Monday, June 30, 2014

Notes On An Off Day

Something to keep you occupied:
  • Lotta talk about Josh, El Coffee, Pedro & Russ leading the team's batting resurgence this month. Well, the man carrying the team on his back is, as usual, Cutch - his June slash is .333/.402/.646 with an OPS of 1.048 and counting number line of 7 HR, 23 RBI and 16 RS. He led the team in every offensive category this month except OBP; he's second to Russ (.457) there.
  • Despite a good run, the Bucs are 42-40 now; they sat at 51-31 at the same point last season. They're 8 games behind the Brewers and 1-1/2 games out of a wild card spot. At this time last year, Pittsburgh was three games ahead of the Cards in the Central race.
  • Ah, Astro-gate. There are some leaked Houston e-mails dealing with possible Bud Norris trade scenarios. Apparently, the Bucs were willing to let go of Luis Heredia, but not Nick Kingham, Tyler Glasnow or Gregory Polanco.
  • Speaking of Gregory Polanco, Kevin Millar of The Daily Dish said contract talks between him and the Bucs are at a standstill.
  • Speaking of Nick Kingham: Since making his Triple-A debut at Indy on June 13th, Kingham leads the IL with a 0.34 ERA and is tied for 2nd with 20 strikeouts.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Phillies have traded IF Ronny Cedeno to the Diamondbacks for C Raywilly Gomez. Cedeno will report to Triple-A Reno.

6/30: Forbes Field Opens, Don't Boo Stu, Smoky & Bobby, Eight Run Inning, Fans Walk Out, Hanny Trade, Nine In A Row & More...

Forbes Field Opens, Don't Boo Stu, Smoky & Bobby, Eight Run Inning, Fans Walk Out, Hanny Trade, Nine In A Row & More...
  • 1909 - A SRO crowd of 30,338 was on hand as the Pirates fell to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Ruelbach tossed a three hitter to top Vic Willis. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel. The yard’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, and the first pads to cushion the wall in the forties. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its early years. Some folly; the yard was the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons.

  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins.
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, 4-2 losers to the Cubs.

  • 1960 - Dick Stuart bombed three consecutive HRs to key an 11-6 win as the Pirates split a DH with the second place Giants at Forbes Field. Stuart had seven RBI in the nitecap and joined Ralph Kiner as the second Pirate to hit three homers in a game at Forbes Field. Joe Gibbon worked 7-⅔ innings, giving up six hits and a run after Vinegar Bend Mizell was chased by the G-Men in the second frame. The Bucs were flattened in the opener, losing by an 11-0 count.
  • 1962 - The Pirates clobbered the Cards 17-7 at Busch Stadium. Smoky Burgess had two homers and a double, good for seven RBI. Roberto Clemente had a hot stick, too, going 4-for-5 with a homer, double and five runs driven in. Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart added three knocks apiece as the Pirates drilled 22 hits against St. Louis.
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell in an even up deal.
  • 1999 - The Bucs rode an eight run fourth frame to a 9-1 win over the Phillies at TRS. Brian Giles had a three run homer, Al Martin had a three run bases loaded double and Brant Brown doubled in another pair as the Bucs banged out six hits to go with three walks in their big frame. Jason Schmidt cruised to victory, with ninth inning help from Brad Clontz.

 Jason Schmidt 2000 Ultra Gold Medallion series

  • 2007 - To protest the team’s small payroll and general ineptitude, a group called “Fans for Change” staged a walkout at PNC Park. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand of the 26,959 on hand who strolled out of the park after the third inning. They picked a bad day for it, as the Bucs beat the Nats 7-2 behind Tom Gorzelanny, who was supported by a three run homer by Adam LaRoche. Though the sentiment was widespread, the boycott had little effect.
  • 2008 - The Pirates penciled a pitcher in the eight hole for the first time in over 50 years when John Russell had Paul Maholm (.161) bat ahead of Jack Wilson (.312). Didn’t work as the Bucs went down 4-3 to the Reds at GABP after Matt Capps gave up a two run homer in the ninth to Junior. Maholm went 0-for-3; Wilson 1-for-3.
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a more minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

  • Joel Hanrahan image from psf wallpapers
    • 2013 - The Pirates won their ninth straight game 2-1 in 14 innings over the Brewers at PNC Park. The game was delayed in the second inning for nearly 2-1/2 hours, and the bullpens took over with Milwaukee ahead 1-0. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the eighth when his two out knock drove in Starling Marte. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 13th to miss a golden chance, but Russell Martin, the last Pirate position player remaining, singled home Gaby Sanchez, who had an infield knock and stolen base to open the frame, with the game winner in the following go-around. Tony Watson got the win after three scoreless innings. He followed five other Pirate relievers, and the ensemble tossed 12 innings of two-hit, shutout ball without issuing a walk, led by Vin Mazzaro’s perfect five inning stint. It was the first time in franchise history that the bullpen put up that many consecutive zeroes in one game.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014

    Bucs Take Series Behind Eddie & Pedro With 5-2 Win

    Pretty good start for Edinson Volquez. He gave up a two-out single to Daniel Murphy, who went to second on a wild pickoff toss, but was left stranded. Bartolo Colon wasn't quite as effective.

    With one gone, Starling Marte singled and went to third on The Kid's double. Both came home on Ike's knock. Josh hit into a force, which was a good thing as he had the wheels to come around on Pedro's two-bagger. All four Bucco hits came after the batter was behind 0-2 or 1-2, showing pretty good focus in the box early on.

    In the second, the Mets got a one-out knock from Eric Campbell, but that was the extent of the damage. Colon retired the Pirates in order. Eddie had some problems in the third, giving up a double and single to put Mets on the corners with one out, but he whiffed Murphy and got Curtis Granderson to fly to right to wriggle out of trouble. The Bucs again went down quietly.

    Lucas Duda opened the fourth with a double and went to third on a grounder. Again, Edinson reached back for the K, walked the eight man intentionally and then K'ed Colon. The Metropolitans are doing just about everything but scoring. Josh doubled the opposite way to start things off, then Pedro stroked a fastball way into the seats to make it 5-0. Chris Stewart singled and with two gone, El Coffee walked, but Starling couldn't bring them home.

    The Mets left another duck on the pond in the fifth while Pittsburgh went down 1-2-3. Duda and Campbell started the sixth with back-to-back knocks, but a fly and 6-4-3 shut the door on them again. Colon worked a clean frame. Volquez left after six frames of ducking rain drops and a streak of 13 straight shutout innings.

    Justin Wilson got the call in the seventh. He gave up a one out single on a tapper by Juan Lagares that got past him and then was chucked into right field off the tarp by Walker, sending the speedster to third. Wilson whiffed Tejada and got Murphy on a soft liner to post another goose egg. Gonzalez Germen came in for the Mets and shut down Pittsburgh.

    Tony Watson took the ball in the eighth for no good reason we could think of outside of habit, and did his 1-2-3 thing. Dana Eveland worked for the Mets, just surrendering a one out knock to Ike.

    Regression and quite probably payback of the baseball gods both reared their ugly heads in the ninth. Lagares singled on a soft roller barely beyond Neil Walker to greet Jared Hughes and Travis d'Arnaud doubled up the line on a grounder that Pedro just missed; a no-doubles D and it's a DP. Clint Barmes made a nifty jump pass throw out from the hole on Chris Young, plating a run, and Bobby Abreu flew out. Tejada dropped a ball between three people in short left to make it 5-2, and Hughes' luck had run out. Mark the Shark got the call, and gave up a single that was nearly snagged by Walker before getting a fly to right.

    Volquez is now 6-6 and The Shark had his 15th save.

    We're a bit lost as to Hurdle's thinking, bring in Watson when it's 5-0 and The Shark just to get an easy save opportunity. When their tongues are dragging in the dog days, games like this will be one of the reasons. As is, the Bucs stole one; NY had 13 hits and stranded 11 runners with a 2-for-15 RISP performance. But Volquez and Wilson both had the K-ball in their back pocket when they needed it. It's good to see Pedro starting to bang the ball with some authority; the six spot seems to suit him well.

    The Bucs are off tomorrow.
    • The Pirates have won their third straight series and taken 7-of-9. After a day off, the home stand continues Tuesday against the D'Backs.
    • Today's attendance was 37,290, the Bucs fourth straight sellout. With a total gate of 150,819 against the Mets, the Pirates broke their previous four-date PNC Park record attendance by more than 21,000 fans. 
    • Even with today's win, the Bucs play like vampires - they're a MLB worst 11-20 in day games. 
    • Gregory Polanco is scheduled to be off Tuesday just as a maintenance day after a whirlwind start.

    Volquez v Colon, Lineup, Marte Back, Cutch & Russ Get A Blow & More...

    Yah, late again and for the same reason - Clint won't make his lineup until they medico's have evaluated Starling Marte's finger and whether he can start or not. We do know Bartolo Colon (8-5, 3.67) faces Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.35) this afternoon.

    Eddie bounced back from his worst start of the season against the Reds on the 18th (eight earned runs) to toss an eight inning gem against Tampa Bay in his last outing. When he's good he's usually very good, giving two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his first 15 starting assignments. The Mets have been a thorn in his paw, though. Volquez overall is 1-5 with a 6.63 ERA in eight career starts versus the Metropolitans.

    Colon is hot, going 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his last seven starts. His run of seven straight outings allowing two earned runs or fewer matches the longest streak of his career. He's a fastball/slider guy, and cut back some on the heater to work in more of his breaking pitch, which has been quite effective lately. Bartolo has been murder on the Bucs, with a career 4-1 record and 1.22 ERA.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, Neil Walker 2B, Ike Davis 1B, Josh Harrison LF, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Chris Stewart C and Volquez P. Hurdle is taking full advantage of tomorrow's off day. Russ gets a three day blow thanks to back-to-back day games, allowing Stew to catch, and Cutch earns a two day holiday. With 13 straight games heading to the All-Star break, it's a natural break time; we just hope Russ hasn't been banged up again, as Cutch's off day was previously announced.

    The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • Cutch is the first Pittsburgh player with 20 extra-base hits in one month since Brian Giles (June 2001). The last Bucco with more than 20 extra-base hits in one month was Willie Stargell, who had 22 in June 1971. That's pretty fast company. Andrew also has an eight game hitting streak.
    • On the farm: Pirates' All-Star Future Games representative, Bradenton Marauder OF Josh Bell, has a 14-game hitting streak. Bell currently ranks first in the Florida State League in total bases (148), second in slugging (.519), third in hitting (.337) and RBI (49) and is tied for third in extra base hits (31). West Virginia OF Harold Ramirez has a 20-game hitting streak, which is the second-longest among all South Atlantic League hitters this season.
    • Ex-Bucs: Bryan Morris has not allowed an earned run in 13 appearances (16-2/3 IP) since joining the Marlins. Jason Grilli got his first call as an Angel, and tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a whiff.

    6/29: Last Game at Expo Park, Kiner, The Rock, Pops #400, Kendall, Matt Stairs, Steady Freddie, Long Balls & More...

    Last Game at Expo Park, Kiner, The Rock, Pops #400, Kendall, Matt Stairs, Steady Freddie, Long Balls & More...
    • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach gunned down Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17 game winning streak snapped. 
    • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps after the game concluded. 
    Lefty Leifield image from Wikipedia
    • 1949 - Ralph Kiner was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post‚ and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. 
    • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards 2-1 at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm rained out the remainder. The rain also pulled the plug on local son (he was from Donora) Stan Musial’s 24 game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy. 
    • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, The Rock hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He’s currently an analyst on Root Sports’ TV team. 
    John Wehner Ultra 1993 series
    • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirate player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected at Busch Stadium in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win. Bill Robinson had a four bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage were on the hill and combined for a seven-hitter. 
    • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in ten innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the extra inning win. 
    • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double, and Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete game, four hit shutout for the win. 
    • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer.
    Freddy Sanchez 2008 Topps Heritage series

  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI. 
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director.
  • Saturday, June 28, 2014

    Mets Score Early & Let The Bullpen Loose As Bucs Go Down 5-3

    Well, sometimes those sim games ain't worth much as prep work; Gerrit Cole had a rough welcome back to the hill. A ground ball knock, bloop single, double over the bag, wild pitch and another single brought in three Met runs and put a big smile on Jon Niese's face. The grin turned to a grimace when he threw away Jordy's tapper with one out, allowing Mercer to reach second, ruled a single and error. But Niese retired Cutch and Gaby routinely to quietly end the frame.

    With an out in the second, Eric Young walked after being in an 0-2 hole. He stole second and Curtis Granderson, after falling behind 1-2, also walked. Ruben Tejada K'ed, but the runners were going and pulled off the double steal. It cost when Daniel Murphy lined a back door slider into center to chase two more Mets home. Lucas Duda grounded into the shift to end it, but Gerrit's at 57 pitches already, not exactly ideal for a guy that missed three weeks because of dead arm. The Bucs went down without a peep.

    The Mets and Bucs exchanged hits in the third with no scoring; the Met hit was an Anthony Recker fly that Josh lost in the sun; it almost crowned him coming down. In the fourth, Young singled and stole second, and an out later, Tejada walked. That got the Buc bullpen up for the first time, but Cole worked out of it.

    Cutch opened with a two-bagger to right and moved to third on Josh's one-out infield knock. The Kid walked on four pitches to juice the sacks. Pedro wasn't chasing, and he drew a five pitch free pass. Chris Stewart figured what the heck, and he walked on five pitches. Starling Marte, bad finger and all, grabbed a stick; Cole's day was done after 93 pitches. Niese found the zone against him and caught him looking, though the last strike was a gift call. Polanco went down fishing, so the Bucs got a couple but left a pond full of ducks; a hit or even a fly ball would have made it very interesting. As is, they still have a pulse.

    Stolmy Pimentel came in for the fifth, though Jeanmar Gomez had been loosening first. He gave up a single and stolen base to Eric Campbell but otherwise had an uneventful frame. The Bucs got one back with some two out lightning. Gaby doubled to right. Josh just missed repeating that scenario with a ball that landed just foul, but singled on a ball the third baseman Campbell smothered. The Kid lined one into center, and it was 5-3. Pedro bounced out to short for the second time; unfortunate for him that the Mets don't shift much. The Bucs have stranded five runners in the last two frames.

    Stolmy tossed a 1-2-3 sixth, and the Bucs went down in order, too. After two outs in the seventh, Campbell sat on a 3-2 heater and got it, doubling to left center. An intention walk brought up Recker. The count went full on him, and he sat on a fastball. Surprise - he got the slider instead and swung through it to end the frame. Jeurys Familia came on for the Mets. After a pair of routine outs, he held his breath when Ike lined one to straight center. But Terry Collins already had it covered; defensive sub Juan Lagares ran it down at the wall.

    Probably should have started Pimentel; he struck out the side in the eighth, has four whiffs in a row and seven over four frames. Familia worked another clean inning. Ernesto Frieri made his debut. Jordy ranged deep into the hole and made a jump-pass to first to rob Tejada, followed by a routine fly to left and then a leaping snow-cone catch by Polanco of Lucas Duda's liner to right. Frieri kept the ball down and his 93-94 velocity was there, but he didn't show much movement on the heater; maybe that's the root of his recent problems.

    Jennrys Mejia, even after working a pair of frames yesterday, came on to close it out. He did, with only Stew hitting a ball out of the infield. The final 13 Bucs went down (they saw just 31 pitches), and the Mets took the match 5-3.

    Cole was way off. He was spraying his fastball and couldn't get his breaking stuff over. Maybe the Bucs should be a little more forceful in making their guys rehab for a game or two instead of just throwing them back in the fire. Three at-bats sealed the deal - Murphy's two out, two run single in the second was key. The other two were Marte and Polanco's back-to-back whiffs with the bases jammed in the fourth.

    But Stolmy was a silver lining; he was firing the ball at 94-97, even touching 98 once, and showed a nice slider. He may only be on the back burner to start, but they got 73 pitches out of him today. He'll be on the list of depth candidates if needed for later in the year and a likely rotation contender in 2015, although some still project him as a back end reliever.

    Tomorrow afternoon's hurlers will be Bartolo Colon and Edinson Volquez.
    • The Mets had one steal in the past two weeks. They had four in four innings against Cole/Stewart and added a fifth later. It wasn't all on the pitchers; Stew's throws were all high.
    • Ex-Bucs: The Phillies outrighted INF Ronny Cedeno.

    Cole v Niese, Lineup, Frieri Here, Cumpton Gone, Cutch & Who's Hot...

    Sorry we're late again; the Bucs have delayed their lineup the past couple of days, trying to determine if Starling Marte is ready to get back in the lineup. Jonathon Niese (4-4, 2.78) and Gerrit Cole (6-3, 3.64) are this afternoon's starters.

    Cole is back from a June 4th trip to the DL with a fatigued arm; we're sure the Bucs will monitor his workload for the rest of the season. He went 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last four starts, and hopefully he jump right back on his game. At any rate, it'll be nice to have him back. One thing to watch for: The Mets have stolen one base in their last 13 games, but Cole has allowed 15 this season.

    Niese, 27, has been putting up career numbers this year and  hasn't given up more than three runs in any one of his 12 starts this season. His biggest weakness is lack of a strikeout pitch; he averages just 4.5 K/9, and that is perhaps a sign that some regression is due, along with his 3.51 FIP. His name will come up prominently when the trade season begins in earnest.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Josh Harrison LF, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro 3B, Chris Stewart C and Cole P. Man, we can't wait to see Starling back after Travis & Jordy moving to the two hole in his absence.

    The game begins at 4:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • Ernesto Frieri reported to PNC today; he'll wear #29. As expected, Brandon Cumpton with his option was sent to Indy to clear a spot for Gerrit Cole. One horrible outing skewered his stats this year; he showed he belongs in the show, even if as a back-ender.
    • Andrew McCutchen leads all MLB players with 19 extra-base hits during the month of June (11 doubles and eight home runs). The last Pittsburgh player with 19 extra-base hits in one month was Nate McLouth (April 2008) and the last Bucco with 20 in a month was Brian Giles (June 2001).
    • Pedro has reached base safely in six straight plate appearances (four hits, one walk, one HBP). Ike Davis has reached base safely in 11 straight starts, going 9-for-37 (.243) with eight walks.
    • The Bucco starting staff has gone 13-6 with a 3.17 ERA this month.
    • It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: The Pirates seven walkoff this season are the most by any team in the majors.
    • Division On Fire: In June, all five NL Central teams are among the Top Ten in winning percentage: Brewers, .654; Reds & Pirates, .640; Cardinals & Cubs, .560. The Bucs have won six of their last seven games and seven of their last nine.
    • The Pirates and Mets will pay tribute to the Negro Leagues by donning local Negro League uniforms today, with the Pirates honoring the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Mets the Brooklyn Royal Giants.

    6/28: Mike Lynch, Fred Clarke, Closing Forbes Field In Style, Starg, Mad Dog, Ollie, Alex Presley, Gerrit Cole...

    Mike Lynch, Fred Clarke, Closing Forbes Field In Style, Starg, Mad Dog, Ollie, Alex Presley, Gerrit Cole...
    • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01. 
    • 1894 - Although he was still several seasons from being a Pirate (1900), Hall of Fame OF’er and later manager Fred Clarke had one of the greatest debuts in MLB history, going 5-for-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies for the Louisville Colonels at Eclipse Park to spark an 11-9 victory. 
    Fred Clarke - artwork by Sanjay Verma
    • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2, with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton; Prendergast pulled double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh. 
    • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the final games at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play.
    • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter. 
    • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). 
    Bill Madlock - Donruss 1983 All-Star Action series
    • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL after breaking his toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game at St. Louis. 
    • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia. 
    • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

    Jason Grilli Traded To LA For Ernesto Frieri

    It looks like your basic change-of-scenery deal: two struggling relievers with a history of recent past success switching clubs looking to regain their mojo.

    Jason Grilli, 37, had become injury prone and hasn't really been sharp since last year's All-Star break. With 11 saves, one hold and four blown saves and a 4.87 ERA to go with a 1.62 WHIP, he lost his closer job and even back-end duties. His velocity dropped just a hair, but his movement and command were MIA.

    But he mostly shined in Pittsburgh. From 2011-13, he compiled a 2.74 ERA in 141-1/3 innings with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He was an All-Star closer last season and helped the Bucs get over that two decade hump to the playoffs.

    But he's worth the gamble to the Angels. The Halos are still within hailing distance of Oakland, and Grilli been through the playoff wars and worked as both a set-up man and closer, so he provides experience and versatility. He's also a free agent at the end of the year, so LA's hands aren't tied contractually.

    RHP Ernesto Frieri, 28, also lost his job as closer, with 11 saves, three holds and three blown saves, a 6.39 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. But he does have 60 saves from 2012-13, though his dropoff started last season.

    He's also a good dice roll for the Pirates, who plucked Grilli, Mark Melancon and Joel Hanrahan, their last three closers, from the "as is" shelves. They have a lot of confidence in being able to turn guys around if their stuff still plays.

    The peripherals on Grilli were trending down - a little loss in velocity, a fair drop in K's and a big jump in walks. Frieri's tale of the tape is a little different.

    His K's have dropped from 13 to 11 per nine, still decent, although one red flag is that his swing and misses have dropped from 16% to 10%. And he's not been lucky this year, with a HR/fly ball rate of 21%, which is double his career average, and a BABIP of .325, fifty points higher than his usual average. So some regression to the good seems to be in order for him.

    On the plus side, his walks have dropped for the fourth consecutive season (2.6/nine in 2014, which may or may not be sustainable), his ground ball rate is 35%, by far the best of his career, and his velocity of 94 MPH has remained level over three seasons. Frieri is also transitioning from a one time fastball-curve toolkit to a four seam-sinker-slider-change arsenal, and that fits the Pirate teaching and tweaking profile.

    In a Pirate statement, Neil Huntington said "...despite his struggles to date this season, (Frieri) has solid indicators that cause us to believe he will be a quality addition to our bullpen this season and potentially beyond,” so you can be sure the Bucco Sabermetric gang has looked over those peripheral numbers.

    The Pirates gave up a 37 year old that didn't fit into next season's plans and has been trending downward for a 28 year old who's had problems with his counting numbers, but hasn't been so bad with his performance stats. Frieri still has two years of arb (he makes $3.8M now) remaining if they can turn him around, so he has the added benefit of being under team control through 2016.

    It's a calculated risk on both sides, with the Angels looking for immediate help while the Bucs appear to have the odds stacked more in their favor of getting some longer-term value from the deal.

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Josh Puts On A Show As Bucs Walk Off the Mets 3-2

    Some pretty good pitching went on early. Brandon Cumpton retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the first. Jacob deGrom walked El Coffee, then got a DP and bouncer. In the second, Lucas Duda walked, then was erased after a pop up on a 4-6-3 DP. The twin killings kept coming; The Kid flared a lead off single and was erased on a Russ Martin 6-4-3. That one hurt, as Ike followed with a walk and Pedro was plunked, but deGrom got Mercer to end the frame on a tapper.

    In the third, the Mets got a single and bunt, but nothing came of it, while the Pirates went down in order. The fourth would be a bit different.

    Ruben Tejada started off banging one to left, and Daniel Murphy doubled him to third. Duda bounced one hard to first and off a diving Ike's mitt to plate the pair and make it 2-0. Cumpton settled down, getting a force out from Chris Young, and then picking him off first handily. Eric Campbell grounded out to end the frame without further damage.

    The Bucs had an answer. Cutch started with a soft liner to center that Juan Lagares short hopped. After an out, Ike hit into a force; it was a DP ball, but Russ' hard (and awkward) take-out slide at second broke up the relay. Pedro was worked around for a walk, and Jordy made deGrom pay with a two-run roller up the middle.

    Lagares opened the fifth with an infield knock, and Travis d'Arnaud followed with the grounder that Brandon wanted, but it had eyes and got through the left side. deGrom hurt himself by bunting into a force, and two soft flies later, Cumpton worked out of the jam. The Bucs went down quietly.

    Cumpton got four routine outs in the sixth; Chris Young K'ed but made it to first when the pitch got past Russ. deGrom did it the old fashioned way, three up, three down. NY went down quietly in the seventh. Pedro opened with a single and Jordy bunted him up a station. Starling Marte came in to run (don't slide, pleeze!) and Josh to hit...well, try to hit. de Grom K'ed him and then Josh Edgin took over to face Gregory Polanco. Edgin won the lefty match up, getting Polanco on a foul fly to right.

    Justin Wilson took the bump in the eighth. Cutch saved his bacon with a wall-climbing catch against Curtis Granderson (It was the second bit of robbery by Cutch on Granderson; he took another ball of his off the wall in the first). That was followed by a walk, but a whiff and pop closed out the frame without any drama. Edgin K'ed Snider, then righty Jeurys Familia climbed the hill to retire Cutch and The Kid routinely.

    Mark the Shark took the bump in the ninth, and it got a little tense. Eric Campbell singled with one gone, and was forced at second by Lagares. Jordy made a nice grab of Ike's off-line throw and just managed to stick his foot on the bag to beat Campbell. It was a big save after d'Arnaud grounded one of Melancon's foot, with the deflection going into short right to put Mets on the corners. But The Shark got Bobby Abreu to ground out softly to third.

    Jennry Mejia took the hill, and was greeted by a single by Russ. Ike hit one on the screws, but Granderson had him played perfectly, taking a half step to catch the liner. Mejia then carved up righties Gaby Sanchez and Mercer, whiffing them both.

    Jared Hughes took the ball in the 10th. The Bucs are short a man or two in the pen because of the Grilli deal, and Tony Watson has the night off. After two were down, Murphy singled, but was quickly cut down trying to steal second.

    The Bucs started with promise; Josh singled and stole second, surviving a challenge (his hand slipped in ahead of the tag). Then Polanco tapped back to the mound and Josh was caught in a rundown. He stayed alive long enough for El Coffee to get to second, and dove under a couple of tags to reach third in a very athletic show. Terry Collins came out and went ballistic; Harrison was never tagged, but his baseline was, well, a little wide. But his break dance didn't help.

    Snider whiffed looking at a couple of curves, and Cutch was walked. Mejia hung a couple of off speed offerings to Walker, but he was sitting dead red and swung through them for another K; that's a pair of terribly unfocused at-bats. Martin hit a ball well to right, but it was corralled short of the track, and the Bucs squandered a golden chance.

    Jared worked a clean 11th. Vic Black came in and walked Clint Barmes on four pitches, almost clocking him twice, with an out. With two down, Josh - who else - doubled to right center on the next pitch. Barmes was waved home, and Mets 2B Murphy dropped the outfield relay to allow the winning run to score without so much as a throw.

    Not much to say; Mets be Mets. The Pirates went 1-for-10 with RISP, but managed to get Josh Harrison in the game in the nick of time. And hey, by hook or crook, the Bucs are now a heady two games above .500.

    Jonathon Niese and Gerrit Cole, out of action since June 4th, go at it tomorrow afternoon.
    • Pittsburgh traded with the Angels for Ernesto Frieri, 29, sending 37-year-old Jason Grilli to the City of Angels in what appears to be a classic change of scenery deal. We'll post it up after the game, though at first blush it looks like a Bucco win.
    • Jon Heyman of Baseball Insider says the Pirates and Polanco keep hammering away at a deal, but aren't near an agreement.
    • Tonight's attendance was 37,952, the second straight sell-out and sixth of the season.
    • Tom Singer of reports that Andrew McCutchen will sit either before or after Monday's off-day in order to get two days of rest. Marte will then move in the middle, with Josh Harrison manning left field.
    • Ex Bucs: Evan Meek was recalled by Baltimore. Xavier Nady voided his minor league contract with the Mariners and is a free agent.

    Cumpton v deGrom, Lineup, Cutch, Looking For Pitching, El Coffee

    Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75) and Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93) take the bump tonight.

    Cumpton's last start was a 2-1 win over Jason Hammel at Wrigley Field Sunday. He's won three decisions without a loss after being chased out of town by LA in a 12-2 May beatdown at Dodger Stadium. He's got a tenuous hold on a spot right now, but that could change tomorrow when Gerrit Cole is back from the DL.

    deGrom was scuffling through three starts this month with a 7.80 ERA after a strong start, but tossed seven scoreless against the Fish in his last outing. It was his first MLB win after eight tries, helped by a little mechanical tweaking (keeping his shoulder closed). He's a fastball-change-slider guy, and relies heavily on his 93 MPH heater.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Travis Snider LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Cumpton P. No Starling (he jammed his finger and had trouble holding a bat) or Josh tonight.

    The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • Tell us something we don't know: Andrew McCutchen leads the NL with 53 walks. He's also taken enough cuts to put together a six-game hitting streak.
    • John Perrotto in the Beaver County Times says the Bucs are still looking for pitching, with Brandon McCarthy and AJ on their shopping list. 
    • Can't slip anything past Elias: Gregory Polanco is the first Pirate rookie with a four-RBI game from the lead off spot in the order since Cutch on 8/28/09.
    • Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham both made Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet.

    6/27: Iron Man, Roberto, Maz in the Movies, Rally Cap, Daryle Ward, Denny Neagle, Big Three...

    Iron Man, Roberto, Maz in the Movies, Rally Cap, Daryle Ward, Denny Neagle, Big Three...
    • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
    • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground rule double to center in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He quickly scored the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
    Roberto Clemente 1959 Topps series
    • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”
    • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell’ as his drive hit the facsimile Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veteran’s Stadium. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI. 
    • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards.
    • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the game winner.
    • 1995 - P Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee."
    Denny Neagle 1992 Ultra series
    • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

    Vanimal, El Coffee Team Up On The Mets In 5-2 Bucco Victory

    Vance Worley and Daisuke Matsuzaka spun quiet opening frames. Vanimal retired the Mets 1-2-3, while Dice-K gave up a walk and stolen base to Gregory Polanco to go with three routine outs.

    The Mets tried to single Worley to death in the second. With one gone, Bobby Abreu and Juan Lagares had back-to-back knocks. Following a K, Ruben Tejada lined a single to left, but Josh cut down Abreu at the dish to keep the Mets off the board. Russ opened the Buc half with a HBP, but an Ike 4-6-3 DP and Pedro whiff killed the frame. Matsuzaka began the third with an infield knock off an off target throw by Pedro, but never got past first. The Bucs manufactured the first run of the game on a Jordy walk, bunt, wild pitch and ground out to make it 1-0.

    NY got the run back quickly in the fourth when Lucas Duda went long the opposite way, dropping a fly barely inside the LF pole and into the first row. A walk to Abreu followed. Lagares K'ed, then Travis d'Arnaud tried to one-up Duda, flying out the the 389' mark. Tejada got plunked, and Dice-K almost made Vanimal pay, lining out to medium left.

    Cutch doubled to start the Bucco half. The Kid struck out chasing a slider, Martin's grounder moved Andrew to third and Ike walked. That led to a little league run; Ike was picked off breaking to second, and during the run down that ended the inning, Cutch raced home to make it 2-1. It ended OK, but with Ike running and Pedro up, we kinda question the strategy.

    Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the fifth, and Dale Murphy forced him at second on a bang-bang play. David Wright bounced a fastball to second, and the 4-6-3 put the Mets away. Pedro got the Bucs going with a single. Jordy hit into a force, and Worley punched single to center. A passed ball moved them up a station, but no need - El Coffee ripped a 3-2 slider over the fence in right center; we're liking the Buc's three run homers of late.

    Vanimal tossed a clean sixth frame. Ike walked with two away for Pittsburgh, and Pedro singled him to third. But no more; Jordy flew out to left on the first pitch.

    d'Arnaud spanked a single to begin the seventh; Tejada banged into an around-the-horn DP. Good thing; Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a pinch hit single. A Granderson fly ended the inning without further ado. Vanimal was at 100 pitches, and Travis Snider hit for him, singling off Carlos Torres. Polanco followed with a knock, and Josh bunted them up. Not really sure why, as the inevitable intentional walk to Cutch was issued. Good move by the Mets; The Kid hit the first pitch to second for a 4-6-3 DP to end the frame.

    Murphy greeted Tony Watson with a double that Josh had trouble tracking in left. Wright turned on a 3-2 sinker and banged it over third for another double. This time, Tony's earned run streak of 26-1/3 IP definitely has a fork in it. Duda went down swinging. Chris Young hit for Abreu, and rolled over to bounce into a 6-3, nicely plucked by Jordy, freezing the runner. Lagares saw three straight changes and couldn't get wood on any of them as Tony closed the inning out with the Bucs up 5-2.

    Josh Edgin worked the ninth. With two down, Pedro singled and that brought on Vic Black, who got Jordy on a fly to center. Mark Melancon came on to close the deal, and Clint Barmes took over at third. Mark the Shark tucked New York away on seven pitches; how many guys can say they have 14 saves and 14 holds? The Vanimal is 2-0/1.74, and looks very safe when Gerrit Cole returns this weekend.

    Just when it looked like the rotation was in tatters, the Three Amigos - Worley, Jeff Locke, and yes, even Brandon Cumpton - picked it up a notch. The hitting has been consistent, and it's no mystery that the pitching has been better because of the defense behind it lately. So let the good times roll.

    Jacob deGrom and Brandon Cumpton are the starters for tomorrow night's match.
    • Gregory Polanco hit his first career home run at PNC Park tonight, and it was no cheapie, travelling 418'. And in a nice post-game gesture, Polanco recognized the fans ovation with a tip of the hat.
    • The Pirates are 17-10 over the last 27 games. Bet they'd like a redo of April.
    • Tonight's attendance was 36,647, the second largest non-Opening Day Thursday crowd ever at PNC. Pittsburgh fans sure do love their fireworks, on & off the field.

    Vanimal v Dice K, Lineup, Bombs, Wandy...

    Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68) goes against Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98) tonight.

    The Bucs 26-year-old RHP will be making his third start of the season and his first at PNC Park. He isn't real toolsy, but he changes his speeds and ball levels while staying out of the middle of the plate. It's worked pretty well for him so far. Vanimal's not been very hot against the Mets, going 3-4 with a 6.64 ERA (skewed by a blowout NY win last year) in 16 career games (eight starts). He's lost his last three decisions against the Metropolitans

    Matsuzaka features five pitches: a fastball, slider, cutter, curveball, and split-finger. He's worked both as a starter and from the pen, joining the rotation May 25th and filling in now for Dillon Gee. His overall opponent BA is .172, with a .198 opp BA as a starter. He does give up some walks, so patience is required. This will be the first time Dice-K has squared off against Pittsburgh.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P.
    Marte is still out.
    The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • Lumber Company Reincarnated: The Bucs have homered in a season-high six straight games.
    • Maybe Wandy did have a little more wrong with him than old age. It been reported that he had season-ending knee surgery by ESPN Desportes.
    • Ex Bucs: Kyle Farnsworth was outrighted and Jose Veras called up by the Astros.

    6/26: Big & Little Poison, Bill Robinson, Maury Wills, Jason Kendall, Lloyd Steals First, Twin Killings & More...

    Big & Little Poison, Bill Robinson, Maury Wills, Jason Kendall, Lloyd Steals First, Twin Killings & More...
    • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history. 
    Steve Brodie - image from Baseball Prospectus
    • 1930 - Larry French tossed a seven hit shutout to beat Phil Collins and the Philadelphia Phils 1-0 in the opening game of a Forbes Field DH’er. The Buc bats woke up in game #2, pounding out an 11-5 win. Paul Waner had three hits, including a double and triple, scored four times and drove in a run to lead the attack. All nine Pirates had hits; seven different Bucs scored and seven had RBI. Ery Brame went the distance for the victory. 
    • 1935 - CF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner set a MLB mark when he recorded 18 putouts during a 5-1, 4-2 doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves. He had nine grabs in each game and rapped out five hits during the twinbill at Braves Field to support Buc pitchers Guy Bush and Bill Swift. 
    • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs. 
    Bill Robinson - Topps 1976 series
    • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the DH, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills. 
    • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. 
    • 1984 - 1B Jason Thompson hit two homers in each game of a doubleheader split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 9-0 behind a Rick Rhoden four hitter and dropping the nitecap 9-8. 
    • 1991 - The Bucs scored five times in the third inning and then hung on to defeat the Cubs at TRS 7-6. Jose Lind had a three run homer, Barry Bonds a two run shot, and Jay Bell went 5-for-5 to prime the attack against Chicago. 
    • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares was caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t.
    • 2001 - On his 27th B-Day, Jason Kendall was ruled out at first, prompting the most famous steal in Pirate history. Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out, put on a show for the 24,120 fans at PNC Park, and finally pulled the sack off its stanchion and carried it into the dugout in protest. As for the game, the Bucs came back to beat the Brewers 7-6 in 12 frames. They dodged a late bullet when Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-run, two-out eleventh inning homer to keep the game alive after the Brew Crew had taken the lead on back-to-back homers in their half off Mike Williams. Rob Mackowiak singled through a drawn in infield to plate Kevin Young, who had opened the twelfth with a double and moved to third on a ground out, to seal the deal for Omar Olivares and Pittsburgh. 
    Lloyd McClendon Steals First - Mike Zarrilli, Getty Images
    • 2004 - Randall Simon’s home run in the ninth was all the Pirate pitching needed as they edged the Reds 1-0 at GABP. Ollie Perez gave up three hits over seven frames. Mark Corey got the win and Jose Mesa earned his 17th save. 
    • 2005 - The Pirates turned six double plays and beat the Cardinals in St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The six twin killings were a club record and each was scored differently (2-4; 5-4-3; 9-4; 4-6-3; 5-2-3; and 6-4-3). Jason Bay hit a three run HR in the third and a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth. Jose Castillo’s solo shot in the tenth iced the victory. During the game, starter Ollie Perez broke his toe when he kicked a laundry cart in the clubhouse, frustrated that he had been pulled in the seventh inning. He wouldn’t pitch again until September.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    That One Inning...Bucs, Morton Lose To Rays 5-1

    Josh singled and stole second off David Price with one away in the first, and that was a s far as he got. Before Charlie Morton got three outs, he would suffer through another of his innings. Desmond Jennings led off with a ground ball single and then  Ben Zobrist tripled; the ball went off Cutch's glove. After a K, Evan Longoria grounded a routine ball to Jordy; he muffed it. James Loney singled off Morton's foot. Brandon Guyer got a 1-2 fastball that was up and in; he checked his swing and the ball caught his elbow. A sac fly made it 3-0. That's not a good way to start the day against Mr. Price.

    The Bucs second was walk, DP, whiff. The Rays also drew a walk with a couple of whiffs on either side. The third was a 1-2-3 frame for both sides; the fourth saw that streak end with Jose Molina's two-out single. They flipped that in the fifth; Neil Walker got the two-out single. Both sides were retired in order in the sixth. If you think there's a whole lotta pitching going on, you're right.

    In the seventh, the Bucs took their shot at Price. Gaby singled with one down and was forced by Russ. Jordy blooped a soft single, and The Kid clobbered a change up. But Jennings in center made a running catch at the wall in center, saving probably a pair of runs, and for all intents and purposes, that was the game, even if Charlie mowed them down again in the seventh.

    Price regained his mojo in the eighth, putting the Bucs away quietly. Jason Grilli came on to face the Rays, and you know the drill - a couple of strikeouts, a couple of liners, a bloop, a bunt and a couple of runs; Justin Wilson had to close out the inning. Jake McGee took over in the ninth, and gave up a solo homer to Cutch to make the final 5-1.

    Morton had another one of those innings -  a dropped ball, an error, a single off his own foot, a HBP - and every game he seems to have one. That Achille's Heel of his has repeatedly taken the tarnish off a year when he's stepped up, picking up Ks and sitting down lefties.Pittsburgh goes back home now for a ten-gamer, then hits the road until after the break. The Bucs  face the Mets, D-Backs and Phils at PNC Park, all series that need to be taken, then off to visit the Cards and Reds.

    Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the hill against Vance Worley tomorrow night.
    • Charlie Morton's 11 strikeouts is his personal best, the season high for the Pirates and the most by a Bucco since AJ Burnett's dozen on September 12th, 2013, against the Cubs. David Price did OK, too - he became the first pitcher with five straight ten strikeout games since Johan Santana in 2004 as he matched Charlie with 11 whiffs.
    • This marks the seventh  time this season that the Pirates have gone into the last game of a series in line for a sweep. They're 0-for-7 in closing those sets out.
    • Starling Marte isn't in the lineup, but he passed his concussion test. Now he's dealing with a jammed finger, suffered on the same unsuccessful steal of second last night.
    • As expected, Gerrit Cole will come off DL and start Saturday against the Mets.

    Morton v Price, Lineup, Buc Bats, Hot Time In June...

     Charlie Morton (4-8, 3.47) stares down David Price (5-7, 3.81) on get-away day, looking for the sweep. Charlie had a rough outing last time on the hill, again falling victim to big inning syndrome. So hopefully he's got that out of his system. His work against lefties has been encouraging, and the Bucs hope for some consistency from him.

    Price leads MLB with 133 strikeouts and has only walked 13 batters. His peripherals are, as noted, just fine. His biggest problem is the long ball. He's given up 16 HR in 115 IP. Price may also dealing with audition anxiety, we'd guess, as the Rays have made it pretty clear that he's on he market.

    The lineup: Greg Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Russ Martin DH, Jordy Mercer SS, Neil Walker 2B, Clint Barmes 3B and Chris Stewart C. Barmes is starting for just the fifth time at 3B in his career. He hasn't played the hot corner since 2008 as one of Clint Hurdle's Rockies.

    The game starts at 12:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • The Bucs have homered in five straight games, tying their season high set at the start of the month.
    • Since May 6th, the Bucs have posted the best record in the NL (27-18, .600) and the third-best record in MLB during that time behind Oakland (28-17, .622) and Toronto (29-18, .617).
    • Still lookin': A win today would give the Pirates their first series sweep of the season and their first since ending the 2013 campaign with a three-game sweep in Cincinnati.
    • Following today's game, the Pirates host a 10-game home stand against the Mets, Diamondbacks and Phillies.

    6/25: 15 In A Row, Hit Parade, Emil Yde, Dino, Ralph, Willie, A-Ram, #9000, Walk Off Walk, Bombs Away, Locke Down & More...

    15 In A Row, Hit Parade, Emil Yde, Dino, Ralph, Willie, A-Ram, #9000, Walk Off Walk, Bombs Away, Locke Down & More...
    • 1903 - Ed Doheny surrendered just four singles as the Pirates won at Philadelphia 4-3 in ten innings to run their winning streak to 15 games. It would end later in the day as the Phils took the nitecap of the twinbill by a 5-1 tally. 
    • 1912 - The Pirates swept a DH from the Cards by 10-4 and 19-3 scores, banging out 35 hits over the course of the day at Robinson Field. Max Carey and Chief Wilson hit grand slams, and rookie Stump Edington came close, being thrown out at home after clearing the bases with a triple. The Bucs put up a 10 spot in the seventh inning of the nitecap. Claude Hendrix and King Cole were the winning pitchers. 
    • 1924 - Pitcher Emil Yde's bases-loaded double tied the score in the ninth inning and in the 14th, the Pittsburgh southpaw's two-run triple beat the Cubs at Forbes Field, 8-7. Beside the two hits and five RBI, Yde hurled 10-1/3 innings of one-run ball to earn the win. 
    • 1940 - The Bucs won for the fifth time in six games when they whipped the Philadelphia Phils 9-7 at Shibe Park. Al Lopez had three RBI, Elbie Fletcher scored three runs and Bob Elliott went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.

     Bob Elliott photo from Out Of The Park
    • 1944 - The Cards edged the Bucs 2-1 in the opener of a twinbill as Red Munger outpitched Rip Sewell. The second ended in a controversial 5-5 tie, called after nine innings because of the Pennsylvania Blue Law. Pittsburgh tied the game in the ninth on a pinch hit long ball by Virgil Davis that went through the screen in front of the RF stands. Cards manager Billy Southworth protested, claiming that the ground rules were that a fair ball stuck in the screen was a double and the same reasoning should apply. Ump Beans Reardon didn’t buy the argument and ruled that since it didn’t stick but went through the fence, it was a homer. 
    • 1949 - The Bucs hit five home runs (Ralph Kiner twice, Wally Westlake, Ed Stevens & Dino Restelli) but the Dodgers banged out four of their own to leave Pittsburgh eating their dust at Forbes Field, winning a 17-10 slugfest. Rookie Restelli set a record as his four bagger was the seventh in his first ten MLB games; he would only hit six more in his abbreviated big league career. 
    • 1950 - Ralph Kiner led the Pirates to a 16-11 win at Brooklyn by hitting for the cycle. He went 5-for-6 with two homers, a double, triple, scored four times and drove in eight runs at Ebbets Field. Stan Rojek added four hits against the Dodgers, Gus Bell had three and Ted Beard homered. Cliff Chambers got the win in relief of Vern Law though both gave up five runs in four innings. 
    • 1971 - Willie Stargell hit the longest home run in Veterans Stadium history against Jim Bunning during a 14-4 win over the Phils. The spot where the ball landed in section 601 was highlighted with a yellow star with a black "S" inside a white circle until Stargell's 2001 death, when the white circle was painted black. The star remained in place until the stadium's 2004 razing.
    • 1978 - Aramis Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo. Signed as a 16 year old, he played five plus seasons (1998-03) in Pittsburgh with a .286/76/316 line before being sent to the Cubs in a salary dump that is still cited today as the epitome of the Dave Littlefield years.
    • 1982 - LHP Paul Maholm was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. The 2008 first rounder spent seven seasons (2005-11) with the Pirates, going 53-73/4.35 during the span and starting 227 games for Pittsburgh before being non-tendered in 2012. 
    • 2002 - The Pirates won their 9,000th game with a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Expos at PNC Park, joining the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers in that accomplishment. Kris Benson got the W and Kevin Young went 4-for-4 on the day. 

    Kris Benson 2001 Fleer Tradition series
    • 2003 - The Pirates broke a 3-3 tie by scoring three times in the ninth, then barely held on to claim a 6-5 win over Montreal at Olympic Stadium. The Bucs took the late lead on a Kenny Lofton sac fly and back-to-back two-out singles by Jason Kendall and Jeff Reboulet. It was just enough for Mike Williams, who gave up a two run homer to Ron Calloway and had Expos leading off first and second before getting the last two outs. 
    • 2008 - In the title game, LHP Justin Wilson held the Georgia Bulldogs scoreless for seven innings and got the win as Fresno State won its first College World Series by a 6-1 score. Wilson was named to the All-Tournament team and became the Bucs fifth round pick in the draft. 
    • 2009 - After falling behind the Indians 2-0 at PNC Park, the Bucs chipped away, winning 3-2 on a walk off bloop single in the ninth by Andrew McCutchen, scoring Jack Wilson. Cutch was clutch; he scored the first run of the comeback in the sixth and drove in the tying run an inning later by drawing a bases loaded walk on a 3-2 count off Cliff Lee. 
    • 2011 - The Bucs downed the Red Sox and one-time Bucco hurler Tim Wakefield 6-4 behind a three run homer by Lyle Overbay and a solo shot by Garrett Jones. Joel Hanrahan earned the save by striking out Adrian Gonzalez, who represented the tying run, in the ninth at PNC Park. 
    • 2013 - The Bucs banged five homers for the first time since 2009 and rolled to a 9-4 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Starling Marte led the Pirates' offense with a pair of home runs, his first career multi-homer game, and a triple. Russell Martin, Brandon Inge and Gaby Sanchez also homered. The Pirates went long three times in the second inning off Joe Saunders; Inge and Marte went back-to-back. Jeff Locke coasted to the win, and in the process become the first Pittsburgh lefty to win seven in a row since John Smiley in 1991. 

     Starling Marte 2013 Heritage series

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    It Wasn't Easy, But Bucs Get Locke A Win 6-5

    "Hello, Chris Archer, I'm Gregory Polanco and you really don't want to walk me." Well, maybe El Coffee didn't really say that, but he should have given Archer a warning. A four pitch walk, stolen base with the throw going into center and a Cutch chopper to short made it 1-0 Buccos.  Jeff Locke missed the memo, too, walking Desmond Jennings to open the game, but Ben Zobrist banged a ball to Josh at third for a quick 5-4-3 twin killing, followed by a K.

    The Bucs went down in order in the second - Archer already has four whiffs to go with the walk - and Locke turned the same trick. He gave up a one-out knock to James Loney, but a 6-4-3 ended the frame with the minimum.

    Pedro opened the third by drawing a free pass, and Jordy followed with an infield knock on a high chop to the left side. Polanco bunted them up, and Starling ripped one through the right side to plate Pedro. A short wild pitch moved Marte to second. Cutch flared a full count slider to center to bring home another tally. The Kid fell behind 0-2, but hung in there to lift a sac fly to right. Russ singled to right before Ike flew out, but Pittsburgh was up 4-0.

    With two gone, Jose Molina banged an 0-2 heater on the inside corner through the infield for a knock and Jennings followed by turning on a 1-2 heater and lining it to left. Locke worked Zobrist in, too, and got him to hit into a force, 5-4. The Bucs went down in order in the fourth, with Pedro losing a line shot to the shift. Locke tossed a clean inning, too.

    El Coffee led off the fifth with an infield bleeder. Then another bit of oddity on the bases; Marte lined out to Loney, but Polanco was called out for interference and Starling got the base. It looked like Loney stepped into Gregory, but the fielder gets the benefit. Anyway, the game went on with one fast guy taking another's place, though we're unsure exactly why. Marte was caught stealing, going headfirst and taking a knee to the noggin in the process. He was helped off the field, and you have to consider a concussion as a very real possibility. Cutch K'ed, and one very awkward inning ended.

    Travis Snider went to left. With two gone, Logan Forsythe tripled to right on a short fly that El Coffee misplayed; he may have lost it in the lights. It cost Locke when Molina drilled a first pitch change at the knees and down the middle past 3B for a double to make it 4-1 after five. Four of Tampa's five hits have come with two outs.

    Ike doubled with two away in the sixth off a 3-2 slider, and Josh brought him home on the next pitch, a slider down the pipe that he roped to left, taking second on a thankfully very off-line throw to the plate. Pedro's not having much luck against the shift, bouncing out, but the Bucs did answer Tampa's run. And with three full counts in the frame, they ran Archer's pitch count to 92. Locke lost Evan Longoria with two away, but no damage came of it as Loney grounded out to short on a nice play by Jordy to snag his ball up the middle.

    Jordy whiffed to open the seventh, chasing a slider in the dirt. El Coffee flew out and Snider looked at strike three in an easy frame for Archer. With an out, Jeff plunked Sean Rodriguez and gave up a knock to Forsythe. Locke settled down after a visit by guru Ray Searage and closed out the frame.

    Brad Boxberger took the bump in the eighth.he got two outs on four pitches; his sixth was a fastball to Russ, inside half at the knees, who yanked it up the line and out of the yard. Ike looked at three strikes, but it was now 6-1 with six outs to collect.

    With an out, Locke gave Brandon Guyen a back door curve; he got enough to ground it into right for a double. Logoria took a fastball that was inside and at the knees and golfed it over the wall in left center; those insurance runs sure look good now. Jared Hughes got the call after the blast. After a long at-bat, Loney poked ball four into left for a knock. Lefty Kevin Kiermaier grabbed some wood, and Tony Watson was waved in. He got a whiff and pop out to bail Jared and Jeff out of the frame.

    Juan Carlos Oviedo came in to work the ninth. The Bucs went down 1-2-3 and Mark the Shark took the horsehide. Forsythe singled to open, his third hit of the game. Matt Joyce flew out to right, and Jennings went the opposite way for another knock; Melancon's cutter is catching more plate than corner. Zobrist flew out to left. Mark uncorked a wild pitch on an 0-2 curve to Guyen. On a 2-2 pitch, another cutter stayed in the middle of the dish and Guyen banged it to right to make it 6-5. Lonoria was the man of the hour, but his fly to left center gave the Shark his 13th save and Locke finally got a win.

    Game thoughts: Maybe the Bucs are the reincarnation of the lumber company; maybe Jeff Locke has figured it out, and maybe the Bucs should hire a scientist to clone Tony Watson.

    Charlie Morton takes on ace lefty David Price tomorrow afternoon.
    • The Jose Tabata move in a nutshell: he already cleared waivers (he's out of options and was placed on waivers for trade purposes earlier in the year), then was outrighted to Indy and removed from the 40-man roster. He could have declared for FA rather than report to Indy, but he does have a contract through 2016 worth about $10M, sooo...
    • With the win, the Bucs went over the .500 mark (39-38) for the first time this season since April 15th (7-6).
    • Gregory Polanco has reached base in all 14 games he's played either by hit or walk.
    • Starling Marte is being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms; he may end up on the 7-day DL.
    • OF Josh Bell, 21, was selected for the US squad of the Futures Game. His slash at Bradenton is .335/.385/.518 with 9 HR & 47 RBI.

    Locke v Archer, Lineup, Walker Back, JT Sent Down, El Coffee, Pitching & More

    Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.76) takes on Chris Archer (4-4, 3.14) tonight. Locke has tossed pretty well for the Bucs, getting after guys aggressively and throwing strikes. He's also been a bit unlucky, already waving bye-bye to three wins thanks to blown saves this season.

    Archer, 25, is coming off a shutout of the Astros and features a fastball/slider combo. He can occasionally be wild, but has a n excellent arm. Since May 16th, Archer has held opponents to just four earned runs in 40-2/3 IP (0.90 ERA).

    Locke has never pitched against the Rays nor Archer against the Bucs, since the teams haven't met since 2008.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Josh Harrison 3B, Pedro DH and Jordy Mercer SS. The Kid is where he should be in the order.

    The game starts at 7:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
    • In the big news of the day, the Pirates have reinstated Neil Walker from the 15-day DL and outrighted Jose Tabata to AAA Indianapolis.
    • Dating back to 1914, Gregory Polanco is one of three Pirates to reach safely in each of his first 13 games. The others are Dino Restelli and Gus Suhr.
    • In the last 15 games, Pittsburgh's starting pitchers have gone 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA. The starters have gone 11-5 with a 3.31 ERA during June.
    • Neil Walker is expected to return tonight in Tampa, and Gerrit Cole on Saturday.
    • Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reported that the Pirates have traded LHP Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers. 
    • Rule 7.13 "Blocking the Plate" update: the MLB announced that effective immediately, umpires are not to apply it on force plays at home plate.

    6/24: Jake, Rollie, Hans, Kiki, Arky, Willie, Welcome Back Yankees & More...

    Jake, Rollie, Hans, Kiki, Arky, Willie, Welcome Back Yankees & More...
    • 1867 - OF Jake Stenzel was born in Cincinnati. He patrolled center field for five years (1892-96) for Pittsburgh. Stenzel was a strong guy with the stick, putting up a line of .360/.429/.528 in his Alleghenys years, adding 188 stolen bases. He was a monster in 1894, hitting .352 with 150 runs and 121 RBI, banging 13 HR, 20 triples, and 39 doubles while swiping 61 sacks. Stenzel scored 100+ runs in his final three seasons with Pittsburgh. Per John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, Stenzel is the only player in baseball history to produce a .350 BA, 80 RBI, 100 runs & 50 SB line in a season four times (Honus Wagner did it twice) and is the franchise leader in batting average and on base percentage. 
    • 1902 - The Bucs whipped the Orphans 7-2 at the West Side Grounds in a game that was highlighted by a brawl between Chicago’s Joe Tinker and the Pirates Wid Conroy. Steamed that Conroy had held him (literally) at second in the previous game, Tinker launched a punch at Conroy, who promptly retaliated before ump Hank O’Day could restore order. Conroy ended up with a 20 day suspension while instigator Tinkers was given a three day slap on the wrist. Pure baseball was at a minimum as the Pittsburgh Press described the game action as providing “an oversupply of bungling” and added that “neither team did sufficient good playing to deserve a victory.” Chicago, btw, picked up the nickname of Cubs during this season because of the youthfulness of their roster. 
    • 1907 - C Ralston “Rollie” Hemsley was born in Syracuse, Ohio. Rollie spent the first four years (1928-31) of his 19-year MLB stay with Pittsburgh, starting the last two and putting up a .264 BA. After being traded, he went on to have five All-Star years with three different clubs. 
    Rollie Hemsley - image from Out Of the Ballpark
    • 1908 - The Flying Dutchman did it all this day: he smacked a home run and double‚ then broke a 3-3 tie with an eighth inning single. Wagner then added an insurance run by stealing home as the Pirates won 5-3 over the Reds at Exposition Park. 
    • 1924 - Cincinnati’s Eppa Rixey retired the first 23 Bucco batters that he faced and had a 1-0 lead in a duel with Ray Kremer. But the Pirates scratched out a run in eighth and added three more in the ninth, with the big blow a two-run single by Kiki Cuyler, to take a 4-3 win at Redlands Field. The Reds almost came all the way back, scoring twice in their half of the ninth, with Edd Rousch, representing the tying run, cut down at the plate on a strong relay by SS Glenn Wright. Pittsburgh was outhit 13-6 in the contest. 
    • 1933 - Arky Vaughan hit for the cycle against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. He went 5-for-5 with five RBI and three runs in a 15-3 Bucco victory. He was (and still is) the youngest MLB player to hit for the cycle, at 21 years, 3 months of age. 
    • 1965 - Willie Stargell’s first career three homer game (the Bucs hit five dingers during the match, with Bob Bailey and Jim Pagliaroni also going yard) sparked the Bucs to a 13-3 romp over first-place Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. Don Cardwell got the win over Don Drysdale. 
    • 2008 - For the first time since Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the New York Yankees visited Pittsburgh. Bill Mazeroski threw out the first pitch at PNC Park, and it was deju vu all over again as the Bucs broke out the bats to win 12-5. Freddy Sanchez had three hits and three runs scored while Ryan Doumit and Adam LaRoche also had three knocks with a pair of RBI each. The Bucs were the last MLB team to earn a regular season win against the Yankees. Also true to form, they were clobbered 10-0 by the Bronx Bombers the following day.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Bucs Cruise Behind Volquez 8-1

    With an out in the first, Starling Marte turned to bunt; the pitch was a little up and in and he got whacked in the shoulder. After being checked out by the bench, he jogged to first and stole second. Cutch singled up the middle, but Starling backtracked initially and only got to third. Cutch stole second with Ike up, and his bouncer to second brought home Marte and moved up Cutch. Russ hit one that Ray hurler Alex Cobb fielded; he threw the ball way, ruled a single and error and making it 2-0.

    Desmond Jennings opened with a single, went to second on a ground out and plated on James Loney's two out roller through the left side to make it 2-1.

    The Bucs got their own two-out single by Jordy in the second, but he died at first. Tampa got back-to-back one out knocks in their half on a liner and bunt, but Ryan Hanigan banged one to Pedro for an inning ending around-the-horn DP.

    The Bucs added some distance in the third. Starling led off with a double and Cutch singled him home. He stole second and moved to third on a fly. Russ K'ed, Josh walked on four pitches and Pedro bombed a first-pitch heater (90 MPH, down the pipe) yard in center to make it 6-1. The Rays went down in order.

    In the fourth, El Coffee walked and stole second with an out, but Starling and Cutch couldn't bring him home. Brandon Guyer singled with an out for Tampa, but Edinson cleaned that up, getting Matt Joyce to roll a change up to second for a 4-6-3 DP.

    Ike Davis walked to open the fifth, but he was erased on Martin's 6-4-3 DP, and Josh grounded out. The Rays stranded a leadoff walk. Lefty Cesar Ramos took the bump in the sixth with Pedro and Travis Snider due up, and was impressive, striking out the side. Ben Zobrist walked to start the Ray half, but an out later, Loney bounced into the shift for an odd but effective Jordy-Pedro-Ike DP. The Bucs went quietly in the seventh. Volquez put away Tampa in order, but a 10-pitch at-bat by Yunel Escobar put Eddie over the 100 pitch mark.

    Ramos hung around in the eighth long enough to get Gaby to line out, then gave way to Kirby Yates. With two outs, Josh got the first Bucco hit since Pedro's homer, an infield tapper to short, followed by a walk to El Toro. Snider fell behind 0-2, worked the count full, fouled off ball four and then blooped a single into center, sending Josh home and Pedro to third. Mercer popped out to center, and Volquez answered the bell one more time. He sat the Rays down on nine pitches, the last out recorded on by Josh, who ran down a broken bat flare with a tumbling over the shoulder snag that earned him a tip o' the cap from Volquez.

    Polanco opened the ninth with a soft drop to right for a knock. Marte worked the count full and got plunked on the wrist with the payoff pitch. After a brief delay, he took first, and Cutch lined a single up the middle to plate Polanco, with Marte pulling up at second.  Yates worked out of any further damage. Jeanmar Gomez came out with the mop. with two gone, Loney cue-balled a knock to left. A tapper to the hill ended it.

    Eddie wasn't overwhelming - he had just one K -  but was steely-eyed efficient with a lot of balls beat into the dirt. Three of the five hits against him didn't leave the infield, and he coaxed three inning-ending DPs for a job well done. Pedro found his missing stroke, and with two outs he broke open the game, taking it from 2-1 to 5-1. If those two guys can keep on keepin' on that way, the Bucco season will be a lot brighter. They're back to .500 at 38-38; let's see if they can break on through to the other side this time.

    Jeff Locke takes on Chris Archer tomorrow night.
    • Cutch collected his 52nd career RBI in interleague action, passing Brian Giles for the most in Pirates history.
    • Tonight was the Bucs first four SB game since 7/5/13 at Wrigley v the Cubs.
    • Cutch and Neil Walker are closing quickly in the AS balloting; both are in second and gaining.

    Volquez v Cobb, Lineup, The Kid, Hello Stranger...

    Edinson Volquez (4-6, 4.67)  faces Alex Cobb (2-5, 3.48) tonight. Volquez is looking for redemption after tossing BP to the Reds during his last outing. Eddie had been solid before that game, so we'll see if he returns to form. He's been OK against the Rays, going 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two career starts against them.

    Cobb was back to his old form early in the season, but has been struggling some since suffering an oblique injury, which has rushed his delivery since his return. He looked like he regained his mojo in his last outing, a 2-0 loss to the Astros. Oddly, Cobb hasn't won in five starts at Tropicana Field this year. He's tossed to a 3.30 ERA there, but got zero runs of support in four of the outings.

    It's a match-up of a couple of guys looking to get back on the right track.

    The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Ike Davis 1B, Russ Martin C, Josh Harrison 2B, Pedro 3B, Travis Snider DH and Jordy Mercer SS. Welcome back Starling as the Three Amigos reunite, and how many AL teams do ya think would bat their DH seventh?

    The game will be aired on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10.
    • Neil Walker was seen taking BP at Tropicana Field, so he's apparently ready and able to return from the DL tomorrow without any further rehab.
    • Tampa Bay will host the Pirates for the first time since 2003. And it's probably at the right time for them, too: The Rays have won seven of their last 11 games.
    • Frank Brank of Pirates Corner suggests that it's time to flip Pedro and Ike in the lineup.

    6/23: Casey, Hall Outdoes Spahn, Willie Whacks Three, Denny, Jason Kendall, Extra Inning Shootout & More...

    Casey, Hall Outdoes Spahn, Willie Whacks Three, Denny, Jason Kendall, Extra Inning Shootout & More...
    • 1890 - 2B Harry and SS John Gilbert became the first brothers to play together for a major league Pittsburgh club when they manned the middle at the Philadelphia Baseball Grounds against the Phillies. The Alleghenys split the twin bill, with Harry going 2-for-8 and John 0-for-8, and they turned a DP in each game. They never teamed up professionally again; that doubleheader was the only time either one of the Pottstown brothers played at the MLB level. 
    • 1900 - RHP Bill Harris was born in Wylie, Texas. He tossed for the Bucs from 1931-34, with a record of 16-15-7 and a 3.45 ERA. Harris earned 257 minor league wins between 1921 and 1945, including two no-hitters. 
    • 1919 - The the Bucs won their fifth game in a row, 3-2 over the SL Cardinals at Robison Park. Casey Stengel was the man of the hour, hitting a two run homer in the sixth and then making a game-saving catch in the bottom half to back Frank Miller’s complete game effort. 

    Casey Stengel - uncredited 1919 newspaper clipping

  • 1930 - Bucco pitchers Heinie Meine and Leon Chagnon gave up twelve consecutive hits during the sixth inning in a 19-6 loss to the Brooklyn Robins at Forbes Field, tying the record for most consecutive hits allowed.
  • 1953 - The Pirates defeated Hall-of-Fame pitcher Warren Spahn and the Braves at County Stadium, 1-0. Spahn, who would be named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year after the season, struck out 12 batters and surrendered just two hits. Bucco outfielder Carlos Bernier delivered the game-winner, a two-out single in the eighth inning that scored Preston Ward, who had walked. RHP Bob Hall tossed a six-hit shutout to outgun Spahn and Milwaukee. 
  • 1954 - The Bucs broke St. Louis’ Harvey Haddix’s string of 37 straight shutout innings when Preston Ward drove home Dick Cole in the sixth, but were left in the dust at Forbes Field by the Cards 7-1. 
  • 1961 - The Phillies scored four times in the eighth and added six more runs in the ninth to stun the Pirates 12-11 at Forbes Field. Three errors led to four of the late runs as Clem Labine, ElRoy Face and Earl Francis couldn’t shut the gates on the Phils. 
  • 1965 - Willie Stargell mashed three homers to lead the Pirates to a 13-3 beatdown of LA at Dodger Stadium. After dingers in his first three at bats, Pops lined a shot off the outfield railing for a double; he was a foot away from his fourth long fly of the day. 

  • >br />
    Willie Stargell - Topps 1989 All-Star Commemorative series
    • 1995 - Denny Neagle won a duel with Pedro Martinez as the Bucs beat the Expos 2-0 at Olympic Stadium. Neagle surrendered just a pair of hits, with Mark Johnson and Nelson Liriano bringing home the Bucco runs.
    • 2004 - Pittsburgh beat the Astros 7-2 at Minute Maid Park on the strength of a two out grand slam by Jason Kendall in the seventh off David Weathers. 
    • 2005 - The Pirates jumped out to an 11-2 lead over the Cards and held on to take an 11-7 win. Humberto Cota led the way with three RBI, two on sac flies, but St. Louis was its own worst enemy, committing three errors and allowing Pittsburgh seven unearned runs at Busch Stadium. 
    • 2013 - It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Angel pitchers had sat down 16 straight Pirates and went into the ninth with a 6-3 lead at Angel Stadium with closer Ernesto Frieri on the hill. But the battlin’ Bucs tied the game on a double by Russell Martin and single by Starling Marte, both with two strikes and two outs. Then they scored four more in the tenth. But LA decided to not mail it in; they scored three times in their half off Bucco closer Jason Grilli and had runners on second and third with two out and Mike Trout up; Grilli got him swinging. Martin and Andrew McCutchen were scheduled for off days, but played the last two innings, going a combined 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. It was also the MLB debut for a pair of Pirate rookies, C Tony Sanchez, who doubled in his first at bat, and RHP Duke Welker, who worked a frame and got his first big league punch out. It was a series sweep for the Pirates, their first road interleague sweep ever.

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

    Bucs Win Duel With Cubs 2-1, Take Series

    Jason Hammel took out the Bucs in order; Barndon Cumpton gave up a harmless one-out knock to Chris Coghlan. The second wasn't much more productive for the Bucs. Ike led off with a single and was forced by Jordy; Mercer was caught stealing and Pedro whiffed. The Cubs went down in order.

    The third was a good frame for the Bucs. Travis Snider led off by sending a first-pitch fastball adios over the center field wall. Chris Stewart walked and was bunted to second. A grounder moved him to third and Josh's two-out knock, a liner off the pitcher, scored him. Chicago went down 1-2-3 again.

    The fourth was a quick six-up, six down frame. The Pirates went down in order in the fifth; the Cubs got a one out walk, quickly erased on a 1-6-3 DP. With two gone in the sixth, Cutch and Ike had back-to-back knocks, but Josh ended the party with a pop up. Chicago made some noise, too, with a one-out walk followed by a single, but Cumpton clamped down for the final two outs, getting away with a couple of meatballs to retire the dangerous Anthony Rizzo on a grounder to short for the last one.

    Snider singled in the seventh and advanced on a two-out passed ball, but Cumpton could only manage a grounder to second to end the frame. Brandon, who has traditionally had trouble as the game gets deeper and with Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena due up, is still on the hill after just 78 pitches so far. Castro rolled over on a slider to go down 5-3, Valbueno popped out foul behind third base and Nate Schierholtz looked at strike three. So much for the third time through the order.

    Neil Ramirez came on for Chicago in the eighth, and walked El Coffee on four pitches. He stole second after receiving a lot of attention. Polanco slid a little late and was in discomfort, but after being checked out by the bench stayed on second. An out later, he was nailed trying to go to third on Cutch's grounder to short with the play in front of him; what would a Pirate game be without giving up a scoring chance for free on the bases? Ike walked on four pitches, so Polanco's miscue was negated. Jordy rolled over on an 0-2 slider and bounced to short to end the frame.

    Tony Watson took the ball, kinda surprisingly with the bottom of the order up and Cumpton at 87 pitches, but Hurdle hates bringing guys on in the middle of an inning, and Tony is rarely a bad option. Junior Lake pushed a bunt single past the mound to open the Cubbie eighth. Darwin Barney got a pair of sinkers down the middle. He looked at the first one and bounced the second into left for a single. Pitcher Travis Wood came on to pinch hit, presumably to bunt the runners up, and dropped one successfully on the third try. Welington Castillo grabbed some lumber and K'ed after a lengthy at-bat on a foul tip of a pretty nasty change up. Justin Ruggiano was next in the pinch hit parade and looked at strike three. Three outs left to go.

    Lefty James Russell climbed the hill in the ninth with Pedro and Travis due up. Pedro lined out and JT came up for Snider, and that brought Pedro Strop on. he coaxed a grounder out of Tabata and Stew flew out.

    Mark the Shark came on to face the middle of the order, and Rizzo greeted him with a single to right. Castro swung at a two-strike cutter that was six inches outside and dropped it into right to put Cubs on the corners. Valbueno whiffed, swinging through a curve. Melancon left Schierholtz a heater down the middle, but lucked out when he tapped to Harrison for the force with Rizzo coming home to make it 2-1. Lake skyed one to right; Polanco fought off the sun to make the catch, and the Bucs took a hard fought series from Chicago.

    Well, Brandon Cumpton isn't conceding his spot in the rotation just yet, and will probably get one more start, as will Jeff Locke and Vance Worley, to make his case. A two-hit shutout over seven is a pretty effective calling card. The pen made things exciting, but kept the lead. All in all, a nice bounce back after the first game defeat; the Bucs need to keep piling up series wins as they're at 37-38.

    Edinson Volquez takes on Alex Cobb tomorrow night at Tampa Bay.
    • Gregory Polanco's 11 game hitting streak ended when he took a walk in the eighth. On the bright side, that led to his first MLB stolen base.
    • Starling Marte is expected to be back tomorrow after his personal leave caused him to miss a pair of games.
    • Decision time is nearing for the Bucs. Neil Walker should be back sometime during the Tampa Bay series, and Gerrit Cole will pitch a sim game tomorrow, which puts him on track for a June 28th start. Both will require movement in the active roster, and Walker's return will be particularly interseting. We assume the Bucs are trying to move JT or Travis, and Clint Barmes is on the list, too.