Sunday, May 31, 2015

Locke v Despaigne; Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Jeff Locke (3-2, 4.70) closes the series against Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 5.23). Jeff was Locke-Down last outing against the Mets; let's see if he's ready to get on a roll. He's only faced the Padres once, losing a 5-2 decision to Eric Stults in September, 2013. Despaigne, a Cuban defector, had a nice start in 2014 as part of the rotation, but had been relegated to the pen after a tough start this season until Brandon Morrow's injury. But Petco Park suits him well; he has a 2.91 ERA tossing at home. Odrisamer banks on deception, delivering a variety of pitches, none considered above average stuff-wise, from different angles and pitching to contact.This will be his first outing against Pittsburgh. The game starts at 9:10 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

If the Pirates have an everyday lineup, this is it.

  • Another little statistical tidbit uncovered by Elias Sports Bureau: Before Tony Watson did it last night, the last Pirate pitcher to strike out three consecutive pinch hitters was Goose Gossage vs. Padres on 6/22/77.
  • The Buccos have won eight of their last nine games and have gone 9-3 in their last 12. During Clint Hurdle’s tenure with Pittsburgh, the Pirates have not had a losing record in May, June or July as the team has combined to post a 202-147 record and a .579 winning percentage over those three months.
  • Why a night game? Because Petco Park is the finish for a local marathon race, and will host a concert afterward. Then come the Bucs and Padres. Hope it's not a jam band!
  • BTW, Brock Holt is still keepin' on at Boston. The super-utility guy has started 29 games and has a slash of .286/.370/.410.

Charlie Strong Again As Bucs Roll Past Padres 5-2

Well, so far Charlie Morton has done his bit to shore up the middle of the rotation. He went seven innings - and quite economically, too, using just 85 pitches - giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and two whiffs to pitch the Bucs past San Diego 5-2. More impressively, only one Friar out was recorded by the outfield, as Ground Chuck put on a sinker clinic.

The Bucs scored in the opening round when with two gone and the bases empty (sound familiar?) Cutch singled, advanced on an error and scored on The Kid's knock. They missed a chance to run away early when Fran Cervelli left the bases loaded with a ground out. Charlie got off to a slow start, walking the first batter and then giving up an RBI double to the first two hitters to make it 1-1.

The Pirates got that run right back, as Jordy led off the second with a single, stole second (Pittsburgh stole three sacks that inning) and scored on Josh's single. Again, they left ducks on the pond as Starling hit into a bases jammed DP to end the frame. It went quietly until the fourth. A pair of one-bloops and a throwing error by Pedro - he hit a runner in the back on an attempted force play - knotted the score. Charlie helped clean up a mess not entirely of his making by coaxing an inning ending 5-3 twin killing.

Pittsburgh plated again in the sixth when Morton brought in a run with a bases-loaded grounder, but again the Pirates left three guys aboard. They were a hit away from breaking it open against Tyson Ross, but couldn't come up with the big blow. No matter.

Cutch and his fan club (image via Fox Sports San Diego)

The seventh went quietly, as did the eighth. Tony Watson took over that frame, faced three pinch hitters and punched the trio out. The Buccos finally iced it in the ninth. Josh and Gregory singled, and a Cutch double brought home an insurance run. Starling's bounce out brought in another, and it was 5-2, even if the Bucs again stranded runners at first and third. They left 10 on base, although bringing home five was a pretty good evening's work.

The Shark pitched an uneventful ninth for his 13th save, giving up just a ground ball single to the four hitters he faced. So good work by Charlie, the pen, and by the Pirates hitters. Ross had averaged better than a K an inning, but collected just two whiffs last night, and the Pirate batters created plenty of opportunities against him..

Jeff Locke tries to take the series tonight against Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne.

  • Cutch had two hits and walked twice, while Josh, Gregory and Jordy also colleted a pair of knocks.
  • Andrew made some new friends last night. A family with two kids, all decked in Pirate gear, cheered him on all night, and he ran out and gave them a slap and his batting gloves after the last out for one of those moments a youngster will never forget.
  • Mark Melancon moved into seventh in the all-time Pirates save list, notching his 62nd Bucco save last night.
  • For those who count quality starts, the Pirate rotation has put up 10 in a row.
  • Jung-Ho Kang had a scheduled rest day last night. It was well timed; he was hit in the knee Friday night and it was still tender. Jordy started last time Ground Chuck was on the hill to shore up the middle defense, so that's likely to continue as a regular thing.
  • Francisco Liriano has been all that in his past two starts - 12 IP with one earned run, nine hits and three walks surrendered with a whopping 23 punch outs.

5/31: Satch, Joe & Luis' Big Days, 1-0 DH Sweep, Vic Janowicz, Jose's 5-HR Run...

  • 1915 - The Pirates swept the first place Cubs by identical 1-0 scores at Forbes Field as Wilbur Cooper and Al Mamaux hurled complete game shutouts. The Pirates won the first game on a bases-loaded beaned batter and the second on a wild pitch. 
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 6-1, sixth inning deficit by scoring nine times in the final four frames to nip the Cubs 10-9 at Forbes Field. 1B Joe Harris was on fire, going 5-for-5 with two triples, a double, four RBI and two runs scored. 
  • 1937 - The Reds beat the Pirate 8-3 in the opener of a DH at Crosley Field. It was the only game Cincinnati won against the Pirates in 1937. Starting with a 7-5 loss in the nightcap - Pep Young’s three run homer was the big blow - Cincy lost the next 17 straight to the Buccos, and dropped 21 of 22 games‚ tying the MLB record set by the Cubs over the Braves in 1909 and the Yankees over the Browns in 1927. In fact, the Reds would drop the first three to open 1938 for a 20 game losing streak against Pittsburgh, another MLB record. 
  • 1942 - Satchel Page rejoined his old Grays teammates as they played against the Dizzy Dean All-Stars in an exhibition game at Washington’s Griffin park. The drew 22,000 fans (the Senators averaged just 5-6,000 per game) and beat the Deans 8-1. Clark Griffin, the Sens’ owner, told Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard after the game that he was going to “break up your league” and sign black ballplayers, but he never made good on the promise.
Satchel as a member of the Crawfords (photo - John Thorn/Our Game)
  • 1948 - At Wrigley Field‚ the Cubs set a paid attendance record when 46‚965 fans passed through the turnstiles during a doubleheader split with the Pirates on Memorial Day. The Bucs lost the opener 4-3 after Chicago scored in the ninth off Kirby Higbe. Pittsburgh rallied in the nightcap behind Elmer Riddle to win 4-2. Danny Murtaugh chased home a pair of runs and scored once to provide Riddle with some working space. 
  • 1953 - Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play MLB when he appeared as a pinch runner for the Pirates in the first game of a doubleheader loss to the Dodgers. 
  • 1961 - Pittsburgh bashed out nine doubles (two by Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, with one each from Joe Gibbon, Dick Groat, Hal Smith, Gino Cimoli and Dick Stuart) in a 9-1 laugher at Forbes Field against the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Gibbon tossed a six hitter with 10 strikeouts to earn the win over Warren Spahn. 
Joe Gibbon had a big day tossin' and hittin' (photo via SABR)
  • 1962 - Joe Orsulak was born in Glen Ridge, NJ. A sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 2008 draft, he was seen as the Bucs future lead-off man and CF’er. In his four years in Pittsburgh (1983-86) he never managed to secure the job, though he did hit .272. He lasted 14 years in the show, hitting .273 lifetime as primarily a platoon outfielder. 
  • 1964 - Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Pirates 6-4 at Forbes Field, but had to survive a towering blast by Roberto Clemente to do it. The Great One hit a ball halfway up the light tower 450’ away in center field. It was estimated to be potentially a 500’ drive had the pole not gotten in the way. 
  • 1973 - The Bucs topped the Atlanta Braves 3-1, backing up Nellie Briles three hitter with Willie Stargell’s three-run blast in the eighth at TRS. Stargell’s ball went 468’ and landed in the upper deck. Of the 12 shots that carried into the cheap seats in TRS history, Pops launched the most; this was his fourth and final second-tier homer. 
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds collected his first MLB hit, a first-inning double off Rick Honeycutt, as the Bucs beat the LA Dodgers 4-0 at PNC Park. Bonds must have been excited; he was picked off a batter later. Bill Almon’s two-run homer and Bob Kipper’s eight shutout innings were plenty enough for Pittsburgh to prevail. 
Barry Bonds as a slim and trim Bucco - 1992 Stadium Club Members Only series
  • 1994 - It wasn’t a good day to be a Pirate pitcher. San Diego scored 13 runs in the second inning on the way to a 15-5 whipping of the Bucs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Cooke and John Hope were the hapless hurlers in that unlucky frame. 
  • 2003 - The Pirates rode a three-run blast by Brian Giles and the combined six-hit effort of six pitchers to hold off the Cards at Busch Stadium by a 4-3 tally. Kip Wells got the win and Mike Williams earned his 15th save. 
  • 2006 - Jose Castillo homered in his fifth straight game as the Pirates defeated Milwaukee 6-1 at PNC Park. Castillo hit a two run shot off Chris Capuano in the second inning to continue a streak that began on the 26th against Houston’s Taylor Bucholtz, the third longest in franchise history behind Dale Long’s eight game streak and Jason Bay’s six-gamer. Ian Snell and three relievers combined on a three hitter against the Brew Crew. 
  • 2008 - SS Luis Rivas had four RBI, two runs scored, a homer and double as the Bucs pounded St. Louis 14-4 at Busch Stadium. Ronny Paulino added three RBI with three hits and a homer of his own while Jose Bautista chipped in with four knocks. Xavier Nady and Freddie Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates pounded out 19 knocks.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Charlie v Tyson: Lineup & Notes

Today's Game: Charlie Morton (1-0, 2.57) toes the rubber against Tyson Ross (2-4, 3.84). Worms beware - these two guys are among the premier ground ball generators in baseball when they're on. Ground Chuck has made one start since returning from Ray Searage's mechanics 101 class and pitched a nice welcome back game against the Fish. Charlie is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA in five career starts against the Padres. Ross looked like he was ready for a breakout season this campaign, but his control (4.6/BB per nine) has hindered him, as his inability to go deep into games; he's gone seven innings just twice this year. But Ross has only had one start that he's given up more than three runs, and at 10.6/K per game can miss some bats. The game begins at 10:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Jordy gets another start; he made a couple of very strong defensive plays last night to earn the nod. Otherwise, same ol'. Josh starts it off with Gregory in the two hole, and The Kid replaces JHK in the five spot.

Who hot?
  • Cutch is hitting .368 in his last 21 games with nine doubles, five home runs, 16 RBI and 15 runs scored. 
  • Josh is hitting .439 with eight RBI in his last 13 games and is hitting .312 in 23 games this month. 
  • Jung Ho Kang is hitting .313 with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI to go along with a .396 on-base percentage and .883 OPS. 
  • Fran Cervelli has reached base safely in nine straight games and is batting .476 in his last 12 starts. 
  • Starling Marte has a May slash of .301/.354/.505 with four homers & 16 RBI.
  • Pedro is hitting .357 with four home runs and 10 RBI in his last 12 games.
S/O to's Pirate beat guy Tom Singer for finding May's exit velocity speeds (how fast a ball comes off the bat) for the Buc hitters on Baseball Savant. Funny thing; Jordy had harder contact than Starling or Josh:


Walk Off Slam Ends Bucco Streak 6-2

Frankie did his part. He went six innings, putting up a zero and giving up just three hits and a walk to go with 11 K after tossing 96 pitches. He left with a 2-0 lead, thanks to Pedro, who once again beat the shift with a two-out grounder through the left side to plate a pair in the third against James Shields. It could have been a bigger frame, but earlier on, Gregory Polanco was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch. The play was bang-bang and withstood a challenge; the call could have gone either way.

But the Buc bullpen wasn't up to the task tonight. Jared Hughes was touched for a pair in the seventh, when a walk and infield single came around on Abraham Almonte's two-bagger. The Bucs avoided further damage when Almonte, who went to third on the throw home, was erased at the plate a hitter later when he was the victim of a ground ball contact play. Arquimedes Caminero and Tony Watson carried the game to the ninth.

In that frame, the bases were juiced with Friars against Rob Scahill with no outs; his throw-away of a sac bunt after a leadoff walk set the table. Clint called for a five man infield, swapping El Coffee for Sean Rodriguez, and it almost paid off as a pair of bouncers turned into force outs at the plate.

Scahill could have been out of the inning, but Fran Cervelli, who had a great shot at turning a DP, looked toward first base rather than third, where he had an easy toss-and-catch force (even John Wehner was yelling "third" from the Root Sports announcer's box). Two batters later Derek Norris hammered a slider over the left center field wall after having whiffed four times prior, and that was the end of the streak.

Pedro's been going the other way and liking it (photo: Gene Puskar/Associated Press)

The Bucs didn't test James Shields often, though they did strand eight runners His bug-a-boo has been the long ball, and he kept the Pirates in the park. Pittsburgh was due to lose; the only possible cloud is that they've been a team of streaks this year, and hopefully a tough loss won't start them on another stretch of losses.

Charlie Morton will try to start a new streak tonight against Tyler Ross.

  • Pedro continues to rake from the six hole; he had two of the Pirates six hits, both RBI, and has a slash of .280/.325/.561 from the sixth spot. He's lifted his BA from barely above the Mendoza line to .247.
  • Not only did Pittsburgh's win streak end at seven games, but Jung-Ho Kang's hitting streak ended at 10 contests, too.
  • Last night was the fourth time in Frankie's career that he's posted 10+ strikeouts in back-to-back outings.
  • Thanks to his own error, Scahill's runs were all unearned, so he gave up a grand slam and actually lowered his ERA from 1.45 to 1.40.
  • The Pirates have lost 10 times in the opponent's final at-bat; they've won one. Seven of those losses were walk-off defeats; the Bucs haven't walked one off yet this year. Those are stats begging for some regression.
  • Norris is the first player in MLB history to hit a walk-off grand slam after striking out his first four at-bats.

5/30: Tony, Al B-Days, Fido, Rizzo's 9-RBI, Golden Voice, 8 - Trip Trip Triples,

  • 1892 - Mark “Fido” Baldwin, a native Pittsburgher alleged to have the best fastball in the league, tossed both ends of a Pirate DH sweep of the Baltimore Orioles at Exposition Park, winning 11-1 and 4-3. Baldwin went 26-27/3.47 with 45 complete games and 440 IP in ’92. 
  • 1894 - RHP Al Mamaux was born in Pittsburgh. He went to Duquesne, and pitched for the Pirates from 1913-17. Mamaux was 49-36/2.61 during that time, and had strong seasons in 1915-16, going 42-23 with back-to-back 21 win campaigns. He spent the off-season as a crowd pleaser of another sort, touring as a vaudeville singer touted as "The Golden Voice Tenor.” 
Al Mamaux 1917 (photo - Thompson Collection)
  • 1912 - The Pirates sent veteran 3B/OF Tommy Leach and P Lefty Leifield to Chicago for UT Solly Hofman and P King Cole. Leach, 34, started the next two years for the Cubs and came back to retire as a Pirate in 1918. Lefty pitched five more seasons, going 57-25. Cole lasted one year in Pittsburgh, going 2-2/6.43; Hoffman played two years for the Pirates, getting into 45 games and hitting .246. 
  • 1921 - There were four NL doubleheaders on this date, and all four resulted in a sweep. The Pirates did their part by taking two from the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field, 13-0 and 6-3. Jimmy Zinn tossed a five hitter in the opener, backed by four RBI from George Cutshaw and Possum Whitted, with Max Carey scoring four times. The nitecap was led by Whitted and Walter Schmidt who both went 3-for-4, with Possum scoring three times and Schmidt driving in a pair. Chief Yellow Horse, the third Pirate pitcher, went 7-⅔ shutout innings for the win and recorded the only strikeout of the day by Pittsburgh’s moundsmen. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates set a MLB record by hitting eight triples against the St. Louis Cardinals at cavernous Forbes Field in the nitecap of a DH. Max Carey and Clyde Barnhart each banged out a pair of three baggers while Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor, Glenn Wright and Eddie Moore each had one. Barnhart had four hits, four runs and five RBI in the game as the Bucs ran their win streak to seven with a 15-5 romp. The Bucs took the opener 4-1 behind Emil Yde. Max Carey had a pair of RBI and George Grantham had three hits, including two doubles. 
Clyde Barnhart 1922 American Caramel series
  • 1927 - The Bucs lost the opener of a Forbes Field Memorial Day doubleheader to the Cubs 7-6 in 10 innings, ending the Pirates 11 game win streak. The big play was made by Cubs’ SS Jimmy Cooney, who snared Paul Waner's liner, stepped on second to double up Little Poison, and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first for an unassisted triple play. Pittsburgh came back to win the nitecap‚ 6-5‚ also in 10 innings. Lloyd Waner collected seven hits during the twin bill. 
  • 1939 - Johnny Rizzo set a club record that still hasn’t been matched by driving in nine runs against the St. Louis Browns in a 14-8 win at Sportsman's Park, gaining a doubleheader split for the Bucs. He banged a pair of homers and two doubles. 
  • 1958 - The Milwaukee Braves beat the Bucs and ElRoy Face 7-4 at Forbes Field. The Baron of the Bullpen gave up four runs, two unearned, but came back strong; he wouldn’t lose again until September 1959, claiming 22 straight wins. 
Baron of the Bullpen - Topps 1961 series
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente homered high off the center field light tower at Dodger Stadium, a bomb that Post Gazette writer Jack Herndon estimated traveled 500’. The Bucs went down to LA, though, 6-4. 
  • 1971 - Willie Stargell launched a Ken Holtzman pitch into the upper deck in right field, the third of four that he’d ship to the top tier at TRS in his career, to cap a 10-0 win over the Cubs. Roberto Clemente and Bob Robertson also went long. Bob Moose didn’t need much help; he fired a three hitter and fanned seven. 
  • 1985 - LHP Tony Watson was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The ninth round pick of the 2007 draft was a converted starter that moved to the pen, and made his debut with the Bucs in 2010, evolving into a solid bridge man for the Pirates and then taking over Mark Melancon’s eighth inning role last season in spectacular fashion, posting a 1.63 ERA with a couple of saves, 34 holds and 9.4 K per nine innings. 
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall hit a walk off bases loaded single to cap a three run ninth and give the Pirates an 8-7 win over the Montreal Expos at TRS. It was Kendall’s third hit of the day and his second RBI. Manny Martinez hit a two run homer and Kevin Young banged out four hits. Three Pirate relievers tossed four goose eggs, with Jason Christiansen earning the victory.
Jason Kendall 2002 (photo - Mangin Photography)
  • 2003 - Kenny Lofton homered against the Cards in a 7-3 win by Jeff Suppan to keep his 26 game hitting streak alive. He would go 0-fer the next day against the Cards Woody Williams and Jeff Fasaro, falling a game short of tying the club record during a 5-4 Pirate victory tossed by Kip Wells. 
  • 2013 - For the second time in three days, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers, 1-0 in 11 innings. The Bucs used four pitchers - Mark Melancon got the W - and a Neil Walker homer to win at Comerica Park on the 28th, then came home to PNC Park and won with Bryon Morris and five other pitchers, cinched by a Russell Martin walk-off single off the wall in left center field. It was the club’s fourth 1-0 win in an 11 game span.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Frankie Faces James Shields; Lineup & Notes

Today's Game: Francisco Liriano (2-4, 3.86) will try to keep the beat going as he faces James Shields (6-0, 3.75) tonight. Frankie is coming off a strong start against the Mets in what has been an up-and-down start to the 2015 season. He's 1-2 against the Padres, but has a 2.42 ERA in his four starts and 32 whiffs in 26 IP. Don't let Shields ERA fool ya - he's the first Friar since Andy Hawkins in 1985 to start the year with six straight wins and leads the NL in K's and swings-and-misses, but he has been quite susceptible to the long ball this season, giving up 15 already. He doesn't have a track record against the Bucs as this is the first time he'll work against them. The game starts at 10:10 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Josh gets a blow today; JHK slides to third and Jordy steps in at short. Gregory bats leadoff, where he's hit just .200 this season.

  • During their seven game winning streak, the Pirates have hit .319 with 10 home runs and 46 runs scored.
  • Fran the Man: Francisco Cervelli has reached base safely in eight straight games and is batting .487 in his last 11 starts, dating back to 5/10. His .325 BA is the MLB high for a catcher. Along w/Stew, Pittsburgh’s catchers are hitting a MLB best .318 with an NL leading .370 OBP.
  • The Bucs three home runs last night were the first time they hit a trio in a single game at Petco Park. The last time Pittsburgh banged three out in San Diego was at Jack Murphy Stadium in 1995.
  • Each of Pedro's last 11 bombs (nine this campaign) have been solo shots; he hasn't gone long with a runner on base since August, 2014. 
  • Jeff Sullivan of Just A Bit Outside writes "Perfect Offseason Paying Off For Pirates." 

JHK, Starling, El Coffee Go Deep In 11-5 Romp

OK, we knew sooner or later AJ had to toss a clunker. But unlike a month ago, he survived quite nicely, thank you, as the Pirates gave the fans in the outfield stands three souvenirs on their way to an 11-5 victory at Petco Park.

Again, it started with two outs. With The Kid aboard after a single, Starling Marte was drilled in the arm. Then Ian Kennedy hung a slider to Jung-Ho, and he launched it into the second tier in left to make it 3-0. Gregory led off the second with a bomb to center. Starling put two more runs on the Bucco board with a shot to left behind Cutch's single.

The following frame, Cutch's ground rule double brought home Fran Cervelli; the Bucs may have lost a run when the ball bounced into the stands, freezing Josh at third. Still, up 7-0 is a good place to be.

Cutch catches fire and so does the Buc attack... (photo: Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh tried to let the Padres back in the game. Kang's decision to go for the lead runner at third in the fourth misfired, and he came in when Pedro fielded a grounder, stepped on first, and then, with plays at second or home (either was a likely out), locked up and ate the ball.

Pedro had another brain freeze in the fifth. On a grounder to Neil Walker with a runner on, Alvarez was napping, expecting a throw to second; when The Kid saw first wasn't covered, he tried to hold up his throw and instead knuckle-balled the toss toward the dugout. Fran Cervelli doubled up on the miscue by hustling to back up the play and then launching an errant toss of his own.

All the antics led to just one unearned run - mental errors don't count on the scorecard - but the Friars had cut the lead to 7-4. And it could have been much worse; AJ had two aboard with no outs, but picked up his teammates with a couple of whiffs. He added to the merriment by tossing a wild pitch, but got a fly to Cutch to cap the damage.

The Pirates bats were still smokin', though. Josh and Cutch doubled runs home and a way bad throw allowed two more Buccos to scamper across the plate, making the score 11-4. The Padres used a couple of singles and a DP ball to cut it to 11-5, and there it ended as Jared Hughes, Vanimal and Antonio Bastardo mopped up.

Francisco Liriano will try to keep the good times rolling as he faces undefeated James Shields tonight.

  • That's seven in a row for the Bucs, and Jung-Ho has a nifty little ten-game hitting streak going on now. All the Pirate wins in this streak have been credited to the starting pitcher.
  • The Kid, Cutch, and Fran had three hits each while Josh and Gregory added a pair. The 11 runs were the Pirates season high and the 15 hits tied for the most collected in a game this year.
  • The Bucs had scored 13 consecutive runs with two outs until Gregory Polanco's lead-off homer.
  • San Diego's starters had a string of nine consecutive quality starts snapped last night.

5/29: Big Bill Visits, Roberto Leads the Way and More...

  • 1884 - The Alleghenys were no hit by Columbus’ Ed Morris at Exposition Park during a 5-0 whitewash. Morris walked just one in a near perfect performance. 1895 - Jake Beckley blasted a three run homer in the ninth to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Washington Senators at Boundary Park. The 1B ended the year with five homers, second on the team to Jake Stenzel’s seven, with a club-leading 111 RBI. 
  • 1909 - President William “Big Bill” Taft visited Exposition Park to catch a Bucs-Cubs match, and made himself at home in the cheap seats, delighting the 14,091 fans. The Pirates weren’t so delightful, tho, as they went down to Three Finger Brown in 11 innings, 8-3, with Lefty Leifield taking the loss. The Prez must have made the Buccos nervous as the loss was the only time the team was defeated in a 19 game stretch. 
  • 1922 - In a decision that was pretty big for the Pirates as well as MLB, the US Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not a business, and exempted it from antitrust and interstate commerce laws. 
  • 1925 - 1B Jack “Stuffy” McInnis was signed as a free agent. The veteran was a reserve, getting into 106 games over two seasons, starting 64 of them. But his bat still held up; in 1925-26, he hit .337 for Pittsburgh, and .286 in the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. He played one more game after leaving Pittsburgh for his original club, Philadelphia, in 1927 before hanging ‘em up.
Stuffy McInnis 1925 (photo via Library of Congress)
  • 1931 - C Earl Grace was traded by the Cubs with cash to the Pirates for C Rollie Hemsley. Grace caught five years for the Bucs and hit .275 over that span, retiring after 1937. Hemsley ended up playing 15 more years for five teams, hitting .262 and playing on five All-Star teams. 
  • 1955 - At the age of 20 years and 284 days, Roberto Clemente became the second youngest player to hit three doubles in a game in MLB history, behind the Braves’ Eddie Mathews (ironically against the Pirates in 1952). The Bucs beat the Phillies 11-5 at Forbes Field; the young Clemente was the leadoff hitter, and banged his two-baggers off three different pitchers. 
  • 1965 - Despite allowing three runs in the first inning, the Pirates rallied to defeat the New York Mets 7-4 at Shea Stadium. The Buccos were led by Roberto Clemente, who went 4-for-5, collected two RBI, scored three runs, and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The Pirates put the game away in the seventh when a two-out walk followed by four singles plated three runs. Don Schwall took the win and Al McBean got the save.
Roberto Clemente photo via
  • 1991 - The Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 at Busch Stadium as Zane Smith threw the second one-hitter of his career, striking out five to earn his seventh win on the season. Orlando Merced led the attack with two hits and two RBI for the Bucs. 
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh rocked the San Fran Giants 13-3 at TRS. Barry Bonds went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI, Jose Lind chipped in with three runs driven in and Andy Van Slyke had three hits to give Vincente Palacios the win and Bob Patterson a save for tossing the final three frames. The Pirates used a balanced 13 hit, 10 walk attack and an eight run seventh inning to pull away.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

AJ v Kennedy; Lineup & Notes (Kingham gets TJ)

Today's Game: AJ Burnett (4-1, 1.37) opens the Friar series against Ian Kennedy (2-4, 6.11). Burnett has won four straight and his ERA is the lowest in the majors. He's been a rather pedestrian 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA in six starts against the Padres since 2012. As a Phil last year, AJ faced Kennedy twice, winning 5-2 in June at Citizen's Bank and losing 5-4 at Petco in September. Kennedy has lost his last three games, but was pretty sharp in his last outing against the Dodgers. He's 3-3/3.66 in eight lifetime starts against Pittsburgh. The game starts at 10:10 and will be on Root Sports & 93.7 The Fan. Root's broadcast will be sent to Korea.

Clint continues juggling his lineup; Gregory is back in and Jordy out. El Coffee is also returning to the back end of the order where there's less thinking and more "see the ball, hit the ball" plate mentality.

  • AJ has won four consecutive starts for the first time since a career-best eight straight from May-to-June, 2012, during his first stint with Pittsburgh.
  • JHK enters the evening with a nine game hitting streak.
  • The Pirates six-game winning streak is their longest since taking nine straight from June 20th-30th, 2013.
  • The FO wasn't really foolin' anyone with their "busy doc" dodge re: Nick Kingham's arm, and they announced he had TJ surgery yesterday.
  • For fans that follow the Bucs through the levels, ex-Bucco Jamie Romak is still banging baseballs in the minors.

5/28: Long Goes Long 8 Days Straight, Mack Attack's Baby Shower, 1-0 Walkoff...

  • 1903 - OF Romer “Reddy” Grey‚ brother of author Zane Grey, made his MLB bow as a Buc. He went 1-for-3 in his only big league game as the Pirates beat Boston 7-6. Gray scored a run, knocked in another, drew a walk, and caught the only ball hit his way in the OF. He played on loan from the nearby Worchester minor league club as the Pirates, due to some injuries and personal issues, found themselves short handed for the game against the Beaneaters at the South End Grounds. Grey was an early AAAA ballplayer; he never found a home in MLB but had a career .311 minor league BA. Reddy was included in a story that was part of a baseball anthology written by his brother Zane, "Red Headed Outfield."
  • 1921 - Pittsburgh protested their 4-3‚ 10-inning loss to the Reds and won. After Reds P Dolf Luque tossed the ball into the Cincinnati dugout‚ Clyde Barnhart was called out going to third when the ball was tossed back into the field. The Pirates said no way; it was a dead ball, and NL president Heydler agreed. The game was later replayed from that point (it was 3-3), and the Bucs took full advantage of their second chance and turned the tables to win 4-3 on June 30th. 
  • 1956 - First baseman Dale Long set a major league record by hitting a home run in his eighth consecutive game, a 3-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Forbes Field. The liner was hit off of Carl Erskine in front of 32,221 Forbes Field fans who didn’t settle down until the big first baseman made a curtain call, said to be the first in MLB history. The record was later tied by Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).
Dale Long on the front page of the Post Gazette
  • 1960 - More Destiny’s Darlings lore: Roberto Clemente was on third and Hal Smith on first with two outs in the eighth with Maz up at Forbes Field. He fanned on a ball that hit in the front of the plate, ricocheted off ump Al Barlick and to Phillies pitcher Jim Owens. Maz froze, Smith jogged to second and Clemente went halfway down the baseline. Owens chased Clemente as his bench called for him to throw to first. In the run-down‚ Clemente knocked the ball out of C Jim Coker's glove to score the tying run. The Pirates won 4-2 in the 13th on Don Hoak's two run HR. 
  • 1963 - Called out at first on a close play for the second time in the game‚ Roberto Clemente twice jostled ump Bill Jackowski while arguing the decision. Clemente was ejected‚ and skipper Danny Murtaugh got his Irish up, challenging the man in blue to duke it out until he was pulled away. The Great One was fined $250 and suspended for five days by the league. To top the day off, the Pirates lost 5-1 to the Phils at Forbes Field. 
  • 1990 - Memorial Day seemed like it was going to be more memorable for Dodger pitcher Tim Belcher, who was working on a one hitter through eight innings at TRS, than anything the Bucs would do. But in the end, the Pirates provided the holiday fireworks, scoring five times in the ninth off two Dodger relievers to take an improbable 6-5 win from LA. The Bucs trimmed the lead to 5-3 and loaded the bases with two down in the final frame. Jose Lind spanked a 3-2 liner through the right side and RF’er Hubie Brooks tried to cut down the tying run, Gary Redus, at the plate. The throw was up the line and C Mike Scioscia tried to pick the ball and swipe the runner. It didn’t pan out; he missed the throw entirely and it rolled to the back wall, allowing Don Slaught to lumber in from first to plate the game winner for Bill Landrum, who worked the ninth for Pittsburgh. 
  • 2004 - Utilityman Rob Mackowiak smacked a two-out, walk-off grand slam for a 9-5 Pirates victory barely nine hours after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first child, Garrett Matthew. In the second game, he drilled a two-run shot, the 500th homer at PNC Park, into the same right center field seats as the one he hit three hours earlier to send the nitecap into extra innings, later won by Craig Wilson’s 10th inning homer for a 5-4 sweep of the Cubs. It was the first time since 1967 that a doubleheader was won by walkoff homers. Chicago’s Matt Clement also tied a MLB record when he plunked Bobby Hill, Jason Kendall and Craig Wilson in the fifth inning of the opener.
Rob Mackowiak still wearing his hospital band as he rounds the bases
Photo: Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post Gazette
  • 2006 - The Pirates lost to the Astros 5-4 at PNC Park. Houston scored four times in the ninth off three different Pirate pitchers to tie the game, then won it in the tenth on a Preston Wilson knock off Salomon Torres. The game did have a bright side. Jason Bay homered off Fernando Nieve in the fourth inning to run his consecutive game HR streak to six contests, the second longest in Pirate history after Dale Long’s 1956 skein. It started on the 22nd against Arizona’s Orlando Hernandez. Bay had a pair of bombs on the 20th, too, giving him nine home runs in eight games. 
  • 2011 - Four Pirates - Andrew McCutchen, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Ronnie Cedeno - went long as Pittsburgh whipped the Cubs 10-1 at Wrigley Field. Paul Maholm tossed a three hitter for the complete game victory. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs rode strong pitching and an eleventh inning home run by Neil Walker off Jose Ortega to edge the Tigers at Comerica Park 1-0, despite striking out 14 times. Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello started the game while Jason Grilli finished it in style with swinging strikeouts of Motown’s Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order to earn his 21st save and Mark Melancon’s first win as a Pirate.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cole Brooms Marlins 5-2 As The Two-Out Lightning Continues

Well, Gerrit Cole is human. He gave up a pair of solo shots, one to Miami's Justin Bour in the second and the other to Christian Yelich in the seventh, leaving the game in a 2-0 hole. The Marlin's Brad Hand and Bryan Morris handed that seventh-inning lead to Mike Dunn.

The Bucs had chances a plenty, but it looked like one of those RISP-ruining afternoons was in the cards. Two outs later, the bases were empty and the Pirates looked like they were going to extend that 0-16 record when behind after six frames by another game. Then bang - two out magic in the seventh.

Stew singled. JT singled. Sam Dyson took the hill and Josh singled, scoring a run. Pedro dribbled one through the SS hole against the shift to bring home the tying run. Cutch walked. Starling Marte (yes, we had to double check that ourselves) took a 3-2 pitch down and away for a run-producing free pass. Carter Capps of the hop-off-the-rubber fame grabbed the ball and JHK drilled yet anther single, and suddenly it was 5-2.

Jung Ho is second on the team with an .836 OPS (photo via
Tony Watson and Mark the Shark came in to finish up the chore. For Cole, it was sevens across the board - seven innings, seven hits, seven K's and his seventh win. It was also an efficient outing as he used just 81 pitches.

AJ Burnett takes on Ian Kennedy in San Diego tomorrow night.

  • It's now a nine-game hitting streak for Jung-Ho. It wasn't all roses, tho - in the fourth, JHK went down swinging at a breaking ball that hit him in the back foot.
  • The gloves have been back during the current streak. The latest gem was by Starling Marte, who went over the left field fence and came back with Christian Yelich's ball, targeted for the second row.
  • Today was the second straight game that Pedro singled home a run by going against the shift & banging a grounder through the shortstop hole.
  • Tony Watson has tossed 15 straight scoreless appearances covering 17 innings.
  • All 10 Pirate runs in the past two games have come in with two outs.
  • For the Pirates, it was their second straight sweep (third of the year) and sixth win in a row after being swept in a two-game set by the Twinkies.
  • The Bucs drew 33,238 today after hosting just over 41,000 in the first two games of the series; makes you wonder how many thousands they lost when the Memorial Day game was played at night for TV instead of in the day.

Cole v Hand: Lineup, Notes As Bucs Look For The Sweep

Today's Game - Gerrit Cole (6-2, 2.05) goes against Brad Hand (0-1, 5.48). Cole was all that in his last outing and continues to make steps toward becoming an elite arm. However, he hasn't had much success against the Marlins - in two career starts (both in 2013), he's 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA. Lefty Hand started 16 times last year, but has been a pen fixture this season until today. He's faced the Bucs once, and got a no decision in a 6-3 Miami win last August at PNC Park. Hand has thrown over three innings just once so far this season, so Pittsburgh should get into the Fish bullpen again fairly early in the game. It's a 12:35 get-away day game, carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup - Josh Harrison RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Jung-Ho Kang 3B, Neil Walker 2B, Sean Rodriguez 1B, Chris Stewart C, Cole P.

Gerrit Cole (photo: Keith Srakocic/AP)
Stew's behind the dish while Pedro & El Coffee get some lefty downtime. Jordy's still in the lineup; it looks like it's Gregory Polanco's turn as odd man out in the Bucco musical chairs.

Following the game today, the Pirates embark on a 11-day, 10-game road trip to San Diego (four games), San Francisco (three) and Atlanta (three).

  • The Pirates are going for their second straight sweep and sixth win a row; last year's longest winning streak was five consecutive victories.
  • Day-dro: Pedro Alvarez has hit six of his nine home runs this season during afternoon games and his 40 home runs in day games since 2012 rank first among all NL players.He'll be sitting today, sunlight not withstanding; there's a southpaw on the hill.
  • Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers are 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA over the last five games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time Bucco starting pitchers went 5-0 with an ERA that low over a five-game span was in August of 1977. In that stretch, John Candelaria (twice), Bruce Kison, Jerry Reuss and Jim Rooker combined to go 5-0 with a 0.69 ERA.
  • Gung-ho on Jung-Ho: Thursday’s telecast by Root Sports will be picked up by MBC Sports, which will be televising the game action from San Diego to Korea. 
  • It's "Education Day" at the ballyard - over 8,000 students are in the house.

5/27: Wilbur's Streak, Vinegar Bend, Ken Brett's Big Day, Big Rallies...

  • 1921 - Wilbur Cooper won his eighth straight game, this one by a 5-4 count at Forbes Field against Cincinnati when the Pirates pushed across a ninth inning run. All eight of Cooper’s victories were complete games. Rabbit Maranville’s sac fly brought in Walter Schmidt with the winning tally in the home half of the ninth. Maranville also tripled and scored twice for the Pirates. Between June and July, Cooper would go on an 8-of-10 win streak, and his two hot spells would carry him to a 22 win season for the Pirates. 
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 7-1 deficit by scoring six times in the sixth and seventh innings to defeat the St. Louis Cards in 10 innings at Forbes Field by an 8-7 count. They ran their victory streak to nine games; it reached 11 before being snapped. Kiki Cuyler had three hits to spark the Bucs while four other Pirates had a pair of knocks. Guy Bush pitched three innings of one hit ball for the win. 
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh acquired 29-year-old LHP Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell from the Cardinals‚ along with LF Dick Gray‚ for minor leaguers IF Julian Javier and RHP Ed Bauta. Javier started at 2B for the Cards for a dozen years, but he was blocked in Pittsburgh by a guy named Bill Mazeroski. Mizell went 13-5 for the Bucs with a 3.15 ERA, solidifying their staff during their World Championship run. 
Vinegar Bend Mizell via Baseball Birthdays
  • 1974 - It was a big day for Ken Brett in a DH sweep against the San Diego Padres at TRS. In the opener, he carried a no-hitter into the ninth, settling for a two-hit, 6-0 win in a game that wasn’t decided until the Bucs put up a five spot in the eighth. In the nitecap, his two-run pinch hit triple primed a five-run seventh that was key for the Bucs 8-7 victory (the match was eventually won in the ninth on a two-run, two out homer by Richie Hebner). Brett ended the day going 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and three RBI to go along with his two-hitter in one of the Bucs’ top “do it all” performances. 
  • 2006 - The Pirates won an 8-7, 18 inning match at PNC Park against the Astros when Jason Bay flattened Astros' catcher Eric Munson to score on Jose Bautista’s sac fly. The game time of five hours, 49 minutes tied it as the longest contest ever played in Pittsburgh. Bay also hit a homer in his fifth consecutive game, the first Pirate player to do so in 50 years.
Jason Bay (photo - Getty Images)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fish Flounder As Bucs Take 5-1 Win For Their 5th In A Row

One lesson young Jose Urena can take from his first MLB start is that three outs is the magic number. In the first, Jung-Ho Kang singled home Josh with two outs. In the second, Josh doubled home Jordy with two outs, and The Kid followed by dropping a ball into the seats in left to make it 4-0. Urena worked through the third and fourth without giving up another run, but in the fifth, Pedro singled home Starling Marte with yep, two outs. The Bucco bats cooled after that, but the five-spot was plenty.

Jeff Locke was pitching, well, a Jeff Locke kinda game. Clint tried to nurse him through six, but with two outs waved Jared Hughes in. Locke hadn't been scored on, but gave up four hits and walked four to go with six whiffs and was at 104 pitches when he got the hook. Hughes got Adeiny Hechavarria on a grounder (what else) to close out the frame. Like Charlie Morton's game last night, there were runners but not much in the way of threats put up by the Fish as the whiffs, Pirate D and a couple of timely at 'em balls kept their attack frustrated.

Kan't keep Kang off the sacks (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
The Marlins finally broke into the run column in the seventh off Rob Scahill. Dee Gordon beat out an infield single, went to third on a passed ball followed by a wild pitch and scored on Martin Prado's ground rule double that Josh couldn't quite catch up to - with two outs. Notice a trend tonight?

Arquimedes Caminero faced his old mates and struck out the side in the eighth. Clint had him finish up the game, and though he lost a few ticks off the heater, Arquimedes still worked a 1-2-3 frame to close out the 5-1 win.

Gerrit Cole takes on a TBA; it's likely to be lefty Brad Hand, who started 16 games for Miami last year but has been working from the pen this season.

  • Jung-Ho now has an eight game hitting streak goin' on.
  • Eight of the nine Pirate starters had hits tonight; only last night's hero, Fran Cervelli, went without a knock. JHK had two hits and a plunk; Josh also had a pair of hits.
  • The Pirates have won five in a row and are above .500 for the first time since May 12th. The Bucs didn't take five in a row in 2014 until September, in the midst of a 12-of-15 run, though they did have several four-game runs.
  • It was another so-so crowd of 20,806 tonight. 
  • Omar Moreno and Jack Wilson will represent the Pirates at MLB Draft Day on June 8th. The draft will be carried by the MLB Network.

Locke v Urena, A Clint Shuffle Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Jeff Locke (2-2, 5.28) takes on rookie Jose Urena (0-0, 9.00) tonight. Locke settled down after a rough start against the Twins to deliver five goose eggs, but he's had six straight outings where he's given up three or more runs. He's 1-2/3.62 lifetime against the Fish in five career starts, with his win coming last year.

Urena has three innings of MLB ball under his belt, a pair of relief appearances in April. But he's one of Miami's top youngsters, and was a force at AAA New Orleans, where he was 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA. He features a fastball in the 93-94 range and a breaking ball that's still a work in progress. Urena isn't a big strikeout guy, but he is the next in line as Miami's #2 prospect to fill the pitching breach with Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart all out. The game starts at 7:05 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup - Josh Harrison RF, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Jung-Ho Kang 3B, Pedro 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS, Locke P.

Jordy back in the lineup (photo: Justin Aller/Getty Images)
Little more shuffling: Josh goes to right as El Coffee takes a seat, with Jordy staying in the lineup and JHK moving to the hot corner. Clint loves a versatile club, and he's got a squad full of Gumbys to play with this year.

  • Cutch and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun were named the NL Co-Players of the Week. Andrew hit .450 with three HR, five runs scored and five RBIs.
  • Jung-Ho Kang has a seven game hitting streak.
  • Mark the Shark appears to be recovered from his dead arm issues earlier in the year. Not only is he 11-of-12 in save situations, but he was sitting on 91 last night, just a couple of ticks away from his usual fastball/cutter velocity of 92-93. He also recorded his 60th Pirate save, moving him into eighth place on Pittsburgh's all-time list.
  • Arqimedes Caminaro hasn't been too busy of late, but his 21 appearances are the most of any NL rookie.
  • Not only does Giancola Stanton (.527 BA) own Charlie Morton, but Jeff Locke also. The Miami outfielder is 6-for-12 with two homers, a double and two walks in 14 plate appearances against Locke.
  • It works both ways: Per MLB Trade Rumors, "Korea’s Doosan Bears have agreed to terms with Indy 3B Deibinson Romero, Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News reports (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of A buyout still must be finalized with the Bucs, but Doosan has already announced that it will add Romero," who was slashing .302/.403/.548 with six home runs. 
  • Jordan Freemyer of The Daily Dish reports that Marlin 3B coach Brett Butler has been replaced by Lenny Harris. Freemyer cites confusion over signs. Butler was reassigned to coach OF'ers and baserunning.

5/26: The Kitten's Classic, Riot In the Stands, Beanball Battle, Ward's Cycle...

  • 1894 - Pittsburgh was thumping Cleveland 12-3 in the top of the ninth when the crowd of 6,200 at League Park began to riot after being taunted by the 500 spectators had made the trip from Pittsburgh. The Pittsburg Press wrote “A more disgraceful affair never occurred upon a ball field...when the disappointed Forest City fans, unable to endure the disgrace of defeat, attacked the Pittsburg club, the rivalry at white heat...In a second, cushions and pop bottles were flying in all directions...the crowd swarmed out of the stands...” and rushed the field. Phil Ehret got the win, backed by an 18 hit Bucco attack. 
  • 1925 - Max Carey walked and then swiped 2B‚ 3B‚ and home during the Bucs 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Kiki Cuyler added a two run homer and Al Neihaus drove in two more scores as Ray Kremer coasted to the win at Forbes Field. 
  • 1946 - Josh Gibson launched another epic blast, this one 440’ into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, as the Homestead Grays whipped the NY Black Yankees 11-8. It was the Grays’ fourth straight win and propelled them into first place in the Negro National League. 
  • 1959 - In baseball's ultimate pitching performance, Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Braves in Milwaukee’s County Stadium, only to lose the game, 1-0, in the 13th on a Dick Hoak error, sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and double that was a homer. (NL prez Warren Giles ruled that the final score should be 1-0‚ as runners Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock were ruled out, Aaron for leaving the field‚ and Adcock for passing him on the basepath. Adcock was credited with a double and not a HR.) In 1993‚ Bob Buhl admitted that the Braves pitchers were stealing the signs from C Smoky Burgess‚ who could not crouch down all the way because of his achy knees. They used a towel on the bullpen fence as a signal, making Haddix's effort even more remarkable. The only player who wasn’t impressed was Haddix, who told the Post Gazette afterward "My main aim all night long was to win. The perfect game would have meant something to me then. It's just another loss” 
  • 1980 - Lots of fireworks as the Phils rallied to beat the Bucs 7-6 at Veteran’s Stadium. Bert Blyleven brushed back a couple of Phillies early on; Philadelphia reliever Kevin Saucier later plunked Pops to even the score. The he went one better, bopping Blyleven, who charged the mound, bat in hand. A donnybrook ensued, and as it was breaking up, Phil’s coach Mike Ryan reignited things. Philly had the last laugh, scoring twice in the ninth off Kent Tekulve, who gave up four straight hits, to claim the victory. 
  • 1997 - For the first time in twenty years, two inside-the-park homers were hit in the same inning when Sammy Sosa of the Cubs and Tony Womack both circled the bases five minutes apart in the sixth frame of Chicago’s 2-1 victory at Three Rivers Stadium. Francisco Cordova took the loss. 
  • 2000 - Behind Francisco Cordova and an odd DP, the Pirates bested the Colorado Rockies at Coors Stadium 2-1 in the second lowest scoring game played to date at the mile-high field. In a 1-1 game, the Rox tried a double steal; the lead runner, Tom Goodwin, stopped between second and third, and the back runner, Mike Lansing, turned and retreated to first as catcher Jason Kendall ran the ball toward him. The nimble backstop tagged Lansing and then threw to third to catch the slow-reacting Goodwin. Cordova celebrated by singling home Mike Benjamin with the game winner in the seventh. He was supposed to bunt, but the third baseman crept in too close, and Francisco took advantage by swinging away for the hit. Luis Sojo made a nice pair of plays at third in the final two frames to seal the deal, and the Pirates ended a five game losing streak thanks to Cordova’s four hitter.
Francisco Cordova - 1996 Leaf series
  • 2004 - Daryle Ward hit for the cycle with a career single-game high of six RBI against St. Louis at Busch Stadium as the Bucs won 11-8. Ward and his dad Gary became the first father-son team to hit for the cycle. The Pirates used six pitchers, with the win going to starter Kris Benson. 
  • 2012 - The Cubs lost their 11th straight game 3-2 to the Pirates, their longest losing streak since opening the 1997 season with 14 consecutive losses. The teams were tied in the bottom of the ninth at PNC Park when Jose Tabata led off with a single off Rafael Dolis. Two walks and two outs later, the aptly named “Hit Man” Matt Hague took a pitch in the ribs for a walk-off plunk. Joel Hanrahan earned the win in a game started by Kevin Correia.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Charlie & the Long Ball Sink the Fish 4-2

Well, Ground Chuck was at it again. He recorded every out either by whiff (and there were only three of them) or grounder, and it was enough to take home a 4-2 win v the Marlins. In fact, if he could have hustled to first and figured out how to get Giancola Stanton out, he'd have thrown a goose egg in his first outing of the year.

The Fish scored in the first when Dee Gordon beat Charlie to the bag and eventually came around on Stanton's single. But the Bucs had a big answer in the second. The Kid and Pedro singled, and Fran Cervelli took a 2-2 fastball the opposite way over the RF wall to spot the Bucs a 3-1 lead, his first long ball in a Bucco uni.

Stanton, who has pretty much owned Morton over the years, made it close with two gone in the third, drilling a 2-1 heater that was on his hands over the Clemente Wall. The game stayed that way until the sixth, when Pedro hit his own two out solo shot, a laser to left center that withstood a review for possible fan interference. For Miami starter David Phelps, the blasts were the first two homers he had surrendered this year.

And that ended the scoring (Marte came close in the eighth, but was thrown out at home on a Walker double after taking a way wide turn at third). Old Bucco Vin Mazzaro zippo'ed the Bucs, while Tony Watson and Mark the Shark did the same to the Marlins.

Charlie Morton (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Morton went seven innings, giving up two runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks, tossing 87 pitches. It seems like quite a few hits, but Chuck coaxed a pair of DP from Miami hitters and never was in any serious jams. His velocity, lacking in the spring, was back to sitting at 93. Welcome back, Ground Chuck.

Tomorrow Jeff Locke goes against rookie Jose Urena, who will be making his first MLB start.
  • Josh's hitting streak ended tonight at 11 games. On the bright side, Neil Walker ended an 0-for-14 string with a second inning double and collected two hits.
  • The Bucs 4-8 hitters - Starling, The Kid, Pedro, Fran and Jordy - each had two hits.
  • Pittsburgh has won four in a row and are finally back at .500, with a 22-22 mark.
  • Memorial Day night games aren't such a swell idea, at least by the fans. Just 20,046 made it to PNC tonight, tho Miami may have had something to do with the low draw.
  • IF Dan Gamache tied an Altoona Curve franchise record with five hits, including a homer, in today's 9-4 win.

Charlie Opens Against Phelps & the Fish - Lineup & Notes (Liz DFA'ed)

Today's Game: Charlie Morton opens his campaign against David Phelps (2-1, 3.21). After a rocky camp, a long stay in Florida at extended spring training and three rehab starts, Morton is ready to test his mechanics after hip surgery. Ground Chuck is 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Fish. Phelps had a string of five strong starts ended by hitting a speed bump in his last outing against Arizona. The ex-Yankee faced the Bucs once, and was the winner in a 7-1 NY runaway. Two things to note - he's generally a six inning guy, and he has yet to surrender a long ball this season. The game starts at 7:05 and will be on MLB Network, Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Charlie Morton via Pubpic

Today's Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS, Morton P.

Jordy gets the start and Kang gets a day off, no doubt because Clint prefers the better infield glove behind Ground Chuck with The Kid dropping to fifth to replace Kang. And Josh seems to have reclaimed the leadoff spot from El Coffee.

After losing their first five under new skipper Dan Jennings, Miami has won their last pair. But the Bucs have a sweet history against the Fish at PNC - they've won eight of nine against the Marlins in Pittsburgh over the past three seasons.

  • The Bucs had a tough roster decision to make in adding Charlie to the active list - Rob Scahill was the bottom man who had an option remaining, but has pitched better than some guys without options (we're looking at you, Antonio Bastardo). The FO split the difference, DFA'ing Radhames Liz, who had decent ERA of 3.63, but had allowed 32 baserunners in 17-1/3 innings. Our guess is Liz will clear waivers, but then again, someone took Stolmy Pimentel, so... He'll be replaced by Vance Worley as the long man in the pen.
  • Elias Sports dug up yet another whiff record against the Mets: "It is the only time in modern major league history (from 1900 to date) that a team's starting pitchers won three straight games within one series while recording a double digit strikeout total in each game." And the Bucs can set more history - if Charlie whiffs 10+, they'll become the first MLB team to have four starters throw consecutive double-figure K games.
  • Jameson Taillon tossed a couple of innings in Pirate camp this weekend as the Bucs slowly round him back into pitching shape after TJ surgery.
  • Travis Ishikawa was DFA'ed by the Giants today.

5/25: Big Homers by Babe & Ralph, Dihugo's B-Day, Brawlin', Bunning & Rhoden Bench Marks...

  • 1906 - Martin Dihigo was born in Matanzas, Cuba. Best known for his play in the Mexican League, he also played in the Negro Leagues and spent 1927-28 with the Homestead Grays. Dihigo was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977. The multi-talented Dihigo played all nine positions as a pro, though usually a pitcher or second baseman. He’s the only player ever to be inducted to the American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican and Venezuelan Halls of Fame. 
Martin Dihigo (photo via The National Pastime Museum)
  • 1919 - Casey Stengel, who had been traded to Pittsburgh by the Brooklyn Dodgers, returned to Ebbets Field for the first time and his old fans gave him the razzberries. Bowing to the grandstand, he doffed his cap to the 18,000 present, and out flew a sparrow (described as "irate but much relieved") that he had somehow picked up in the outfield. That prank was the highlight of Stengel’s day as he went 0-for-4 against Sherry Smith in a 5-0 loss. 
  • 1935 - Babe Ruth hit his 714th and final home run off Guy Bush at Forbes Field in an 11-7 Boston Braves loss to the Pirates, a career record that would stand for almost 40 years before Hammerin' Hank claimed the crown. The Bambino went 4-for-4, hitting three home runs and driving in six runs. The final drive, launched in the seventh inning, cleared the right field roof, the first time that feat was ever done. According to local lore, the Babe’s ball didn't quit rolling until it stopped in Junction Hollow. 
  • 1940 - The Bucs broke an 18-for-21 losing spell with a 12-7 win over the Cubs at Forbes Field. Arky Vaughan had a HR, 3B, four runs scored and three RBI to lead the Pirate charge. Although he was roughed up, Joe Bowman went the distance for the win. Despite the dismal streak, the Pirates did end up with a 79-74 record at season’s end. 
  • 1953 - Ralph Kiner became the 12th MLB player to hit 300 HR with a three-run, fifth-inning blast off the NY Giants Al Corwin in a 6-3 loss at Forbes Field.
Ralph Kiner (photo - Getty Images)
  • 1958 - One of the largest bench clearing brawls in Bucco history erupted when manager Danny Murtaugh charged the mound after Ruben Gomez began headhunting. Orlando Cepeda, the Baby Bull, joined the melee with a bat before he was tackled by teammate Willie Mays. The bad blood was carried over from some beanballing in the prior visit to Candlestick Park. It apparently fired up the G-Men more than Pirates as they swept the doubleheader at Forbes Field 5-2 and 6-1. 
  • 1969 - Jim Bunning won his 200th game, scattering five hits and striking out eight in a 2-1 victory over Gaylord Perry and the Giants at Candlestick Park. It was a good day for the Bucs as they also took the nightcap of the twinbill by a 6-2 score behind Bob Moose. 
  • 1979 - Due to fog, the Buc-Met match ended in a 3-3 tie after 11 innings and a 73-minute delay. The umps gave up when Bill Robinson lost a fly ball in the Shea Stadium mist. 
  • 1983 - In the third inning of an eventual 6-0 loss to the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Pirates' starter Jim Bibby (4) and reliever Jim Winn (3) combined to walk seven consecutive batters to tie a major league mark set back in 1909. 
Jim Winn (1987 Donruss series)
  • 1985 - Rick Rhoden won his 100th game and SS Bill Almon hit his first grand slam while driving in five runs as the Pirates jumped on the Braves 8-2 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. 
  • 1993 - Steve Cooke threw the first shutout of his big league career, only giving up four hits, in the Pirates 2-0 victory over the Florida Marlins at TRS. It was truly Cooke’s day as he also hit a two-run double, providing the Pirates with their only scoring. 
  • 2007 - The Pirates erupted for eight runs in the tenth inning as they banged out six hits and took advantage of a hit batter, walk and error. They sent twelve players to the plate in a 10-4 victory over the Reds at Great American Ballpark. Ronny Paulino and Xavier Nady each had a pair of RBI in the extra frame, while Nady and Jay Bay added earlier homers. Jonah Bayless picked up the win after facing two batters in the ninth.
  • 2009 - The Pirates beat the Cubs, 10-8 at Wrigley Field. Freddy Sanchez went 6-for-6 with 4 runs, 3 RBI, a double and a homer to become first Pirate in 19 years, since Wally Backman in 1990, to have six hits in a game. The Bucs had just finished an interleague set against the White Sox, and became the first team in major league history to play consecutive series against the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago.
Steady Freddy & the Boys in 2006 (photo: USA Today Sports)
  • 2013 - The Bucs hit four homers, two by Pedro Alvarez, and Jeff Locke ran his scoreless streak to 14 frames in a 5-2 win at Milwaukee’s Miller Field. For Locke, it was his sixth start out of the last seven giving up three or fewer hits.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bucs Sweep Mets 9-1 On Frankie's Arm and HRs By Cutch & Starling

Today we saw the Frankie we're used to seeing - six strong innings, giving up one run on six hits with two walks and 12 K, tossing 112 pitches, picking up his second win of the campaign with a 9-1 win against the Mets.

It was actually nip-and-tuck for awhile. Liriano had stranded Mets on second and third in the second frame with three straight whiffs to squelch NY's first opportunity, and the game was tied 1-1 going into the Pirates' fifth..

The Bucs scored first when Jordy doubled home Fran Cervelli with a shot off the LF wall, and Wilmer Flores tied it with a two-out ground ball single in the fifth. It was a key inning for Frankie, though, as he left the bases filled with Mets without allowing any more damage.

In the Buc half, Pittsburgh took command. JT drew a walk and Cutch cashed him in with his second homer in two days, another shot into the bullpen. Cervelli's two-out single plated Jung-Ho Kang, who had walked and moved up on a bounce out, and ticketed Jon Neise for a trip to the showers with Pittsburgh up 4-1.

Gregory Polanco came off the bench to collect a pair of hits (photo via Baseball America)
Reliever Erik Goeddel gave up a Gregory Polanco single and intentionally walked Cutch to get to Starling Marte. Might want to rethink that; Marte blasted a changeup into the left field stands to run the lead up to 7-1. A frame later, with sean Gilmartin on the hill, Cervelli banged his third knock of the game, Mercer walked and Polanco's infield single loaded the sacks. Josh's sac fly and PH Corey Hart's knock made it 9-1.

The Bucs broomed the Mets and hope to keep the good times rollin' tomorrow against the Miami Marlins, with Charlie Morton facing David Phelps.

  • The 10 strikeouts rung up against the Mets by Gerrit Cole & AJ were the most against the Mets this year, until Frankie topped them with 12 today. It's the first time since 1969 that Buc pitchers have whiffed 10+ batters three games in a row when Bob Veale, Bob Moose and Dock Ellis turned the trick.
  • Josh ran his hit streak to 11, the longest of the year for a Bucco to date. Jung-Ho kept on keepin' on, too, stretching his hitting streak to seven games. Fran Cervelli had three hits, Cutch and El Coffee had a pair, and Jordy had a day to build on with a double and two walks.
  • The attendance of 37,784 was the fourth sellout of the season and second straight of the series.
  • Andrew Keh of The New York Times featured Jung-Ho Kang in his article today.
  • The Bucs are expecting to announce just what the second opinion on Nick Kingham's elbow is next week; seems odd that it takes three weeks for a determination.
  • Casey McGehee was DFA'ed by the Giants today.
  • AJ isn't the only guy that adjusted his pitching style as time rolled on; Tim Healy of Sports on Earth wrote that Tim Lincecum made the same switch.

Frankie v Jon Neise; Shake N Bake Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - In a southpaw shindig, Francisco Liriano (1-4, 4.15) will take on Jonathon Niese (3-4, 3.72). Frankie's not been all that of late, with poor control, deep counts and homers hurting his cause; his ERA is over four now. He's only faced the Mets once, winning in 2013 in his Bucco debut. Neise had a hot start, wiggling out of jams, but he's been lit up in his past two starts, allowing 14 runs on 17 hits in 11-1/3 innings while whiffing just three. The lefty has six starts under his belt against Pittsburgh, and he's 3-1, but with a 4.41 ERA. it should be interesting, with a pair of struggling vets looking to find their groove again. The game starts at 1:35 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup - Josh Harrison 2B, Jose Tabata RF, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, Jung-Ho Kang 3B, Sean Rodriguez 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS, Liriano P.

Jordy's back in the saddle today (photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Shook up lineup today. JT gets his first 2015 start and Jordy's on the card with the infield positions manned by a totally different outfit than yesterday. The Kid, Pedro and El Coffee get a blow against the lefty Neise. A surprise pine rider is Corey Hart; he may be on borrowed time now that Sean Rod has passed him by.

  • Cutch has a ten game hitting streak against the Mets that began in 2013.
  • A victory today would give the Pirates their third series sweep of the season and their first of the Mets since the 2009 campaign.
  • Andrew Lambo's plantar fasciitis that landed him on the DL is “still not showing...signs of improvement" per Clint.
  • Pittsburgh's overworked bullpen has gotten a well deserved rest so far this series. They've been called on to work three times for just 2-2/3 IP against the Mets.
  • The Pirates have been good boys so far this year; the only ejection came back on April 14th, when Clint got the heave-ho from David Rackley for disagreeing with his strike zone.
  • Old Buc first basemen may have just been victims of playing out of position. Garrett Jones joined Ike Davis and former Indy player Clint Robinson as 1B with Pirate ties to toe the rubber this season.

5/24: Hot Corner, Bucs Put 'Em Up, Walk-Off Twin Bill, Triple Play...

  • 1884 – Al Atkinson of the Philadelphia Athletics retired the final 27 batters in pitching a no-hitter over the Pittsburgh Alleghenys at the Jefferson Street Grounds. Atkinson hit leadoff batter Ed Swartwood, who stole second, moved to third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch. He was the only Allegheny baserunner in the 10–1 Philly victory. 
  • 1889 - Bill Kuehne converted 13 chances at the hot corner, handling three putouts and 10 assists without an error‚ for a MLB record. His stellar work in the field helped Pittsburgh to a 9-7 win over Washington at Swampoodle Grounds. The Alleghenys’ Kuehne wasn’t exactly noted for his glovework, though. He had 34 errors that season and finished with a .908 fielding average. 
Bill Kuehne - 1887 Old Judge series
  • 1893 - Before the days of the infield fly rule, C Connie Mack intentionally allowed a popup in front of home plate to fall and then started a triple play against the Browns. He later drove in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to lead Pittsburgh to an 8-7 win over St. Louis at Exposition Park. Mack was a backup catcher who hit .286 for the Pirates that year, and later entered the Hall of Fame as a manager. 
  • 1894 - The Pirates rallied to beat the Cleveland Spiders and Cy Young 6-5 at League Park. Down 5-2 late, the Bucs scored twice in the seventh and twice more in the eighth for the win. Red Ehret went eight innings for the victory. Jake Stenzel had two hits and scored three runs while Jake Beckley added three knocks. 
  • 1955 - The Bucs broke an 11 game losing streak in style by pounding the Brooklyn Dodgers 15-1 at Forbes Field. Preston Ward had a single‚ triple and HR to lead the attack. Ward, Gene Freese and Roberto Clemente each had three RBI. One of the Dodger relievers they tortured was future manager Tommy Lasorda, who gave up five runs in two innings of work. 
Gene Freese via Out of the Park Development
  • 1959 - The Bucs swept a pair from the Reds at Forbes Field by 2-1 and 5-4 scores; both games were won by walk-off, pinch hit doubles. Danny Kravitz drove home Don Hoak to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Ron Kline, who had surrendered an unearned ninth inning run. The Pirates were down 4-2 in the nightcap and down to their last out when Rocky Nelson tied the game with a two run homer. Pittsburgh won it in the tenth when Smoky Burgess doubled home Roman Mejias to give Ron Blackburn the win. The Bucs took the four game series from Cincinnati, winning by a run each time. 
  • 1998 - Relievers Marc Wilkins (who was on the DL with rotator cuff damage) and Jeff Tabaka got into a fight over a card game at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel, and Wilkins punched Tabaka, breaking his jaw. The two were roommates who shared an apartment in Pittsburgh during the season, and they kissed and made up shortly after the brawl. GM Cam Bonifay brushed it off, telling the Associated Press that “Each other took a stance, as manly gentlemen sometimes do.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Harvey Wallbangers: Bucs Romp 8-2

AJ fanned two of the first three Mets he saw; Matt Harvey K'ed one. But the bookends were a Josh single and Cutch bomb into the bullpen (at 426', it was the longest ever hit off Harvey), and it was quickly 2-0. Pedro lost a baseball high in the RF stands in the second to make it 3-0.

In the fourth, the Mets turned a pair of singles and a bounce out into a run, but the Bucs responded in a big way in their half. Jung-Ho Kang singled with one out and Pedro's double brought him in. Gregory Polanco & Fran Cervelli drew walks to juice the sacks, and Alvarez plated on AJ's sacrifice fly, his second RBI of the season. Josh then chased Gregory and Fran home with a double down the first base line. That made it 7-1; each team later added a run, and Pittsburgh had a surprisingly easy 8-2 victory over NY and Harvey.

Burnett's farewell tour - and he still says this season is it - is off to a rollicking start. He gave up a run on five hits and struck out ten in seven frames, using 96 pitches. Tomorrow afternoon, the Pirates go for the sweep when Frankie Liriano takes on Jon Neise.

AJ is acting pretty frisky for a 38 year-old (photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Per MLB Stats: Today was AJ's 36th career game with double-digit strikeouts. It was the first without a walk. Other notes: With his 10 Ks , AJ has lifetime 2,423 whiffs, moving into 39th place on MLB’s career list. And it added to his franchise record of nine season starting outings giving up two or fewer runs. Oh, and his 1.37 ERA leads the majors.
  • The last time Pirate starters struck out at least 10 batters in back-to-back games, as Gerrit Cole & AJ just did, was in 1984 when John Candelaria (12) and Larry McWilliams (10) did it in victories over the Reds.
  • Josh kept his hit streak going, now at 10, with his first at-bat, sending several thousand Harrison bobbleheads into a swaying frenzy (they were today's give-away). Jung-Ho ran his streak to six games.
  • Cutch's long ball was his 62nd at PNC Park, breaking a tie with Jay Bay and making him the all-time HR leader in the yard. He's was a hit shy of the cycle, with a single, double and homer. Pedro moved into third place with his 52nd homer, breaking his tie with Garrett Jones.
  • Matt Harvey's four inning outing was the shortest of his career; the seven runs he surrendered were the most of his career. And he kept another string intact - he's never won a game when the Mets have scored two or fewer runs.
  • There was a sellout crowd of 39,385 at PNC Park, the third full house of the year.