Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday: Ryan Vogelsong v Jason Hammel, Lineup, Notes (Lobster Dealt, AFL Team)

Tonight: The series concludes at 8:05 and will be carried by Root Sports, ESPN (out of market) and 93.7 The Fan as the Bucs try to avoid the broom.

Pitchers: Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02) will toss the series finale versus Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21). Ryan has been a dependable back-ender since he's joined the rotation, getting the Bucs into or through the sixth very competitively. Vogey's one iffy issue has been control; he's walked nine in his last 17 IP. He's faced the Cubs twice this year and was touched for a run in 3-1/3 innings with both outings in relief. Hammel flipped days with the originally scheduled starter, Mike Montgomery. He'll have a chip on his shoulder, as he was peeved at getting a quick hook in his last outing and let skipper Maddon know about it. Not that we can blame Joe - in Hammel's last two games, he's gone 5-2/3 IP, giving up nine ER (13 overall) on 15 hits. But he's beaten Pittsburgh twice this year, working 11-2/3 innings and yielding three earned runs, so we'll see which streak stays intact.

V-Song closes out the Cubbie set (photo Scot Tucker/SF Bay)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Fran Cervlli C, S-Rod 3B, Jordy SS, Vogelsong P. Freeser's bat has been in the deep freeze this month, so Clint's giving him a day off and putting S-Rod at the hot corner.

  • The Pirates traded Kyle Lobstein, who was just DFA'ed, to the O's for LH reliever Zach Phillips. He'll report to Indy but won't go on the 40-man roster. The 29-year-old southpaw slashed 9-3-1/4.45 with 12.5 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 over 60-2/3 IP at AAA Norfolk, and has 19 MLB appearances over three seasons (last in 2013) with a 3.45 ERA and the same high K, high walk profile.
  • The Pirates prospects assigned to the Surprise Seguras of the Arizona League were announced today. They are OF Austin Meadows, IF Eric Wood, C Jin-de Jhang, RHP Montana DuRapau, RHP Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP Edgar Santana & RHP Trevor Williams. It's a fairly loaded group; the Pirates usually send players who are more bubble-prospect types.

8/31 Happenings: HBD Red, Ray, Ramon; Ray, Mad Dog, A-Ram, Shawon, Diaz, Lindell Deals

  • 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. And yes, he was a redhead.
  • 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
  • 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. Then tried to come back again as a knuckleball pitcher after a couple of years in the minors.
  • 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.
Johnny Ray 1982 Donruss
  • 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. Madlock would last two more year in the show. 1B Bream spent six years in Pittsburgh, four as a starter, and hit .269 in that span. Reynolds, a platoon OF, also spent six seasons with Pittsburgh and also hit .269. Bench OF Espy spent a couple of campaigns in town, hitting .254.
  • 1994 - In one of their better international deals, the Pirates signed 16 year old Aramis Ramirez as an amateur free agent. A-Ram was the Pirates' last significant signing from the Dominican until the Rene Gayo era began a decade later. Ramirez had a pair of stints with the Bucs to open and close his career.
  • 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
  • 2011 - Pittsburgh shipped OF Matt Diaz to the Braves for a PTBNL, 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.

8/31 Games: ElRoy's Last Outing, 7 In A Row, Rallies...

  • 1960 - The Pirates fell behind the Giants and Billy “Digger” O’Dell 3-0 at Candlestick Park, but after seven were up 7-4, which would be the final score. The club got a two-run shot from Roberto Clemente in the fifth, used four singles to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth and iced it in the seventh with two more singles, a walk, an error and two sac flies. The G-Men got a run back in their half off Joe Gibbon and had a pair on, but Elroy Face came on and struck out Felipe Alou and Willie Mays. He finished up the game, striking out six in 2-⅔ IP for his 20th save. Reliever Clem Labine was credited with the win.
ElRoy Face 1960 TCMA
  • 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.
  • 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.
Bob Kipper 1991 Fleer
  • 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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hendricks Humbles Bucs 3-0

Kyle Hendricks tossed a 1-2-3 opening frame. Chad Kuhl had lead off hitter Javier Baez 0-2, then brushed his uni for a HBP. An loud out later, Anthony Rizzo got a sinker in the lefty sweet spot and lined it over the ivy to make it 2-0. It was three up, three down in the second for Pittsburgh. Kuhl had Addison Russell 0-2 and walked him to start the frame. He stole second on Fran and scored on a single; Kuhl cut the offline throw and chopped down Miguel Montero steaming into second. Two free runners to lead off turned into two runs.

Chad had a stormy start, then settled in (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs went down in order in the third; they've hit one ball out of the infield. The first Cubbie was retired, so the ensuing double (Josh Bell zigged when he should have zagged while tracking a soft bloop, but was in a tough spot because of the shift) and walk didn't cause any damage this time. J-Hay walked to open the fourth and promptly got picked off. Prob no diff as the guys behind him became garden variety outs. The Cubs got a two-out knock to turn the order over. Gregory singled to kick off the fifth. Starling hit into a force and then was nabbed trying to steal second; Pirate runners don't have much of a shelf life tonight. A whiff ended it. Kuhl spun a clean frame.

JJ doubled with two gone in the sixth and was left aboard. AJ Schugel came on; Chad was actually pretty solid after a rough start. The Cubs went down, stranding a leadoff rap. Cutch singled with an out in the seventh. He was forced by Gregory, who stole second. Starling followed with an opposite field liner, but it found leather. AJ spun another clean frame. Hendricks left after 99 tosses, replaced by Carl Edwards Jr in the eighth. Jordy doubled with two gone and Matt Joyce caught a 3-2 hung curve, but his liner to the CF ivy found a mitt, too. Jared Hughes took to the hill, giving up a walk and posting a goose egg.

AJ put up a couple of zeroes (photo USA Today)

Clint isn't the only skipper to use his closer with a three run lead; Maddon sent Aroldis Chapman out to face the top of the order, and 12 fastballs later, it was over.

Kuhl and the bullpen kept the game in reach, but this was the Bucs' toughest matchup. Hendricks is a soft tosser (he never hit 90) with five pitches and pin point control, and the Pirates have been traditionally a fastball hunting team. If a couple of bullets would have found grass, it may have been a different ballgame. They didn't, so just tip your cap to Kyle and hope Vogey has a day tomorrow.

  • The Pirates brought up IF Alen Hanson and LH reliever Kelvin Marte from Indy just before tonight's game. Steven Brault and Jameson Taillion were optioned to Bristol, where they'll join Adam Frazier, at least on the roster. All three will be back Friday when the Appy League schedule ends, so neither Jamo nor Brault will miss a start. The Lobster, Kyle Lobstein, was DFA'd to clear space for Marte on the 40-man roster. Now the bullpen and bench are both at regular strength.
  • The trainer told the press gang that Ivan Nova looks like he'll make his next start, and JHK should be able to take swings & play in games again shortly. Cole Train said he expects to back on the mound again this season and he's already starting some long toss. So all is good on the injury front.
  • With the trade of Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley, 1B Jose Osuna & RHP Edgar Santana land on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Pirates Prospects list.

Tuesday: Chad Kuhl v Kyle Hendricks, Lineup, Notes (MiLB: Nova PTBNL Named; Good, Bad & Ugly; Ex-Buc Notes)

Tonight: Opening pitch is slated for 8:05 and the contest will be aired by Root Sports, MLB Network (out-of-market) and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50) takes on Kyle Hendricks (12-7, 2.19). Cool Chad has been as consistent as clockwork - in his last seven starts, six have gone six IP and he's given up more than two earned runs just once. His last performance showed some strong sinker action; he got 12 ground balls to six flies with five K. But (always a but, right?) that one bad outing was his only appearance against the Cubs when he was chased in the third frame, so we'll see what's he's learned since then. Hendricks, 26, has been brilliant this season and leads MLB starters in ERA. Since May 22, he hasn't given up more than three earned runs, and he's only been tagged for a three-spot twice over 18 starts. Kyle is tough at Wrigley, where he's 8-1, 1.31 in 13 games this season. He gave up seven hits and one run with 12 K over six frames in his only outing against the Bucs this year, back in June.

Chad has his work cut out tonight (photo Gary Vasquez/USA Today)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Kuhl P, Clint's regular lineup.

  • From @joe_block - Starling Marte's 17 outfield assists are the most for the Pirates since Dave Parker's 26 in 1977. He's tied for the MLB lead in OF assists with Adam Eaton.
  • Gerrit Cole, on the DL until at least September 9th, has rejoined the team after his second opinion test confirmed elbow inflammation and nothing more sinister. 
  • The Pirates sent OF Tito Polo and LHP Stephen Tarpley to the Yankees as the PTBNL in the Ivan Nova deal. Neither are among the Pirate elite, but both are young and solid High-A guys ranked among the Bucs Top 30 Prospects, so it's a decent haul for the Bronx Bombers. Polo, 22, slashed .289/.360/.415 with 16 HR over two A levels this year while Tarpley, 23, was 6-4, 4.32.
  • Josh Bell was named to the International League postseason all-star team.
  • Altoona OF Barrett Barnes was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the second time this month. He hit .409  with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs last week and is slashing .311/.378/.478 for the campaign. 
  • @piratesprospects reported that Gift Ngoepe and Dovydas Neverauskas were arrested in Toledo over the weekend during a bar fight. The Pirates have suspended the pair for the remainder of the season, which for Indy ends on September 5th. Tigers prospect Warwick Saupold was also arrested, per Danny Wild's more complete MiLB article.
  • Neil Walker has a significant back issue that will need to be carefully managed for the rest of the season, meaning Walker will need regular time off and that it’s a matter of at least some long-term concern, per MLB Trade Rumors Jeff Todd. You could see it coming, but it's still pretty terrible timing for a guy that's approaching free agency.
  • The Tigers called up JaCoby Jones, sent to Detroit last year for Joachim Soria, and sent down ex-Bucco Casey McGehee. Motown also outrighted Alex Presley with the intention of signing him to a minor league deal if he clears waivers.
  • If you're curious, four is the break-even number of runs for most ball games per Baseball Reference.  Their numbers show that when a team gives up three runs, it wins 60% of its games; when they surrender five runs, it drops to 35%. Four runs win 49% of the contests.

8/30 Happenings: HBD Kiki, Arky Drowns, Gunner & Arlin, Martinez, Buechele Deals

  • 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. Per SABR, two explanations have been given for his nickname "Kiki." In one version, the players called him "Cuy" in the minors at Nashville, so when a fly ball was judged to be his play, the shortstop would call out "Cuy" as would the second baseman, and the echoed “Cuy-Cuy” caught on with the fans. A variant says that "Kiki Cuyler" was caused by his stuttering problem and was the way Cuyler's name came out when he pronounced it. 
Kiki Cuyler (artwork by Dick Perez)
  • 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.
  • 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.
Carmelo Martinez 1991 Fleer
  • 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 after hitting .248 in 453 BA. Miller tossed off-and-on until 1999, appearing in 44 games for the Marlins and Cubs, while Fajardo was done in 1995 after pitching in 28 games for the Rangers.

8/30 Games: Baron of the Bullpen's #22, Andrew 20-20, 12 In-A-Row, Pitching Gems, More...

  • 1921 - Dave Robertson connected for the cycle to lead the Bucs to an 8-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets 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.

Pie Traynor 1929 R316 via Kashin Publications
  • 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.
  • 1953 - Led by Jim Pendleton's three 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.
ElRoy Face (photo via SABR)
  • 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 season.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Freddy Sanchez 2006 Upper Deck
  • 2011 - Andrew McCutchen was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal outing as he 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.

!3 Inning Roller Coaster Ride Ends In 8-7 Bucco Loss

The canvas was dropped during some afternoon sprinkles, but it was a go for the contest as the tarp was rolled back up about an hour before game time, with possible scattered rain called for tonight. Tomorrow night is being forecast as the wet one, so that might become a long evening of ball.

Jake Arrieta had a 1-2-3 frame; he walked, natch, Josh Bell but he was banged out trying to steal (Josh is, umm, slow). Steven Brault gave up a lead off knock, then threw away a DP comebacker to put Cubbies on the corners. It cost him after a grounder chased home a run. Gregory just missed losing a baseball to open the second; the next two outs were routine. The Cubs added a couple of hits to the tote board, one hard and the other seeing-eye, without causing any damage.

Josh started things off with an opp field dinger (photo/MLB Pipeline)

Three grounders, three outs for the Bucs in the third. The first two Bruins walked, and an out later Jorge Soler lifted a heater to left for a run-scoring double that Marte appeared to give up on, fooling him off the bat. Still... A swinging bunt brought home another Cub to make it 3-0. Bell hasn't been around long enough to have the Jake shakes; he drilled an elevated fastball the opposite way, inside the pole and over the ivy in the fourth. The fourth straight lead off guy reached against Brault and two outs later, Steven brushed Kris Bryant, but he slipped out of it by getting Anthony Rizzo on his 92nd pitch.

Starling opened the fifth with a bloop to right. An out later, he stole second and went to third on an overthrow. Fran couldn't bounce the ball past Arrieta, Starling got caught off third and was picked off in a rundown. The Pirates challenged on a blocking the plate beef and lost, putting up a zero. Jared Hughes gave up a single and that was it. J-Hay singled with one gone in the sixth and swiped second ahead of another Bell walk. Cutch and El Coffee went after the first pitch; Andrew popped out and Gregory popped one into the LF bleachers. In spite of all the mistakes, the Bucs were up 4-3. AJ Schugel came in and hung a clean sheet, with a pair of K and a sweet snag by Harrison.

Gregory's blast turned the score around (photo Ron Chenay/USA Today)

Freeser opened the seventh with an infield rap and Fran worked a walk. With an out, Travis Wood took the ball to face Matt Joyce and won the southpaw showdown with a whiff. It didn't work so well against J-Hay, though, as he doubled home a pair off an 0-2 slider to make it 6-3. S-Rod went to first while Felipe Rivero got Kris Bryant and Rizzo before walking Ben Zobrist, but no blood, no foul.

Cutch greeted Spencer Patton with a single but was erased stealing on a very nice, quick tag by Javier Baez on a slightly off throw. Starling singled with two outs and committed some larceny. Freeser walked but Fran couldn't get the ducks off the pond. Neftali Feliz gave up a lead off two-bagger and a Wilson Contreras homer off a hung slider to make it a horse race again. Another double on a meatball turned up the heat even higher. Every ball hit has been a rocket - and no one is up in the pen. Feliz sucked it up and whiffed the next pair. A wild pitch put the tying run at third. Bryant walked on four pitches in an apparent work around - but to get to Rizzo? Guess that was the plan; he whiffed as Clint's confidence in Neftali paid off, against all odds.

Josh had three hits and three RBI (photo Getty Images)

Felix Pena took the hill for the ninth. J-Hay dropped one for a two-out knock to no avail. Tony Watson came in without a net. He coulda used one when Jorge Solter took him deep to center on an 1-2 fastball to take the game into extra frames. Aroldis Chapman took the ball in the 10th. Gregory walked with one gone and died at first. Jeff Locke gave up an opening dink into center, and an out later another grounder that was a step away from a DP put Cubs on the corner. Bryant was intentionally walked. Rizzo hit one to first; S-Rod stepped on the bag and threw home for the tag, which Fran laid on Baez despite an off-line tpeg from first. The Cubs challenged both outs and lost twice, so it's on to the 11th.

Trevor Cahill toed the rubber, and Jordy singled with one away. J-Hay reached on a boot chasing Jordy to third, with Locke up and no bench players remaining; they're one short after sending down Fraze for AJ. Locke did his job; Harrison didn't as he was hit by the batted ball for the third out (which the grounder probably would have been anyway). It didn't bother Jeff much as he tossed a clean frame. Justin Grimm took over and the middle of the Bucs order swung at everything, making for an easy inning for The Reaper. With an out, Baez tripled to the RC field gap, helped by a bad hop. Locke has became the master of the outre DP; Addison Russell flew out to left and Starling gunned down Baez tagging for home. The throw beat him cleanly and still went to a pointless review (Joe Maddon was being, well, Joe Maddon). This game has had more drama than a soap opera.

Freeser may be heating up; he had two hits and a walk (photo via ESPN)

Lefty Rob Zastryzny stirred for the 13th. Freeser and Fran opened with knocks, then Jordy walked to juice the sacks. S-Rod went up 3-0, took a strike and swung through two more, looking for a blast when a bloop would do. J-Hay came through with a well struck sac fly. Not putting up a crooked number in this situation has been a season-long bug-a-boo. Now it's up to Jeff Locke, in his fourth inning against the top of the Cub order. Dexter Fowler led off with a ground ball single, and Bryant took a tight pitch the other way to put Cubs on the corners. Rizzo singled to tie it, and an intentional walk loaded the sacks with no outs. A pinch hit single ended it.

Well, plenty of action. Locke shouldn't be faulted too much - he threw 76 pitches and went four innings for the first time in a month. Getting a four-inning start with a short bullpen (and they still used six relievers), gifting the Cubs three early runs and then having the back end of the bullpen implode was what lost this game. The team played hard, fought their way out of some tough spots and hopefully can rebound from a brutal loss.

  • The Bucco streak of 139 consecutive wins when leading after eight innings was snapped tonight. The last late blown lead was on April 21st, 2015 v the Cubs.
  • Gregory Polanco's homer was the 11,000th smacked in Pirates history, per the Bucs PR staff. As @JohnDreker points out, the club actually has 11,058 homers because the franchise started in 1882 as the American Association (considered a major league) Alleghenys. 1887 is the date the team uses because that's when they joined the NL.
  • Gerrit Cole was placed on the 15-day DL (retro to August 25th) with posterior inflammation of right elbow, so no one is left standing from the original Cole, Liriano, Niese, Nicasio & Locke rotation that began the season. It also makes us wonder if this is related to his prior triceps injury, as that tendon attaches to the elbow. Anyway, if all goes well, Gerrit is eligible to return September 9th.
  • Jung Ho Kang isn't with the Pirates at Wrigley as he was at Milwaukee. He went to Indy to continue his rehab (to clarify: not a rehab assignment yet, just where he's working out). The sniff test suggests that this may be a way to eliminate a potentially big distraction in Chicago as he's still under investigation, although the Pirates say it's just part of the long-range plan they have mapped out for his recovery.
  •  Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors opines that Ivan Nova, who will be a FA after the season, could get a JA Happ-type contract offer if he continues to deal through September. Happ got a 3-year, $36M deal from Toronto after a strong 2015 finish in Pittsburgh.
  • Nick Kingham worked six innings, allowing one run on three hits, one walk and four punchouts in his first rehab start for Altoona tonight as he works his way back from TJ surgery. The Pirates plan to keep him with the Curve through the AA playoffs.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday: Steven Brault v Jake Arrieta, Lineup, Preview, Notes

Tonight: The Wrigley Field opener begins at 8:05 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Steven Brault (0-1, 3.60) will open the Cubbie set against Jake Arrieta (16-5, 2.62). Brault is making his third start, this one in place of Gerrit Cole. Steven has showed some control/pitch count issues (5 BB in 10 IP and 188 pitches tossed) in the bigs. Also, for a soft contact, sinker-ball guy, his 12/20 GB-to-FB ratio needs flipped as it suggests too many elevated pitches. But for all that, he's been at least workmanlike in his outings. He hasn't been very sharp since returning to Indy, but that's common of demoted guys; look no further than Josh Bell. Arrieta blanked the Padres for eight innings on Tuesday, and though he did have a rough spell around the ASG, in five of his last seven outings he's given up two or fewer runs. And he has the hoo-doo over the Bucs - he's 9-2/1.99 lifetime, 3-1/2.67 this year, so it's no easy joust for Mr. Brault. The good news is the Pirates chased Jake after six frames at PNC Park the last time he faced them, so he's not bulletproof.

Steven Takes On Jake At Wrigley (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Brault P. Clint is sticking to the new normal against Jake.

Preview: The Cubs (82-47) were the first and still only MLB team to notch 80 victories this season, and their home field record of 45-19 (.703) sure helped. Against the Pirates, da Cubbies are 5-1 in Chi-town and 9-3 overall this year. In the last month, they've gone 23-7 to build a 14-1/2 game pad over Pittsburgh in the division. The Cubs are human, coming off a 5-4 road trip, but the Pirates have been outscored 38-18 in six Wrigley games, so there's still that voodoo that they do. But if the guys can sweep four games at Milwaukee, anything's possible...

  • The Pirates have won eight straight road games. 
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs digs into what has turned Ivan Nova around. Seems like Uncle Ray didn't have to use pixie dust, but just stoked his confidence and aggressiveness up a notch, the winning formula used for JA Happ last year.
  • @gbrowniepoints reported that Neal Huntington will have a scout watching Tim Tebow's workout Tuesday. 
  • Tyler Glasnow was taken off the DL and optioned him to Indy.

8/29 Happenings: HBD Pep, Dode, Billy; WENS-TV; Ray, Byrne Deals & More...

  • 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). He came by his nickname honestly. Per the Harrisburg Daily Independent, "He is the sort of player...who is on his toes all the time, chock full of life and ginger. It was his great display of energy in the minors that earned him the nickname of 'Pep.'"
Pep Young 1936 National Chicle Fine Pen
  • 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. As for his nickname, Rory Costello of SABR wrote “As a child, Joe’s parents nicknamed him Dode, although the boy (Joe) ‘had no idea what it meant, if anything.’”
  • 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 1941 (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 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.
  • 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 establishment in Harmarville. One of the guys he helped develop there was rookie shortstop Dick Groat of Wilkinsburg.
  • 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.
Johnny Ray 1987 Fleer
  • 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 never played for Pittsburgh and Garcia made 13 Pirate appearances with a 7.71 ERA while Ray won an All-Star berth and hit .296 in four seasons for the Halos before closing his career in Japan.

8/29 Games: Friend, Robby Do It All; AVS's First HR; J-Hay Day; Gems & More

  • 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.
Frank Thomas 1958 Topps
  • 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.
  • 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 - 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.
Mike Bielecki 1987 Topps
  • 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 1997 Circa
  • 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.
Wandy Rodriguez 2012 Topps Update
  • 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.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Home Run Or No Count: Bucs Broom Brewers 3-1

First inning, no probs for Chase Anderson who 1-2-3'ed the Bucs. Ivan Nova gave up a two-out double to Hernan Perez, the latest in a cast of Brew Crew nemeses, but no other damage.  The second was equally quiet. Pittsburgh got a bunt single and swiped sack from Starling while a HBP followed by a DP was Milwaukee's output. Pittsburgh went down without a peep in the third. With two gone, Nova hung a curve to Jonathan Villar and he crushed it to make it 1-0 Brew Crew.

Sweet back-to-back starts for Ivan Nova (photo Fred Vuich/AP)

In the fourth, a Cutch single, El Coffee walk and Starling blooper loaded 'em up, and that's just how the Buccos left them. The Brewers went down in order. Anderson fanned the side in the fifth; Ivan gave up another two-out two bagger that left no scars. The Pirates finally hit paydirt in the sixth, JJ smacked his first homer since June, a crush job into the RF second tier. After an out, it was Gregory's turn as he lined a changeup into the RF stands. Jhan Marinez came on to shut the gate, but not until he drilled Freeser in the shoulder blade with a running heater. Nova did what a pro does and tucked the Brewers away without a peep.

Marinez bopped Matt Joyce in the foot and walked a pair, but escaped unscathed in the seventh. Antonio Bastardo used nine pitches to produce two whiffs and an 0-2 fly out. (Ivan was working on a 75 pitch three hitter, but his hammy acted up and Clint kept him in the clubhouse). Carlos Torres took the ball in the eighth and Starling Marte added a bit of insurance by lining a shot over the LCF fence. Felipe Rivero gave up a two-out infield single in an otherwise spotless frame. Rob Scahill was nicked only by an infield bleeder in the ninth. Tony Watson made it interesting just a bit by yielding a two-out single, but finished it up with a K for his 10th save.

JJ's homer got the ball rollin' in Brewtown (photo Bruce Dill/USA Today)

A sweep at Miller Park.  Next thing ya know, they'll be winning a series at Wrigley Field.

  • Pittsburgh had seven hits. Starling Marte had three of them and was the only player on either team to have more than one knock.
  • The Pirates swept a four-game series in Milwaukee for the first time ever today. They hadn't swept a three-game or better series at Miller Park since 2004.
  • Ivan Nova said after the game that he expects to make his next start. His left hammy tightened and he was removed mostly as a precautionary measure.

Sunday: Ivan Nova v Chase Anderson, Lineup, Notes

Today: The grand finale will begin at 2:10 and be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. The Bucs are going for a brooming; they have never swept a four-game series at Miller Park.

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (10-6, 4.55; 3-0, 3.20 Pgh) concludes the set against Chase Anderson (7-10, 4.99). Nova hasn't lost as a Bucco yet, and is coming off a gem against Houston after some mixed results in his first three outings. Not too surprisingly, he's never faced Milwaukee. Fun fact - Of the catchers that have worked 100+ IP with Ivan, the two who have teamed up best with him re: career ERA are Fran (4.20) and Stew (3.11). Despite his meh stat line, Anderson has pitched quite well since July, and has a win over the Pirates, going five solid innings while giving up one unearned run on four hits, two walks and seven K.

Ivan and Fran are simpatico. (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Nova P. JJ gets back into the lineup now that his stroke is improving, and the rest is Clint's A-Team.

  • The Pirate bullpen was short yesterday and will be short again today. Juan Nicasio, Jeff Locke  and Neftali Feliz are likely out, while Tony Watson and Felipe Rivero have worked 3-of-4 games. So Clint would like to get six frames out of Ivan today; seven would be ideal.
  • Pirates recalled AJ Schugel and optioned Adam Frazier to Bristol. That has to do with the above note; the Pirates are short on arms. Bristol's season ends Friday, so it will be a quick turnaround for Fraze to return to the big club.
  • Steven Brault will get the ball tomorrow at Chicago. As for Cole Train, Neal Huntington told the press gang that he felt some pain coming from outside his elbow. The Bucs checked it out and didn't discover any ligament damage, but are sending him to LA for a second opinion this week to be sure. Gerrit will miss at least one start.

8/28 Happenings: HBD Jolly Cholly & Howie; Schmidt, Oberkfell Deals, Ray Wins #27, Donie Goes

  • 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. He earned his nickname for his cheerful, upbeat manner, ala Chuck Tanner.
  • 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.
Howie Haak (photo Getty Images)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 while Gregg played nine more years, mostly as a reserve outfielder.
Ken Oberkfell 1989 Topps
  • 1996 - LHP Denny Neagle was traded to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jason Schmidt, OF Corey Pointer and 1B Ron Wright. Schmidt continued the series of starters developed by the Bucs (like Neagle) who blossomed elsewhere because of salary constraints in Pittsburgh.

8/28 Games: Kiki, Gus Rake; Petey, Byrd Bombs; Howie, Deacon Gems & More

  • 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. 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.
Kiki Cuyler (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 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.
  • 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."
Bill Virdon 1957 Topps
  • 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 Forbes Field. 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.
Dave Giusti 1974 Topps
  • 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.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

J-Hay, Cutch, El Coffee & The Pen Boost Bucs To 9-6 Win

J-Hay opened the game with a rap to right off Jimmy Nelson. A swinging bunt moved him up 90' and a swipe got him to third. A two-out walk to Matt Joyce put Bucs at the corners and Starling's double over the 3B bag brought home a run before the fun ended. The Brewers came back with a vengeance against Jameson Taillon. A bloop single and walk with an out got him in a jam, then a changeup that was down but over the middle of the plate was shipped into the stands by Hernan Perez. An out later, a double and single tacked on another tally before JT K'ed Nelson.

Three grounders, three outs for the Pirates in the second. Jamo tossed a clean frame, too. Josh singled and stole a base in the third, but was left at third. Perez led off with his second long fly, this time connecting on a 3-1 center cut fastball. With two gone, an infield single and double almost rang up another point, but the Marte-to-Mercer-to-Fryer tag team got the final out at home.

Jamo found out it isn't all cookies and cream when you live upstairs (photo Joe Robbins/Getty)

With one gone in the fourth, Fraze singled and Jordy walked. Eric Fryer worked a nine pitch free pass, bringing up John Jaso as JT got a early shower. JJ knocked home a run with a rap. J-Hay blooped a two run single, and he and JJ moved up a station when the throw home bounced away. That extra base proved big when Josh Bell's right side grounder tied it up. Cutch legged out an infield roller, and the Bucs had the lead. Craig Counsell finally got Nelson; po' kid tossed 42 pitches this inning before Tyler Cravy was waved on. He walked Joyce but got a long and loud third out from Starling before any more pillaging occurred. Jeff Locke climbed the hill and the first batter, Cravy, collected his first MLB hit on the first pitch - a 409' homer to tie it. An out and single later, Jordy picked a hot shot and flipped it into two to cruise out of the frame.

The Bucs and Brewers both went down in order in the fifth. Blaine Boyer claimed the hill in the sixth and S-Rod, a defensive sub now at third (don't ask), singled. An out later, Bell went the opp way for  two-bagger and Cutch was given four wide ones to load the sacks. Gregory pinch hit (it was Locke's spot) and his double unclogged the bases to make it 9-6. Juan Nicasio toed the rubber for a 1-2-3 frame. Brent Suter took the ball for the seventh and was nicked for an infield knock by S-Rod, who he picked off after review to end the frame. Juan picked up a pair of whiffs to go with a pop for another clean inning.

Gregory should be cheesin' after his clutch blow (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Suter was touched for another two out knock that didn't hurt in the eighth. Juan gave up a rap but put up another zero in a big-time effort tonight. Both Tony Watson and Felipe Rivero are on the shelf after working three straight contests, so carrying the lead into the ninth was just what the doc ordered.
Suter struck out the side in an impressive outing for the Brew Crew. Neftali Feliz came in for the save against the 8-9-1 hitters on his third straight night of work. He gave up a one-out knock and two-out walk to bring up Ryan Braun as the game-tying run. Drama seems to be the driving force behind Bucco closers, and it continued to the last out. Jordy made a sweet play on Braun and gunned him out by a heartbeat. Counsell challenged - what the heck, it was bang-bang - and lost *whew*

Who'd a thunk the Bucs would take a series at Miller Park after that pitiful home stand? And they go for the sweep tomorrow, a feat they haven't accomplished since 2004. Give winner Jeff Locke and Juan Nicasio big props for eating five innings, and Jordy for a couple of web-gems. The Bucs are 1-1/2 games behind the Cards for the last wildcard, seeming to have more lives than your average cat so far during this crazy campaign.

The Energizer Bunny was in the middle of everything (photo Getty Images)

  • Today's big news to start: As first reported by @BiertempfelTrib, Gerrit Cole will have his right elbow examined in LA by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and miss his Monday start against the Cubs. He has already had an MRI that revealed that he doesn't have ligament damage, so the doc is looking for something along the lines of a bone spur, etc. We expect that Steven Brault, who is on the 40-man roster and rested enough to go, will get the start.
  • Josh Harrison had three hits, two RBIs, two runs and two stolen sacks. Cutch collected a pair of knocks and a walk, scoring once and driving home a run.
  • Starling Marte's 16 outfield assists ties his single-season career-high, which he set last year.
  • In a bit of near-karmic revenge, Sean Rodriguez nearly was trampled by Milwaukee's mascot sausages as he stepped out of the dugout to take the field in the sixth. Maybe they thought he was Randall Simon's long-lost cousin. 
  • @stephenjnesbitt tweeted that Clint Hurdle stopped chewing gum recently because it hurt a muscle in his neck. He posted that Clint said ‏"I've had the greatest emails. [That] I wasn't chewing my gum responsibly. Then there was a big concern because it wasn't sugarless gum."
  • Tyler Glasnow's rehab start wasn't real promising for a quick return to viable MLB action. He went three IP, giving up no runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. His control wasn't there. Tyler tossed 58 pitches, 31 for strikes, and threw a first strike to just three of 14 batters that he faced.
  • Getting there: Players are eligible for September call up on Thursday, though Indy's season doesn't end until the fifth, which should delay the arrival of the cavalry.

Saturday: Jameson Taillon v Jimmy Nelson, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game is scheduled for 7:10 and be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-3, 2.92) goes against Jimmy Nelson (7-13, 4.26) in a matchup of good young righties. With Cole Train being siderailed of late, JT is the de facto leader of the Pirates pitching pack. From the end of June til now, a span of eight starts, he's given up three earned runs just twice and gone at least six frames in every game. Jamo is 0-1 v the Brewers, but only allowed three runs in 12 IP. Nelson's had a bumpy August, but just broke a personal six-game losing streak against the Rox last outing. The Bucs haven't been able to solve him. He's 5-2, 2.55 lifetime against the Pirates and hasn't lost to them at Miller Park. Nelson last faced the Corsairs in April, picking up a win.

JT takes the ball tonight (photo Elsa/Getty)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Matt Joyce RF, Starling Marte LF, Adam Frazier 3B, Jordy SS, Eric Fryer C, Jamo P. Looks as if Josh squared will be a top-of-the-order thing for a while. Fran gets his blow today instead of tomorrow, and Clint's giving Gregory & Freeser rest days, too.

  • In his last eight starts, JT has gone 2-2, 2.25. He's worked 52 IP, giving up 13 ER on 42 hits with 45 K and five walks.
  • Gerrit Cole didn't throw his scheduled bullpen, so it's possible he's going to be pushed backed from his scheduled Monday start against the Cubs. It could also be that the bossmen decided to give him a brief break from throwing, too. Guess we'll see on Monday.
  • Since 8/16, the week before his extension was announced but about when he took over 3B full-time, Freeser has gone 5-for-31 (.161 BA) w/13 whiffs and just one free pass. Prob doesn't hurt to let everything catch up - he's had a lot piled on his plate in the last couple of weeks.

8/27 Happenings: HBD Jordy, Pedro Deal, Byrd Trade, Alleghenys Sunk, Negro League ASG, Tiny's Last Start

  • 1887 - The Alleghenys gave up the most runs in franchise history when they were bombed by the Boston Beaneaters 28-14 at North Side's Recreation Park. It was the sixth season of the franchise and its first in the NL, where the Alleghenys finished sixth with a record of 55–69.
  • 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. Teammate Buck Leonard also started. Held in addition to the All Star Game played in Chicago each year, the second ASG gave more fans an opportunity to eyeball the action in the pre-TV days.
Josh Gibson completes the circuit 1939 (photo via 90 Feet of Perfection)
  • 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.
  • 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.
Petey & the FO had to burn the midnight oil to strike a deal (photo USA Today)
  • 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).

8/27 Games:OF Optional, Rally, Higbe Does It All, Alpha-Omega HR, More...

  • 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 single-game 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.
Vic Aldridge 1925 (photo Mears/The Sporting News)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Roberto Clemente 1965 Topps
  • 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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Jordy's Slam Leads Pirates To 5-3 Win

Wait for it...after an out, Josh Bell walked. Otherwise, no probs for Matt Garza, who served a pair of whiffs. Ryan Vogelsong was dinged for a two-out single and saved by when a running grab in the CF notch by Cutch turned the page. Pittsburgh went 1-2-3 in the second. Keon Broxton drew a one-out walk and went to second when Josh Bell muffed a pick-off toss. An out later, an intentional walk brought up Garza, who fanned. J-Hay singled with two away in the third, and Bell followed with another when his liner to third deflected off a diving Jonathan Villar's mitt. Cutch walked to juice 'em, but no luck - Gregory's hot shot (111 MPH off the bat) was right at Scooter Gennett at second to end the frame.

Vogey ran through some raindrops but twirled another solid outing (photo Kim Klement/USA Today)

The Brew Crew went down in order. Fran got a knock with two gone in the fourth and was marooned. Four of the Bucs five base runners have reached after the sacks were empty with two outs, hardly the way to ignite a rally. A leadoff single and walk put Vogey in a jam. A force got the lead runner, and another grounder almost turned two, but J-Hay's relay was wide and took Bell off the bag. The bases were drunk with Brewers after a HBP, but V-Song K'ed his counterpart to keep it at zeroes. There was no Bucco base action in the fifth although Bell's ball was hauled down at the wall for at least one loud out. Gennett bounced a one-out single and was erased on an around-the-horn DP, started very nicely by Freeser.

The sixth opened with back-to-back throwing errors by Villar to put Bucs on the corners. Starling doubled one run home. Freeser whiffed on a fishing expedition and Fran was intentionally walked. That was a mistake. Jordy, who had already K'ed twice, got a juicy 0-2 slider and drilled it over the wall in LC. He was so pumped he almost overran Fran while circling the bases as Garza unloaded a lusty F-bomb from the hill. That brought in ol' bud Rob Scahill, who gave up a walk but finished the frame without any more blood-letting.

Jordy connected on career grand salami #1 (photo Jim Isaac/Getty)

An opening walk by Vogey wasn't the ideal response, and Keon Broxton's one-gone two-bagger put Brewers at second and third. Clint saw enough, and Jared Hughes double-timed it to the hill. He should have slowed down some; Orlando Arcia hit his first MLB homer on Hughes' first delivery, followed by a four-pitch walk. An out and single later, Antonio Bastardo came in and shut it down with a punchout.

Blaine Boyer took the ball in the seventh and was greeted by an Andrew double. Freeser singled with two away; Chris Carter knocked down the ball to halt Cutch at third, and the runners died at the corners. S-Rod went to first as Felipe Rivero toed the rubber and worked a clean inning with two K. Tyler Cravy worked a quiet eighth, surviving a loud out by Matt Joyce. Neftali Feliz was waved in and walked Broxton, who promptly swiped second. After two outs, he stayed there when Gregory made a lunging catch to save a run and shut the gate on the inning.

Jhan Marinez retired the Bucs without a peep in the ninth. Tony Watson gave up an infield knock and walk with two gone, followed by a double steal before putting an end to the production with a pop.

Tony is the Evel Knievel of closers, but he's been effective (photo Joe Sargent/Getty)

The Pirates could make it easier on themselves by chipping in an extra run or two after a crooked inning, and the pitchers could so the same by not walking seven and bopping a batter. But hey, two straight wins at Miller Field are rare and beautiful things, and we'll take them, drama and all.

  • The Pirates had seven hits from seven different players. Gregory was the only starter without a knock.
  • Jordy's base-cleaner was his first career granny. 
  • Matt Garza set his season high for K's tonight with nine whiffs. Seven was his previous 2016 high-water mark.
  • Wilbur Miller of Bucs Dugout takes a reasonable guess at the players who are likely to be called up in September and who are the b-list guys.