
Debs Garms 1940 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1918 - RHP Elmer “Smoky” Singleton was born in Ogden, Utah. He came to the Pirates as part of the Bob Elliot deal, working for Pittsburgh from 1947-48 while slashing 6-8-3, 5.54. Bert put parts of seven seasons in the show and his overall professional career spanned 24 years, from 1940-63, when he retired at age 45 to become a salesman.
  • 1921 - LHP Howie Pollet was born in New Orleans. After some stellar seasons with St. Louis (two World Series, three All-Star selections), he was sent to Pittsburgh in 1951, the victim of a slow start and back-to-back contract holdouts. He pitched here through 1953 and returned for his final bow in 1956, going 14-31-2, 4.59 for some sad sack teams. Howie coached for the Cards and Astros from 1959-64, then retired and joined the business world.
  • 1935 - CF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner set a MLB mark when he recorded 18 putouts during a 5-1, 4-2 doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves. He had nine grabs in each game and rapped out five hits during the twinbill at Braves Field to support Buc pitchers Guy Bush and Bill Swift.
  • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs.
Bill Robinson 1976 SSPC
  • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the DH, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills.
  • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. He was on a Hall of Fame track before a string of injuries slowed his career, finishing his 16-year run with a .288 BA. Kendall has been a member of the KC Royals coaching staff, serving as a roving special assignment coach, since retiring as a player in 2012.
  • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares had been caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t.

6/26 Games: In First; Lloyd's Steal, Jason's Four Homers, Jay Rings the Bell and More...

  • 1930 - Larry French tossed a seven hit shutout to beat Phil Collins and the Philadelphia Phils 1-0 in the opening game of a Forbes Field DH’er. The Buc bats woke up in game #2, pounding out an 11-5 win. Paul Waner had three hits, including a double and triple, scored four times and drove in a run to lead the attack. All nine Pirates had hits; seven different Bucs scored and seven had RBI. Erv Brame went the distance for the victory.
Larry French Conlon/The Sporting News
  • 1984 - 1B Jason Thompson hit two homers in each game (a pair off Dennis Eckersley and then two more off Rich Bordi) during a doubleheader split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 9-0 behind a Rick Rhoden four hitter and dropping the nitecap 9-8. Thompson tied the club record (established by Ralph Kiner on 9/11/47) by hitting four home runs in a doubleheader. In the opener, the Pirates jumped to a quick 8-0 lead after three innings, with the only drama being Johnny Ray’s effort for a cycle (he fell a homer short). Doug Frobel joined the HR parade in the second match by also adding a pair of long flies, but the four homers were all solo shots and not quite enough to rally the Bucs from a six-run opening frame by the Cubbies against Larry McWilliams.
  • 1991 - The Pirates scored five times in the third inning and then hung on to defeat the Cubs at TRS 7-6. Jose Lind had a three-run homer, Barry Bonds a two-run shot, and Jay Bell went 5-for-5 to prime the attack against Chicago.
  • 2001 - On his 27th B-Day, Jason Kendall was ruled out at first, prompting the most famous steal in Pirate history. Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out, put on a show for the 24,120 fans at PNC Park, and finally pulled the sack off its stanchion and carried it into the dugout in protest. As for the game, the Bucs came back to beat the Brewers 7-6 in 12 frames. They dodged a late bullet when Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-run, two-out eleventh inning homer to keep the game alive after the Brew Crew had taken the lead on back-to-back homers in their half off Mike Williams. Rob Mackowiak singled through a drawn-in infield to plate Kevin Young, who had opened the twelfth with a double and moved to third on a ground out, to seal the deal for Omar Olivares and Pittsburgh.
Lloyd makes a point (photo Mike Zarrelli/Getty)
  • 2004 - Randall Simon’s home run in the ninth was all the Pirate pitching needed as they edged the Reds 1-0 at GABP. Ollie Perez gave up three hits over seven frames. Mark Corey got the win and Jose Mesa earned his 17th save.
  • 2005 - The Pirates turned six double plays and beat the Cardinals in St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The six twin killings were a club record and each was scored differently (2-4; 5-4-3; 9-4; 4-6-3; 5-2-3; and 6-4-3). Jason Bay hit a three-run HR in the third and a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth. Jose Castillo’s solo shot in the tenth iced the victory. During the game, starter Ollie Perez broke his toe when he kicked a laundry cart in the clubhouse, frustrated that he had been pulled in the seventh inning. He wouldn’t pitch again until September.
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their sixth straight game (they were in the midst of a nine game winning streak) on the road by a 4-2 count over the Seattle Mariners. It went to the wire, with Jordy Mercer’s two-out, two-run single giving Vin Mazzaro the win, iced by a Mark Melancon save. The Bucs tied the Cards for the lead in the NL Central with the victory, a spot they’d hold for the next 10 days and off-and-on through mid-September before ending the year with 94 wins, three games behind the Redbirds, and a wild card spot.
Vin Mazzaro 2013 Quarry
  • 2014 - Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, hit his first PNC Park homer and had four RBI to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Mets. Vance Worley got the win.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pirates Self-Destruct in 8-4 Loss to Cards

It was a quiet first for Mike Leake and Chad Kuhl; the Bucs went in order and the Cards went single, GIDP, whiff. In the second, the Pirates got a walk and paid back with their own GIDP while the Redbirds had some fun. Cool Chad gave up three knocks to open the frame (one an infield single that was originally - and wrongfully - ruled an out until reviewed). A pop up was followed by a two-run knock by Greg Garcia, who broke an 0-for-18 string (lefties love Chad). A whiff was followed by a web gem layout by J-Bell whom swam to the bag and slapped it with his mitt to just beat Matt Carpenter and save a run or two. Jordy walked to start the third and Eli doubled. Fraze's triple an out later knotted the game and he came home with the lead after J-Hay's sac fly.  JJ banged a double, but the Pirates ran out of hits. Chad tossed a clean inning.

Elias had a pair of hits tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Cutch and Jordy singled with one gone in the fourth, moving to second and third on a wayward toss. The error cost as Eli lifted a sac fly to center making it 4-2. Kuhl kept dealing with a couple of punch outs. The Pirates went down in the fifth with a two-out JJ single as the action. The Redbird's retired streak ended at nine when Leake singled with an out followed by a Carpenter walk after an eight-pitch contest. No prob; they stayed where they were. Chad's given up six hits, but countered so far with six fans. Leake cruised through the sixth, and Chad, in unfamiliar waters pitching this late in a game, gave up a leadoff monster mash dinger to Randal Grichuk, who was just called up today. Yadier Molina followed with a two-bagger (greatly abetted by an off-target throw from Cutch), and Kuhl was yanked for Tony Watson. The Cards bunted Yadier to third and he was frozen by a whiff. Jeff Gyorko pinch-hit and dumped a routine-looking ball into right; JJ couldn't quite get there and it fell for a game-tying double. An intentional walk brought up Carpenter *gulp* and he got ahead 3-0, but Tony came back to get him on a fly.

Matt Bowman worked the seventh and was greeted by an Eli rap; two rollers moved him to third. Trevor Rosenthal got the call to face J-Hay and blew three heaters past him, of which only one was a strike; it wasn't one of Josh's better efforts. Juan Nicasio answered the bell and opened with consecutive walks (tho the first on a 3-2 pitch looked like both a strike and a swing, tho neither was called). After falling behind Grichuk 2-0, Juan hung tough and K'ed him after a nine-pitch tussle. Short-lived victory; Molina went with an outside fastball and sent it into right, scoring a run and leaving Cards on the corners. Nicasio got his grounder to short; Jordy booted it, so instead of closing the inning out, a run plated and Redbirds roosted on first and second. Make that second and third; Jhan Marinez came in and tossed a wild pitch. Mercer's bad day at the office continued as a grounder skipped under his glove for a two-run knock. Marinez finished it up after that, tho he did bop a batter.

Edgar fanned a pair in his inning of work (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Brett Cecil took the hill for the eighth; he and Edgar Santana traded clean frames. Seung Hwan Oh drove the final nail in the ninth.

The Buc gloves failed them today; there were several plays left in the field and the Cards took advantage of every one of them. And before you call for Clint's head for the way he juggles the bullpen, it easy to see why he doesn't have a lot of confidence in them as a group. As long as you're going to bring out Cgad every fifth day, you know that the pen is going to get to work early. The FO would do well to find a couple of guys - and they don't grow on trees - who Clint can hang a hat on. And one other point to consider: the Bucs staff is under new management when Eli catches. It'll take him a while to get the same framed calls as Cervy/Stew and obviously to figure out how to herd the cats who toe the rubber as he's never caught most of them outside of spring training.

  • JJ and Eli had two hits while Jordy collected a walk and a knock.
  • The last time Chad worked into the sixth inning was April 18th when he gave up two runs to St. Louis at Busch Stadium against Mike Leake. He had better luck then, getting through the frame and it remains the last time Kuhl has gotten more than 15 outs this year.
  • Randal Grichuk's 478' home run was the longest hit by a Cardinal in the history of Busch Stadium III, opened in 2006.
  • Dexter Fowler went on the DL a few hours before game time with a bone spur in his heel. The Cards recalled Randal Grichuk.
  • Austin Meadows is expected to miss a month with a hammy tear.

Sunday: Bucs Look For Sweep, Cool Chad v Mike Leake, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game's first pitch is at 7:05 and it's ESPN's Sunday Night Game with 93.7 The Fan covering the radio side.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF,  Jordy Mercer SS, Elias Diaz C & Chad Kuhl C. Gregory gets a seat tongiht after a couple of 0-fers and Eli gets the call after Stew caught back-to-back games.

Chad toes the slab tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) ends the set against Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03). Chad broke a six-game losing streak with a win over Milwaukee in his last outing, but is still far from turning the corner. He hasn't worked more than five innings in over two months and gives up four walks per game, so command and efficiency have eluded him so far in his sophomore campaign. However, Cool Chad has been sturdy on the road, slashing 1-2/3.45 in six away appearances. The young righty has an 0-2/4.85 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cards. He was strong in his only outing against the Redbirds this year, going six innings in a 2-1 loss to today's mound foe, Mike Leake, in early April. The hidden vigorish: Kuhl has a huge lefty-righty split, and the Cards can't load up against him with just two lefties and a switch-hitter available. Leake is on a four-game losing streak, but may be righting the ship as his last outing was strong but ended up a no-decision for him. Struggling or not, he's got the Pirates number. He won this year's match against the Bucs, has taken nine of his past 11 decisions v the Pirates and in 29 starts against Pittsburgh slashes 10-5/3.29, so a sweep is gonna be an odds-buster tonight.

  • Chad made his MLB debut one year ago on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball when he defeated Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at PNC Park on June 26th.
  • Only two NL shortstops have a higher batting average than Jordy Mercer's .275 - Zack Cozart (.324) and Corey Seager (.298). Only one - Brandon Crawford (.992) - has a higher fielding percentage than Jordy (.989), who hasn’t made an error since April 26th.
Jordy may be playing the best ball of his career now (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • If it seems like a lot of balls have been flying over the fence lately, well, it's because they have. The Pirates have homered in a season-high nine straight games and have also allowed at least one long ball in a season-high eight in a row.
  • Tough division: The Pirates were plunked three times in Saturday’s game and have been drilled 39 times this season, tied with the Cubs for the most in the majors. Since the start of the 2013 season, Pittsburgh batters have been hit a league-leading 375 times. The Cubs are second with 330 and the Cardinals are third with 311 bopped batters.
  • The Redbirds have lost five straight home games; they're 18-20 at Busch.
  • A couple of streaks end tonight - the Pirates will conclude a 17-game stretch of consecutive contests with an off-day tomorrow and they're 4-2 on this two-city journey away from the Allegheny, so they've clinched their first winning road trip of the year.

6/25 Birthdays: HBD Bill, Ralph, John, Alejando, A-Ram, Paul & Bobby

  • 1895 - 2B Bill Webb was born in Chicago. His show time consisted of five big league games for the 1917 Pirates, but Webb became a baseball lifer. He managed in the minors and then coached third base for the White Sox for five years before becoming their farm director, a position he held until he had a fatal heart attack at the tender age of 43. His late season Bucco try out had its up-and-downs. Webb was 0-fer in his first four games, but in his last go, he went 3-for-4 with a run scored as the Bucs beat Boston, 2–0, at Forbes Field.
  • 1902 - LHP Ralph Lief Erikson was born in DuBois, Idaho. He went to Idaho State and toiled in the Class C Idaho-Utah League before the Bucs brought him to Pittsburgh in September, 1929. He lasted until mid-summer of 1930, getting into eight games with a 1-0/8.40 slash. Ralph was a workhorse starter on the farm after that trial and pitched through the 1934 season. He then went to Arizona and worked in the mining industry, which apparently agreed with him - he was MLB's oldest living player until he passed away in 2002 at the ripe old age of 100.
Ralph Erikson 1930
(photo Barbara Bow via David Cicotello & Angelo J. Louisa's "Forbes Field") 
  • 1943 - RHP John Gelnar was born in Granite, Oklahoma. The Bucs signed Gelnar out of Oklahoma in 1963; a year later he got a cup of coffee with the Pirates, working nine innings and giving up five runs. He got into 10 games in 1967, going 0-1, 8.05. In 1969-70, after a couple of trades, John pitched fairly well for the Seattle Pilots and then the Milwaukee Brewers. He got off to a rough start with the Brew Crew in ‘71, was sent down to AAA and then retired at the end of the 1972 campaign. He did get some recognition from Jim Bouton in “Ball Four” when Bouton wrote Gelnar used to bring binoculars to the bullpen when the pair were with Seattle so they could watch girls.
  • 1959 - RHP Alejandro Pena was born in Cambiaso, Dominican Republic. After helping whip the Pirates in the playoffs as a Brave in 1991, the Pirates signed him as a free agent after the 1992 season for $1.35M. He promptly sat out the year with elbow surgery and came back in 1994, going 3-2-7/5.02 and was released in June. The 15-year vet had a twisty road to join the Pirates - he was supposed, along with Kevin Mitchell and a PTBNL, to be part of a 1992 pre-season deal for Barry Bonds with Atlanta. The swap was agreed to in principle by GM Ted Simmons but nixed by Jimmy Leyland, who went over Simmons’ head to plead his case with team President Carl Barger. So the club, which apparently thought highly of Pena, later signed him as a free agent even tho he sat out the 1992 Bravo post-season with tendonitis.
  • 1978 - Aramis Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo. Signed as a 16 year old, he played five plus seasons (1998-03) in Pittsburgh with a .286/76/316 line before being sent to the Cubs in a salary dump that is still cited today as the epitome of the Dave Littlefield years. To close the circle, he finished his career in Pittsburgh in 2015, slashing .245/6/33 as a deadline pickup. The 18-year vet was a three-time All-Star who swatted 386 HR.
Paul Maholm 2009 Upper Deck
  • 1982 - LHP Paul Maholm was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. The 2008 first rounder spent seven seasons (2005-11) with the Pirates, going 53-73/4.35 during the span and starting 227 games for Pittsburgh before being non-tendered in 2012. He worked three more seasons for the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers.
  • 1986 - LHP Bobby LaFromboise was born in Downey, CA. A depth reliever and LOOGY for the Bucs in 2014-15, he appeared in 17 games, posting a 1.54 ERA. He’s now in the Texas system.

6/25 TRS-PNC Park Era: Long Gone, Win #9,000, Rallies, Five Bombs, Game Stories

  • 1971 - Willie Stargell hit the longest home run in Veterans Stadium history against Jim Bunning during a 14-4 win over the Phils. The spot where the ball landed in section 601 was highlighted with a yellow star with a black "S" inside a white circle until Stargell's 2001 death, when the white circle was painted black. The star remained in place until the stadium's 2004 razing. Teammate Richie Hebner quipped "I went up there after he hit that home run and I looked down. It looked like a $20 cab ride from there to home plate."
  • Starg's Shot (photo Philadelphia Star)

  • 2002 - The Pirates won their 9,000th game with a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Expos at PNC Park, joining the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers in that accomplishment. Kris Benson got the W and Kevin Young went 4-for-4 on the day.
  • 2003 - The Pirates broke a 3-3 tie by scoring three times in the ninth, then barely held on to claim a 6-5 win over Montreal at Olympic Stadium. The Bucs took the late lead on a Kenny Lofton sac fly and back-to-back two-out singles by Jason Kendall and Jeff Reboulet. It was just enough for Mike Williams, who gave up a two run homer to Ron Calloway and had Expos leading off first and second before getting the last two outs.
  • 2008 - In the battle of the Bulldogs, LHP Justin Wilson held Georgia scoreless for seven innings and got the win as Fresno State won its first College World Series by a 6-1 score. Wilson was named to the All-Tournament team and became the Bucs fifth round pick in the draft, pitching for the big club from 2012-14 before being sent to the junior circuit.
  • 2009 - After falling behind the Indians 2-0 at PNC Park, the Bucs chipped away, winning 3-2 on a walk off bloop single in the ninth by Andrew McCutchen that scored Jack Wilson. Cutch was clutch; he scored the first run of the comeback in the sixth and drove in the tying run an inning later by drawing a bases loaded walk on a 3-2 count off Cliff Lee.
Lyle Overbay 2011 (Jared Wickersham/Getty)
  • 2011 - The Bucs downed the Red Sox and one-time Bucco hurler Tim Wakefield 6-4 behind a three run homer by Lyle Overbay and a solo shot by Garrett Jones. Joel Hanrahan earned the save by striking out Adrian Gonzalez, who represented the tying run, in the ninth at PNC Park.
  • 2013 - The Bucs banged five homers for the first time since 2009 and rolled to a 9-4 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Starling Marte led the Pirates' offense with a pair of home runs, his first career multi-homer game, and a triple. Russell Martin, Brandon Inge and Gaby Sanchez also homered. The Pirates went long three times in the second inning off Joe Saunders; Inge and Marte went back-to-back. Jeff Locke coasted to the win, and in the process become the first Pittsburgh lefty to win seven in a row since John Smiley in 1991.

6/25 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Emil At the Bat, Thru the Fence, Kiner Klobbers, Big Sweep, Game Stories...

  • 1903 - Ed Doheny surrendered just four singles as the Pirates won at Philadelphia 4-3 in ten innings to run their winning streak to 15 games. It would end later in the day as the Phils took the nitecap of the twinbill by a 5-1 tally.
  • 1912 - The Pirates swept a DH from the Cards by 10-4 and 19-3 scores, banging out 35 hits over the course of the day at Robinson Field. Max Carey and Chief Wilson hit grand slams, and rookie Stump Edington came close, being thrown out at home after clearing the bases with a triple. The Bucs put up a 10 spot in the seventh inning of the nitecap. Claude Hendrix and King Cole were the winning pitchers.
Claude Hendrix (Missouri History Museum)
  • 1913 - What had been a tight pitching duel through nine innings turned into a laugher in the 10th when the Pirates erupted for eight runs against three St. Louis Cardinal relievers to take home a 9-1 win at Robison Field. The Bucs had five hitters with a pair of knocks (and all in a row, batting 7-8-9-1-2 in the order), including pitcher Marty O’Toole who scattered eight hits for the complete game win. The eight-run margin in extra innings is the largest bonus baseball spread in Pirates history.
  • 1924 - Pitcher Emil Yde's bases-loaded double tied the score in the ninth inning and in the 14th, the Pittsburgh southpaw's two-run triple beat the Cubs at Forbes Field, 8-7. Beside the two hits and five RBI, Yde hurled 10-1/3 innings of one-run ball in relief to earn the win.
  • 1940 - The Bucs won for the fifth time in six games when they whipped the Philadelphia Phillies 9-7 at Shibe Park. Al Lopez had three RBI, Elbie Fletcher scored three runs and Bob Elliott went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
  • 1944 - The Cards edged the Bucs 2-1 in the opener of a twinbill as Red Munger outpitched Rip Sewell. The second ended in a controversial 5-5 tie, called after nine innings because of the Pennsylvania Blue Law. Pittsburgh tied the game in the ninth on a pinch hit long ball by Virgil Davis that went through the screen in front of the RF stands. Cards manager Billy Southworth protested, claiming that the ground rules were that a fair ball stuck in the screen was a double and the same reasoning should apply. Ump Beans Reardon didn’t buy the argument and ruled that since it didn’t stick but went through the fence, it was a homer.
Dino Restelli 1949 (photo Acme News Service)
  • 1949 - The Bucs hit five home runs (Ralph Kiner twice, Wally Westlake, Ed Stevens & Dino Restelli) but the Dodgers banged out four of their own to leave Pittsburgh eating their dust at Forbes Field, winning a 17-10 slugfest. Rookie Restelli set a record as his four bagger was the seventh in his first ten MLB games; he would only hit six more in his abbreviated big league career.
  • 1950 - Ralph Kiner led the Pirates to a 16-11 win at Brooklyn by hitting for the cycle. He went 5-for-6 with two homers, a double, triple, scored four times and drove in eight runs at Ebbets Field. Stan Rojek added four hits against the Dodgers, Gus Bell had three and Ted Beard homered. Cliff Chambers got the win in relief of Vern Law though both gave up five runs in four innings.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pirates Pull Away From Cards Behind Jordy & Gerrit 7-3

J-Hay got the Bucs rolling with a double off Lance Lynn. With two gone, Freeser got nicked by a pitch and J-Bell rolled a single up the middle to give the Pirates the early lead. It was a quick edge, tho, as leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter took a 3-2 fastball deep of Gerrit Cole - first inning and a home run, the daily double for Cole Train - to knot it up. It was 1-2-3 for Pittsburgh in the second. The Redbirds got a walk and two-out ground rule double by Lynn to threaten, but Gerrit got his revenge by whiffing Carpenter. It was a quiet third for the Corsairs while the Cards got a two-out knock. Andrew slapped a two-out single to right in the fourth, distracted Lynn with a little dancin' off first, and then boogalooed on home after Jordy got a 2-1 heater down Broadway and lined it into the LF seats. St. Louis went down in order for the first time.

Cole on a roll (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs are swingin' free with two outs; J-Hay copied Jordy, getting a 2-1 cutter down the middle and turning it into a souvenir to make it 4-1 in the fifth. It was three grounders, three outs for the Cards. Freeser opened the sixth with a walk and went to third an out later on Cutch's rap, scoring on Jordy's tapper. Stew was walked intentionally and Gerrit unintentionally to load 'em up, bringing in John Brebbia from the pen. He got ahead of Fraze 0-2, then plunked him for a cheap if painful RBI. Next J-Hay got smacked in the hip with a toss to keep the circle unbroken before the music stopped with the score 7-1 good guys. A Redbird knock opened the inning; an around-the-horn DP cleaned it up. Then a little drama broke out when Cole threw behind Jose Martinez, who posed and pouted. Joey then got a broken-bat knock, chirped at Gerrit and got barked at by Freeser in return. A swinging K dropped the curtain.

The Bucs went quietly in the seventh. Jhan Marinez took over for Gerrit, who was at 99 pitches, and tucked St. Louis away handily. Sam Tuivailala toed the slab in the eighth and served a quick frame. Tony Watson got the call and gave up a first-pitch single, then settled in to finish the frame without any further ado. The Pirates made no noise in the ninth and Wade LeBlanc climbed the slope and walked the first Redbird, sheesh. That was followed by a double, but a challenge changed it to a single and out; Paul DeJong overslid the bag and J-Hay held the tag. A two-out walk kept the Cards batting; the runner trotted to second via defensive indifference. Clint must really have no confidence in the pen (and who can blame him) as Felipe Rivero began loosening up. Stephen Piscotty hit a soft lob into center to make it 7-3, but thank you Lord, a pop out ended it.

Cutch is generating offense from the back end of the order (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Nice to have a runaway where you can fly a couple of struggling guys under the radar, but geez. Jhan continues to be a boss while Wade couldn't throw a strike and Tony had a mixed bag; everything was up but his sinker velo jumped a couple of ticks to his normal 94-95. Still, a very nice win as Cole Train keeps rollin', long balls keep flyin' and the scoreboard lit up after a couple of down days. The Bucs have cinched the series; a sweep would be sweet after the face plant in the last two games at Milwaukee.


  • J-Hay and Cutch had two hits; Josh scored twice and chased home a pair while Andrew plated twice. Jordy had a homer and three RBI
  • This was the first time the Bucs have managed to hit more than one homer (Jordy, J-Hay) in a game against Lance Lynn; this was his 21st outing against Pittsburgh.
  • Wade LeBlanc has given up runs in 6-of-8 outings; four times, he's surrendered multiple tallies.

Saturday: Bucs-Cards, Cole Train v Lance Lynn, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game begins at 7:15 and will be a Fox broadcast with 93.7 The Fan carrying the radio coverage.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Jordy SS, Stew C & Gerrit Cole P. Stew must be feeling his oats with back-to-back starts.

Stew & Gerrit are the battery (photo Chris Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) takes on Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33). Cole Train's mojo appears to have found its way home; he's gone seven innings in back-to-back starts while winning both outings. Gerrit is 5-4/2.84 in 11 career regular season starts against the Redbirds. He's 0-1 in one start this year, losing a 2-1 decision to Michael Wacha at Busch Stadium in mid-April. Cole has been strong recently at Busch Stadium, slashing 2-1/1.89 in his last three starts with a 3.11 career ERA in Birdland. Lance has been his usual good self this year; despite laying an egg in his last outing, he's given up two or fewer runs in 10 of his 14 outings. Lance does leak homers w/16 in 78-1/3 IP and hasn't gotten through the sixth inning since mid-May. He's has been money at home (3-1/1.53) and on same side hitters (.167 v RHB, .252 v LHB). Lynn has battled the Bucs lots of times: he's 6-5/4.41 lifetime in 20 outings (18 starts). He hasn't seen Pittsburgh since 2015 after TJ surgery cost him last season, but LL spun seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball against the Bucs in April in a 2-1 Card win. So like Jamo-Waino yesterday, this contest shapes up to be a solid pitching match, with homers again likely the key.

  • Mr. Clutch - Four of JJ’s five home runs have come in the seventh inning or later and four broke ties this year. As Clint told the beat guys last night “A lot of people get caught up in the hair, but there's a baseball player in there.”
  • The Cardinals have lost four straight games for the second time this season.
  • The Bucs are just kinda muddling along, but at least you can point to the roster churn - Jung Ho, Starling, DL visits by Jamo, Cervy, etc, and see light at the end of the tunnel. But if you're a Bay Area fan, whoa - the Giants are 27-49, the furthest they've been below .500 since the end of the 1996 season. As the noted SABR dude Einstein said, "It's all relative."
  • RHP Josh Lindblom has been removed from the DL and assigned to Indy. Not much ado involved; he was already there on a rehab stint after an oblique injury.
  • SS Cole Tucker is back for Bradenton after missing three weeks with a broken thumb.

6/24: Hans & Arky; Basebrawlin'; Yanks return to Forbes Field; HBD Jake, Kirtley, Rollie, & Lefty, Game Stories...

  • 1867 - OF Jake Stenzel was born in Cincinnati. He patrolled center field for five years (1892-96) for Pittsburgh. Stenzel was a strong guy with the stick, putting up a line of .360/.429/.528 in his Allegheny years, adding 188 stolen bases. He was a monster in 1894, hitting .352 with 150 runs and 121 RBI, banging 13 HR, 20 triples, and 39 doubles while swiping 61 sacks. Stenzel scored 100+ runs in his final three seasons with Pittsburgh. Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, Stenzel is the only player in baseball history to produce a .350 BA, 80 RBI, 100 runs & 50 SB line in a season four times (Honus Wagner did it twice) and is the franchise leader in batting average and on base percentage.
Jake Stenzel (photo via Find-A-Grave)
  • 1896 - RHP Kirtley Baker was born in Covington, Kentucky. He started a decade-long baseball odyssey with the Alleghenys in 1890, going 3-19/5.60. Over the course of the next 10 years, he would pitch for Orioles and Senators between stops of a nine-team trip through the minors, hanging up the spikes after the 1900 campaign.
  • 1902 - The Bucs whipped the Orphans 7-2 at the West Side Grounds in a game that was highlighted by a brawl between Chicago’s Joe Tinker and the Pirates Wid Conroy. Steamed that Conroy had held him (literally) at second in the previous game, Tinker launched a punch at Conroy, who promptly retaliated before ump Hank O’Day could restore order. Conroy ended up with a 20 day suspension while instigator Tinkers was given a three day slap on the wrist. Pure baseball was at a minimum as the Pittsburgh Press described the game action as providing “an oversupply of bungling” and added that “neither team did sufficient good playing to deserve a victory.” Chicago, btw, picked up the nickname of Cubs during this season because of the youthfulness of their roster. They had gone as the Orphans since 1898, when their long time manager Pop (aka Cap) Anson was fired; the media called them the "Orphans" because they had lost their Pop.
  • 1907 - C Ralston “Rollie” Hemsley was born in Syracuse, Ohio. Rollie spent the first four years (1928-31) of his 19-year, eight club MLB stay with Pittsburgh, starting the last two and putting up a .264 BA. After being traded, he went on to have five All-Star years with three different clubs. After retiring, he was a coach for the Philadelphia Athletics and Washington Senators, also managing in the minors. He was selected Minor League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News in 1950 while serving as pilot of the Columbus Red Birds.
Rollie Hemsley (photo via Retro Images Archive)
  • 1908 - Per the Pittsburg Press: “The bright...star of the game was ‘Honus’ Wagner who clouted the bulb for a home run, a double, a single, scored two runs...and made a bold steal of home...” as the Pirates beat the Reds 5-3 at Exposition Park. The Bucs scored three times in the eighth to turn the game their way with Hans driving in the lead run and stealing home for an insurance marker, getting the jump when the Cincinnati catcher tried to catch the runner at first, Ed Abbaticchio, napping with a snap throw behind him. Abby was wide awake, tho, and got back safely as the Flying Dutchman took advantage to sneak home. Victor Willis got the win with Nick Maddux tossing the ninth for the save.
  • 1917 - Pitcher Al “Lefty” Gerheauser was born in St. Louis. Lefty tossed during 1945-46 for the Bucs as a swingman, going 7-12 with a 3.93 ERA. He came to the Pirates from the Phils in exchange for Vince DiMaggio. Lefty spent six years in the show with another 13 seasons in the minors before hanging ‘em up. He got on with his life in Joplin, Missouri, and sated his baseball jones by coaching at the Mickey Owen Baseball School.
  • 1924 - Cincinnati’s Eppa Rixey retired the first 23 Bucco batters that he faced and had a 1-0 lead in a duel with Ray Kremer. But the Pirates scratched out a run in eighth and added three more in the ninth, with the big blow a two-run single by Kiki Cuyler, to take a 4-3 win at Redlands Field. The Reds almost came all the way back, scoring twice in their half of the ninth, with Edd Rousch, representing the tying run, cut down at the plate on a strong relay by SS Glenn Wright. Pittsburgh was outhit 13-6 in the contest.
Ray Kremer 1924 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1933 - Arky Vaughan hit for the cycle against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. He went 5-for-5 with five RBI and three runs scored in a 15-3 Bucco victory. He was (and still is) the youngest MLB player to hit for the cycle, at 21 years, 3 months of age. He had lots of help on this day as Pie Traynor had four hits, Gus Suhr three, and Adam Comorosky added a homer and double. Bill Swift cruised on his way to a complete game, six-hit victory.
  • 1934 - The battle between Philadelphia’s Dick Bartell and Bucco Arky Vaughan, who replaced him at shortstop, went on at Forbes Field. Bartell held a grudge from the prior series when he was “beaned” by a Vaughan DP relay. After he popped out (both Dick and Arky had 0-fer days) he “exchanged pleasantries” with Vaughan, ending in a fist shaking demonstration. As a reward for his antics, Bartell was low bridged the next time up by reliever and eventual game winner Waite Hoyt. Not only were the Pirates riled at “Sir Richard,” but so were the fans. After the game, Bartell went into the seats after a heckler. Volney Walsh, Pittsburgh Press beat writer, wrote “He was stopped in this effort by the club trainer, who grabbed little Dick by the belt and hauled him away…” The Pirates won the day easily 11-5 behind Gus Suhr’s three hits and a Paul Waner homer.
  • 1963 - The baron of the Bullpen, ElRoy Face, was featured as the cover story of Sports Illustrated in an article titled “Baseball’s Best Reliever.” It might of jinxed the baron of the Bullpen - he went 3-9-16/3.23 that season after a strong 1962 campaign.

  • 1965 - Willie Stargell’s first career three homer game (the Bucs hit five dingers during the match, with Bob Bailey and Jim Pagliaroni also going yard) sparked the Bucs to a 13-3 romp over first-place Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. Pops also lined a shot off the outfield railing for a double, just missing his fourth long fly of the day. Don Cardwell tossed a four hitter to earn the win over Don Drysdale.
  • 2008 - For the first time since Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the New York Yankees visited Pittsburgh. Bill Mazeroski threw out the first pitch at PNC Park, and it was deju vu all over again as the Bucs broke out the bats to win 12-5. Freddy Sanchez had three hits and three runs scored while Ryan Doumit and Adam LaRoche also had three knocks with a pair of RBI each. The Bucs were the last MLB team to earn a regular season win against the Yankees. Also true to form, they were clobbered 10-0 by the Bronx Bombers the following day.

Felipe, JJ & Freeser Come Up Clutch In Buccos 4-3 Victory.

Great start for Waino - five pitches, three outs. It took Jamo 13 tosses for the same result. The Bucs drew first blood when J-Bell dropped a fly into the right field seats 354' away to make it 1-0 in the second. The Cards jumped ahead two batters later after a walk and Jose Martinez dinger to left. Stew opened the third with a rap followed by three garden-variety outs. Tommy Pham bled a two-out infield single to prolong the frame by three pitches. Freeser walked with one gone in the fourth and a bad toss on a Bell bouncer put Bucs at second and third. A Cutch grounder to second tied the game. St. Louis eked out another infield knock; JT K'ed the side around it. The Bucs went down in order in the fifth; Wainwright has four whiffs and three have been called. Ump Ron Kulpa has called the high strike and pitcher's corner consistently today and we doubt he's gonna adjust, so spoiling borderline pitches should be today's memo to self. The Cards led off with a walk to Eric Fryer; he was bunted up but iced at second.

Josh is growing into a middle-of-the-order hitter (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Wainwright continued to befuddle the Bucs in the sixth, aggravated by Gregory dogging it after rolling an infield ball that he should have beat out. The Cards opened with their third infield knock of the night.With an out, Martinez fought Jamo for 11 pitches before sending a quail into right; Gregory made up for his woofing on the base paths with a diving grab and toss to first for the inning-ending DP. He did grimace afterward; hopefully it's not his ankle barking. Cutch walked with an out in the seventh for the Bucco action. Huddy came on for Jamo. The second batter, Paul DeJong, drilled a fastball over the fence into the bullpen to give the Cards the lead and the next, eight hitter Fryer, walked. A grounder moved him along, but El Coffee kept him there with another tumbling grab of a lob into right to close it down.

Trevor Rosenthal took the ball in the eighth. Fraze singled with an out, then J-Hay had a pro at-bat, drawing a walk. Gregory's force, nicely played by SS Aledmys Diaz to get an out, left runners on the corners. Freeser chopped a 3-2 heater into right to even the tally. Lefty Brett Cecil came in to turn J-Bell around. He had the green light at 3-0 and lined the ball into center where Pham tucked it away. Juan Nicasio toed the slab. A walk and hit-and-run knock with one out put Cards on the corners and brought Felipe Rivero in. He wasn't overwhelming, but an at 'em ball to Freeser and fly nicely corralled by El Coffee on the slide kept the score knotted. Seung Hwan Oh got two quick outs, then hung a 3-2 change over the dish to JJ (in as part of a double-switch) who didn't miss it, banging the mistake over the wall in center. Felipe was in for the five-out save and walked Fryer to open, smh. It's his third free pass from the eight-spot, none intentional as he's hitting .175. But all it cost was a handful of extra tosses as two punch outs and a pop-up later, Rivero had his third win of the campaign.

Felipe - lookin' like Pittsburgh's next great bullpen arm (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Well, maybe Felipe Rivero is the only pitcher they need. At any rate, some big-time at-bats by JJ & Freeser with two outs and two strikes and a nice outing by Jamo, with tons of soft contact and just one early mistake. He and Waino put on a show, shaving corners and keeping balls out of the hitting zone. And give Gregory some credit;he didn't look 100% but made three turf-kissing grabs on sinking shots. Now that bullpen...but hey, one down; time to take a series from the Gateway City gang.


  • The Bucs had just five hits; Freeser was the only guy to reach base twice with a walk and knock. 
  • The Pirates were the only team in the division to win tonight. Somehow, the Bucs at 34-40 are only four games back in the loss column.
  • The Giants DFA'ed ex-Bucco Bryan Morris per Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle. The 30-year-old bridge arm has a lifetime 3.13 ERA but was slashing 2-0/6.43 in 20 outings this campaign.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday: Bucs @ Redbirds, Jamo v Waino, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 8:15 at Busch Stadium and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's the first bout on the card for a three-game weekend set in a series featuring a pair of clubs that can't seem to shoot straight; the Pirates are 33-40 while the Redbirds are 33-38.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Jameson Taillon P. Looks like the Bucs will alternate Stew and Eli while Cervy is MIA.

Freeser is back in the lineup (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38) opens the set against Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75). This is JT's third start back from his cancer bout; he's still showing some rust, as is to be expected. He ducked between the raindrops against the Rox and was whacked around by the Cubs in his last outing. Jamo faced the Cards once, and that was last year (two ER, six hits in five IP), coming away with a no-decision in a 4-3 September win. Waino has been slammed on the road; his last two outings have seen him surrender 18 runs in 5-1/3 innings, blowing up his ERA by nearly two runs. But at home, he's a different beast with a slash of 5-1/2.88 in seven starts and he's given up two or fewer runs in his last four Gateway City outings. The 12-year vet is 13-7/4.22 in 33 career games (28 starts) against Pittsburgh, going 2-1/3.86 in five 2016 trips to the hill against the Buccos.

  • Freeser, who got a maintenance day yesterday, is hitting .316 (18-for-57) with a home run, seven RBI and 10 runs scored in his last 16 games. He's hitting .293 in June after a brutal May when he put up a .179 BA.
  • Gregory has had three multi-hit games in his last three starts; it'd really firm up the lineup if he regains his stroke.
  • No Pirate has hit in the same spot in the batting order more than 45 times in the Bucs first 73 games, and that was Cutch in the three-hole. Other than him, J-Hay with 38 games in the two slot has been penciled in the most. Performance, injuries and some match-up juggling by Clint are the main culprits in the inconsistent lineup.
  • The Bucs have lost their last seven games at Busch, including three (all by 2-1 scores) in a mid-April series.

6/23: Brother Acts, Angelic Win, HBD Bill & Curly, Duels, Game Stories...

  • 1877 - Jim “Pud” Galvin of the Alleghenys shut out Chicago on three hits‚ 6-0, in International League play. The IL was considered a minor league, and only lasted one more season. The Alleghenys became a major league club in 1882 when they joined the American Association. Gentleman Jeems spent eight years in Pittsburgh as an Allegheny, Burgher and Pirate.
  • 1890 - 2B Harry and SS John Gilbert became the first brothers to play together for a major league Pittsburgh club when they manned the middle at the Philadelphia Baseball Grounds against the Phillies. The Alleghenys split the twin bill, with Harry going 2-for-8 and John 0-for-8, and they turned a DP in each game. The doubleheader was the only time either one of the Pottstown brothers played at the MLB level. They preceded brother duos Harry & Howie Camnitz (1909), Carson & Lyle Bigbee (1921), Johnny & Phil Morrison (1921), Lloyd & Paul Waner (1927-40), Gene & George Freese (1951), twins Eddie & Johnny O'Brien (1953-58) and Adam & Andy LaRoche (2008).
The Pirates most famous brother act - Big & Little Poison, the Waners 1935
(photo Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1900 - RHP Bill Harris was born in Wylie, Texas. He tossed for the Bucs from 1931-34, with a record of 16-15-7 and a 3.45 ERA. Harris was a baseball lifer - he had seven years in the show, and earned 257 minor league wins between 1921-45, including two no-hitters. He managed in the minors afterward for the Giants and then scouted for them, the Senators and Yankees.
  • 1916 - Ken “Curly” Jungels was born in Aurora, Kansas. Curly pitched five MLB seasons, mostly for Cleveland, though not very often nor well. He made five outings and was 0-0/6.89 for the Pirates in 1941 while overall, his career consisted of 25 games, slashing 1-0/6.80. After his Pittsburgh campaign, Curly joined the Army during WW2 and never returned to the ballfield.
  • 1919 - The Bucs won their fifth game in a row, 3-2 over the Saint Louis Cardinals at Robison Park. Casey Stengel was the man of the hour, hitting a two-run homer in the sixth and then making a game-saving catch in the bottom half to back Frank Miller’s complete game effort.
Casey Stengel
  • 1930 - Bucco pitchers Heinie Meine and Leon Chagnon gave up twelve straight hits during the sixth inning in a 19-6 loss to the Brooklyn Robins at Forbes Field, tying the record for most consecutive hits allowed.
  • 1953 - The Pirates defeated Hall-of-Fame pitcher Warren Spahn and the Braves at County Stadium, 1-0. Spahn, who would be named The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year after the season 23-7, 2.10 ERA), struck out 12 batters and surrendered just two hits. Bucco outfielder Carlos Bernier delivered the game-winner, a two-out single in the eighth inning that scored Preston Ward, who had walked. RHP Bob Hall tossed a six-hit shutout to win the duel against Spahn and Milwaukee.
  • 1954 - The Bucs broke St. Louis’ Harvey Haddix’s string of 37 straight shutout innings when Preston Ward drove home Dick Cole in the sixth, but were still left in the dust at Forbes Field by the Cards 7-1.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle won a duel with Pedro Martinez as the Bucs beat the Expos 2-0 at Olympic Stadium. Neagle surrendered just a pair of hits, with Mark Johnson and Nelson Liriano chasing home the Bucco runs.
Denny Neagle 1995 Upper Deck Collectors Choice
  • 2004 - Pittsburgh beat the Astros 7-2 at Minute Maid Park on the strength of a two-out grand slam by Jason Kendall off David Weathers in the seventh. Ryan Vogelsong went six innings for the win.
  • 2005 - The Pirates jumped out to an 11-2 lead over the Cards and never looked back to take an 11-7 win. Humberto Cota led the way with three RBI, two on sac flies, but St. Louis was its own worst enemy, committing three errors and allowing Pittsburgh seven unearned runs at Busch Stadium. Dave Williams got the victory and Rick White the save after he blunted a Redbird rally in the ninth.
  • 2013 - It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Angel pitchers had sat down 16 straight Pirates and went into the ninth with a 6-3 lead at Angel Stadium with closer Ernesto Frieri on the hill. But the battlin’ Bucs tied the game on a double by Russell Martin and single by Starling Marte, both with two strikes and two outs. Then they scored four more in the tenth. But LA decided to not mail it in; they scored three times in their half off Bucco closer Jason Grilli and had runners on second and third with two out and Mike Trout up; Grilli got him swinging. Martin and Andrew McCutchen were scheduled for off days, but played the last two innings, going a combined 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. It was also the MLB debut for a pair of Pirate rookies, C Tony Sanchez, who doubled in his first at bat, and RHP Duke Welker, who worked a frame and got his first big league punch out. It was a series sweep for the Pirates, their first road interleague sweep ever.
Duke Welker (photo J Meric/Getty)
  • 2015 - Cincinnati jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, but the Pirates answered with their biggest inning in over a year, plating seven runs in the fourth against the Reds at PNC Park. The big blows were a three-run homer by Fran Cervelli and a two-run shot by Andrew McCutchen. Pittsburgh needed every one of those tallies, as the bats were shut down after that outburst. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon calmed the hot Redleg bats in the last two innings by ringing up six straight punch outs for the hold and save of Rob Scahill’s victory.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Anderson, Shaw Too Much For Bucs In 4-2 Loss

Good start against Chase Anderson; J-Hay got bopped, stole second and came around on J-Bell's two-out knock. Bell stole second too, but languished there. Too bad; Ivan had a slow start also - a double & single tied it, and fortunately a GIDP held Travis' Shaw homer to a solo shot as the Brew Crew leapfrogged into a 2-1 lead. An infield knock and HBP followed before Ivan shut the gate, tossing 30 (!) pitches. The Bucs went quietly in the second while Milwaukee slapped out a couple of more hits but left those ducks on the pond. It was 1-2-3 for Pittsburgh in the third and ditto for the Crew. Gregory drilled a leadoff opp field homer in the fourth. Cutch walked with two outs but Mad Max whiffed to end the frame. The Brewers went down in order. The Bucs did the same in the fifth. A two-out single brought up Shaw, who lined a 1-2 pitch into right; he chased home the lead run although thrown out trying to take to third base.

Ivan lost the battle today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Both sides blew sixth-inning chances. J-Hay walked, moved to second on a grounder and then was tossed out trying to steal third. The Brewers had two on via the knock and walk route with an out, but a DP closed out the frame. The Pirates returned the favor in the seventh; a walk and error set up Jordy with one away; he banged into a 5-3 DP. With two outs and two on, Shaw was up again. Time for a new pitcher? Nah. Bad decision by Clint; Nova was at 106 pitches and was already twice-trumped by Travis, who tore the first pitch off the top of the LF wall. One run scored and Domingo Santana, rounding the bases a bit on the leisurely side (he apparently thought it was a homer) was cut down at home. He wasn't the only Brewer who thought the ball was gone, but the manager's challenge of the call was reviewed and the play upheld.

In the eighth, Fraze singled and went to second on a wild pitch. With two away, Gregory's ball past first was deflected into shallow right field, where 2B Eric Sogard ran it down and made a strong throw home to nail Adam at the plate, and that was that the last hurrah. Jhan Marinez tossed a clean eighth and Corey Knebel did the same in the ninth. A series that started off so well ended up a disappointing split.

Jhan Marinez has been a pleasant pick-me-up so far (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Both side had opportunities knock; DPs and happy feet frustrated both clubs. And while Clint's bullpen use could be defended yesterday, keeping Nova in to pitch to Shaw in the seventh today is harder to swallow, even with Nova leading off the next inning. Shaw has a big lefty-righty split (.227-.313) and if Felipe is the only southpaw reliever the ol' skipper trusts, it's time to find a match-up guy for the pen.

  • Gregory had two knocks and Cutch two walks today while Jordy's 11-game hitting streak went by the boards. Pittsburgh only mustered four hits during the match today.
  • Don't sleep on Brewer closer Corey Knebel, who just set the MLB record for relievers with his 38th consecutive game with a strikeout (he got J-Bell swinging) to start a season, passing Aroldis Chapman.
  • Austin Meadows was placed on the minor-league DL with a right hamstring strain. Gift Ngoepe joined him on the DL with a left hamstring strain.
  • Jim Callis of MLB.com reports that Tennessee second rounder HS RHP Steven Jennings reached agreement with the Pirates for $1.9M (slot  $1,635,500). Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, the Pirates signed 19th round draft pick Jake Webb, prep RHP from Kansas who had a commitment to Kansas State.
  • LHP Tyler Webb, the Rule 5 pick from New York who was returned to the Yankees in the spring, has been called up by the Bronx Bombers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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