Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Brew Crew-Buccos, Jamo v Peralta & Notes

Today: The Bucs and Brewers middle match will start at 7:05 and be carried by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Get there early; Steven Brault is doing the National Anthem before the game.

Pitchers: RHP Jameson Taillon (4-5, 3.94) battles Freddy Peralta. Jamo has given up three or fewer runs eight times in his last nine starts and is beginning to show off more breaking stuff, which is becoming a bit of a recent Bucco MO. He's faced the Brew Crew once this year in May. He gave up a run in five innings, but dodged a lot of gunfire as he gave up six hits and two walks. The 22-year-old Peralta was called up from Colorado Springs, where he was en fuego. The Brewers schedule has been such that they haven't had to call on a fifth starter very much early on, and Peralta apparently will fill that bill until Zach Davies is ready to return to action. In two May starts during his first taste of MLB, he was brilliant against the Rockies (5-2/3 IP, no runs, one hit, 13 whiffs) and then meh against the Twins; his success depends largely on whether he can command his bread-and-butter heater. His second pitch is an OK curve, but he's still searching for that third offering to fill out his toolkit. This will be the Bucs first look at Peralta.

Jamo on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Corey Dickerson LF, Starling Marte CF, Colin Moran 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Taillon P. AM remains pine-bound; the lineup is the same as yesterdays.

Notes:
  • Pittsburgh’s pitching staff shares the MLB lead in shutouts (nine) along with the Cubs. Last night’s victory was the fourth time this season that the Pirates won a game by the score of 1-0, which is the most such victories by the Bucs since 2013 (five).
  • Felipe Rivero is climbing the franchise charts in the left-handed closer category. He's recorded 35 saves in his two seasons as the Pittsburgh closer, the third-most by a southpaw pitcher in club history, trailing only Ramon Hernandez (39) and Grant Jackson (36).
  • MLB has fined Joe Musgrove $1,000 for intentionally plunking Chris Owings of Arizona last week; J-Grove and the Bucs will appeal.
  • Joe Sheehan of Baseball America writes that contending is a choice, and compares Milwaukee's moves to those of the Bucs. Tim Benz of the Trib doubles down on that concept.
  • Gary Livacari of Baseball History Comes Alive posted a great photo album of the 1960 World Series Game Seven and closes it out with an interview of the guy who rounded third with Maz after his homer, 71-year-old Ken Simons, who was teen when the shot was taken.
  • George Kontos is back in the show; the Indians called him up today after he had recently signed a minor league deal with them and showed well in AAA Columbus.
  • Petey Alvarez, 31, had been DFA'ed by the Orioles. He was hitting .180/.283/.414 with eight homers.

6/19 Birthdays: HBD Jerry, Bill, Doug, Butch, Johnnie, Fernando, Willis, Don, Jake & Frank

  • 1856 - UT Frank McLaughlin was born in Lowell, Massachusetts by some sources; others say he was born in Ireland. Frank stopped in Pittsburgh between 1883-84, seeing not a lot of action as an Allegheny and then with the Stogies the next season. He hit .219 with the Alleghenys in ‘83 as a shortstop and went 0-0/13.00 in nine innings of mound work. Frank then went the Union League route, batting .239 as a 2B before joining the KC Unions, with which he finished out his career in 1884. 
  • 1892 - SS Harry “Jake” Daubert was born in Columbus, Ohio. His major league career consisted of one at bat for the 1915 Pirates, and he fanned. Jake played pro ball from 1912-19, mostly in the Ohio State League. 
Bill Swift 1934 Goudey
  • 1908 - RHP Bill Swift was born in Elmira, New York. He tossed eight seasons (1932-39) for the Bucs, with a 91-79/3.57 record. Swift was a staff workhorse, going 200+ innings and picking up double-digit wins in his first five seasons, topping out with 16 W in 1936. He wasn’t a power guy, with just 3.4 K/nine during his Pittsburgh career, but gave up less than two walks per game and a homer just once every 18 frames. 
  • 1912 - IF Don Gutteridge was born in Pittsburg, Kansas. The 12-year MLB vet closed out his big league days in Pittsburgh, PA, retiring after getting into four games and going 0-for-2 in 1948. Afterward, he was a long time manager for the White Sox, winning a pennant in 1959, and also scouted for the Royals, Yankees and Dodgers. 
  • 1949 - Jerry Reuss was born in St. Louis. The lefty spent six seasons with the Pirates (1974-78, 90) and put up a 61-46/3.52 line as a rotation mainstay. He won 220 games in a 22 year big league career. Jerry spent time as a coach and major/minor league announcer after his playing days ended, also writing his 2014 autobiography “Bring In the Righthander.” 
  • 1950 - IF Fernando Gonzalez was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Fernando had a couple of stints with the Bucs, beginning his career with cups of coffee in 1972-73 and contributing as a role player in 1977-78 before being waived to the Padres. He hit .257 as a Pirate and played all the infield spots except first base and manned both corner outfield spots. He finished his career in 2004 playing in the Mexican League.
Fernando Gonzalez 1978 Topps
  • 1954 - IF Johnnie LeMaster was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. He played 12 years of MLB ball, and the Pirates were one of three teams he was on in 1985 (oddly, all three - the Pirates, Giants and Indians - finished last in their division). The good-glove utility guy hit .155, and made it back to the show briefly in 1987 with Oakland before his career closed. He retired to Painesville Kentucky, where he was raised, and worked for Ashland Oil while coaching youth at various levels and serving as an elder/bible study leader for his church. 
  • 1958 - OF Wallace “Butch” Davis was born in Williamston, North Carolina. He got eight years and 166 games in the bigs. He sipped some coffee with the Pirates in 1987; in seven games he went 1-for-7 with three whiffs while spending most of his time at AAA Vancouver. He played 13 years in the minors with a couple of campaigns in Venezuela. When he hung up the spikes, he was a long-time Orioles minor league hitting coach and manager before spending three years as a Twins first base coach. He also lives on in cinematic history: he made a cameo appearance in the movie Bull Durham. 
  • 1974 - IF Doug Mientkiewicz was born in Toledo, Ohio. Doug had a 12-year MLB career and spent 2008 in Pittsburgh playing 1B, 3B and RF while batting .277. He retired the following year after playing for the Dodgers and coached briefly for them in the minors. He now works in the Twins organization. 
Doug Mientkiewicz 2008 Topps Heritage
  • 1975 - RHP Willis Roberts was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. The reliever put in five MLB seasons, mainly as an Oriole, and his last year of 2004 was spent as a Pirate. In nine games, he put up a 5.25 ERA after signing on as a free agent; he mostly worked out of AAA Nashville. Willis retired in August and spent three more years tossing in Mexico, Venezuela and Italy before heading into the sunset after the 2007 campaign.

6/19 Games & Happenings: 3,000 For Big Poison; Groat Debut; Simmons Resigns; '60 Reunion; Pierogi Fired; Game Stories

  • 1927 - Paul Waner doubled twice in a 14-7 loss to the Cubs to extend his NL record extra base hit streak (12 doubles‚ 4 triples‚ 4 homers) to 14 straight games. The streak ended the next day but has held up well, being matched only by Chipper Jones in 2006. 
  • 1942 - Paul “Big Poison” Waner‚ now 39 and a Boston Brave‚ joined Cap Anson and Honus Wagner as the only NL players with 3‚000 hits (seven overall) with a fifth inning single to center off Rip Sewell, appropriately at Forbes Field. The game was stopped as the ball was presented to him, and both teams gathered round to offer their congratulations. Pittsburgh won the game in 11 innings, 7-6. Waner’s hit should have been 3,001. Two days earlier, he was given a hit on a ball that glanced off a glove; Waner had the scorer change it to an error so his 3,000th would be a clean knock. 
  • 1952 - Bonus baby Dick Groat made his big league debut in an 8-1 Pirates victory over the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Groat went 2-for-4 with two RBI just three days after signing his first contract out of Duke. Veteran hurler Murry Dickson had a little bit to do with the win, too, as he tossed a complete game five-hitter and added three knocks, scoring three times. 

Roberto Clemente 2014 Topps Before They Were Great
  • 1972 - Roberto Clemente’s two-run homer off Mike Strahler in the eighth inning of a 13-3 romp over the Dodgers at TRS moved him into second on the Pirates franchise list for RBI with 1,274, just past Pie Traynor. He would finish his career with 1,305 runs batted in, third on the all-time Pirate list behind Honus Wagner and Willie Stargell. The Great One finished with three hits as did Al Oliver w/a homer; Vic Davalillo led the parade with four raps. Dock Ellis was rattled for 11 hits, bur lasted until the eighth when Bob Miller came in to bring it home.
  • 1975 - Jerry Reuss gave himself a birthday gift by shutting out the Cards 5-0 at TRS, tossing a complete game six-hitter with seven K. Homers by Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bill Robinson gave the southpaw all the run support he needed. 
  • 1993 - GM Ted Simmons resigned after suffering a heart attack on June 8th. He was succeeded by Cam Bonifay. Ted got back in the saddle after recovering and has worked in a variety of positions for several clubs since, mainly in scouting. 
  • 2010 - 38,008 fans showed up at PNC Park to take part in the 1960 World Series team reunion. The old champs provided some inspiration for the new crew, who broke a 12-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Indians 6-4. Lastings Milledge was a homer short of the cycle and had four RBI while Andrew McCutchen had a pair of hits, drew three walks and scored four runs. Jeff Karstens got the win and Octavio Dotel the save with four other twirlers between them.
1960 Pirates
  • 2010 - The Pirates fired racing pierogi Andrew Kurtz after he criticized John Russell and Neal Huntington’s secret contract extensions on his Facebook page. The 24-year old, who was reinstated by Pittsburgh after much media ado, was offered a position by the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League to become one of its racing hot dogs; like lefty relievers, speedy snacks have a long shelf life. 
  • 2014 - The Bucs scored three times in the fifth on a balk and two-out singles by Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, but it took them 12 innings to subdue the Reds 4-3 at PNC Park. A single, balk, intentional walk and hit batter loaded the bases for Russ Martin with two outs, and he drew a walk-off walk for the win. Justin Wilson, the sixth Pirate pitcher of the day, got the win.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Willy & The Pen Spin A Gem; Bucs Ease Past Brew Crew 1-0

Milwaukee went down 1-2-3 in the first against Trevor Williams. J-Hay opened with a knock, but Jhoulys Chacin cruised through the next trio. A bopped batter started the second, but no further damage followed. Cervy led off with an infield knock and an out later Gregory singled but a 4-6-3 DP by Jordy calmed that threat. With an out in the third, Willy walked Chacin but it didn't haunt him as two grounders finished up the frame. The Pirates went down in order. The Brew Crew got a four-pitch walk in the fourth followed by a single and steal put runners at second and third before Williams whiffed his way out of the jam. Pittsburgh got a two-out knock for their action. In the fifth,Willy worked a clean frame. Gregory opened the Bucco half with a knock and stole second for a minute, but after a challenge, it was overturned as he came off the base. The rest of the inning was quiet. Both sides went down without a peep in the sixth.

Willy had the magic touch tonight w/one hit and seven K over seven innings (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

The Brew Crew hit the ball with a little more authority in the seventh, but Buc gloves found them all with J-Hay making a sweet stop to end the frame. The Bucs keep shooting them selves in the foot; Red Beard singled but was tossed out stealing. Cervy walked and J-Bell singled him to third, bringing on Josh Hader. He K'ed Gregory, but Jordy picked him up by doubling a run home on a looper. Freeser walked to load 'em up, but Harrison looked at strike three; it was a full count borderline pitch that he should have at least spoiled. He made it up. Kyle Crick worked a clean eighth, with J-Hay making a sensation grab and throw off a deflected ball to close it out. Jacob Barnes worked a calm frame and Felipe Vazquez came in for the close. He gave up a leadoff knock on an 0-2 pitch to Christian Yelich, but fanned the next two Brewers; there was a little drama at the end with a hot one-hopper to first, but J-Bell was there to put the game to bed. RTJR!

Who'd thunk that Willy had a one-hitter in him, or that Felipe would suddenly remember that he had a curve/slider in his toolkit? And it was also nice to see the Bucs, led by J-Hay, make all the plays in the field. This was a very solid win against a pitcher who's been on a roll; now to see if the Bucs can build off it.

That's the way we like it... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Notes:
  • There weren't many hits to be had tonight, but Amore picked up a couple along with a free pass to hopefully snap his mini-slump. Gregory had a knock and a walk.
  • The Bucs are 36-36 after winning 4-of-5.
  • The two Pirates caught stealing tonight were the first two Erik Kratz has thrown out this year. Also in a Brew Crew first, Jordy was the first batter to bring home an inherited runner off Josh Hader this year.
  • Apparently the fans don't think it's a big set: the paid attendance was 10,672.

Central Bossman Brewers Visit PNC, Willy v Chacin & Notes - Joey O, Ric Rod Return

Today: Front-running Milwaukee comes calling. The game starts at 7:05 and will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Tonight is the Brew Crew's first appearance of the season at PNC Park. The Bucs took two-of-three in Milwaukee in early May and went 7-3 against the Crew last year in Pittsburgh.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.38) opens against RHP Jhoulys ChacĂ­n (6-1, 3.32). Willy's had eight starts since May; he's 1-3/6.28 during that time with foes batting .301 when he's on the hill, and has given up 20 runs in his last 21 innings. He and the Bucs seem confidant he can bounce back, so we'll see if that's so or if they're whistling past the graveyard. Williams has been solid against Milwaukee at 0-1/3.29 in three career appearances; this will be his first outing of 2018 against them. The Brewers are 12-3 when Chacin starts and he's 6-0/2.86 in his past dozen starts. To add a bit to his arsenal, he debuted a splitter in his last outing. He's seen the Bucs once this year, going six innings and giving up a run on three hits with four K but not getting a decision. Looks like a mismatch on paper, but Chacin's not been money against the Pirates - he's 2-3/4.76 in seven career starts against them, including 2-1/4.88 in four starts at PNC Park.

Willy's looking to regain his touch (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Corey Dickerson LF, Starling Marte CF, Colin Moran 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Williams P. The usual suspects tonight with Austin Meadows on the pine.

Notes:

  • The Pirates called up Jose Osuna and activated Richard Rodriguez from the D, optioning Dovydas Neverauskas and Jacob Stallings to Indy. Both moves were expected; Joey O got the nod over Adam Frazier because of production. Osuna is hitting .340, tho his four homers are a little disappointing, while Fraze has gone 3-for-25 in AAA and obviously still has some work to do with his swing.
  • Keep an eye on the pens during the series. The Brewers relief corps has been strong, ranked third in the league with a 2.76 ERA while the Pirates, well, not so much. They rank 25th with a 4.54 ERA.
  • In his Sunday radio show, Neal Huntington absolved Clint of his bullpen woes by saying he didn't give him "...a legitimate eighth-inning guy or seventh-inning guy." Both he and the skipper are S-Rod fans, and Hurdle said that there are no thoughts of pulling the plug on Trevor Williams, so the prospects at Indy will have some more heel-cooling to do.
  • Indy's Nick Kingham was named the International League Pitcher of the Week. He started once and tossed eight scoreless innings, giving up two hits with six strikeouts.
  • 1B/3B Will Craig of Altoona was named the Eastern League Player of the Week after hitting .522 with five homers and 12 RBIs in six games.

6/18 Through The 40s: Two KOs; Roberts Debut Ruined; HBD Ron, Chippy, Pepper, Ben & Newt

  • 1888 - SS Marty “Pepper” Berghammer was born in Elliot (now a Pittsburgh neighborhood). Marty had a couple of years in with the Reds before joining the Pittsburgh Rebels in 1915 and batting .243 (although 83 walks and 12 plunks brought his OBP to a commendable .371). He went to St. Paul later in the season and played a decade for them, finishing out his baseball days in 1929 after a run as a minor league manager. He stayed local and was buried in Elliot’s St. Martin’s Cemetery.
  • 1893 - 1B/C Ben Shaw was born in La Center, Kentucky. Ben’s MLB career was a short sip of sarsaparilla, lasting for four months and 23 games with the Pirates from 1917-18 while batting .184. Not much is known of him after that other than he managed some in the late 20s-early 30’s in the low levels of the farm.
Chippy Britt (photo via Phil Dixon)
  • 1890 - RHP George “Chippy” Britt (also Brittain & Britton) was born in Macon, Georgia. He pitched for the Homestead Grays from 1926-33 and again in 1940 earning one all-star appearance; the stats on his career are wildly incomplete. He played with 16 teams from 1917 to 1945 and manned every position on days that he wasn’t on the hill. His nickname was well-deserved. Per Baseball Reference “He was known as one of black baseball's ‘four big bad men’ along with Jud Wilson, Oscar Charleston and Vic Harris, and someone once said ‘he could whip the whole ballclub.’ In Mexico City, he once was declared ‘Public Enemy Number One’ when he challenged some armed revolutionaries in the crowd.” (A gentler alternate version claims he got his nickname because he called everyone Chippy). When Britt retired, he took a job as a nightclub doorman.
  • 1896 - 1B Newt Halliday was born in Chicago. Newt’s MLB days consisted on one Bucco outing in 1916 as a 20-year-old when he got a couple of innings in at first, handling four chances flawlessly, and batting once (he K’ed). We’re glad Newt got his major league moment; he joined the Navy the next year during WW1 and contracted tuberculosis while in training camp. He died at 21, one of eight big leaguers to perish because of the war.
  • 1927 - Continuing a feud that dated back to Pirate C Earl Smith's days with the Braves‚ Smith dropped Boston manager Dave Bancroft with a right to the kisser after they jawed in the seventh inning. Bancroft was carried off the field, and Smith drew a $500 fine and 30-day suspension. The Pirates won 7-4 at Forbes Field. Smith went 1-for-2 before being ejected, with Ray Kremer taking home the victory with Johnny Gooch as his replacement battery mate.
Earl Smith 1927 (photo: Harriwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1932 - Minor league legend RHP Ron Necciai was born in Gallatin, Fayette County. In 1952, Necciai struck out 27 batters while throwing a 7-0 no-hitter for the Bristol Twins and followed that with a two-hit, 24 K performance. The Bucs called him up later from Class A, but the 20 year old Necciai posted just a 1-6 record with 31 strikeouts and a 7.08 ERA in 54-2/3 IP from August 10th to September 28th, 1952, the span of his entire MLB career. He went into the service in 1953, and chronic ulcers and a torn rotator cuff ended his career before it could begin.
  • 1941 - Local boxer Billy Conn fought Joe Louis at New York City's Polo Grounds in a legendary slugfest for the heavyweight championship. The Pirates and the New York Giants, playing at Forbes Field, were called into their dugouts while the 24,738 fans in attendance listened to the radio broadcast of the 56-minute bout. The game resumed after the fisticuffs, went 11 innings and was called with the score tied 2-2 at 1:10 AM.
  • 1948 - The Pirates spoiled Robin Roberts five-hit debut‚ beating the Phils' rookie 2-0 at Shibe Park behind Elmer Riddle’s five hitter. Wally Westlake homered and Frankie Gustine singled home Ed Fitz Gerald for the Bucco runs. But Roberts was in the show to stay. He lasted 19 years, won 286 games and entered the Hall of Fame.

6/18 From The 60s Forward: First Pitch Homer; Cover Boy Clemente; Dock Wins Debut; Bradenton Deal; Game Stories

  • 1960 - The Bucs were down 3-0 in the ninth at LA Memorial Coliseum with two outs and Gino Cimoli up with one swing left, behind in the count 1-2. That ignited a fast and furious comeback against the Dodgers when Cimoli eked out an infield hit to short and Hal Smith homered. Don Hoak singled, Maz walked and Smoky Burgess tied the game with another knock. Smith was the hero again in the 10th, banging a ground ball single to left off Larry Sherry that brought home Roberto Clemente that gave the Bucs an in-and-out of the jaws of death 4-3 win. ElRoy Face picked up the victory.
  • 1961 - C Don Leppert made his MLB debut a memorable one with a HR off the first pitch he faced as a big league ballplayer against Curt Simmons in a 5-3 win over Cards at Forbes Field in the opener of a DH. The feat wouldn’t be duplicated by another Bucco until 2012 when Starling Marte lifted one off Houston’s Dallas Keuchel at Minute Maid Park. The Bucs dropped the nightcap of the bargain bill by a 7-3 count. 
Don Leppert 1962 Topps
  • 1966 - Roberto Clemente was a cover story (“Some Swinger”) for The Sporting News. The blurb was a little misleading. The actual article was written by local TSN correspondent/Pittsburgh Press beat writer Les Biederman and titled "Clemente Uses Bat to Send ‘All Well’ Message to Family." And Roberto’s stick authored quite a compelling tale - Clemente won the league's MVP Award that season, hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBIs. 
  • 1968 - Dock Ellis got a win in his major league debut as the Pirates came from behind twice to beat the LA Dodgers 3-2 in 10 innings at Forbes Field. Don Drysdale and Bob Moose started the affair that was finally decided when Matty Alou, batting cleanup, singled home Maury Wills, who had reached on an infield single and extended his hitting streak to 15 games. The Bucs tied the game in the eighth when Willie Stargell smacked a solo shot off reliever Jim Brewer. Dock gave up a hit and notched a K in a scoreless 10th inning for the win; Hank Aguirre took the loss. It was Pittsburgh’s seventh straight victory. 
  • 1968 - Pittsburgh signed a 40-year lease with Bradenton to hold all its spring major & minor league training there beginning in 1969. The town promised the Pirates a stadium, motel, and field complex over 160 acres; the Bucs promised to hold spring training there, sponsor a GCL Rookie team and hold winter Instructional League competition there. The pairing worked out pretty well: The ballpark and minor league complex underwent $20 million in renovations after a new 30-year lease with the city was signed in 2008, so Pirates City with its Bradenton Marauders, GCL team and instructional league will continue to soak up the Sunshine State rays for the foreseeable future. 
Dave Cash 1971 Pirates Picture Pack
  • 1971 - The Pirates stormed back in the late innings to force the Montreal game into extra time and eventually took a 9-8 Friday night victory at TRS. The Pirates scored twice in the eighth on Al Oliver’s two-out single and four more times in the ninth when Bill Mazeroski singled home a run followed by back-to-back homers from Dave Cash and Richie Hebner off Mike Marshall. Cash had the walk-off winner when he singled home Gene Clines, who had led off the 11th frame with a triple off Claude Raymond, making Dave Giusti a winner. 
  • 2005 - The Pirates whipped the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a 2-0 count, scoring single runs in the eighth and ninth on Humberto Cota and Ryan Doumit knocks. Three Bucco pitchers - Dave Williams, Rick White and Jose Mesa - combined on a six-hitter to stop Boston. 
  • 2010 - The sad sack Pirates lost their 12th straight game by a 4-3 count to the almost equally inept Cleveland Indians at PNC Park. All the scoring was in the seventh inning, with the Bucs scoring on a bases loaded double by Ryan Church and the Tribe answering. The Pirates came back to take the next two games from the Indians, followed by a six-game losing streak. 
  • 2013 - After a defeat at Cincy during which Andrew McCutchen was HBP and Neil Walker was knocked down, Charlie Morton plunked the first Red to step to plate and then led the Bucs to a 4-0 win at GABP. Morton and three relievers combined on a four-hitter. The Bucs never looked back, scoring three times in the first, keyed by a two-run, bases-loaded knock by Pedro Alvarez. 
Gerrit Cole 2015 Topps All Star Gold
  • 2015 - Behind the pitching of Gerrit Cole, Arquimedes Caminero and Mark Melancon, the Bucs upended the Chicago White Sox 3-2 at US Cellular park. The Pirates scored three times in the first off an Andrew McCutchen RBI single and two-run homer by Jung-Ho Kang to win their eighth in row and their third straight series sweep. The victory was Cole’s MLB-leading 11th. It was also the sixth straight win by the Bucs when scoring three or fewer runs. Finally, it was a red letter day for C Francisco Cervelli. He caught his 56th consecutive scoreless inning, matching Ed Phelps' behind-the-plate shutout streak of 1903.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Bucs Run Out Of Rallies, Drop Finale 8-6

J-Grove worked a clean opening round; the Pirates, as has been there wont, drilled three bullets off Anthony Sclafani that all found leather, with Billy Hamilton's laid-out grab of Cervy's shot to the track worthy of a highlight film (Statcast gave in a 98% hit probability). Cincy went down in order in the second; Joe has fanned three of the last four batters. A big bang finally fell, landing in the right center field seats as Red Beard opened with a long ball. Two garden variety outs later, Gregory singled but Jordy couldn't turn the order over. The Redlegs opened the third with a pop single into short right, followed by a one-out knock by Hamilton. A wild pitch and grounder (it would have been a DP but for the WP) tied it up; a two-out knock gave them the lead. The Pirates went quietly. The Reds added on in the fourth; a single and Eugenio Suarez homer off a cutter that ran across the heart of the plate made it 4-1.

J-Grove was chased early today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Hamilton opened the fifth with a single *ruh-roh* and stole second a pitch later. A walk and bunt single (an apparently unstoppable ploy against the Pirates) followed before Joey Votto doubled in a pair, bringing on Dovydas Neverauskas. He gave up a walk to load 'em but escaped further leakage. J-Bell lased an out to right, but Gregory read the Colin Moran memo and parked it in the seats, safe from any leather. It was his first long ball since May 12th. Tyler Glasnow came out for the sixth and gave up a one-out knock to DeSclafani with no further ado. Cervy drew a two-out walk that brought in lefty Amir Garrett to face Red Beard, and three sliders sat Moran down. Queen City got a walk in the seventh and nada else. After two outs, a walk and a walk got Garrett yanked and in came Jared Hughes. Two seeing-eye grounders rolled up the middle by Freeser and J-Hay sandwiched around a wild pitch made it 6-4 and the Bucs still had a pulse.

Michael Feliz worked the eighth. He gave up a soft knock between whiffs; the lone runner was caught stealing by Amore on a botched hit-and-run to make for an easy frame. Corey D singled with two away on a left side bleeder and J-Bell added a knock. Raisel Iglesias was waved in and tried to sneak a high two-strike heater past Gregory; he banged it for a double, scoring Corey but losing J-Bell, who was cut down trying to score. Even with two outs, it was an aggressive send by Joey Cora, and ended badly with an unsuccessful challenge for blocking the plate, like that had a chance to work. Edgar Santana took over in the ninth and gave up a Hamilton single and Scott Schebler dinger off a 3-1 fastball. He later gave up a two-bagger to Joey Votto but no more runs. Starling reached on an one-out infield rap. He was forced by J-Hay who walked to second on defensive indifference and scored on AM's knock, but that was the last hurrah.

Gregory was big-time at the dish today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The pitching never gave the Bucs a chance today. Musgrove needs some time to prove or disprove the confidence the FO has in him as a starter. Our major concern now is that his velo dropped a couple of miles in this outing; that's worrisome for a guy who spent two months rehabbing a bum wing. It was a normal game in that Billy Hamilton again wreaked havoc; it was an odd game in that so many bullets became outs and so many nerf ball bouncers became hits. Well, at least the Pirates finally took a series; now to buckle up and try to do the same against the Brewers.


Notes:
  • Gregory was 3-of-3 today with a homer and walk along with two runs scored/two RBI. No other Pirate reached base more than once.
  • Billy Hamilton had his first three-hit game of the year and his 10th lifetime against the Bucs. He scored three times, stole two bases, started the relay that threw out the tying run at home and made a sliding web-gem catch. And even with those three hits, he's still hitting just .197.
  • The Pirates staff has thrown 46 wild pitches. That's top in the majors, with Pittsburgh's nearest NL competition the Phils with 34 wayward tosses.
  • On his Sunday show, GM Neal Huntington says there hasn't been any FO conversation re: moving players, contrary to recent speculation of the Pirates being in seller mode.
  • If you were wondering about all the blue trim today, the Bucs & Reds are using Father's Day to promote Prostrate awareness; royalties for all blue merchandise sold go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer. 

Finale With Reds As Bucs Look to Broom; J-Grove v DeSclafani & Notes

Today: The Father's Day game starts at 1:35 and will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.  Happy dad's day - all papas and their 14-and-under kiddos get a Bucco cap.

Pitchers: RHP Joe Musgrove (2-1, 2.16) ends the set against RHP Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40). So far, J-Grove has shown a bulldog mentality along with using his toolkit well, changing speeds and movement for his edge. He's four starts into his Bucco career, so we'll see what we've got down the road; it's been a promising start. Joe's never faced the Reds. DeSclafani has worked two starts and given up 16 hits/seven run in 10 innings, though he hasn't hurt himself with walks or homers in those outings. Anthony hasn't tossed against Pittsburgh since 2016, when he went down with a bad elbow sprain that kept him out of action until this month.

J-Grove has the honors today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Austin Meadows CF, Fran Cervelli C, Colin Moran 3B, Corey Dickerson LF, Josh Bell 1B,Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Musgrove P. Starling gets his day off, but all-in-all, a pretty strong lineup for a Sunday.

Notes:
  • Cervy has come back in good shape and Eli hasn't missed any time, but we're wondering a bit if they're playing through some dings. Jacob Stallings is still on the active roster and the Pirates rarely carry a third catcher w/o cause.
  • We scolded Ivan for staying upstairs all day against the Reds, but he had an out - his breaking stuff was AWOL yesterday, so he was limited pretty much to his four & two seam fastball. 
  • The recent Bucs tailspin of losing eight consecutive series was last matched by John Russell's 2009 squad.
  • @CoreyGiger of the Altoona Mirror reports that 3B prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes, a first-round pick in 2015, will visit a doc in Pittsburgh on Monday to have his knee checked out. He's missed the past four games for the Altoona Curve after getting hit by a pitch. 
  • Seattle got a deal when they signed soft-tossing Wade LeBlanc. Frenchy is 3-0/2.63 in 14 outings, a very nice line when u consider he's started nine games for the Mariners. Cutch, btw, is back in business after his traditionally slow start, batting .266 w/eight homers and 34 RBI, nor has Cole Train jumped the tracks - he's 8-1/2.40 with 130 K in 93-2/3 IP.

6/17: Cutch, Petey, Nate, Tike & Gravedigger Have Big Days; HBD Pete, Joe, Bennie, Zeb & Bob

  • 1861 - OF Pete Browning was born in Louisville. One of the great hitters (and terrible fielders - he was known as “The Gladiator” because of his fights with fly balls, although others claim it was due to his tussles with league suits and the media) of early baseball, he played 50 games for 1891 for Pittsburgh, batting .291. He may not have played here long, but he had an influential 13-year career. Per Wikipedia: One of the ballers to jump to the outlaw Players League (he actually helped create it), Browning's decision to sign with Pittsburgh in 1891 helped cement the team's new nickname of "Pirates." When the PL collapsed, its members were supposed to return to their original franchises. Pittsburgh, though, signed several players who were theoretically under the control of other clubs, starting with second baseman Lou Bierbauer. Other franchises decried these acts of "piracy", and the name stuck. Browning is also remembered as the inspiration behind the Hillerich & Bradsby's iconic "Louisville Slugger" (another of his nicknames) bats. He was the first player to buy bats from the company and they used the name a few years later to both recognize its roots and cash in on Pete’s fame. Finally, The Gladiator retired with a .341 lifetime BA, leading SABR to name him as an overlooked but deserving 19th Century Hall of Fame player. The fact he was an early union agitator and helped form the Players League (plus his later bouts of alcoholism, which made his relations with the media contentious) didn’t help his cause. 
Pete Browning (image: Mears Hologram/The Sporting News)
  • 1887 - OF Bob Coulson was born in Courtney, in New Eagle Township in Washington county, and raised in Donora. That Mon Valley community is noted for nurturing stars like Stan the Man and Ken Griffey Sr (Junior was born there), but Bob was its first contribution to the majors. He played three years for three MLB teams, then the Penn State product spent two more seasons in the bushes spanning the country with stints in Newark, Kansas City and Portland. He finally got a chance to finish his career at home, playing 18 games for the Pittsburgh Rebels in 1914, hitting .203 before retiring to Washington county where he became a Register of Wills, Department of Labor inspector and Assessment Officer. He’s buried in Beallsville Cemetery.
  • 1891 - SS Zeb Terry was born in Denison, Texas. Zebelon played seven years in the majors, spending the 1919 season with the Pirates, batting .227. He was raised in California and attended Long Beach Poly HS, which has produced 19 MLB players including Tony Gwynn, Milton Bradley, Rocky Bridges and Chase Utley, before going to Stanford and then the majors. Zeb tired of the travel and in 1922 retired to the life of a real estate developer in LA. In 1955, Zeb was part of Stanford’s first Sports Hall of Fame class along with guys like Ernie Nevers, Frankie Albert, Bob Mathias, Hank Luisetti, and Pete Desjardins. 
  • 1910 - RHP Joe Bowman was born in Kansas City. He tossed for the Bucs from 1937-41, split between starting and the pen, with a record of 33-38-6 and a 4.35 ERA. Joe knew his way around a batter’s box, too, hitting .281 with 38 RBI as a Pirate. Bowman became the Scouting Director for Charlie Finley's Kansas City A's from 1960 to 1968. When the A's moved to Oakland in 1968, Bowman became a regional scout for the Atlanta Braves for a short time before spending two decades scouting for the Baltimore Orioles. 
Joe Bowman 1939 Play Ball
  • 1932 - RHP Bennie Daniels was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He underperformed in his Pittsburgh years, going 8-16-1 with a 5.84 ERA, though his FIP was a more solid 3.98. He was traded to the Washington Senators, where he put up workmanlike numbers for five more seasons. Bennie bounced around after baseball and served time for embezzlement, but flew straight after his release, working as a clerk in the VA system and then riding the autograph session circuit after retiring. 
  • 1969 - Richie Hebner was the man of the hour in a twinbill sweep at Forbes Field against the first place Chicago Cubs, driving in the game’s only run in a 1-0 victory in the opener and then plating a walk-off RBI in a 4-3 nightcap win. Bob Veale won the lidlifter with a save by Bruce Dal Canton. Steve Blass won the second game in relief, and helped himself by scoring the winning run. 
  • 2001 - The Pirates scored with two outs in the ninth when Brian Giles singled and came around on Aramis Ramirez’s double to claim a 1-0 win for Todd Ritchie against the Cleveland Indians at PNC Park. Ritchie went the distance, giving up just four hits to the Tribe. 
  • 2004 - Tike Redman broke up a pitching duel between Kris Benson and Bartolo Colon by banging homers in the seventh and eighth innings to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Angels at PNC Park. Jack Wilson also went long. 
Tike Redman 2004 Topps Total
  • 2007 - Nate McLouth doubled twice to drive in four runs and Jack Wilson scored three times as the Bucs held off the Chicago White Sox 8-7 at PNC Park. Matt Capps surrendered two runs in the ninth to keep it interesting but hung on for the save of Shawn Chacon’s W. 
  • 2009 - Andrew McCutchen hit his first MLB homer off future teammate Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins at the Mall of America Field during an 8-2 Buc win. He added another knock, marking his sixth multi-hit game in 13 starts. Andy and Adam LaRoche both went yard, the first brother combo to homer in the same game for Pittsburgh since the Waners in 1938. Ian Snell won the contest with help from John Grabow and Steven Jackson. 
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez had a big day at Progressive Field, driving in six runs in a 9-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. El Toro homered twice and doubled, banging his first bomb off future teammate Jeanmar Gomez. Alex Presley also went long in a game won by Tony Watson.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pirate Launch Three Long Balls In 6-2 Victory

Ivan tossed a goose egg in the first, walking Joey Votto for the only blot. The Bucs opened with a single/double combo from J-Hay and Austin Meadows, and took the lead on a soft roller by Starling. a walk followed, but Luis Castillo kept it at one run with a whiff and a bouncer. Eugenio Suarez won a 12-pitch at-bat to start the second with a home run into the bullpen off a fat sinker to knot the score. The Reds added a shift-busting bunt single, but Jesse Winker stayed put even after a wild pitch thanks to a pair of K by Ivan. Jordy walked with an out and was bunted to second where he remained. The third was clean for Nova. After two were gone, Castillo fed Red Beard a 3-1 heater down the middle; he swatted it into the greenery to regain the lead. Scooter Gennett started the fourth with a blooper and a two-out wild pitch led to an intentional walk that backfired when a flip from J-Bell to Nova was dropped. Pirates fielding has been just abysmal recently but didn't bite them this time as Billy Hamilton bounced out. Eli scored the easy way, driving a first pitch fastball out of the yard in left. The rest of the frame was calm.

It wasn't pretty, but it was two-in-a-row for Ivan (image Pittsburgh Pirates)

Scott Schebler led off the fifth with a double. He's the third leadoff man in five innings to reach off Ivan, but the Reds couldn't chase him home. AM singled to start things off; he's also the third lead off guy to get aboard off Castillo. A roller moved him along, but he died at second. Ivan started the sixth, we'd hope on a short leash (his ERA is 12.86 this inning). He gave up a one-out knock, held to a single sack by a nice play off the wall and throw by AM, then gave up a two-out walk. A fly to Corey D left them on the pond as Nova took a rare successful voyage through the third time through the order. Austin Brice scaled the hill and gave up a two-bagger to J-Bell. A grounder moved him up and Jordy was issued an intentional free pass. Freeser ruined the strategy with a bouncer through the oppo side to plate Josh with Jordy going to third. It was a base too far; he was caught at home trying to score on a short passed ball. J-Hay took away the sting when he drilled a 2-2 heater upstairs into the left center stands. Steven Brault came on - Ivan gave up five hits, three walks (one intentional) and three K after 92 pitches - for the seventh and twirled a 1-2-3 frame, aptly using just seven pitches.

Dylan Floro was called on and gave up a two-out two-bagger to Corey D,who watched J-Bell ground out. The Reds drew a 3-2 walk with an out in the eighth on a way generous call (Ump Mike Muchlinski has been pretty good behind the dish; just missed one there). No diff; Steven cruised along. Pittsburgh made nary a peep in their half.  Michael Feliz was waved in for the ninth; the first batter homered off his fifth straight fastball; it was Brandon Dixon's first MLB long ball. He and Eli decided to mix in the slider after that to rack up a couple of K's. A two-out bouncer up the middle kept the Reds alive briefly before Feliz pulled the plug. RTJR!

Red Beard's homer gave the Bucs a lead they never lost (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Ivan's line looked good, but both he and Castillo got a lot of hard outs; Nova is working the top of the zone and might want to change eye-level a little more. As for Feliz, like Felipe Vazquez, he has to get over the heater and mix it up. Even relievers are hard-pressed to be effective with one pitch unless you're Mariano Rivero, and they ain't. Still, beating up a weak sister is a start, and with the Brewers/D-Backs coming in for seven games on Monday, it'd be nice to roll into those series with a can-do mindset.

Notes:
  • J-Hay, AM and Corey D each had a pair of knocks; Harrison, Elias Diaz and Colin Moran homered.
  • Pittsburgh broke a string of eight straight series losses with today's win.
  • Three games, three errors for Pirates pitchers. Their 10 boots lead the NL.
  • The Reds put up another 0-fer with RISP, going 0-for-7 and stranding 10 runners.
  • Nice turnout today of 27,479 paid ticketholders. 
  • Ric Rod was without pain and looked good during his 20-pitch sim game before the contest; seems like some rest is doing the trick. He can come off the DL on Monday.
  • RHP Drew Hutchison is back - the Dodgers signed him to a minor league deal today.

Bucs Go For 3-In-A-Row, Nova v Castillo & Notes

Today: It's a 4:05 start with the game carried by AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan. It's Pirates Hawaiian Shirt giveaway night for the first 20,000 fans, plus Vern Law will be outside the stadium signing autographs before the game. It will be 85 at first pitch and partly cloudy.

Pitchers: RHP Ivan Nova (3-5, 4.68) spins against RHP Luis Castillo (4-7, 5.79) in a rematch. Nova looked sharp in his return from the DL, and it'd be a boost to have the good Ivan manning the hill. We'll see if he keeps on. He's not much for home cooking - he's 0-3 in four starts at PNC Park this season and hasn’t won a game in Pittsburgh since July 18th of last year, although his ERA is 3.25 over that span. His record against the Redlegs is pretty dismal. Nova lost a 5-4 decision to Castillo at GABP in his only outing against Cincy this year, and went 0-4/7.25 in four 2017 starts. Castillo put together a nice streak for three weeks in May, but he's given up 14 runs (13 earned) in his last three outings lasting 16-2/3 IP. He's burned a lot of pitches and been banged for four homers in those appearances, although with 19 K, he can still get swings and misses. He's split his two starts against Pittsburgh this year, giving up six runs on 10 hits with five walks and eight whiffs in 11 frames (4.91 ERA).

Ivan on the hill (image AT&T SportsNet)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Austin Meadows RF, Starling Marte CF, Colin Moran 3B, Chris Dickerson LF, Josh Bell 1B, Elias Diaz C, Jordy SS & Nova P. Gregory loses the musical chairs today and Amore gets a sit down with back-to-back day games on tap.

Notes:
  • Colin Moran has reached base in 14 consecutive starts, hitting .319 with seven walks during that time.
  • Jordy is hitting .314 in his last 30 games, dating back to May 6th.
  • Clint said he talked to the bullpen guys about getting into action more consistently and maybe switching some roles, so we'll see where that leads. 
  • Ric Rod threw a sim game today.
  • Per Elias Sports, the five combined runs by the Pirates and Reds last night were tied for the most in any game in the last 30 years in which there were no RBI hits. The runs scored via sac flies (3), a no-out, bases-loaded DP ball, and an error. 
  • Red Bird Rants think that J-Hay is a guy the Cards should consider if the Bucs begin selling off players. Reviewing the Brew suggests Amore or Josh might be tempting targets for the Brew Crew.

6/16 Happenings: Groat, Bailey Signed; HBD Kevin, Dave, Max, Pete, Arquimedes, John, Fritz, Ralph & Marr

  • 1857 - SS Marr Phillips was born in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s North Side). He played for three years and 198 MLB games, spending four of those contests as a hometown Allegheny in 1885 and batting four-for-15 after coming over from the Detroit Wolverines. He played pro ball from 1877-99 and then retired to his hometown. 
  • 1889 - OF Ralph Capron was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former Minnesota Gopher quarterback got into three big leagues games, his first with Pittsburgh in 1912 - he never got to bat - and a couple of years later changed directions and played a little football, following the career course of his older brother George who also couldn’t really decide which sport to commit to. Ralph was the first ballplayer from the U of Minnesota to reach the majors; big bro George topped out in the PCL. 
  • 1890 - 1B Fritz Mollwitz was born in Coburg, Germany and raised in Milwaukee. The sweet fielding first baseman played from 1917-19 for the Pirates, hitting .245. The Bucs sold him to the Cards in August, 1919, and that was his last MLB stop after a seven-year career. Fritz did have a long pro stint, playing from 1909-24 before retiring to become a Wisconsin small-town cop. 
Pete Coscacart 1945 Play Ball
  • 1913 - IF Pete Coscarart was born in Escondido, California. He spent the last five years of his career in Pittsburgh (1942-46) after an All-Star stint at Brooklyn. Coscarart backed efforts in 1946 to form a players union and voted to strike for its acceptance, and as a result, he found himself out of the major leagues. After his career, Coscarart scouted for the Minnesota Twins (he signed Graig Nettles) and the New York Yankees. He later worked in real estate for 30 years. He joined a group that sued MLB baseball in 2001 for royalties associated with the use of their names and images, lost the case and passed away a few months later at age 89. 
  • 1922 - RHP Max Surkont was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Max had been an effective pitcher for the Braves, but during his Buc years (1954-56) he sailed in rough waters, beset with nagging injuries and tossing for a team noted for its futility. He went 16-32/4.92 as a Pirate. He stayed in baseball until 1963 (he spent four decades in pro baseball, with nine years in the major leagues) before retiring. He opened a bar and traveled widely, lending his name and effort to a host of charitable fundraisers. Max Moment: In 1953 as a Brave, he set the MLB record for consecutive strikeouts with eight, a record that stood until 1970 when Tom Terrific fanned 10 straight.
  • 1952 - Dick Groat was signed out of Duke University as a bonus baby reportedly for $25,000 plus $5,000 annually for the next five years. At the time of his signing, the media speculated that it was more like $75,000, and the Pirates never officially announced a figure. The story told is that the Pirates offered Groat a contract the year before, but the All-America hoopster & baseballer told them that he wanted to play out his last college season and if the team came back with the same offer after that, he'd sign with them. 
Dick Groat 1952 Topps
  • 1960 - GM Dave Littlefield was born in Portland, Maine. He had been the Miami Marlins assistant GM, but he had a stormy reign in Pittsburgh with questionable deals, drafts and desertion of the Latino player market, hindered by a club that was perpetually cash poor. In September, 2007, Littlefield was canned by the Pirates and replaced on an interim basis by Brian Graham, the club's director of player development. Neal Huntington was later hired as GM. Littlefield then worked as a scout for the Cubs and Tigers, and in 2015 became Detroit’s VP of Player Development. 
  • 1961- Pirate scouts Bob Hughes and Jerry Gardiner inked highly regarded Woodrow Wilson High grad Bob Bailey, 19, to a deal featuring a $150,000 signing bonus. He didn’t blossom into the next big thing (he never hit .300 or had 30 HR in his 17 year career) but the corner player (3B/1B/OF) did have a lengthy stay in the show, ending with a .257 BA, 189 HR and 773 RBI, playing seven years with Montreal, five with the Pirates plus stops in LA, Cincinnati and Boston. 
  • 1967 - RHP John Ericks was born in Tinley Park, Illinois. The big righty (6’7”, 220), a first round pick of the Cards, spent his entire 1995-97 MLB tour in Pittsburgh, slashing 8-14-14/4.78. His foot in the door with the Pirates came via Ted Simmons, then Bucco GM and before that a Cardinal staffer. Ericks and his 98 MPH heater were headed toward a breakout campaign in 1997, with John going 6-of-7 in saves with a 1.93 ERA in his first shot as full-time closer and a decent contract, when boom - he went down with shoulder woes. Two operations later, his big league career was done. 
John Ericks 1996 Fleer Ultra (back)
  • 1969 - 1B Kevin Young was born in Alpena, Mississippi. Young played 11 of his 12 seasons for the Pirates (1992-95, 1997-2003), hitting .259 with 138 HR. He was the last Buc on the right side of the long losing slide. At the time of his retirement in 2003, he was the only player remaining who had played on the last winning Pirate team in 1992, during his rookie year. 
  • 1971 - IF Chris Gomez was born in Los Angeles. Chris closed out his 16-year big league career in Pittsburgh, hitting .273 for the Buccos while playing all four infield positions. He released after the campaign and then was cut by the Orioles out of camp in 2009. He retired a season later after playing nearly 1,500 MLB games and batting .262. He’s been a special assistant for the Pirates since 2014, working with developing players. 
  • 1987 - RHP Arquimedes Euclides Caminero (named after Archimedes and Euclid) was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The speed demon - he’s hit 100 on the radar gun - had his contract sold to the Pirates by the Miami Marlins in 2015. In 112 appearances with the Pirates from 2015-16, he went 6-3-1, 3.73 before being dealt to the Seattle Mariners. He’s now toiling in Japan.

6/16 Games: Kiki Clincher/22-Gamer; Waner Streakin'; Double Dipping; Interleague on the Road; Homer Barrage & Game Stories

  • 1916 - Boston RHP Tom Hughes tossed a no-hitter against the Bucs, striking out Honus Wagner to end the game and seal a 2-0 victory at Braves Field. The Pittsburgh Press cited Hughes’ fastball and change of pace, while noting “he has ever been a Buccaneer hoodoo.” Hard luck Pirate starter Erving Kantlehner worked his third straight game without the Pirates scoring a run in his support.
  • 1925 - The Pirates blew a 9-4 lead, allowing the NY Giants to come back and tie the game in the ninth and then jump ahead by a pair in the 10th. But the Bucs answered with four runs of their own with Kiki Cuyler’s two-run homer being the game winner to claim a 13-11 victory at Forbes Field for Lee Meadows, despite giving up a pair in his inning of work. Vic Aldridge started and Ray Kremer was the victim of the ninth inning uprising. Glenn Wright added some pop with four hits and a homer; Earl Smith chipped in a trio of raps. 
Kiki (photo Harriwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1926 - Kiki Cuyler collected two hits and three RBI to lead the Bucs to a 6-3 win over Boston at Braves Field. It ran his hitting streak to 22 games, which ended the next game when he was held hitless, although drawing a walk and HBP. Vic Aldridge went wire-to-wire for the win, collecting a pair of knocks and scoring twice in his own behalf. 
  • 1927 - Lee Meadows defeated Boston 6-0 behind the smokin’ bat of Paul Waner. Big Poison ran his hitting streak to 19 games‚ his multi-hit and RBI streak to 12 games and his extra-base hit streak to 11 games, going 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBI. Meadows did his part, too, spinning a six-hitter against the overmatched Braves at Forbes Field.
  • 1940 - Max Butcher tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout against a NY Giants team that boasted five .300+ hitters in their lineup, taking a 5-0 decision in the opener of a Polo Grounds DH. Elbie Fletcher went 4-for-5 with a triple to support Butcher. The Bucs took the nitecap too, 5-3, with Rip Sewell on the hill. Debs Garms had three hits and three RBI in game two. 
  • 1971 - Dock Ellis went from the penthouse to the outhouse in a hurry as he carried a no-hitter and 4-0 lead into the sixth inning against Houston in the Astrodome when the ‘Stros erupted for five hits and tied the game. But the Bucs answered quickly when Roberto Clemente homered with Gene Clines aboard in the next frame, and the Docktor recovered his form, giving up two singles over the next three innings to claim the complete game victory. Clines had four hits and Clemente a pair with three runs plated; Al Oliver banged a big triple that drove in a run while he later scored. 
Dock played Jekyll & Hyde (1971 Pirates Photo Pack)
  • 1994 - The Pirates beat the Cardinals 7-5 in 10 innings. They made it hard on themselves by banging into a NL record-tying seven double plays at Busch Stadium, but put up a three spot in the tenth for the win. The Pirates even scored their last run on a DP; Carlos Garcia’s sac fly brought home Orlando Merced while Gary Varsho, who had started on first base, was thrown out trying to get to third after the play at the plate. 
  • 1997 - It was a day for Pirates firsts: It was the Pirates first interleague road game, Mark Smith homered in the first at-bat by a Pirates DH in franchise history, and Kevin Polcovich swatted his first career long fly (both dingers were off Scott Aldred) as the Bucs outlasted the Minnesota Twins, 8-6, at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. Kevin Young, who also homered, and Adrian Brown had three hits while Jason Kendall added a pair of doubles. Winning pitcher Jason Schmidt was the beneficiary of the eight-run, 15-hit attack and Rick Loiselle got the save. 
  • 1998 - Talk about brutal: the Bucs blew a 7-1 ninth inning lead against the Phillies to lose 8-7 at Veterans Stadium after Philadelphia roughed up relievers Ricardo Rincon and Rich Loiselle. The pair walked three and Loiselle surrendered a two-out, three-run, walk-off blast to Mike Lieberthal. SS Lou Collier also threw away a grounder that allowed two runs to score and made the final tallies all unearned, wasting three-run homers off the bats of Al Martin and Aramis Ramirez. 
  • 2005 - Randy Johnson and NY shut down the Bucs pretty easily by a 6-1 score at Yankee Stadium, but Michael Restovich’s fourth inning solo shot left Pittsburgh as the only team with an extra-base hit in every game for the season, with the streak at 64 contests. The skein was stopped after 71 games on June 24th by the Cards Jeff Suppan and Ray King. 
Craig jogged his way out of a job (image Fox Sports)
  • 2009 - The Bucs visited Minnesota and were clobbered by the Twins, 8-2, in the final season of the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. That was just one of 99 defeats for the Pirates that season but was marked by a career-ending bit of jakery by Craig Monroe. The FA was hitting .215 and struck out swinging in the eighth with Pittsburgh behind by a boatload. The ball got away and Monroe took a quite leisurely stroll to first; the fact that he was safe on a bad throw didn’t ameliorate the lack of hustle in the eyes of the FO. The 32-year-old took a seat on the pine for the next two weeks and was released July 1st; he never played again in the majors. Then as today, it’s always easier to send the team a message via a fringe player. 
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez homered twice and Casey McGehee once, as did Alex Presley, to lead the Pirates to a 9-2 win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. McGehee had four RBI and El Toro added three as AJ Burnett picked up the win with Jared Hughes and Doug Slaten mopping up.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Pirates Steal One From Cincy 3-2

It was a quiet first inning; Chad Kuhl gave up a walk (a Joey Votto special; ball four should have been strike three) and Matt Harvey was clean. The Reds got an single and intentional walk in the second with denting the scoereboard while Harvey tried to give the Buccos a big inning. Two walks and a single loaded 'em up, but the Pirates got just one run when Gregory hit into a DP; he smoked the ball (110 MPH velo off the bat) to short, hard enough that it didn't stick in the mitt but dropped; if the SS could have hung on, he'd have had an easy twin killing without a run. Kuhl ran out hidey-holes in the third when a single, Votto double and sac fly tied it. Chad grounded out while J-Hay & Corey D fanned. In the fourth, Cincy started with back-to-back knocks. Harvey bunted; Kuhl went for the lead runner but threw the ball into left to allow a run and put Redlegs at second and third. Chad channeled his energy after that, picking up a pair of whiffs and a bouncer to strand them. A Starling single and caught stealing started a 1-2-3 frame.

Chad kept his cool (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Reds got the leadoff man on for the fourth straight inning in the fifth when J-Bell muffed Cervy's throw on a bunt, with the runner scooting to second. Once again, Chet Houdini slipped the chains. J-Bell opened by dropping a bunt; he was out. Gregory continued to be the poster boy for bad ball luck; he lasered an at 'em ball to center. Jordy did the same, but to left. The Cincy nine opened the sixth with a bloop single; he was bunted up but Chad left him there in a sweet eight-pitch inning. That was it after 93 pitches - he gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits with three walks and six whiffs. Eli started it up with a pinch hit rap and J-Hay followed with a knock. Lefty Wandy Peralta took the ball from Harvey, who was at 100 tosses. He plunked Corey D to fill the bases and righty Michael Lorenzen was called on to face Starling. His sac fly tied the game and moved Josh to third. Colin also got the ball in the air, J-Hay tagged and the Buccos had the lead at 3-2. Cervy walked by J-Bell ended the party with a soft comebacker.

Tyler Glasnow came on for the seventh and got Votto, then continued the Rawling's curse by fumbling Scooter Gennett's grounder for another Bucco boot. It cleaned up well after an around-the-horn DP to end up a quiet nine-pitch frame. Jordy singled with an out, leading to naught. Kyle Crick was handed the horsehide in the eighth and tossed a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of whiffs. Red Beard singled with two gone but no insurance marker was to be had. Buckle up baby; Felipe Vazquez came in for the close. He gave up a two-out flare to center, with Billy Hamilton coming in to run for Tucker Barnhart. He stole second, but Votto lost a seven-pitch battle, swinging through a fastball. RTJR!

Red Beard's sac fly was the game winner (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Bad ball luck. Three errors. Just six singles. Sounds like a formula for a loss, but hey, the Bucs stole this one from Cincy, thanks greatly to an 0-for-12 RISP output by the Queen City club, Chad keeping his cool though constantly surrounded by runners, and a shut-down bullpen performance. After giving away so many games in the past month, it's about time the sun shined on the Pirates.

Notes:
  • Only two Pirates reached base twice tonight: Red Beard with a knock, walk & sac fly, and Cervy with a pair of free passes.
  • Tonight was the first time the Pirates have won back-to-back games since May 17th.
  • Pirates pitchers lead the NL in errors with nine.
  • There were 23,007 fans in the stands tonight. That's the biggest crowd since the Giants "Welcome home Cutch" series in May.

Reds Visit PNC Park, Kuhl v Harvey & Notes - Swags Signs, Kang Back on 40-Man

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will carried by AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan. It's a free-tee night with a black Buc's top for the first 20,000 fans and also Dollar Dog Night. Both teams were off yesterday; the Reds come into tonight on a three-game roll with a win against the Cards and two v KC. Eight games separate the two clubs, so Pittsburgh is as close to last place as to first place.

Pitchers: RHP Chad Kuhl (4-4, 3.95) starts it off against RHP Matt Harvey (1-4, 5.97). Chad has been finding his groove, giving up seven runs in his last four starts with a 3.10 ERA in his last seven outings. He's still looking to get a little deeper into games, to limit the longball, and get a win - his last W was seven starts ago on May 6th. Kuhl has pitched good ball against Cincy this year with a 2.45 ERA in two starts, charged with three runs on 11 hits in 11 frames in a pair of no-decisions. Harvey has given up 14 runs in his last 16-1/3 IP covering his last three starts, surrendering 19 hits/five homers. His last solid game as a Red was against the Bucs on May 22nd when he gave up three hits and a run in six innings, fanning five. Harvey is 2-1/4.76 in six career starts against Pittsburgh.

Chad on the bump (image Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Corey Dickerson LF, Starling Marte CF, Colin Moran 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Kuhl P. Austin sits again; otherwise it's the A-Team version 2.0.

Notes:
  • Jung-Ho Kang has been taken off the restricted list and added to the 40-man roster, which is now full. He's back on the payroll after 15 months in limbo. Being transferred to active status, per NH, was a matter of getting into baseball shape and not a performance incentive.
  • Cincy has dropped five of their last six games at PNC Park.
  • The Reds have had big trouble with their starters - their rotation's ERA is 5.58 w/a FIP of 5.36 (Pittsburgh by comparison is 4.14/4.07). But their pen has outdone ours at 3.98/4.01 to 4.61/3.78; too bad FIP isn't real-life. (stats from Fangraphs). The Cincinnati's may be coming around; they only gave up one run in their two-game sweep of the Royals.
  • Slow Starters: In the last seven games, Pirates foes have tallied in five opening frames (13 runs) while the Bucs have scored in three first rounds (three runs). The first, sixth (third time through the order) and eighth (set-up) innings have been particularly problematic for the arms so far this year.
  • If you're curious just how much poor defense has bitten the Pirates, Alex Stumpf of Bucs Dugout spells it out. (Spoiler alert - it's ugly)
  • Jon Morosi of MLB.com begins the speculation on who goes if the Bucs become sellers at the deadline. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors also looks at potential trade pieces.
  • Nick Kingham went eight scoreless frames for Indy last night, giving up two hits and fanning six. He carried a perfect game into the seventh when an infield chop went for a base hit. Max Moroff hit his fourth HR and Jung-Ho Kang went 0-for-3 with a walk and sac fly.
  • Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline first reported that, pending his physical, Pirates first-rounder Travis Swaggerty (OF - South Alabama) has agreed to a $4.4 M deal (slot value is $4,560,200). He was in the house for tonight's game and then heads to the short-season WV Black Bears.

6/15 Birthdays: Gene, Bruce, Babe, Erik, Josh, Big Wheel, Bud, Jerry & Peek-A-Boo

  • 1862 - 1B/OF/P William “Peek-A-Boo” Veach was born in Indianapolis. He only played part of season with the Alleghenys in 1890 (did pretty well, too, hitting .300) and had just a brief three-year big league career with a lifetime .215 BA. He was also a Spanish-American War vet, but he made the cut for the history pages thanks to his unique nickname. When he pitched for the Kansas City Cowboys of the Union League in 1884, his club called pick-offs with hand signals from the bench for him as he became antsy with runners aboard. Veach would shift his eyes from the field to the dugout so often before a pitch that the runners caught on and dubbed him Peek-A-Boo. Afterward, the manager put a plant in the grandstands who would wave a game program to indicate when Veach should throw over to first, but that was quickly sniffed out by the opponents, too. So the ploy to hold runners never became a thing, largely explaining why Veach became a 1B/OF and his nickname. 
  • 1863 - C Jerry Hurley was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Jerry played three MLB campaigns, getting into 33 games. Eight of those were with the 1890 Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League, where he hit .273 as Fred Carroll and Tom Quinn’s backup but wore out his welcome by sparring with manager Ned Hanlon. He did have an 11-year minor league career stretching from 1884-94 and managed briefly, spending most of his post-baseball days in Boston as an immigration official. 
Babe Dahlgren (photo source Baseball Birthdays)
  • 1912 - 1B Babe Dahlgren was born in San Francisco. He played for the Pirates from 1944-45, hitting .271 and earning an All-Star spot in 1944. Babe was famous for two things: He replaced Lou Gehrig in 1939, ending the Iron Horse’s 2,130 game playing streak, and was credited as being the first MLB player to take a drug test for a non-performance enhancing drug. He took it voluntarily (and passed) in 1943 to dispel rumors that he was smoking wacky tobaccy, a false allegation that nevertheless stuck to him; he ended up playing for seven teams in six seasons. 
  • 1916 - OF Eddie “Bud” Stewart was born in Sacramento, California. He started his nine-year MLB run (.268 lifetime BA) in Pittsburgh in 1941-42, hitting .242. He was considered a strong defensive player with good speed and a dependable pinch-hitter. His ball-playing days were interrupted by WW2 when he entered the Army. Bud was a gym teacher after his playing days, and as a California guy played as an extra in several Hollywood flicks. 
  • 1925 - Gene Baker was born in Davenport, Iowa. The back-up infielder played for the Bucs from 1957-58 and 1960-61 with a .259 BA. In 1961, he became the first African-American manager in organized baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia farm club in the New York-Penn League. In 1963, the Pirates promoted him to the big team as the second black coach in MLB, behind Buck O'Neil by three months. When Danny Murtaugh was tossed by an ump, Baker became the interim manager for two games, making him the first black to manage a team in a major league game. Baker managed Batavia again in 1964, and served as a minor league coach and manager. He then returned to Davenport and became the Bucs’ top midwest scout for 23 years. 
Gene Baker 1960 Topps
  • 1941 - RHP Bruce Dal Canton was born in California, Washington county. Dal Canton pitched for California State College and had an oddball entry to pro baseball. After graduating, he became a science teacher at Burgettstown HS and played ball in an amateur league where he was discovered by scout Rex Bowen. The team signed him in 1966 and he debuted in the majors the next year. Bruce tossed his first four big-league seasons (1967-70) in Pittsburgh to a 20-8-8, 3.57 line. He put together an 11-year career as a starter and long man, also twirling for KC, Atlanta and the White Sox. Dal Canton was a Braves minor league pitching coach for a decade when he was discovered to have cancer in 2008; he passed away six months later. 
  • 1956 - C Lance “Big Wheel” Parrish was born in Clairton. Lance spent 19 years in the show, returning home near the end of the trail as a 38-year-old in 1994, putting up a .270 BA. He was an eight-time All-Star for three different teams, six-time Silver Slugger awardee and three-time Gold Glove honoree. Since retiring, he’s been both a major and minor league coach, announcer, and is now a minor league manager. The nickname “Big Wheel” came about in the early ’80s based on a Mel Allen This Week in Baseball feature. Allen opened with “...the wheels of the Motor City were turning...” and referred to Parrish as the Big Wheel, according to Baseball By the Letters
  • 1980 - C Erik Kratz was born in Telford, Pennsylvania. The journeyman made his second appearance as a Bucco in 2016; he caught nine games in 2010 as a rookie. Defensively, he did a fine job, throwing out 50% (8-of-16) wanna-be base larcenists, but hit just .111. Pittsburgh is one of seven teams the backstop has played for in nine MLB seasons; he’s now with the Brewers. 
Josh Lindblom (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1987 - RHP Josh Lindblom was born in Lafayette, Indiana. He pitched regularly for the Dodgers and Phils from 2011-12 as part of a trek that included stops at five MLB teams, seven minor league towns and two Korean nines. The Pirates liked him; they claimed him off waivers in 2014 only to release him to the Lotte Giants of the KBO, then signed him again when he returned after two years. He spent most of his time at Indianapolis, getting into four 2017 Pirates contests and giving up nine runs in 10 plus innings. He went back to Lotte and now twirls for the Doosan Bears.