Friday, May 7, 2021

Too Little, Too Late - Pirates Drop Opener To Cubs 3-2

Today's Game: Chicago's Zach Davies spun a quick and quiet first frame. Trevor Cahill gave up a leadoff knock; it cost a run when Phil Evans dropped a two-out catch in right. That was followed by a walk, and the pitch count was up to 29 before the third out. The Bucs went 1-2-3 in the second, with the last two outs both barreled but lined to straight center and Kris Bryant's mitt. A one-out single was bunted up and plated on a two-out single (a .176 hitter, David Bote, scoring on a hit by Joc Pederson at .156) to make it 2-0. Ka'ai Tom was bopped in the side with a pitch with one away in the third and Cahill, with two strikes, bunted for an infield rap. They never moved up. The Cubs led off with consecutive knocks, followed by a wild pitch, and a sac fly made it 3-0. Pittsburgh made no noise in the fourth, and a leadoff hit for Chicago was followed by a force and DP for a calm frame. The Pirates repaid when Jake Stallings opened the fifth with a single and Todd Frazier rolled into a DP, followed by another bouncer. The first two Cubbies singled, but the beat continued as they bounced into another DP and a grounder ended it.

Luis Oviedo looks like he used his time off well - photo Pgh Pirates

Fraze singled in the sixth for all the Bucco action. Michael Feliz took the bump as Trevor was at 92 pitches and spun a clean inning. Colin Moran led off the seventh, with all things, an infield rap followed by an Evans single and Jake walk. The Toddfather tapped a soft comebacker, leading to a force at home. Ka'ai Tom then hit a the ball a bit more firmly to Davies and the resulting 1-2-3 DP put up another zero. Feliz threw a second three up, three down frame, thanks to a caught stealing after a single. Andrew Chafin toed the slab in the eighth and gave up a harmless walk to Fraze. Luis Oviedo climbed the bump and flipped a spotless frame. Ryan Tepera came on in the ninth after a deflected single by Redbeard, and Jake ground-rule doubled him to third with one away. A bouncer made it 3-1 and Ka'ai's rap cut the lead to one. Rex Brothers came on to face Wilmer Difo, who dropped a single into center to put Bucs on the corners. Fraze was bopped to load the sacks, a B-Rey milked the drama, running the count full before flying out to medium right, getting under a fastball down the middle.

Trevor pitched creditably but without much help behind him - photo MLB.com

Trevor Cahill pitched better than his line, but the Pirates defense hurt him, not just with the error but a couple of plays they left on the field because they're just not a very rangy group of glove men. And to lose by a run after you've blown a bases-loaded, no out situation...oh well, get after 'em again tomorrow; this version of the Cubs isn't exactly the '27 Yankees.

Notes:

  • Redbeard and Jake each had a pair of hits. B-Rey had a tough day; he went 0-for-5 and left seven runners on the bases.
  • The Pirates have scored six runs in their last five games.
  • Ke'Bryan Hayes took ground balls today, so he's coming along although his timeline to return is still TBD.

Tomorrow's Game: The game starts at 2:20 and will be aired by AT&T SportsNetMLB Network (out of market) & 93.7 The Fan. Wil Crowe takes on Trevor Williams.

Friday Opener: Trevor Cahill v Zach Davies at Wrigley

Today's Game: The first pitch at Wrigley is at 2:20 and the game will be on AT&T SportsNet, MLB Network (out of market) & 93.7 The Fan. This is already the third series between the two clubs, with an even split of the first six matches. The Cubbies are coming off a sweep of the Dodgers while the Pirates have dropped 6-of-7, due largely to an offense that's been, well, offensive. Shelty could stand Big Mo to make an about face.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B; Bryan Reynolds CF; Erik Gonzalez SS; Colin Moran 1B; Phil Evans RF; Jake Stallings C; Todd Frazier 3B; Ka'ai Tom LF; Trevor Cahill P. Kevin Newman gets a seat and the Frazier boys are both in the lineup.

Hunter Owen escaped a HBP with a bruise - image 2021 Pgh Pirates

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-3/7.40) starts it off against RHP Zach Davies (1-2/8.22). Trevor, much like Keller, has been on an every-other-start schedule, good in one and battered in the next (he is due to be good Trevor today). Cahill is 3-2/4.88 in six career games (four starts) against Chi-town. Davies is 5-6 with a 5.06 ERA in 16 career starts against Pittsburgh. He was solid in the first outing and run off the field in the second, both in early April. In his last three games, he hasn't made it past four frames and has a 6.89 ERA, walking 12 in 15-2/3 IP.

Notes:

  • Adam Frazier has a seven-game hitting streak.
  • Hunter Owen was diagnosed with just a bruised hand after being clipped on Wednesday, so he's good to go today.
  • Wrigley woes: The Pirates have lost two-of-three at Wrigley Field this year and gone 2-15 in their last 17 games dating back to 9/26/18. 
  • Ian Happ, who was injured at the beginning of the week after a collision with Nico Hoerner, is expected to be ready for action this weekend, tho he's not in today's Cubbies lineup.
  • It will be Chicago spring weather this weekend - mid fifties today and maybe 50 on Saturday & Sunday with clouds and a breeze (10 MPH) blowing in.

Tomorrow's Game: The game starts at 2:20 and will be aired by AT&T SportsNetMLB Network (out of market) & 93.7 The Fan. Wil Crowe takes on Trevor Williams.

5/7 Through the 1960s: Little Poison Dealt; Clarke Cycle; Early Contract Clash; Triple Dip; Suhr-ly; Bucs/Grays; Red Letter Homers; Gems & Game Tales; HBD Dave

  • 1883 - Henry Oberbeck made his debut with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association. It was a brief visit as he went two-for-nine with a double and a run scored in two games before he ended up with St. Louis, where he lasted until late June. But he did become one of the earliest guys to validate a players contract. The Browns cut him loose, and he took them to court, seeking the full $785 owed him under his deal. The jury found in his favor (although he only got $431.12; they apparently pro-rated the amount due) and it withstood an appeal. And Chris was a player that could use the money - his 60-game career was over after 1884 and a .176 lifetime BA; he also pitched in a pinch with an 0-5/5.30 slash. He retired and worked for the Post Office until his death in 1921. 
  • 1903 - For the second time in his career‚ Fred Clarke hit for the cycle and added a walk, sacrifice and stolen base, but the effort came up short as the Reds beat the Pirates 10-8 at the Palace of the Fans. The Pirates lost Honus Wagner to a temper tantrum after a collision at 2B with Reds IF Jack Morrissey. Hans threatened to punch Morrissey, umpire Bug Holliday restrained him, and the pair then rolled around in the dirt for a bit. The Flying Dutchman was ejected and suspended for three games. 
Dave Barbee - 1932 photo/The Sporting News
  • 1905 - OF Dave Barbee was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. After a 1926 job with the A’s, Barbee spent the next several years in the high minors. He smacked 41 homers in 1930 and in the following campaign hit .332 w/47 home runs. In 1932, Dave got the call to join Pittsburgh, selected by the Bucs in the Rule C draft for minor-league players (a precursor of the Rule 5 draft). He was the Pirates' starting left fielder by May but lost the job in August. In 97 Bucco games, he batted .257 with five home runs. Barbee went back to the minors and retired in 1938. 
  • 1916 - Max Carey homered off Cubs rookie Jimmy Lavender in the fourth to give the Pirates a 1-0 win. The Cubs lost 10 decisions by a 1-0 score that year, tying the MLB record. Erv Kantlehner tossed a three-hitter to top Lavender’s five-hit effort at Weeghman Park. 
  • 1922 - Buc rookie RF Walter Mueller hit a HR (spoiler alert: it was an inside-the-park shot) on the first pitch of his career off none other than the Cubs’ Hall-of-Famer Grover Alexander, the first major leaguer to accomplish the feat. The Bucs won 11-5 at Wrigley Field with Mueller collecting five RBI to help Hal Carlson to the win and helping launch the Buccos on a 12-of-14 game winning stretch. In four big league seasons, Mueller hit one more HR; it also was an inside-the-park shot against the Cubbies. 
  • 1925 - SS Glenn Wright snagged the Cards’ Jim Bottomley's ninth-inning line drive, doubled up Jimmy Cooney at second, and tagged Rogers Hornsby coming from first to complete the only unassisted triple play in franchise history. It didn’t help; the Bucs lost to St. Louis 10-9 at Forbes Field after taking a 9-4 lead into the eighth inning and then allowing the Redbirds to score six times. Eddie Moore had three Bucco hits, as did Al Niehaus, but it wasn’t enough as Emil Yde, Babe Adams, and Johnny Morrison were battered in that fateful eighth.
Glenn Wright - 1925 National Photo Co/Library of Congress
  • 1930 - Gus Suhr went 3-for-3 with a double, triple, two walks, three runs scored, and five RBI as the Bucs blasted the NY Giants 16-8 at Forbes Field. Steve Swetonic pitched 4-1/3 innings of shutout ball to earn the win in relief of Erv Brame. The first five Pirates in the batting order collected 12 hits, four walks, scored 12 times and drove in nine tallies. 
  • 1932 - In an unusual twin bill at Forbes Field, the Pirates and Phillies played the opener and the Negro League Homestead Grays hosted the Cleveland Browns in the nightcap. The Bucs lost 5-3 despite rookie Dave Barbee’s pair of triples. The Grays walloped the Browns 21-3; eight of the nine Homestead starters had multiple hits. 
  • 1941 - Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner was traded to the Boston Braves for pitcher Nick Strincevich, where he rejoined his brother Paul who had been released in the off-season. Afterward, he bumped around the NL, playing for four teams over four years before re-signing with Pittsburgh as an insurance policy in 1944. He retired after 1945, with 17 years and .319 BA as a Bucco on his way to the Hall of Fame. 
  • 1944 - The Bucs beat the Cubs at Wrigley 3-2‚ Chicago's 12th loss in a row‚ to spoil Charlie Grimm's return as Cubs manager. The Pirates scored twice in the ninth to tie it off Hank Wyse and won it in the 11th frame for Xavier Rescigno, who relieved Preacher Roe. Pittsburgh took the opener 6-5, and that one took 14 frames after the Cubs put up a pair to tie the game in the ninth.
Xavier Rescigno - undated photo RD Maloney/Associated Press
  • 1958 - Bob Skinner‚ Ted Kluszewski (who hit another in the seventh) and Frank Thomas hit HRs in the fifth inning (Thomas also had a pair during the game) against the Giants at Seals Stadium‚ but it wasn’t enough firepower as SF won 8-6. 
  • 1965 - The Pirates scored three times in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Reds, 5-4, at Forbes Field. Manny Mota delivered a two-out, walk off single that brought home Gene Freese to complete the comeback. Tommie Sisk picked up the win in relief of starter Bob Friend.

5/7 From 1970: Pops 20th Year; Raul Reneges; Swipe-fest; Solo City; Phil's 1st; Game Tales; HBD Mark & Keon

  • 1970 - OF/1B Mark Smith was born in Pasadena, California. He only played for the Bucs for two seasons (1997-98) with a .249 BA and 11 HR in 366 PA, but delivered one of the franchise’s clutch blows when his pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the 10th won the combined no hitter of Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon of July 12th, 1997 at TRS against Houston. 
  • 1973 - For the first time in baseball history, one team scored its five runs on five solo homers in a 5-4 Pirates win over LA at Dodger Stadium, also tying a ballpark record. The long balls were launched by Willie Stargell, Dave Cash, Richie Hebner, Manny Sanguillen, and Al Oliver. It was just enough to give Bob Johnson the win in relief of Luke Walker; he and Jim Rooker tossed five innings of scoreless, two-hit ball after Walker was chased. 
Bob Johnson - 1973 Topps
  • 1974 - The ‘Stros beat the Pirates 2-1 at the Astrodome in one hour, 48 minutes, as Tom Griffin pitched a one-hitter to outgun Dock Ellis, who struck out 10. Willie Stargell had the Buccos lone hit; the run scored in the fourth when Houston committed three consecutive two-out errors, allowing one Bucco to plate but cutting down another when Manny Sanguillen was tossed out at home on a Bob Watson-to-Doug Rader-to-Milt May relay to recover from the last misthrow. May, who was a Pirate the year before, hit the game-winning triple as he haunted his old mateys on this day. 
  • 1977 - In a start-to-finish slugfest, the Pirates beat the Reds, 12-10 at TRS to improve their record to 16-7. Trailing 4-0 after a half-inning of play, Willie Stargell hit his first of two home runs in the bottom of the first, a three-run shot, and the game was afoot. Dave Parker extended his hitting streak to 18 games and Al Oliver went 2-for-4 with a home run. The two clubs combined for 26 hits of which 14 went for extra-bases, half of them homers. Terry Forster got the win with help from Grant Jackson and a save by Kent Tekulve. 
  • 1978 - Around and around they went - the Pirates stole eight bases of Dodger lefty Tommy John, who was notorious for a slow delivery and disdain at holding runners, and raced their way to a 6-4 win against LA at TRS. Omar Moreno, Frank Taveras and Bill Robinson each swiped a pair of sacks, while Phil Garner and even Pirates hurler Jim Rooker joined the parade. The City of Angels made a late run at the Bucs, scoring in the eighth on four walks (Pittsburgh pitchers counteracted the running attack by issuing eight free passes in all) and tightening the gap with three unearned runs in the ninth until Kent Tekulve closed the book. 
  • 1981 - Still gimpy with a balky knee, 41-year-old Willie Stargell made his first appearance of the season playing 1B against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium in the second game of a twin bill. It was a big outing in that Pops became just the fourth player in MLB history to play 20 years for the same team he began with (the others were Cap Anson of the Cubs, Mel Ott of the Giants, and Stan Musial of the Cardinals), a streak that began in 1962. The bad wheel limited him to 38 games that season and 1982 would be his big league swan song. 
Starg nears the end of the road - 1981 Fleer
  • 1990 - OF Keon Broxton was born in Lakeland, Florida. The Pirates purchased his contract from Arizona in 2013, and he was called up in September, 2016. He got into seven games and went 0-for-2, but scored three runs and stole a base as a pinch-runner. In December, Broxton was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Trey Supak for 1B/3B Jason Rogers. Rogers became redundant when the Pirates signed David Freese while Broxton is trying to earn a regular spot in Milwaukee, featuring speed and flashing leather but having issues reaching base while decent power but with a sky-high K rate. He’s now in the Twins organization. 
  • 1993 - The Pirates drew almost 31,000 to TRS, only to lose to Montreal 1-0. It wasn’t as if the Bucs were shut down, but they stranded 11 runners and went 0-for-10 w/RISP on eight hits. Worse, they gifted Montreal its run via a bopped-in-the-foot batter, cross-up on a rundown throw to second that no one covered, a bouncer and sac fly. Randy Tomlin was the tough luck loser. 
  • 2004 - OF Raul Mondesi returned to the Dominican Republic with the Pirates blessing to fight a lawsuit filed by former big leaguer Mario Guerrero. However, as time went by, it looked like a smokescreen to get out of his deal with the Bucs rather than any sort of legal hassle. If so, the charade worked - he stayed away, and the Pirates, who could have iced him on the restricted list, instead decided it was better to cut him loose, which they did on the 19th by terminating his contract. On the 30th, he signed with Anaheim. 
  • 2008 - The Pirates whipped the Giants, 3-1, at PNC Park. Second-year man Phil Dumatrait won his first MLB decision while vet Barry Zito lost his seventh game in seven starts. The game’s big blow was a two-run homer in the fourth by Xavier Nady. Dumatrait was a promising 26-year-old who tossed 5-2/3 IP of two-hit, shutout ball on this day, but would be cut down by arm surgery later in the year. He came back late in 2009, was ineffective in two starts and refused an assignment to the minors, ending up in Korea in 2010. He worked for the Twins in 2011 and retired the following season. 
Cutch - 2013 Panini Triple Play
  • 2013 - Andrew McCutchen recorded his second four-hit outing in six games to lead the Pirates to a 4-1 win against the Mariners at PNC Park. Garrett Jones added a two-run homer in the eighth inning to ice it for the Buccos. Starter Jeanmar Gomez got the win and Jason Grilli the save in a game that saw five Bucco pitchers cover the final four frames. 
  • 2015 - The Pirates ended a five game skid (part of a 7-of-8 games losing string) as their bats came alive in a 7-2 win against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh had scored just five runs during their slide, dropping three walk-off losses to St. Louis and a shutout the day before. AJ Burnett got the win; the club had scored just five runs behind him in his first five starts. To add the cherry on top, AJ picked up strikeout #2,401, putting him among the top 40 whiff artists in baseball history. Andrew McCutchen broke out of a season-long slump with three hits to lead a balanced Bucco attack at PNC Park.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

5/6 Through the 1950s: Cliff No-No; LCBC Forms; Lennox Cycle; Diamond Cover Unveiled; HBD Alberto, Dick, Earl, Bob, Lute & Loose

  • 1883 - RHP Ed “Loose” Karger was born in San Angelo, Texas. Karger started his six-year MLB career with the Bucs in 1906, going 2-3/1.93 in six outings before being flipped to the Cards for veteran Chappie McFarlane. Bad move; McFarlane was waived in August while Karger would toss a 1907 perfecto (off the books; it was only seven innings) and won 46 games as a hard-luck hurler with a career 2.79 ERA. There’s some debate over his moniker; some say it was a description of his demeanor while others claim it was because of his easy delivery on the mound. 
  • 1887 - The League of Colored Baseball Clubs, a precursor to the Negro Leagues, opened its schedule with a game at Recreation Park. The NY Gorhams beat the Pittsburgh Keystones 11-8 and a pitcher named Grosa before a crowd of 1‚200. One of the Keystone stars was King Solomon "Sol" White, an infielder, manager, executive, sportswriter and one of the pioneers of the Negro leagues. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Game day was celebrated by a parade starting at Grant and Second in town that snaked to the North Side park, then considered part of Allegheny City, behind a band that performed a concert before the ballgame. Because of rainouts and small crowds, the poorly financed LCBC (formed in large part due to the efforts of Keystones owner Walter Brown) and recognized by the National Agreement as a legitimate minor league, folded quickly on May 23rd (the Keystones finished 3-4). Though the league failed, the Keystones formed again professionally in 1921-22 as a National Negro League club before disbanding for good in 1923. 
Sol White - 1884 snip Wilberforce team photo
  • 1890 - IF Lutellus "Lute" Boone was born in Hazelwood. After four years with the Yankees, the Pirates brought Lute back home in 1918 to help fill the hole left by the retired Hans Wagner. He couldn’t quite fill those shoes (he batted .198 for the Buccos) and that ended his big-league days. He continued to soldier on in the minors with 14 years in the American Association and played for four minor league pennant winners. He retired from baseball in 1936, took up residence in Brentwood and went to work for Mesta Machine Company in Homestead before retiring and going to his reward at age 92. 
  • 1906 - The Pirates became the first team to use a canvas tarp to cover the infield when it stormed after the game at North Side’s Exposition Park, a damp 5-1 loss to the Cubs. Bucco skipper Fred Clarke was granted a patent for the tarp he designed, calling it a “diamond cover.” Apparently it worked; they played the next day. 
  • 1914 - OF Ed Lennox of the Pittsburgh Rebels recorded the only cycle ever hit during the Federal League’s existence against the KC Packers in a 10-4 win, hitting two homers. A cycle with two long balls wouldn’t be duplicated again until 1937 when it was accomplished by The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. 
  • 1921 - RHP Bob Chesnes was born in Oakland, California. He’s a story of what coulda been. As a 27-year-old back from the service, he spent three years dazzling minor league hitters before the Pirates bought his contract from the San Francisco Seals for $100,000 and four players in 1947. He went 14-6 the next season with 15 complete games and a 3.57 ERA/.275 BA (he was a former SS). But he only won 10 games in the next two seasons, the victim of a burned out arm, and was done as an MLB player by 1950. 
  • 1923 - C Earl Turner was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Earl’s MLB days were spent sipping cups of coffee in Pittsburgh in 1948 and again in 1950, hitting .240 in his 42-game career. Turner spent most of 1950-52 in the upper minors before retiring from baseball. 
Dick Cole - 1954 Topps
  • 1926 - IF Dick Cole was born in Long Beach. Cole played for Pittsburgh in 1951 and again in 1953-56, batting .253 mostly as a bench player, although he was a regular in 1954. Later, after a stint with the Central Scouting Bureau, Cole became a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1970 to 1974, earning the title of Scouting Supervisor the last three years. 
  • 1951 - Cliff Chambers pitched the second no-hitter in Pirates' history (Nick Maddox tossed the first in 1907), a 3-0 victory in the nitecap of a doubleheader at Boston’s Braves Field. He wasn’t exactly on top of his game, walking eight and uncorking a wild pitch, but was untouchable when he was in the strike zone. Warren Spahn won the opener handily for the Braves by a 6-0 tally. It was Chambers’ last W as a Bucco; he was traded to the Cards a month later with a 3-6/5.58 line. 
  • 1956 - OF Alberto Lois was born in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. He played briefly for the Bucs in 1978-79. He was a big-time, five-tool prospect signed as a 17-year-old by super-scout Howie Haak, but a series of nagging injuries gave him a rep as a malingerer that dogged him in the minors. Still, he got a quick look in ‘78 and was called up during the ‘79 dog days. Lois got into 11 games, all of them as a pinch runner, and flashed his wheels by scoring six runs. The Pirates never got a chance to polish his game. One night that winter, he drove his pickup truck into a stalled train sitting at an unlit crossing that he said he never saw. The wreck killed several of his friends and permanently injured his right eye, closing the book on his career.

5/6 From 1960: Ray PoM; Walk Off By Review; Jose, J-Hay Walk Offs; Unlikely Heroes; Donn, Sid, Frankie, JHK & Chad Shine

  • 1968 - The Bucs’ Jim Bunning and the Bravos’ Pat Jarvis hooked up in a duel at Atlanta Stadium, with Pittsburgh coming out on top by a 2-1 score as Donn Clendenon’s two-run homer in the fourth frame held up. There was some drama in the eighth when Bunning sprained his ankle (it proved minor; he didn’t miss a start) and Ronnie Kline had to come in cold, but the vet took it home, giving up two hits over the final two frames to save Bunning’s win. 
  • 1986 - 2B Johnny Ray was announced as the NL’s Player of the Month for April. He hit .380 during the month with 18 RBI, and at the time of the award, was leading the league with a .391 BA. Johnny was the first Pirate to be named POTM since Dave Parker in September, 1978 (John Candelaria was Pitcher of the Month in July, 1983). 
  • 1988 - Sid Bream doubled his RBI count for the year by chasing home four runs, including a 12th-inning three-run homer, to propel the Buccos past the Padres, 4-1, in front of 25,045 fans at TRS. With two gone, Andy Van Slyke singled and Bobby Bonilla walked ahead of Bream taking Mark Davis’ heater over the RF wall. He drove in the first run in the opening frame with a bad-hop single, then stranded five more runners until his homer ended it. But the pitchers were the evening’s heroes - Bob Walk, Jeff Robinson and winner Barry Jones limited the Friars to six hits.
Hero of the day - 1988 Score
  • 1992 - Jose Lind’s 16th-inning single over a drawn-in infield drove in Don Slaught, who had tripled ahead of him, with the winning run as the Pirates bested the Braves 4-3 at TRS. Bob Patterson claimed the win, being the last in a chain of five relievers who worked 11-⅔ innings of near zippo ball, giving up just one unearned run. The Pirates stayed alive twice with two down, getting hits from Cecil Espy in the ninth and Jay Bell in the 13th to erase Brave leads. 
  • 1994 - The Bucs proved to be a good luck charm to Chicago, ending a couple of Chi-Town losing streaks. The Cubs' 10-1 victory over the Pirates ended pitcher Anthony Young's personal 27-game losing streak and also snapped Chicago’s record 14-game winless string at Wrigley. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates put up six runs in the ninth inning to rally past the Cubs at Wrigley Field by an 11-9 count. With two down in the final frame and still down a run after scoring three times, Wil Cordero tripled on a 1-2 pitch to tie it, Pat Meares doubled in the go-ahead run and Mike Benjamin’s single added an insurance tally. Brian Giles and Luis Sojo homered earlier in the contest and had five RBI between them to help counter three Cub homers. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates won the first-ever MLB walk-off victory by review against the SF Giants at PNC Park. A taut pitching duel duel between Tim Hudson and Charlie Morton went to the wire. After reliever Tony Watson left G-Men on the corners in the ninth, Starling Marte batted against Hudson with two gone and banged a ball high off the Clemente Wall. He raced to third and steamed home when the throw skipped by the base. In a bang-bang play at the dish, ump Quinn Wolcott called Marte out. Clint Hurdle challenged the decision, and the replay showed that C Buster Posey had missed the tag, giving the Bucs a 2-1 win. 
  • 2016 - The Pirates held on to beat the St Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium 4-2. Frankie Liriano’s 10 strikeout effort and the return of Jung Ho Kang led the charge to victory. Liriano’s dominating outing was marred only by a two-base wild pitch, which brought home the first run and set up the other. Kang had missed almost eight months to a gruesome leg/knee injury and was making his first MLB appearance since the prior September. He started inauspiciously, hitting into a DP and then popping out. But he found his sea legs quickly, hitting homers in back-to-back at bats and driving in three runs in a triumphal return. 
Back again, tho not for very long - 2016 Topps
  • 2017 - Josh Harrison hit a walkoff single in the 10th inning, plating Gift Ngoepe to give the Pirates a 2-1 win over the Brewers at PNC Park. Josh Bell, Fran Cervelli and J-Hay each chipped in with two hits while Gerrit Cole worked the first seven innings, giving up a run on two hits w/eight strikeouts. Felipe Rivero struck out the side in the eighth and Tony Watson pitched the final two frames for his first win of the season. 
  • 2018 - Chad Kuhl’s last outing featured four homers surrendered in 4-2/3 frames, but today he was a different hurler, tossing seven innings of one-hit/eight-whiff ball against the Brewers at Miller Park as the Pirates breezed to a 9-0 win. Richard Rodriguez came in for the mop-up; he gave up a single while striking out everyone else. Adam Frazier, Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer launched solo home runs among the Bucs 13 hits. Mercer and Corey Dickerson had three hits and Frazier two to lead the batsmen in a team effort; six Pirates drove in runs and seven touched home.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Bucs Fall Short, Lose Series-Deciding Game 4-2 To San Diego

Today's Game: Yu Darvish started off with a 1-2-3 frame of decently smote balls, with Bryan Reynolds' drive to the track an exceptionally loud out. The Padres opened with a gift runner when Colin Moran couldn't field Eric Gonzalez's short hop toss. The runner helped his cause by being inside the baseline, bringing Shelty out, but that's a call only rung up on the Bucs. A bunt and grounder put the runner on third, but JT Brubaker left him there. Ka'ai Tom worked a two-out walk in the second and moved up on a wild pitch in an otherwise quiet frame. A rare Bru walk was erased on a caught stealing and the next two outs were routine. Adam Frazier singled with two away in the third for all the Pirates noise. Victor Catarini opened the scoring with a leadoff long fly. Back-to-back singles (one a dribbler thrown away by Brubaker) and a walk with two gone put JT in a self-made jam, but a full-count bouncer saved the day. With one away in the fourth, Redbeard and Jake Stallings singled, then never moved. A SD knock and one-out fumble by E-Gon were rectified by a pair of whiffs. Darvish struck out the side in the fifth. The Padres put together a walk and consecutive knocks to make it 2-0.

B-Rey had a big bop tonight - 2020 Topps Heritage

The Bucs lit up the board when B-Rey spanked a leadoff homer in the sixth. E-Gon followed with an infield knock and Redbeard singled him to third, later stealing second (not a misprint!). Ka'ai lifted a sac fly an out later to knot the score. Hunter Owen was bopped painfully in the wrist on Yu's 98th toss (he was replaced by Phil Evans in the bottom half) and Craig Stammen was waved in to slam the door. Duane Underwood got the call; Gonzalez made the Bucs fourth error to allow the first hitter aboard. A double put Friars at second and third and Jake Cronenworth's rap chased them both home an out later. Tim Hill climbed the hill in the seventh and retired the Bucs in order. Chris Stratton spun a clean outing. Emilio Pagan didn't have a ball leave the infield in the eighth. Clay Holmes gave up a walk and knock with two down with no harm done. Mark Melancon answered the ninth-inning bell. Kevin Newman beat out an infield single in the hole with two outs, but the fourth grounder the Shark served this frame was enough to tuck it away after a review rightly flipped the original safe call.

Geez, this offense...Chicago is throwing three guys with ERA's of 8.22 (Zach Davies), 6.00 (Trevor Williams) and 6.07 (Kyle Hendricks) over the weekend. If that trio and Wrigley aren't a cure, ho boy... 

Notes:

  • Colin Moran had two hits, the only Buc to reach base more than once. Fraze kept alive his hitting streak, now at six games.
  • E-Gon had played errorless ball through 26 games; he committed three errors tonight. He also handled 12 chances at the hot corner, the most for a Pirates 3B since 1939.
  • Redbeard's swiped sack was the first of his MLB career; it was on his fourth attempt.
  • Prob not a surprise, but going into tonight, the Pirates were last in the MLB for hard hit balls (28.6%) and fly ball/HR ratio (8.7%, the only team not in double figures %-wise) per Fangraphs.
  • Altoona RHP Cody Bolton, the Pirates' #10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was placed on the minor league IL with a knee injury that could be long-term. He'll get it thoroughly checked out early next week.

Tomorrow's Game: Pittsburgh is off tomorrow and will pick it up again Friday against the Cubbies at Wrigley Field. The Bucs will start RHP Trevor Cahill (1-3/7.40) v RHP Zach Davies (1-2/8.22) in the opener.

Wednesday Night Rubber Match: JT Brubaker Closes It Out v Yu Darvish

Today's Game: The getaway match starts at 8:10 and will be aired on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. After this contest, it's adios, Padres - this is the last regular season meeting between the clubs this year. And it's not just the rubber match for this set, but the year - the squads have split their first six contests.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B; Bryan Reynolds CF; Erik Gonzalez 3B; Colin Moran 1B; Jake Stallings C; Ka'ai Tom LF; Hunter Owen RF; Kevin Newman SS; JT Brubaker P. Hunter Owen gets his first MLB start tonight, and if you called an Owen-Reynolds-Tom outfield a week or so ago, go to the head of the class.

Hunter Owen debuts - 2021 Pirates promo photo

Pitchers: RHP JT Brubaker (2-2/2.63) ends the set against RHP Yu Darvish (3-1/2.13) in a pretty good looking matchup. Bru has become the out-of-the-gate Buc ace, and in his last four starts has gone five+ innings while surrendering three or fewer runs. This is his first battle against the Friars. Darvish one-ups JT lately - he's allowed just one run per start in his last five outings while going at least six frames, and has a 3-1 win against the Pirates this year already in the bank.

Notes:

  • Fraze is on a six-game hitting streak and has hit safely in seven of his last eight games.
  • Ric Rod has retired 28 straight batters, a reliever's perfect game + one.
  • Kyle Crick has not allowed a hit in his last eight appearances (7-2/3IP).
  • All the IL guys are progressing nicely and none are expected back in the short term.

Tomorrow's Game: Pittsburgh is off tomorrow and will pick it up again Friday against the Cubbies at Wrigley Field. The Bucs will start RHP Trevor Cahill (1-3/7.40) in the opener.

5/5 Through the 1950s: Beanballs; Sunday in Boston; Dodgers Draw; Bad Day; Game Tales; RIP Denny; HBD Jose, Tommy, Wattie & Eude

  • 1858 - Pirate manager Bill “Wattie” Watkins was born in Brantford, Ontario. In 1898, Watkins was hired as the manager of the Pirates and his club finished in eighth place (out of twelve teams) with a 72–76 record. Watkins returned in 1899 but resigned in May after the team began the season with a 7-15 record. He was known as a strict disciplinarian in an era of free spirits and was also among the first skippers to give signs to hitters from the bench. 
  • 1883 - OF Gene “Eude” Curtis was born in Bethany, West Virginia. His MLB resume consists of a 1903 stop with the Pirates, and the Western League call-up tore it up for five games, going 8-for-19 (.421) with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored. The 6’3” speedster from WVU went on to a seven-year career in the minors, playing for 13 different teams. 
  • 1891 - Talk about your bad inning in Chicago: LF Pete Browning bunted into a triple play in the top of the sixth frame and then booted a ball to allow the game’s only run in the bottom half as Pittsburgh lost to the Chicago Colts 1-0. Ed Stein, who tossed a two hitter, took the decision over Pud Galvin, who surrendered six knocks. As the Pittsburgh Press wryly noted of the Pirate hitters: “Sluggers who don’t slug...will rarely win victories.” 
Pete Browning - Mears/TSN Hologram
  • 1894 - Beanballs go back a long way. Per the Pittsburgh Press: “In the fifth (St. Louis P Pink) Hawley acted as though he were trying to hit (Pirates SS Jack) Glasscock with a pitched ball. Two (pitches) came dangerously close to Jack’s chin and when the third went under his head the shortstop said ‘I’ll throw my bat if you do that again.’ Hawley put the fourth in the same spot and to the surprise of everyone Glasscock sailed his stick toward the pitcher’s box. Hawley got out of the way but did not run when Glasscock rushed up. The men did not come together, however, as (Pirates Captain Patsy) Donovan promptly parted them and restored order. Glasscock was fined $10 for the act.” The article went on to add that “The governor was not asked to order out the militia, but Umpire McQuaid could not have preserved order at Exposition Park had it not been for the timely assistance of Captain Donovan.” The game was as exciting as the sideshow. It was tied 5-5 in the ninth when Donovan made a diving catch in right to close the frame and save a run, then the Pirates won it in their half when Glasscock’s two-out knock scored Patsy from second. Gotta love karma! 
  • 1900 - Executive Denny McKnight passed away in Pittsburgh at age 52 and was buried in Allegheny Cemetery. He owned the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, the predecessors of the Pirates, and helped form the American Association, a major league, serving as the AA’s president until 1886. He was ousted after a rhubarb regarding the contract of Sam Barkley; some say that incident played a role in the Alleghenys jumping to the National League in 1887 with McKnight retaining ownership interests until 1890 when he returned to the business world after William Kerr & Phil Auten became co-owners. 
  • 1929 - The Boston Braves played their first Sunday home game in history. Apparently they still considered it a day of rest as they lost to Pirates, 7-2, before 35,000 fans. P Burleigh Grimes aided his own cause by starting a third inning triple play. Five Bucs had a pair of knocks each, and the Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd, each tripled at Braves Field. 
  • 1935 - Pirate infielder Jose Pagan was born in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. After spending seven years with the Giants, the infielder played in Pittsburgh for the next eight seasons (1965-72). He was used in every position but pitcher and center field during his time here and hit .263 as the Bucs super-sub. Pagan played four games in the 1971 series and doubled home Willie Stargell with the eventual winning run in the eighth inning of Game Seven. 
Jose Pagan - 1969 Topps
  • 1941 - IF Tommy Helms was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. Helms spent 1976 and a bit of 1977 in Pittsburgh (.242 BA as a utilityman) as part of his 14-year MLB resume. The Pirates got him from Houston for Art Howe, sold him to Oakland a year later, got him back four months after that in the Phil Garner mega deal, then released him in June. He finished the 1977 campaign with Boston to conclude his major league stay. He coached and managed for the Reds briefly, leaving the organization after feuding with owner Marge Schott. 
  • 1946 - The Bucs took two from the first place Brooklyn Dodgers, 5-4, in 11 innings and 4-3 in a six-inning game shortened by the Sunday curfew. The game drew an overflow crowd of 37,953 as the Pirates whittled da Bums lead to two games. The SRO folk were on the field behind ropes, and the teams combined for nine ground rule doubles that ended up in the sea of unseated fans at Forbes Field. Jack Hallett won the opener and Preacher Roe took the nightcap. Billy Cox had the hot stick, with four hits, including a pair of two baggers, and three RBI over the course of the afternoon. 
  • 1958 - The Bucs were up by 10 runs entering the final frame, but hung on by a gnat’s eyelash to claim an 11-10 win over the Giants. Pinch-hitter Don Taussig popped out with the bases loaded to end the game at San Francisco's Seals Stadium. The Giants sent a record six pinch hitters to the plate in the frame‚ and three scored. Don Gross, the fourth pitcher of the inning, got the save for Vern Law. The Pirate attack was led by RC Stevens and Frank Thomas, who both homered and combined for five RBI.

5/5 From 1960: Clemente Unhappy; Security Issues; Clines Dangled; Stairs Swat; Rallies & Game Tales

  • 1960 - Things looked bleak after six innings for the Bucs at Wrigley Field with the score 7-2 Cubbies. But the Buccos put up a five spot in the seventh (Roberto Clemente’s two-run homer was the biggest blow) to tie it and Bill Virdon won the game with a two-out, two-on triple in the ninth as the Pirates rallied for a 9-7 win. The real heroes were pitchers Jim Umbricht, Fred Green and ElRoy Face who combined to hold Chicago to one run over the final seven frames. 
Roberto was in the news OTD - Topps 1963
  • 1965 - Roberto Clemente made the front page of the Post Gazette when he told the beat gang “I wouldn’t care if they traded me. I’m unhappy here...because the team is going badly (they were 7-13) and I seem to be getting blamed for it because I’m not hitting.” The trigger for the outburst was being held out of the lineup for a game at Chicago by Harry Walker. Clemente had a bout of malaria in the off season and lost 20 pounds, and The Hat decided a rest would help Arriba, with the off day giving him three straight days of respite because of a break in the schedule. The pair got together the next day and cleared the smoke during a breakfast meeting, and the time off probably helped. Clemente was hitting .264 at the time, but after a slow week or two, he regained his strength and was batting over .300 by the end of the month, finishing the campaign with a .329 BA, tops in the league. 
  • 1968 - Thanks to a three-run eighth inning, the Pirates defeated the Phils 5-2 at Connie Mack Stadium behind Luke Walker, Dave Wickersham (the winner), and Bob Moose, backed by a 12-hit attack that saw every position player but Donn Clendenon collect a hit. Jerry May led the offense with two hits and two RBI; Roberto Clemente, Maury Wills and Manny Mota also added a pair of knocks. The game ended an unusual losing streak - the Bucs had dropped the first six televised games of the campaign before finally claiming a broadcast contest. 
  • 1972 - Dock Ellis, along with teammates Rennie Stennett and Willie Stargell, missed the team bus to Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. When they arrived late, the security guard asked for identification. None of the trio had any proper papers on them, but they all had their World Series rings engraved with their names and tried to use that as ID. The guard refused to accept that as legit, Dock verbally abused the officer (“I gave him a thousand bleep-bleeps” he told the Pittsburgh Press), had a gun pulled on him (quickly holstered) to quiet him down and then was maced when the guard claimed Ellis cocked his fist at him. The guard also alleged that Ellis was drunk and had a bottle of wine with him; Dock denied that charge. They all eventually got in and Dock was later hauled into Cincinnati Municipal Court for disturbing the peace (the charges were later dropped). GM Joe Brown said the players didn’t have team ID with them because the club had never issued any, not seeing a need for them. Quickly after the incident, the Pirates issued identification cards to all the players, with their pictures on the back. To make it a perfect day, the Bucs lost the game 5-4, their eighth defeat in 10 outings. 
Gene on the market - 1973 Topps
  • 1973 - The Pittsburgh Press floated trade rumors with San Diego, who dangled C Pat Corrales and then P Steve Arlin for OF Gene Clines. Clines remained a Buc through 1974 (and he was more than open to being traded as he was buried on the bench), then was swapped to the Mets in the off season for C Duffy Dyer. Corrales called it a career after hitting .208 in ‘73 while Arlin lasted until ‘74, pitching to a 5.51 ERA. 
  • 1985 - The Pirates beat the Dodgers 3-2 at TRS by using their eyes more than their bats. Joe Orsulak and Johnny Ray drew bases-loaded walks off Tom Niedenfuer in the eighth inning to plate the tying and winning runs. Bill Madlock went 3-for-3 with a walk while Bill Almon and Orsulak had a pair of raps. Rick Rhoden got the win after allowing two runs in eight innings with John Candelaria pitching a clean ninth for the save. 
  • 1987 - Behind four long balls, the Bucs defeated the Padres 10-8 at Jack Murphy Stadium. The four-baggers were smacked by Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, RJ Reynolds and surprisingly, Rafael Belliard, his first career shot. Belliard had two hits and three RBI, and wouldn’t hit his second and final MLB home run until a decade later in 1997. 
  • 1998 - Feliz Cinco de Mayo! The Pirates defeated St. Louis, 5-2, at Three Rivers Stadium as Francisco Cordova became the first Mexican born Pirate pitcher to start a game on Cinco de Mayo for the Bucs since Vicente Padilla (who didn’t factor in the decision) in 1992. Francisco got the win and his Veracruz amigo Ricardo Rinc√≥n picked up a hold. Jermaine Allensworth had a pair of hits and two RBI to go with Jose Guillen’s homer in a game the Bucs led from the first inning onward. 
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs homered off Houston’s Wade Miller, launching a blast that was estimated to travel 461’ to become the longest ball hit in the history of Minute Maid Park. It was Pittsburgh’s only bright spot as the ‘Stros mauled Kris Benson on the way to an 8-1 victory. Miller carried a perfect game into the sixth until it was broken up by a one out Pokey Reese single and tossed an eight-inning three hitter. 
Matt muscles up - 2003 Topps Home Field Advantage
  • 2019 - Jordan Lyles and Oakland’s Frankie Montas hooked up in a great pitching duel at PNC Park. The Bucs scored in the second inning by manufacturing a run off a Josh Bell two-bagger, ground out, and Colin Moran sac fly. The Pirates missed a sixth-inning golden opportunity, blowing a first-and-third, no-out set up and the A’s then tied it in the seventh with two outs when the eight hitter doubled and former Bucco farmhand Robby Grossman singled him home. Each team’s bullpen kept the zeroes coming through 12 innings without any major uprisings. Tyler Lyons, in the second inning of his Pittsburgh debut, walked the first two batters in the 13th; they both scored and he avoided more damage when a bases loaded, one-out shot up the middle deflected off him to Jung Ho Kang, who stepped on third and threw to first for an inning-ending DP. Fernando Rodney got the first out, then sandwiched a walk between two singles, making it 3-2 with Bucs on the corners. His next pitch was hammered by Starling Marte into the left-center field bullpen, and the Bucs walked off with a 5-3 win in a game that morphed from a pitcher’s delight to a slugfest in the blink of an eye. It was Starling’s fifth walk off long ball, one shy of the franchise mark.