Friday, September 30, 2016

Bucs Busch-Whacked 7-0

The tarp came up an hour or so before game time, yay. Gregory singled with an out off Carlos Martinez and stole second to provide all the Buc action. Tyler Glasnow walked the first Redbird, then coaxed a couple of grounders, including a 6-4-3 DP to close the frame. JJ and S-Rod opened the second with knocks, but a diving stop/force out by Jedd Gyorko and whiffs of the 8-9 batters cooled the Pirates heels. It was a clean frame for Tyler. The Bucs went 1-2-3 in the third. Gyorko is on a roll; he caught a 2-0 fastball down the middle and turned it into a souvenir. After two whiffs, Matt Carpenter drew his second walk but caused no trouble.

Tyler tossed a promising outing tonight (photo Aledmys Diaz/

Pittsburgh were quiet in the fourth. Yadi got plunked, but another 6-4-3 DP cleaned the sacks. A two-out walk and wild pitch went by the wayside for the Redbirds. Not a peep from the Pirates in the fifth while the Cards got a leadoff walk and nada more. The Bucs got Gregory and Cutch aboard with an out in the sixth, but Martinez was equal to the task. Trevor Williams took the ball, and a John Jaso boot opened the gates; the next pair of Cards doubled to make it 3-0. An out later, Brandon Moss homered. Jared Hughes took over and whiffed his way out of the inning.

Alen Hanson singled and stole second in the seventh, but it led to naught. Zach Phillips took the ball and gave up a long fly to Matt Holliday, who got ovations before and after the swat, reacting to the Cards announcement that they weren't bringing the fan favorite back for 2017. So good moment for him and well deserved, even if he is a Bucco assassin. Then the Cards collected a double and single before Zachster got a GIDP. That was followed by an S-Rod error before out #3 was registered with the tally 7-0 St. Louis.

El Coffee had a hit, walk and stolen sack (photo via

Jonathan Broxton mowed down Pittsburgh in the eighth. Drew Hutchison came on and so did the rain; can't seem to shake those drops lately. Hutch took a little snooze and toed the slab one more time about 45 minutes later after the rain devolved into a drizzle. He walked the leadoff hitter, then settled down and took care of business. Miguel Socolovich used 12 pitches to send everyone back under cover for the night.

Well, so much for playing the spoiler, at least tonight. But it was a big step forward for Tyler Glasnow, who worked five frames and gave up a run on one hit with four K, four walks, a bopped batter and wild pitch. He wasn't getting much help with the calls, though - welcome into a playoff team's home park, rookie. And guys like J-Bell and Alen Hanson got to face another top MLB pitcher at work; Martinez had his monster change going for him tonight. So the learning curve continues...

Two days left of ball playing, then it's hot stove time. We're gonna miss the Buctober interlude.

  • The Bucs only had six base runners (five hits & a walk) and still managed to go 0-for-9 w/RISP.
  • The Pirates are guaranteed a losing record for the season with this defeat, which leaves them at 78-81 with a pair of contests left.
  • The Pittsburgh chapter of the BWAA voted its Roberto Clemente (MVP) award to Starling Marte and the Steve Blass (best pitcher) award to Jameson Taillon, which is quite a feather in his rookie cap.
  • Ryan Vogelsong, who will get the last start of the season, told the press gang that he had no plans to retire after the campaign and intends to pitch again in 2017.

Friday: Tyler Glasnow v Carlos Martinez, Lineup, Preview, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 8:15 and will be Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 4.91) vs. Carlos Martinez (15-9, 3.15). Tyler is making his fourth start, and the first three have been less than memorable. He's seen the Redbirds once, going 5-1/3 IP and giving up four runs in his July MLB debut. Martinez has been strong against the Bucs with a 2.41 ERA in three starts, but has lost twice. He hasn't been quite as sharp down the stretch (3-2, 3.60 ERA in September) and has a reverse split at home (6-7, 3.81 at Busch, 9-2, 2.45 away).

Tyler Glasnow aims to derail the Cardinals (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Bell RF, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, John Jaso 1B, S-Rod SS, Alen Hanson 2B, Eric Fryer C, Glasnow P. The Bucs got a good look at Fraze; guess it's Hanson's turn now.

Preview: Unlike the Cubs, St Louis hasn't used Pittsburgh as a punching bag. The Redbirds are 7-9 v the Pirates and 2-5 at Busch Stadium (35-43 overall at home). But the Cards are playing for something - they're one game behind the Giants for the last wild card and two behind the Mets for the top seed. With no pressure on the Buccos, it should make for an interesting weekend at Mound City. It's been awhile since the Pirates could play spoilers and offers a good playoff atmosphere for the youngsters to finish up the season.

  • Starling Marte (back) for sure and maybe Jordy (forearm) will sit the series out, per Clint. 
  • Pirates PR took a hit when it announced over the PA that last night's tickets could be exchanged for ones next season only to run afoul of a MLB rule that specifies the opposite if a game is played, even to a tie (in fact, no official MLB game has ever issued rain checks). Not a big deal, but the FO could wipe a little egg off their face because of that ooopsie promise by coming up with some other token of appreciation, especially as most of last night's fans were season ticket holders, a team's backbone. Maybe as a goodwill gesture they could send the ticketholders a Frankie bobblehead; they have a bundle of those stored somewhere.
  • The Cards got a break when the Reds failed to challenge St Louis' game-winning double last night. Yadier Molina's two-out two-bagger scored a man from first, but had actually bounced off the back wall and kicked back, making it a ground-rule double that should have froze the runner at third. Reds' skipper Bryan Price didn't appeal until the umps were leaving the field and the crew wouldn't accept his beef in the runway, citing timeliness. More St Louis pixie dust, for sure, but given the situation, Price's bad for being asleep at the wheel. 

9/30 TRS/PNC Era: 3,000 For Roberto, Bucs Clinch In '79 & '90, Losing Streak Goes On, Dewey's Day & More...

  • 1972 - At Three Rivers Stadium, Roberto Clemente hit a fourth-inning double off a Jon Matlack 0-1 curve to become the 11th player in major league history to reach the 3,000 hit plateau. As an added bonus, Clemente scored and his run was the game winner when Manny Sanguillen chased him home with the Pirates’ first tally. Take it with a grain of salt if someone told you they were there for the big occasion. Only 13,117 people showed up to watch the 5-0 win over the Mets on a raw Saturday afternoon. Dock Ellis took home the W and Bob Johnson worked three innings for the save; the pair combined on a two-hitter.
Roberto after #3,000 (photo AP)
  • 1972 - Al Oliver was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Swat Artist.” That he was; the Bucco center fielder slashed .312/18/89 and scored 88 times on the way to his first of seven All-Star selections.
  • 1978 - The Phillies clinched their third consecutive NL East title by eliminating the Pirates, 10-8 at TRS. The victory, fueled by Phil pitcher Randy Lerch’s two home runs, snapped Pittsburgh’s 24-game home winning streak. The Bucs went down fighting. They scored four times in the ninth and got the tying run to the plate twice, but Willie Stargell, who had earlier swatted a grand slam, whiffed and Phil Garner bounced out to end the rally.
  • 1979 - The Pirates clinched the NL East crown with 5-3 win over the Cubs on the last day of the season in front of 42,176 jubilant fans at TRS. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve got the win and save, Dave Parker had three hits, Phil Garner added a RBI, and Bill Robinson’s two-run single in the seventh was the key blow as the Bucs finished the season two games ahead of the Montreal Expos, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Steve Carlton and the Phils. Willie Stargell became the Pirates all-time RBI leader when he bombed a solo homer in the fifth to overtake Honus Wagner. Pops’ pair of RBI were numbers 1,475 and 1,476; he would finish his career with 1,540.
Willie Stargell Topps 2014 Fond farewells
  • 1987 - The Pirates split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs at TRS. They won the opener 5-3 behind Brian Fisher as Jose Lind chased two runs home and Spanky LaValliere scored twice. They dropped the nitecap 10-8 despite Darnell Coles tying a team record by blasting three homers and driving in six runs. Pirate pitching gave up just nine hits, but six were for extra bases and they added 11 walks.
  • 1988 - President Ronald Reagan tossed out two ceremonial first pitches before the Cubs lost 10-9 to the Pirates at Wrigley. “Dutch,” a former play-by-play announcer, joined Harry Caray for an inning and a half in the WGN booth. Jose Lind and Andy Van Slyke combined for seven hits in the win. It was a wild finish; Pittsburgh and Chicago each scored five times in the eighth and ninth innings to end up with a 9-9 regulation stalemate. Andy Van Slyke drove in Rafael Belliard with the winner in the 10th. Scott Medvin claimed the W while Goose Gossage took the loss.
  • 1990 - Pittsburgh beat St. Louis 2-0 at Busch Stadium behind Doug Drabek's three hitter to clinch its first NL East title since 1979. Gary Redus and Andy Van Slyke had the RBI as the Pirates finished a seven game winning streak to pull away from the Mets (the Bucs finished the year four games up). It took Drabek just 80 pitches to go the distance.
Doug Drabek 1990 Score
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield shut out the Phillies on four hits (although he did walk six) in a 5-0 whitewashing at TRS. It was the first time Philadelphia had been shut out since September 19th, 1992 (also at TRS, by Doug Drabek), a NL record-setting stretch of 174 games between blankings. Pittsburgh’s home finale victory over Philadelphia was led by Dave Clark, who homered and tripled and Tom Foley, who had three hits including a two-bagger.
  • 2009 - Ryan Doumit went 4-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, an 8-3 Pittsburgh win behind Jeff Karstens. Dewey became the second Pirate catcher in the last 40 years to have at least four hits and four RBIs in the same game; Jason Kendall collected four knocks and five RBIs in a 13–1 Pirates victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on May 19th, 2000. It was a good day at Wrigley Field for the Bucs as they took the opener, too, 4-0. Charlie Morton tossed a four hitter and Jason Jaramillo doubled in two runs.
  • 2012 - The Pirates were dropped by Cincinnati 4-3 for their 82nd loss, finishing below .500 for the 20th consecutive season to extend their sad little record. The Bucs were 16 games over .500 on August 6th, but for the second consecutive year, a dog days’ collapse was in the cards. This one at PNC Park hurt, as the Reds scored twice in the ninth off closer Joel Hanrahan to steal the win in front of 32,814 fans.

9/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Kiner's 54th & Walk-Off, Strong Finishes, Bro Act, Billy Herman, 16 Innings

  • 1893 - The Pirates ended their season with an eight game winning streak by topping the NY Giants by an 8-6 score to finish the year 81-48, five games behind the Boston Beaneaters. Pittsburgh’s partial owner William Chase Temple thought there should be a series between the top two teams (as his club was second) for the title, so he donated the Temple Cup to the league for a best of seven post-season championship series, to start in 1894. It lasted for four years, never being terribly popular among the players or fans, and didn’t help Temple’s Bucs at all - they never finished higher than sixth during the Cup’s existence. The winner was supposed to take ⅔ of the gate, but the first teams to play agreed beforehand on a 50-50 split, which the winning club then reneged on, causing Temple to sell his Pirate share, disgusted by the league.
  • 1908 - The Pirates beat the Cards 7-5 at Forbes Field behind Sam Leever, who relieved starter Vic Willis, and “Wee Tommy” Leach’s home run.. Pittsburgh fell behind 5-0 in the home finale, tying the game in the seventh and pushing the winning runs across in the eighth. The victory put the Bucs in a virtual tie for first with the NY Giants and ½ game ahead of the Chicago. In a wild NL finish, the Cubs would take the pennant by a game over both the Pirates and Giants.
Wee Tommy in 1909 (Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1921 - RHP Phil Morrison got his only big league outing, tossing ⅔ of an inning against St. Louis in a 12-4 defeat, giving up a hit and getting a K. He’s noteworthy as one of the Pirates’ early brother acts, as he joined sib “Jughandle” Johnny Morrison, who pitched eight years for Pittsburgh, on the roster that season.
  • 1946 - 2B Billy Herman, who the Bucs wanted as a manager, was traded to Pittsburgh by Boston with OF Stan Wentzel, RHP Elmer Singleton and IF Whitey Wietelmann for three-time All Star 3B Bob Elliott and C Hank Camelli. Even Herman realized a lopsided deal when he saw one, saying "Why, they've gone and traded the whole team on me.” Elliott won the 1947 NL MVP award and led the Beaneaters to the 1948 NL pennant.
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner hit his 54th homer and 16th in September over the LF scoreboard at Forbes Field as the Pirates beat Herm Wehmeier and the Reds‚ 3-2 behind Bob Chesnes four-hitter. The monthly total eclipsed Cy Williams' 1923 NL mark, and 54 homers is still the Pirate standard for long balls in a season.
Ralph was the Buccos' cover boy. 
  • 1951 - Ralph Kiner hit a two out, 425’ walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning to give the Pirates an 8-4 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. The four RBI gave him 109 on the year, his fifth straight season with 100+ runs driven home, tying the franchise record set by Pie Traynor. Bill Werle, the Pirates third pitcher, got the win.
  • 1964 - Nineteen Pirates struck out in 16 innings, but the Bucs still beat the Reds 1-0 on Jerry Mays’ suicide squeeze, knocking Cincy out of the top spot in the NL. Starter Bob Veale struck out 16 in 12-1/3 innings while the Reds’ Jim Maloney K’ed 11 in eleven frames at Crosley Field. Al McBean went the final 3-⅔ frames for the victory.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bucs Tie Cubs 1-1 In the Rain, Head to Birdland

Ivan Nova spun a 1-2-3 opening frame against the Cubby B-Teamers. Rob Zastryzni faced a mix-n-match Buccp lineup and was unmarked other than losing Cutch on a 3-2 pitch. In the second, a pair of infield singles sandwiched around a bunt put Cubs at the corners and a sac fly made it 1-0. A two-out double raised an alarm that was silenced by a whiff of Zastryzni. The Pirates again went down w/o a peep. As a reliever who's been tough, we'd expect the Z-Man to be solid the first time around the order.

Ivan's last start was a good one albeit against the B-Team (photo Pgh Pirates)

The Cubs went quietly in the third. The Bucs got a single, booted bunt and walk to juice the sacks with nobody out. J-Bell hit a sac fly to tie it; Cutch hit into a 6-4-3 DP to finish it. That wasn't bad enough; it started to rain though the troops soldiered through it. Nova allowed a single in the fourth, ditto for the Z-Man, who was relieved with two away by Travis Wood. The rain picked up in the fifth but didn't bother Nova or Wood. The ground crew spread the Diamond-Brite around, but after an out in the sixth, the umps chased everyone into the locker room and waved in the tarps.

Took awhile, but the match was called. It's a suspended game that will become a tie in the books, so the stats will count. (It doesn't have to be made up because it has no effect on playoffs.) One thing it does is make it impossible to have a .500 year now. At 78-80, they have to sweep the upcoming Cards three-gamer to have a winning season; a loss guarantees them a losing slate for 2016. And it does kick off Ivan Nova's FA season with a bang.

  • The Bucs last tie was August 24th, 1998, v the Cards at TRS; it finished 5-5. The game tonight lasted 1:15; the delay before calling it lasted 1:23.
  • The Pirates finished 4-14-1 against Chicago. They finished the campaign 38-42-1 at PNC Park.
  • Pittsburgh is 20-9-1 v LH starters, winning 10 of the last 11 with tonight's draw against southpaws.
  • AJ Schugel's second opinion confirmed his initial diagnosis of rotor cuff inflammation, with rest & rehab as the cure. The overall late season injury report was compiled by the Trib's Bob Cohn. 

Thursday: Ivan Nova v Rob Zastryzny, Linep, Notes For the Home Finale

Tonight: The Bucs last home game will begin at 7:05 and be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan if a gloomy night doesn't sabotage the contest with rain.

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (12-8, 4.37; Pittsburgh 5-2, 3.49) faces Rob Zastryzny (1-0, 1.46). Ivan's been on a so-so streak, sizzling roll, and now a two-game stretch of labored starts, so what we get tonight is anyone's guess as he makes his last appearance before presumably diving into the FA pool. The Z-Man has worked 12-1/3 strong MLB innings from the pen and the rookie will be rewarded with his first big league start tonight. Though he started in AA-AAA (10-5, 4.31) this year, his longest stint in the show has been 3-2/3 IP and he hasn't thrown more than 49 pitches, so he'll probably be on a fairly short leash for the Cubbies. Joe Maddon already has plans to make this a bullpen game as he rests his guys some before the playoff gauntlet.

Will Ivan be making his last Bucco start? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordy SS, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, S-Rod LF, David Freese 1B, Alen Hanson 2B, Eric Fryer C, Nova P. Hanson is getting a look at 2B; Fraze can drill a baseball, but catching one has proven a bit more problematic. Gregory is still out with a stiff neck, which we presume is a hangover from his previous face plant. Fran and Starling are prob down for the season, but it is nice to see Jordy back. And po' Jaso - he hits for the cycle and then the Cubs come back with a LHP. The home finale will offer an opp to see both teams benches on display tonight.

  • There was a little glove controversy last night thx to an unorthodox bunt defense by the Cubbies, as explained by
  • Combos you don't think of: John Jaso became the second player in major league history to catch a perfect game and hit for the cycle, joining Ray Schalk who puled of the feat in 1922 (he did it in the same season). JJ caught Felix Hernandez’s perfecto in 2012. Jaso also became the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle/catch a no-hitter since Jason Kendall, who caught the Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon 10-inning no-hitter in 1997, and hit for the cycle, also for the Buccos, in 2000, per The Sporting News.
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs takes a look at Frankie's resurgence with Toronto.
  • With the Royals' elimination from the AL Wild Card race yesterday, MLB's record for consecutive years without a repeat champion will reach 16.

9/29 From the 50s Forward: Teke Takes Two, 6 In A Row, Cutch Walk Off, HBD Ken, Brown Day, Bucs Close Polo Grounds

  • 1950 - Ken Macha was born in Monroeville. The Gateway grad, a sixth round draft pick in 1972, played briefly for the Bucs (1974, 1977-78), hitting .263 as a corner utilityman. He made his name as a MLB coach and manager of the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. Ken is retired and now lives in Latrobe after serving a stint as a pre-game analyst for Root Sports.
  • 1957 - The New York Giants played their final game at the Polo Grounds before pulling up their stakes and heading west, losing to the Pirates 9-1. Bob Friend got the win; Johnny Antonelli took the loss. Roberto Clemente, Johnny Powers and Friend each had three hits; rookie Powers hit the last homer and tallied the final RBI ever at the yard. After the game, 11‚606 fans swarmed for keepsakes as both teams retreated to the center field clubhouses for safety.
Johnny Powers 1958 Topps
  • 1978 - Kent Tekulve won both ends of a season-ending DH over the Phils at TRS in relief‚ 5-4 and 2-1. He pitched 2 innings in the opener and 1-1/3 frames in the nitecap‚ winning in the 10th. Both wins were gift wrapped; the Bucs won the opener when the relay to third on Ed Ott’s two out ninth inning triple got away, and the Phils balked in the winning run in the ninth inning of the nitecap. Bruce Kison made the pitcher trivia rounds in the second game when he homered off Steve Carlton. That gave him a season natural batting cycle of a single, double, triple and homer in that order. Of course, for a hitter, a natural cycle begins with his first at-bat; with pitcher Kison, it started with a single on July 20th (with a few outs sprinkled in between). The twilighter drew 45,134 fans as a September run by the Bucs cut the Phils lead to 1-½ games after their 24th straight win at TRS. Pittsburgh finished two games back, but the late season run pointed the way to 1979.
  • 1992 - The Pirates won their sixth straight game by a 3-0 score over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field as Zane Smith, Paul Wagner (the winner), Steve Cooke and Stan Belinda combined on a two-hitter to put the Bucs nine games up in the standings. Andy Van Slyke homered and drove in a pair of runs to spark the Pirate attack.
  • 1999 - In an oddity noted by BR Bullpen, the Bucs 1-2-3 hitters against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium were Adrian Brown, Emil Brown and Brant Brown. Adrian had two hits and Brant drove in a run, but the Brown line wasn’t enough to save the day as the Pirates fell 5-2.
Adrian Brown Best 1997
  • 2012 - Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off homer to right center off Jonathan Broxton of the Cincinnati Reds with one down in the ninth inning for his 31st long ball of the season. It earned the Pirates a 2-1 win at PNC Park in front of a Saturday night crowd of 38,623. Kyle McPherson started the game, and Joel Hanrahan finished for the win.

9/29 Through the 40s: HBD Cannonball, Howie & Tiny Gems; Grays in the WS, Brother Act & Aubrey's Outing

  • 1862 - LHP Ed “Cannonball” Morris was born in Brooklyn. Morris was considered by many to be the first great lefty to pitch in the majors. In 1884, Cannonball tossed a no-hitter against Pittsburgh for Columbus, and was purchased by the impressed Alleghenys five months later. The lefty pitched for the Alleghenys from 1885-89 with a 171-122/2.84 line, winning 80 games from 1885-86. He struck out over 300 batters twice with 298 another year, and threw over 550 innings in two different seasons. He also worked a year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League in 1890, his last season in the majors. Afterward, he ran a hotel/saloon on Pittsburgh’s North Side and was a deputy warden at Western Penitentiary. He remained a fan, rarely missing a Pirates game, and in 1934 he was tapped by the team to pitch an inning during the Silver Anniversary of Forbes Field. As you may have guessed, he was nicknamed "Cannonball" for the velocity of his ol’ number one.
Ed "Cannonball" Morris 1889 Goodwin
  • 1908 - Pittsburgh blanked the Cardinals 7-0 at Forbes Field behind Howie Camnitz in the first game of a doubleheader sweep. Camnitz had a no hitter until the ninth when Claude Osteen singled. The last-place Redbirds were blanked for a record 33rd time. The Cards broke out the lumber in the nitecap, but still lost 6-5 when Roy Thomas’ grounder brought home George Gibson in the ninth to give Vic Willis the win.
  • 1909 - RHP Harry Camnitz mopped up in the Pirates 6-1 loss to the NY Giants at Forbes Field. It was his only outing of the year (he had been purchased from the minor league McKeesport Tubers in July), but it made him part of the first brother act for the Pittsburgh Pirates to appear during the same season; he was the little bro of the team’s ace, Howie Camnitz. The Bucs added him to the roster after he picked up 27 wins with the Tubers.
  • 1935 - In his only major league game, C Aubrey Epps went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBI in the Bucs' 9-6 loss at Cincinnati. In an oddity, the 23-year old catcher ended up with identical career batting and fielding averages (.750) as he committed two errors in eight chances; guess that’s why it was his only game. Aubrey caught pneumonia after the season, although he did recover in time to report to 1936 camp. He couldn’t win a roster spot and spent the next six seasons in the minors. He was nicknamed “YoYo” for reasons we couldn’t find, although playing for 10 minor league teams at five different levels may have contributed.
(image via Diamonds in the Dusk)
  • 1942 - Satchel Paige of the KC Monarchs tossed 5-2/3 innings of hitless relief against the Homestead Grays (by that time, they split dates between Pittsburgh & Washington), winning 9 - 5 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia to cap a four game sweep of the 1942 Colored World Series. The series featured seven members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, three from the Monarchs (Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown) and four from the Grays (Josh Gibson, Jud Wilson, Ray Brown, and Buck Leonard). Paige had actually been slated to start but showed up late at the ballpark, claiming he was tardy because of a speeding ticket on the way to the park.
  • 1947 - Tiny Bonham tossed a two-hit whitewash as the Bucs defeated the Reds 7-0 at Forbes Field to end a dismal season in Bill Burwell’s only game as a manager (he replaced Billy Herman, who resigned). Pittsburgh finished 62-92, 32 games out of first. Dixie Howell and Frank Gustine homered in front of 33,794 fans. The Bucs had won just 64 games the year before, but would take 83 the following season under new skipper Billy Meyer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jamo One-Hitter, JJ Cycle Lead Bucs To 8-4 Win Over Jake & the Cubs

Wouldn't be a Cub game w/o Anthony Rizzo going long; he took an up-and-in heater and dropped it barely into the RF seats after fouling off four pitches. It looked like a fan may have helped it over, but a review said no, and Jameson Taillon and the Bucs were down 1-0. Fraze and J-Bell started off with back-to-back knocks off Jake Arrieta. A short wild pitch moved Fraze up just before Andrew served the house specialty, a GIDP, tho it did bring in a run. The second featured a couple of walks by Jamo, a rarity, but it only bit him by turning the order over. JJ dropped a lob into left and stayed rooted at first.

JT had his game face on tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Cubs went in order in the third as did the Pirates. A walk, DP (a safe call at first was overturned after a challenge; Jason Heyward never touched the bag) and K took care of the Chicago fourth. Matt Joyce was plunked and S-Rod singled him to third. This time, a Buc hit it in the air - JJ caught a thigh-high hook and sent it on the line over the Clemente Wall in right. The Bucs got a couple more aboard, leaving them on but took a 4-1 lead. JT tossed a clean fifth. S-Rod doubled with two gone; Chris Coghlin had to leave the game after meeting the wall while leaping for the ball. JJ followed with another two-bagger, and what the heck, Freeser banged out another. Eric Fryer couldn't quite keep up, but he did manage an RBI knock off a glove to make it 7-1 before the dance ended.

Fraze dropped a pop up in the sixth, but all it cost were a few extra tosses by Jamo. Mike Montgomery took the ball while the Cubbies swapped some guys out, and held the Pirates to a J-Bell knock. Jared Hughes replaced JT, who was at 90 pitches, in the seventh. He bopped a batter and walked another, then Freeser threw a ball away, allowing a run to score. Zach Phillips climbed the hill, and an out, wild pitch and single brought in two more to make it 7-4. Juan Nicasio was waved in and ended the madness. Pedro Strop extracted a little revenge by drilling S-Rod; warnings were issued but the Bucs had the last laugh - JJ completed the cycle with a triple. He was stranded, but hey, why be greedy on the one day it shouldn't matter?

JJ landed in the Bucco history books with his cycle (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Felipe Rivero gave up a knock but no other damage in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman came in to break a sweat and hardly did, striking out the side. Tony Watson got a ninth inning call and booked it, tho he did surrender a two bagger.

Good night for a change. Jamo finishes the year 5-4, 3.38, in 18 starts and 104IP. John Jaso makes a little history. The ol' Jake curse looks like it's history. The contest only lasted three hours. And the four game losing streak came to an end. Hey - let's do it again tomorrow!

  • John Jaso's cycle was the first one completed at PNC Park. It was the first by a Pirate since Daryle Ward's in 2004 at Busch Stadium. The last home Bucco cycle was by Jason Kendall in 2000 at TRS - and he was the only Pirate to hit one there. JJ chased home five runs and scored twice.
  • J-Bell, S-Rod and Eric Fryer each had a pair of knocks tonight.
  • From @BrinkPG - Jamo walked three batters in a start for the first time since August 22nd, 2013 against AAA Rochester.
  • Clint told the press gang that he'll probably "back off" using Fran because of a left hand bruise and they'll be cautious re: Jordy's forearm tightness. He added *spoiler alert* that Neftali Feliz is likely done for the season.
  • If you're keeping count, Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Josh Harrison, Neftali Feliz, AJ Schugel and Stew have more-or-less missed September.

Wednesday: Jameson Taillon v Jake Arrieta, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The first pitch is at 7:05 and will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Should be an interesting night, at least in the stands, as it's the Zombie game - fans are supposed to don their undead costumes, and a 1,000 Zombie Night tees will be handed out. And it's sorta fitting with the way the team's been playing lately.

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (4-4, 3.49) and Jake Arrieta (18-7, 2.85) will duke it out. JT hasn't really gotten it back in gear yet since skipping a turn, and it would be reassuring to see him finish up the year on a high note. Jamo hasn't seen the Cubs since June, when he gave up four runs in four frames. Jameson, btw, has worked 159-2/3 IP after missing two straight seasons. His previous high was 147-1/3 frames in 2013.  After three typical shut-down starts against the Bucs to start the season, Jake has been touched up for 12 runs in 12-1/3 IP in his last two outings against the Corsairs, but is still 9-2, 2.44 in 14 career starts against the Pirates.

JT looking to close out strong (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Matt Joyce LF, S-Rod SS, John Jaso 1B, David Freese 3B, Eric Fryer C, Jameson Taillon. Doesn't look like a kid's day line, but more like a nod to the bench guys. It's tough sledding against Jake under the best of circumstances, but w/o Gregory, Starling, JHK, Jordy or Fran in the lineup?

  • Have mercy -  Chicago is 14-3 against the Pirates, outscoring the Bucs 109-64 in 2016. 
  • Five games to go; everyone's start from today on will be their last of the campaign.
  • The Giants won last night, so Pittsburgh is mathematically eliminated from the post season for the first time since 2012.
  • Per Forbes Magazine, the Pirates TV ratings are #5 percentage-wise in MLB, but dropped 21% from last year. The raw viewing audience is just outside baseball's Top Ten. Indy had a good year, too - per @RyanSheets_ the club topped minor league teams in total attendance (636,888). The Tribe also led in total website visits with 2,912,975 and was second in unique hits with 666,568.
  • The Pirates and Blue Jays will play two spring games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 31st and April 1st just before the Bucs start the season April 3rd against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Big O games should draw rowdy crowds to end camp on a high note (La Belle Ville fans always show up, and the Pirates-Expos were a thing back in the day), and it's tough to beat a campaign-opening series in Boston, a franchise that the Pirates first played back in 1887 as the Alleghenys.

9/28 From the 60s Forward: Freak Show Finale, Home Field Win, Danny on SI, Andy & Zach Star, DH Sweep, Andy's Big Day

  • 1966 - Pittsburgh swept a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Phillies by 2-1 and 4-2 scores at Connie Mack Stadium. The strong mound work of Steve Blass and Bob Veale pulled the club within 1-½ games of first place LA. It was their last hurrah; the SF Giants swept the final three game set at Forbes Field, and the Bucs finished third, three games off the pace.
Bob Veale 1965 Topps
  • 1970 - Danny Murtaugh was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the story “The Desperate Race.” It actually wasn’t that desperate; the Bucs' lead had grown from two games into five by the time the issue was published by winning 6-of-7 down the stretch.
  • 1997 - The Freak Show ended its run with the club’s 79th victory, 5-4 over Houston in 11 innings at the Astrodome. Jose Guillen swung the hot bat with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI to give Jason Christiansen the win, saved by Rich Loiselle. The club wouldn’t match that victory total again until 2012.
  • 2009 - The Pirates won their home finale 11-1 against the Dodgers, with Andy LaRoche hitting two homers and driving in six runs. John Russell drew the ire of the 16,696 fans in attendance when he inexplicably pulled starter Zach Duke (103 pitches) with two outs in the ninth after a sac fly ruined his shutout bid.
Andy LaRoche 2009 Topps Heritage
  • 2012 - The Bucs drew 34,796 fans to PNC Park, but the star of the show was Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, who tossed a no-hitter to outduel AJ Burnett and earn a hard fought 1-0, complete game win. Bailey walked one and fanned 10 as the Pirates were no-hit for the first time since 1971. It was the year of the no-hitter; Bailey’s was the seventh of the season, tying a modern-day MLB record.
  • 2013 - Behind a six home run barrage (Neil Walker-2, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Marlon Byrd and Andrew Lambo), the Pirates won home field advantage for their wild card game against the Reds by defeating Cincinnati 8-3 at GABP. It was the first time since August, 2007, versus the Rockies at Coors Field, that Pittsburgh banged out that many long balls in a game. It was his first career multi-homer game for Walker and the first career MLB homer for Lambo. Alvarez became the first Pirate third baseman to drive in 100 runs since Aramis Ramirez chased home 110 in 2001 and his 36 homers were a club record for a third baseman. Vin Mazzaro came on in the fifth inning and was credited with the win.

9/28 Through the 50s: Homer in the Gloamin'; HBD Lou, Leon & Buck; Ralph's 37th, Fred & Tiny

  • 1865 - 2B Lou Bierbauer was born in Erie (some sources claim he was born in Philly, que sera, sera). The Pirates signed him in 1891, as he wasn’t on the reserved roster of his American Association club, the Philadelphia Athletics (he had skipped to the outlaw Players League in 1890). His rights were decided by an arbitrator, and though the AA thought the Alleghenys’ act was “piratical,” Pittsburgh was awarded Bierbauer and a new nickname, the Pirates. From 1891-96, Bierbauer was a defensive master and hit .260 for the Pirates.
  • 1902 - RHP Leon Chagnon was born in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. He worked for the Bucs from 1929-30, then again from 1932-34 after spending 1931 in the minors. Mostly called to action from the bullpen, he went 19-14-2 with a 4.61 ERA during his Pirate career. 
  • 1909 - Player/manager Fred Clarke was honored at Forbes Field before the game, when, according to Ralph Davis of the Pittsburg Press, “...Mayor WA (William) Magee presented him with a bag of gold coin ($600). Just as the money was being handed to Clarke, James Geary placed a wreath of evergreen on his brow and showered dozens of rosebuds all over him while the fans shouted themselves hoarse at the scene.” After all that, the Pirates went out and lost to the NY Giants 13-9, but even that was good. The Pirates clinched the pennant when the Chicago Cubs lost to the Phils 3-2 and went on to beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Fred Clarke Day Pittsburgh Press 9-30-1909
  • 1938 - The Bucs lost the “Homer in the Gloaming” game to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, considered one of the greatest pennant race finishes in baseball. The teams were tied for first and tied in the bottom of the ninth. The umpires ruled that the ninth inning would be the last to be played because of darkness; if it was still tied, it would become a no-contest and would be replayed the next day in its entirety. Player manager Gabby Hartnett came to bat with two out, fell behind 0-2, and then connected off Mace Brown, launching the ball into the left-center field bleachers for the walk off win and sending 34‚465 fans home in ecstasy, many of whom circled the bases with him. The Cubs won the next day (their 10th straight), the Pirates faded, and Chicago became the NL champs. The loss was so painful to manager Pie Traynor that it’s said to have contributed to his retirement after the 1939 season.
Mace Brown 1938 (photo Original News Service)
  • 1942 - LHP Grant Jackson was born in Fostoria, Ohio. Buck tossed for the Pirates from 1977-81 and made his last MLB outing as a Buc in 1982. His line here was 29-19-36/3.23, and he tossed scoreless ball in his six appearances during the 1971 NLCS/World Series campaign. Following his playing career, Jackson was a Pirates coach in 1983-85 and had a later stint with the Reds.
  • 1947 - Tiny Bonham tossed a two hit whitewash as the Bucs defeated the Reds 7-0 at Forbes Field to end a dismal season in Bill Burwell’s only game as a manager (he replaced Billy Herman, who resigned). Pittsburgh finished 62-92, 32 games out of first. Dixie Howell and Frank Gustine homered in front of 33,794 fans. The Bucs had won just 64 games the year before, but would take 83 the following season under new skipper Billy Meyer.
  • 1952 - Ralph Kiner slugged his 37th homer to win the NL crown easily over Gil Hodges (32) and take a record seventh straight home run title. The Bucs whipped Cincinnati 9-6 at Crosley Field as Gus Bell and Joe Garagiola also went long to help Bob Friend to the win.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Too Little Too Late - Bucs Go Down 6-4

A walk, stolen base and knock didn't hurt Ryan Vogelsong in the first; a pair of whiffs helped him to put up a goose egg. Gregory reached via a boot and stole second, but he was all the action v John Lackey. In the second, a HBP was followed by a wild pitch and a walk. Another free pass loaded 'em with two outs. Vogey fell behind Chris Coghlin 2-0, fed him a slider pretty much down the middle, and that cost a three-spot after a triple that was just shy of a grand salami. The Bucs opened with back-to-back singles; Fran rolled over on a pitch that was almost in the dirt for a DP, but at least he made it 3-1. Jordy singled to turn the order over.

S-Rod had two hits but came up short in the 8th & 9th (photo Pgh Pirates)

Another V-Song walk in the third was harmless, and the Pirates went quietly. In the fourth, a bloop, bunt and double padded the Cub lead; one more free pass was issued but stranded. A Matt Joyce walk, S-Rod knock and Fran walk juiced 'em with an out. Jordy lined a shot to second; it was gloved and S-Rod was doubled off. V-Song tossed a clean fifth; at 102 pitches, his day is done. Starling pinch hit and rolled out. An out later, Gregory singled and Cutch walked; Polanco took third on a short passed ball while Andrew snoozed. No diff as JHK fanned fishing for ball four, so it goes for the Pirates.

Wade LeBlanc worked a clean sixth. Lefty Travis Wood whiffed Joyce, then Trevor Cahill came in for more matchup work and got his two righties. Wade gave up a double in the seventh but left him aboard, helped by Gregory's sweet catch to end the frame. Cahill got Jordy to line out (no luck tonite), then Joe Maddon waved in LHP Mike Montgomery to face Freeser, who bounced out. M&M walked J-Bell and wild-pitched him up a station; he went no further.

Wade LeBlanc hasn't given up a run as a Bucco (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Antonio Bastardo gave up a one-out walk and knock in the eighth, but cleaned up by whiffing the next pair. Carl Edwards Jr fluffed the rosin bag for Chi-town, and a boot and walk got him in quick hot water. Joyce's comebacker became another DP to cool the kitchen and S-Rod's looking K turned off the barely flickering flame.

Juan Nicasio climbed the hill in the ninth. With two gone and a runner on third, an easy fly to left hit El Coffee's glove and dropped out. A run scored, and a second came in shortly afterward on another knock. Drew Hutchison came on to get the third out. Justin Grimm gave up a leadoff double to Fran and Freeser walked an out later, as did Fraze to fill the sacks. Gregory singled in a run and Cutch followed with a two-run knock to make it 6-4. That brought in Alex Pina, who got JHK to whiff on a wild pitch. The runners moved up and Joyce was intentionally put aboard, leaving it up to S-Rod. He K'ed, que sera sera.

Gregory had two knocks after missing 3 games (photo Pgh Pirates)

Ultimately, Vogey's early wildness - which isn't new; he's walked 12 and plunked a pair in his last 17-1/3 IP - and three brutal DPs did in the Bucs. Their inability to make hay at home, where they were so good in recent seasons, has been a crusher in 2016.

  • Gregory and S-Rod had a pair of knocks.
  • From @MattGajtka: The Pirates have had the lead at the end of just three innings so far on this homestand, including Jacob Stallings' walkoff. They've played 47 innings. Not a surprise - the Bucs are 37-42 at PNC Park this year (4 -17 in their last 21!) after going 53-28 in 2015. They're 77-80 on the year, and a Giants win tonite will officially eliminate them from the post season.
  • Juan Nicasio's K streak ended at 33 straight appearances. The MLB record is 39.
  • The gate was 22,454.
  • MLB set a new record tonight with 107 players reaching 20+ homers YTD, breaking the mark of 103 set in 1999. The Bucs have three bombers - Cutch (24), Gregory (22) and JHK (20), with S-Rod having an outside shot with 18.
  • Washington's AJ Cole was suspended for five games and fined by MLB for throwing behind JHK on Sunday. Cole will appeal.

Tuesday: Ryan Vogelsong v John Lackey, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 7:05 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It will be the last "Pups in the Park" night, so if Spot has a baseball jones, this is poochie's final chance to woof, woof, woof for the home team this year.

Pitchers: Ryan Vogelsong (3-6, 4.85) v John Lackey (10-8, 3.39). After a rough string of starts, Vogey rebounded with a workmanlike outing against Milwaukee. He's started once against the Cubbies this year and gotten lathered, as has everyone the Pirates have sent to the hill. V-Song hasn't quite figured out the Cubs, as he's 5-8, 5.82 in 21 career appearances (13 starts). It is a bit curious that the Bucs are using a 39 year-old in the last week of the season, especially one who hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in his last four starts (0-2, 9.18), but Hutch, Tyler, Steven and Trevor haven't exactly forced management's hand for a spot start or two, either. Lackey is rounding back in shape since coming off the DL (strained shoulder) and has been solid (1-1, 3.24) since returning. He's faced the Bucs just once this year, and the Pirates rang up a five-spot in seven innings on him. Overall, he's 1-2, 3.69 in six career starts against Pittsburgh.

Vogey gets the call against the Cubs (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)

Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Gregory Polanco LF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Matt Joyce RF, S-Rod 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Vogey P. Nice to see Gregory back; hopefully th time off will allow him to recharge for the final week. Starling is out; shame on the Bucs if they play him again this season instead of letting his back heal; we'd love to know what exactly his injury is.

  • The Pirates have lost 4-of-5; the resurgent Cubs have won 6-of-7.
  • @adamberry noted that Jung Ho Kang became the first Asian-born infielder to hit 20 home runs in a MLB season this weekend, although OF's Shin-Soo Choo and Hideki Matsui have done it multiple times.

9/27 TRS-PNC Era: Bucs Clinch, Giles Big Day, Drabek Gem & More...

  • 1970 - The Pirates clinched the NL East title with a 2-1 victory over the Mets at TRS in front of a record 50,469 fans. Dave Cash had two hits, a run scored and the game-winning RBI to lead the offense. Dock Ellis got the win and Dave Giusti earned the save as the Pirates swept the three-game series from New York. The Pirates were broomed in the NLCS 3-0 by Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, which in turn was beaten handily by the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
  • 1989 - Doug Drabek spun a four hit shutout as the Bucs edged the Cubs and Joe Magrane 1-0. The Pirate run came in the fourth when Pittsburgh strung together three straight singles, with C Dan Bilardello bringing home Jeff King with the contest’s only run. Doug finished the year with a 2.80 ERA, his first of three sub-three ERA seasons as a Pirate.
Doug Drabek up close and personal (6/9/1989 Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh won their third consecutive division crown by defeating the Mets at TRS, 4-2. Danny Jackson got the win and Stan Belinda picked up the save. Gary Redus and Jay Bell each had a pair of hits; Redus scored twice and Bell had two RBI. The club lost the NLCS to Atlanta four games to three when the Braves scored three times in the ninth inning of the seventh game to erase a 2-0 deficit, taking the crown after Sid Bream beat Barry Bond’s throw home.
  • 1998 - The Pirates ended a dismal season with a 4-1 loss to Cincinnati at Cinergy Field. They finished 69-93 thanks to a 5-25 finish to the campaign, a collapse that started back on August 28th, and finished 33 games behind the Houston Astros in the NL Central. The loss was their eighth in a row and 11th in the final 12 games. The last time the club had been at .500 was on June 14th when they were 34-34.
  • 2002 - The Bucs beat the Cubs‚ 13-3 as Brian Giles scored five runs and drove home six with a double and a pair of home runs. He added another bomb the next game to give him four consecutive years with 35+ homers‚ joining Alex Rodriguez‚ Sammy Sosa‚ and Rafael Palmiero in that select club. Salomon Torres got the win at Wrigley Field. Every Pirate starter, included Torres, had a hit as the Bucs banged out 19 knocks.
Brian Giles 2002 Topps
  • 2009 - Pittsburgh scored four times in the ninth inning off Jonathan Braxton at PNC Park after the Dodgers took a 5-2 lead in the top of the frame by scoring three times off Matt Capps. Lastings Milledge delivered the game-winning hit, a two-run single to right-center, to plate Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Capps, despite his miserable frame (three hits and a walk), took home the win.

9/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: 7th Crown For Kiner, Bucs Clinch, HBD Alan & Dick, More...

  • 1884 - 1B Alan Storke was born in Auburn, New York. He was a Bucco from 1906-09 and while primarily a 1B, he played every infield position with a .255 BA while a Pirate. He attended Harvard Law School in the off season, joining the Pirates in early June after classes per his understanding with Barney Dreyfuss. The 25 year-old Amherst grad died in 1910 of a lung infection stemming from the flu (or "grippe" as it was then known) during his final term at school.
  • 1901 - Deacon Phillippe tossed the Pirates past the Brooklyn Superbas 5-4 at Exposition Park to clinch the NL pennant, the first of three straight NL titles for the Bucs. Pittsburgh scored three times in the bottom of the eighth after Brooklyn had taken the lead in the top half of the inning. Kitty Bransfield’s single to left chased home Honus Wagner, who had doubled home a pair, with the pennant-clinching run. From August 31st to this date, the Pirates had won 26-of-30 games. It was Pittsburgh’s first NL flag and first title since the Alleghenys began playing major league ball in the American Association in 1882.
The 1901 Pittsburgh Press chronicled the early Bucco finishes
  • 1907 - In a game that ended a 5-5 draw, the Bucs lost Honus Wagner for the last dozen games of the season when he was hit in the hand in the first inning by the Boston Dove’s Rube Dessau and broke a bone. The contest went 11 innings at Exposition Park before darkness claimed it. The injury was moot so far as affecting the pennant chase. Although the Bucs won 91 games that season, they still finished second, 17 games behind the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance Chicago Cubs, the winners of the 1907 World Series.
  • 1909 - The Bucs won their 16th straight game, the longest winning streak a Pirate club has ever put together. They beat the Giants 6-1 in the first game of a twinbill at Exposition Park, finally losing when they dropped the nitecap, 8-7. That powerhouse club took the NL pennant by 6-½ games over the Cubs with 110 wins and defeated the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
  • 1930 - P/OF Dick Hall was born in St. Louis. Hall came up in 1952 as a light hitting outfielder; in 1955, he was converted to the mound and pitched until 1971. In his Bucco years (1952-59) he hit .218, and was 6-13-2/4.57 on the hill. He got better; Baltimore flipped him from starter to reliever, and he tossed for nine years in two stints as a Bird with a 2.98 ERA; he even threw a scoreless frame against Pittsburgh in the 1971 World Series at age 40.
Dick Hall 1956 Topps
  • 1930 - Paul Waner kept an 11 game hitting streak alive when he smacked a homer and single in an 11-8 win over St. Louis at Sportsman’s Park. That gave Big Poison 217 knocks during the year and 1,057 hits over his first five seasons, making him one of four players - Kirby Puckett, Earle Combs and Ducky Medwick are the others - to have 1,000+ hits in their first five campaigns. Waner had staying power; he finished his career with 3,151 hits and a place in the Hall of Fame.
  • 1930 - 18 year old rookie Josh Gibson was credited with drilling what at the time was the longest home run ever hit in Yankee Stadium, a blast that was estimated to be anywhere from 460-505’, off the back wall of the LF bullpen (he was said to have landed another ball there in 1946). The Lincoln Giant’s “Broadway Connie” Rector gave up the three run smash in the first inning of a Homestead Grays 7-3 playoff victory. A week earlier, Gibson was credited with being the first hitter to clear the 457’ mark at Forbes Field during the same series.
Ralph Kiner 1977 Topps Turn Back the Clock
  • 1952 - In the next-to-last game of the season, a 9-6 win over the Reds at Crosley Field, Ralph Kiner homered to finish the season with 37 long balls to tie Hank Sauer for the crown. It was Kiner’s record-setting seventh consecutive NL home run title.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cubs Maul Buccos 12-2

It wasn't a dark and stormy night, but it sure was a dreary evening when Chad Kuhl served the first pitch. He walked the first guy after being up 0-2 *sigh* An out later, Anthony Rizzo doubled to put Cubbies at second and third (Rizzo came into the game with a .450 BA and 1.488 OPS against the Bucs) and another walk loaded the sacks. A sac fly brought in a run and moved both runners up, but Chad then shut the gate. J-Bell singled off Kyle Hendricks for the only Bucco action. The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the second; they've also worked Cool Chad for 49 pitches. Kyle stymied the Bucs.

Matt Joyce went yard (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Kuhl buzzed Rizzo with two gone in the third; the Cub bench growled and Anthony, well, he just drilled another hit. A wild pitch moved him to second but a K ended the music. Chad singled with an out and JJ doubled him to third, but the Bucs couldn't cash them in with a comebacker and fly. Jason Heyward opened the fourth with a single - he hits .229 against the league and .370 v the Pirates. That was followed by a wild pitch, HBP and bunt single, cleaned up by a Javy Baez grand salami that barely made it into the seats on an 0-2 sinker. Hendricks singled; prob time to get the bullpen ready. Two more knocks juiced the sacks again; that's seven batters in a row who have reached safely. Zach Phillips took the ball and, go figure, struck out Rizzo. Then he coaxed a 6-4-3 DP; great job by the Zachster. The Bucs only answer was an infield knock by S-Rod.

Zach gave up a rap in an otherwise quiet fifth. The Pirates went down even more quietly. Steven Brault toiled in the sixth and the cows left the barn. After an out, he gave up a knock and then a blast to Kris Bryant on a 3-2 heater. Next he issued a bad-luck, full count walk on a pitch that looked a lot like strike three to everyone but the ump, followed by another single. A DP to JHK turned into another run when Jordy whiffed on Kang's decent throw. The Bucs did do something right, cutting down a run at the plate, but another came in on a bloop two-bagger to right on an 0-2 pitch. Two more touched on single before the bell rang. The Bucs put together three straight knocks with two outs to load the bases, but Fraze's liner kept the board at zero.

Freeser broke out of a homer slump in the 8th (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Brault came back out for the seventh, even after throwing 43 pitches last inning - guess they don't monitor his pitch count. He gave up a one-out walk and knock. A two out walk loaded them; a boot by JHK allowed another Cubbie tally to cross. After that (and 71 pitches) Phil Coke took over, getting a liner to end the parade. Pedro Strop came on, and we'll just fast forward. Subs covered the width and length of the field, Freeser and Matt Joyce hit back-to-back 400' homers of Hector Rondon and runners from both teams were left scattered over the bases. Aroldis Chapman closed with a 10 run lead, but not to rub it in - he was scheduled to work an inning tonight.

Add your own comment; nights like this happen in September when one team is looking towards the playoffs and the other towards 2017.

  • S-Rod and Jacob Stalling each had two hits. Cutch's hit streak ended at 13 games; he only got two at bats before the B-Team came in.
  • The Pirates are 77-79. Their magic number (for elimination) is two; they have to finish 4-2 against the Cubs and Cards to finish at .500.
  • Fran fanned in the second and entered the history books by becoming the 37,447th strikeout victim of the season in MLB, the most whiffs ever posted in an MLB season. This is the ninth consecutive year that the record for strikeouts has been set.
  • The Cubs batted around in the fourth and sixth innings. 
  • Chicago has won 100 games for the first time since 1935. Don't chuckle - the Bucs have only won 100+ games twice, in 1909 (110) and 1902 (103). They've won 98 three times - 2015, 1991, and 1979.
  • The crowd was 20,159.

Monday: Chad Kuhl v Kyle Hendicks, Lineup, Preview, Notes

Tonight: The game starts at 7:05 as the Cubs and the Bucs collide one last time for four games. Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan will air the contest.

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73) opens the set against Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06). Chad was strong in his last outing, but hasn't had much success against the Big Blue Machine - in 7-1/3 IP, he's given up seven runs on 11 hits, with two that went yard. The good news is his second start was much better than the first, so maybe the third time's the charm. Hendricks has toyed with the Pirates in his two 2016 starts against them, giving up a run on 10 hits in 14 IP with 16K, and has gone 21 straight starts giving up three or fewer runs. The Dartmouth grad is on the Cy Young short list, so Chad needs all the cool he can muster to hang in this game.

Chad opens the set tonight (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)

Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, S-Rod 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Adam Frazier LF, Jordy SS, Kuhl P. Good to see Fran back; Gregory is apparently still feeling the effects of his head-on with the wall.

Preview: Step back, nothing to look at here - the Pirates have been a train wreck against Chicago, going 3-12 so far in the 2016 series. The Bucs showed a little spunk in the last set at Wrigley, so we'll see if that carries over this week. The Cubs aren't making concessions, at least until Thursday, with Hendicks, Lackey and Arrieta on the bump; we'll see how Joe Madden plays with the lineup. They're coming into town looking for their 100th win and have already clinched home field for the playoffs. The Cubs are kinda coasting now with a 7-5 record since the 13th and Pirates did take 2-of-3 the last time Chi-town visited PNC, so there's that...

  • The Pirates traded for IF Chris Bostick of the Nats in exchange for High-A catcher Taylor Gushue and cash. Bostick will take Josh Harrison’s spot on the 40-man, with J-Hay sent to 60-day DL. Bostick , who was DFA'ed, won't go on the active roster; he looks like a depth guy. Gushue hasn't hit well on the farm and is reputed to be a good receiver but not noticeably strong against the running game, w/ the usual caveat of there's usually not much help from the pitchers in the lower levels in that regard. 
  • @Sawchik_Trib tweeted "Could Jung Ho Kang play some shortstop in 2017? Hurdle hinted at it today." That could be a hint at S-Rod heading for greener pastures in the off season as there are no true SS's save P-Flo & Gift Ngoepe in the upper levels. It was also allow them to carry Freeser and JJ, who are limited to the corners.

9/26 TRS/PNC Era:Streaks, Lumber, First Year Finale, 20 Eludes Blass & More

  • 1972 - Steve Blass scattered eight hits to defeat the Phils and win his 19th game by a 5-1 score at Veterans Stadium. Al Oliver and Manny Sanguillen had a pair of RBI, and Blass added a hit and drove in the other run. He missed his only chance for 20 victories in his final start against the Mets, when he couldn’t get through the first inning after taking a line drive off the elbow.
  • 1974 - Al Oliver smacked five hits, including two homers and a double, in the Pirates’ 11-5 win at New York’s Shea Stadium. Scoops scored four times and had five RBI. Willie Stargell added four RBI with a long ball of his own as the 37 year old Juan Pizzaro, making just his second start of the year, won. That win moved the Pirates into a first place tie with St. Louis, a race that the Pirates would take down the stretch.
Al Oliver 1974
  • 1991 - The Pirates took their 10th win in 12 games when they defeated the Mets in the opener of a twin bill at Shea Stadium by a 4-3 count in 15 innings. Bill Landrum, the fifth Buc pitcher, gave up a tying run in the 14th but worked a scoreless frame in the 15th for a blown save/win daily double. Lloyd McClendon singled in the 14th for the lead; pinch hitter Todd Hundley homered in the Met half to knot the score again. Don Slaught doubled home Barry Bonds in the next set of at-bats, and the Mets ran out of answers. The Bucs had plenty of opportunities to run away and hide, but went 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position. They dropped the nitecap 2-1; they went 1-for-12 with RISP in that contest.
  • 1992 - The Bucs laid a 19-2 hurtin’ on the NY Mets at TRS. Andy Van Slyke went 3-for-5 with a homer, triple, four runs and two RBI. Barry Bonds doubled and went long, scoring three times and chasing home three more tallies. Lloyd McClendon added a grand slam in the first to trigger the 20-hit onslaught, featuring five 2B, two 3B and three HR. Bob Walk got the win, with Steve Cooke and Paul Wagner mopping up after him. The Mets used a position player to pitch for the first time in their history when IF Bill Pecota took the mound in the ninth.
  • 2001 - During an 8-4 loss to the Cubs in their final home game of the season, the Pirates drew 25,564 to PNC Park, its first-year ballyard, and set a franchise attendance record of 2,436,139, an average of 30,000+ fans per contest. It took until 2012 to reach the 2M mark again, and the attendance record stood until 2014.
  •   2011 - It took seven Bucco hurlers, but the Pirates held off the Brewers 9-8 at Miller Park, with Daniel McCutchen getting the win and Joel Hanrahan the save, his 40th. The big men with the bats were Alex Presley with a HR, 2B and 1B along with three RBI, and Pedro Alvarez, who also drove in three runs.
Daniel McCutchen 2010 Topps Chrome Refractor
  • 2015 - Francisco Liriano won his duel with Jason Hammel as the Bucs defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-0 at Wrigley Field. The big blow of the game was delivered by Jordy Mercer, who banged a three run homer in the fifth inning, his first long ball since early June. For the Pirates, it was the culmination of an eight game road winning streak, the first time a Bucco club had pulled off that feat since 1938. Frankie also picked up strikeout #200 of the campaign, joining Gerrit Cole (who got his 200th the night before) to become the first pair of Pirate pitchers to punch out 200 batters in the same season.

9/26 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: HBD Steve, Shepard Axed, Grays Win, Lefty's Little No-No & More...

  • 1901 -  The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-3 at Exposition Park, guaranteeing at least tie for the 1901 NL pennant with Philadelphia. Jack Chesbro got the win and added an RBI. The other scores were driven in by Honus Wagner, Kitty Bransfield and Lefty Davis as the Pirates put together a four-run sixth inning for the win. They would clinch the next day to take their first ever NL flag.
  • 1906 - Lefty Leifield hurled a six-inning no-hitter against Philadelphia, winning, 8-0 in a game called because of darkness. Pittsburgh won the opener by a shutout, too, taking a 5-0 win at the Baker Bowl behind Vic Willis.
Lefty Leifield (photo Detroit Public Library/Harwell Collection)
  • 1937 - The Bucs rallied to take the first game against Cincinnati 5-4, then scored twice in the first frame of the nitecap to claim a 2-1 sweep at Crosley Field. The Reds led the opener 4-0 in the eighth, but the Pirates scored three times that frame and twice more in the ninth for the victory. Jim Tobin not only went the distance, but had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run. Gus Suhr doubled home Woody Jensen and Lloyd Waner to provide Bill Swift, who tossed a complete game eight hitter, all the support he needed in the closer.
  • 1948 - The Homestead Grays won the opening game of the Negro World Series 3-2 over the Birmingham Black Barons at Blues Stadium in Kansas City. The Grays did all the scoring in the second inning, with Willie Pope banging a two-run triple and coming in on Luis Marquez’s two out single. Ted Alexander scattered eight hits for the victory.
  • 1961 - IF Steve Buechele was born in Lancaster, California. He spent parts of 1991-92 with the Bucs, coming as part of one deadline deal and leaving as part of another, playing 3B and hitting .248. The 11-year MLB vet is now a coach with the Texas Rangers.
Steve Buechele 1992 Leaf
  • 1962 - Earl Francis surrendered two hits in ten frames to beat the Reds and Jim Maloney 1-0. Bob Friend pitched the eleventh to earn his only save of the year, coming in after Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell doubles produced the game’s only run.
  • 1969 - Larry Shepard was fired as manager though Pittsburgh had an 84-73 record. Coach Alex Grammas took over the club for the remaining week of the season before the Bucs returned to old faithful, Danny Murtaugh, for his third go-around as Pirate field boss.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Felipe Fileted; Bucs Drop Rubber Match 10-7

Not a grand start for Tyler Glasnow. A single, stolen base, walk and double steal set up two quick runs (Glasnow is slow to the plate and Eric  Fryer, well...). With two gone, Josh Bell and P-Flo played "you take it, no - you" with a pop to right; it ended up neither grabbed it, tho J-Bell came close enough to merit an error, and a third run came across thanks to the bedlam. AJ Cole walked the first three Buccos and JHK singled home a run (on a 3-2 pitch). S-Rod's deep sac fly scored one more and moved Cutch to third. Jordy popped out foul behind the plate, and a little more comedy ensued - Jung Ho broke for second, drawing a lob throw, and that allowed Andrew to tag and plate. So it's 3-3; settle back, may be a long afternoon - not often do you see six runs score on three hits.

The second opened with a Nat knock, followed by a 2-6 bunt DP (Fryer tagged the batter and then threw out the runner.) That was followed by another single and Glasnow's third K. The Pirates went down in order.

JHK had another big day (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The third inning opened with leadoff triple by Bryce Harper, who was shook up on a clumsy slide after a bluff tag by JHK, but stayed in until the inning ended. That brought Dusty out to beef at the umps and snarl at the Buc bench. Besides riling Baer, it also confirmed that Bell's future is not in RF. An infield knock scored Harper, and another rap followed. A couple of fan jobs and a fly kept the damage limited. After two outs, Cole threw behind JHK's noggin and was ejected. The benches cleared, with S-Rod and Fran venting for the Pirates while Jayson Werth and Harper were yappy on the Nats side. After the noise dissipated, S-Rod was tossed (the water cooler wisely made no comment) and Rafael Martin came on to whiff Kang. Amusing three innings and 90 minutes so far.

Wade LeBlanc took the hill in the fourth and struck out the side. Mat Latos got the call for DC, and a walk, single and P-Flo force tied the contest. Florimon was caught stealing, so of course Eric hit his first MLB triple, but the sting was lessened when Freeser dropped a dink into right. Matt Grace took the ball and K'ed JJ with the Bucs up 5-4 and Trevor Williams on the bump. Two outs, two walks and a double later, the game was knotted and Jared Hughes came on to get the third out. Matt Belisle was called on and left Bucs on the corners. Antonio Bastardo and Belisle worked a scoreless sixth.

Andrew continued his September spree (Image Root Sports)

Juan Nicasio got a K in a quiet seventh while Pittsburgh took command on a two-run bomb by JHK. Six outs to go and a two run lead - what could go wrong? Well, about everything. Felipe Rivero walked the first batter and then gave up a tying dinger to Werth. Three singles brought in the lead run and Phil Coke. An intentional walk loaded the sacks, and a single and unintentional walk made it 10-7 Nats. The next nine batters went down and DC added another feather to their cap.

Ugh. September baseball. Just a week left now, with four games against the Cubbies and three against the Cards. The contests will have meaning according to your individual POV, as the Cubs won't have much to play for although St Louis may be going down to the wire. The games may seem to drag on longer than your daughter's first solo date, but you'll get a great window to view the 2017 Pirates wanna-bes, especially with all the guys that are out.

Juan's K streak is at 33 games now (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • JHK had two hits, three RBI and a run scored. Cutch, Matt Joyce and J-Bell also reached base twice, with two hits and four walks ensemble. Andrew did extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
  • The Nats and Bucs tied the record for the most players used in a nine-inning NL game with 45, one short of the MLB record. The game took 4:01 to play.
  • Felipe Rivero allowed more earned runs in 1/3 IP (5) against his former teammates than he had in his first 25 innings with the Pirates (4). He had some help from Phil Coke, too.
  • It was a well-timed rest day for Fran; his wrist was banged up in last night's game.
  • On Neal Huntington's radio show, he noted that Trevor Williams still had an option. In the next breath he mentioned that Trevor will have a shot at earning a spot on the Pirates at camp, but it sounds like they have him penciled in already for a 2017 start at Indy. He also said that Nick Kingham could be on the same fast track next season that Jamo took this year.