Friday, June 30, 2017

Pirates Fade Away Against G-Men, Get Rocked 13-5

First innings and home runs; Denard Span deposited the game's second toss into the seats before Gerrit could settle in. Fraze and J-Hay opened with first-pitch knocks against Johnny Cueto followed by a Cutch walk. A force-out bouncer that was a heartbeat away from a DP plated Fraze and JJ's double chased home another. A Gregory sac fly made it 3-1. In the second, a walk, wild pitch and grounder sent Brandon Belt to third; a whiff kept him there. Stew opened with a single that ticked off the 3B's mitt and a bunt moved him along. Fraze walked, but J-Hay bounced into a twin-killing. The Giants got a one-out walk in the third, then J-Bell, who made a fine scoop earlier in the game, tossed a grounder away trying for the lead man to put Bay men at the corners. Another knock made it a one-run game before back-to-back punch outs stemmed the flow. Cutch got plunked in the back to begin an otherwise ho-hum frame.

Gerrit's emotions boiled over a bit tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Giants banged five straight two-out singles in the fourth, starting with the eight hitter, to take a 5-3 lead. Cole simply left too many balls down the middle and paid; he's also at 84 pitches. He barked some at Clint between innings (likely over shifting) though he probably should be scolding the man in the mirror. The Pirates opened with a walk and a knock; Gerrit K'ed trying to move them up. Fraze almost made that irrelevant, but his long drive to center stayed in the park and the failure to bunt cost a run when Josh grounder out. It was a 1-2-3 fifth for San Fran. Cutch started the Bucs off with a rap, then J-Bell fouled off ball four twice and looked at strike three. JJ swatted another double to put Bucs at second and third. Gregory hit what was ball four hard, but right at third to freeze the runners. Jordy did take the walk but Stew couldn't deliver. The Pirates have stranded eight and are 1-for-9 w/RISP after five frames.

The Giants got a leadoff single in the sixth and an out later Span got his third hit to occupy the corners. The game is already two hours plus, and Clint waved in Antonio Bastardo to eat some more clock. Span stole second for naught; AB walked the first hitter he saw. Clint shook his head and called on Jhan Marinez along with Elias Diaz for the double-switch. He bopped Hunter Pence as a long night threatened to turn into an eternity, especially after back-to-back doubles. At this point, your intrepid cub reporter and his bully pooch decided that it was a fine time to take a walk.

Cutch just keeps on rollin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

What happened that was noteworthy? Cutch banged a foul of his ankle, took a knee, then got back up and singled before being pulled for a pinch runner. Wade LeBlanc gave up a homer. Edgar Santana couldn't even get through the ninth, loading the bases after bopping, of all people, Gorkys Hernandez. It ended with a Gregory fly out after four hours of undisciplined and sometimes thrown-away at-bats (despite five runs, 10 hits and an in-focus first frame), a pitcher showing playground maturity when things went south and a bad day for the bullpen, with probably another busy afternoon on deck with Chad Kuhl on the hill tomorrow. Still, just one game, and some are better than others. Hopefully they can shower off and come back ready to rock tomorrow.

  • Cutch had two knocks and a walk while JJ & Stew had a pair of hits. 
  • Cutch hit .411 this month; he also batted .446 in July, 2012. Andrew joins a select club of Buccos who have hit .400+ in a month twice (100 bat minimum): Roberto Clemente, Arky Vaughan, Paul Waner & Pie Traynor (thx @joe_block). The later four, of course, are all in the Hall of Fame. Cutch has, btw, reached base safely in eight consecutive trips to the plate.
  • J-Bell's double gave him 30 extra-base hits, the most banged by a Pirates rookie before the All Star break. Now to work on that .232 BA...
  • The game drew just 26,407 on fireworks night, one of PNC's top attractions. That doesn't bode well for sales during the rest of the year unless the Pirates catch fire; at 13-13, June was the best month of the season so far. 
  • Per ESPN Stats, Denard Spans's leadoff dinger in the first inning was the 1,069th this month, tying May, 2000, for the most HRs in a single month in MLB history. Justin Smoak of Toronto broke the record a little while later.
  • RHP Brandon Cumpton took another step in his TJ recovery today as he was promoted to Altoona.

Friday: Giants Roll Into Town, Cole v Johnny Cueto, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Giants visit PNC Park with the game beginning at 7:05 PM. The action will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's a Zambelli Fireworks night at the yard if the weather cooperates tonight. If there was ever a time to make hay, this week would be it. The Bucs' next seven games are against Giants (30-51) and Phillies (26-51), the two worst teams by record in baseball.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, J-Bell 1B, John Jaso LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Gerrit Cole P.The lineup leaves a hole or two in the defense, but it's pretty solid with sticks.

Gerrit takes on Bucco nemesis Johnny Cueto (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (6-6, 4.11) takes on old rival Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.20). As bad as he was during his four-game May Day slide, that's how good he's been in his last three outings. He's won all three, giving up three runs (one per game) in 20 IP on 11 hits. Cole Train has been quite good v the Giants. He's 3-0/1.59 in four career starts against them, with the caveat that he hasn't faced the G-Men since 2015 when he beat Ryan Vogelsong. Cueto has been a bit up-and-down for SF, but he's put together back-to-back strong outings, giving up three runs on 10 hits in 14 IP. His peripherals on the road are solid except for one red flag - he's been tagged for 14 long balls in 55 IP. Then again, he's 19-4/2.10 in 29 starts against the Bucs (11-2/1.88 at PNC Park) and hasn't lost a regular-season game to Pittsburgh since 2012 (2013 if you count the Cue-to wildcard game) so there's that to contend with. It should be a heck of a pitching match.

  • Cutch Daddy: Congrats
  • J-Hay was on base four times last night. He's put up a .455 OBP in his last 10 games.
  • Elias Diaz has been quite the clutch guy so far, going 9-for-20 (.450) in RISP situations this season.
  • Don't be surprised to see a little less of Freeser during the back end of the campaign. Clint said that he was playing the 34-year-old 3B too much; the plan coming into the season was to limit him to no more than three straight starts to keep him fresh during the year. 
  • This is the mid-point of the Bucco PNC schedule at game #41. So far home cooking has been not been quite so filling for the Pirates as the Bucs are just 21-19 at PNC Park. But that's looking up from last year, when Pittsburgh posted a losing slate of 38-42 along the banks of the Allegheny.
  • With Jason Rogers leaving for Japan, 23-year-old Altoona Curve OF Jordan Luplow (.287, 16 HR and recently-named Eastern League All-Star) was promoted to Indy.

6/30: Birthdays & Happenings: HBD Kangaroo, Jovo, Hal, Tincan, Don, Delwyn & Drew; Trades & More

  • 1880 - OF Davy Jones was born in Manikota, Minnesota. After a 13-year career in the show, the 34-year-old Jones spent his last two campaigns (1914-15) with the Pittsburgh Rebels, where he hit .279 before an ankle injury led to his release. Jones had spent most of his MLB time fighting for a third outfield spot in Detroit between Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, and saw considerable time as the leadoff hitter, scoring at a good pace with those two Hall-of-Fame bats behind him. He even homered in the 1909 Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That he ended up with the Rebels was no surprise. Per SABR, “During his first years in the pros he jumped so many contracts that the press nicknamed him ‘The Kangaroo.’"
Johnny Miljus 1927 (photo from Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, tho Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB.
  • 1902 - RHP Hal Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30 year old, and spent his four year career (1932-35) as a Buc. In that span, he went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA with his time split between starting and the bullpen.
  • 1909 - LHP Harry “Tincan” Kincannon was born in parts unknown. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930-36, being one of just three players to transition from the original independent club to the Negro National League. The curve-ball specialist made one All-Star appearance for the Crawfords before he was traded to the NY Black Yankees.
Jimmy Callahan (image from Baseball History Daily)
  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins.
  • 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “what was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams.
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs.
Delwyn Young 2010 Upper Deck
  • 1982 - UT Delwyn Young Jr. was born in Los Angeles. A touted minor-league prospect, Delwyn was an AAA All-Star and played for Team USA, but the Dodgers outfield was loaded and he Young was sent to Pittsburgh for Eric Krebs & Harvey Garcia. He was the starting 2B for a spell, replacing the traded Freddy Sanchez. Delwyn began on fire but faded during the dog days, relegating him to a utility role in 2010. His bat slipped - he hit .238 following a .266 season - and left at the end of the year as a free agent. He had a couple of bites, but never caught on in the majors again.
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell (each won 33 games during his next three years) in an even up deal.
  • 1983 - UT Drew Sutton was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. Drew had a dizzy but brief Bucco stay. The Pirates purchased Sutton from the Braves on May 20th, 2012. Then Tampa Bay purchased Drew from the Bucs on the next day; the Pirates had let him go as a professional courtesy because the Rays were going to add him to their MLB roster. 18 games and a month later, Sutton was DFA’ed by Tampa and claimed by Pittsburgh. He became the stuff of local folklore when on July 3rd, 2012, Drew hit his first career walk-off home run into PNC’s batter’s eye off the Astro’s Wesley Wright to give the Pirates a come-from-ahead win after a blown save by Joel Hanrahan. The victory gave the Pirates a share of first place.
Drew Sutton (photo Jason Alter/Getty)
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a more minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

6/30 Games: Forbes Field Opens, Stu Loses Three Balls, Fans For Change, Vin's Gem, Game Stories

  • 1909 - A SRO crowd of 30,338 was on hand as the Pirates fell to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Ruelbach tossed a three hitter to top Vic Willis. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel. FF’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, and the first pads to cushion the wall in the forties. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its early years. Some folly; the yard was the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons.
  • 1960 - Dick Stuart bombed three consecutive HRs to key an 11-6 win as the Pirates split a DH with the second place Giants at Forbes Field. Stuart had seven RBI in the nitecap and joined Ralph Kiner as the second Pirate to hit three homers in a game at Forbes Field. Joe Gibbon worked 7-⅔ innings, giving up six hits and a run after Vinegar Bend Mizell was chased by the G-Men in the second frame. The Bucs were flattened in the opener, losing by an 11-0 count.
  • 1962 - The Pirates clobbered the Cards 17-7 at Busch Stadium. Smoky Burgess had two homers and a double, good for seven RBI. Roberto Clemente had a hot stick, too, going 4-for-5 with a homer, double and five runs driven in. Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart added three knocks apiece as the Pirates drilled 22 hits against St. Louis.
  • 1997 - Jon Lieber tossed a five hit, ten K, complete game 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at TRS, backed by homers from Kevin Young and Dale Sveum. But the most memorable part of the afternoon was Lieber’s dominance of Albert Belle, who he whiffed four times. The 28,070 fans loved it; Belle was in the first year of an $11M contract, while the “Freak Show” Pirates had a $9M payroll for the entire team. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline for Bob Smizik’s game story was “Pirates Clang Belle.” Lieber also held Frank Thomas, who was making a mere $7.15M, 0-for-2, though the Big Hurt did draw a walk and had a sac fly for Chi-town’s only RBI.
Jon Leiber 1997 Circa Rave
  • 1999 - The Bucs rode an eight-run fourth frame to a 9-1 win over the Phillies at TRS. Brian Giles had a three-run homer, Al Martin had a three-run bases-loaded double and Brant Brown doubled in another pair as the Bucs banged out six hits to go with three walks in their big frame. Jason Schmidt cruised to victory, with ninth inning help from Brad Clontz.
  • 2007 - To protest the team’s small payroll and general ineptitude, a group called “Fans for Change” staged a walkout at PNC Park. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand of the 26,959 on hand who strolled out of the park after the third inning. They picked a bad day for it, as the Bucs beat the Nats 7-2 behind Tom Gorzelanny, who was supported by a three run homer by Adam LaRoche. Though the sentiment was widespread, the boycott had little effect.
  • 2008 - The Pirates penciled a pitcher in the eight hole for the first time in over 50 years when John Russell had Paul Maholm (.161) bat ahead of Jack Wilson (.312). Didn’t work as the Bucs went down 4-3 to the Reds at GABP after Matt Capps gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Junior. Maholm went 0-for-3; Wilson 1-for-3.
Vin Mazzaro 2013 Quarry
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their ninth straight game 2-1 in 14 innings over the Brewers at PNC Park. The game was delayed in the second inning for nearly 2-1/2 hours, and the bullpens took over with Milwaukee ahead 1-0. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the eighth when his two out knock drove in Starling Marte. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 13th to miss a golden chance, but Russell Martin, the last position player remaining, singled home Gaby Sanchez, who had an infield knock and stolen base to open the frame, with the game winner in the following go-around. Tony Watson got the win after three scoreless innings. He followed five other Pirate relievers, and the ensemble tossed 12 innings of two-hit, shutout ball without issuing a walk, led by Vin Mazzaro’s perfect five inning stint (it was the first Bucco five IP+ bullpen perfecto since Elmer Ponder did it in 1919). It was the first time in franchise history that the bullpen put up that many consecutive zeroes in one game.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rays Crowd the Bases But Don't Pass Go As Bucs Take Series With 4-0 Win

Both Jamo and Chris Archer exchanged bops and knocks in the first; JT's HBP being accidental and Archer's, eh, not so much. neither side could take advantage. A leadoff double and infield single (runner at second holding) in the second put JT in a jackpot; a 5-4 DP (J-Hay grabbed a grounder at third and got the lead runners; very heads up) and K got him out of it. The Bucs went quietly. Tampa got a walk in the third, and the Pirates put together three consecutive one-out knocks with Cutch plating Fraze, but a J-Bell DP short-circuited a big inning. Jamo stranded a leadoff knock and steal in the fourth and JJ made it 2-0 with a homer to open the Bucco half. In the fifth, Jameson tossed a clean frame; the Bucs left J-Hay and Cutch at second and third. A pair of singles set up Tampa in the sixth, but they couldn't cash in. The Bucs did when Gregory yanked one over the Clemente Wall.

Nice outing by Jamo (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Rays kept coming in the seventh; an opening two-bagger and walk was followed by a line out, and Clint sent JT to the showers. Tony Watson grabbed the ball and barred the gate on four pitches. Chase Whitley toed the rubber and got into a two-out pickle. He bopped J-Hay, Cutch walked and J-Bell singled home another run. Adam Kolarek was waved in and din't have much work as Andrew was nabbed trying to steal third. Juan Nicasio was called on in the eighth and sailed through it with a pair of whiffs. JJ started things with a rap but nothing become of it. Felipe Rivero got a rest; Clint sent Edgar Santana out for the ninth. He was equal to the task, giving up a knock in an otherwise chill inning.

Jamo is excellent working from the stretch; the Rays were 1-for-9 with RISP against him in 6-1/3 IP. Being from the old school, the counting number we like is the zero runs. Cutch and Josh Harrison are still in beast mode, too. Nice win; two in-a-row with the sad sack G-Men coming to town could start something for Pirates.

  • Cutch had three hits and a walk while J-Hay had two raps and two plunks. JJ also stayed hot with a pair of knocks.
  • Bruise brother: J-Hay now has four games this year with multiple plunks. The record for multi-HBP games over a full season is six (Ron Hunt, Craig Biggio). Josh leads the league in that category by a wide margin; he's been smacked 18 times while second place is held by the Cubs Anthony Rizzo with 13.
  • There were 22,595 in the house tonight.
  • Cervy was transferred from the from the seven-day concussion DL to the regular 10-day DL in a procedural move.
Jason is running into the setting sun... (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Indy's Jason Rogers has signed with Hanshin Tigers in Japan, turning the page on a not-very-good deal made by the Buccos last year.

Thursday: Pirates-Rays Rubber Match, JT v Chris Archer, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: It's the rubber match between the Rays and Pirates, starting at 7:05 PM at PNC Park. It will be carried on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's Game of Thrones night with the first 1,000 fans getting a GOT glass.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, John Jaso LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Jameson Taillon P. Archer has a 50-point lefty/righty split, so Clint is loading up as much as possible.

Jamo storms the hill on Military Night (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.33) will try to take the series winner against Chris Archer (6-4, 3.97) in a pretty solid match. Jamo has gone 1-1, 3.38 in three starts since returning from DL, going 16 IP and giving up six runs on 17 hits with five walks and 16 K, pretty good but still not quite where he'd like to be with his command. He's never faced the Rays. Chris Archer is a workhorse, going at least six frames in 13 of his 16 starts and is kinda the Rays version of Ivan Nova in consistency. Archer doesn't have an appreciable home/away split, and he's tough on RH hitters (.210 BA). He's met the Bucs just once back  in 2014, giving up four runs in seven innings.

  • J-Bell is the fourth Pirate switch-hitter to hit 15 or more home runs in a season, joining Bobby Bonilla (five times), Neil Walker (three times) and Ryan Doumit (once). Josh gone long 10 times batting lefty and five times from the right side of the plate.
  • Indy's LHP Steven Brault (6-3, 2.24), IF Chris Bostick (.288) and RHP Drew Hutchison (4-3, 3.31) were selected as International League All-Stars
  • RHP Luis Escobar, 21, is the Pirates rep for the All-Star Futures Game and will be a member of the World roster. He's a Top-15 Pirates prospect with a slash of 6-3/4.77 and 97 strikeouts in 71-2/3 IP for the Class A West Virginia Power.

6/29 Events: Kiner Kover; Roberto Statue; Ollie Gets the Boot; HBD Heinie, Patsy, Whitey, Rock & Tony

  • 1867 - IF Henry “Heinie” Reitz was born in Chicago. Heinie had established himself as a dependable .290 hitter over his first five years and the Pirates sent three players to Washington to get him. Father Time won this deal. The 32-year-old Reitz played just 35 games for the Bucs, hitting a career low of .262 and was traded to Milwaukee of the American Association for Harry Smith, who spent six years with the Bucs as a back-up catcher. Heinie never played major league ball again after the deal and became a sad but historic footnote in baseball history when he died in 1914 at age 47, the first major league player to meet his Maker as the result of a car accident.
Patsy Flaherty (photo Chicago History Museum/Getty)
  • 1876 - LHP Patsy Flaherty was born in Mansfield (now Carnegie). The Flaherty and Wagner families were neighbors and Patsy & Hans were lifelong friends. Flaherty was a “quick-pitch” stylist and master of the pickoff (between pitching as soon as he got the ball back from the catcher and his deceptive pickoff move, it’s been said that he struck out at least two batters who swung at throws to first!) who was recommended to the Pirates twice by his homie Hans. He pitched for the Bucs in 1900 and then again from 1904-05. He went 29-19-1 in that span. When he retired after nine years of major league ball with a dead arm, he coached, managed and scouted for various clubs until 1940.
  • 1910 - Burgess “Whitey” Whitehead was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. A good glove, erratic hitting infielder, Whitey put in eight years with the Cards and Giants, winning a World Series, three NL pennants and an All-Star selection. After missing three seasons while in the military, he returned in 1946 for a last hurrah with the Pirates, hitting .220 at age 36 and then retiring after two more years in the minors. Whitehead was elected into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and was the last surviving member of the Gas House Gang when he died in 1993 at the age of 83.
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post‚ and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field.
John Wehner 2008 JW Team Issue
  • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, The Rock hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He’s now an analyst on Root Sports’ TV team.
  • 1977 - RHP Tony McKnight was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. Tony was a big righty who was a first round draft pick and pitched modestly well for Houston (5-1, 3.91 in nine starts) in limited work. The Pirates took a dice roll on the 24-year-old by swinging a deadline deal that sent reliever Mike Williams to the ‘Stros for him. They rolled snake eyes; Tony went 2-6/5.19 in 12 starts with a 1.572 WHIP, then spent two years in the minors before moving on. He’s now a coach at Texas A&M at Texarkana.
  • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL with a broken toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game in St. Louis on the 26th (an eventual 10 inning, 5-4 Pirate win) and was out of action for 10 weeks.
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director.

6/29 Games: Expo Closes, Pops #400, Streaks End, Game Stories

  • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach threw out Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Per the Pittsburg Press: “...the wee outfielder (Leach)...was as active as a cat all afternoon. Tommie grabbed the bounding sphere and hurled it to catcher (George) Gibson at the plate. It was a perfect throw and had ‘Steiny’ beaten by 20 feet.” Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17-game winning streak snapped.
1909 Pittsburgh Press
  • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps after the game concluded.
  • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards 2-1 at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm rained out the remainder. The rain also pulled the plug on local son (he was from Donora) Stan Musial’s 24 game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy.
  • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirate player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win at Busch Stadium. Bill Robinson had a four-bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage combined for a seven-hitter.
Willie Stargell 1977 Hostess
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in ten innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk-off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the extra-inning win.
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double while Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout for the win.
  • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer.
Freddy Sanchez 2006 Topps All-Star
  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bucs Break Out Early & Hold On For 6-2 Win

Pretty busy first inning - the Rays used a single/double combo off Ivan Nova to take the lead. The Bucs got two-out walks from Cutch and Freeser followed by a Jose Osuna double to knot the score off Blake Snell, then J-Bell walked to load the sacks. The two-out magic continued; a wild pitch brought in a run and Eli rolled a slider away into right to plate two more Buccos and it was 4-1. Back-to-back singles with an out in the second put Rays on the corner, but a grounder to Freeser chopped down a run at home and another dirtball ended the frame. The Bucs went down in order; Mad Max has already K'ed twice. Ivan is really laboring and in a rarity, he can't find the strike zone. Tampa opened the third with a single and double, followed by a one-out HBP. A sac fly brought in a tally and an infield knock jammed the sacks again, but a bouncer ended the dance. The Pirates went down 1-2-3.

J-Bell flexed his muscles tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Ivan walked the pitcher to open the fourth but found his groove against the top of the order. J-Bell rewarded Nova's effort by padding the lead with a long tater to left. Jordy walked with an out and was bunted to second where he stayed. The Rays got a two-out walk in the fifth and nada else. Cutch walked and with two gone, Joey O chased him home with another two-bagger. Huddy took the ball in the sixth; Ivan was done at 89 pitches. Daniel gave up a leadoff double but worked around it. Danny Farquhar gave up two singles and had an error behind him, but an around-the-horn DP in between served him well. The Rays continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Tony Watson worked the seventh and had runners on the corners with an out; he served up a 1-6-3 comebacker DP to escape. Jumbo Diaz fanned a pair in a quiet frame.

Juan Nicasio toed the rubber in the eighth and had a calm inning with a walk and a whiff. Erasmo Ramirez climbed the hill and tucked the Bucs away. Felipe Rivero got the call for the ninth up 6-2; Clint works in mysterious ways. Anyway, 11 tosses later the game was in the books.

Eli banged out a couple of raps (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Ivan did what a pro does when he's got nothing - survive. Two runs in three innings while giving up seven hits testifies to both Ivan doing what he could with what he had and the Rays helping out by swinging like lumberjacks.

  • Joey O and Eli each had two knocks and two RBI tonight. J-Bell had a long knock and a walk while Cutch was walked twice and scored twice. The pups and the old dawg woofin', nice.
  • J-Bell's long ball was his 15th homer, tying Ralph Kiner (1946) for most dingers by a Pirate rookie before the All-Star break. It was also his 29th extra-base hit, tying him for the rookie pre All-Star standard set by Dale Long in 1955.
  • Ivan Nova's streak of 15 straight games going six or more innings to start the year ended at 15, the best run since Eddie Solomon in 1981.
  • Cervy is just riding a bike now; looks like his return from the DL (he was eligible yesterday) will be later rather than sooner. With his concussion history (he's missed action several times in his career because of shots to the head), Amore may be a candidate to take the John Jaso route of looking for a new position.
  • Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan thinks the Pirates should hop off the fence - either trade Cutch and Cole Train or sign them.
  • The Bucs signed third-rounder Dylan Busby, a 3B from Florida State. He hit .315/15 HR for the Seminoles. Jim Callis of reports that he signed for $575k (slot value $626,600).
  • You might reconsider your view of umps after you read the Post Gazette's Stephen Nesbitt article on John Tumpane.

Wednesday: Rays and Bucs, Nova v Blake Snell, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: Rays and Pirates, round two, starting at 7:05PM in PNC Park. Root. Sports and 93.7 The Fan will carry the match.

Lineup: Max Moroff 2B, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna RF, Josh Bell 1B, Elias Diaz C, Jordy Mercer SS & Ivan Nova P. A night for the young guns. Our only question: What happened to red-hot Jordy and his LHP mojo? He has a .290 lifetime average against lefties but is batting eighth tonight because he's got a .140 BA v southpaws this year.

Joey O gets the start in right tonight (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (7-5, 3.06) faces Blake Snell (0-4, 4.71). Ivan's been the steadiest Bucco on the bump this year, winning four of his last six decisions and six of his last nine. He's also been a boon to the bullpen, going at least six innings in each of his first 15 starts, while allowing more than three earned runs in just three of those outings starts. Nova has been especially strong at home with a 5-2/2.53 slash in seven PNC starts this season. He's not been especially stellar v Tampa Bay, going 8-7, 3.95 ERA in 18 career games against his old AL division foes. He made his final start as a NYY against them and didn't make it through the fifth, giving up five runs in 4-1/3 IP. The lefty Snell made the Tampa's opening day roster but was optioned to AAA Durham in May where he regained his mojo, going 5-0/2.66. The 24-year-old will be looking for his first win in the majors since he beat the Yankees last September. His big issue is length; the guy has problems working past the fifth inning, so the Bucs have a shot at getting into the Ray's bullpen early. Snell has never tossed against Pittsburgh.

  • Between knocks, walks, and bops, J-Hay has a .444 OBP in his last eight games.
  • There was a spell when the Bucs saw a never-ending parade of southpaws, but that's flipped. The Pirates are facing a left-handed starter tonight in Blake Snell for the first time since June 12th and for just the fifth time in 40 games since May 16th.
  • For the second time this season, the Pirates have opted to go with an eight-man bullpen and shorten the bench by a player when they swapped out C Jacob Stallings for LHP Antonio Bastardo. 
  • Altoona's 2B Kevin Kramer (.297), 3B Wyatt Mathisen (.290), OF Jordan Luplow (.291, 16 HR), RHP Alex McRae (6-3, 3.58) & RHP Montana DuRapau (2-2-11, 1.38) were named to the Eastern League All-Star team.
  • Mark the Shark, who recently came off the DL for the Giants, is back on it with the same elbow ouchie, a right pronator strain.

6/28: 3,000 For Hans, Mad Dog Deal, Forbes Field Closes, HBD Mike, Orlando & Kevin, Game Stories...

  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01.
Mike Lynch 1904 (photo Pittsburg Press)
  • 1914 - Honus Wagner became the first 20th century ballplayer to collect 3,000 hits when he singled off of Cincinnati's rookie Pete Schneider in the second game of a twinbill at Redland Field. While a good day for Hans, it wasn’t such a good one for the Pirates. They lost both ends of the doubleheader to the Reds by 7-6 and 1-0 scores. The first loss was especially gruesome as the Bucs blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth triggered by a missed call. Up by a run with two outs and two aboard, a 3-2 foul tip was gloved by catcher Bob Coleman. The Reds on base started to run to the dugout, but the batter, Bert Niehoff, jogged innocently to first and the ump bought his act, calling it a check swing and ball four. A protest, made en masse by the Pirate infield and battery, was to no avail and a following single gave Cincy the game. The second was a pitching duel with Schneider’s three-hitter bettering the four-hit work of Marty O’Toole and Erv Kantlehner. In the long run, it made little difference as the Pirates finished seventh and the Reds last in the NL that season. (There have been a slew of June dates tossed around for Hans’ 3,000th hit. We had used June 9th as the consensus, but Bucco historian John Dreker of Pirates Prospects says that this date is the newly accepted one following research of old-timey box scores, which are generally kinda sketchy.)
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2 with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh.
  • 1938 - C Orlando McFarlane was born in Oriente, Cuba. Signed by the Bucs as an infielder in 1958, he was converted to catcher and got a cup of coffee with the Pirates in 1962, playing a bit more in 1964 and hitting .208 in his 45-game Bucco career. He was lost in the Rule 5 draft and played three more years with Detroit and the California Angels, but he battled nagging injuries while his impressive minor league bat never carried over to the show. Orlando played 10 years in the bushes with more stops in the Cuban, Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twinbill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the last games played at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs tenth straight loss.
  • 1970 - SS Kevin Polcovich was born in Auburn, New York. He spent his MLB career of two years (1997-98) with the Pirates, hitting .234. The University of Florida player was drafted in the 30th round by the Bucs in 1992,getting his call when Kevin Elster was injured, and would become a key member of the 1997 “Freak Show” that against all odds stayed in the divisional race until late September despite a $9M payroll. After he left the game, Kevin did some scouting and established the Icrush Bat Company, a manufacturer of maple bats.
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter.
Mad Dog 1980 Topps
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). Whitson pitched through 1991, winning 126 games and saving eight more while Holland worked out of various bullpens for 11 more seasons. Breining had a shorter career, lasting five years as a multi-role hurler.
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia.
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bucs Rally For Naught, Rays Prevail 4-2 In 10 Innings

For openers, Trevor Williams gave up a two-out rap and Alex Cobb tossed a clean inning. In the second, the Rays reached on a catcher's interference call against Stew with an out; a 6-4-3 DP took care of that while the Bucs again went in order. The third was six up, six down. Two of the first three Rays singled (both raps were seeing eye bouncers) in the fourth to put runners in the corners and a soft grounder drew first blood. Pittsburgh got a J-Hay walk but still no knocks. Trevor struck out the side in the fifth while the Pirates continued to make Cobb look like Cy Young. The Rays got a one-out knock in the sixth, again quickly erased on an around-the-horn DP while the Bucs continued their futility. Williams worked another quiet frame in the seventh, capped by an inning-ending gem web grab by Cutch. The Pirates got something going when J-Hay and Andrew led off with raps; it ended quickly with a pair of grounders to third, the first resulting in a DP.

Trevor looked good tonight, whiffing seven (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Trevor gave up a leadoff fan-interference double in the eighth followed by a bad-hop knock that glanced off Freeser's mitt to make it 2-0. Juan Nicasio got the call and closed it down with the last out a CS on a strong Stew toss. Cobb returned to his 1-2-3 ways. Huddy worked the ninth without a hitch. JJ opened the Bucs' last lap by getting bopped by Alex Colome (no, we have no idea why Cobb was pulled; he was at 98 pitches and has gone 115 a couple of times this year). CF Peter Bourjos then ran down Fraze's shot, a big grab that was followed by a J-Hay double. Cutch's two-bagger tied it. J-Bell was walked intentionally, and Freeser's fly to right moved Andrew 90' from the win. El Coffee was walked intentionally to set up a righty-v-righty with Jordy, who flew out deep to left to set up some bonus baseball.

Felipe Rivero came on and the wheels fell off; a leadoff single scored all the way from first on a brutal Freeser boot (and it was literally a boot; the ball was kicked into short left). A walk followed by a wild pitch followed by a sac fly made it 4-2 before the frame ended. Tommy Hunter climbed the slope and made quick work of the Pirates, dispatching them in nine tosses including a K.

J-Hay all day... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Another hard loss by the Bucs with the game swinging on two late-innings plays in the field - Bourjos' snagging Fraze's gapper in the ninth and Freeser booting a possible DP (or at least a force) grounder in the 10th. Even with the missing players and steady stream of guys on the DL, the inability to put games away, whether by bullpen meltdown, stranded runners, or the occasional bad leather day is the reason the Bucs can't dent .500.

  • The Bucs only managed fours hits, two each by Cutch and J-Hay.
  • Cervy was working out with the boys tho still on the DL; no word on the results of his concussion/virus testing.
  • Today's gate was 20,424 and some assorted but uncounted pups.
  • Per Jim Callis of, 6th-rounder Cody Bolton signed with the Pirates for $300K (slot value was $255,900). He's a California prep RHP with a low-90s heater and an in-progress slider who's "projectable."
  • Jason Grilli was DFA'ed by Toronto. He was 2-4-1, 6.97 for the Jays, giving up nine HRs in 20-1/3 IP with four walks/10 K per game.
  • 40-year-old Joe Beimel retired; the 13-year vet from Duquesne U was drafted by the Bucs and made his debut for Pittsburgh in 2001. He was pitching indie ball this season.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will induct Corey Hart into the team's Wall of Honor on Friday. Corey played his last 35 games as a Pirate after his knee was shot. He spent his first nine MLB campaigns as a Brewer, hitting .276 w/154 dingers.

Tuesday: Rays Visit PNC, Williams v Alex Cobb, Lineup (Cutch Switches Spots w/Gregory), Notes

Tonight: The Rays visit the Pirates with first pitch at 7:05 PM in PNC Park. Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan will carry the game.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Trevor Williams P. Doesn't take Sherlock to figure out the big news tonight; Cutch and Gregory have switched spots as Andrew has been en fuego while El Coffee is 0-fer in his last three games.

Gregory will get to workout his woes from the six-hole (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09) starts the set against Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05). Williams is making his 10th start of the season. having stepped in the breach when Jamo went down and then outlasting Tyler Glasnow. Trevor pitched pretty well in his last outing, a no-decision against Milwaukee that the bullpen couldn't ice for him. Williams has never faced the Rays or any American League team for that matter. Cobb has been tossing pretty well; he's given up two or fewer earned runs in four of his last five outings, tho the outlier was an ERA-busting beat-down by the Mariners. He pitches much better at Tropicana Filed (3.15 ERA v 4.73 on the road) so PNC Park should be an edge for Pittsburgh. Cobb has taken on the Bucs once back in 2014 and gave up six runs on six hits in five innings.

  • Antonio Bastardo was removed from the DL after his 30-day rehab at Indy where he was 2-0/3.38 with a 1.549 WHIP in 11 rehab appearances. The 31-year-old is 0-1/16.20 in six outings (opponents scored against him in every appearance he made) with a very small sample size of 6-2/3 IP for Pittsburgh this year. Jacob Stallings was returned to the Indians to open a spot for AB.
  • The Pirates and Rays are meeting for the first time since 2014 at Tampa. The Bucs won two of the three games in that set and are 7-5 all-time against the Rays. This is the first time since 2008 that the Rays have played in Pittsburgh, where the clubs have split the six previous meetings.

6/27 TRS-PNC Park Era: Grilli Deal, Denny's Grand Slam, HBD Daryle & AJ, Game Stories...

  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell” as his drive hit the replicate Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veterans Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI.
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002.
AJ Shugel 2016 (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1989 - RHP AJ Schugel was born in Winter Haven, Florida. A waiver claim by the Bucs, he got into 36 games for Pittsburgh in 2016, going 2-2-1. 3.63 as a long man in the pen with a nice 1.038 WHIP. He started 2017 at AAA Indy with a brief Pittsburgh stop in June.
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner.
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985 and just one of five to smack one in franchise history. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee." Paul Wagner got a hold and Dan Plesac the save for Neagle.
  • 1988 - Ishmael Valdez was one batter shy of throwing a perfecto against the Bucs at Dodger Stadium, giving up a leadoff eighth-inning single to Kevin Young. Valdez struck out seven and used just 97 pitches to tame Pittsburgh. Francisco Cordova was the hard-luck loser, a victim of temporary loss of control when with two outs and a runner on third in the sixth, an intentional walk was followed by an unintentional pass to set up Raul Mondesi’s two-run single.
Craig Wilson 2004 Topps
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP.
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win.
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013. Grilli is now working for Toronto while Frieri has moved around and is currently with Texas.

6/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Hit Parade; Triple Play; Long Double; HBD Jackie, Minute Man, Roy & Elmo...

  • 1861 - C Jackie Hayes was born in Brooklyn. Hayes played in three leagues - the National League, the American Association and the Players League - and spent two of his seven big league campaigns with the Alleghenys from 1883-84. Primarily a catcher, Jackie also played three infield positions and the corner outfield for Pittsburgh, batting .253. He fit right in with the rowdy bunch on the team at that time, gaining some notoriety for a late-evening brawl in a Cincinnati saloon. Hayes' story had a sad ending, as he died at the age of 43, deaf and suffering from locomotor ataxia, a disease that prevented him from walking unaided.
Deacon Phillippe 1903 Breisch Caramel
  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four hits by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two-run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory.
  • 1916 - P Cecil “Minute Man” Kaiser was born in New York. Per BR Bullpen, Kaiser got his start on the sandlots of West Virginia before he debuted in 1945 with the Homestead Grays before heading south to play. Lured by a $700 per month paycheck, he returned to the Grays in 1947 and worked through the 1949 season for the club. He spent the majority of his time in the Latino leagues, getting a shot in the minors when he was 35; unfortunately, his arm was gone by then. He was a small guy in stature at 5’6” but with great control and a killer curve. He got his “Minute Man” moniker because it was said that’s how long it took for him to strikeout a batter.
  • 1926 - C Roy Jarvis was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 17-year-old bonus baby when he played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jarvis then served in the Navy during WW2 and then returned to baseball with the Pirates which had claimed his rights in the 1944 Rule 5 draft. (Roy was the last Pirate to lose a full season to WW2 military duty. Pittsburgh sent 28 MLB players and 15 minor-leaguers to the service in WW2 per “Baseball in Wartime.”) He got a couple of cups of coffee with the Buccos in 1946-47, hitting .163 in 20 games and spent the rest of his career in the minors, retiring to become a salesman after the 1955 campaign.
Elmo Paskett 1963 Topps
  • 1938 - C Elmo Plaskett was born in Frederiksted, Virgin Islands. Elmo got in 17 games for the Bucs between 1962-63, hitting .200. He was a great hitter in the minors, winning a batting title and being named “Player of the Year” with Asheville of the Sally League but it didn’t carry over to the show. He played other positions beside catcher, but wasn’t much with the mitt and when he broke his leg in a winter league game in 1964, it spelled the end of his MLB days in the pre-DH era. He played in the minors through 1969, then retired to operate beisbol programs as a rec specialist for St. Croix, developing Midre Cummings for the Pirates. Plaskett, who died in November, 1998, at the age of 60, had a sunny, Manny Sanguillen-type personality, was dedicated to baseball throughout his life, and is still a hero in the Virgin Islands. The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, inducted Elmo into the Museo Pancho CoĆ­mbre, its sporting Hall of Fame, while the Little Leagues on St. Croix are named after him, per SABR.
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground-rule double to center (it one-hopped the wall) in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run ahead of pinch hitter Manny Mota, who homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win.
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26 Birthdays & Moments: HBD Elmer, Babe, Debs, Smoky, Howie, Bill & Jason; Streaks, POs & More...

  • 1893 - RHP Elmer Ponder was born in Reed, Oklahoma. Elmer was an Oklahoma U grad who was of Cherokee descent and was part of the early wave of Native American players (the Bucs also had Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse on the 1921 roster). He played for the Pirates in 1917, then again from 1919-21. He got into three games his first year before he left to join the Army during WW1, and didn’t return until 1919. His late July debut was special; although the Bucs lost to the Phils 6-1, Ponder tossed 5-⅔ perfect innings of relief. No Pirates reliever could claim five or more innings of perfect work until 94 years later, when Vin Mazzaro did it in 2013 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Elmer went 14-21/2.74 for the Pirates before he was traded to the Cubs in ‘21. He finished the year there before being sent to the Pacific Coast League, where he toiled through the 1928 campaign before retiring to Albuquerque and the work-a-day world.
Steve Brodie (photo via Find-A-Grave)
  • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history. Steve was eccentric, even for the era; per the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Kingaman “Brodie talked to baseballs, caught flies behind his back and once nabbed a line drive that had ricocheted off his head. He mumbled to himself in the outfield, passing time by reciting soliloquies from Shakespeare. Once, Brodie chastised himself for committing an error, The Sun wrote: ‘Then, as further punishment, he refused to talk to himself for the rest of the game.’ A solid fielder, he cut a hole in the pocket of his glove, believing he could better grasp the ball with his bare palm. In winter, he stayed fit by donning a catcher's mask and chest protector and wrestling a muzzled black bear in his backyard.”
  • 1903 - OF Floyd “Babe” Herman was born in Buffalo. His stories are legion, such as the time he ended up on third base with two other teammates or of fly balls bouncing off his body in the outfield. In actuality, Babe was an average fielder with a great stick - his lifetime BA was .324 and he retired with a 140 OPS+. Herman played part of his 13-year career in Pittsburgh, batting .235 (the lowest average of his career) in 1935, returning as a coach in 1951 and later serving as a Bucco scout. Per the New York Times, he got his nickname in the minors, playing when Babe Ruth was a star. ''He was put in to pinch-hit, and the first time he got a hit, the manager of the club said, 'You're my Babe,''' Charles Herman, Floyd’s son, told the paper.
  • 1907 - OF Debs Garms was born in Bangs, Texas. Debs played 12 years in the show, mainly as a utility player although he did start three seasons for the Boston Braves. That’s where the Bucs got him from in 1940, and he hit .355 in 358 ABs. That was good enough for him to be awarded the batting title by Ford Frick; there was no minimum at-bat requirement and the NL President used 100 games played as the qualifier (Garms got into 103 contests). Stan Hack of the Cubs was the next highest hitter at .317, compiled in 603 at-bats, and Chicago fans cried “we wuz robbed” to no avail. Thx to Debs, in 1950 the standard was changed to a 400 at-bat minimum and a few years later to 3.1/PA per game (502 PA). There was no controversy the next season as he hit .264 for Pittsburgh. Garms was a good stickman with a .293 career BA, and in 1941 he set the then-record of seven consecutive pinch hits. He retired after the 1945 season to become a rancher and later a quarryman. BTW, Debs wasn’t a baseball moniker - he was named after socialist politician Eugene Debs.
Debs Garms 1940 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1918 - RHP Elmer “Smoky” Singleton was born in Ogden, Utah. He came to the Pirates as part of the Bob Elliot deal, working for Pittsburgh from 1947-48 while slashing 6-8-3, 5.54. Bert put parts of seven seasons in the show and his overall professional career spanned 24 years, from 1940-63, when he retired at age 45 to become a salesman.
  • 1921 - LHP Howie Pollet was born in New Orleans. After some stellar seasons with St. Louis (two World Series, three All-Star selections), he was sent to Pittsburgh in 1951, the victim of a slow start and back-to-back contract holdouts. He pitched here through 1953 and returned for his final bow in 1956, going 14-31-2, 4.59 for some sad sack teams. Howie coached for the Cards and Astros from 1959-64, then retired and joined the business world.
  • 1935 - CF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner set a MLB mark when he recorded 18 putouts during a 5-1, 4-2 doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves. He had nine grabs in each game and rapped out five hits during the twinbill at Braves Field to support Buc pitchers Guy Bush and Bill Swift.
  • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs.
Bill Robinson 1976 SSPC
  • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the DH, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills.
  • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. He was on a Hall of Fame track before a string of injuries slowed his career, finishing his 16-year run with a .288 BA. Kendall has been a member of the KC Royals coaching staff, serving as a roving special assignment coach, since retiring as a player in 2012.
  • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares had been caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t.

6/26 Games: In First; Lloyd's Steal, Jason's Four Homers, Jay Rings the Bell and More...

  • 1930 - Larry French tossed a seven hit shutout to beat Phil Collins and the Philadelphia Phils 1-0 in the opening game of a Forbes Field DH’er. The Buc bats woke up in game #2, pounding out an 11-5 win. Paul Waner had three hits, including a double and triple, scored four times and drove in a run to lead the attack. All nine Pirates had hits; seven different Bucs scored and seven had RBI. Erv Brame went the distance for the victory.
Larry French Conlon/The Sporting News
  • 1984 - 1B Jason Thompson hit two homers in each game (a pair off Dennis Eckersley and then two more off Rich Bordi) during a doubleheader split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, winning 9-0 behind a Rick Rhoden four hitter and dropping the nitecap 9-8. Thompson tied the club record (established by Ralph Kiner on 9/11/47) by hitting four home runs in a doubleheader. In the opener, the Pirates jumped to a quick 8-0 lead after three innings, with the only drama being Johnny Ray’s effort for a cycle (he fell a homer short). Doug Frobel joined the HR parade in the second match by also adding a pair of long flies, but the four homers were all solo shots and not quite enough to rally the Bucs from a six-run opening frame by the Cubbies against Larry McWilliams.
  • 1991 - The Pirates scored five times in the third inning and then hung on to defeat the Cubs at TRS 7-6. Jose Lind had a three-run homer, Barry Bonds a two-run shot, and Jay Bell went 5-for-5 to prime the attack against Chicago.
  • 2001 - On his 27th B-Day, Jason Kendall was ruled out at first, prompting the most famous steal in Pirate history. Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out, put on a show for the 24,120 fans at PNC Park, and finally pulled the sack off its stanchion and carried it into the dugout in protest. As for the game, the Bucs came back to beat the Brewers 7-6 in 12 frames. They dodged a late bullet when Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-run, two-out eleventh inning homer to keep the game alive after the Brew Crew had taken the lead on back-to-back homers in their half off Mike Williams. Rob Mackowiak singled through a drawn-in infield to plate Kevin Young, who had opened the twelfth with a double and moved to third on a ground out, to seal the deal for Omar Olivares and Pittsburgh.
Lloyd makes a point (photo Mike Zarrelli/Getty)
  • 2004 - Randall Simon’s home run in the ninth was all the Pirate pitching needed as they edged the Reds 1-0 at GABP. Ollie Perez gave up three hits over seven frames. Mark Corey got the win and Jose Mesa earned his 17th save.
  • 2005 - The Pirates turned six double plays and beat the Cardinals in St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The six twin killings were a club record and each was scored differently (2-4; 5-4-3; 9-4; 4-6-3; 5-2-3; and 6-4-3). Jason Bay hit a three-run HR in the third and a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth. Jose Castillo’s solo shot in the tenth iced the victory. During the game, starter Ollie Perez broke his toe when he kicked a laundry cart in the clubhouse, frustrated that he had been pulled in the seventh inning. He wouldn’t pitch again until September.
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their sixth straight game (they were in the midst of a nine game winning streak) on the road by a 4-2 count over the Seattle Mariners. It went to the wire, with Jordy Mercer’s two-out, two-run single giving Vin Mazzaro the win, iced by a Mark Melancon save. The Bucs tied the Cards for the lead in the NL Central with the victory, a spot they’d hold for the next 10 days and off-and-on through mid-September before ending the year with 94 wins, three games behind the Redbirds, and a wild card spot.
Vin Mazzaro 2013 Quarry
  • 2014 - Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, hit his first PNC Park homer and had four RBI to lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Mets. Vance Worley got the win.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pirates Self-Destruct in 8-4 Loss to Cards

It was a quiet first for Mike Leake and Chad Kuhl; the Bucs went in order and the Cards went single, GIDP, whiff. In the second, the Pirates got a walk and paid back with their own GIDP while the Redbirds had some fun. Cool Chad gave up three knocks to open the frame (one an infield single that was originally - and wrongfully - ruled an out until reviewed). A pop up was followed by a two-run knock by Greg Garcia, who broke an 0-for-18 string (lefties love Chad). A whiff was followed by a web gem layout by J-Bell whom swam to the bag and slapped it with his mitt to just beat Matt Carpenter and save a run or two. Jordy walked to start the third and Eli doubled. Fraze's triple an out later knotted the game and he came home with the lead after J-Hay's sac fly.  JJ banged a double, but the Pirates ran out of hits. Chad tossed a clean inning.

Elias had a pair of hits tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Cutch and Jordy singled with one gone in the fourth, moving to second and third on a wayward toss. The error cost as Eli lifted a sac fly to center making it 4-2. Kuhl kept dealing with a couple of punch outs. The Pirates went down in the fifth with a two-out JJ single as the action. The Redbird's retired streak ended at nine when Leake singled with an out followed by a Carpenter walk after an eight-pitch contest. No prob; they stayed where they were. Chad's given up six hits, but countered so far with six fans. Leake cruised through the sixth, and Chad, in unfamiliar waters pitching this late in a game, gave up a leadoff monster mash dinger to Randal Grichuk, who was just called up today. Yadier Molina followed with a two-bagger (greatly abetted by an off-target throw from Cutch), and Kuhl was yanked for Tony Watson. The Cards bunted Yadier to third and he was frozen by a whiff. Jeff Gyorko pinch-hit and dumped a routine-looking ball into right; JJ couldn't quite get there and it fell for a game-tying double. An intentional walk brought up Carpenter *gulp* and he got ahead 3-0, but Tony came back to get him on a fly.

Matt Bowman worked the seventh and was greeted by an Eli rap; two rollers moved him to third. Trevor Rosenthal got the call to face J-Hay and blew three heaters past him, of which only one was a strike; it wasn't one of Josh's better efforts. Juan Nicasio answered the bell and opened with consecutive walks (tho the first on a 3-2 pitch looked like both a strike and a swing, tho neither was called). After falling behind Grichuk 2-0, Juan hung tough and K'ed him after a nine-pitch tussle. Short-lived victory; Molina went with an outside fastball and sent it into right, scoring a run and leaving Cards on the corners. Nicasio got his grounder to short; Jordy booted it, so instead of closing the inning out, a run plated and Redbirds roosted on first and second. Make that second and third; Jhan Marinez came in and tossed a wild pitch. Mercer's bad day at the office continued as a grounder skipped under his glove for a two-run knock. Marinez finished it up after that, tho he did bop a batter.

Edgar fanned a pair in his inning of work (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Brett Cecil took the hill for the eighth; he and Edgar Santana traded clean frames. Seung Hwan Oh drove the final nail in the ninth.

The Buc gloves failed them today; there were several plays left in the field and the Cards took advantage of every one of them. And before you call for Clint's head for the way he juggles the bullpen, it easy to see why he doesn't have a lot of confidence in them as a group. As long as you're going to bring out Cgad every fifth day, you know that the pen is going to get to work early. The FO would do well to find a couple of guys - and they don't grow on trees - who Clint can hang a hat on. And one other point to consider: the Bucs staff is under new management when Eli catches. It'll take him a while to get the same framed calls as Cervy/Stew and obviously to figure out how to herd the cats who toe the rubber as he's never caught most of them outside of spring training.

  • JJ and Eli had two hits while Jordy collected a walk and a knock.
  • The last time Chad worked into the sixth inning was April 18th when he gave up two runs to St. Louis at Busch Stadium against Mike Leake. He had better luck then, getting through the frame and it remains the last time Kuhl has gotten more than 15 outs this year.
  • Randal Grichuk's 478' home run was the longest hit by a Cardinal in the history of Busch Stadium III, opened in 2006.
  • Dexter Fowler went on the DL a few hours before game time with a bone spur in his heel. The Cards recalled Randal Grichuk.
  • Austin Meadows is expected to miss a month with a hammy tear.