Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Game Cancelled, Twin Bill Thursday; Notes - OF Market, ROY, Clemente Way & Ex-Bucs in the News...

As expected, the Bucs and Orioles have been rained out tonight. The two clubs will play a twin bill tomorrow at 4:05 PM. If the matchups remain the same, Charlie Morton will go against Chris Tillman and Brandon Cumpton will take on Bud Norris.

  • Whenever they finally face Baltimore, the Pirates will become the final MLB team to play an out-of-division game.
  • Justin Millar of The Daily Dish examines the current OF market, and thinks Jose Tabata would be an appealing trade piece.
  • Tyler Drenon of TDD posts that competition is coming after Billy Hamilton for the ROY - and Greg Polanco is in that small pack.
  • Holy Moly - Philadelphia is thinking of naming a street after Roberto Clemente!
  • Ex-Bucs: LHP Kris Johnson is headed back to the big leagues. The 29-year-old was chosen as the Minnesota Twins' 26th man for Thursday's DH'er against the LA Dodgers. Johnson was flipped for Duke Welker after the Bucs had sent Duke to the Twins in the Justin Morneau trade. And in a strange deal, Steve Pearce was waived by the Orioles, and then re-signed to the MLB roster after Chris Davis went on the DL.

April Thoughts - The Batting Order & BA, Polanco, Pitching & Depth, NL Central Race

April thoughts...
  • That off-the-wall Pirate order from yesterday was all about trying to get Starling Marte back on his game. He and Jose Tabata have similar OBP (.318 for JT, .308 for Starling), with the biggest difference being that Tabata is not very disruptive on the basepaths.  The only huge surprise was moving Ike Davis into the two hole, a problematic spot all season. Our guess is  that he's there instead of the more natural choice of Neil Walker because Ike needs the Cutch's protection in the lineup more and spaces the LH hitters more evenly thru the lineup.
  • Ike, btw, has a slash of .185/.290/.333; Pedro's is .173/.280/.387. Clint can shake-and-bake the order all he wants, but until the middle is productive, well, lots of luck. The 2014 Bucs are hitting .221 and producing 3.7 runs  per game; last year's squad hit .245 and scored 3.9 RPG.
  • Whether you like it or not, blame the economics of baseball, not the Bucs, for Gregory Polanco's temporary exile. The stuff he's working on in the minors could just as easily be worked on in Pittsburgh, but that extra year of arb makes it much more cost efficient to continue that learning process at Indy, and that's the procedure that all small revenue teams try to follow of necessity. Of course, the fact that the Pirates are in bumpy waters right now could well work in Polanco's favor of a May call up, for both competitive and PR reasons.
  • The Pirate pitching depth, much touted, has hit some bumps. Injury has taken its toll, and Nick Kingham, 22, who the Bucs hoped to get to Indy this year, is 1-2/3.46 at Altoona. He has 20 K/12 BB in 26 IP, with a 1.46 WHIP. He's a power pitcher with a curve and change up who needs work on his command. So far, it looks like the cavalry consists of Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke and Casey Sadler. 
  • Pittsburgh pitching has not regressed that terribly from last season. This year's Bucs have a 3.65 ERA/3.83 xFIP w/7 K, 3 BB per nine innings and a 76.5% strand rate. In 2013, the staff compiled a 3.27 ERA/3.58 xFIP with 8 K/3 BB per nine and a 75% strand rate. The ground ball rate has dropped a couple of points, from 52% to 49%. But the oft' predicted regression may bite the rotation - Pittsburgh's starters have a 4.68 ERA in the last 14 games, and whether that's just a small sample bump or a full year's thing will be the season determinant.
  • The Pirates need the Brewers to fall back to earth. They are 9-1/2 games behind them a month into the season. The Bucs aren't in too bad of a hole with the rest of the division, being just three games behind second place St. Louis. Fangraphs projects the Pirates to finish at 79-83.

4/30: Pud, First NL Game & Fred's Monkey, Ray Miller, Scrap Iron, Jeff King, Pat Meares & More...

Pud, First NL Game & Fred's Monkey, Ray Miller, Scrap Iron, Jeff King, Pat Meares & More...
  • 1877 - Jim “Pud” Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys tossed the International Association’s first shutout‚ defeating Columbus 2-0 at Union (Recreation) Park. The IA disbanded after the season. 
  • 1887 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first NL game, defeating the defending champion Chicago White Stockings 6-2 behind Pud Galvin in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Recreation Park. In pre-game ceremonies, Fred Miller’s beloved pet monkey, which had passed on to simian heaven, was buried beneath home plate. The team wouldn't become the Pirates until 1891, when they "pirated" the services of second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  • 1924 - At Cubs Park, Rabbit Maranville lined a triple in the 14th inning and then stole home to beat Chicago‚ 2-1. Johnny Morrison was the winner over Elmer Jacobs; both pitchers went the distance. The Pirates had 12 hits, led by Max Carey’s three, but hit into four DP during the day. 
  • 1938 - 3B Bill Brubaker set a modern MLB record by committing four errors in a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati at Crosley Field. Bill’s boots didn’t contribute to the loss; both Red runs were earned. 
  • 1945 - Ray Miller was born in Takoma Park, Maryland. He spent ten years as the Pirates pitching coach (1987–96) under Jim Leyland, replacing Ron Schueler, and worked with Cy Young winner Doug Drabek. Miller also managed for Minnesota and Baltimore, and as pitching coach tutored Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone for the Os. 
  • 1949 - Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He spent five years (1977-81) with the Pirates, playing second base for the 1979 World Series club. Scrap Iron hit .267 and stole 112 bases while a Bucco. After his playing career, Garner managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. 

 Phil Garner 1977 O-Pee-Chee series

  • 1955 - A statue of Honus Wagner, created by Frank Vittor, was unveiled outside the left field gates at Forbes Field. It’s been moved twice: first to TRS, then to PNC Park where his likeness greets fans at the main gate. 
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh scored ten times in the second inning against the Reds at Crosley Field on the way to a 12-7 win, their eighth in a row. Roberto Clemente, Billy Maz and Dick Stuart each drove home 3 RBI. 1980 - Phil Garner had his first two homer game, good for three RBI, and Bill Robinson added another as the division leading Pirates took a 5-0 victory over the Expos at TRS. Jim Bibby tossed a six hitter for the win. The long balls were a birthday gift to himself; Scrap Iron turned 31. Also in the news, Bert Blyleven went home to California and asked for a trade, saying Chuck Tanner showed no confidence in him. He eventually was traded to the Indians during the off season. 
  • 1996 - For the second time in his career, Jeff King hit a pair of bombs in the same inning - one a grand slam - to lead the Bucs to a 10-7 win over the Reds. The first baseman joined Andre Dawson and Willie McCovey as the only MLB’ers to have accomplished the feat twice. The Bucs tallied nine times in the fourth frame to spark the victory at Cinergy Field, sending Cincinnati to its eighth straight loss. 
  • 1967: Juan Pizarro struck out eight batters and tossed a four hit shutout in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Jerry May knocked in both of Pittsburgh’s runs with a run-scoring single in the second inning and a solo home run in the fifth frame. 
  • 1999 - Pat Meares, 30, was signed to a one year, $1.5M contract by Cam Bonifay. He broke his wrist in spring training (the Pirates misdiagnosed it as a sprain), and a week after he came off the DL was given a four year, $15M extension. He played 240 games for the Pirates and 2001 was his last season, reaching a settlement that paid him for 2002-03 without him playing. 
  • 2002 - Buc starter David Williams hit two batters and committed two balks in the fourth inning of a 10-0 thumping by the Rox at Coor Field. The Bucs mustered just three hits against Mike Hampton; the Rockies banged out 13 knocks, including a pair of homers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tonight's Game Cancelled - Rain Out Notes on Wandy, Free Outs, Lowered Mound...

Camden Yards from Root Sports

Tonight's game in Baltimore has been rained out and will be played Thursday at 7:05. Charlie Morton's start will be pushed back a day, to tomorrow. Some rainy day notes:
  • Wandy Rodriguez is expected to make a rehab start with the Altoona Curve on Thursday.
  • Kevin Ruprecht of Beyond the Box Score rates what players made the most "free outs" - whiffs and pop ups - so far this year. Starling Marte is one; ex-Bucco Garrett Jones is another.
  • Baseballstooge at Fangraph's Community Research blog makes a case for lowering the mound again both to increase offense and decrease TJ surgeries.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Orioles announced that Steve Pearce was claimed on release waivers but he elected to become a free agent rather than accepting the claim.

Shook Up Lineup, Interleague, Injuries...

The Bucs are in Baltimore for their first interleague series, maybe - the weather is pretty iffy, so it may be a challenge to get the set in. If worse comes to worse, the two teams could possibly play a doubleheader on Thursday since both are off and  don’t face each other in Baltimore again this season.

Charlie Morton (0-3, 4.35) is scheduled to take the hill against Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.38) tonight. Morton is still struggling to find his 2013 groove, and hasn't won an interleague game since 2008. Tillman has been pretty steady for the Birds. He's a fastball guy who will flip to offspeed when he has command issues. Tillman is also a homer; he's posted an 0.69 ERA at Camden yards this year.

Lineup: Jose Tabata RF, Ike Davis 1B, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B, Gaby Sanchez DH, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte LF, Tony Sanchez C and Jordy Mercer SS. Dropping Marte in the order caused quite a mash up in the lineup. Ike is hitting second instead of Walker, and we're a little surprised Gaby got the DH call against a RHP instead of Travis Snider, tho Clint may be keeping him up his sleeve for a late inning PH role.

The game starts at 7:05, weather permitting, and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

  • Last year, Pittsburgh’s 15-5 record in interleague play was the best in the big leagues and the Pirates are riding a nine game road win streak in interleague play into tonight’s game. The team’s only road loss against an AL team came last year at Detroit. 
  • It doesn't look like the Pirates are making any calls to Indy for a DH tho the next five games are being played in AL parks; they'll go with what they got. That will leave the club with a four man bench, but since the pitcher doesn't need batted for, it should work out.
  • Neal Huntington talked to Greg Brown on 93.7 The Fan about the Pirates current injury situation.
  • The Orioles' Manny Machado is ready to come off the DL, perhaps as early as today. He's been off since off-season knee surgery.
  • Saber Bucs used a simulator the see if variations of the Pirate lineup would work better than Clint's usual card, and with some flopping around of Cutch, they did.
  • Baseball Borders from the NY Times:

4/29: Rollie & George, Satch Opens Greenlee Field, Red Wins First Sunday Game, Buc Streak & More...

Rollie & George, Satch Opens Greenlee Field, Red Wins First Sunday Game, Buc Streak & More...
  • 1930 - Rollie Hemsley and George Grantham combined for seven hits and nine RBI to lead the Pirates to a 13-9 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs rallied from a 7-1 deficit with a seven run sixth inning and never looked back. 
  • 1932 - Greenlee Field in the Hill, home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, opened in front of 4,000 fans. The Crawfords played the New York Black Yankees, with Satchel Paige facing Jesse Hubbard. Paige struck out ten and allowed six hits; Hubbard topped that with a three hitter as the Yankees won 1-0. It was the first ballfield built specifically for a black team, erected by team owner Gus Greenlee. When finished, the grounds would seat 7,500, with lights added in 1933. It was demolished in 1939 to clear space for the Bedford Dwellings. 

Greenlee Field image from Jeff Polman

  • 1934 - Red Lucas won Pittsburgh’s first Sunday home game as the Pirates beat Cincinnati 9-5 at Forbes Field, backed by Gus Suhr’s three hits and four RBI. Both Suhr and Paul Waner, who also had three knocks, homered. Because of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, Pittsburgh was the last major league city to play a home game on a Sunday. 
  • 1966 - OF/1B John Vander Wal was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played for the Bucs in 200-01, and in 232 games hit .290 with 35 HR and 144 RBI. The Pirates traded him at the 2001 deadline with Jason Schmidt to the Giants for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios in one of GM Dave Littlefield’s (He replaced Cam Bonifay in mid-July) early deals. 
  • 1990 - The Bucs swept San Diego 10-1 behind a four homer barrage at Jack Murphy Stadium. Barry Bonds and Jay Bell hit three-run bombs, Bobby Bonilla banged a two-run blast and Don Slaught added a solo shot to grease an easy outing for Doug Drabek. It was the Pirates sixth consecutive win. 
  • 2012 - Pitching for the AAA Indianapolis Indians against the Durham Bulls, Justin Wilson tossed the first 7-1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter (2 walks, 9 K, 107 pitches), completed by Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten.

Monday, April 28, 2014

How AJ, Morneau, Byrd, GI Jones & the Other Castaways Are Faring...

There were some shake-ups in the roster from the team that finished in the playoffs to today's squad. The 2013 club lost a RF'er (Marlon Byrd); two 1B (Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones), a top end pitcher (AJ Burnett) and a handful of plug-ins. Here's how those guys are doing a month into the season:
  • Justin Morneau is hitting .349 with five homers and 19 RBI in 93 PA for the Rockies; he hit .260 with no homers and three RBI in 92 PA as a Pirate.
  • Marlon Byrd isn't having the same success as he did in Pittsburgh. He hit .318 w/ three homers and 17 RBI as a Buc with an .843 OPS in 115 PA. His power numbers are the same at with Philly (2 HR, 16 RBI) but his average (.269) and OPS (.704) are way down in 98 PA. His curse has been whiffing; he struck out 17% of the time in Pittsburgh, but is K'ing at a 29% rate in Philadelphia.
  • AJ Burnett is pitching OK for the Phils, with an 0-1/2.73 line in five starts. With the Bucs, he was 10-11/3.30 with 30 starts. However, his peripherals aren't very sharp yet: he averages 6 K and 5 BB/nine with a 1.449 WHIP compared to 2013's 10 K, 3 BB and 1.215 WHIP. He also has a hernia that he's been working through.
  • Garrett Jones has changed not a twit. At Miami, his line is .233/.293/.389 with two homers and 11 RBI. With the Pirates, it was .233/.289/.419 with 15 HR and 51 RBI.
  • Alex Presley got around. He hit .264 with a .663 OPS for the Bucs, then went to Minnesota where his numbers were .283/.699. After a rough spring, he ended up with the Astros, and there he's hitting .246 w/.631 OPS.
  • Mike McKenry was non-tendered after hitting .217 for Pittsburgh last season. He went on to sign with Colorado, and he's at their AAA club, Colorado Springs, and has a .310 BA there.
  • James McDonald went 2-2/5.76 with the Pirates. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs for 2014, but J-Mac was placed on the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation.
  • John Buck, who hit a combined .222 for the Pirates and Mets last year, is a back-up at Seattle and hitting .231.
An argument could be made for making Morneau, 32, an offer as his 2-year, $11.75M with Colorado was reasonable. But after seeing his audition at Pittsburgh, and adding the grain of salt to his current stats because of Coors Field, it's easy to see why the FO passed on him. Still, it will be interesting to see how his year and Ike Davis' season play out.

Ditto with AJ, although his hernia and drop in K rate are red flags early in the season. But his loss put a big dent in Bucco starting pitching depth when he left, and it's starting to show now with Wandy hurt, Jameson Taillon and Kyle McPherson both down for the season and beyond, and Jeff Locke just getting back into shape. It was tough to tell how much AJ's departure was on the brass and how much was on him as both sides wriggled around in a  pretty bizarre mating ritual.

Byrd, of course, was fairly irrelevant once the season ended. He wanted security and the Bucs wanted a baby-sitter for RF until June, so he never was in play for 2014.

The rest of the guys were pieces, not building blocks. But it would have been nice to hang on to AJ and maybe Morneau; that's to be determined.

4/28: Red Lucas, Glenn Wright, Tom Sturdivant, Chipping Away, Ending A Streak...

Red Lucas, Glenn Wright, Tom Sturdivant, Chipping Away, Ending A Streak...
  • 1902 - The Nashville Narcissus, Red Lucas (he lived in Nashville and a sportswriter gave him the nickname), was born in Tennessee. The righty spent the last five years of his career (1934-38) with Pittsburgh after coming over in a deal with the Reds. He put up a 47-32/3.73 line for the Bucs. Lucas was also a good stickman; he pinch hit in more games as a Pirate than he pitched, though his .238 BA was well below the .300 average he carried with Cincy. Oh, and he remembered the team that traded him - he was 14-0 against the Reds during his Pirate era. 

Red Lucas from the Conlon Collection

  • 1924 - Bucco rookie SS Glenn Wright hit his first homer off Vic Keen in a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. But Wright was better known for his mitt; he set a MLB record during the season with 601 assists, a record that lasted until 1980, when Ozzie Smith had 621 Astroturf assists. “Buckshot” was the Pirate SS until 1928 when he was traded to Brooklyn Robins, and hit .298 over that span. 
  • 1930 - RHP Tom Sturdivant was born in Gordon, Kansas. Nicknamed “Snake” because of his nasty curve, he was an outstanding pitcher for the Yankees until he suffered a rotator cuff injury in 1958 that slowed his career, although he pitched through it, not leaving baseball until after the 1964 season. He hurled for the Bucs from 1961-63 with a 14-7-3/3.49 slash. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates scored one run in each of the final five innings of regulation and added four more in tenth to outlast the Cubs at Wrigley Field 9-6. The tying run scored with two out in the ninth. Roberto Clemente fell behind Ted Abernathy 0-2, worked the count full and drew a walk after fouling off eight straight pitches. He scored on Willie Stargell’s double. The Bucco tenth was highlighted by a delayed double steal, with Clemente swiping second and Manny Mota home. 
  • 1970 - The Bucs 6-1 victory at Forbes Field ended Chicago’s 11 game winning streak. Luke Walker, Bruce Dal Canton and Dave Giusti combined for a three hitter while Manny Sanguillen hit a pair of homers and had 3 RBI. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates defeated the Brewers for the second straight game to take the series at Miller Field with a 6-5, 14 inning victory. The Bucs tied the game in the ninth on a Ryan Doumit homer and went ahead in the 10th on a Cutch long ball, but the Brew Crew came back to tie it off Octavio Dotel, who left the bases loaded before getting the third out. Garrett Jones doubled home Akinori Iwamura with two down in the 14th and DJ Carrasco worked his third inning of scoreless, one hit relief for the win.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Too Much Wainwright, Peralta; Pirates Dropped 7-0

Ah, that first inning. Adam Wainwright put the Bucs away with a walk, but Edinson Volquez didn't get away that cheaply. The Cards manufactured a run with a leadoff double, bunt and sac fly. Hurdle protested that the tag up was too soon, but that plea from the bench failed to move the umps. The Bucs went quietly in the second, and took advantage of some happy feet to keep the Redbirds off the board in their half, catching Yadier Molina in a rundown between third and home.

In the third, Tony Sanchez and Volquez, after a failed bunt, both singled to open the frame. Another bunt by Starling Marte ended up a force at third, and the Bucs went quietly after that. The pitching was clean from that point until the bottom of the fifth, when a Jhonny Peralta solo shot off a hanging curve made it 2-0.

The Bucs had two-out gold on the corners after JT took one for the team and Pedro dropped a flare into right in the sixth, but Wainwright caught the corner on Neil Walker for a strikeout looking; he now has a 23-inning scoreless streak going.

The Matts, Adams and Holliday, singled back-to-back in the St. Louis half. A fielder's choice left Cards on the corners; Ike Davis' foot was ruled off the bag when he stretched for a wide toss by Walker. A protest ensued, but the replay guys said the call stood, meaning that it was too close to overturn. It hurt when Allen Craig turned the botched DP into a run with a bloop single. It hurt even more when Peralta ran into a 3-2 changeup and knocked it into the bullpen. The pitch before looked like strike three (it was in the same spot that The Kid was rung up), but Volquez didn't get the call. Perhaps Sanchez may have been a little too active in framing it. Jeanmar Gomez finished the inning.

Wainwright put the Bucs away in order in the seventh, so he's worked seven innings or more in all six starts this year. Gomez had a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a DP; Wainwright had an eighth inning walk erased on a DP in the eighth. In the Card half, Adams tripled when a diving Tabata couldn't corral the ball, and a sac fly brought him home.

Carlos Martinez gave Wainwright a blow in the ninth, and struck out the side as the Bucs were dropped 7-0.

A manufactured run or two, a hung curve and an unturned DP gave Adam Wainwright lots to work with, and he doesn't need much. The Bucs are off tomorrow and then visit the Orioles for a quick two game set with Charlie Morton and Brandon Cumpton to do the hurling.
  • Tony Sanchez now has an eight game hitting streak.
  • Adam Wainwright now has a 25 inning scoreless streak.
  • After a stretch of 20 straight games without a scheduled off day, the Pirates are off tomorrow and Thursday.
  • The Pirates are in a 4-13 tailspin. April hasn't been very kind to them; they've dropped the last five series.
  • Vin Mazzaro picked up the save for Indy today and has a streak of 10-1/3 scoreless innings to his credit.

Lineup, Notes - Volquez, Sadler, Sanchez, Cutch, Injuries

Edinson Volquez (1-1, 1.93) faces off against Adam Wainwright (4-1, 1.46) this afternoon. Volquez has been tough - he hasn't given up more than two runs in a start yet this year - but he's also been matched up against a murderer's row of aces which continues today. Wainwright has a streak of 17 scoreless innings and has gone seven innings+ in each of his first seven starts.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Jose Tabata RF, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B,  Neil Walker 2B, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS, Tony Sanchez C and Volquez P. We expect to see a lot of Tony Sanchez; he was called up to be the #1, not back up Chris Stewart.

The game starts at 2:15 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • RHP Casey Sadler was called up to the big team and Jared Hughes sent back to Indy; the Pirates need a guy that can eat some innings after the pen covered seven innings yesterday. Sadler, 23, is on the 40-man roster, had a 3-0/1.67 line as a starter at Indy and features - what else - a sinker.
  • Tony Sanchez has a seven-game hitting streak.
  • Cutch has gone 10-for-20 in his past six games. 
  • Injury report: Russ Martin's MRI showed a hamstring issue, one that he said he's had since camp. Wandy threw a bullpen session with no problems.
  • The Pirates end a 26-game stretch of playing NL Central opponents this afternoon; they'll visit Baltimore Tuesday after an off day.
  • Pirate C prospect Reese McGuire has been placed on the DL by West Virginia; no details on the injury. Minor league DL trips are for seven days, so it's hard to speculate on the severity of the injury. EDIT - he has a groin contusion (bruise) per Pirates Prospects.

4/27: 23 Runs, Seven Straight, B-2-B B-2-B, Pops Owns April, Backman's Six Hit Day, Matty Mo Goes, Brewer Hex Snapped and More...

23 Runs, Seven Straight, B-2-B B-2-B, Pops Owns April, Backman's Six Hit Day, Matty Mo Goes, Brewer Hex Snapped and More...
  • 1893 - The Pirates opened the season against the Cleveland Spiders and were spanked by Cy Young, losing 7-2. The team had a strong season despite that ominous start, finishing second in the National League with a 81-48 mark. 
  • 1902 - Pittsburgh whipped Chicago 2-0 at Exposition Park‚ as Deacon Phillippe outpitched rookie Jim St. Vrain. St. Vrain only gave up a single to Ginger Beaumont, but it came after the Pirates had loaded the bases on an error sandwiched between a pair of plunked batters in the eighth inning. Phillippe fanned seven and all the other outs were recorded by the infield, with 1B Kitty Bransfield recording 16 putouts. 
  • 1912 - The Pirates walloped Cincinnati 23-4 at Forbes Field‚ and without a home run (although they had five doubles & three triples among their 27 hits). Bobby Byrnes and Dots Miller had five knocks apiece. Reds reliever Hansey Horsey surrendered 14 hits and 12 runs in four innings in what would be his only MLB appearance. Vice President James “Sunny Jim” Sherman, a big baseball fan, attended the game along with PA Congressman Jim Burke, Lieutenant Governor JM Reynolds and an assortment of politicos and generals. 1930 - The Pirates won their seventh game in a row 9-5 over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. OF Adam Comorosky went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Gus Suhr drove home three more and Ira Flagstead homered 
  • 1954 - Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch hit back-to-back homers in back-to-back at-bats in the sixth and eighth innings, the first Pirates to accomplish the feat in the 20th century (Neil Walker & Gaby Sanchez matched the feat in 2014). It wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh lost to the Reds 8-7 at Crosley Field. 
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell set a MLB record with his 11th HR in the month of April, a shot over the TRS center field wall against LA’s Pete Mikkelson, in a 7-5 loss. The record stood for 36 years until it was broken by Albert Pujols, who hit 14 opening-month bombs in 2006. 

  • 1990 - Wally Backman became the first NL’er to get six hits in one game in 15 years. The 3B’man went 6-for-6 against the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in a 9-4 Pirate win. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs had their way with the Mets at Shea Stadium, winning 10-1. Randy Tomlin and Bob Patterson combined on a four hitter while a trio of Pirates had three hits - Bobby Bonilla, who had four RBI and a run scored, Spanky LaValliere, with two runs driven in and one scored, and Curtis Wilkerson, who plated three times. Pittsburgh took over sole possession of first place, and never lost it as they won the division by 14 games. 
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield threw 172 pitches in defeating Atlanta‚ 6-2‚ in 11 innings. (He was relieved by Paul Wagner in the 11th after issuing a lead-off walk) It was the most pitches tossed by one pitcher in a single game during the nineties and the most ever by a Pirate. Fernando Valenzuela was the last to throw that many pitches in a game in 1987. 
  • 2005 - Jose Mesa set Houston down 1-2-3 in the ninth to save Kip Wells’ 2-0 victory. It was his 300th career save, making Mesa the 19th pitcher in MLB history to reach that mark. 
  • 2008 - RHP Matt Morris was released by the Pirates after going 1-2/3 innings against the Phillies in his previous start the day before, giving up six runs on six hits. The 33-year-old compiled an 0-4 record with a 9.67 ERA in his five outings with Pittsburgh in 2008. He retired soon after, but the Bucs ate $11,037,283 in salary, including a $1M buyout for 2009. Pittsburgh replaced him by calling up RHP John Van Benschoten. 
  • 2010 - A five-run ninth inning sparked by Ryan Doumit's grand slam and Ronny Cedeno's solo shot off Trevor Hoffman ended the Pirates 22-game losing streak in Milwaukee as the Bucs took a 7-3 victory at Miller Park. The Brew Crew's hometown hex over the Bucs was the longest held by one team over another since the Browns/Orioles lost 27 consecutive contests to the Indians in Cleveland from 1952-54.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bucs Top Cards 6-1 To Snap Four Game Skid

And it was a quick 1-2-3 opening act for the Bucs against Tyler Lyons. Francisco Liriano had a calm first frame, too. The Pirate trend continued in the second with three groundouts. Matt Adams broke the ice with a single to center to open the Card half. An out later, Allen Craig dug out a low two strike slider and poked it into right. Frankie easily worked out of it against the 7-8 hitters to keep it at zero.

Three up, three down in the third, altho there were at least a couple of hard hit balls. It's never a good thing to walk the opposing pitcher, especially when he's wearing #70, but Liariano did after a long at-bat. And after a couple of more pitches, the trainer charged the mound as Frankie was in obvious discomfort, although not favoring an arm or leg. He left the mound with Clint; when it rains, it pours - losing your closer, catcher and Opening Day pitcher in a matter of hours is a perfect storm for a struggling team.

Stolmy Pimentel came in after lazing in the pen, and finished the walk to Matt Carpenter (it was 3-0 when he came in). After two big outs, Adams legged out an infield knock to load them. Stolmy went 3-2 on Yadier Molina after being up 0-2. After a foulfest, Molina whiffed on a changeup to keep the game even on a very nice job of pitching by Pimentel.

Oddly, after all that, the Bucs drew first blood. Starling Marte worked a leadoff walk, and after a failed bunt, Josh Harrison singled him to second. Cutch banged a ball through the left side and it was 1-0. Gaby drilled a ball to the right center gap for a double, took third on the throw, and it was 3-0. Neil Walker couldn't cash him in, but a JT single did.

The 4-0 lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth. A couple of walks and a one out Matt Holliday double made it 4-1, but Pimentel struck out Adams and Jared Hughes came on to coax a fly from Molina. After that, it was about the pitching. Both clubs got solid bullpen work until the ninth when the Bucs added on.

Ike Davis walked and JT singled. They were at second and third with two outs and both scooted home on a Tony Sanchez knock to make the final 6-1.

Five Pirate relievers - Pimentel, Hughes, Justin Wilson., Tony Watson and Mark the Shark - held the Crads to a run on three hits over the last seven frames, so give the bullpen a big gold star today. Tomorrow is a highlight duel between Edinson Volquez and Adam Wainwright.
  • Liriano left because of dizziness and flu-like symptoms, so hopefully he was just bitten by a bug and will be good to go next start. He blamed a nosebleed for weakening him, and said that they run in the family.
  • Jose Tabata has a hit in 26-of-28 games at Busch Stadium.
  • The Bucs snapped a four game losing streak with today's win while the Cards have lost 5-of-7.
  • Yadier Molina went 0-for-4, ending a career-high 15 game hitting streak.

Lineup, Hughes & Sanchez Up, Grilli & Martin On DL, Glasnow Sharp

Francisco Liriano (0-3, 4.22) goes against LHP Tyler Lyons (0-1, 3.00). Hey, another lefty! Frankie is still looking for win #1 in 2014. Lyons allowed two earned runs in six innings Monday night in New York, in his first start of the season and ninth of his career. He's filling the spot of Joe Kelly, on the DL with a strained left hamstring.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jose Tabata RF, Tony Sanchez C and Liriano P.  Guess Josh is the option when Pedro sits, nut in the two hole...?

The game begins at 4:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

  • Russ Martin joined Jason Grilli on the DL. Tony and Jared Hughes are the call-ups. The Bucs solved their paperwork dilemma of yesterday by calling up Tony to replace Grilli, who is still backdated to Monday, and Jared to replace Martin, which makes everything kosher by the rulebook.
  • Tyler Glasnow gave up two hits and struck out six over five scoreless innings in his season debut before his Class A Bradenton club dropped a 13-4 decision at St. Lucie ( the bullpen didn't quite come through). Glasnow was held back in Pirate City while recovering from a tight back.
  • Ex-Bucs: RHP Chris Lereaux was called up by the Yankees.

4/26: New Expo, Fire Trucks, The Gunner, Ed Ott & Bert, Boo, Ralph Kiner and More...

New Expo, Fire Trucks, The Gunner, Ed Ott & Bert, Boo, Ralph Kiner and More...
  • 1900 - The Bucs drew 11,000 to the newly expanded Exposition Park, the biggest Pittsburgh baseball turnout to date, and there were a couple of thousand more trying to get in. The Pirates were fortified by the recent influx of Louisville players like Honus Wagner, but dropped a 12-11 slugfest to Cincinnati as the Reds lit up Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro. The Bucs made a game of it by rallying for seven ninth inning runs. 
  • 1905 - The Cubs beat Pittsburgh at Exposition Park, 2-1 as Chicago’s Jack McCarthy became the only major league OF’er to throw out three runners trying to score in one game. All three assists were on tag plays and resulted in double plays. 
  • 1917 - Coach Virgil “Fire” Trucks was born in Birmingham, Alabama. After a long pro career, he became the bullpen coach/batting practice pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1960 and stayed with the Pirates until 1963. Trucks later operated baseball camps for the Bucs. 
  • 1940 - After putting up four runs in the eighth the day before and falling just short, the Bucs crossed home seven times in the eighth today to roll over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4. Debs Garms and Joe Bowman both had homers and three RBI to spark the rally. 
  • 1948 - Legendary announcer Bob Prince broadcast his first Pirates game, joining another Pittsburgh favorite, Rosey Rowswell (“Open the window, Aunt Minnie”) on the air. "The Gunner" went on to describe Pirate action for 28 years. 

Part-owner Bing Crosby flanked by Rosey Rowswell (l) and The Gunner (r).

  • 1978 - Ed Ott hit an 11th-inning home run at Shea Stadium to give the Bucs and Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game six hitter, a 1-0 win. It took 35 years for another Pirate, Neil Walker, to homer for the only run in a Bucco extra inning victory. 1995 - 34,841 fans at TRS disrupted a delayed Opening Day by throwing whatever was handy (mainly giveaway day Bucco pennants) on the field to show their displeasure with the freshly resolved player’s strike and some shoddy play by the Bucs. The game was delayed for 17 minutes until the announcer told the unruly crowd that the contest was about to be forfeited. Might as well have been; Montreal won the game 6-2, chasing Jon Leiber in the fifth. 
  • 2008 - Alhambra, California, dedicated a bronze statue to honor of its native son Ralph Kiner for his "accomplishments and contributions to the game of professional baseball and sports broadcasting." The former Pirates slugger, a member of the Hall of Fame, grew up in Alhambra and graduated from its high school in 1940.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Grilli On DL, Martin To Follow?

Simple enough, hey? A guy gets hurt, he goes on the DL, backdated to his last appearance. Well...

The Pirates tried to put closer Jason Grilli on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain, but were unable to because they wanted to call back Jared Hughes. They backdated Grilli's injury to Monday, but couldn't bring Hughes back because he was on the 25-man roster then. The rule is that a player has to spend 10 days in the minors after being optioned except in case of injury, and since Hughes was on the active roster when Grilli was hurt and only later sent down, that rule still applies.

So they'll try again. Either they'll put Grilli on the DL dated to after Hughes was sent down (on Thursday, replaced by Brandon Cumpton) or call up a guy like Vin Mazzaro.

Mark the Shark is expected to assume the closer role in place of Grilli, and Tony Watson could join the mix.

Russ Martin, who sat out a couple of days, has a hammy injury and may join Grilli on the DL. The Bucs will evaluate the injury further tomorrow before deciding whether to go with Martin or call Tony Sanchez back. He was already safely tucked away in Indy before Russ' injury, so that will work out.

The Beat Goes On - Bucs Lose 1-0

The Bucs went down quietly in the first against Shelby Miller; the Cards had a run after three batters faced Gerrit Cole. Matt Carpenter bunted for a leadoff knock and scored on Matt Holliday's double.

After that, it was missed opportunities by both clubs. A Travis Snider DP ended the Bucs second and a so-close twin killing hit into by Cutch with the bases loaded  in the third on a sharply hit at 'em ball to short short circuited Pittsburgh. Cole stranded eight Cards through the fifth, thanks to a reversed call, a great grab by Cutch and a nice pick of a hot shot by Ike Davis.

Cutch doubled with an out in the sixth and stayed there as Pat Neshek came on to finish up the frame for Miller with two gone, striking out Russ Martin. Chris Stewart came on for him, and it wouldn't be a shocker to see Tony Sanchez back up soon as Martin is clearly not 100% physically. Cole worked his first clean frame.

Lefty Kevin Siegrist took the ball for St. Louis in the seventh and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Cole worked his last frame and put up another goose egg.

Carlos Martinez took the ball in the eighth. Starling Marte pinch hit and got plunked to open the Bucco at-bats. JT bunted a pair of pitches foul, but came through by punching a curve into right, chasing Marte to third. Neil Walker tapped back to the mound; Marte was caught in a rundown and erased. Bad situational hitting; bad base running; Tabata had to stay at second.

To even up, Martinez then unloaded a wild pitch, moving the runners along. Cutch drew a semi-intentional walk with first open. Pedro K'ed looking on four pitches; Chris Stewart went down on a dubious check swing call by the plate ump. Martinez got ahead of both with 100 MPH heat and got the third strike on hooks. That's twice the Bucs loaded the sacks with one out and came away empty.

Bryan Morris got the call. Yadier Molina ended a long at-bat with a single to left, quickly erased by Allen Craig's around-the-horn DP. Good thing too, as Jhonny Peralta followed with a single, but no damage was done. Trevor Rosenthal came in looking for the save, and no trouble there; he struck out the side. Cole pitched a typically gutsy game, getting stronger as the contest went on, but a first inning run did him in.

It's frustrating to see Hurdle try to work with so many guys that are platoon material; it gives the opposing manager all the leverage in the later innings. Beside match-up dilemmas, the Bucs are out of left handed bats to use in the final frames when a righty starts. The team has gone a long way towards building a lineup, yet still has miles to go.

Francisco Liriano tales on Tyler Lyons tomorrow.
  • Russell Martin was removed from the game with tightness in his left hamstring. He will be treated and re-evaluated.
  • Jason Grilli was put on the DL and a bit of low comedy ensued; a post on that after the game. The main upshot was that the Buc bullpen was an arm short.
  • Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 15 games tonight.

Lineup, Notes - Cutch, The Kid, Volquez, Platoons, Runs, Wandy, Polanco

Gerrit Cole (2-1, 3.67) opens the series against Shelby Miller (1-2, 3.57). Cole has faced the Redbirds once, coming away with a win last season. Miller is 0-5 lifetime against the Pirates; he hasn't lost more than once against any other team. But he has won 10 of 14 home decisions, and has held opponents to a .197 BA at Busch Stadium, so six of one, half dozen of the other...

The lineup:Jose Tabata LF, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 31B, Travis Snider RF, Clint Barmes SS and Cole P.

This three game set is the final leg of a Pirate stretch of 26 straight games against NL Central foes in April. The Cards haven't been all that early in the season, either. The Redbirds have dropped six of nine and are coming off a 5-6 road trip.

The contest starts at 8:15 an will be aired by Root Sports, MLB Network and 93.7 The Fan.
  • Cutch is 8-for-13 in his last four games and 19-for-51 (.373) with five doubles, four homers and 10 RBI in his last 13 games dating back to April 12th. Neil Walker is hot, too, andd is now 8-for-22 (.364) in his last five games.
  • Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors writes of Edinson Volquez: "his strikeouts are down (5.1 K/9), (and) his BABIP (.233) and long ball rates (.32 HR/9) suggest some regression is coming."
  • Platooning to date: 1B) Davis/Gaby - .206 BA, .263 OBP; RF) Snider/Tabata - .230 BA, .287 OBP. The Gregory Polanco watch continues (and rest assured, a watch is all it will be until June) as JT especially struggles. The other three players at least have OPS above .700, so they've shown some patience and some power. JT's OPS is .519, and he's shown neither.
  • Interpret as you may: The Pirates have scored three or fewer runs 13 times this season, and are 2-11 in those games. Pirate pitching has held opponents to three or fewer runs 7 times, but the Bucs are just 4-3 in those games.
  • The Pirates have no timetable for Wandy's return. He won't begin throwing off a mound again until his knee is pain free, and it hasn't reached that point yet.
  • Hey - SI finally figured out that Gregory Polanco is the next big thing. Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet has a few words about him, too.
  • RHP Kyle McPherson, recovering from surgery last year, broke his throwing elbow. It will undergo the knife next week; now he's out until 2015.
  • MLB restored the transfer rule, which maintains a catch even if the fielder drops the ball while transferring it to his throwing hand, after modifying it to start the season.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Giants signed Travis Ishikawa to a minor league deal; ditto with the Padres who signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.

4/25: Honus Wagner, Bob Johnson, Wally Westlake, The Starg, Wayward Helmet, 26th Player, Bucs Triple Up, More...

Honus Wagner, Bob Johnson, Wally Westlake, The Starg, Wayward Helmet, 26th Player, Bucs Triple Up, More...
  • 1896 - Fred Haney was born in Albuquerque. He managed the Bucs as a favor to Branch Rickey from from 1953-1955. His record reflects the fact that he was brought in during the early stages of a youth movement, losing 104, 101 and 94 games. 
  • 1899 - Pittsburgh lost to Louisville 2-1 at Eclipse Park as future Bucco 3B Honus Wagner went 4-for-4 with 2 HRs‚ the second being a ninth-inning game winner. The Colonels were managed by future Pirate skipper (and player) Fred Clarke. The following season, most of Louisville’s top players went with owner Barney Dreyfuss to Pittsburgh. 
  • 1940 - The Pirates put up a four spot in the eighth inning, but came up a run short to the St. Louis Cards 10-9 at Forbes Field. Elbie Fletcher went 3-for-5 with four RBI while Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner batted 4-for-5 and scored three times. 

  • 1943 - RHP Bob Johnson was born in Aurora, Illinois. He pitched for the Bucs from 1971-73, beginning as a starter and ending in the bullpen. He went 17-16-7/3.34 as a Buc and appeared in a pair of NLCS and in the 1971 World Series. 
  • 1948 - Wally Westlake homered, doubled and drove in six runs while Ed Stevens added five more RBI to lead the Bucs to a 13-10 win over the Reds in the second game of a twinbill at Crosley Field. Pittsburgh lost the opener 7-6 in the ninth. 
  • 1970 - Willie Stargell homered over the RF roof at Forbes Field off Hoyt Wilhelm‚ the second time he'd done it in a week‚ as the Pirates edged the Braves‚ 8-7. Eighteen balls carried over the Oakland yard’s roof, with seven launched by Stargell. No one else hit more than a pair. 
  • 1992 - In the Pirates 1-0 win over the host Cubs‚ the Bucs were helped by a wayward hat. With Kirk Gibson on first‚ Jay Bell hit a potential DP grounder that struck Gibson's helmet‚ which had flown off as he headed to second, and the Cubs had to settle for a force. Andy Van Slyke noted‚ “the play goes 7-1/2 to 4 to 5 to 6" on your scorecard. Bell then scored when Van Slyke followed with a double for the game’s only run. Randy Tomlin was the winner over Greg Maddux at Wrigley. 
  • 2003 - Kip Wells became the second player and first pitcher to homer into the batter’s eye at PNC Park with a third inning, 457’ blast off the Dodgers Odalis Perez. But LA had the last laugh when they rallied for five ninth inning runs off Wells and Mike Williams to take a 5-2 victory. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates and the Rockies became the first teams in MLB history to add an extra player to the roster for their twin bill at PNC Park. The new CBA allowed teams to carry 26 on the active roster for doubleheaders to save the paper shuffling that calling up an extra pitcher entailed. The Bucs brought up Jared Hughes, who had started the season with Pittsburgh but was sent down when AJ Burnett came of the DL.
  • 2013 - The Bucs beat the Phillies for the third straight time at Citizen’s Bank Park by a 6-4 score. It was the first time in eighteen tries that Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee threw back-to-back-to-back games and the Phils lost all three matches. The Pirates lost the first outing of the four game set, beaten 3-2 by Jonathan Pettibone, who was making his first MLB start.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bats Bewildered Again As Bucs Go Down 2-1

Inn the first inning, Pedro's ground ball single (with an assist to Brandon Phillips) with two down plated Neil Walker. That would be all they scored against Tony Cingrani in six innings. They got six hits and a walk off the lefty, but stranded seven runners.

Logan Ondrusek, Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton put up goose eggs over the final three frames.

Brandon Cumpton bopped a guy with a pitch to open the sixth and plunked another with two down. Ryan Ludwick jumped on the next pitch and doubled off the bullpen fence to chase both hit batters home, and that's all the Reds got off of Brandon.  His line was 7IP, 2R, 4H, 1BB, 4K and 3HBP. The HBP hurt, but at least we know he's not afraid to go inside.  As lasy year, the kid is showing that he belongs in a big league uniform.

Tony Watson and Mark the Shark put up goose eggs after him to keep it close.

And that was that; the Bucs scored six runs in the first game of the set and four in the last three to limp out of Pittsburgh with a brutal 2-6 home stand record.

Gerrit Cole and Shelby Miller go at it tomorrow night in St. Louis.

  • Brandon Cumpton's scoreless streak ended at 20 IP.
  • Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan reported that the Bucs had a closed door clubhouse meeting this morning. After today's loss, the Pirates have dropped 8-of-11.
  • Ryan Gaule of Bleacher Report picks five Indy hands that should play in Pittsburgh sometime this year (and Brandon Cumpton wasn't one of them.)

Lineup, Notes - Cutch, Lefties, Hughes Down

Brandon Cumpton (2-0/1.42 ERA at Indy) goes against Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22), the rarest of beasts as far as the Bucs are concerned - a lefty starter, only the second they've met this season.

Cumpton comes in riding a 15 inning scoreless streak from last season; his biggest problem has been working deep into games. Even with that, he was 2-1/2.05 in five starts in 2013. Cingrani has had the same problem; he's been falling behind and running up early high pitch counts. So it well could be a battle of the bullpens in the get-away game.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Jose Tabata RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Chris Stewart C and Cumpton P. Since he's been out the last two days, we're kinda wondering why Russ Martin appealed his suspension. Stewart catching day-night is a pretty good indicator that Russ is hurtin'. Pedro gets a break from cleanup against a lefty while Gaby gets his call. 

The game starts at 12:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

  • The Bucs went 18-13 last year when facing a lefty starter and are 1-0 this season, having defeated the Cubs' Travis Wood.
  • Cutch has a three game homer streak. David Manel of Buc Dugout speculates that moving him to second or fourth in the lineup would help the offense.
  • The Reds have won six of their last eight games. The Bucs are going the other way at 9-13 overall, and are already seven games behind the Brewers in the NL Central.
  • Jared Hughes, who stuck around long enough to notch a win, was optioned back to Indy to clear a roster spot for Cumpton.

4/24: Fred Carroll, Honus Wagner, Frank Allen No-No, Freddie Lindstrom, Chris Jakubauskas...

Fred Carroll, Honus Wagner, Frank Allen No-No, Freddie Lindstrom, Chris Jakubauskas...
  • 1891 - Fred Carroll hit the first home run by a Pirate in Exposition Park as the Bucs defeated the Chicago Colts 11-8 for their first victory ever in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1903 - Honus Wagner was having a bad day in the field, booting three balls that helped the Cardinals head into the ninth with a 7-6 lead at Exposition Park. But his bat helped erase the deficit. He tripled in the ninth and scored the tying run on a Kitty Bransfield single. Then with two away in the eleventh, the Flying Dutchman‚ walked, stole second and came around with the game winner on another Bransfield knock. Wagner collected four hits including two triples‚ two runs, four RBI‚ and three stolen bases. 
  • 1915 - Pittsburgh Rebel southpaw Frank Allen tossed a 2-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Terriers at Handlan Park in the last year of the Federal League, the short-lived (1913-15) major league “outlaw” option to the National and American Leagues. Allen went on to toss a couple more seasons for the NL Boston Braves. The league was absorbed by the NL & AL, and a suit the FL filed eventually led to the key ruling that baseball was exempt from anti-trust laws. 

Frank Allen image from Wikipedia

  • 1934 - The Bucs defeated the Gashouse Gang from St. Louis 5-4 in dramatic fashion at Forbes Field in their home opener. Behind 4-2 going into the ninth, Freddie Lindstrom homered over the LF wall with two aboard, and his walk-off gave the Pirates the win over the future NL champs. 
  • 2010 - Chris Jakubauskas, in the first inning of his first appearance of the year, was struck in the head by a liner off the bat of Houston's Lance Berkman. The 31-year old right-hander left the field on a stretcher, but was later diagnosed with just a concussion and not a fracture as first feared. Jaku wouldn’t pitch for the Bucs any more that year, but tossed for Baltimore the following season. The Pirates lost the game 5-2.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bucs Lose Ugly 5-2

The Reds treid to get to Charlie Morton early, but stranded Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, who had singled. The Bucs drew first blood when Alfredo Simon gave up a single to Starling Marte, survived a rocket to center by Cutch that Billy Hamilton hauled in, then walked three straight batters with two down to make it 1-0.

But Chris Stewart;s tough day started in the second. Roger Bernadinawalkled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by the catcher and scored on a grounder. Stewart tried to make amends by softly singling to open the Bucco half, but he only got as far as second. The Pirates regained the lead in the third. After the Reds went down 1-2-3, Cutch banged a leadoff homer to left to make it 2-1 after fouling off four consecutive 3-2 offerings by Simon. Both sides went down on order in the fourth.

The fifth was just ugly. A hit batter and walk followed by a bunt put Reds at second and third. Hamilton singled one home, and indirectly brought in another when he stole second and went to third on another error by Stewart, allowing the runner on third to plate. An intentional walk was followed by an unintentional walk to jam the bases. Bruce rolled one to first; the Bucs couldn't turn the DP and it was 4-2. All the damage Pittsburgh could muster was a Cutch walk. Each side left a runner on in the sixth.

Morton was at 108 pitches (he only gave up four hits, but the five walks hurt). Justin Wilson took over in the seventh and worked a clean frame. Simon came back out, tho he was at 102 pitches; we're guessing Bryan Price doesn't have much faith in his pen. Looked smart, too, until Cutch singled with two down. That got a call to the pen. LHP Sean Marshall took the ball to face Pedro and got him on a tapper to the mound. Bryan Morris came in for the eighth.

Jay Bruce greeted him with a double that Cutch didn't handle well, and went to third on a wild pitch. A walk put runners on the corners. Devin Mesoraco grounded into a force out, and it was 5-2. Marshall got Ike to bounce back to the mound; Clint is working with a short bench with Martin out, and it's hard under the best circumstances to match up with so many same-side outs in the lineup. Sam LeCure came on after that to finish up the inning.

Jeanmar Gomez climbed the bump in the ninth. With an out, Cutch had his second misplay of the night, allowing a Hamilton single to become a double, and that was followed by a walk. Votto was caught on the back end of a double steal, and a fly ended the frame. Jonathan Broxton came on for the save. He gave up a couple of knocks and faced Cutch as the tying run with two down, but a 6-3 ended the game.

Ugly game; there have been way too many of them in the early going.

Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22 ERA) takes on, we assume, Brandon Cumpton (0-0) tomorrow afternoon in the get-away game.

  • Chris Stewart replaced Russ Martin in the lineup today per "manager's decision." Purely speculation on our part, but he looked liked he banged himself up when he slid in with the winning run on Monday night and may be resting the bod. 
  • Cutch's homer was the 900th HR by a Pirates player at PNC Park.
  • In no surprise, Travis Ishikawa has elected free agency.

Lineup, Notes

Alfredo Simon (2-1, 0.86) goes against Charlie Morton (0-2, 4.32) tonight. Charlie has been up-and-down early in the season and is still looking to recapture his 2013 form. Simon has stepped in for the injured Mat Latos, and in a big way. His ERA is 0.86 over three starts (21 IP) since joining the Cincinnati rotation.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Travis Snider RF, Jordy Mercer SS and Morton P.

The game will be on the MLB Network and 93.7 The Fan. No Roots Sports tonight as the Penguins are playing at Columbus.

  • Andrew McCutchen has homered in back-to-back games and has reached base safely eight times in his last nine plate appearances.
  • More evidence that Brandon Cumpton will take Wandy's rotation spot: he was scratched from tonight's scheduled Indy start.
  • Josh Duggan of The Daily Dish posted that the Bucs needed to land Ike Davis to keep pace in the NL Central and emphatically joined the "#Free Polanco" crowd. 
  • Anthony Castrovince of likes the system Pittsburgh employs to straighten out pitchers, with Edinson Volquez being his featured poster boy.
  • Grant Brisbee of SB Nation has a piece on why Gerrit Cole wasn't suspended: he didn't swing at anyone, and yapping is a baseball tradition, not violation. 
  • The Bucs haven't been exactly packin' 'em in for the Reds series. Monday drew 12,864 fans and yesterday attracted 11,962. With the dismal weather and the Penguins on TV, the club might have trouble drawing five figures tonight.
  • Travis Ishikawa was sent outright to Indy after clearing waivers and can opt for free agency instead of reporting. Ishi hit .206/.263/.382 with a homer, a triple and a double for the Bucs.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Baltimore Orioles DFA'ed OF/1B Steve Pearce. If unclaimed, he could decline a minor league assignment and become a FA.

4/23: Small Crowd, Big Bet, Genie Smith, Happy Jack, Rube, 10-In-A-Row & More...

Small Crowd, Big Bet, Genie Smith, Happy Jack, Rube, 10-In-A-Row & More...

  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys beat the Cleveland Spiders 20-12 at Recreation Park in front of a crowd of 17 - with six paid! The yard held 17,000. 
  • 1902 - St. Louis Cardinals owner Frank Robison put up a $10‚000 challenge that the Pirates wouldn’t repeat as NL champions. Pittsburgh players pooled their money to meet the bet, and then collected easily as they won the pennant by 27-1/2 games. St Louis finished sixth, 44-1/2 games off the Pirates’ pace. 
  •  1917 - RHP Gene “Genie” Smith was born in Ashley, Louisiana. He pitched for the the Homestead Grays between 1946–1947. During his career, he threw a no-hitter, played in the East-West All Star game and played in the Negro World Series, although not with Homestead. 

 Genie Smith image from Kterrl

  • 1946 - RHP “Happy Jack” Chesbro was elected to the Hall of Fame. A spitballer who won 41 games in 1904 for the NY Highlanders, he tossed for the Pirates at the beginning of his career from 1899-1902, with a line of 70-38/2.89. Also selected was Rube Wardell, a colorful hurler who began his career with Pittsburgh in 1900-01. They were inducted on June 12th. 
  • 1947 - The Bucs were out of the gate in a hurry, winning their sixth of the first seven games of the season by an 8-5 count over the Cards at Sportsman’s Park. Billy Cox and Eddie Basinski each homered and combined for seven RBI. Ed Bahr tossed 6-1/3 shutout innings, giving up just three hits, to win in relief. 
  • 1962 - The Bucs record setting ten game, season-opening winning streak was derailed by the Mets and Jay Hook at Forbes Field. It was the first regular season victory ever for NY as they won 9-1, and it started the Pirates on a spiral of losing 13-of-17 games. 
  • 1966: The Pirates scored three times in the ninth inning to pull out a 5-4 win against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth before Bob Bailey, Jim Pagliaroni and Jose Pagan each hit solo homers off Dennis Aust and Hal Woodeshick to power the Bucs past the Cards.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cueto Cuts Bucs Down To Size 4-1

It was a dark and stormy night...well, ok gray and cloudy. Edinson Volquez was facing off against his old team and Johhny Cueto returned to his wild card ballyard, so both have reason to be amped a little.

Volquez spun a 1-2-3 frame to open things, and Cueto almost matched, being dented for a two-out flare knock into right by Cutch. It wouldn't be a Red-Buc game without a HBP; Edinson bounced a curve off Todd Frazier in the second, but no damage came of it. Pittsburgh got runners to second and third with two down on a Russ Martin walk and Travis Snider single, but Volquez grounded out softly to end the frame.

The Reds got a runner aboard in the third with two outs when Billy Hamilton slapped a single to center. He stole second but got no further. The Pirates went down in order. It took Edinson eight pitches to tuck away Cincy in the fourth. Cueto was sharp, putting away the Bucs in order. Volquez ran his streak to seven straight in the fifth. Cueto faced the bottom of the order and ran his consecutive out streak to 11 Pirates.

The Reds got a runner aboard with two gone in the sixth when Joey Votto walked, but Brandon Phillips bounced the next pitch to Pedro to finish the frame. Cutch drew a two out walk, but Pedro's fly to left settled down just short of the track for the third out.

Volquez was touched up in the seventh. Jay Bruce singled, and Edinson's first mistake pitch, and 0-2 hanger, was banged up the middle by Todd Frazier. A fly moved Bruce to third and he scored on Brayan Pena's knock to right. Pena steamed into second and barely beat the throw, but came off the bag a sec; a challenge ruled him out as Mercer kept the tag on him. But #8 hitter Zack Cozart lined a double to left to make it 2-0, in another case of keeping a guy in a little too long; Clint's not had much luck with that decision recently.

Martin put the best charge of the night into a ball, but Hamilton gloved it a couple of steps shy of the 399' mark in center as Cueto had another clean inning, using just seven pitches. Tony Watson came on for the eighth, and Hamilton drilled a single to left to greet him, followed by a Votto knock to right to put runners on the corners. Phillips K'ed to give the Bucs a brief hope, but Bruce banged a single to right to make it 3-0. Stolmy Pimentel came on to put out the fire. Mercer got on via a boot to start the Bucs up, but a 4-6-3 DP and bouncer to short made the inning a quick affair.

Pena's rabbit's foot brought home another run. He hit one off Pimentel's foot, Stolmy rushed the throw and Ike couldn't come up with the short hop. Then he went to steal second, and the throw beat him again, but Neil Walker couldn't handle it. A check swing bleeder moved him to third, and then Cueto chipped a ball over the drawn in infield to plate him and make it 4-0. Cutch won a moral victory by taking a ball over the Clemente Wall to make it 4-1 in the Bucco ninth, but other than making him work hard in the final frame - he finished with 117 pitches - Cueto had another gem against the Bucs.

Alfredo Simon goes against Charlie Morton tomorrow night.
  • With Stolmy Pimentel's appearance, it's now almost a sure thing that Brandon Cumpton will work the Thursday get-away game in place of Wandy.
  • Cueto came within two outs of tossing back-to-back shutouts against the Bucs. The last pitcher to do that was Montreal's Woodie Fryman in 1975. Cueto has twice retired 13 Pirate batters consecutively in his two starts against them this season and given up a run and six hits in two complete game wins.
  • As a sidebar, Volquez and Cueto are Dominican buds who became close during their days together at Cincinnati. This was the first time they've pitched against one another in the majors.
  • For all his strikeout woes, Starling Marte has been on base nine straight games until his streak ended tonight.
  • Ex-Bucs: Very small sample size, but Brock Holt is the only Red Sox hitting .300 or better this season. He’s also the only player with a slugging percentage of .500 or better.

Suspensions Announced; Snider & Martin Penalized

The Easter brawl suspensions came down: Martin Maldonado was suspended five games, Carlos Gomez three games. Travis Snider two games and Russ Martin one. All the guys were fined, also. The suspensions begin immediately, so unless Travis and Russ appeal, the lineup will have JT and Chris Stewart in it with a bench that's short a couple of guys. (EDIT - Snider & Martin are both appealing their suspensions)

Gerrit Cole escaped a slap from the league, so that's the silver lining.

Lineup, Notes

Johnny Cueto (1-2, 1.50 ERA) goes against Edinson Volquez (1-0, 1.71 ERA) tonight; should be a nice matchup. The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B, Russ martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Travis Snider RF, Jordy Mercer SS and Volquez. Looks like all the bumps and bruises are healed.

The 7:05 game will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

  • Since the inception of the NL Central division in 1994, Edison Volquez is tied with Lance Lynn for the second-highest winning percentage against teams from within the division (minimum of 200 IP), going 23-8 (.742) in 54 games against the Central in the time. Ramon Martinez and his 27-8 mark is tops on the list. Maybe that's another little stat the Bucs considered when signing him.
  • Andrew McCutchen now ranks second all-time with 52 home runs hit at PNC Park, behind only Jason Bay's 61 bombs.
  • Travis Sawchik of the Trib wonders if Neil Walker is becoming a legit star at second base, and has some impressive offensive growth stats that beg the question. The Kid is only Pirate in past 40 years to have multiple walkoff hits in a season before end of April.
  • The Brewers' Martin Maldonado has received a five-game suspension per ESPN for his role in Sunday's on-field brawl at PNC and was also fined $2,500. He's the one that sucker punched Travis Snider. The league hasn't officially announced anything as of this post.
  • Guy Cutright of has the 411 on OF Josh Bell of the Bradenton Marauders.

4/22: Exposition Park, Terrible Ted, Ralph Kiner, Gus Bell, Stomped At Home and More...

Expo Park, Terrible Ted, Ralph Kiner, Gus Bell, Stomped At Home and More...

  • 1891 - The Pirates played their first game at Exposition Park, located on the North Shore of the Allegheny River across from downtown Pittsburgh, not far from where PNC Park sits. Pittsburgh lost to the Chicago Cubs 7-6. The Pittsburg Press printed a special “Sporting Edition” that included a game story and illustrations. The 16,000 seat yard featured 400-foot foul lines and a 450-foot center field fence. It was their home field until 1909, when Forbes Field opened in Oakland. 
  • 1892 - The Pirates set a franchise record when they scored twelve times in the first inning against St. Louis at Expo Park, beating the Browns 14-3. The game provided this footnote: Pittsburgh OF Elmer Smith worked a pair of free passes in that opening frame, the first time a player was walked twice in one inning. 
  • 1898 - Cincinnati's Ted Breitenstein tossed a no-hitter against the Pirates, winning easily by an 11-0 count at League Field. 
  • 1902 - The Pirates raised their 1901 pennant flag over Exposition Park in front of a record 15,000 fans and then edged the Reds 4-3, overcoming an early three run deficit. 
  • 1903 - Theodore Roosevelt “Terrible Ted” Page was born in Glasgow, Kentucky. The speedy and gritty OF’er played for the Homestead Grays (1931-32) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-34). He grew up in Youngstown, and turned down a football scholarship offered by Ohio State to focus on baseball. The lefty Page batted .335 for his career, but injured his knee in 1934, leading eventually to his retirement in 1937. He stayed in Pittsburgh, and his sports focus switched. After baseball, Page ran bowling alleys, including Meadow Lanes (he was hired to work there by former teammate Jack Marshall), and wrote a bowling column for the Pittsburgh Courier. He met a tragic end, beaten to death at home in a robbery, and is buried at Allegheny Cemetery.

  Terrible Ted Page from 1932 Crawfords

  • 1937 - Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Truijillo signed several players from the Crawfords including Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, to his Dragones of Ciudad Trujillo squad. The blow that would eventually bring down the Pittsburgh team as a powerhouse Negro League club. The Crawfords were sold in 1939 and moved to Toledo. 
  • 1949 - The Pirates won their home opener‚ beating the Reds‚ 5-4. Ralph Kiner's 3rd-inning grand slam was the key blow. The Bucs had fallen behind 4-0 in the first, but Bill Werle tossed 7-2/3 frames of scoreless relief to claim the win. A
  • 1951 - Led by Gus Bell‚ who belted a homer‚ three doubles and a single while scoring three times‚ the Pirates defeated the Reds 7-5 at Crosley Field. Bill Werle tossed 2-1/3 scoreless relief frames to claim the win. 
  • 1957 - Hank Foiles hit a 425’ triple and a 258’ homer off the RF foul pole in a 3-1 loss to the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Willie Mays hit a two-out, three-run homer in the third off Luis Arroyo to carry NY to victory. 
  • 1962 - The Pirates won their tenth straight game since Opening Day, 4-3, equaling the major league record to start a season. Bob Veale beat the Mets at Forbes Field; the NY nine tied a NL record going in the opposite direction by opening the year 0-9. The Pirates won it in the bottom of the eighth when Bill Mazeroski’s double scored Roberto Clemente. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates were humiliated by the Brewers at PNC Park 20-0 for their worst loss ever. Six Bucco pitchers surrendered 25 hits. The victory completed a three-game sweep of the Bucs in which the Brew Crew outscored Pittsburgh, 36-1.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bucs Rally Past Reds 6-5

Well, that was ugly. Francisco Liriano drilled Billy Hamilton to open the game. Joey Votto then hit a tapper that didn't make it to mound; Pittsburgh got the out but went to sleep on the speedy Hamilton, and he raced to third. Brandon Phillips hit one to the hot corner; Pedro came home, Russ Martin couldn't play the short hop on what would have been a close play at the dish, and it was 1-0. The Bucs tried for some two-out lightning when Cutch walked and Pedro beat out an infield knock, but The Kid lined out to right with the only hard hit ball of the inning for either club.

Devin Mesoraco dropped a flare into left to open the second with a single for the Reds' only damage; he now has a 10 game hitting streak. Ike started the Bucco half with a single lined the opposite way, but nothing came of it, either, thanks to a Jose Tabata DP.

With an out in the third, Phillips doubled of the wall in center and scored when Todd Frazier slammed the next pitch, a change up that stayed in the middle of the plate, to The Notch for another two bagger to make it 2-0. Starling Marte singled with an out, but was picked off and that frame ended harmlessly, too.

Mesoraco dropped a ball into short left to begin the fourth, but was erased on a bang-bang caught stealing that the Reds didn't challenge (they had a good shot at the call being overturned), and they went down with a zero. Cutch blooped a single to left to kick off the Bucco half, and Pedro doubled to right to put Bucs at second and third. Neil Walker was plunked to juice the sacks. The first pitch to Ike was a cutter that stayed under the hands, and Davis lifted it over the Clemente Wall to put Pittsburgh up in a hurry 4-2. It went 392' and amazingly enough was a broken bat blast.

Frankie tossed the first clean frame of the game in the fifth. Cutch singled with two down, but a Pedro liner to center ended the frame. Frazier walked to open the sixth, but was erased 4-5-3; Jay Bruce hit into a shift,
Pedro made the turn at second like he does it every day, and the Reds finished with a goose egg. Walker singled to start it up, but he never got to second.

The Bucs can't keep Mesoraco off the sacks; Barmes muffed his grounder to put him aboard. Zack Cozart had a pesky at bat, fouling off six pitches and running up Liriano's count before flying out. Leake helped his own cause with a pop single just over Walker into short right to put Reds on the corners, and it cost as Hamilton cashed in a run with a sac fly to make 4-3 going into the stretch. Liriano led off, so it looks like he'll get to start the eighth as the Bucs went down 1-2-3.

Phillips singled to open the frame. Frazier did a good job of hitting, taking a borderline 3-2 slider down and away and sending it up the middle for a single to put Redlegs at the corners. Hurdle's gamble of getting another inning out of Frankie didn't work; he left after 101 pitches for Justin Wilson. He got ahead of Bruce 0-2 and then laid a heater right down the middle; Bruce ripped it for an opposite field double to tie the game and put Reds at second and third.

An intention walk loaded the sacks. Mesoraco can't be stopped today; he singled in a run, though Marte cut down the trail runner at the plate. It was challenged but upheld, leaving Reds at second and third with an out. After a pop out, Chris Heisey batted and kept fouling pitches off, though finally on the tenth offering Wilson got him on a fly to center. But it's 5-4 bad guys with six outs remaining.

Manny Parra climbed the bump. Cutch drilled his second pitch over the fence in right center, and it's a tie game. Kinda makes you wonder why Bryan Price started with a lefty first; now the Bucs are bringing up Pedro, Walker and Ike. After an out, The Kid singled. The Reds waved in JJ Hoover to face JT. That brought Travis Snider out of the dugout with a stick, and he singled to left. Gaby batted for Barmes and walked on five pitches to load the bases for a gimpy Jordy Mercer, who went down swinging at high heat.

Kinda surprisingly, Clint brought in Jared Hughes for the ninth with the top of the order up, saving the Shark. Snider and Mercer stayed in the game. With two outs, Phillips rolled an 0-2 sinker out of the strike zone into left and Frazier knocked one up the middle to put Reds on the corners. Bruce roped one to center, but Cutch was there to hold off Cincinnati.

Hoover stayed on, and after a line out by Marte lost Martin on four pitches. JJ wanted no parts of Cutch. After falling behind 3-0 he sent a heater down the middle; fortunately for him, Cutch was taking and walked on the next pitch. Pedro popped out to third on a 3-2 heater tight and at the knees. The Kid fell behind 0-2, and three pitches later fought off a curve to send a short, soft liner that Phillips turned himself around on. Bruce played it quickly, and his throw to home had Martin DOA, but the ball took a big hop and bounced over the squatting Mesoraco's shoulder to allow the Bucs to take home a 6-5 win.

The Bucs got in a jam with a short pen, and that's because Clint twice rolled the dice and came up snake eyes, pulling Cole yesterday and keeping Frankie in today. The Bucs haven't been helping themselves much in the field, and with every game a grind, that hurts. But the Reds made a bad decision matching Parro and Cutch, and they looked decidedly little league on the winning run, so it evens out sometimes.

Johnny Cueto meets Edinson Volquez tomorrow night.

  • Cutch being Cutch - he was on base all five times he batted tonight, with two walks, two singles and a homer.
  • Ike Davis has two home runs this year. Both are grand slams off the Reds - Mike Leake tonight and JJ Hoover while with the Mets. Elias Sports came up with this: Ike become the third player to hit grand slams vs one team for two different teams in the same season, along with Ray Boone and Mike Piazza. Oh, and he was also the first player to hit grand slams for different teams in April.
  • Bucco reliever Mark Melancon has the longest current streak of innings pitched without allowing a home run (73 IP) among all MLB pitchers. He surrendered his only home run last season on April 14th, a solo shot to Cincinnati’s Joey Votto at PNC Park.
  • Jason Grilli and Tony Watson weren't available because of pitch count over the past two games.
 Not tonight, boys.

Lineup, Wandy to DL, Hughes up, Marte, Grilli, Pitching...

Francisco Liriano (0-3, 3.96 ERA) takes on Mike Leake (2-1, 2.95 ERA) tonight at PNC Park. Liriano is 0-4 with a 3.73 ERA in five career starts against the Reds, while Leake is 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 16 career starts against the Pirates.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Russ Martin C, Cutch CF, Pedro 3B, Neil Walker 2B, Ike Davis 1B, Jose Tabata RF, Clint Barmes SS and Frankie P. Travis Snider (shiner) and Jordy Mercer (ankle) are nursing minor injuries and will be available from the bench.

The Reds are on a little bit of a roll, having won 4-of-5, and the Pirates don't want to fall very far behind the pack so early in the season. However, the Reds are 4-0 in Leake's last 4 starts vs. Pirates, while the Pirates are 1-5 in Liriano's last 6 starts vs. Reds.

The game will be aired on ESPN and 93.7 The Fan with first pitch at 7:05. Root Sports will be covering the Pens tonight.
  • RHP Jared Hughes has been recalled from Indy & Wandy Rodriguez has been placed on the 15-day DL due to right knee inflammation. Calling up Hughes means the Bucs plan to go with Stolmy Pimentel/Jeanmar Gomez (less likely) while Wandy's out, unless the Bucs are covering the pen after yesterday's 14-inning match and plan to yo-yo Hughes.
  • It's kind of odd, but as Starling Marte's discipline has increased, so have his whiffs. His K rate has jumped from an worrisome 24.4% in 2013 to a horrendous 34.4% in 2014 and he's struck out at least once in 14 consecutive games. At the same time, his walk rate has doubled from 4.4% last year to 8.9% this season and his swing rate at pitches off the plate has dropped from 37 to 33%, so he's not chasing bad balls as much. It's a poser.
  • Another question is the dependability of Jason Grilli's stuff. Did this weekend's blown saves come as a result of being Ryan Braun'ed when he was on a roll or because at the age of 37, inevitable performance decline is setting in?  
  • Pittsburgh starters have posted a 4.27 ERA, 12th in the NL. So whassup with Pirate pitching? The ball - up in the air, that is. The Pirates had 52.5% of the balls put in play against them on the ground last year as opposed to a pedestrian 46.5% this year. There's a corresponding jump in fly balls, from 27% to 34.6%, and as a result the staff has given up more homers that any other NL club, a season after leading the majors with the fewest homers surrendered. 
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs looked at Edinson Volquez's rebound, and posted "Now that Volquez has tightened things up, hitters are swinging more aggressively, and Volquez is getting into fewer deep counts." His premise is that Edinson isn't throwing a lot more strikes, but throwing a lot more balls in the plate's zip code than before, drawing more swings.

4/21: Eight Straight Hits, Chief Yellowhorse, Ray Kremer, Rip Sewell, Homers, Pops, Record Rally & More...

Eight Straight Hits, Chief Yellowhorse, Ray Kremer, Rip Sewell, Homers, Pops, Record Rally & More...
  • 1913 - The Pirates banged out eight straight hits plus a sacrifice fly to score seven times in the sixth inning and rallied past the St. Louis Cards‚ 8-5. Babe Adams went the distance for the win at Robison Field. Honus Wagner and Solly Hofman led the attack with three knocks apiece. 
  • 1919 - SS Stan Rojek was born in North Tonawanda, NY. He played for the Pirates from 1948-51, starting the first two years and hitting .266 during his Pittsburgh years. The Bucs got him from Brooklyn, where he was a back-up infielder behind Pee Wee Reese. 
  • 1921 - Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse won his first MLB game, and the first ever by a full-blooded Native American (he was Pawnee) by working 3-1/3 innings in Pittsburgh’s 8-7 win over the Reds at Forbes Field in the season’s home lidlifter. 
  • 1927 - In their home opener at Forbes Field, Pirates ace Ray Kremer did it all, pitching a complete game four-hitter while blasting a two-run home run off Reds starter Eppa Rixey to lead the Bucs to a 3-2 victory. 
  • 1943 - Rip Sewell ruined the Cubs home opener at Wrigley Field as he tossed a three hit, 6-0 shutout. Sewell had their number; he took five more W from them during the campaign. There were four games played on this date around the league and all ended in shutouts, a MLB record. 
  • 1964 - The Bucs beat the Cubs 8-5 at Wrigley. Every run scored was the result of a homer, setting a MLB record, and nine different players went long, tying a record. Roberto Clemente, Ducky Schofield, Jim Pagliaroni and Gene Freese (who hit a three run bomb in the ninth to win it) went yard for Pittsburgh; the Cubs hit five solo shots. 

Topps 1965 series

  • 1971 - Pops hit three long balls for the second time in eleven days to lead Pittsburgh to a 10-2 win over the Braves. It was the fourth time he had three homers in a game, tying him with Ralph Kiner for the team record. Captain Willie collected five RBI and scored three times at TRS. Dock Ellis tossed a five hitter to keep the Bravo bats at bay. 
  • 1977 - RHP Kip Wells was born in Houston. The righty came to Pittsburgh in the 2001 off season as part of the Todd Ritchie deal with the White Sox and tossed for five Bucco campaigns (2002-06), winning 36 times. The Texan started off well, with ERA of 3.58 and 3.28 in 2002-03, but faded and was sent to the Rangers for Jesse Chavez. 
  • 1981 - C Ronny Paulino was born in Santo Domingo. He was thought be be the Bucco catcher of the future and started behind the dish in 2006-07. That was enough time to prove he wasn’t the answer, and after the 2008 season he was dealt to the Phils for Jason Jaramillo. Paulino spent four years as a Pirate and hit .278. 
  • 1991 - The Pirates became the first MLB team to ever come back from a five run deficit in the bottom half of an extra inning to win a game. After the Cubs scored five runs‚ thanks mostly to a grand slam by Andre Dawson‚ the Pirates plated six times in the 11th inning at TRS to claim a 13-12 victory. Don Slaught's one-out double brought home the winner. Bob Patterson was charged with giving up three runs in an inning of work, but was credited with the win.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bucs Brawl But Brewers Win 3-2 In Fourteen

Very depressing day at the old ballyard. Gerrit Cole had a 1-0 lead going into the eighth on Neil Walker's fourth inning homer until Mark Reynolds turned a heater into a homer to tie the score. The Bucs reclaimed the edge in their half when JT brought home Ike Davis on a two-out infield single that withstood a review, the third straight two-out knock by the Bucs.

But Pittsburgh couldn't withstand Ryan Braun, who slammed a high slider from Jason Grilli into the stands. Clint Hurdle had an option of keeping in Cole, who was working on a six hitter and was at 91 pitches, but that's a 50-50 call. The skipper opted for his closer, maybe to give him a boost of confidence after blowing last night's save. If so, bad bit of psychology.

In the fourteenth, Jeanmar Gomez hung a hook to Khris Davis and he dropped it over the fence, and that was it for the Bucs who fell 3-2.

There was some action, though. In the third with two out, Carlos Gomez pounded a ball to center, which he admired after flipping his bat. It cost him in a couple ways, the first being that it hit the wall and took a big hop so he got a triple instead circling the bases.

Cole had a word with him at third, and Go-Go went after him, restrained by ump Jim Reynolds and 3B Josh Harrison. That started a charge from the Bucco bench, and Travis Snider, Russ Martin and company shoved Gomez to the turf. Then while Snider was being held, Martin Maldonado suckered him. When the smoke cleared, Gomez (strike two) was ejected, along with Brewer third base coach Jerry Narron and Snider.

There were plenty of opps begging for someone to be clutch. The two teams were 1-for-14 combined with RISP and stranded 21 runners. Might be time to keep an eye on Grilli after back-to-back blown leads; it's not like there aren't back-end options already in the pen. And it's surely about time to string together a couple of wins.

Mike Leake goes against Francisco Liriano tomorrow night as the Reds visit for a four-game set.
  • Jason Grilli has blown three saves in seven tries this month.
  • Starling Marte, Cutch and Ike Davis went 2-for-19 with six K today.
  • Pittsburgh has lost 8-of-10 games.
  • Neil Walker leads the majors with 4 HRs this week.
  • David Todd of The Fan tweeted that "GM Neal Huntington suggests the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade will come from a list given to the Mets." That, of course, doesn't preclude any of the 2013 draftees, so until the Mets claim their man, that quote doesn't slow down the speculation.

Easter Lineup, Notes

Have a Happy and Glorious Easter (image by Dave DiCello)

Gerrit Cole (2-1, 4.74) and Marco Estrada (1-1, 3.06) will match up for the Easter finale of the series. Cole is having a tough start in his second campaign, but was 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA against the Brewers last season. Estrada is 5-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 11 career appearances against Pittsburgh.

The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, Ike Davis 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jose Tabata RF, Clint Barmes SS, Chris Stewart C and Cole P. Well, cookie cutter it ain't. Pedro and his slumping bat get a break and Travis Snider is sitting, too; we're not sure how Clint is handling that RF spot. We're guessing he's using individual match-ups to decide who starts.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Pirates at 8-10 are five games out of first, behind the Brewers (13-5). The Bucs have lost four of their last five games and have gone 2-7 in their last nine.
  • The Pirates and Reds are scheduled to begin a four-game series tomorrow night. Monday night’s game will be televised nationally by ESPN.
  • Ex Bucs: Kyle Farnsworth will get a chance to close for the Mets.

4/20: Steve Swetonic, Gus Suhr, Rip Sewell, Starg, Teke, Ohlie & More...

Happy Easter!

Steve Swetonic, Gus Suhr, Rip Sewell, Starg, Teke, Ohlie & More...
  • 1930 - Long-time baseball writer Irwin Howe of the Chicago Tribune picked his all-time MLB team, and it included SS Honus Wagner and 3B Pie Traynor. Howe was the secretary for the Chicago chapter of BBWAA and the AL’s official statistician. 
  • 1932 - Mt. Pleasant native and Pitt grad Steve Swetonic came as close as any Pirate pitcher (Bob Moose matched his feat in 1968) to toss a no-hitter at Forbes Field. He surrendered a two-out knock in the eighth by the Card’s George Watkins to spoil his bid. Though he gave up a couple of anti-climatic ninth inning singles, he cruised to a 7-0 victory. His career was short circuited after five years as he had to retire at the age of 28 because of a chronic sore arm. 
  • 1936 - Overcoming an early six run deficit, the Bucs’ Gus Suhr slugged a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth off Roy Henshaw to give Pittsburgh a 9-8 win over the Cubs at Forbes Field. 
  • 1946 - Rip Sewell spun a four hitter to win a duel against the Cards Bucky Walters 2-1. Walters scored his clubs’ only run by stealing home, but RBI from Bob Elliott and Elbie Fletcher sent the Forbes Field crowd of 27,891 home happy. 

Bowman 1949 series

  • 1948 - Rip Sewell did it all; he tossed a complete game six hitter and homered as the Bucs won their home opener 3-2 over the Cubs. Rookie second baseman Monty Basgall had the game winner, his first big league homer, in the sixth inning. 
  • 1970 - Willie Stargell belted a homer off Jim Bouton that cleared the RF roof at Forbes Field as the Pirates took a 3-1 decision from Houston. 
  • 1980 - CF Chris Duffy was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. Duffy hit .269 in his three Buc years (2005-07) but butted heads with manager Jim Tracy, who wanted him to change his batting style. Duffy stormed home after a closed-door session with the skipper, and his career pretty much sank after that affair. He played one more season for Pittsburgh, and in 2008 was injured and released. He would play just 13 more MLB games. 
  • 1985 - Kent Tekulve’s Pirate career ended after a dozen seasons when he was traded to the Phils for Al Holland. He became a set up man there and remained remarkably rubber-armed, appearing in 291 games in four years. 
  •  1986: The Pirates and Cubs played 13 innings, only to have their game at Wrigley Field suspended due to darkness after four hours and 48 minutes and the score tied 8-8. The Cubs scored three times in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. The contest was completed on August 11th with the Bucs winning 10-8 in 17 innings. The total game time from start to finish was six hours and nine minutes. 
  • 1995 - The Pirates released knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. He was picked up by Boston, where he spent 17 seasons and won 186 games. 
  • 1998 - Carnegie dedicated a memorial at the site of Pirate hall of famer Honus Wagner's birthplace in his original Mansfield neighborhood. 
  •  2009 - Ross Ohlendorf tossed the Bucs’ fourth shutout of the season, giving up two hits in seven innings in an 8-0 win over Florida, ending the Fish seven-game winning streak. The Bucs had recorded just two shutouts in all of 2008. Nate McLouth gave Ohlie all the support he needed by driving in four runs, three touching home after a sixth inning homer.