Monday, August 31, 2015

8/31: HBD Red, Ray, Ramon; Face's Finale; Johnny Ray, Mad Dog, Shawon Dunston Deals; A-Ram Signed

  • 1868 - RHP Phillip “Red” Ehret was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He played for Pittsburgh from 1892-94 and put up a 53-59/3.79 line in 109 starts and 15 relief appearances. Red also played some outfield and got 438 PA in that span (mostly as a pitcher), though he hit just .201.
  • 1907 - C Ray Berres was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a Bucco back-up from 1937-40, a good glove guy that hit .225. After his playing days, he was the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1949 through 1966, then mid-season of 1968 through 1969, primarily under manager Al Lopez. He and Lopez had an interesting history together. Berres served as Lopez’s back-up coming up, and then was later traded to the Pirates for him.
Ray Berres 1940 Play Ball series
  • 1940 - LHP Ramon Hernandez was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The reliever tossed six years (1971-76) in Pittsburgh, going 23-12-39/2.51 after being signed by Howie Haak, and was a bullpen member of the Bucco division champs of 1972, 1974 and 1975 (he was a September call-up for the 1971 team). In a nine-season career, Hernandez’s line was 23–15-46/ 3.03.
  • 1953 - The Pirates sold RHP Johnny Lindell to the Phillies. His knuckler fluttered wildly that year, leading the league in walks and wild pitches. He was listed as a pitcher with the Pirates, but was often used as a pinch-hitter and hit .286, once tying a game with a three-run ninth-inning homer. The Phillies released him in May 1954 after his hybrid pitcher-outfielder role proved to be a not very strong pairing. Lindell was an odd story; he entered the league in 1941 as a pitcher, then was converted to outfield, where he played from 1943-50, earning an All-Star berth once with the Yankees, and then tried to come back again as a pitcher after a couple of years in the minors.
  • 1968 - Steve Blass got the first out against the Atlanta Braves‚ and then moved to LF. ElRoy Face, 40, was in the process of being sold to the Tigers (actually, it was a done deal; Detroit wouldn’t have an open roster spot until September 1), and the club sent him in for one last appearance (legend has it he was asked whether he wanted to start or relieve, and opted to make his last outing from the pen). He retired Felix Millan on one pitch to tie Walter Johnson's MLB record of 802 pitching appearances with one club. Then manager Larry Shepherd came out for him, Blass returned to pitch and the Pirates won 8-0 at Forbes Field.
Elroy Face 1963 Fleer series
  • 1981 - The Pirates acquired 2B Johnny Ray and two PTBNLs (pitchers Randy Niemann and Kevin Houston) from the Houston Astros in exchange for IF Phil Garner. Ray spent seven years in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, and was Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1982 to Steve Sax.
  • 1985 - The Pirates traded former batting champion Bill Madlock to the Dodgers for prospects RJ Reynolds‚ Cecil Espy‚ and Sid Bream in a pretty solid deal for the Buccos.
  • 1987 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game, defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-3 at TRS. Andy Van Slyke went 3-for-3 with a homer and walk, scored three times and drove home a pair as Mike Dunne went the distance, tossing a six hitter.
  • 1991 - The Pirates rode six innings of perfect relief by Roger Mason, Bill Landrum and game winner Bob Kipper to a 3-2, 12 inning victory over San Diego at Jack Murphy Stadium. The Buc tallies came in the second on Barry Bonds’ two-run shot and a leadoff homer to left by Don Slaught off Jose Melendez in the 12th.
  • 1994: In one of their better international deals, the Pirates signed 16 year old Aramis Ramirez as an amateur free agent.
  • 1997 - The Bucs became buyers instead of sellers when they obtained SS Shawon Dunston from the Cubs to bolster the chances of the “Freak Show” team sneaking into the playoffs after Kevin Polcovich injured his ankle. Dunston hit .394 with five homers, but after an 18 game Bucco career was lost to the Indians in free agency after the season.
Shawon Dunston 1998 Fleer series
  • 1999 - The Bucs rallied in dramatic style to top the Rox at Coors Field in ten innings by a 9-8 score. Kevin Young gave the Bucs an 8-4 lead with a two out, first pitch grand slam down the LF line in the ninth. In the bottom half, six straight runners reached off Mike Williams to make the score 8-8, but Angel Echevarria was thrown out at home by Brian Giles to keep the game knotted. The Bucs came up with four hits and a walk in the tenth, but could only tally a run to take a shaky lead. With two away for Colorado, Dante Bichette singled off Jose Silva and was waved around on Vin Castilla’s double to left center, but was cut down by Al Martin to Mike Benjamin to Keith Osik (7-6-2) to preserve the win.
  • 2011 - Pittsburgh shipped OF Matt Diaz to the Braves for a PTBNL, who ended up being P Eliecer Cardenas, who was quickly released. Diaz hit .259 in his brief spell as a Buc and spent two more bench years before hanging up his spikes after the 2013 season.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

De La Rosa Quiets Sloppy Pirates 5-0

Nice and easy first frame for Charlie. Cutch singled with two outs, but Jorge De La Rosa won a nine-pitch battle with A-Ram, getting a fly out. Chuck used seven pitches to finish the second. DLR worked another clean inning, with three K in the first two frames. Charlie was working on nine in a row until A-Ram booted De La Rosa's grounder. It only cost Morton two extra pitches, tho. Jordy opened with a knock. Charlie bunted, and not so well. Jordy was forced at second and left the field limping after a hard slide. DLR put away the next two Bucs; he's mixed four pitches and kept most of them down so far.

The good news was Jordy took the field in the fourth. Charlie left a 2-0 heater down the middle and DJ LeMahieu drilled it to right for the Rox first hit, and CarGo promptly followed with the second. It kept going; Nolan Arenado doubled in a run. Ben Paulsen followed with a triple; the wheels have completely fallen off, and the Bucs have a short pen today. Charlie worked around that runner nicely, but it's 3-0 and DLR followed up with a shutdown frame.

Charlie & the Bucco bats didn't have it today (photo Justin Aller/Getty)
A Colorado lead off knock was negated in the fifth by a K and DP. Jordy singled with two away for the Pirates, so he did his job by turning the order over. In the sixth, Paulsen singled of Morse's glove and was wild pitched to second. Daniel Descalso walked with two away. Dustin Garneau tapped back to the pitcher; Charlie airmailed the throw to first, allowing two runs to cross the plate to bury the Bucs a little deeper. Pittsburgh was retired in order.

Antonio Bastardo took the ball and was welcomed by a single from Charlie Blackmon, a pop that wouldn't stick in Josh's glove. He stole second, but AB struck out the side to leave him. A-Ram opened with a double, followed by Fran's four pitch walk. Scott Oberg got the call; DLR managed to get tossed griping about strike zone, which has actually been pretty decent, if a bit tight, as Walt Weiss came to pull him. Pedro hit for Morse and whiffed on four pitches. Josh moved them up with a bouncer, but Jordy went down flailing at a slider in the dirt.

The Rox got a walk and nothing else in the eighth; Christian Friedrich took the bump. With two gone, Starling reached when CarGo muffed his pop fly. Jairo Diaz came in to face Cutch and got him to line out. Joe Blanton worked a 1-2-3, eight pitch ninth. John Axford put the Bucs to bed without a peep, and the Rox salvaged the third game of the set.

Give De La Rosa credit; he moved the ball all around the strike zone and had a particularly nasty splitter today. Charlie had one bad inning and another where the Bucs - including and especially Morton -  treated the ball like a primed hand grenade. So it's a day off and back in the saddle at Milwaukee on Tuesday.

  • The Pirates had four hits during the contest; Jordy had two of them.
  • Mark Melancon & Tony Watson were unavailable (and not needed) today as both have gone three consecutive outings.
  • AJ threw an 80-pitch session in the pen today and felt good afterward, with his next rehab outing due Friday. He's on track for a mid September return. Also due for a September recall is Rob Scahill, who tossed a 36 pitch rehab outing at Indy last night.
  • Neal Huntington said in his Sunday radio show on 93.7 The Fan that as of now, Tyler Glasnow will not be a September call-up. Our take - look for him in June 2016, after his Super-2 window closes. 
  • In another interview, NH told Pirate Prospects writer Sean McCool that the Bucs had successfully claimed a couple of players on waivers, but were unable to work out mutually satisfactory deals to get them to Pittsburgh.
  • The Bucs drew 36,271 fans today.
  • The West Virginia Power scored four times in the eighth to take a 5-1 win and clinch the Northern Division crown of the Class A South Atlantic (Sally) League.

Charlie v Jorge De La Rosa; Lefty Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Charlie Morton (8-5, 4.20) closes out the quickie home stand against Jorge De La Rosa (7-6, 4.61), continuing the trend of southpaw opponents for the Buccos. Good Charlie, bad Charlie - who knows who is going to show up? When he's in command of his formidable stuff, he's a beast, but on days when the ball has a mind of its own...ouch. Charlie is 2-1/3.62 in six career starts v the Rox, and has been charged with two or fewer earned runs in four of the six outings. He went 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA in two starts in 2014.

Veteran hurler De La Rosa has been uneven this year, a common malady of Rox pitchers. He's gotten beat up a home with an ERA of nearly six, but in 11 road starts, he's 5-4/3.51. DLR faced the Bucs once in 2014, and tossed a strong six innings although he didn't get a decision. Overall, he's posted a slash of 4-3/3.75 against the Pirates. The game starts at 1:35 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

A lefty lineup - Pedro, The Kid and JHK (.244 BA v LHP) sit out in today's musical chairs arrangement. The dog days bench that NH has put together equals the one Chuck Tanner had back in the day.

  • The Pirates will attempt to sweep the Rockies at home for the second straight season. Pittsburgh enters today with a league-leading 13 sweeps, the most sweeps for the Bucs since also record ing 13 in 1991. The last time Pittsburgh had more than 13 sweeps in a season came in 1990 (16).
  • Pittsburgh has a MLB leading 29-15 (.659) record in one-run games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time that Pittsburgh finished with the best record in the majors in one-run games was in 1958 after going 30-19 (.612).
  • Showtime: beginning Tuesday night, 26 of Pittsburgh’s final 33 games will come NL Central rivals.
  • The Bucs announced that the rainout DH against the Cubs on 9/15 will be day-night games, so separate admission will be required for both contests. 
  • AJ Cassavell makes a case for tweaking the September call-up rosters - keep the rosters full, but turn in a 22-man list for the game.

8/30:ElRoy's Streak; Cutch Goes 20-20; Arky Dies; Pie's 5-for-5;HBD Kiki; Robertson Cycle

  • 1898 - OF Hazen Shirley “Kiki” Cuyler was born in Harrisville, Michigan. The Hall-of-Famer spent his first seven seasons (1921-27) as a Pirate, hitting .336 with a .399 OBP. The end of his Pittsburgh era was rocky. In 1927, Cuyler was benched for nearly half the season because of a dispute with rookie manager Donie Bush. The Pirates went to the World Series, but Cuyler was on the pine, and that November, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He played 11 more seasons and ended his career with a .321 BA.
  • 1921 - Dave Robertson connected for the cycle to lead the Bucs to an 8-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbet’s Field. He scored twice and drove in three runs. George Cutshaw and Clyde Barnhart had three hits each as Whitey Glazner cruised to victory, scattering seven hits for the complete game win.
  • 1929 - Pie Traynor went 5-for-5 to lead a 21-hit attack to take an easy 15-0 win from Chicago at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine tossed a three hitter as Pittsburgh dominated. It was the Pirates' fourth win over the Cubs in three days, with the Windy City snapping their losing streak with a 7-6 win the following day.
Heinie Meine 1922 Goudey series
  • 1930 - The Pirates swept a twin bill from Cincinnati 5-0 and 3-2 to win their 12th game in 14 outings. The Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd, scored all five runs in the opener, with George Grantham driving them in three times. Spades Wood tossed a six hitter for the win. Grantham was big in the second game with three hits, two runs and an RBI as Larry French outlasted the Reds’ Larry Benton.
  • 1951 - The Pirates rallied from an 8-1 deficit to take a 10-9 victory from the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Frank Thomas hit his first MLB homer and Ralph Kiner won it with a long ball in the ninth. Gus Bell and Pete Castiglione also homered for the Bucs. Pittsburgh climbed back to take the lead in the eighth only to have the Giants tie it, but the G-Men were trumped by Kiner in the end. Murry Dickson blew the save but ultimately got the win, one of 20 he earned during the campaign.
  • 1952 - Arky Vaughan, 40, and friend Bill Wimer drowned in California’s Lost Lake. While the two were fishing, their rowboat overturned. Wimer couldn’t swim, and both men went under when Vaughan tried to save his bud. Vaughan retired with 1,173 runs scored, 926 RBI, 118 steals, a .318 BA and a .406 OBP. His .385 batting average, .491 OBP, and 1.098 OPS in 1935 are Pirate team records, and the batting average is a 20th century record for NL shortstops. Arky was a Hall-of-Famer, included in the Ritter/Honig book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time and cited by Bill James as the second greatest SS in history, behind only Honus Wagner.
Arky Vaughan 1941 Play Ball series
  • 1953 - Led by Jim Pendleton's 3 HR‚ the Milwaukee Braves tied the Yankees' 1939 MLB record for the most homers in a game with eight in their 19-4 pasting of Pittsburgh in the first game of a doubleheader. Eddie Mathews (2)‚ Del Crandall‚ Jack Dittmer‚ and Johnny Logan also went yard. The Pirates were also walloped in the nitecap by an 11-5 tally, giving up four more homers, making for 9,458 disappointed fans at Forbes Field and one very deflated pitching staff.
  • 1959 - ElRoy Face notched his 17th straight victory of the year, earning a 10 inning win against Philadelphia 7-6 at Forbes Field after Dick Stuart’s two run double in overtime. The Bucs rallied from a five-run ninth inning deficit on the strength of Danny Kravitz and Stuart homers to sweep the doubleheader. They took the opener 2-1 behind Harvey Haddix’s arm and Bob Skinner’s two-out, ninth inning knock that scored Dick Hoak. Face had also won the last five decisions of 1958, giving him a 22 game winning streak. He finished the year 18-1, and his 18 relief wins remains the major league record. The Baron went a month (6/11-7/12) without giving up a run, and his 22 straight wins is second only to Carl Hubbell’s 24-gamer.
  • 1960 - The Pirates defeated Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 5-2 at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Bob Friend, with late help from ElRoy Face, picked up the win supported by homers from Dock Groat and Roberto Clemente, who was the only right handed hitter beside Frank Howard to hit one out of the Coliseum the opposite way during the 1960 season.
Bob Friend 1959 Topps series
  • 1972 - Bob Prince turned the mike over to ex-KDKA announcer Harold Arlin, the first man to ever broadcast a live baseball game. The Gunner allowed him to call a few innings in Pittsburgh while Harold’s grandson‚ Steve Arlin‚ was on the mound for San Diego. Pap didn’t have much to brag about as the Bucs won 11-0, with Manny Sanguillen and Dave Cash combining to drive in seven runs on five hits.
  • 1990 - The Pirates picked up vet OF/1B Carmelo Martinez from the Phillies for OF’s Tony Longmire, Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero. Martinez lasted less than a season with the Bucs, while the young outfield prospects ended up with bench roles during their brief careers, with Chamberlain the only solid producer of the three.
  • 1991 - The Rangers traded 3B Steve Buechele to the Pirates for young pitchers Kurt Miller and Hector Fajardo. Buechele, a FA, signed with the Pirates after the season, but was moved at the next deadline for Danny Jackson.
  • 2005 - The Milwaukee Brewers fell 6-0 to the Bucs behind Paul Maholm’s four hitter at Miller Park. It was an oasis in an otherwise arid stretch of games that saw Pittsburgh lose 11-of-12 contests. The Bucs put up a five spot in the first inning, keyed by Jack Wilson’s three run, bases loaded double. The Bucs had the bases empty with two outs, but Doug Davis walked four of next the five batters, all on 3-2 pitches, before Wilson cashed in.
Jack Wilson 2007 Topps Opening Day series
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh scored three times in the 11th inning to come back against the Cubs 10-9 at PNC Park. Chicago scored twice off Marty McLeary (who got the win), but the Bucs scored on Jose Castillo’s single to cut the lead to one. Ryan Dempster walked Jose Bautista on four pitches to load the bases for Freddie Sanchez, who lined a two run, two out single to right for the win, giving him four RBI on the night. Castillo had four knocks while Jason Bay and Xavier Nady had three hits apiece.
  • 2011 - Andrew McCutchen hit a ninth inning homer against the Houston Astros in an 8-2 loss at Minute Maid Park, becoming the eighth Pirate to ring up 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in one season, and the first since Nate McLouth in 2008.
  • 2013 - The Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cards 5-0 at PNC Park behind Francisco Liriano’s two hitter and a 3-for-4 night by Garrett Jones, who had four RBI and was a triple short of the cycle. The HR was #100 of his career. Pittsburgh moved back into a Central Division tie for first with the Redbirds in front of a sellout crowd of 38,036.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jay, A-Ram Lead Bucs to 4-3 Win Over the Rockies

Jay Happ had a good start with a clean first frame. Chris Rusin didn't have such a great opening scene. With one gone, Josh and Cutch singled, then A-Ram crunched a sinker over the LF wall 400' away, and the Bucs had an out-of-the-gate 3-0 lead. The Rox got a two-out single (actually, Ben Paulsen hit it off the Clemente Wall, but didn't feel like challenging Gregory) in the second, which was a hit more than the Pirates came up with.

Brandon Barnes opened the third with a double and Rusin singled, not the ideal way to navigate through the bottom of the order. A force play brought in a run, and Charlie Blackmon then stole second and went to third on a bad throw by Fran. Jay worked out of it to limit the damage. The second out was a fly to right; the Rockies fortunately opted not to challenge Polanco, whose throw was a mile off target, so street cred saved a run. Cutch singled with two gone and was left aboard.

A one out walk and two out single (lined off Happ's butt; he stayed in) stirred the pot in the fourth, but Jay got a grounder to shut it down. Fran had a pesky one-out at bat and walked. Pedro bounced out to first; Paulsen took the out, then threw the ball away trying to catch Cervelli, who ended up at third. The Kid was intentionally walked before Jay K'ed.

Jay keeps rollin' along (photo Frank Franklin/AP)
The fifth was a quick and quiet frame for Happ. Josh singled with an out but was picked off on his break to second, and Cutch popped out. CarGo led off the sixth with a bunt single, and an out later DJ LeMahieu reached on JHK's throwing error. After a force, Clint waved in Arquimedes Caminero; Jay was only at 86 pitches, but hasn't hit the 100 mark as a Pirate, probably by design. Anyway, it worked - one pitch, one out. Rusin walked Fran with two outs and left him; the Bucs hit a couple of hard balls, but couldn't find the grass.

Arquie worked a clean seventh. It took him 16 pitches to get four outs, nine on Blackmon alone before he blew a heater past him. Jason Gurka came in for the Rox, and The Kid greeted him with a single. Michael Morse grabbed a bat and dropped a bloop into right, with Neil scampering to third. Starling ran for Neil and scored on a force at second by Gregory. The lefty was pulled for RHP Gonzalez Germen, and he closed out the inning.

S-Rod went to first, Starling to left, Josh to second and Tony Watson toed the rubber for the eighth. Nolan Arenado singled with two gone; his ball was smoked to the left field wall, but he decided not to test Starling. Tony had to toss 10 pitches to get LeMahieu, but get him he did. Fran drew a free pass with two gone and S-Rod singled. Starling hit the ball squarely, but right to short to end the music.

In came The Shark and Jordy, as JHK moved to third. Paulsen singled to open, and Nick Hundley homered on a 2-1 fastball, crushing it over the left field fence and into the rotunda. Barnes rolled a single to right, and it's getting a little quiet in the park. Daniel Descalso popped out. Blackmon hit a liner on the nose, but right at Josh; he made the grab and doubled Barnes off first, so *whew*. Maybe working your closer for a third straight day with a three run lead isn't the way to go, but it is Clint's way, and he survived the decision.

Another good outing by Jay, and A-Ram's first homer in his second stint was the key blow. Jay is reminding us of last year's Vanimal - seems like he's always surrounded by runners, but stays in command and more often than not dodges the raindrops. Charlie Morton goes for the brooming tomorrow afternoon against Jorge De La Rosa.

  • A-Ram's homer was his first as a Pirate since July, 2003.
  • Cutch had two hits; it's his eighth multi-hit game in the last eleven. His BA is up to .305 after being at .292 going into August 18th. Andrew's definitely the straw that stirs the Bucco brew, batting .345 in games the Pirates win and .237 during their losses.
  • Melancon's 43rd save ties him with Jose Mesa for the #2 spot in saves during a season; he's three behind Mike William's 46, earned in 2002. 
  • The pre-game honored the 55th anniversary of the 1960 Bucs. The Clemente kids, Maz, Bill Virdon, Bob Friend, Vern Law, Dick Groat, Joe Gibbon, Hal Smith, Bob Oldis and Joe Christopher among others attended.
  • Tonight's attendance was 35,838, just short of a sellout.

Jay v Chris Rusin; Lineup (Starling, Jordy Out) & Notes

Today's Game - JA Happ (2-1, 2.08) tales on Chris Rusin (4-6, 4.97) in a Saturday battle of the lefties. Jay appeared to be an emergency patch for the rotation after AJ's injury, but a little more emphasis on a downward plane has him riding a three-game, 17-1/3 IP stretch during which he's allowed but one run. Sometimes NH is smarter than the average bear. He's 1-0/1.93 against Colorado lifetime (three starts, four games), nice but meaningless as he hasn't faced the Rox since 2011.

Colorado picked up Rusin off waivers from the Cubs during the off season, and he's been pretty solid (his ERA ballooned after his last outing when the Mets absolutely murdered him). He's a pitch-to-contact guy, and location is his game - when he stays down in the zone, he gets lots of weak contact. The game starts at 7:05 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Starling is out; probably a maintenance day. So is Jordy, who is pretty strong against lefties. Guess we're gonna see a lot of permutations in the lineup with Clint's shiny super bench.

  • Pittsburgh’s relievers have won 19 straight decisions coming into tonight’s action, a step closer to the record of 22 straight decisions held by the 1909 Bucs.
  • The Pirates have posted an 18-7 record this month, the most wins for the club in the month of August since 1992, when they went 19-8.
  • Elias Says: Gregory Polanco knocked out three hits, scored two runs and drove in another, stole a base, and threw out two base runners including one on right-field-to-home-plate double play last night. You have to go back 91 years to find the last major-league outfielder who had a game in which he did all that, Hall of Famer Bob Meusel. While playing for the Yankees at Detroit on June 12th, 1924, Long Bob sparked a 10-4 victory with his performance.

8/29: Byrne Deal; Ray Deal; Wagner & Benson Gems; HBP, Pep:, Dode; Billy, WENS;

  • 1907 - IF Lemuel Floyd “Pep” Young was born in Jamestown, North Carolina. He played eight years (1933-40) for the Bucs, hitting .264 and playing mainly second, but with some short and third thrown in. The high tide of his career was in 1938, when he received some votes for the NL MVP after hitting .278 in 149 games. As fate would have it, he hurt his knee the next season, and played just 93 games over the final three years of his career (1940-41; 1945).
  • 1909 - The Pirates traded 3B Jap Barbeau, 2B Alan Storke, and cash to the Cardinals for 3B Bobby Byrne. Byrne had his best years as a Buc, playing through the 1913 season and hitting .277 while helping the Pirates to the 1909 World Series title.
  • 1918 - C Joe “Dode” Schultz Jr. was born in Chicago. He played for the Bucs from 1939-41, hitting .231 as a seldom used reserve and pinch hitter. His dad, Joe Sr., was also a Pirate, donning the Bucco uni in 1916. Dode went on manage the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and replaced Billy Martin as the Tigers skipper in 1973 to cap a long minor league coaching career.
  • 1919 - SS Billy Cox was born in Newport, located in central Pennsylvania. He got a September call-up in 1941, spent four years in the service and became the starting Bucco shortstop in 1946-47, batting .280. He was traded to Brooklyn, moved to the hot corner, and played seven seasons for them and in three World Series.
Billy Cox (undated; Associated Press)
  • 1953 - TV station WENS (Channel 16) kicked off its entry into the Pittsburgh market by being the first to televise a Pirate game from Forbes Field. There were two high cameras (one behind home, the other on the first base line; eventually, a third field-level camera was added) and the radio announcers, Rosey Rowswell & Bob Prince, did the play-by-play. Oh, the Bucs lost to the St. Louis Cards 5-4 in front of 3,145 that Saturday afternoon despite 2B Johnny O’Brien’s three hits. WENS chose the ballgame to start as they were heavily into sports, televising not only the Bucs but Duquesne basketball and Pittsburgh Hornet hockey. WENS (W-Entertainment, News, Sports) was an ABC affiliate and went off the air in 1957 after Channels 4 & 11 were licensed.
  • 1958 - The Bucs squeaked out a 3-2 win against Milwaukee at County Stadium. Dick Stuart went long to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Bob Skinner made it 2-0 in the fourth with another solo homer. The Bucs pushed across the winning run in the seventh when Hank Foiles brought Frank Thomas home to give Bob Friend the win with ninth inning help from Don Gross.
  • 1959 - Bob Friend helped himself by driving in three runs with a two-out, bases loaded double and tossed a nine hitter against the Phils in an 11-1 romp at Forbes Field. Smoky Burgess also chased home a trio of runs with a pair of homers while Dick Groat added four hits.
Bob Friend 1952 Bowman series
  • 1965 - Hall of Fame OF’er Paul “Big Poison” Waner died in Sarasota, Florida at age 62. Among his many marks were a .333 lifetime BA, 3,152 hits and a 1927 MVP award. During retirement, he owned a batting cage in Harmarville. One of the guys he helped develop there was rookie shortstop Dick Groat.
  • 1970 - Dave Giusti was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Pirate Cutthroat.” He finished his “cutthroat” season 9-3 with 26 saves and a 3.06 ERA.
  • 1984 - God helps those who help themselves: RHP Don Robinson pitched two scoreless innings of relief, knocked in the go-ahead run and scored the insurance marker as the Pirates beat the Astros, 4-2, at The Astrodome. Robinson broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th inning with a two-out single and touched home for the fourth run after Tony Pena followed with a double.
  • 1987 - The Pirates traded 2B Johnny Ray to the Angels for two minor leaguers, 3B Bill Merrifield and LHP Miguel Garcia. With Jose Lind in the wings, the Pirates thought Ray was expendable after seven years and a .286 BA. Maybe he was, but they Bucs sure didn’t get much - Merrifield and Garcia were gone by 1988 while Ray won an All-Star berth and hit .296 in four seasons for the Halos before closing his career in Japan.
Johnny Ray 1984 Donruss series
  • 1987 - Lotta firsts: Andy Van Slyke hit his first career homer - a two out grand slam - in an 8-2 win against the Houston Astros at TRS, extending the Bucco win streak to five games. Mike LaValliere also went deep for the first time on the season while Mike Bielecki picked up his first win of the campaign while tossing the first complete game of his career. His six-hitter topped Nolan Ryan and Larry Anderson. Bobby Bonilla added three hits, including a double, and chased home three runs.
  • 1988 - LHP Dave LaPoint became the first Pirate starter to begin his career here with three one-run or fewer starts when he whipped the Reds 8-1 at Riverfront Stadium. He was obtained for reliever Barry Jones in August from the White Sox, finished the year 4-2, and then signed with the Yankees as a FA the following season.
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds went 3-for-4 with five RBI to lead the Bucs to a 10-0, rain-shortened seven inning win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton Stadium. Jeff King added three RBI, two off sac flies, as Doug Drabek won his 17th game. The game ended a four game losing streak and followed a clubhouse meeting held by manager Jim Leyland after a lackadaisical 9-0 loss the night before.
  • 1995 - RHP Paul Wagner came within one strike of a no-hitter with a one-hit, 11K, 4-0 win over the Rox at TRS. With two away in the ninth, 1B Andres Galarraga chopped a 3-2 pitch past the mound and over second, where Nelson Liriano made the grab but couldn’t beat The Big Cat to first with his throw. For Wagner, it was just his third win against 13 losses, and the win snapped a six game Pittsburgh losing string.
Paul Wagner 1996 Fleer Ultra series
  • 2000 - Kris Benson shut out the Giants 8-0 at TRS. He gave up one hit in eight frames, a first inning single to Barry Bonds. The Pirates banged four doubles (two by Enrique Wilson), a triple and a homer (John Vander Wal) off Livian Hernandez, who only managed to get six outs before getting the hook.
  • 2006 - The Pirates scored twice in the 11th on an error and bases loaded walk to defeat the Cubs 7-6 at PNC Park. Matt Capps, the sixth Pirate pitcher, picked up the win while Xavier Nady went 3-for-5 with a double and couple of runs scored.
  • 2012 - The Pirates made their last push of the year by dropping the Cards by a 5-0 score behind Wandy Rodriguez at PNC Park. Pedro Alvarez banged a three run homer to lead the attack. The Bucs moved within a game of the wildcard, having shut out the Redbirds 9-0 the day before with El Toro adding another pair of homers and four RBI in support of James McDonald. It was just a tease; Pittsburgh finished September 7-21 and ended the season with just 79 wins.
  • 2014 - It was Josh Harrison day at PNC Park against the Cincinnati Reds. Presented with the Heart & Hustle Award before the game, Harrison had the key hit in the Pirates 2-1 come-from-behind win. His triple scored Andrew Lambo to tie the game in the eighth inning, and Josh came home with the game winner on Jose Tabata’s chopper through a drawn-in infield. Not only did he have three hits, but made several web-gem plays during the contest, the best of the bunch being a diving stop that he turned into a 5-3 DP and a hustling chase of a bad relay that led to a runner cut down at home. Edinson Volquez had a no-hitter through six frames, but got a no-decision when Tony Watson allowed a soft single to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Watson got the win and Mark Melancon tossed a perfect ninth for the save. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 37,209 fans.

Friday, August 28, 2015

El Coffee Leads Pirates to 5-3 Win Over Rox

Well, the Rox got the word on Frankie; make him throw a strike. He got through the first, but not without walking a pair. The Bucs were getting their first look at Jon Gray. After a pair of routine outs, Cutch singled and stole second; it was big when JHK worked the count and dinked an RBI single into right.

A couple of K's in the second made it clear Liriano knew what Colorado was up to. The Piates went down 1-2-3. Frankie was touched for a two-out double in the third, but escaped unscathed. The Bucs ran some more two-out offense at Gray. Gregory was at second with a single and stolen base with one down. Cutch walked with two away, and JHK came through again, doubling to right center; one run scored as Carlos Gonzalez cut off the ball nicely and got it quickly, freezing Cutch at third. It paid off; The Kid walked but Fran whiffed.

It was a clean fourth for Frankie. Jordy singled with an out and was caught stealing easily with Francisco up; can't tell if it was a blown sign or due to Frankie pulling back on a bunt attempt, with Jordy hung out to dry. Gray's sixth whiff ended the frame; his high heat is his K pitch.

The seven hitter, Kyle Parker, drew a leadoff walk, and it would haunt Liriano. A wild pitch moved him to second and a sac fly to third. Gray went down swinging, but Jose Reyes caught jcaught a hung change and lined it off the bottom of the foul pole to tie the game.

Gregory did it all tonight (photo USA Today)
Not for long; Gregory doubled, barely beating the rap at second as Gonzalez made a nice play off the wall. A wild pitch moved him to third, and Marte's liner to left was deep enough to chase him home. Cutch's infield single to the SS hole put a fork in Gray, who was approaching 90 pitches, beyond his usual 75 pitch cut-off. Christian Bergman came in, and gave up a hard shot to Jung-Ho, but right at third to start a 5-4-3 DP to end the frame.

But again, the lead was short lived when Gonzalez, who is having himself a night, crushed a high heater deep into the RC seats ; fortunately, The Kid had made a leaoing grab of a liner prior to CarGo's at-bat. Nick Hundley singled and took a big turn; Gregory gunned the ball to Walker, and his relay nailed Hundley trying to get back. Fran singled with an out, and with two gone, Jordy's can of corn pop was dropped by DJ Mahieu. Michael Morse hit for Frankie and worked a walk after falling behind 0-2. Gregory rifled a shot to right (the exit speed was 113 MPH); CarGo, who's been a one man wrecking crew, made a diving catch to close the inning.

Joakim Soria tossed a clean seventh, as did the Rox Jimbo Diaz. Tony Watson took the ball. Tony Watson came in and Reyes dropped a single into center. He was bunted to second and stole third when Fran had the ball pop out of his glove. Nolan Arenado hit a soft liner to right; Gregory gloved it and threw out a tagging Reyes in no contest to keep the score even.

Scott Oberg toed the rubber. After a K, he walked Fran and Pedro, and the wheels turned. S-Rod came in to run for El Toro and A-Ram hit. His ball to right was corralled, but moved Fran to third. Josh then grabbed a stick, and with a big hole on the right side shot a single through to put the Bucs up. Gregory then drilled a 3-2 pitch into center; with the runners off on the pitch, an insurance tally was on the board.

The Shark worked a 1-2-3 ninth, and it was another good night at the office.

It was worth the price of admission to watch the right fielders tonight. El Coffee and CarGo both put on great shows. And again, the bullpen made the difference; Colorado's has struggled all year while the Bucs late inning trio shut down the Rockies. That deep bench came through too; Clint loves a full toy box.

Jay Happ takes on Chris Rusin tomorrow night.

  • El Coffee was 3-for-5 (he's hitting .356 this month) with a double, scored twice, drove in a run, stole a base and had two outfield assists, the first Bucco OF'er to pick off a pair in the same game since Josh in 2013.
  • Cutch has had multi-hit outings in six of his last eight games; he has 40 on the year.
  • All five Pirate runs came in after two outs. As Josh said on the post game interview "We use 'em all."
  • With Gregory's two assists, the Pirate outfield now has 30 on the year, tops in MLB.
  • The attendance was 32,607. 
  • Indy's Chris Volstad went 2-for-4, drove in four runs & pitched seven innings of one-run ball to power an 8-1 win over Louisville

Frankie v Jon Gray; Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Francisco Liriano (9-6, 3.23) opens the Rox set against Jon Gray (0-0, 5.94). Frankie is 8-2/2.79 in his last 16 starts, and has been generally steady rather than spectacular this year. He's won each of his last five decisions and the Pirates have won the last 10 games that he's taken the hill for (btw, the record is 14 straight, held by Dock Ellis), so consistency does pay off. The lefty is 1-2/5.48  in four career starts against the Rox, but hasn't seen them since 2013.

Gray, from Oklahoma, is the Rox top pitching prospect (he was picked third overall in the 2013 draft) and joined the rotation early this month, albeit on a 75-pitch limit. He features an upper 90s fastball, a nasty but inconsistent power slider, and an in-progress changeup. Gray has been up-and-down, with two beauties and two busts authored so far in his career. Oddly, he hasn't gotten a decision yet, although Colorado has dropped all four games, good and bad, that he's started.

The Pirates have won five straight games and six of their last seven against the Rockies at PNC Park. The Rox are having a tough year, but they did just take a series from Atlanta at Turner Field so they haven't mailed it in (although they have lost 12-of-16, so since they've lost Tulo, ouch). The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

The everyday lineup, with JHK at third and Jordy at SS.

  • Elias Says: The last time the Pirates (77-49) were 28 games above .500 before September was in 1972. That team won 96 games, the most in the majors that season. 
  • Pedro Alvarez hit the 125th long ball of his Pirates career last night. He now ranks 14th on Pittsburgh’s all-time home run list, three behind Richie Hebner (128). Since the beginning of 2012, Alvarez’ 105 home runs are the second-most among all NL players, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton's 125.
  • Neil Weinberg of Fangraphs likes both Fran Cervelli and the way the FO was ahead of the curve when they dealt for him. 
  • Pittsburgh is on track to do something it never has before - go through a season w/o a complete game. 
  • Clint Hurdle now ranks seventh in all-time Pirates manager history with 410 wins, passing Hall-of-Famer Bill McKechnie, who led the club to 409 victories.
  • Baseball America's "Prospect Hot Sheet" has Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell high on their list
  • 2B Max Moroff of Altoona was named to the Eastern League All-Star team.

Cole Train Keeps Rollin'; Bucs Hold Off Marlins 2-1 To Take Series

OK, we can quit worryin'. Gerrit Cole finally got that 15th win (and his first road win in two months) with his second straight strong outing, beating the Miami Marlins 2-1.

The Bucs looked like they might run away and hide again, but it wasn't to be. In the first, Gregory singled off Justin Nicolino, but was picked off on an early break to second. Cutch walked, but nothing came of the frame. In the second, Fran tripled and was cashed in on a Neil Walker sac fly.

The Bucs golden gateway opened in the third, but they couldn't take advantage. Nicolino gave up a Cole single and Gregory Polanco walked to open the frame Starling Marte poured some cold water on the affair by banging into a DP. The Marlin lefty tried to keep the Pirates alive by walking the next pair, but coaxed Fran into a weak fly to right to end the frame and keep the Pirates' lead at 1-0. Not often do three walks and the pitcher getting a hit come up snake eyes.

There was some action in the Fish half; Fran managed to get ejected for mouthing off to plate ump Alan Porter when a pitch that had been called a strike against Cervelli earlier in the inning was called a ball with Gerrit tossing. Clint Hurdle and Dave Jauss came out, more to protect Fran (didn't work) than beef, although it did appear some frank discussions were held.

The Cole Train is back on track (photo Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Pedro added a 443' bomb to right in the fourth, his third off a lefty this season, and it was hush-hush after that.

Indeed, neither club stirred the pot much until the seventh. The Fish parlayed a couple of sort liners (Martin Prado's fly to right center was perfectly placed, dropping between Cutch and El Coffee, while Marcell Ozuna muscled a broken bat knock) and a sac fly into a run.

The Fish tried to rally in the eighth. A grounder to S-Rod was knocked down, then thrown away (originally ruled an error, it was later switched to a hit; tough play to score). The runner was bunted to second, and that brought in Tony Watson. He routinely shut the door, and The Shark did the same in the ninth, erasing a leadoff single via the DP and earning his league-high 41st save.  Cole's 15th win ties him with Michael Wacha for #2 in the show, behind Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta, who have 16 victories.

The Bucs open a quick three-game home set against the Colorado Rockies tonight. The series lidlifter pits Francisco Liriano against rookie Jon Gray.

8/28: Neagle-For-Schmidt; Byrd's Debut; HBD Cholly, Howie; Racking Up The Runs

  • 1898 - Charlie “Jolly Cholly” Grimm was born in St. Louis. The 1B played six years (1919-24) in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, but made his reputation with Chicago in the following dozen years after a big 1924 trade sent him to the Cubs.
  • 1911 - Pirate super scout Howie Haak was born in Rochester, NY. Pittsburgh discovered much of its legendary Latino talent from the mid-1950s through the 1980s thanks to Haak's efforts. He recommended that Pittsburgh draft Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn system and signed Manny Sanguillen, Omar Moreno and Rennie Stennett of Panama; Julian Javier, Tony Pena, Jose DeLeon, and Cecilio Guante of the Dominican Republic; Al McBean of the Virgin Islands and Roman Mejias of Cuba.
  • 1925 - The Pirates hung on to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-9 at the Baker Bowl. Kiki Cuyler had four hits, including a pair of inside-the-park homers, Eddie Moore and Clyde Barnhart added three knocks apiece and George Grantham homered. But Babe Adams and Tom Sheehan gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth and Ray Kremer had to come on to get the final out with the bases juiced. He retired pinch hitter Nelson “Chicken” Hawks, who was batting for the second time in the inning and already had a hit and run under his belt.

  • 1929 - Donie Bush resigned as the Pirate manager, replaced by coach Jewel Ens. Bush took the team to the World Series in 1927, where they were swept by the Murderer’s Row Yankees and played without Kiki Cuyler, who Bush had benched. The Pirates had lost 8-of-9 when Bush resigned and were 14-½ games behind the eventual titlists, the Chicago Cubs.
  • 1930 - The Pirates scored in double figures for the third straight game, beating the Cincy Reds 11-2 at Forbes Field in the second game of a twin bill after winning 16-12 in the lid lifter. The club started the streak at Wrigley Field with a 10-8 win over the Chicago Cubs. Gus Suhr went 7-for-13 with six runs, eight RBI, two homers, two triples and a double over that span.
  • 1940 - Homestead Grays RHP Ray Brown earned his 27th consecutive victory over a two year span when he shut out the Baltimore Elite Giants 5-0 on three hits, bringing his record to 12-0 (he finished 15-4). Brown played for Cum Posey's Grays from 1932 to 1945, winning 109 games in his career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • 1951 - The Bucs ended the New York Giant’s winning streak at 16 games, the longest since 1935, when LHP Howie Pollet tossed a six hit shutout for a 2-0 win at the Polo Grounds. The Pirates only had three hits (two by rookie Frank Thomas), but were issued eight free passes (three to Ralph Kiner), and both Bucco runs were unearned.

  • 1956 - The Bucs spotted Warren Spahn and the first place Milwaukee Braves a four run lead at County Stadium, then scored four times in the seventh to tie the game on the back of Dale Long’s three run homer. The Pirates took command the next frame when Dick Groat’s two-out infield knock to the SS hole plated Frank Thomas. A tag team sixth-inning catch may have ignited the Bucs: per The Milwaukee Journal's Cleon Walfoort "Clemente and Bill Virdon robbed Spahn of an extra-base hit and the Braves of one or more runs. Clemente got his glove on the ball against the fence and Virdon grabbed it as it squirted out. It was just after this remarkable catch that the Pirates came to life."
  • 1959 - Vern Law whitewashed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-0 on five hits at Forbes Field, striking out seven and supported by three solo homers off the bats of Roberto Clemente, Smoky Burgess and Rocky Nelson. Clemente’s was an inside-the-park four bagger that hit off the flagpole in left center 457’ away on one hop, the deepest part of FF. Pittsburgh banged out ten hits and were helped by being issued nine walks.
  • 1967 - Roberto Clemente had three hits, including two homers, to lead the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the Braves. He hit the game winner with two out in the tenth at Atlanta Stadium. Denny Ribant got the win, and Juan Pizarro the save.
  • 1974 - The Giants banged out 14 hits at Candlestick Park, but the Bucs took home the win 3-1 in 11 innings on Ed Kirkpatrick’s two out double. San Francisco stranded 16 runners as Jerry Reuss and game winner Dave Giusti bent but didn’t break.

  • 1988 - The Atlanta Braves sent IF Ken Oberkfell and cash to Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Tommy Gregg. Oberkfell spent a season and change with the Bucs as a seldom used reserve, and Gregg played nine more years, mostly as a reserve outfielder.
  • 1996 - LHP Denny Neagle was traded to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jason Schmidt, OF Corey Pointer and 1B Ron Wright. Schmidt continued in the mold of starters developed by the Bucs who blossomed elsewhere because of salary.
  • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez hit the longest homer by a Pirate to date at PNC Park, bombing a sixth inning Brandon Dickson delivery 469’. The shot cleared the seats in center and bounced onto the Riverwalk beside the Allegheny River during the Bucs 9-0 win over St. Louis. El Toro also added a 422’ shot in the third off Jake Westbrook as James McDonald got the win.
  • 2013 - Newly acquired Marlon Byrd hit a homer and tallied three RBI in his first game with the Bucs to ice Pittsburgh’s 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park, with Charlie Morton getting the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Byrd was the third Pirate player to hit a home run and have at least three RBI in his first game with the team after playing for another MLB team earlier in the season. Derrek Lee hit two dingers and had three RBI on August 1st, 2011 after being traded from the Orioles and Shawon Dunston hit two long balls and drove in four runs on September 2nd, 1997 after being acquired from the Cubs.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cole Train v Justin Nicolino; Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Gerrit Cole (14-7, 2.49) closes out the trip against southpaw Justin Nicolino (2-1, 3.77). The Cole Train is due. He's been up and down this month, but deserves to have a win or two, something he hasn't picked up since July 26th (and hasn't won on the road since mid-June). He's faced the Fish three times, once this year and twice last season, and is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in those starts. Gerrit gave up a pair of solo home runs while winning a 5-2 decision at PNC Park on May 27th. In 2014, he lost 3-2 to Jose Fernandez, along with a no-decision.

27 year old rookie Nicolino had a nice outing against the Phils last time on the hill, and has a rep as a contact pitcher, pulling a fastball, cutter and change from his toolkit. Pittsburgh has had its share of problems against change up tossers, so this could be an interesting match. The game starts at 7:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

This is like the anti-lefty lineup; Gregory, Pedro and The Kid are all in the order while JHK (who oddly enough hits righties better than lefties) is sitting. Nicolino has a normal split and is murder on lefties, with a .194 OBA, but we're sure Clint has a method behind his madness...kinda sure, anyway.
  • Cutch has hit at least 20 home runs in five consecutive seasons, becoming the first Pirate to do so since Jason Bay from 2004-08. The only other players in Pirates history to hit 20 + home runs in five consecutive seasons are Willie Stargell (13 years - 1963 to 1976), Ralph Kiner (seven years - 1946 to 1952) and Frank Thomas (six seasons - 1953 to 1958). 
  • Andrew is in one of his zones: he has multiple hits in four straight games and in five of his last six contests.
  • Joe Blanton extended his scoreless streak to 15-1/3 innings, the fourth-longest active streak in the majors behind Toronto's Brett Cecil (18-1/3 IP), pen mate Arquimedes Caminero (16 IP) and Houston's Tony Sipp (16 IP).
  • Miami trails the season series by a 1-5 tally and are just 6-17 against the Pirates since moving to Miami.
  • Anthony Castrovince put together his list of theMLB's Top Ten managers, and Clint's on it.  Of course, so are Mike Matheny and Joe Maddon, and both ahead of our skipper.

8/27: HBD Jordy; Byrd Deal:Tiny's Last Start; Pedro Contract Saga Begins

  • 1910 - Babe Adams, who took the hill in spite of a stomach bug, tossed a six hitter to down the Superbas 4-2 at Forbes Field. The outfielders played as an afterthought; the only out recorded in the pasture was a fly caught by Chief Wilson, and Brooklyn’s sole contribution was an assist by Zack Wheat, who threw out Bobby Byrnes trying to stretch a double into a triple. The solitary OF put out set an NL record.
  • 1925 - The Bucs tossed their second straight shutout against Boston at Braves Field, winning 1-0. The Pirates Vic Aldridge and Boston’s Larry Benton traded four-hitters; Pie Traynor drove in Eddie Moore in the third with the game’s only run. The day before, Lee Meadows threw a nine hit, 2-0 whitewash of the Braves, and did it without striking out a soul.
Eddie Moore (photo undated/World Wide Photos)
  • 1936 - The Pirates beat the Brooklyn Dodger 6-3 at Forbes Field. The highlight came after the game, when losing pitcher Van Lingle Mungo, in a snit because of the four errors the Dodgers made that led to four unearned runs, left the team and returned to Brooklyn. He would later become famous when the 1969 song "Van Lingle Mungo" by Dave Frishberg hit the charts.
  • 1939 - Game Two of the Negro League East-West All-Star game was held at Yankee Stadium. The East, behind Homestead Gray C Josh Gibson’s four RBI, won 10-2.
  • 1948 - The Phillies lost on a walk off homer by Bucco pitcher Kirby Higbe, who went long in the ninth at Forbes Field to give himself a 4-3 win after working a scoreless inning of relief behind Elmer Riddle. It was the last of three career homers for Higbe.
  • 1949 - Pitcher Ernie “Tiny” Bonham won his last MLB start by an 8-2 count over Philadelphia. The ten year vet had complained of stomach problems, and died September 15th at the age of 36 after surgery performed the week before at Presbyterian Hospital uncovered intestinal cancer. His wife Ruth was the first baseball widow to collect a death benefit under the new player pension plan, receiving $90 a month for the next 10 years.
Tiny Bonham 1949 Bowman series
  • 1965 - The Bucs scored six times in the ninth at Forbes Field to take the Astros into extra frames, eventually winning their seventh game in a row in 11 innings 10-9. Andre Rodger’s two-run knock was the key blow in the ninth; Harry Walker sent him up to pinch hit for Willie Stargell against lefty Danny Coombs. Al McBean, the Pirates sixth pitcher, took home the win. Roberto Clemente threw out a runner going from first to third the hard way. The Pirates ran a wheel play with runners on first and second, and Bob Lillis rolled the ball through the vacant infield. Bill Mazeroski described what followed in BR Bullpen "Roberto raced in from right field, dove for the ball, and with his face in the dirt threw out the runner going to third base!" Walker told Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press that “Clemente made the doggondest (sic) play I ever saw.” It kept the comeback alive; Houston banged out two more hits after his play.
  • 1986 - SS Jordy Mercer was born in Seiling, Oklahoma. He was third-round draft choice in 2008, and the Oklahoma State product also played for Team USA. Mercer rode the pine in 2012, but saw some playing time in 2013 and won the starting job the next season.
  • 2008 - Pedro Alvarez was placed on the restricted list after the MLBPA filed a grievance against MLB over draft picks being signed minutes after the August 15th deadline. On September 22nd, Álvarez and the Bucs settled on a four-year major league deal at $6.4M to resolve the complaint.
Pedro Alvarez 2015 Topps Gold series
  • 2009 - The first and last Bucco hits left the yard, and that was enough for a 3-2 win against the Phils and JA Happ at PNC Park. Cutch opened the game with a long ball, and Garrett Jones ended it with a two run walkoff shot in the ninth. Denny Bautista got the win in relief of Charlie Morton, with Matt Capps earning a save.
  • 2013 - Looking to strengthen the roster down the stretch, the Pirates pulled off a waiver deal with the NY Mets for OF Marlon Byrd, C John Buck and $250K for minor league IF Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later (RHP Victor Black).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bucs Run Away & Hide Early Behind Cutch To Take 7-2 Win At Miami

The Bucs opened with a rare walk to Josh when Chris Narveson lost him on a 3-2 pitch; it came up roses two outs later when Cutch doubled to left on an 0-2 fastball for a 1-0 lead. Didn't take long to tie it, though. With two gone, Martin Prado took Jeff Locke long.

The second was a good frame for Bucco bats. Michael Morse led of with a double; The Kid added another and scored on Stew's single. An out later, Josh walked and Starling singled in another run. Cutch then hammered a three-run shot over the scoreboard in left, 414' away. The Fish chipped away; a leadoff double came in after a pair of groundouts to make it 7-2.

The third went scorelessly, with the Bucs going down 1-2-3 and the Marlins stranding a two-out double. A walk and a single earned Narveson the hook with two down in the fourth; Erik Cordier came in and nailed the last out. Jeff gave up back-to-back knocks to open, but a DP helped him escape the jam. Pittsburgh went quietly in the fifth. Locke, with a 7-2 lead, walked the eight hitter, Adeiny Hechavarria and left him at third three outs later.

Not exactly Locke-down early, but finished strong (photo Dave Ariigo/Pirates)
It was an easy sixth for Cordier, who's retired seven straight Buccos. Jeff tossed his first clean frame. A-Ram broke the spell with a one-out walk in the seventh, but the other three Buccos whiffed. S-Rod went to first and Jeff spun a 1-2-3, six pitch inning. Scott McGough took the ball from Cordier; kinda glad Erik didn't start tonight. The Kid opened with a single and a slow roller moved him up. Pedro came up to hit for Jeff and worked a walk, but McGough breezed through it with a pop and bouncer. Joe Blanton took over and sat Miami down after a great stab at third by A-Ram.

McGough worked a clean ninth, and Joe finished in grand style, striking out the side. The Bucs rode a big inning and some role reversal from Jeff - we can't remember the last time he got stronger through a game, especially after sweating out the early rounds - to an easy win. Now to wait and see what the Cards and Cubs do on the coast tonight, with gerrit Cole on the bump tomorrow to close out the series against Justin Nicolino.

  • Cutch's homer gave him 84 RBI; he had 83 in all of 2014. His high was 96 in 2012.
  • About the unlikeliest pair to draw two walks each, Josh and A-Ram, pulled it off tonight.
  • The Pirates have won 10-of-12.
  • SS prospect Cole Tucker will miss 10 months to a full year after surgery today on the right labrum of his throwing shoulder. He was the Bucs first round pick in 2014. Cole is a puppy at 19, but missing a full season is still a tough blow.

Jeff v Chris Narveson; Lefty Lineup & Notes

Today's Game - Jeff Locke (6-8, 4.56) opposes Chris Narveson (1-0, 3.86) in the third game of the set. Jeff is having a second half meltdown. In his last six games, he's put up an unwieldy 6.39 ERA and hasn't made it to the sixth inning, with the Giants handing him his latest defeat. He did shut out the Fish over 5-2/3 IP in May and is solid lifetime against them, going 2-2/3.08 in six career starts.

Kendry Flores was originally slated to go tonight (he was David Phelps sub) but he's got a grumpy arm, so Narveson, 33, got the call instead.  It's his first start since 2012, when he was a Brewer. Narveson is a late pickup; he joined the Fish this month from AAA Nashville after spending 2014 in Japan. The veteran lefty worked a half dozen games out of the pen as the long man before picking up tonight's spot start. The game begins at 7:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Clint is going to come up with some oddball combos with all this manpower, so get used to juggled lineups, like tonight's. The Kid gets a start against a lefty; tonight Pedro and tonight Gregory get a seat. Stew is getting the assignment behind the plate; maybe he can find the key to Jeff Locke.

  • Starling Marte recorded his league-leading 12th outfield assist last night, ho-humming a throw to third for an easy tag out of Adeiny Hechavarria. It’s the most assists in a season by a Pirate OF'er since Jason Bay had 13 in 2007. After he and El Coffee nailed runners last night, the Pirates have 28 outfield assists, tied for the NL lead with the Dodgers.
  • AJ did fine tossing off the mound yesterday; he'll throw another three-inning sim game on Sunday. He expects to be back for the September run.
  • The Bucs are among several teams scouting Korean 1B Park Byung-ho. The slugger has 43 HR in the KBO. 
  • Carlos Munoz, a 21-year-old 1B, was voted the Appalachian League Player of the Year after hitting .330 with 11 homers & 38 RBIs in 52 games with the Bristol Pirates.

Quickie Recap; Bucs Fall Quietly To Fish 5-2

This will be a Clkiffnotes recap; the old PC decided to go blooey on us last night.

The Pirates started quickly - A-Ram's single brought home Cutch - and ended with some noise, as the Bucs tacked on another run in the ninth and brought up the tying run before the smoke cleared.  In between, they managed just five more hits off Brad Hand, who lasted until the final frame; the eight inning stint was the longest stint the 25 year old has worked.

Charlie Morton got a couple of bad breaks - and what would a Charlie start be without those? - in yielding his first two runs. The first tally came in when Justin Bour doubled on a 3-2 hook after given new life. The pitch before looked like it caught him looking, but he got the call and took advantage. The second came around when Cutch booted a ball in center.

In the sixth, though, it was a different story. Charlie's hook, a killer pitch the past two games,  was staying up and the Fish banged it around. A bunt single plus a couple of hard hit two-baggers brought in a pair, and Jared Hughes continued his dismal August by giving up another double following a wild pitch.  He also allowed three stolen bases.

The little things that regularly bite the Bucs couldn't be overcome today. Dee Gordon stole four bases (a career high for Dee; the Fish had five on the night), A-Ram had an RBI but also a pair of DP and the fielding was less than airtight, although a mixed bag as both Polanco and Marte gunned out runners at third. Usually, those are just speedbumps, but Hand's off speed arsenal kept the bats in check. Like Monday night, the Pirates hit the ball hard, but tonight finding that patch of grass was even more difficult.

Jeff Locke will face Chris Naverson tonight.

  • The middle of the order (Cutch, A-Ram, Fran) went 6-for-11 last night, but the table setters, Gregory and Starling, went 0-for-8 with three whiffs.
  • The loss ended a six game Pirate winning streak against the Marlins. 
  • Christian Yelich returned to the Miami lineup.
  • SS Pedro Florimon cleared waivers and was sent to Indy.
  • The Cubs and Cards won last night, not news but still...

8/26: Brian Giles Trade; Big Poison's Big Days; Easy As Pie; Knuckler Duel; Big Frames

  • 1892 - The Bucs mauled the Philadelphia Phils 11-3 at Exposition Park. Elmer “Mike” Smith, Doggie Miller and Jake Beckley led the way with a pair of hits each. Smith, usually an OF’er, was the pitcher (he appeared in 17 games, starting 13), and per the Pittsburg Press, the “(Phils Ed) Delahanty found a package of lard in centerfield and the Phillies tried to work up a story that the ball had been greased...” The Pirates pleaded innocent, and the game stood.
  • 1912 - In a doubleheader split against Boston at Forbes Field, Chief Wilson collected three triples. He finished the year with 36, which is still the league standard.
  • 1926 - Paul Waner went 6-for-6 with two doubles and a triple as the Pirates beat the New York Giants 15-7 at Forbes Field. He used six different bats to collect the hits. Pie Traynor and George Grantham each had three hits; Traynor and Johnny Rawlings added three RBI apiece.
  • 1927 - The Boston Braves defeated the Pirates‚ 6-4 at Braves Field. Paul Waner‚ who went 4-for-4 the day before‚ started off with three more consecutive hits off two Brave pitchers before ending his streak at seven.

Paul Waner 1960 Fleer series
  • 1934 - Chester Williams of the Pittsburgh Crawfords led the East with three hits in the East-West Negro League All-Star game at Comiskey Park. The East won 1-0 in front of 30,000 fans when Jud Wilson drove in Cool Papa Bell in the eighth inning, giving Crawford Satchel Paige the win.
  • 1935 - Player-manager Pie Traynor blasted a grand slam and ended the day with five hits and six RBI as the Bucs battered the NY Giants 10-2 at the Polo Grounds. Woody Jensen and Tom Padden also homered to smooth the path for Ralph Birkofer’s win.
  • 1947 - The Pirates scored four times each in the first and second innings and added seven more in the fifth as they rolled over the Brooklyn Dodgers 16-3 at Ebbet’s Field. Wally Westlake homered, doubled, and drove home five runs as Billy Cox and Culley Rikard added long balls. Ralph Kiner went 5-for-5 with a walk and Frank Gustine added four hits to help Fritz Ostermueller cruise to victory. Brooklyn’s Dan Bankhead, via the Negro League Memphis Red Sox, became the first black pitcher to work an MLB game when he came on in relief of Hal Gregg. The Bucs beat him up on the hill, scoring eight runs in his 3-1/3 frames, though he did swat a two run homer in his first big league at-bat to help even out his rough debut.
Culley Rikard (image via Baseball in Wartime)
  • 1951 - The Pirates scored eight runs in the seventh frame to overcome a 9-2 fifth inning deficit and rally past the Dodgers‚ 12-11, at Ebbet’s Field in the opener of a twin set. Pete Castiglione and Bill Howerton had three RBI each to lead the comeback. The club dropped the nitecap 4-3 in 10 innings.
  • 1975 - The first eight Pirates hit safely against the Braves’ Jamie Easterly and Ray Sadecki before P Larry Demery flied out‚ tying the MLB record. The Buc scored six runs on their way to an 8-2 victory at TRS.
  • 1992 - Pirate rookie Tim Wakefield defeated Tom Candiotti of the Dodgers 2-0 in the first matchup of knuckleballers in the NL since 1982 when Phil Niekro and Joe Niekro faced off in a Braves-Astros game. Wakefield scattered six hits for the victory. Jose Lind provided the offensive spark with a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored.
  • 2003 - The Pirates shipped Brian Giles to San Diego for Jason Bay, Ollie Perez, and Corey Stewart. Pittsburgh had wanted Xavier Nady in the deal, but SD refused and threw in Bay instead. He worked out pretty well, as Bay ended up the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004 and the Bucs reeled in the X-Man in 2006.
Brian Giles 2002 Topps series
  • 2014 - Gerrit Cole pitched six no-hit innings at PNC Park, but a seventh inning St. Louis rally tied the score at 2-2. Things looked bleak when both Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez left the game with injuries soon after, but Ike Davis brightened up the room in the eighth. With Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte aboard, he crushed a two out, two strike change up from Seth Maness off the back fence in right center 442’ away to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win. Tony Watson got the win and Mark Melancon earned a save.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Charlie v Brad Hand; Lineup (JHK Takes Five; Lefty Order) & Notes

Today's Game - Charlie Morton (8-4, 4.06) toes the rubber versus lefty Brad Hand (3-3, 4.46). Charlie's coming off a gem against the Giants, and has posted a 2.93 ERA in his last five starts, with the Pirates winning each game during that span. He defeated David Phelps 4-2 earlier in the season and has gone 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last five outings against the Fish.

Hand is getting his second stint as a starter for Miami this year, and he's been OK in that role with a couple of good outings and one beatdown by the Cards. Brad's 7-20 career record as a starter is the worst among active pitchers, according to STATS, although he is 3-2 in that role this year. He faced the Bucs once in 2014 and came away with a no decision in a 6-3 Marlin win.

Beginning tonight the Pirates are scheduled to face five left-handed starters in the next six games. The Buccos are 14-10 against opposing southpaws this year, winning four of the last five games Getting righty bats like A-Ram & Michael Morse along with the return of Jordy and Josh should help the cause against the lefty onslaught.

The game begins at 7:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

JHK loses out on today's game of musical chairs; The Kid and Pedro get seats thx to a lefty on the hill for the Fish. Walker's platooning helps a couple of ways; Josh is rangier in the field, and against lefties this year is hitting .306 with a .775 OPS; Neil is stuck at .237 & .570. Also, it's really about the only spot to shoehorn Josh unless one of the OF'ers is due for some off time; there's already a three-way rotation going on for the left side..

  • Starling Marte is on a nine game hitting streak. He's also been pretty clutch this year. He's tied with Toronto’s Josh Donaldson with a MLB-leading 15 game-winning RBI.
  • Charlie is on a K-binge. For the first time in Morton’s eight seasons in the bigs, he’s recorded  eight strikeouts+ in two consecutive games (nine v Mets; eight v San Fran).
  • Mark Melancon’s 40 saves are the third-highest single-season total in club history, tied with Joel Hanrahan (40-2011) and behind Mike Williams (46-2002) & Jose Mesa (43-2004).
  • The Pirates have won six of their last seven games and 10 of their last 12.
  • AJ is slated to throw a bullpen session today as part of his rehab program. Like Jordy and Josh, his recovery is going along smoothly and if anything, ahead of schedule. 
  • The Pirates promoted 2015 sandwich-round pick, 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, to the Morgantown Black Bears from the GCL for a couple more weeks of work at a higher level.

8/25: Wilbur Cooper; 9th Inning Heroics; Dunne Gem; Redus Cycle; Cutch's 1st Walk-Off HR

  • 1910 - In the 12th inning at Washington Park, Bobby Byrne doubled, stole third, then swiped home to beat the Brooklyn Superbas, 4-3. It was the NL's first twentieth century extra-inning steal of home.
  • 1912 - The Pirates traded for 20 year old LHP Arley “Wilbur” Cooper from Columbus of the American Association for a pair of PTBNL. He was arguably Pittsburgh’s best franchise pitcher. He’s the Pirates all-time leader in wins with 202, lasting 13 seasons (1912-24) as a Bucco, starting 369 games and appearing in 469 outings with a 2.74 ERA. He began his pro career in 1911 with minor league Marion, a club that was owned by newspaper publisher and future US President Warren Harding. Legend has it that Harding was the person who recommended Wilbur to the Pirates.
Wilbur Cooper (image via Michael Grimm)
  • 1929 - The fans were able to hear the calls of home plate umpire Cy Rigler, who was wired for sound, a first in major league history. Wearing a mike and metal-plated shoes, standing on a flat metal sheet, Rigler's calls were broadcast over the Polo Ground speakers as he somehow avoided electrocution. The Giants topped the Pirates, 10-5 as the Bucs committed three errors and allowed six early unearned runs.
  • 1959 - The White Sox sent 3B Bob Sagers and OF/1B Harry "Suitcase" Simpson packing to Pittsburgh in exchange for vet 1B Ted Kluszewski, looking to improve their bench. Klu hit .297 during the rest of the season and .391 with three homers in the World Series for the Sox. Simpson retired after the season and Sagers was a career minor leaguer.
  • 1962 - The Pirate players called off a threatened walkout in objection to a rained out game that was rescheduled as part of a Saturday doubleheader with another doubleheader already scheduled on Sunday. Bob Friend, team rep, was irked that the players were bypassed in rescheduling the game. Friend lost the opener 3-2 to St. Louis at Busch Stadium, giving up a run with two down in the ninth. The Bucs took the second game 4-0 behind Earl Francis, who tossed a three hitter and was backed by homers off the bats of Dick Groat and Dick Stuart. They also split the next day’s twinbill.
Earl Francis 1980 TCMA series
  • 1979 - The Bucs scored twice in the ninth after two were out and no one aboard to send the game into extra innings, eventually winning 4-3 in 19 frames over the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium. Dave Roberts pitched out of a pair of bases loaded jams, once with no one away, to earn the win. The contest lasted six hours and twelve minutes, the longest Pirate contest until the Jerry Meals 19-inning game at Atlanta in 2011.
  • 1982 - The Pirates gave up a 4-1 lead at TRS, allowing San Diego to edge ahead in the eighth. But they tied the game in their half when Tony Pena’s grounder scored Lee Lacy and walked off with a ninth inning victory over the Padres when Jim Morrison singled in Enrique Romo, running for Willie Stargell, with the game winner. Kent Tekulve claimed the W.
  • 1987 - Mike Dunne fired a two hitter as the Bucs defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 at TRS. Dunne made a first inning Johnny Ray RBI single that scored Andy Van Slyke stand up. He struck out seven, allowed just one runner to reach second, and retired the last 10 batters.
  • 1989 - OF Gary Redus hit for the cycle in a 12-3 win over the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, scoring three times and driving in four runs as the Pirates won their fifth game in a row. Barry Bonds homered and Andy Van Slyke banged a pair of doubles to pave the road for Jeff Robinson and Mike Smith.
Gary Redus 1991 Score series
  • 1991 - Pittsburgh banged out four homers from Cecil Espy, Jay Bell, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla to whip the SF Giants 8-3 at TRS. Bell scored three times with a pair of RBI while Espy added three RBI and a run to back John Smiley’s win.
  • 1992 - Andy Van Slyke had three hits, including a homer and double, and drove home four runs while scoring twice as the Bucs beat LA 10-3 at Dodger Stadium. Leadoff hitter Alex Cole had three hits and scored three times as Danny Cox got the win in relief of Danny Jackson.
  • 1997 - Joe Randa and Mark Smith homered in the ninth inning for a 4-3 walk-off win over the Dodgers at TRS to give the Bucs a DH split. Both blows came off Todd Worrell, who didn’t record an out, giving up a walk and then the back-to-back bombs. Marc Wilkins, who worked the last two frames, got the win. Pittsburgh was clobbered 8-2 in the opener.
  • 2009 - Andrew McCutchen hit his first walk off homer in the ninth to beat Philadelphia and Brad Lidge 6-4 at PNC Park. Brandon Moss had tied the game moments earlier with a single and trotted home with the winning run ahead of Cutch. Matt Capps gave up a pair in the ninth for the rare daily double of a blown save and win.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bucs Reel In Fish 5-2

Good start for the Bucs; Gregory opened the game with a double off Tom Koehler. Not so good after that,with a pop out and pair of whiffs. After Jay Happ picked up a pair of routine outs, a hard single was followed by a soft one, but a whiff of Marcell Ozuna ended that. The Bucs hit the ball hard in the second, but found no grass. Old bud Casey McGehee singled to lead off, but a fly to Cutch and a couple of punch outs kept him at first.

The Pirates used some two out lightning in the third. Jordy lined out and Jay K'ed. back-to-back singles by Gregory and Starling set up Cutch, who doubled the opposite way for a 2-0 lead. A grounder, walk and 4-6-3 DP tucked the Fish away.

The Kid and Fran walked on nine pitches to start the fourth, but the bottom three hitters couldn't take advantage. Jay tossed a 1-2-3 frame. The Pirates set up shop with a Gregory double, Starling walk and Cutch single, but JHK hit into a 5-2-3 DP, with Martin Prado making a very nice play of yet another hard hit ball The Kid walked to load 'em again, but Fran popped out on the first pitch; not much plate discipline there. With two gone, Koehler rapped a 1-2 heater off the plate to first and off Pedro's mitt for an infield knock, but Jay got Dee Gordon on a bouncer.

Jordy singled with one gone in the sixth and was bunted up, but El Coffee flew out deep to center to strand him. The Fish went down in order; we'll see if Jay gets another frame while at 94 pitches.

JA Happ was tough again (photo Frank Franklin/AP)
Brian Ellington replaced Koehler on the bump, and drilled Starling in the ribs on the first pitch, a 97 MPH fastball. The Duke almost plunked Cutch high with his next delivery; it got to the backstop, moving Marte to second. Cutch crushed the next pitch, but this is a big park and held it in just shy of the 418' mark (the ball went 416'). It moved Marte to third, and after JHK walked, The Kid's sac fly chased in a run. Jared Hughes took the ball and Marcell Ozuna greeted him with a double. A grounder moved him to third, and another one plated him.

Erik Cordier came in for the eighth. Sean got plunked after a tight first pitch, Cordier was ejected, and the Marlins stormed plate ump Jeff Kellogg, who apparently saw enough last inning. After they settled down, Scott McGough came in. Jordy hit a roller to first and was rung up; the Bucs challenged and he was still out; maybe if his knee was 100%, he'd have beat the rap. An out later, Gregory's fourth hit brought Sean home. Tony Watson came in and gave up a leadoff single. Two outs later, the Fish got another hit, but Tony wriggled out unscathed.

Old Bucco Bryan Morris climbed the mound. He walked the bases loaded with two down, then lost Jordy on four pitches (two were borderline). That brought in Mike Dunn to face Josh, who grounded out to short. Antonio Bastardo jogged in and gave up a first pitch single to Ozuna. After taking a close two strike pitch, McGehee singled to right to put Fish on the corners, and Clint waved in the Shark. He traded a run for a DP...maybe. The bang-bang call at first was challenged and overturned. No biggie; the next grounder was a DP, and the Bucs had a 5-2 win. Jay claimed his second Bucco win and Mark his 40th save.

Coulda been a bigger win; maybe some of those loud outs will find grass in the remaining three games. It'd be nice to give the pen a blow. But hey, 27 games over .500 is the Bucs high water mark and best spread since 1992. Charlie Morton takes on Brad hand tomorrow.

  • Gregory Polanco had a season high four hits tonight. His only out was hit on the nose. Cutch added a pair of knocks.
  • Mark Melancon's 40 saves lead the majors.
  • Tonight was Cutch's 1,000th game in the majors. Been a pretty good run so far.
  • Jay Happ has been averaging a whiff per inning (22K:21-2/3IP) as a Bucco.
  • Jared Hughes has had a tough month. He's been touched for 14 hits in 9-1/3 IP since July 31st, and charged with five earned runs.
  • The Marlins' Scott McGough went to Plum High, and was actually drafted out of HS by the Bucs. He opted to go to Oregon.