Sunday, September 22, 2019

9/22 Through the 1930s: '38 Fade; Ed Goes Home; WV Home Game; Game Stories; HBD Ira & Harry

  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys moved their home game with the New York Giants to Wheeling, WV due to attendance issues at home (they couldn’t draw flies; they went 23-113). The game at Island Grounds, home of the Wheeling Nailers, drew 1500 fans and it remains the only major league game ever played in the state of West Virginia. According to the Wheeling Daily Register, “The game was played under some slight disadvantages, as the outfield was unkempt and unshaven, the grass being so tall that the ball, and almost the players, frequently got lost. (The Giants Mike) Tiernan knocked one into the tall grass, and while some seven or eight players were still on the hunt, he modestly crossed the home plate...” for a ninth-inning, cherry-on-top inside-the-park homer. The Alleghenys lost 8-3 and the Pittsburgh Press wrote “to be sure, the local team lost to be in keeping with its record and (team owner) Mr. McNeill may rest assured that his team will establish a world record in time (for losing).” The paper was right; they were baseball’s worst until the Cleveland Spiders of 1899 finished 20-134, bumping the Alleghenys to runner-up. It would also be the last regularly scheduled Pittsburgh home game moved to a neutral site until 2017 when the Pirates played St. Louis in Williamsport to help celebrate youth baseball.
Pgh Press 9-23-1890
  • 1893 - OF Ira Flagstead was born in Montague, Michigan. Ira closed out his 13-year career in Pittsburgh from 1929-30, a journey that had begun with the Tigers and blossomed with the Red Sox where he was a top shelf CF’er with a good stick and rifle arm. He signed with the Pirates on July 8th, 1929, bolstered by his acquaintance with Pittsburgh manager Donie Bush, whom Ira played played with in Detroit, and the suspicion that Washington, which had signed him earlier, wanted to dump his contract. He hit .257 and was released in August, 1930. Ira closed out his pro ball in the PCL in 1931. He retired to Olympia, where he grew up, and managed the local Timber League nine. “Flaggy” (he was also known as “Pete” from his teen days) was elected to both the Red Sox and Washington State Halls of Fame. 
  • 1894 - After tossing 12 innings in a tie game the day before, Phil “Red” Ehret threw a complete game four-hitter to salvage a doubleheader split with the NY Giants by a 4-1 score at Exposition Park. His opponent was Les German, the same pitcher whom he had squared off against the previous day. Pittsburgh lost the opener 6-2. 
  • 1903 - Pittsburgh's 16-game winner Ed Doheny‚ suffering from bouts of paranoia‚ was escorted home by his brother. After the World Series‚ Doheny was committed to the Danvers Insane Asylum and at the age of 26‚ his major league career was over. Not only was this a tragic turn of events for Doheny, but it cost the Bucs dearly in their World Series loss to the Boston Americans as they were short of pitching for the series. He, Deacon Phillippe and Sam Leever formed the Pirate rotation, and with Leever nursing an injury, Phillippe was forced to start five of the seven games, eventually wearing down. Poor Doheny, whose mental issues were said to be triggered after he developed a dead arm during the season, never recovered. He had some violent episodes at home and was committed full-time to the Danver asylum. He never recovered and was transferred to another institution where he died at 43. 
  • 1908 - The Brooklyn Superbas cashed in a run in the ninth, scoring when no one covered first on a two-out grounder to the right side, but Pittsburgh and Nick Maddox prevailed 3-2 in 11 innings at Washington Park. Alan Storke tripled home Hans Wagner with the go ahead run and scored himself on a wild throw home. Maddox gave up a homer in Brooklyn’s half, but hung on for the win as the Pirates stayed alive in their late drive for the flag, which fell a game short. 
Alan Storke 1908 - Charles Conlon/Detroit Public Library
  • 1911 - Cy Young, pitching for the Boston Rustlers (they didn’t “rustle” players like the Pirates had “pirated” them; the moniker was a play on the name of team owner William Russell; they were usually known generically as the Nationals), earned his 511th and final career victory by defeating the Pirates, 1-0. Cy scattered nine hits and fanned three at Forbes Field to best Babe Adams. Although 20 games above .500 at the time, the Bucs were well off the pace and in third place, drawing just 1,208 fans. The Pirates feasted on Boston during the season: the Rustlers (they became the Braves in 1912) won only 3-of-22 against Pittsburgh, with two of the victories coming on shutouts thrown by the 44 year-old Cyclone. 
  • 1929 - Utilityman Harry Bright was born in Kansas City. He played for parts of eight seasons, with the first three (1958-60) in Pittsburgh. Bright hit .237 and was traded to the expansion Washington Senators after the ‘60 season as part of the Bobby Shantz package. Harry had a long professional career, playing 20 years and in nearly 2,000 games between the show and the farm. Bright managed the PCL’s Sacramento club and in the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers & Atlanta Braves organizations, plus he scouted for the Montreal Expos after he retired. 
  • 1931 - The Phillies overcame a 2-0 ninth inning deficit to send the game to overtime, but the Pirates tacked on a run in the 13th to claim a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine went the distance for the victory, tossing a four hitter. It was his 19th win, which led all NL pitchers that season. The Bucs left 20 men on base as Philadelphia pitchers allowed 10 hits and 13 walks. The workhorse logged 284 IP in 35 starts by season’s end, both marks also league highs. 
  • 1932 - Rookie Hal Smith recorded a six-hit shutout in his first MLB start in a 7-0 Bucs’ win at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Bucs got all the runs they would need by scoring five times in the third inning. Arky Vaughan and Adam Comorosky led the way with two RBI apiece while Paul Waner banged out three hits and scored twice. Former (and future) Pirate pitcher Burleigh Grimes took the loss. 
Pep Young - 1939 Play Ball
  • 1938 - Pittsburgh swept a twinbill from the Brooklyn Robins by 6-0 and 11-6 scores at Ebbets Field to take a 3-½ game lead in the race for the pennant. Jim Tobin tossed a four-hitter in the opener. Arky Vaughan had four hits, with three doubles and three RBI to go with Pep Young’s four runs driven home to power the win in the nitecap. But the 1938 NL crown would go to Chicago, which won their last ten games while the Bucs stumbled to a 3-7 finish.

9/22 From 1950: Cito Joins; Clinchers; Game Stories; HBD Wally

  • 1958 - The Pirates set a pair of wrong way records during their 3-2 and 1-0 twinbill losses to the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Three Phil pitchers fanned a MLB record 21 Bucs in the opener, and Jack Sanford whiffed 10 in the nitecap for a MLB record 31 Ks for the day. 
  • 1959 - Utilityman Wally Backman was born in Hillsboro, Oregon. He spent one season of his 14-year career in Pittsburgh in 1990, and it was more than solid as he got into 104 games and swatted .297. He came to Pittsburgh as a free agent (1 year/$400K) and left the same way, signing a two-year, $1.3M deal with the Phils. Thanks to some personal issues, Wally has had a bumpy road coaching/managing since retiring in 1993 and is now an indie league skipper. 
Wally Backman - 1990 Topps Wide
  • 1971 - Pittsburgh clinched the NL East with a 5-1 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Luke Walker and Dave Giusti defeated Bob Gibson thanks to a big eighth inning. The floodgate opened when SS Ted Kubiak booted Vic Davalillo’s ball, and a walk, two hits and a sac fly later, the Bucs had turned a squeaky 2-1 lead over the Cards into a 5-1 tally. After the victory, the Buccos eliminated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and dropped the Birds to claim the World Series crown. 
  • 1975 - The Pirates clocked the second place Philadelphia Phillies 11-3 at TRS to clinch the NL East title. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve did the pitching honors, while three Pirate hitters had three hits each to lead the attack - Willie Stargell (2B, 2 RBI, 4 RS, 2 BB), Dave Parker (HR, 4 RBI, 1 RS) and Richie Zisk (2B, 4 RBI, 1 RS). 
  • 1978 - The Pirates purchased OF’er Cito Gaston from the Atlanta Braves. The 34-year-old went 1-for-2 in the last week of the season, his last MLB appearances in an 11-year MLB career before spending the next couple of campaigns in the Mexican League and later beginning a long run as the Toronto Blue Jays manager. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs won consecutive NL East titles when they beat the Phillies, 2–1, at TRS. Doug Drabek went the distance to outlast five Philadelphia pitchers. Orlando Merced walked twice and scored twice. Pittsburgh only had three hits, but seven free passes and a botched DP was just enough to do in Philadelphia. 
  • 1996 - Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 11-3 for their 11th win in a row, posting the longest winning streak in the majors for the year. Jay Bell was the star with a homer and four RBI. They still finished last with a 73-89 record, but it raised a vain “wait ‘til next year” hope among the faithful. 
Chris Young - 2002 Upper Deck Minor League
  • 2006 - Chris Young carried a no-hitter into the ninth against the Bucs, but lost his bid to become the first San Diego Padre to toss a no-no when Joe Randa smacked a two run homer on a 3-1 pitch following a one-out walk to Jose Bautista. Young, who was drafted by the Pirates in 2000 before being traded for Matt Herges, claimed an easy 6-2 win at Petco Park.  
  • 2014 - The Pirates won back-to-back 1-0 games for the first time since 1976 when Francisco Liriano, with help from Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Mark Melancon made Andrew McCutchen’s sixth inning homer off Aaron Harang stand at Atlanta’s Turner Field. The third straight 1-0 game for the Bucs (they lost 1-0 on 9/20 to the Brewers and old matey Zach Duke) was the first time that trifecta hit since 1917 when Pittsburgh lost three consecutive 1-0 games to the Cardinals.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

9/21 Through the 1940’s: Connie Goes; Debs Goes For Crown; 1- For Kiki; Radio Ball; HBD Sudden Sam; Max, Del, Tom & Gil

  • 1860 - OF Tom Brown was born in Liverpool, England. Brown played from 1885-87 for the Alleghenys, hitting .287 and posting a 0-0, 4.30 line as an emergency pitcher (three games, eight IP) over that span. He came over to the North Side club when it purchased the entire Columbus team after the 1884 season and became the first English-born player for Pittsburgh. After a 17-year MLB career, Brown became an umpire. 
  • 1891 - SS Gil Britton was born in Parsons, Kansas. His MLB career was a three-game stand with Pittsburgh in 1913, with an 0-for-12 batting line and three errors. He spent from 1909-17 in the minors, mostly the Texas, Western and Central Kansas leagues. Gil hung ‘em up young at age 25 and returned to his hometown, where he remained until his death at age 91. 
Connie Mack - 2012 Topps Archives
  • 1896 - Manager Connie Mack (given name: Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy) announced that he was leaving Pittsburgh to guide the Milwaukee club of the Western League; the Pirates finished in sixth place with a 66-63 slate during his last campaign. Patsy Donovan took over the reins in 1897. Connie’s claim to fame was managing the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons of play, starting in 1901, and he became a Hall-of-Famer in 1937. 
  • 1899 - RHP Del Lundgren was born in Lindsborg, Kansas. He started his brief three-year career (he pitched for Boston in 1926-27) with the Pirates in 1924, tossing eight games with an 0-1/6.48 line. Del tossed pro ball from 1922-30 before retiring with a sore arm. He got a job in a flour mill in Topeka and then retired to live the life of an outdoorsman in Lindsborg. 
  • 1910 - RHP Max Butcher was born in Holden, West Virginia. He went 67-60/3.34 for the Bucs in seven seasons (1939-45), and had an ERA over 3.43 just once as a Pirate. His best year was 1941, when he went 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA. Though he was a big guy at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he wasn’t an overpowering hurler, averaging only 2.5 K/nine in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1925 - In a 9-7 win over the Phillies at Forbes Field, Kiki Cuyler singled off Roy Crumpler in the second inning to run his consecutive hit streak to 10, a team record that still stands today. Cuyler began his streak against Boston’s Skinny Graham, and the hits fell in conjunction with a nine-game winning string for Pittsburgh, which won 95 games, the NL pennant and the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. Kiki went 4-for-4 in the next day’s game with two homers, making him 14-of-16 during his streak, in a 14-4 Bucco victory in the second game of the series. Johnny Morrison won the first game and Ray Kremer took the honors the following day. 
  • 1940 - OF Deb Garms went 5-for-6 in the second game of a twinbill split against the Cincinnati Reds to push his BA to .379. He doubled, scored three times and drove in a pair in the 8-7 win during the second game after going 0-for-4 in a 8-1 loss in the opener at Forbes Field. Though he wore an 0-for-23 collar over the remainder of the season, his .355 BA won the NL crown. He played just 103 games (100 games played was the accepted, although unwritten, standard) with 385 PA and was awarded the title, causing some grumbling by those who preferred a full-time awardee. His title eventually led to the adoption of minimum plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship. 
Sudden Sam - 1975 Topps
  • 1942 - LHP Sudden Sam McDowell was born in Pittsburgh. Though he pitched only briefly for the hometown Pirates in 1975 (2-1/2.86 in 14 games) , he may be the most dominating hurler the area ever produced. Sam went directly to the majors out of Central Catholic HS, signing with Cleveland. He played from 1961-75 with the Indians, Giants, Yankees and Bucs. McDowell struck out 2,453 batters in that span with a blazing fastball. His career was infamously short circuited by booze and pills, and he was said to be the inspiration for Cheers bartender Sam Malone. He beat his demons after retiring and became a MLB drug and alcohol counselor. His nickname was bestowed on him by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bob Dolgan during Sam’s first spring training camp in 1961. 
  • 1947 - The Bucs were a part of Queen City broadcast history when their game against Cincinnati was broadcast on TV by W8XCT (WLWT), the first time a Reds game was aired. An estimated home audience of 10,000 viewers watched the Redlegs lose 11-7 at Crosley Field. Elbie Fletcher, Jimmy Bloodworth and Clyd Kluttz each had three RBI; Gene Woodling had the other pair. The opening game of the doubleheader wasn’t shown (we think), and it turned out better for the Reds, who won 3-1 as Ewell Blackwell bested Kirby Higbe.

9/21 From 1950 Through the 1970’s: Clincher; Baker 1st Black Manager; Game Stories; HBD Rene, Danny, Jason & Ben

  • 1959 - RHP Danny Cox was born in Northampton, England. The Brit hurler spent 11 years in the league and managed to squeeze in 16 games as a Bucco in 1992, going 3-1-3/3.33 as a starter converted to back-end bullpen work. He was picked up from the Phils off waivers in June and at the end of the year signed with the Blue Jays, spending the final three seasons of his career in Toronto. 
Danny Cox - 1993 Fleer
  • 1962 - Scout Rene Gayo was born in Miami of immigrant Cuban parents and raised in Chicago. In 1989, Cam Bonifay hired Gayo as a part-time scout for the Pirates, then he went off to work for the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. In 2004, the Pirates hired Gayo to lead their Latin American scouting system, filling a position inexplicably left vacant for five years under Bonifay and Dave Littlefield. He reeled in players like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Elias Diaz along with moved-on prospects Alen Hanson, Dilson Herrera, Harold Ramirez and Joely Rodriguez. He was dismissed in 2017 after being caught in a messy Mexican financial deal while signing Luis Heredia. 
  • 1963 - In the top of the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium, the Bucs left the bases loaded after losing a bang-bang play at first that was close enough to get manager Danny Murtaugh and coach Frank Oceak ejected after heatedly questioning ump Doug Harvey’s eyesight. That set the stage for coach Gene Baker to take the reins for the rest of the game, becoming MLB’s first black manager. It wasn’t an auspicious start, as Baker entrusted Tommy Sisk with a 3-2 ninth inning lead that evaporated four batters later after Willie Davis belted a three-run, walkoff homer. Still, it was just another day at the office for Gene. He was the first rostered black player for the Cubs in 1953, and in 1961 became the first black manager in pro baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia farm club. Baker had four campaigns with the Bucs as a player and was part of the 1960 squad. After coaching/managing at various levels in the organization, he became a long time Pirate scout. 
  • 1969 - LHP Jason Christiansen was born in Omaha. The reliever worked six seasons (1995-2000) for the Pirates with a 14-20-10/4.13 line before being traded to the Cards at the 2000 deadline for SS Jack Wilson. He must have enjoyed working under the lights; after retirement, he became a co-owner and CEO of an LED company. 
  • 1969 - OF/1B Ben Shelton was born in Chicago. Shelton was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1987 draft out of high school. He got his only shot at the majors in 1993 with the Bucs and hit .250 (6 hits in 24 AB, including two homers and a double), but that showing wasn’t enough (his minor league lifetime BA was .233). He closed out his pro career in 1995 after playing on the Twins and Red Sox farms. 
  • 1972 - Fueled by a five-run third inning, Pittsburgh clinched the East Division crown with a 6-2 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium; the club won the pennant by 11 games. The Pirates had seven straight batters reach in the third, and the big frame provided plenty of cushion for Steve Blass, who tossed a seven-hit, seven K complete game victory. 
Steve Blass - 1972 Topps
  • 1977 - The Pirates beat the Mets 4-0 at Shea Stadium in a game more appreciated for what didn’t happen rather than the action on the field. Before the game, manager Chuck Tanner received a thinly veiled death threat, a phone caller later asked “What do Bob Moose and Roberto Clemente have in common? They’re both dead,” and Ed Ott was told to stay off the field in another hotel call. NYC had plainclothes cops watch the pair (Tanner came out twice for pitcher meetings, but after the game stayed on the top step of the dugout and off the field; Ott didn’t play because a lefty, Jerry Koosman, was on the hill although he went through the usual pre-game drills, including BP). Nothing ever came of the calls, probably triggered by Ott breaking Felix Millan’s collarbone earlier in the year and Tanner’s defense of the play. As for the game, Bruce Kison got the win and Goose Gossage closed it out with the Bucs chipping away with four runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. In an amusing contrast of wheels, Kison drove in Omar Moreno with a knock into the right-center gap; The Antelope scored all the way from first while Bruce satisfied himself with a one-bagger. 
  • 1978 - The Bucs nipped the Cubs 3-2 in 14 frames at Wrigley Field. Rennie Stennett walked to lead off the 14th and pinch runner Matt Alexander made it happen. As he stole second, C Doug Radar's throw went into center. Alexander bolted for third and was hit in the back by CF Bobby Murcer’s peg‚ which ricocheted away and allowed Matt “The Scat” to score. Ed Whitson got the win and Jim Bibby the save. Cub manager Herman Franks pulled out all the stops to no avail as Chicago tied an NL record by using 27 players (20 position, seven pitching) in the loss.

9/21 From 1980: 30/50 Bonds; AJ - 200; Kendall Mark; Game Stories; HBD Zach & Antonio

  • 1985 - LHP Antonio Bastardo was born in Hato Mayor del Rey, Dominican Republic. The mid-inning arm was obtained from the Phillies in December, 2014 for minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez to replace Justin Wilson, who had been traded to the Yankees for C Francisco Cervelli. AB went 4-1-1 w/2.89 ERA in 66 Bucco appearances, a performance he turned into a two year, $12M free agent deal with the NY Mets. It wasn’t for long, though - he came back to Pittsburgh when the Pirates returned ex-Met hurler Jon Niese at the 2016 deadline, but it was a short-lived homecoming. He was injured, ineffective and released in July, 2017, after nine outings and a 15.00 ERA. 
Antonio Bastardo - 2015 Topps
  • 1986 - LHP Zach Phillips was born in Sacramento, California. Phillips came to Bucs from the Orioles in a deal for Kyle Lobstein at the 2016 deadline. He got into eight games with no decisions, giving up two runs on eight hits in 6-2/3 IP. The Pirates didn’t tender him after the campaign and he signed with the Cards. He was released by the Birds, and spent the last two seasons pitching in Mexico. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates defeated the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium by a 5-2 count behind the strong pitching of Doug Drabek and Jeff Robinson. Felix Fermin had three hits while Barry Bonds, Chico Lind, Andy Van Slyke and Sid Bream added a pair. It capped a late push toward respectability for the Bucs. The victory finished a stretch of winning 20-of-26 games and after a short bump would close the year by winning 6-of-8. The run at the end didn’t put them in the race, but the went from 18 games under .500 on August 23rd (53-71) to a season-ending 80-82 mark. It was an early coming out party for the core (Bonds, Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Drabek) of Jim Leyland’s 1990-92 pennant-winning clubs. 
  • 1988 - John Smiley spun a complete game, two-hit shutout with six whiffs and no walks in a 5-0 win over the Cards at Busch Stadium. The batting hero of the day was Benny DiStefano, whose three-run, pinch hit homer in the ninth broke up a tight battle between Smiley and Jose DeLeon. The Pirates only had five hits during the match; three of them came consecutively in the final frame. The victory was the last of a stretch where the Pirates won 11-of-16; they went 3-6 to finish the season with 85 wins. 
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds became the first Pirate player (and just the second major leaguer, along with the Reds Eric Davis) in history to hit 30+ homers and steal 50 + bases in the same season when he swiped second against the Cards at TRS in a 1-0 Bucco victory. Zane Smith tossed a five-hitter with 10 punch outs for the win, and Bonds scored the game’s only run in the seventh when he led off with a single and come around on Sid Bream’s double. The Pirates padded their divisional lead to 3-1/2 games after the Mets lost to the Cubs; they went on to win the 1990 NL East by four games over NY. 
  • 1992 - Bob Walk and Steve Cooke (who went seven innings for the win) combined for a four-hit, 3-0 blanking of the St. Louis Cardinals at TRS. Don Slaught had three hits including a homer as Pittsburgh won for the seventh time in eight games to stretch the divisional gap between them and the Montreal Expos to seven games. 
Jason Kendall - 1998 Pacific Aurora
  • 1998 - The Pirates, playing out the string during a September freefall, were drubbed 8-1 by the Giants at 3 Comm Stadium. Jason Kendall provided the lone bright spot when he swiped his 26th base, breaking the modern stolen base record for NL catchers previously set by John Stearns in 1978. Kendall was quite adept at basepath larceny in his early years; he stole home twice during the ‘98 campaign. Jason swiped 103 bases in his first five campaigns but only 96 more over his last 10 years, slowed by a severe ankle injury in 1999 and later, age caught up as he played until he was 36. 
  • 2013 - AJ Burnett struck out a dozen Cincinnati Reds in seven innings, becoming the first Pirate RHP to whiff over 200 batters in a season (he finished the year with 209 punch outs, handily passing up Kris Benson & Bob Friend), as the Bucs took a 4-2 decision at PNC Park. The big blow was a two-run homer by Russ Martin, and the tying and go-ahead runs were set up by Marlon Byrd, who hit a sac fly to drive in Andrew McCutchen and move Justin Morneau to second, where he scored on a two-out knock by Pedro Alvarez. Jason Grilli nailed down the save in his first save since coming off the DL as the Bucs moved ahead of the Redlegs by a game for the home wild card. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates shut out the Brewers, 1-0, behind the pitching of Vance Worley and an RBI single by Russell Martin in the seventh that chased home Andrew McCutchen. Vanimal went eight innings of four-hit ball for the win; Tony Watson tossed the ninth for the save while Wily Peralta took the tough-luck loss. The Bucs jumped 4-1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL wild card race with the win and moved into a tie for home field with the SF Giants.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Brew Crew Weekend

Yah, kind of curveball with this setup. But my boy is getting married Saturday, so you're on your own for this weekend; lots of good guys and material out there for you to keep ya up to speed from MSM to the blogosphere. See ya Monday, if I can pass the interweb sobriety test...

Games: Friday's game is at 8:10, Saturday's at 7:10, and the Sunday matinee at 2:10. All three games will be carried from Miller Park by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Milwaukee is three games behind the Cards in the NL Central standings, one game behind the Nats for the top NL Wild Card spot, and a game ahead of the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Brewers have sizzled in September, with a 14-4 record, even with Christian Yelich out. And the Pirates are 4-12 against them this year...

Friday Lineup: Kevin Newman SS, Reynolds CF, Colin Moran 3B, Jose Osuna RF, Adam Frazier 2B, Pablo Reyes LF, Jake Stallings C, Erik Gonzalez, Steve Brault P. Stalls and Pablo are back (injury & paternity leave)

Friday: LHP Steven Brault (4-5/4.98) opens the set against RHP Chase Anderson (6-4/4.50). Steven has had a pair of rocky back-to-back starts, giving up 16 runs (15 earned), covering just eight innings. Regression? September dead arm? Stay tuned... This should be a good pairing. Though he hasn't gotten a decision against the Crew, he has a 2.66 ERA in four starts against them this season. Anderson has lasted just four frames in his last four starts; he's almost become an opener pitcher for Milwaukee. He's 1-0/3.48 in four starts against the Pirates this year, and lasted just a little longer than his last few outings, averaging five frames per start.

Steven starts it off - photo Joe Guzy/Pirates
Saturday: RHP James Marvel (0-2/9.00) v RHP Zach Davies (10-7/3.70). Marvel was solid against the Cards and chased off the hill by the Cubs. He's projected as a back-end starter by evaluators, so the hype around his call up was probably overdrummed. Like Mitch, he's in a good spot for teaching moments as both learn what works and what doesn't in the show in a no-pressure setting. Davis is another Brewer who goes just five innings. He's been tough on Pittsburgh, going 2-0/2.31 in four starts.

Sunday: RHP Trevor Williams (7-7/5.59) v TBD. Willy's given up 11 runs in his last two starts, lasting just eight innings, so he's another Bucco starter with the September blues. He's faced Milwaukee once this year, giving up six runs in five frames.

  • Starling Marte and Josh Bell will both be out for this series.
  • The Pirates haven't homered since the San Francisco series, matching their current 0-6 run.
  • The blog will still be updated with daily history posts at

9/20 Through the 1950’s: Burleigh's Last Hurrah; Nick No-No; Game Stories; HBD Vic, Red & Dennis

  • 1907 - In his third big league start, Nick Maddox became the first Pirate pitcher to throw a no-hitter by defeating the Brooklyn Superbas, 2-1, at Exposition Park. At the age of 20 years and 10 months, Maddox was the youngest pitcher and the second rookie to throw a no-hitter. Errors by Maddox and Honus Wagner gave Brooklyn their run; Fred Clarke had both Bucco hits, but neither figured in the scoring as the Pittsburgh runs were also unearned. 
Nick Maddox 1908 - Bains/Library of Congress
  • 1916 - IF Red Juelich was born in St. Louis. Red played four years in the Cards’ minor league system and then got his shot with the Pirates in 1939, where he was a bench 3B/SS, hitting .239 in 17 games. Juelich stayed in the Pirates system at AA for the next three campaigns before dropping off the roster after 1942. Red, btw, was a ginger. 
  • 1922 - LHP Vic Lombardi was born in Reedley, California. He put in three good years with the Dodgers and a workmanlike season with the Bucs in 1948 (10-9/3.70) but went downhill over the next two years to put up a slash line of 15-19/4.56 in Pittsburgh. Branch Rickey offered him a 1951 contract with a 25% cut; Lombardi didn’t take it and that was the end of his MLB career as took his services to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. 
  • 1924 - The Pirates edged Brooklyn‚ 5-4‚ in 11 innings at Ebbets Field to end Dazzy Vance's 15-game winning streak. Pie Traynor singled with two gone in the 11th‚ and Rabbit Maranville lined a ball to center that got past the Robins’ outfielder Eddie Brown, who whiffed on a shoestring effort to glove the ball. Pie came in with the game winner, touching home for the third time during the game. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win. It wasn't quite enough for the Bucs, tho. They cut the front-running Giants' lead to 1-1/2 games, but finished three games off the pace as they followed the win with a four-game losing streak, dropping an extra-inning game to the Bums and being swept in a three-game set by New York. 
  • 1925 - Owner Barney Dreyfuss and the City announced a deal that would allow the Pirates to build temporary bleachers for the World Series at Forbes Field (The location around FF was considered parkland and needed a city ok for any changes in use). The ballyard had just added 10,000 seats in right field before the season and were permitted to add 6,000 more seats at the princely price of $1.10 for the Fall Classic, bringing the field up to a fan capacity of 41,000. 
Burleigh Grimes- 2013 Panini
  • 1934 - In a 2-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, Burleigh Grimes made his last appearance, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a whiff. Not only did it mark the end of a 19 year career that led to the Hall of Fame, but also the end of an era. Grimes was the last legal spitballer standing after the pitch had been outlawed starting in 1921. 17 practitioners, including Grimes, were grandfathered into the ruling and allowed to serve a wet one at will. 
  • 1941 - RHP Dennis Ribant was born in Detroit. The Pirates got Ribant in 1967 from an overflowing Mets staff in exchange for veteran Don Cardwell, and he got his last real shot joining a rotation with the Pirates, getting the ball 38 times, 22 as a starter. His line was 9-8, 4.08, and he was sent back home by the Bucs at the end of the year, with the Tigers giving up Dave Wickersham. Ribant was converted to reliever, had a couple of so-so seasons with four different clubs and his six-year career ended after 1969. 
  • 1956 - The seventh place Pirates edged Milwaukee 2-1 in 10 innings at Forbes Field. It was a classic spoiler win, as the Braves eventually lost the pennant on the last day of the season by one game to the Dodgers. Bob Friend held the Braves to four hits for the complete game victory. 
Bob Friend - 1956 Topps
  • 1958 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Phils at Connie Mack Stadium with the teams staging a wild and wooly ninth. The Bucs went ahead 4-2 on a one-out DP; the Phils 1B Ed Bouchee tagged first after fielding Bill Virdon’s grounder with Buccos on the corners; Ducky Schofield was heads up enough to get into a rundown after the force was removed to allow Dick Groat to score an insurance run that proved handy. In the bottom of the ninth, ElRoy Face gave up a run and had the bases loaded with an out. He got a short pop for the second out and Danny Murtaugh waved Bob Smith in to match up against Bouchee, who had whacked three doubles during the day. Smith caught him looking to close the book. The Bucs clinched second with the win, the highest finish for the club since 1944. And good thing, too - they went on to lose the final five games of the campaign though they did finish 84-70.

9/20 From 1960 Through the 1970’s: Moose No-No; Willie's First; Friend Fan Mark; Game Stories; HBD Randy & Jason

  • 1960 - Bob Friend beat the Phillies 7-1 as the opener of a DH sweep at Connie Mack Stadium, and set a new club record for strikeouts in a season with 179 (he ended the campaign with 183; Bob Veale's 276 in 1965 blew the mark away). The old mark was held by RHP Claude Hendrix with 176, set in 1912. Friend tossed a complete game and fanned six. The nightcap was a 3-2 squeaker; Hal Smith’s eighth-inning solo shot was the game-winner for Clem Labine, who tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Harvey Haddix. Bob Skinner drove home the other tallies with a pair of two-out singles in the third and seventh innings. 
Randy Kramer - 1989 Donruss
  • 1960 - RHP Randy Kramer was born in Palo Alto, California. Kramer was drafted by the Rangers in 1982, joining the Bucs in the 1986 off season for P Keff Zaske. He worked four seasons in the majors for the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners. The righty spent most of his time as a Bucco long man/spot starter from 1988-90, slashing 6-12-2/4.22 in 52 outings. He retired after the 1994 campaign, then coached in the indie leagues, high school & college and scouted for the Blue Jays. 
  • 1962 - Rookie Willie Stargell collected his first hit, a triple that scored Bob Skinner. Young Willie had happy feet and was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park HR. The Bucs rallied in the ninth to take a 4-3 win at Forbes Field against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh scored three times, thanks to a two-out boot by 3B Eddie Kasko that allowed one run to score followed by a two-run, game-winning double by the Tiger, Don Hoak. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates turned four DP against the Giants at Candlestick Park, helping Vern Law to a 6-0 win. The first twin killing set a NL record at 199, and the Bucs ended the year with 215 double plays. Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley both won Gold Gloves that season, with Maz participating in 161 twin killings and Alley in 128. 
  • 1968 - Steve Blass spun a two-hitter against Chicago at Forbes Field and Jose Pagan banged a two-run homer to carry the Pirates to a 5-0 win at Forbes Field. Blass went all the way for his 17th win, striking out eight and allowing just two Cubbies to reach second as he topped Fergie Jenkins. Pagan’s blast was the key blow in a four-run second inning that put the game away early while Maury Wills, who stole his 50th sack of the campaign, Roberto Clemente and Gene Alley each chipped in two hits.   
Bob Moose - 1969 Topps
  • 1969 - At New York's Shea Stadium, Bob Moose stopped the pennant-bound Mets 4-0 with a no-hitter, just the third in franchise history. He walked three with six whiffs. The only ball hit hard enough to cause concern was a belt by Wayne Garrett in the sixth inning, but the wind held it up and Roberto Clemente took care of the rest, leaping against the wall to reel in the horsehide. Two of the Pirates four runs scored on wild pitches by Gary Gentry as the Bucs only collected six hits themselves. 
  • 1973 - With Richie Zisk on first in the top of the 13th inning at Shea Stadium, Dave Augustine banged a two-out drive to the left field wall. As Cleon Jones turned to watch, the ball grazed the top of the wall, just barely staying in the yard, and it bounced straight into his glove. His relay nailed the speed-challenged Zisk at the plate by 15’. Following the "Ball on the Wall" play, the Mets scored in their half to win 4-3 and moved within half a game of the first place Bucs. As beat writer Charlie Feeney of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette noted “The Pirates, stunned, bewildered, are a” as the Bucs were in the midst of losing 4-of-5 and finishing 6-11 down the stretch. NY eventually won the division, the NL title, and took Oakland to a seventh game in the World Series before calling it a season. The Pirates finished 2-½ games behind. 
  • 1974 - The Pirates scored three times in the ninth at TRS to drop the NY Mets 4-3. After keeping the Bucs on ice, Ray Sadecki walked Art Howe and Tug McGraw took over. A wild pitch, whiff and back-to-back singles by Paul Popovich and Rennie Stennett cut the lead to one and left Bucs on the corners. A short passed ball allowed Rennie to get to second, and the Met infield stayed back, willing to concede the tying run. Manny Sanguillen hit a sharp grounder and SS Ted Martinez tried to catch a hustling Stennett steaming toward third but was late; without the passed ball, The Roadrunner’s worm-burner would have been a likely game-ending DP. Al Oliver was intentionally walked to load the bases. Willie Stargell hit a hopper to John Milner at first; he stepped on the bag, eliminating the force at home, and fired to the plate, but Rennie beat the tag. So the Bucs put up a game-winning three-spot on two hits, two walks, and two plays in the field that the Mets probably wish they had back. It was a big win for the Pirates, who won the division that year by a 1-½ game margin over the Cards before the LA Dodgers ended their year in the NLCS. 
Jason Bay - 2008 Topps/Allen & Ginter
  • 1978 - Jason Bay was born in Trail, British Columbia. In his six years as a Pirate, his line was .268/219/715 and he was an All-Star twice. In 2004, he set the Pirate record for rookie home runs with 26 and was selected the NL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News, the second Pirate player to win the award after 2B Johnny Ray in 1982. Bay was the first Canadian player to win the ROY. He was traded to Boston at the 2008 deadline and played well there through 2009 before signing a monster contract with the Mets. That didn’t work out so well; Jay was hit with a string of rib & concussion-related injuries and he retired before the 2014 campaign. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs lost 2-1 to the Phils at Veterans Stadium, but it could have been worse. Philadelphia C Keith Moreland hit a loud foul up the left field line with two aboard that third base ump Eric Gregg lost in the lights. The story goes that the Philly ball girl went into a dance, thinking it a home run, and seeing that, so did Gregg. Chuck Tanner protested, and the umps got together and made the right call. That set Dallas Green off; he littered the field with equipment after being ejected, and Mike Schmidt added his helmet to the debris. Green also protested the game, but it was all for show; the Phils squeaked it out as the Bucs squandered nine hits, and ended the game when Manny Sanguillen bounced into a DP with one away and runners on the corners. The loss cut the Buccos lead over the Expos to ½ game; Pittsburgh would eventually hold off Montreal by a two-game margin.

9/20 From 1980: Coke Trail; Trips to Open; Gott to be Good; Game Stories; HBD Steve

  • 1983 - Larry McWilliams tossed a two-hitter with a career-high 11 whiffs to tame the NY Mets, 2-0, at Shea Stadium. Jason Thompson atoned for a game-blowing error the night before with four hits, Dave Parker added three more, including a 450’ homer, and Mike Easler doubled & tripled to drive in a pair of scores. The win kept the Pirates two games behind the Phillies, although a late slide dropped them to six games off the pace when the final gun sounded.
Larry McWilliams - 1983 Donruss
  • 1984 - With a crowd of 33,651 Cub fans at Wrigley Field, Chicago passed the 2M mark in attendance for the first time in its history. But Pittsburgh ruined the big day as the Pirates overcame a 6-2 deficit to rally past the Bruins by a 7-6 score. Jim Morrison was the offensive spark plug, hitting a homer, driving in a pair and scoring a pair to lead a balanced Bucco attack. Lee Smith lost to Kent Tekulve with John Candelaria chipping in with the save. 
  • 1985 - A federal jury in Pittsburgh convicted Curtis Strong of 11 counts of cocaine distribution after hearing evidence in the “Pittsburgh Coke Trial.” Prominent players who were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony included Dave Parker‚ Lonnie Smith‚ Keith Hernandez and Tim Raines. Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner, pushed through the beginnings of MLB drug testing because of the trial and its stain on MLB. 
  • 1988 - It took Jim Gott one pitch to set the Pirates save record in a 5-1 win over the Cards at Busch Stadium. He came on with Redbirds at second & third with two outs, and Pedro Guerrero bounced Gott's first offering to short to earn his 32nd save, besting Kent Tekulve’s previous team mark (Mark Melancon holds the current record with 51 saves). “I felt cheated” he said of the easy save chance, though it had been a tough battle until the Bucs scored four times in the eighth to break up a 1-1 match between Dave LaPoint and Scott Terry. RJ Reynolds and Andy Van Slyke had two-run singles in the game-winning frame, but it was a cobbled-together small ball rally, with three singles, two Card errors, two bunts and an intentional walk, that won the day. St. Louis had plenty of chances - they had nine hits, drew five walks and swiped five bases, but they stranded a dozen runners. 
  • 1988 - IF Steve Lombardozzi Jr. was born in Fulton, Maryland. Then a six year vet, with a couple of seasons of regular time with the Nats, Lombardozzi was purchased by the Pirates in 2015. The jack-of-all-trades played mostly at AAA Indianapolis, but did see some big league time with the Bucs, going 0-for-10. He got a sip of coffee at Miami in 2017 and spent time in AAA; he played indie ball in 2019. Junior is the son of former MLB second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. 
  • 1992 - It was a struggle, but the Bucs finally dispatched Philadelphia by a 3-2 tally after 13 innings at TRS. The Phils scored twice on solo homers while the Bucs cashed in on a pair of sac flies. Jeff King brought home the winner when his single off Keith Shepherd plated Cecil Espy to give Roger Mason, the Pirates sixth pitcher, the win. The Phillies blew a couple of opportunities, going 0-for-8 w/RISP. The Bucs trumped them despite 2B Mickey Morandini’s unassisted triple play, the first NL player to pull one off in 65 years. He snagged a line drive off the bat of King, touched second to force Andy Van Slyke, and tagged out Barry Bonds, who was on the move from first base.
Mike Williams- 2001 Topps 50 Years
  • 2000 - The Pirates scored three times in the 10th inning thanks to long balls by Emil Brown and Adam Hyzdu, then hung on for dear life in a 7-6 win at Veterans Stadium. With two runs in for the Phils, runners on the corners and one away in the the tenth, Mike Williams got 2B Marlon Anderson to bang into a game saving 4-6-3 DP. 
  • 2007 - For the second straight night, Nyjer Morgan led off the game against San Diego with a triple, the first time in five years that feat had been pulled off in the NL. Though he scored both times, the Pirates couldn’t hold either lead and lost 5-3 and 6-3 decisions to the Padres at Petco Park. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs started off on fire when Jose Tabata and Neil Walker led off the game with homers for the fourth time in club history, and the Pirates were cruising along when Francisco Liriano K'ed Chris Heisey in the eighth for his 1,000th strikeout, also setting the team record for K's at 1,193, breaking last year's mark. But the 5-2 lead wasn’t enough to hold off the Cincinnati Reds, who scored three unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a two-out error by Jordy Mercer. Cincy won in the 10th on a wrong-way home run by Joey Votto that just dropped over the fence and a few feet inside the LF pole to stun the Bucs at PNC Park 6-5, tying the teams for second place in the NL Central and the home wildcard spot with eight games left.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Close But No Cigar - Bucs Swept Again, 6-5, In 11 Innings

Big Joe had a 1-2-3 inning, thx to a pick-off of the leadoff batter (confirmed by replay review) who he had walked. The Bucs bounced out three times against Yusei Kikuchi. In the second, aye carumba - a walk, a couple of singles, a bunt and two errors opened the gates for four Mariner runs. And holy moly, the Bucs roared right back. They hit four doubles, banged by Redbeard, Eli (should have been an error; yay home cookin'), Jake Elmore and Moose, with a two-out K-Man RBI rap, to score four runs and tie the match. The M's stranded a third inning single; Pittsburgh did the same with Moran's infield knock. Seattle had a quiet fourth. Erik Gonzalez singled and Newman bunted his way aboard with two gone. A walk packed the sacks, but Bucs and bases loaded... The Mariner's lost a leadoff infield rap in the fifth to a caught stealing and Moose fanned the other pair. Zac Grotz took the hill and the Bucs took the lead. Eli walked, went to second on a roller, then was chased home by Jake Elmore's two-out rap. Jake was tossed out on the play heading to second on the throw home, but did job #1.

Jake had a nice day with three hits - photo Pittsburgh Pirates
Ric Rod was called on for the sixth, and he left a pair of Mariners on the bases. Dan Altavilla fluffed the rosin, then pitched a 1-2-3 frame. Frankie Liriano got the seventh inning beckon. With two outs, he walked a pair and gave up a single to tie the game. Taylor Guilbeau was tapped for a Joey O single; the other three Buccos bounced out. Michael Feliz got a fly, gave up a walk and then teased out a DP ball to cruise through the eighth. Austin Adams gave up a Jake Elmore rap - go Jake! - and survived Dee Gordon's throwing error trying to turn a DP to post a zero. Keone Kela took the bump as the new ninth inning man. He gave up a trio of one-out raps to juice the sacks, but a whiff and fly doused the fire. Anthony Bass was waved on and put away the Pirates without a peep. Parker Markel got the 10th and gave up a two-gone single and no more. Brandon Brennan climbed the slope and retired the Buccos in order. Clay Holmes toed the slab in the 11th, and the leadoff runner reached on a Joey O boot. A knock with one gone put M's on the corners,and a grounder put them up. Weird play - Kramer went to first on a ball that was hit weakly (he had almost no chance to get the runner at home). That removed the force, though the Bucs did turn the DP via a rundown. Erik Swanson lost Erik Gonzalez with an out, but struck out the side around the pass.

The new closer? - 2019 Topps
Well, ya know - give up three unearned runs and lose by one in's not just bad luck that keeps losing streaks alive.

  • Jake Elmore had three hits; K-Man and Redbeard a pair apiece.
  • Today's game lasted four hours and 16 minutes.
  • The paid attendance at PNC Park was 12,543, again not near to matching the actual crowd.
  • Adam Berry of notes that going into today, Bryan Reynolds was batting .318 and Kevin Newman, .319. If they finish out the year both hitting above .300, they will become the first pair of qualified rookie teammates to hit .300+ in the same season since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice for the 1975 Red Sox. 
  • Last night, Gerrit Cole became just the 18th pitcher in MLB history to notch at least 300 strikeouts in a season.