Friday, July 21, 2017

7/21 TRS/PNC Park Era: HBD Kimera, #11 Retired, Cobra Cover, Willie's Last Long Fly, Splashdown Stairs & More

  • 1972 - Coach Kimera Bartee was born in Omaha. After a six-year pro career as an outfielder, mostly with Detroit, Bartee was hired as the Bucs’ roving minor league outfield & base-running coordinator in 2008 with a 2011 stint as short-season State College’s skipper. In the 2016 off-season, he was promoted to the Pirates as the outfield/baserunning coach. 
Kimera Bartee 2017 (photo Mark Carlson/Getty)
  • 1979 - Dave Parker was a cover boy of The Sporting News in the magazine’s All-Star issue along with George Brett, Fred Lynn & Pete Rose. The Cobra showcased his powerful arm by throwing out Jim Rice at third base and Brian Downing at home. At the dish, Parker added an RBI on a sac fly and was named the game's MVP. 
  • 1982 - Willie Stargell hit his final bomb, a club record 475th home run, against the Reds’ Tom Hume. It was an eighth inning, game-winning, pinch-hit solo shot in a 3-2 victory at Riverfront Stadium to give Larry McWilliams the win, backed by a two-inning save by Kent Tekulve. 
  • 1997 - The Pirate “Freak Show” stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Curt Schilling and The Phillies at Veteran’s Stadium. Philadelphia jumped ahead 2-0 on Esteban Loaiza, but Al Martin’s homer off a hanging forkball in the sixth tied it. Keith Osik led off the next frame with a double and went to third on a grounder, but a suicide squeeze attempt by Kevin Polcovich fizzled and Osik was caught at home. Kevin made amends, working the count full and then yanking a heater over the fence in left. Matt Reubel, Marc Wilkins and Rich Loiselle closed the door after that, and despite striking out 17 times, the Bucs remained in the race. 
Kevin Polcovich 1998 Pacific
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs became the first player to hit two home runs into the Allegheny River (on the bounce) with a splashdown during a 5-3 win over Houston. He hit his first river ball while playing for the Cubs two years before. Josh Fogg got the win with plenty of bullpen help; the last of three relievers, Mike Lincoln, got the save. 
  • 2007 - The Pirates retired Paul "Big Poison" Waner's #11 in a ceremony before their game vs. the Astros on the anniversary of his 1952 Hall of Fame induction. Waner was the first NL player since Honus Wagner, 28 years before, and the seventh batter in history to reach 3,000 knocks. (He got #3,000 against his old teammate Rip Sewell on June 19th, 1942, as a Boston Brave.) The team had a video presentation, the family on the field, and rolled his #11 into the outfield grass for the contest. The Bucs celebrated by ending a seven game losing streak, toppling Houston 7-3, although they reverted to form and lost seven of the next eight contests.
  • 2008 - The Bucs ended a six-loss-in-seven-games streak with a 9-3 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park. Freddy Sanchez had three hits, including a homer, and four RBI. Jason Bay went 4-for-5 with a homer, Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady had three hits and Adam LaRoche chipped in with a home run. It wasn’t an easy win despite the final score; the game didn’t become a laugher until the Bucs piled up seven ninth-inning runs to make Tyler Yates a winner. 
Freddy Sanchez 2008 Topps Heritage
  • 2013 - The Pirates snapped a three game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Reds at GABP. Jeff Locke gave up one hit over six, but allowed a run on back-to-back walks, a bunt, and a two-out wild pitch. Mark Melancon surrendered the other score, giving up a ground ball single sandwiched around a pair of walks with no outs, but gladly gave up the tally in exchange for a Joey Votto DP ball. The Pirates staff only yielded three hits to Cincinnati, but seven walks gave the Reds plenty of baserunners. The Buccos scored on a Garrett Jones solo homer and RBI knocks by Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata.

7/21 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Young Cy & Dick, Satch & Josh, Lynch Shot, Fordham Flash HoF, Game Stories

  • 1877 - LHP Irv “Young Cy” Young was born in Columbia Falls, Maine. Irv worked on the railroad and played amateur ball; he didn’t join a pro team until he was 27 and was good enough to be in the majors the following year. He was a star pitcher for a terrible team, the Boston Beaneaters, and the Pirates had interest in him even then; they offered to buy him in September of his 1905 rookie campaign for $7,500 but were turned down. Irv returned to earth and in 1908 he was traded to the Pirates for pitchers Tom McCarthy and Harley Young. In 16 games for the Bucs, Young was 4-3-1, 2.01. Sadly for Young, the 1909 Bucs were loaded with pitchers - their top six starters were Vic Willis, Howie Camnitz, Nick Maddux, Lefty Leifield, Babe Adams & Deacon Phillippe - and despite Irv’s strong showing, he was on the outside looking in. Young Cy returned with the White Sox in 1910 and pitched well, but after the following season, his age 34 campaign, he was done. Fun fact: in 1905, Irv went 20-21 for the Boston Beaneaters to become one of two pitchers in modern (post–1900) era to win 20 games for a team that lost 100 games (51-103), and also had the most wins for a pitcher with an overall losing record.
Rabbit Maranville 1922 E120 American Caramel
  • 1923 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from Boston at Braves Field 14-4 and 6-4. In the first game, Pie Traynor (who homered), Rabbit Maranville and Carson Bigbee each had three hits and combined for seven RBI/six runs to back Johnny Morrison’s complete game effort. Wilbur Cooper took the nitecap, not only going the distance but adding a pair of hits, including a triple, and three RBI to aid the cause. Traynor, Maranville and C Walter Schmidt had two knocks each, scoring five times. 
  • 1927 - IF Dick Smith was born in Blandburg, Cambria County. The Bucs signed him out of Lock Haven, and from 1951-55 he yo-yoed back and forth between Pittsburgh and the minors. In 70 games over that span, he hit .134. 
  • 1932 - The Pirates tied the Chicago Cubs in the seventh on a Dave Barbee triple and Gus Suhr sac fly, then with the bases empty and two outs in the ninth rallied for a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Pie Traynor singled and came all the way around in the final frame when Lloyd Waner, who had entered the game in the eighth inning, took the next pitch to left center to plate Pie with a walk-off double. Ray Kremer tossed a complete game seven hitter for the win over Jumbo Elliott. Little Poison’s pinch knock kept alive a 22-game hitting streak, and gave him hits in 31-of-32 games. 
Lloyd Waner 1932 American Caramel
  • 1942 - At Forbes Field‚ KC Monarchs pitcher Satchel Paige walked the bases loaded to face the Homestead Gray’s legendary basher Josh Gibson. Years earlier‚ Paige had told Gibson that one day he would strike him out with the bases loaded, and the showman decided now was the time. "Three fastballs‚ Josh‚" Paige said‚ and then blew three past him. Later that year, Paige won three Negro League World Series games against Homestead to lead KC to the title. 
  • 1947 - Frankie “The Fordham Flash” Frisch was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Though he never played for the Bucs, he managed the club from 1940-46. His teams were usually competitive but never serious contenders, and Frisch's years with the Pirates were remembered more for his on-field antics and umpire-baiting than victories. 
  • 1956 - Brooks Lawrence had his 13-game winning streak snapped by Roberto Clemente, who hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth as the Pirates edged the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3, at Crosley Field. Elroy Face, who tossed two scoreless innings, won in relief of Bob Friend. 
  • 1960 - The eventual World Champs chalked up a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at the LA Coliseum. Vern Law, who would win the 1960 Cy Young Award, tossed a complete game, surrendering five hits to defeat Johnny Podres. Hal Smith hit a pair of solo home runs and Roberto Clemente knocked in the other two RBI in the victory. 
Jim Marshall (photo via Sports Memorabilia)
  • 1962 - Jim Marshall came off the bench in the 11th frame and delivered a bases-loaded single to vault the Pirates past his former club, the San Francisco Giants, by a 7-6 score at Forbes Field. Don Hoak led the attack with three hits, including a triple, and three RBI. Roberto Clemente ran his hitting streak to 18 games before the Giants snapped his string the next day. 
  • 1963 - Pinch hitter Jerry Lynch drilled a three-run home run off Chicago's Lindy McDaniel in the ninth inning to tie the Cubs 5-5 at Forbes Field. Lynch’s homer was his 14th career round-tripper off the bench, tying the MLB mark set by former Cincinnati teammate, George Crowe. The Bucs eventually won the contest in 14 innings, 6-5, on Bill Virdon’s two-out infield single to salvage a doubleheader split. The Pirates had 22 hits during the game, but stranded 15 runners. Roberto Clemente hit into a 3-6 triple play in the second frame, lining out to first baseman Merritt Ranew, who stepped on first to force Manny Mota and then threw to second to retire Ducky Schofield, giving an early indication of what kind of grind-it-out contest was on tap for the Bucs

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Broo-Mance Bucs Sweep Brew Crew 4-2

Jamo gave up a leadoff two-bagger but as usual worked around the damage. Jimmy Nelson tossed a clean frame. The Brew Crew got a two-out rap in the second to go with three fan jobs; JT's hook is off to a good start. Fraze collected the Bucs' first knock with two gone and stole second after a successful Clint challenge (Adam used yhe ol' watusi move to duck the tag). Mad Max walked and the action paid off with a run after Stew lobbed a slider into right. Jamo whiffed another pair in the third before a single and fly closed it out while Pittsburgh was quiet in their half. The Brew Crew came back in the fourth thx to some small ball - a leadoff walk and infield single (Max doesn't have Jordy's glove) scored after a Brett Phillips double and another grounder. Nelson struck out three Bucco batters but Gregory apparently didn't get his memo and lined one 420' over the CF wall in between to tie the game.

Jamo - eight K but a lot of pitches today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

After a 1-2-3 Brew Crew fifth, the Bucs went back to work. Stew singled, was bunted up and scored on J-Hay's two-out knock, with Josh going to second on the throw home. That was big as Cutch followed with a dying quail to right to put the Pirates up 4-2. The Brewers were game, and a one-out double chased Jamo after 116 pitches (he K'ed eight and walked two, keeping the pitch calculator spinning). Wade LeBlanc issued a two-out walk but put another zippo on the board in the sixth. Oliver Drake stepped on the rubber and twirled a quiet inning.
Huddy took the hill in the seventh and gave up a leadoff knock. That was erased on a caught stealing, upheld by review, and made a later walk a non-starter. Michael Blazek gripped the horsehide and had a calm frame thx largely to a Bucco GIDP.

Juan Nicasio was on the slope for the eighth. He gave up knocks sandwiched around an out, but a Brewer DP (turned by the pups: Frazier-to-Moroff-to-Bell) doused that threat. J-Bell singled but the Pirates couldn't add to the pad. No need; Felipe Rivero faced three batters, got three grounders and notched the save.

Stew! (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Well, break out the brooms. And hey, your Pirates are .500. The Bucs and Cubbies are en fuego right now; the Pirates are two games behind Chi-town and three down in the loss column. (They're three games behind the Brew Crew, but just two back in the loss column). Obviously, they're not gonna play .850 ball through the remaining months, but they sure have made it interesting again.


  • The only Buc to reach base safely more than once today was Stew, who went 3-for-3, scored, drove in a run and threw out a runner.
  • Jamo's 116 pitches today is his personal high with the Pirates.
  • Pittsburgh's won five straight, their longest streak of the year. The gang is on an 11-2 roll.
  • For those looking at the wild-card, the Pirates are 7-1/2 games out of the second spot, which belongs to their next opponent, the Colorado Rockies. The Cubs and the Bucs are third & fourth in that race.
  • 33,493 attended today's game.

Thursday: Afternoon Delight - Milwaukee v Pittsburgh, Jamo v Jimmy Nelson, Lineup, Notes As Bucs Look For Sweep

Today: The getaway day matinee begins at 12:35. It will be carried by AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan. If you are debating taking junior to the game, kids 14-and-under will get a Bucco velcro paddle ball set.

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Bell 3B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, Greg Polanco RF, Adam Frazier 2B, Max Moroff SS, Chris Stewart C & Jameson Taillon P. The getaway day lineup sits Cervy (day after night game) and Jordy, who is one of four Pirates with 90+ games under his belt (J-Bell 94, Cutch 92, J-Hay 91). The Bucs have played 95 contests.

Jamo toes the slab today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (5-3, 3.06) ends the set against Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.27). JT had a rough outing last time out, allowing four runs in five innings during a 4-0 loss to St. Louis’ on Saturday. He's gone 3-2/2.78 since returning from disabled list so he was due for a clunker. His xFIP is 3.56, so he may be due to regress a bit, but his BABIP is .337, so he's also due for a little more luck with oppo hits. Hopefully it will all balance out. Jamo is 0-2/3.86 ERA in four starts against the Brew Crew, all in 2016, so it's a tabula rosa for this season. Nelson has been more than solid for Milwaukee. He's made a team-leading 11 quality starts and is 7-2/2.59 over his last 14 outings. Jimmy got a no-decision in a 4-0 Bucco win back in May, but worked three shutout innings in a game that had a long rain delay. He's seen Pittsburgh plenty, going 5-3/3.34 in 11 career starts v the Pirates.

  • Cervy has reached base safely five straight times (four hits & a walk).
  • Max Moroff is the second Pirates rookie with a game-ending hit this season, joining Josh Bell. The last time Pittsburgh had multiple rookies with walk-off hits in the same season was in 2009, when Garrett Jones and Cutch had two apiece. It was Mad Max's first walk-off hit in the show.
  • Freeser had his first multi-hit game since June 19th last night.
  • Pittsburgh has one four games in a row; that's as long of a winning streak as they've had this year.
  • If the Pirates win and reach .500 (they're 47-48 going into today), it will be the first time they've hit even-steven since April 16th (6-6). The club hasn't had a winning record since April 9th (3-2) and were nine games under .500 on July 3rd. They've won 10-of-12 since then.
  • Following the game today, the Pirates depart on a nine-game, 10-day road trip to Colorado, San Francisco and San Diego. They won't be back in town until August 1st.
  • JJ Cooper of Baseball America has a list of the Pirates Top Ten Prospects. Guess what? Austin Meadows isn't first.

7/20 TRS/PNC Park Era: Big Starts, Hyzdu Has A Day, Williams Deal, Willie Stamp, Streak Snapped, Sweep, USA!

  • 1973 - The Bucs tied the first game of a twinbill against San Diego in the eighth and went on to win 5-4 in 10 innings at TRS. Rennie Stennett went 4-for-5 with a walk-off homer in the extra frame. The Pirates had an easier time with the Padres in the second game, winning 7-0. Stennett had three more hits, including another homer, and Jim Rooker tossed a six hit complete game whitewash with eight whiffs. 
Lee Lacy 1981 Fleer
  • 1980 - After scoring four times in the first, the Pirates had to plate a pair in the bottom of the ninth to salvage an 8-7 split against the Dodgers at TRS. Lee Lacy was 5-for-5 and a homer away from the cycle, while Bill Robinson homered and Ed Ott had the walk-off, bases loaded single to earn Grant Jackson the win. Pittsburgh lost the opener 4-2 as LA’s Burt Hooton and Steve Howe kept the Bucco bats under control. The double dipper was a big to-do in other ways, too. It was Willie Stargell Day with a ceremony between games, and was also the day that Dave Parker, fresh off the first $1 M/year contract in sports, was pelted with a Duracell battery while in the outfield. 
  • 1996 - In the opening game at the Olympics in Atlanta, the US team topped Nicaragua 4-1 behind future Pirate pitcher Kris Benson’s seven hitter. Benson was 2-1 during the games as the US finished by winning the bronze medal. 
  • 2002 - OF Adam Hyzdu had a day to tell his grandkids about at PNC Park. He drove in seven runs on four hits‚ including a pair of HR, in a 15-6 pasting of the first-place St. Louis Cards. Hyzdu became the first Buc since Don Slaught nine years earlier with seven RBI, and the crowd of 35,101 called him out of the dugout after his second blast. The performance came on top of a four-RBI game the day before. It was the Pirates eighth win in ten games, attracting a walkup sale of 7,650, and Kris Benson’s third straight victory.
Mike Williams 2003 Topps Heritage
  • 2003 - The Mike Williams era ended in Pittsburgh when he was sent to the Phils for LHP Frank Brooks, who had a cup of coffee in the show. Williams, a righty closer, went from setting the Pirate saves record in 2002 with 46 close-outs and back-to-back All Star appearances to a guy with 25 saves but a 6.27 ERA in 2003, which was his last MLB season. Williams saved 140 games in six seasons for Pittsburgh. 
  • 2009 - The Bucs finally broke a 17-game losing streak to the Brewers with an 8-5 victory at PNC Park. Cutch had three hits and Delwyn Young tacked on three RBI with a homer. Jesse Chavez had the fans on the edge of their seats by giving up three runs in the ninth, but struck out Prince Fielder to ice the win. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates scored nine runs in the first inning during their 11-9 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park. The scoring in the opening frame was highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam, one of two Alvarez long balls smacked during the game. El Toro finished with five RBI and Neil Walker went 5-for-5 with a double against Milwaukee. They needed the quick start as the Brewers cut the lead to 10-9 by the sixth, but were blanked on two hits in the final three frames by Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel. 
Pedro Alvarez 2010 Topps
  • 2012 - The US Postal Service issued a set of four commemorative stamps depicting Willie Stargell along with Ted Williams, Larry Doby and Joe DiMaggio. The release was held in Cooperstown as part of the Hall's annual induction week-end.

7/20 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Rough & Tumble Games, HBD Heinie & John, Joe's Gem, Rally Time, Big Boppin'

  • 1894 - Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 7-6 in 10 innings when George "Germany" Smith‚ homered with two outs. Pirate OF Elmer Smith was prevented from retrieving the game-winning hit in the LF bleachers‚ as permitted per Cincinnati’s League Park ground rules‚ by zealous Reds fans. One of them pulled a revolver on Smith after he fought with several other spectators in an attempt to reach the ball, per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology. The Pittsburg Press wrote diplomatically that he "drove one into the seats." Quite a finish to the NL’s first extra-inning game of the year.
Heinie Manush 1940 Play Ball
  • 1901 - Hall of Fame LF Heinie Manush was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Manush spent the last two years of his career (1938-39) in Pittsburgh as a pinch hitter, getting just 28 PA (four hits, three walks) before being released, ironically enough for another future HoF’er, Chuck Klein. He was a .330 hitter during his 17 year career with 1183 RBI and 1287 runs scored. 
  • 1905 - Club baseball was serious biz (especially for the man in blue) back in the day, like the big rivalry game between the local nines of the Western Union and the Postal Telegragh Co, played at Bedford Park in the Hill District. The Pittsburg Press description: “The rival managers had bowed gravely to each other as befitted the leaders on baseball gladiators. The umpire had made his will and left it with his was time to play. There was some terrible slugging (and) thus the battle went on until the 11th inning…” Then a couple of spectators got into a brawl, the ballplayers intervened, and a riot ensued as bricks flew (“The women screamed and fled”) until police calmed things down. The game was called a draw, and the Press reported that “...the umpire has sent word to the managers of the two clubs that if there is another game to be played, he wants time to take out an accident insurance policy and get it mentioned in his will.” 
  • 1946 - RHP John Lamb was born in Sharon, Connecticut. John came from a Northeast prep powerhouse, Housatonic Valley HS, which produced several players including the Pirates Steve Blass (John was his brother-in-law) and Tom Parsons; Pittsburgh had a bit of an edge as their coach, Ed Kirby, was also a part-time Buc scout. He was signed out of high school in 1964 and debuted in 1970, working parts of three seasons (1970-71, 1973) with a slash of 0-2-5/4.07. It’s hard to tell where his career may have gone if he hadn’t suffered a brutal camp accident - in 1971, he broke his skull when a Dave Cash liner found him during spring training. 
John Lamb (photo Pirate promo)
  • 1950 - The Philadelphia Phillies banged out a double, triple, and three homers on their way to eight runs; the Bucs answered with six two-baggers and a long ball of their own to outlast the Brotherly Love gang by a 10-8 score at Forbes Field. Six Pirates had multi-hit games, with three collecting a trio of knocks (Ted Beard, Gus Bell and Danny O’Connell) while Ralph Kiner went long and doubled with Stan Rojek and Johnny Hopp joining the two-hit parade. Murry Dickson, who followed Cliff Chambers and Vern Law, tossed the final 2-⅔ frames scorelessly to get the win while the Phils used five hurlers, with the Buccos scoring off four of them. 
  • 1955 - The bench to the rescue: the Bucs were down 3-0 in the seventh when pinch hitter Preston Ward smacked a three run dinger off the Milwaukee Brave’s Ray Crone at Forbes Field. Another PH, Jack Shepard, singled off Dave Jolly with the bases loaded in the ninth to earn the Pirates and Dick Littlefield a 4-3 comeback win. 
  • 1961 - Joe Gibbon tossed a four-hitter with nine whiffs as the Bucs beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 at Forbes Field. The big blow was Bill Mazeroski’s two run single in the fourth. The Bucs had lost three games prior to the win, and would drop six more afterward.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Buc Bats Wake Up Just In Time For 3-2, 10 Inning Win Over Brewers

Gerrit Cole didn't have a miserable first frame but still surrendered a run. He gave up a ground ball double to open and the runner took third when Cervy's pick-off throw was off the mark. J-Hay tried for a grab-and sweep instead of going to the ball and missed. A single off Josh's mitt made it 1-0. Another grounder made it through before Cole stopped the music. Starling and Harrison led off with back-to-back knocks off Zach Davies. A poor throw allowed Marte to reach third and he plated on Cutch's sac fly. Cole breezed through the second. Cervy walked with and out and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Jordy. The Bucs tried a squeeze with Gerrit up, costing them Amore at home. The play was executed fairly well but thwarted by a better play by Davies. The Brew Crew banged a two-out single for their third inning action. J-Hay opened with a rap. A whiff and GIDP put a quick stop to the frame.

Gerrit had his ace stuff going tonight with 10 K (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Milwaukee fourth added another harmless knock to the tote board. Freeser opened with a single and Amore added another an out later. The Bucs had the runners going on a 3-2 pitch to Jordy; he fanned and Freeser was thrown out at third, the call upheld after a challenge; it was bang-bang. Milwaukee got its mandatory single in the fifth; Freeser's glove work prevented another rap. There was nada from the Pirates. Three grounders, three outs for the Brew Crew in the sixth. Freeser banged a two-out rap, but Gregory grounded out on ball four. It was a 1-2-3 seventh for Cole Train. Cervy opened with a knock, Jordy grounded into a DP; it hasn't been one of his better days. J-Bell K'ed looking. Juan Nicasio got the eighth inning call and gave up a homer on his second pitch to Domingo Santana. He then settled in, getting a soft grounder sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts. Jacob Barnes claimed the slab and twirled a clean frame.

AJ Schugel answered the phone for the ninth. A walk to Keon Broxton with two outs was followed by a single that sent him to third, but he went too wide and was run down 9-5-3-2. Corey Knebel came on and his first pitch was sent to the fence in center by JJ, but Broxton made amends with a leaping catch that may be a game-saver. Freeser walked and Mad Max ran for him. Gregory's single sent him to third. Cervy's lob into right dropped to tie it. Jordy continued his icy night with an infield fly, leaving it up to Fraze. Knebel won, getting him to fly out to left to set up some bonus baseball. Tony Watson got the 10th inning nod. J-Hay made a swell bare-handed play to open the frame and then Tony punched out the next two. Jared Hughes came in and gave up a fence-hopping one-out double to J-Hay and an intentional walk to Cutch. JJ's fly to center was deep enough to tag Josh to third, and Andrew took second a couple of pitches later. Mad Max then became the hero of the day, sending a dink into center to walk it off.

Fran kept it alive in the ninth (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Big win; this is the one they had to have with their #1 going against a Brew Crew back-ender. Davies pitched well enough, but the Bucs weren't very disciplined against the soft tosser; it seems like they tightened the hatches once the Brewer big boys climbed the hill. Great Pirates pitching tonight, and Jamo will have the task of completing the sweep against a tough cookie, Jimmy Nelson, tomorrow.

  • Amore had three hits and a walk; J-Hay is breaking out with a three spot of his own. Freeser added two knocks and a walk'.
  • Gerrit's 10 K's are not only his season high, but the first time a Pirates pitcher has tossed for double-digit whiffs thus season. They had been one of two MLB teams without a 10+K day, along with Seattle.
  • Huddy was off tonight after working three straight outings while Felipe is on standby (save situation only; so much for Clint and leverage) after tossing 35 pitches the last two nights. The Brewers sat Ryan Braun who has a couple of nagging aches; he was available to pinch hit.
  • Corey Knebel's MLB-record streak of 45 games with a K since the season started ended tonight.
  • There were 24,401 in the yard tonight, another pretty teensy crowd for a club that's suddenly afire.
  • SS Kevin Newman (.262) was promoted to Indy; he was replaced in Altoona by SS Cole Tucker (.289 - Bradenton).
  • Adam Bittner of the Post Gazette has been eyeballing some numbers, and the TV ratings stick out - they've dropped over 20% in both 2016 and '17, not a very good omen with a new television deal to be struck in 2019.

Wednesday: Cole Train v Zach Davies, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game begins at 7:05 and will be on AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Jose Osuna 1B, David Freese 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P. J-Bell gets a day off; he's only sat down once this season for an entire game.

All aboard the Cole Train (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.35) is on the bump against Zach Davies (11-4, 5.08). Gerrit will be making his 20th start of the season tonight. He's gone 4-1/3.38 over his last six starts and has already matched his win and strikeout total from last year (seven wins and 98 punchouts). The righty is 3-3/3.16  in nine career starts against the Brew Crew. He's been sharp against them this season, slashing 1-0/1.23 ERA in two starts and giving up just two runs in 15 IP. Davies record shows the absurdity of wins. He's backed by nearly 6.5 runs per game from his lineup, the second-highest total in baseball. In two starts vs. the Pirates this year, Davies is 1-1/7.59. He pitched well in May, winning 6-2 and then was run off the mound in a 7-3 June whipping.

  • Yahoo Brew Crew: Amore has hit safely in all five games that he's played against Milwaukee this season (8-for-19, .421) and in seven of his last eight against the Brewers dating back to last season (11-for-29, .379).
  • It's JJ's turn to swing a cold bat - he's in an 0-for-18 slump.
  • Pittsburgh has won three straight games, six of their last seven and nine of their last 11. The Buccos have won three straight series and have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven

7/19 TRS/PNC Era: Rafe Goes Streaking, Hyzdu's Day, Brett Gem, ASG, 8 In A Row, Rally Time

  • 1974 - Ken Brett worked 8-⅓ frames while leading the Pirates to a 2-0 shutout against the Braves at Atlanta Stadium. The Pirates scored first in the fifth inning when Frank Taveras led off with a triple and scored on Brett’s sacrifice fly, adding an insurance marker in the ninth on Bob Robertson’s two-out double that plated Ed Kirkpatrick. The five-hit win upped Brett’s record to 12-6 as Dave Guisti picked up his fifth save. 
Ken Brett 1974 Topps
  • 1977 - The NL outslugged the AL 7-5 at Yankee Stadium during the All Star game. Dave Parker went 1-for-3, while Bucco closer Goose Gossage made it interesting by giving up a two-run homer in the ninth. John Candelaria was also on the squad, but didn’t see any action. 
  • 1983 - The Pirates won their eighth in a row in workmanlike fashion over the Dodgers 4-1 at TRS. Brian Harper went 2-for-3 with a homer to lead the attack while John Candelaria notched the win with relief help from Rod Scurry. The streak ended later that night when Alejandro Pena and the LA bullpen edged the Bucs in 11 innings 3-2 in the nitecap of a twi-light twin bill.
  • 1988 - Rafael Belliard enjoyed the last day of an eight game hitting streak that started on July 8th. In true Raffy style, his first eight hits were infield singles. He went 13-for-31 during that span, with two ground ball knocks, a bloop, a liner, and his only extra base hit, a triple following his eight leg hits. It didn’t help a whole lot; he still hit just .213 during the season. The Bucs split a doubleheader with San Diego, and Raffy’s string ended in the second game. 
  • 2001 - The Pirates overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the sixth and seventh innings to end a five game losing streak by defeating the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at PNC Park. The key blow was a two out, two run single by Aramis Ramirez off a 1-2 pitch from Julian Taveras. It came with the bases loaded in the sixth following an intentional walk to John Vander Wal. 
Adam Hyzdu 2003 Fleer Tradition
  • 2002 - Adam Hyzdu went 3-for-5 with a homer, four RBI and three runs to lead the Bucs to a 12-9 slugfest win over St. Louis at PNC Park. After the Cards tied the game with five runs in the seventh, Rob Mackowiak put Pittsburgh back in control by countering with a two run pinch hit homer in the Pirate half. 
  • 2011 - The Bucs shut out the Reds for the second straight game, beating Mike Leake 1-0 at PNC Park to claim sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the last time. James McDonald, with help from Joe Beimel, Chris Resop and Joel Hanrahan, got the win when a soft roller to short by Cutch in the first inning cashed in Josh Harrison, on third after a Neil Walker double. 
  • 2014 - It took 11 innings, but the Bucs finally topped the Colorado Rockies 3-2 at PNC Park on Jordy Mercer’s walk-off double. Charlie Morton and Brett Anderson were hooked up in a duel, both lasting seven innings with the Rox up 2-1. The Bucs tied it in the eighth when Gaby Sanchez’s double plated Neil Walker and the bullpen took over. Ernesto Frieri, Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson and Jared Hughes needed just 33 pitches to cover the last four frames. Hughes got the win, but had the baseball gods on his side when with runners on the corners, a bullet back to the box stuck in his mitt and he turned it into an inning-ending DP.

7/19 Forbes Field Era: Law Gem, Vaughan Cycle, McKiney Out, Duke Joins Up, HBD Nick & Vincente

  • 1935 - C Nick Koback was born in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1953, at the age of 17, Koback signed with Pittsburgh as a bonus baby out of Hartford HS. He made his MLB debut before playing in the minors and as you might imagine, he wasn’t quite ready for showtime. He got some quick sips of coffee with the Bucs from 1953-55 and went 4-for-33 (.121). It was his only big league time; most of his career was spent in the minors and Mexico. He earned a reputation of a good hitter - of Titleists, not baseballs (his minor league lifetime BA was .243), and he became a golf pro after he left baseball. 
  • 1939 - Arky Vaughan went 5-for-5 and hit for his second career cycle against the Giants at the Polo Grounds, scoring four times and driving home a pair of runs. Fern Bell added three RBI in the 10-3 Pirate win. Mace Brown went the distance for the victory, supported by a hearty 19 hit Bucco attack. 
  • 1950 - Frank E. McKinney resigned as president of the Pirates. He sold his interests in the club to partners John Galbreath and Tom Johnson‚ with Galbreath assuming the presidency. Vice President Bing Crosby retained his minority interest. McKinney and the group had bought the Bucs in 1946 from Barney Dreyfuss’ family. 
  • 1950 - The Pirates purchased 3B Bob “Duke” Dillinger from the Philadelphia Athletics for $35,000. The 31-year-old slap-hitter played 70 games from 1950-51 for the Bucs, batting .279. An All-Star (1949) and league hits leader (1948) for the SL Browns, Bob had also claimed the AL stolen base crown from 1947-49, but his wheels were wearing thin and he only swiped six sacks as a Bucco. The Pirates sold him to the White Sox in 1951, and that was his last hurrah after six MLB seasons. Two things conspired against Dillinger - he got to the show late, spending three years in the service, and toward the end he developed an early case of “Steve Sax” disease, often finding himself unable to make the throw across the infield. He spent his final four years in the PCL before becoming an inspector for Los Angeles. 
Vern Law 1955 Bowman
  • 1955 - Vern Law pitched 18 innings against the Milwaukee Braves in front of 10,000 Forbes Field fans. And he didn’t even get the win; Bob Friend worked the 19th frame of the 4-3 victory. Law left giving up two runs - one was unearned - on nine hits with two walks and 12 whiffs. Friend came in and gave up a score, but the Bucs came back with a pair of tallies on Gene Freese’s single, Dale Long’s double that plated Freese and the game winning knock by Frank Thomas. Law took the hill on just two days rest; he got the start when the scheduled hurler, Joe Gibbon, became ill. 
  • 1963 - RHP Vincente Palacios was born in Manlio Fabio Altamirano, Mexico. He tossed five years (1987-88, 1990-92) for the Bucs as a spot starter and long man as a member of the powerhouse 1990-92 teams of Jimmy Leyland. Palacios went 12-8-6/4.03 during his time in Pittsburgh. His career was hampered by a pair of shoulder surgeries, and after his Pirate days he yo-yo’ed between MLB and primarily the Mexican League.

7/19 Expo Park Era: HBD Bill, Jim, Jasper, Clint & Earl; Honus Debut; Game Stories

  • 1865 - RHP Bill Hart was born in Louisville. He played for Pittsburgh in 1895 and again in 1898, going 19-26/4.77. He also played some OF during his eight-year career, but was strictly a hurler for the Bucs. Bill hit .237, marking him as journeyman both on the rubber and at the dish. Hart was twice traded by the Pirates and landed a pair of very good players, IF Bones Ely in 1896 and then OF Ginger Beaumont after the ‘98 campaign, making him the tap root of a solid trade tree. 
  • 1865 - 3B Jim Donnelly was born in New Haven, Connecticut. The son of immigrants, Jim played pro ball at some level from the time he was 18 in 1884 until 1902 when he was 36. He spent parts of 11 seasons in the show, split into two eras: 1884-91, when he was a regular for a while, and then after a run in the minors, he returned as purely a bench guy from 1896-98. Jim spent part of that second stay with the Pirates in 1897, hitting just .193 before being shipped to the NY Giants in mid-season. He arrived in town with Steve Brodie from Baltimore as the O’s return for the Jake Stenzel trade. Neither Donnelly and Brodie made it to 1898 with the Bucs while Stenzel played on for three more seasons, batting .309 over that span. 
  • 1873 - OF/1B Harry “Jasper” Davis was born in Philadelphia. Jasper played early in his 22 year MLB stint for the Bucs, from 1896-98, and hit .278. His long career, mainly with his hometown Philadelphia A’s, had one break - in 1900, he quit baseball after five years to take a RR job. Obviously the call of the rails failed to lure him; he returned to baseball a year later and played for 17 more years. Fun fact: Jasper had a four year string of leading MLB in long balls from 1904-07, yet hit just 75 homers between 1895-1917. He never had more than 12 in a single season, and in fact finished with double-figure dingers only twice. His nickname dates back to his Girard College days, given to him by his schoolmates for reasons unknown. 
  • 1887 - Honus Wagner made his NL debut with the Louisville Colonels, owned by Barney Dreyfuss. He got a hit and stole a base in a 12-2 win over the Brooklyn Grays. In 1900, Dreyfuss bought the Pittsburgh franchise and maneuvered most of the Louisville club onto the roster, including the Flying Dutchman. 
Honus Wagner 1898 Ultimate
  • 1889 - RHP Francis Clinton “Clint” Rogge was born in Memphis, Michigan. The long-time minor league twirler (he beat the bushes from 1909-23) got his first big league (albeit in the Federal League) taste during the 1915 campaign when he was part of the Pittsburgh Rebels’ rotation. He held up fairly well against FL batters, slashing 17-11/2.55 with 31 starts and 254-1/3 IP. After that year, he started a long run with the Indianapolis Indians of the now minor-league American Association, getting one brief return to the show in 1921 with the Reds. 
  • 1891 - LHP Earl Hamilton was born in Gibson, Illinois. The little southpaw spent six of his 14 big league seasons (1918-23) as a Pirate, putting up a line of 55-55/3.35. He won 115 MLB games overall, tossing for four clubs. Earl had a couple moments in the sun - he spun a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns in 1912 and went 16 scoreless frames for the Bucs in a 1920 start only to run out of gas and lose in the 17th. 
  • 1893 - From Charlton’s Baseball Chronology: “Pittsburgh used 19 hits –all singles– to win in Cleveland 10-6. Pittsburgh was further aided by the defense of LF Elmer Smith, whose use of green glasses to fend off the sun greatly helped him in his fielding.” It was a noteworthy win in that the game may be the first time that an outfielder donned shades. 
Elmer "Mike" Smith (photo via Uniondale Cemetery)
  • 1904 - The Pirates rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth off Giants ace Christy Mathewson to take a 2-1 victory at the Polo Grounds. Shut out on five hits going into the final frame, Honus Wagner tripled to left, and an out later Jimmy Sebring banged out another three-bagger, rapping a shot off the first base bag that rolled into the corner. Pinch hitter Claude Ritchey followed with a RBI knock, and Mike Lynch made it stand up in the bottom half, tossing a complete game four hitter against NY. After the game, manager John “Mugsy” McGraw and Mathewson got into a jawing match with the crowd, a verbal (and profane) sparring session that lasted until they got back to their hotel. The Pittsburg Press had a couple of juicy lines regarding the affair: “McGraw is not liked here...Some day he will carry things too far, and some husky Pittsburger will thump him” and then threw some shade at Christy: “ Matty... has to buy a cap a size larger after every victory…” 
  • 1905 - Pittsburgh pulled to within five games of New York by overcoming a 5-2 deficit at the Polo Grounds to rally past the Giants, 8-5. It was Pittsburgh’s third straight win against the defending champions. Umpire Bill Klem was the target of a barrage of tossed garbage from the New York fans after ejecting Dan McGann and “Turkey Mike” Donlin from the game. They yapped their way into Klem’s bad graces as the Pittsburg Press game story explained: “Umpire baiting was plentiful, with Taylor (the pitcher), McGann and Donlin the chief offenders of this style of play.” Sam Leever got the win, coming in as a second-inning reliever, while the offense was led by Otis Clymer’s three hits. The Bucs pounded out 15 knocks; five Pirates had multi-hit outings.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mine's Bigger Than Yours - Bucs Big Inning Beats Brewers Big Inning 4-3

A 1-2-3 first for Ivan Nova, with an exclamation point added by Starling's diving grab of a blooper. Junior Guerra returned the favor. A single/double combo to open the second had the water boiling. A pop and whiff dropped it to a simmer. An intentional walk brought up Guerra. Pitchers have hurt the Bucs with their sticks of late, but not this time as Nova picked up the punchout. Pittsburgh went quietly again. No escape in the third - a couple of knocks and a Travis Shaw bomb gave the Brewers a big three-run pad; Ivan's been serving up some gopher balls of late. Tough inning; the first two outs were on interference (the ball hit a runner) and a caught stealing before a garden-variety grounder ended it after six hits. Again, nada from the Pirates. Sanity returned in the fourth as the Brewers went down in order. Starling opened with the Bucs first hit, and to prove he was in midseason form, he was picked off second for the third out.

J-Hay had the big blow (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Brew Crew collected a two-out rap in the fifth while Guerra kept cruising. It was a clean sixth for Ivan thanks to a DP ball. The Bucs lit the board on a Cervy long ball. Starling drew a four-pitch walk (!) with two outs, then J-Hay got ahead 3-0. He took a strike, then oppo taco'ed a fastball and suddenly it was a tie game. Oliver Drake took the ball and walked Cutch. J-Bell singled and Freeser, who's had a lot of two-out chances lately, came thru with a RBI single before El Coffee's at 'em ball to third. AJ Schugel climbed the slope in the seventh with a two-out infield knock the only dent in his armor. Carlos Torres took the bump and was greeted by a Cervy single. He moved up with a J-Hay-style bit of running, dodging a tag on a grounder to second to avoid a DP (tho it took a challenge to get the call right).

Huddy got the eighth inning call against the 4-5-6 hitters. He caught a call (nice frame job by Amore) to get Shaw looking, getting him and Craig Counsell booted by the ump. Two grounders ended the frame, one a comebacker and the last out a nice play at both ends by Jordy and J-Bell. The Bucs went down in order with a couple of bullets that found leather, so Felipe Rivero's ninth-inning act was sans a safety net. After a K, an infield single off Felipe's glove (he prob should have let it go) was followed by a knock. No sweat; hard to mishandle a pair of swinging K's.

AJ Schugel - how ya gonna keep him down on the farm? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Well, the Bucs stay as hot as the July summer. Each team had an inning, and the Pirates was a two-out rally larger. Good job by the pen; AJ and Huddy had to handle the top and middle of the order and were more than equal to the task. So now the Buccos have won 9-of-11 and trail the Brewers by five games; who'd of thunk it after that disastrous Giants series? And it was kinda nice to see the Three Amigos back in action tonight. It might be a tad late, but it's still nice to see the boys coming together.

  • Cervy had two hits; Starling had a knock and a walk as the Pirates were outhit 11-6.
  • Juan Nicasio tossed 42 pitches over the last two nights; that's why Huddy got the eighth inning nod tonight.
  • It was made official late this afternoon: Phil Gosselin was optioned back to Indy to clear a spot for Starling. There was no need for a 40-man move; the Pirates FO saved slots for Starling and Jung-Ho (although lookin' like that one may be vacant for quite awhile).
  • Ever hear of owning a guy? Travis Shaw is 10-for-13 lifetime against Nova after going 3-for-3 against him tonight.
  • Brewer C Stephen Vogt has been placed on the 10-day DL with a sprained left knee suffered in a mash up at home with Chad Kuhl last night. He's expected to miss a month.

Tuesday: Bucs & Brewers, Nova v Junior Guerra, Lineup (Guess Who's Back?), Notes

Tonight: Milwaukee and Pittsburgh meet at 7:05. The contest will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Tuesday night is Pup Night, so bring along a furry fan.

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P. Well, now this is the A-Team.

Ivan Nova will take the stroll tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.21) takes on Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.78). He beat Jake Arrieta in his last outing 4-2 and has won eight of his last 12 decisions...He's pitched at least six innings in 17 of his first 18 starts and allowed more than three earned runs in just four of his first 18 starts. Ivan has quickly learned to like home cookin' - he's gone 6-2/2.63 in eight starts this season at PNC Park, Nova is 1-1/3.32 in three starts against the Brew Crew, but lost a lost a 4-2 decision to Chase Anderson in June at Miller Park in his only 2017 outing against Milwaukee. Guerra is making his 11th start of the season and second against the Pirates. He had a no-decision in June (six IP, three runs, seven hits) and is 1-0/2.16 in five career games (four starts) vs. Pittsburgh. Guerra has been off since July 7th; the Brew Crew used the All-Star break to allow him to recuperate on the DL from a bruised shin, compliments of a liner to the box, in his last start.

  • Although it hasn't been announced yet, the Goose's locker is empty and his name's not on the lineup card, so looks like last in, first out for Starling's roster spot.
  • Gregory is hot, batting .438 in July. Shorter swing? New spot in the order? Nah. El Coffee said this is the first time this year that's he's been playing healthy following months of nagging injuries.
  • Cutch has hit safely in eight straight games and is batting .362 for July. Jordy has a six-gamer going on, too.
  • With Starling's return, Fraze will return to his utility roots, playing at 2B mainly (the plan is to play J-Hay at third when Freeser's off and Fraze at 2B) with some 3B/OF/SS. The Bucs went 39-41 during Marte's absence.
  • Congrats to Fraze. He was named the Pirates' Heart & Hustle Award winner by the MLB Players Alumni Association.
  • BTW, the McCutchens announced they're expecting a boy.

7/18 From the 60s Forward: Hat Off, 11 Straight, Charlie Gems, Top O' the World, King Salami, Game Stories

  • 1964 - The Milwaukee Braves got blown out at County Stadium, losing 8-2 to the Pirates, paced by Bob Bailey and Roberto Clemente’s three hits to back Bob Veale’s seven hitter. The Bucs also helped Brave legend Warren Spahn reach a milestone. Seven of Pittsburgh's 15 hits came against the southpaw, who lasted just 3-2/3 frames, but he managed to complete his 5,000th MLB inning, putting him in an elite group; he still ranks eighth all-time in IP (sixth since post-1900) and joined a club with just a dozen other 5K workhorse members. The Hall-of-Famer usually fared better against the Buccos; he beat them 49 times over his two-decade career. 
Harry "The Hat" 1966 Topps
  • 1967 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was fired as manager when the Bucs started out 42-42, despite winning 182 games and finishing third in back-to-back seasons. Old standby Danny Murtaugh returned to the bench in his stead. 
  • 1971 - The Bucs won their eleventh straight game when they swept a DH from the Dodgers, 3-2 and 7-1 at TRS. The Pirates took the opener when Gene Alley opened the ninth with a triple and plated on Gene Clines tapper. Richie Hebner and Milt May homered in the nitecap. Luke Walker had a no hitter going into the ninth during the second game, losing the no-no on a homer to Joe Ferguson. 
  • 1990 - Jeff King hit his first career grand slam and added five RBI to lead the Pirates to an 11-2 win over San Francisco at Three Rivers Stadium. Doug Drabek allowed two runs in eight innings while improving to 11-4 on the season. 
Jeff King 1990 Leaf
  • 2000 - The Bucs snapped a six game losing streak with an 8-6 win over LA at Dodger Stadium. The Pirates scored five times in the first two innings, but the Dodgers came back with a six spot in the third. The Bucs prevailed thanks to three RBI days from Jason Kendall and Wil Cordero, both whom also homered. Five Pirate relievers combined to toss seven innings of scoreless three hit ball to cement the win, which went to Jose Manzanillo. 
  • 2009 - Charlie Morton went seven innings of three-hit ball to stop the Giants 2-0 at PNC Park. Matt Capps made it exciting, putting runners on second and third with an out in the ninth, but came back to get a K and grounder to preserve the win. Ryan Doumit scored and had an RBI to provide some spark to the attack. 
  • 2011 - The Pirates took a 2-0 decision at PNC Park against Cincinnati as Charlie Morton tossed a three hitter against the Reds. The Bucs played small ball in the fourth for the win. Chase d’Arnaud and Neil Walker led off with singles against Dontrelle Willis, with Walker taking second behind the play when the throw was aimed at d’Arnaud going to third. Andrew McCutchen’s tapper drove in one run and Matt Diaz’s sac fly another, and that was the day’s offensive output. 
Charlie Morton 2011 Topps Diamond
  • 2012 - The Pirates spent their last day tied for the top of the NL Central after taking a 9-6 decision from the Rockies at Coors Field. Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Casey McGehee and Rod Barajas homered for the Bucs. The Buccos collapsed like a house of cards after that, going 28-43 the rest of the way to finish with 79 wins for their 20th consecutive losing campaign.

7/18 Through the 50s: HBD Bill, Hippity Hopp, Al & Jeff; Under the Lights; Kiner Flexes; Long Weekend; Game Stories

  • 1894 - C Bill Haeffner was born in Philadelphia. Bill had a three-year major league career that spanned 14 seasons. He got a cup of coffee with Philadelphia in 1915 and with the NY Giants in 1928 while seeing his only serious time with Pittsburgh in 1920, batting .194 in 54 games. What he did in between is a mystery to us; Baseball Reference and the other chroniclers don’t have any record of him playing in the minors, although he most assuredly did play somewhere. We do know that Haeffner served as the head baseball coach as La Salle University from 1947 to 1952. 
  • 1905 - The Bucs collected eight hits, including a home run by George Gibson against Christy Mathewson, and won 2-1 over NY at the Polo Grounds. The game was halted for a time by umpire Jim Johnstone after a Giants fan tossed a bottle at Pirate RF Otis Clymer while he was chasing a ball. Clymer had already made one great play in the pasture and apparently the home crowd didn’t want another. Charlie Case and Mike Lynch tossed a five-hitter for the win.
Otis Clymer 1905 (photo Chicago Daily News/Chicago History Museum)
  • 1914 - The frustrated Pirates were probably tired of Forbes Field after splitting a twin bill with the Dodgers, winning the opener 3-0 and losing the evening game 6-5 in 10 innings. The first game of the series went 21 frames, and that was after the Pirates lost a pair to the NY Giants the day before. So the Bucs and Gotham nines played five games in a span of three days that lasted 58 innings, and were in actuality three straight twin bills. The G-Men & Dodgers took four of the matches, two in extra innings and another by a run. The only victory was behind Bob Harmon’s complete-game, six-hit shutout. The contests were part of a 20-of-21 game homestand that finished 7-13, tho they did end the season 39-36 in Oakland. Pittsburgh would finish seventh with 69-win campaign that year. 
  • 1916 - OF Johnny “Hippity” Hopp was born in Hastings, Nebraska. He played three years in Pittsburgh (1948-50) with a .291/24/244 line as a Bucco. During his 14 year big league career, Hopp played in five different WS with the Cards and Yankees and was an All-Star in 1946. Hippity had a kind of odd stay with the Pirates. In 1949, he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Marv Rackley, but three weeks later, the trade was voided (Branch Rickey claimed Rackley had a bum arm, tho he disagreed) and the two players returned to their original teams. As a Bucco in 1950, Hopp had a streak of eight straight hits before the New York Yankees purchased his contract at the beginning of September. Besides “Hippity,” he was also known as “Cotney” (as in cottony) due to his prematurely white hair. Johnny was a coach through the fifties for Detroit and St Louis before getting a day job. 
Johnny Hopp 1949 Bowman
  • 1918 - RHP Al Lyons was born in st. Joseph, Missouri. He put in four big league years with a stop with the Pirates. In August of 1947, Pittsburgh purchased his contract from the Yankees for and he appeared in thirteen games, going 1-2/7.31 over 28-1/3 IP. He did hit his only MLB homer as a Bucco, a future omen. The Yankees won the pennant and World Series that year while the Pirates finished in last place, but the Bronx Bombers remembered their ol’ bud and voted Lyons 1/2 World Series share ($2,915). After the season, the Pirates sent him to Boston as part of the Johnny Hopp/Danny Murtaugh deal. He got into a handful of games for the Braves and then spent several seasons in the PCL, where he became an OF/P hitting 99 homers and winning 47 games over seven seasons. He retired after the 1956 campaign and served for years as a Mets scout. 
  • 1930 - George Grantham and Adam Comorosky each homered and combined with Pie Traynor to go 9-for-14 with nine RBI and seven runs scored as the Pirates defeated Boston 12-4 at Braves Field. Glenn Spencer went the distance for the win. 
  • 1930 - While the Pirates were away, the Homestead Grays played. And it was a historic game, as the Grays squeaked out a 5-4, extra inning win against the storied Kansas City Monarchs in the first night game ever played at Forbes Field (KC was credited w/hosting the first night baseball game earlier in the year). Homestead fell behind 4-0, but put up a pair in the fifth and then rallied to tie the game in the ninth. A line-out DP frustrated the Grays in the 11th, but Buck Ewing’s infield hit scored George Scales with the game winner an inning later. Leadoff men Jake Stephens and Vic Harris provided the juice, collecting five hits and scoring four runs. 34-year-old George Britt went the distance, as did the Monarch’s Chet Brewer, who would spend almost 20 years as a Pirates scout after his playing days. The illumination was provided by 35 sky-high “projectors” with three lights each; apparently the only issues were with the electrical cables laid along the park railings and foul pops behind the plate. The teams played a day-night doubleheader the next day. It would take the Pirates another decade (6/5/1940) before they would play their first home night game.
Ralph Kiner 1948 Leaf
  • 1948 - It was a lousy day for the Pirates as they dropped a twinbill to the Boston Braves by 10-2 and 3-1 scores at Forbes Field. But it was a record setting afternoon for Ralph Kiner, who hit a solo shot in the ninth off Vern Bickford in the nitecap for his 100th career homer in 385 games, a pace that wasn’t surpassed until Ryan Howard did it in 325 games in 2007. 
  • 1951 - Ralph Kiner drove in seven runs and hit three HRs‚ including his 10th grand slam‚ in a 13-12 slugfest win over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. His final bomb‚ a solo shot off Erv Palica in the eighth‚ broke a 12-12 tie. In Kiner's final at bat in the ninth‚ Carl Furillo hauled in his long drive near the CF gate. Ralph set the franchise record by notching his fourth game with three homers, later to be tied by Willie Stargell. Joe Garagiola and Gus Bell also went long for the Bucs. 
  • 1953 - Scout Jeff McKay was born in Oregon. A minor league pitcher in the Giants system, he coached at Oregon for a couple of seasons before becoming a birddog. He scouted for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1982-89), Kansas City Royals (1990-2006) and Chicago White Sox (2007-08). Jeff coached at Corban University in Salem, Oregon, in 2007-2008 and became the Warriors head coach in 2011. McKay also founded Baseball Northwest, a showcase for high school ballplayers. 
Dick Groat 1956 Topps pin
  • 1956 - Dick Groat’s two-run double in the 10th snapped a six-game losing streak for the Bucs, leading the club to a 4-2 win at Busch Stadium. The Pirates ran themselves out of chances to win in regulation by losing happy-feet runners at second, third and home. It ended a streak for Bob Friend, too - the two runs for the Redbirds ended his scoreless skein against them at 32 innings. On the bright side, the complete game four-hitter was his 12th victory of the year, one that took him a while to earn - his 11th win was on June 16th. 
  • 1957 - Ernie Banks and future Bucco skipper Chuck Tanner of the Cubs hit inside-the-park homers at Forbes Field, but Chicago still lost 6-5 when the Pirates scored four runs off three Chicago pitchers in the ninth. Dick Groat’s two run triple tied the game and he crossed the plate with the game winner following Bill Mazeroski’s single, giving Luis Arroyo the victory.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bucs Take Opener 4-2 From Brew Crew Behind El Coffee, Clutch Hurling

Pretty good start for Chad Kuhl - he struck out the side. Brent Suter didn'r equal that, but he did toss a 1-2-3 opener. The Brew Crew struck first; an infield single, wild pitch and two-out rap into center (Cutch was playing fairly deep and the ball dropped in front of him) made it 1-0 in the second. Joey O drew a two-out walk; didn't lead to much as he was picked off. The nines exchanged singles in the third. A leadoff double in the fourth advanced a base on a grounder and plated when another roller was fielded by J-Bell, who had an out at home but threw the ball way high, allowing Travis Shaw to get under the tag. A steal led to an intentional walk and an unintentional plunk of the pitcher, but Cool Chad had another punchout in him to end the frame. Cervy opened with an infield knock that required a challenge to earn (it wasn't close; the ump must have blinked). The Bucs left him on first.

Chad had the K ball working (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Three bouncers, three sit-downs for the Brew Crew in the fifth. The Bucs went to work. Joey O singled, Gregory doubled him home and went to third on a bad throw. Jordy's fly brought chased him home to tie it. Chad, J-Hay and Cutch all followed with knocks, but Cool Chad was tossed out at home in a big-league collision. At first blush, it looked like a blocking the plate violation, but there was no challenge, so... It was a bad wave by Joey Cora; instead of the bases loaded and one gone for Cutch, Andrew was bypassed and intentionally walked. Freeser got ahead 3-0 but went down looking at three strikes with Rob Scahill on the bump; he never swung in a throw-away at bat. Chad lost a pair of Brewers in the sixth and Daniel Hudson got the nod with two away. He gave up a quick knock, but Gregory gunned down Manny Pina at home to even it out. Josh Hader climbed the bump and gave up two-baggers to J-Bell and Gregory (confirmed by review) and the lead.

Tony Watson was on the hill for the seventh. Two singles and a walk around a couple of outs loaded 'em up, but a big 3-2 pitch was grounded back to the box and the Buccos escaped. Ol' bud Jared Hughes, who has been on fire with Milwaukee (3-1-1, 2.89), sprinted in to replace Scahill with one gone. With two outs, Cutch beat out an infield rap and stole second but Freeser couldn't punch that ticket. Juan Nicasio got two outs in the eighth and had a runner on first when Clint waved in Felipe Rivero to turn around Jonathan Villar. It worked; Villar rolled over on a 3-2 changeup and grounded out to third. Good thing, too, as Orlando Arcia stole second and third during the at-bat. Tyler Webb scaled the slope; three Bucco properties in a row from the Brew Crew pen. With two outs, Gregory and Jordy singled, one on the line and the other on the dribble. Max Moroff threw in a pinch-hit rap and the Pirates had an insurance run. A dozen Felipe deliveries in the ninth nailed it down.

Lefty? I ain't afraid of no stinkin' lefty... (image AT&T Sportsnet)

Nice start to the week; now to get some runs with Ivan, Cole Train and Jamo due next. It's a major project to leapfrog both the Brewers and the Cubs (maybe the Cards; we'll see what they do at the deadline) but at least it'll be interesting.

  • Gregory went 4-for-4 with two runs, shipped two Bucs home and smacked a double. El Coffee is the first Pirates lefty with four hits in a game against LHP since Chris Duffy on Sept 7th, 2006 vs the Cubs at Wrigley. (s/o to @joe_block) Chris, btw, was a little more dramatic, hitting a game-winning homer in the ninth.
  • Cervy had two hits; both Cutch & Joey O had a knock and a walk.
  • Chad whiffed a career-high seven batters tonight.
  • Baseball is a funny game: Huddy pitched to one batter, got drilled for a single, and got the win.
  • Pretty poor crowd for a nice night and a biggish series with just 18,506 warm fannies in the seats.

Monday: Brew Crew & Buccos, Cool Chad v Brent Suter, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Milwaukee nine takes on the Pirates at 7:05. The game will be carried by AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Josh Nell 1B, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P. The Bucs have loaded up with RH hitters; El Coffee is the only lefty swinger who will face southpaw Suter.

This will be Chad's first trip to the hill since the All Star break (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (3-6, 4.96) opens the set against LHP Brent Suter (1-1, 2.96). Chad is starting to come around. In his last eight starts overall, Kuhl has posted a 2-1/3.51 slash. Chad has gone 2-0/2.21 in four career starts against the Brewers, including a win over Kyle Davies this season on June 20th at Miller Park (five IP, two runs). He'll be well rested; his last outing was his three-inning emergency start on short rest when Jamo came down with food poisoning on July 9th. Southpaw Suter will be making his 11th appearance and fourth start for the Brewers this season. He's is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts since joining the rotation for Chase Anderson after being recalled on June 21st; it was the human yo-yo's fifth call-up of the season. He has a sizable R/L split (.270 v .167) and an ERA of 4.00 on the road. Suter hasn't faced the Bucs this year, but in his one 2016 appearance, he shut them down over 5-1/3 frames, giving up three hits and fanning four.

  • Cutch has hit safely in seven straight games and has gone 16-for-44 (.364) with five doubles, three home runs, four RBI and a 1.133 OPS in his first 11 games this month, continuing his summer surge.
  • Freeser hasn't had a multi-hit game since June 19th at Milwaukee; maybe the Brewers will be his lucky charm again.
  • The Brew Crew is 52-42 and have won 11-of-14 games. They're 4-1/2 games ahead of Chicago with the Cards 6-1/2 back and Bucs 7 behind. Pittsburgh is 7-3 in its last 10 matches and lost a game to the Brew Crew in that span.
  • Starling Marte is in the house. He wasn't allowed to practice or be on the bench with the team today but he'll be back in good graces (and the roster) tomorrow.

7/17 Happenings: HBD Jim, Chummy & Jerry; Hans Day; Loaiza Trade; FF Fire; ASG; Klein Joins Up; Tony's Blast

  • 1866 - RHP Jim Handiboe was born in Columbus, Ohio. Jim’s big league stay consisted of a season with the Alleghenys in 1886 where the 20-year-old put up a respectable 7-7/3.32 slash, going the distance 12 times. Apparently the team thought he needed a little more seasoning; Jim toiled in various whistle stops until 1901.
  • 1873 - RHP George “Chummy” Gray was born in Rockland, Maine. His tale is that of a AAAA pitcher getting his moment in the sun. After back-to-back 20 win seasons, Gray tossed a no-hitter with one walk for Buffalo in 1899. He got his reward when the Pirates brought him up for the last month of the season. Gray went 3-3/3.43 in nine games, completing six of his seven starts. Chummy then rattled around the minor leagues for a few more years, but never again returned to the majors before hanging up the spikes after the 1901 season. He passed away at age 40 from tuberculosis and is remembered as a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. 
Hans 2016 Panini Diamond Kongs
  • 1908 - Honus Wagner Day was celebrated at Exposition Park, and players from both teams lined up before the game to honor The Flying Dutchman. (Wagner's tribute was bumped back a day so it wouldn’t conflict with a benefit picnic for orphans, at Honus’ request.) Wagner was presented with a $700 gold watch. The Boston Doves won the game 4-0 behind ex-Pirate Tommy McCarthy’s five-hitter. It could have been worse - the Doves tacked on six more runs in the eighth, but the game was called because of darkness before the Pirates could bat. 
  • 1930 - OF/PH Jerry Lynch was born in Bay City, Michigan. Lynch started (1954-56) and ended (1963-66) his career in Pittsburgh, spending the seven middle years with the Reds. He hit .263/45/188 as a reserve Pirate outfielder and primo pinch hitter. Lynch had 116 pinch hits during his 13-year big league tour of duty with 18 HR, and even today he rates high on the hit lists for PH. 
  • 1939 - Newly acquired Bucco outfielder Chuck Klein made his first appearance back in Philadelphia since leaving the city where he spent 10 years as a player and jacked a pair of homers to lift the Bucs to a 7-4 win at Shibe Park. The Bucs released Klein in August, and he returned to his old club, retiring in 1944 as a Phil. 
  • 1971 - A deserted Forbes Field suffered its second fire in a matter of weeks, and the structural damage was so bad that its demolition, already scheduled by Pitt, began almost immediately. Now the former ballyard’s footprint is the site of Posvar Hall, with home plate still showcased in the building and a bit of the brick & ivy wall left standing. 
  • 1979 - The NL won its eighth straight All-Star Game, 7-6, at the Kingdome in Seattle. Pittsburgh’s only representative, Dave Parker, threw out a runners at home & third and was named the game's MVP. The Cobra went 1-for-3 with an RBI and was intentionally walked once. The ASG was the only one played at the Kingdom. By the time the Midsummer Classic returned to Seattle in 2001, the Mariners were playing in Safeco Park.
  • 1998 - The Bucs traded RHP Esteban Loaiza to the Texas Rangers for RHP Todd Van Poppel and 2B Warren Morris. Loaiza pitched for another 10 seasons (albeit with seven teams), topped by a 21-9/2.90 campaign with the White Sox in 2003 when he was an All-Star and Cy Young runner up. Morris was released after the 2001 season and Van Poppel worked one year for Pittsburgh. 
Todd Van Poppel 1999 (photo Vincent Laforet/Getty)
  • 2013 - The International League won the AAA All-Star Game, 4-3, over the Pacific Coast League. The big bop was delivered by Pirates C prospect Tony Sanchez of the Indy Indians who banged a three-run homer off Jarred Cosart in the second inning and won the game MVP. He got a late call to the big club that season, hitting .233 in 22 games, but is still bouncing around among organizations in the minors.