Monday, July 31, 2017

Tony Watson Goes for Prospects; Joaquin Benoit Takes His Spot

Goodbye, Tony, hello Joaquin. Todays Bucco deadline deals:
  • LHP Tony Watson went to the Dodgers for INF Oneil Cruz and RHP Angel German. Cruz, an 18-year-old Dominican, is in his first year stateside. He's hitting .240 and has split time between 3B and SS. He's a bean pole at 6'6", 175 lbs. and was LA's #21 prospect. German is a Class-A 21-year-old who's having a good year (1-0-7/1.91, 10 K/nine, four BB/nine) with a rep as a good stuff, bad command guy.
  • The Phillies traded RHP Joaquin Benoit and cash considerations to Pirates for RHP Seth McGarry. Benoit, 40, is 1-4-2/4.07 in 44 games and is a FA after the season. McGarry, 23, is Bradenton's closer with a 1-0-14/1.34 slash.
Tony goes to LA (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Tony signed with Scott Boras in his walk year and then had a pretty blah campaign to back it up, making him eminently tradeable. Word was that Washington had some interest in Watson too.

Cruz is an interesting piece. Per
...he has considerable power potential that he'll begin to realize as he gets stronger. His quick hands are an asset as he tries to make more consistent contact (he has 110 K in 342 AB). Cruz has exceptional body control (but) his size makes him destined to be a third baseman, and he has the agility and arm strength to be a solid defender there. A long strider who has above-average speed underway, he'll probably lose a step once he fills out.
We assume German will swap spots with the departed McGarry at Bradenton; apparently the FO feels he's the more projectable of the pair. Seems like a fair if not very sexy deal; Tony didn't help the return with his performance.

Benoit is a 16-year vet joining his eighth team rental and he will replace Tony as a middle man. Interestingly, he makes nearly $2M than Watson, and we assume the "cash considerations" are the Phillies eating a good bit of that salary. Benoit has pitched better than his counting numbers - he averages nine K with a 1.143 WHIP and .206 oppo BA, although the 3.4 walks is a bit on the high side.

The one thing the deals didn't do was improve the club for next season, as both Cruz and Germany are years away from the show if they do make it, though it did clear up some payroll. Finally, Juan Nicasio and John Jaso, both in their final contract year, remain Buccos as no "compelling" offers were made for their services.

7/31 - Deadline Deals: Bay Deal, Lieber, Freddy & Gonzo, X-Man, Matty Mo, J-Mac, JA Happ & More...

  • 1939 - The Pirates obtained 6' 9" LHP Johnny Gee from Syracuse of the International League for $75,000 and four players. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (and as the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never fully recovered from a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. Not too surprisingly, Long John went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates traded RHP Don Robinson to the San Francisco Giants for C Mackey Sasser and $50K. The Giants turned Robinson into a starter the next season and he became a rotation pitcher for the next three years while Sasser was flipped to the Mets in 1988, where he had a long run as a backup catcher. 
Jon Lieber 1994 Bowmans Best
  • 1993 - RHP Jon Lieber was traded by the Kansas City Royals along with reliever Dan Miceli to the Bucs for closer Stan Belinda. Lieber won 38 games in five seasons with Pittsburgh, Miceli had 24 saves/10 holds in four Pirate campaigns and Belinda lasted two years for KC, blowing 2-of-3 saves and settling into a bridge man role. 
  • 2001 - The Pirates traded the well-traveled LHP Terry Mulholland to the Dodgers for pitchers Mike Fetters and Adrian Burnside. Mulholland, from Uniontown, pitched for 11 teams in a 20 year career and had a pair of stints with the Cubs, Phils and Giants. The FO also swapped Mike Williams to the Astros for RHP Tony McKnight. It was actually more like a lend-lease, as Williams signed with the Bucs again as a free agent after the season. 
  • 2002 - The Bucs sent first round bust OF Chad Hermansen to the Cubs for OF Darren Lewis, who refused to report to the Pirates and retired instead. Chad hit .209 for the Cubs before moving on. 
  • 2003 - Pitchers Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez and Jeff Suppan were traded by the Bucs to the Red Sox for LHP Mike Gonzalez, 2B Freddy Sanchez and cash. Originally, Gonzalez had gone to Boston for Lyons and Martinez a few days earlier, but Lyons flunked the physical causing a reworking of the deal. The mulligan panned out pretty well for the Bucs. 
Gonzo 1992 Donruss
  • 2004 - GM Dave Littlefield reportedly rejected an offer to deal pitcher Kris Benson to the Phillies for a power-hitting prospect named Ryan Howard, who would eventually become a NL MVP. The Bucs thought they had a Howard clone already in their system with Brad Eldred. 
  • 2005 - The Cubs sent young OF Jody Gerut to Pittsburgh for vet OF Matt Lawton. The Cubs shipped Lawton to the Yankees for a minor leaguer in August. Gerut, hampered by a bum knee, barely played and was released after 2006, appearing in just four games as a Pirate. 
  • 2006 - Busy at the deadline: The Pirates traded pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Pittsburgh also sent P Kip Wells to the Rangers for P Jesse Chavez, traded OF/1B Craig Wilson to the Yankees for P Shawn Chacon and acquired RHP Brian Rogers from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for 1B Sean Casey. 
  • 2007- The Bucs traded OF Rajai Davis and IF Stephen McFarland to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Matt Morris, who was being paid $7.5M in 2007 and under contract to make $9.5M in 2008 with a $1M buyout for 2009. He was released on April 27th of 2008 after going 3-8 with a 7.04 ERA in 16 Pirate starts. Many believed this deal was the straw that broke the back of GM Dave Littlefield’s era in Pittsburgh. 
Andy LaRoche 2008 Topps
  • 2008 - Jason Bay and Josh Wilson were traded to the Boston Red Sox in a three team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andy LaRoche with Bryan Morris to the Pirates from LA, with Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen coming to the Bucs from Beantown. None of the prospects panned out for Pittsburgh, and Bay’s career was hamstrung by injury. Reports were that Tampa Bay was interested in dealing and offered SS Reid Brignac & P Jeff Niemann for Bay, but the Bucco FO wanted Wade Davis, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson instead of Niemann, ending that talk in a hurry. It was also rumored that Miami was an early player, but the Pirates were focused on an 18 year old outfielder named Mike Stanton, another untouchable. 
  • 2010 - A lot of dealing: RHP James McDonald was traded to Pittsburgh with OF Andrew Lambo by the LA Dodgers for RHP Octavio Dotel and cash. The Bucs also flipped LHP Javier Lopez to the Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and OF Joe Bowker. In a big house cleaning/change of scenery deal, SS Bobby Crosby, RHP D.J. Carrasco and RF Ryan Church were sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash, C Chris Snyder and SS Pedro Ciriaco. 
  • 2011 - OF Ryan Ludwick was sent to the Pirates by San Diego for cash. He hit .232 with two homers during the dog days and then signed with the Reds in the off season. 
Gaby Sanchez 2013 Topps
  • 2012 - 1B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Kyle Kaminska went from the Marlins to the Pirates for OF Gorkys Hernandez and 2013’s sandwich compensation draft pick five minutes before the deadline expired. Gaby stayed as a platoon 1B and bench bat through 2014 with Pittsburgh, hitting .241, and then went to Japan to play. Before that trade, the Bucs dealt 3B Casey McGehee to the Yankees for RHP Chad Qualls; both ended up as stretch run rentals for their respective clubs. 
  • 2015 - The Bucs picked up 1B/OF Michael Morse, who had just been traded to and DFA’ed by the LA Dodgers, for OF Jose Tabata and cash. The Beast hit .275 with a .390 OBP in 45 games during the stretch, mainly off the bench. In a late deal spurred by AJ Burnett’s same-day trip to the DL due to elbow inflammation, Pittsburgh then sent minor league RHP Adrian Sampson to Seattle for veteran lefty JA Happ, who turned in a masterful slash of 7-2/1.85.

7/31 Happenings: HBD Joe, Peanuts, Elmer, Vic, Frank & Mike; ASG, HoF, Bad Behavior & More...

  • 1870 - C/1B Joe Sugden was born in Philadelphia. Sugden spent the first five seasons (1893-97) of his 13 year big league career with Pittsburgh, hitting .277. Joe went on to become a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. 
  • 1892 - LHP Erv ”Peanuts” Kantlehner was born in San Jose. Working mostly as a starter for the Bucs from 1914-16, he went 13-29 with a 2.85 ERA. Erv later coached high school baseball. He was said to have gotten his nickname in the minors for reasons unknown - it was certainly not his size, as he was a six-footer.
Frank Killen (photo via Baseball Revisited)
  • 1896 - Per Gregory Wolf of SABR: “In a game against Cincinnati at League Park, (Pirates pitcher) Lefty Killen charged home plate to argue with umpire Bud Lilly, who had changed his call on a fly down the left-field line from foul to hit. According to the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Lilly ‘let go at’ Killen, apparently under the impression that the pitcher would strike him. Killen retaliated by landing ‘a couple of blows on (Lally’s) face’ before a riot erupted with players, spectators, and police rushing onto the field. When order was finally restored, Killen was under arrest and escorted to the local police station. Killen was ultimately fined $25 while team owner William Kerr publicly condemned the umpire for provoking the incident.” Pittsburgh won in spite of the rhubarb, 9-7, over the Cincinnati Reds at League Park. The incident wasn’t out of character for the short-fused Killen. Wolf noted “The ‘grave objection to Killen is his temper,’ opined Sporting Life. ’He is as obstinate as a mule.’” 
  • 1914 - RHP Elmer Riddle was born in Columbus, Georgia. The 10-year veteran tossed his last two campaigns (1948-49) in Pittsburgh, winning an All-Star berth the first season while posting a 12-10, 3.49 line. He faded badly in ‘49, winning just one game in his final year while hobbled by a bum wheel. He toiled briefly as a scout for Kansas City afterward and then worked for United Oil in his hometown of Columbus. 
  • 1936 - OF Vic Davalillo was born in Churuguara, Venezuela. He played for the Bucs from 1971-73, hitting .290 while a platoon player in the outfield and first. Vic played on two Pirate playoff clubs and when he was traded to Oakland in 1973, he joined a third. Davalillo was a motherland hero; he played 30 seasons in the Venezuelan Winter League and still holds a handful of career records, including a .325 BA. In 2003, Vic was selected in the inaugural class of the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Vic Davalillo 1972 Topps
  • 1944 - RHP Frank Brosseau was born in Drayton, North Dakota. A first-round pick of the Bucs in the 1966 secondary draft, he was inked from the U of Minnesota as an OF’er. When his bat proved weak, he was converted to the mound. That got him a shot in the show with the Pirates, albeit for three games in 1969 and 1971, working 3-2/3 IP and giving up two runs. He finished his pro career in 1971 at AAA Charleston. 
  • 1957 - Manager Bobby Bragan was ejected for arguing a call (actually, he held his nose) during a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After being tossed, he went slightly bonkers. Bobby got an orange drink from the stands; the umps told him to take it into the clubhouse, and he offered them all a sip and ordered hot dogs for the boys in blue, but they weren’t placated. After their report to the league, Bragan was fined $100 and threatened with suspension if he didn’t clean up his act. After the game, Bragan was quoted by the Pittsburgh Press’ Les Biederman as saying “My only regret is that the hot dog didn’t arrive in time.” Bragan was fired three days later and replaced by Danny Murtaugh on a temporary basis. The fill-in Murtaugh managed until 1964 and was brought back as skipper three more times after that. 
  • 1959 - RHP Mike Bielecki was born in Baltimore. His first four years (1984-’87) were spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 10-17 with a 4.57 ERA. He was the Pirates first round pick in the 1979 draft (secondary phase) and went on to have a workmanlike 14-year MLB career. 
Mike Bielecki 1988 Score
  • 1961 - C Smoky Burgess, OF Roberto Clemente, P ElRoy Face and 1B Dick Stuart repped the Bucs in the second All-Star game of the year at Fenway Park, a 1-1 tie called after nine innings because of rain. The next tie wouldn’t be until 2002 when the game was controversially called after the sides ran out of pitchers. Clemente went 0-for-2, Burgess & Stu 0-for-1, and the Baron of the Bullpen was uncalled upon by manager Danny Murtaugh. 
  • 1976 - Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances. 
  • 1981 - The player’s strike ended after 42 days. In the settlement, teams that lost a top free agent would be compensated from a pool of players left unprotected from all of the clubs (who could protect 26 players) rather than just the signing club, a procedure that lasted until 1985. The union agreed to restrict free agency to players with six or more years of major league service. Reportedly, the negotiations were so bitter that after the deal, Players Association rep Marvin Miller and the owners' negotiator Ray Grebey refused to pose with each other for the traditional “done deal” photo. The year became “split season” with first-half winners meeting second-half titleists to determine the champs. It was a weird year; the Pirates and Cards played 102 games during the season while the Giants got in 111. 
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, in addition to his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits.

7/31 Games: AJ & Jose No-No Bids; Extra Inning Heroics, Wakefield Debut & Game Stories...

  • 1912 - The Pirates scored three runs in the 19th inning and then barely held off Boston to take a 7-6 decision at the South End Grounds. 38-year-old Honus Wagner was the man of the hour, stealing home and later driving in the final, game-winning run for Pittsburgh against the Braves. 
Billy Maz 1964 Topps
  • 1964 - It happens to the best of them. The San Francisco Giants took advantage of three errors by Bill Mazeroski and three more by his teammates to edge the Bucs 8-6 at Forbes Field. Maz's last error, a dropped catch on a potential around-the-horn DP ball in the ninth, would have ended the game with the Pirates on top 6-5 if he had held on to turn the pivot. 
  • 1983 - Rookie Jose DeLeon held the Mets hitless for 8-1/3 innings before Hubie Brooks singled, but Mike Torrez countered with 11 shutout innings as New York won 1-0 in 12 frames. In his previous start‚ DeLeon had held the Padres hitless for 6-1/3 innings. 
  • 1985 - The Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the 10th to rally past the Phillies 4-3 at TRS. Cecilio Guante picked up the win in spite of himself, allowing a home run in the top of the 10th and tossing a wild pitch in the ninth that tied the game. Former Bucco Kent Tekulve suffered the loss after Steve Kemp lined a two-out walkoff single to left to bring home Larry McWilliams, pinch running for Jason Thompson. The batter before Kemp, Marvell Wynne, hit into a force that plated Lee Mazzilli and knotted the score again. 
  • 1992 - Knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield made his debut against the Cards at TRS, replacing Zane Smith who was hurt, and pitched his way to a 3-2 win. He was in hot water early giving up a couple of unearned runs in the fifth after working his way out of second and third frame jams. But he left the bases full of Redbirds in the fifth and cruised afterward. He got all his support from a pair of bombs, a two run shot by Barry Bonds and a solo homer off Jay Bell’s bat, and made the three scores stand up. The Bucs went into first after the win and never looked back.
Tim Wakefield 1992 Score
  • 1997 - Kevin Young played through a case of the flu, and good thing as his three-run, eighth-inning homer carried the Bucs to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at TRS. Jason Schmidt went eight frames for the win with Rick Loiselle earning the save.  
  • 2012 - AJ Burnett held the Cubs hitless through 7-2/3 innings before giving up his only knock, a single to right by Adrian Cardenas. The Bucs won 5-0 at Wrigley. Burnett pitched a complete game while a clutch Neil Walker had all five RBI. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their fourth straight in a five-game series (they would lose the next day 13-0) over St. Louis with a 5-4 win at PNC Park. With Card ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, Pittsburgh rallied three times from early deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Neil Walker opened with a single and tagged to second after Pedro Alvarez’s drive to left died in the corner for the second out. Russell Martin turned on a slider and lined it into short left center for the game winner. The Pirate bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in the victory, with Tony Watson getting the win and Mark Melancon earning the save. The Pirates extended their NL Central lead to 2-½ games with the decision. 
Russ Martin 2013 Gypsy Queen
  • 2015 - Behind Starling Marte’s ninth-inning defensive prowess and Jung-Ho Kang’s stick, the Pirates snapped a six game losing streak at GABP by hanging on the beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4. Marte threw out Brandon Phillips at home for the second out of the ninth, then made a tumbling, grass-top grab of Todd Frazier’s low, hooking liner to end the game, giving Mark Melancon his 31st straight save conversion. JHK ripped three straight doubles, scored twice (once on a heads-up sprint home following a short wild pitch) and drove in a run. Kang finished July with a .379 BA & 13 extra-base hits, the most productive month for a Pirate rookie since Paul Waner hit .381 with 14 multi-base contests in September of 1926. Jeff Locke got the win for the Bucs.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Big Dogs Bark As Bucs Salvage One In SD 7-1

Cutch happened in the first, solo-shotting Clayton Richard to give the Bucs an early lead. Cole Train liked it and tossed a clean frame (two first innings in a row without a run, whoa!). The Bucs stranded a Joey O second inning leadoff knock. Cole jacked up his pitch count by walking a pair (and was saved from a third when Austin Hedges swung at a 3-2 slider in the dirt) but escaped unmarked. Gerrit opened the third with a knock; after a K, he was picked off. The Padres apologized by misplaying J-Hay's grounder. Josh came up gimpy after jamming his foot into the bag and Mad Max ran for him. Andrew walked and Freeser whiffed. The Friars dropped a couple of soft singles, again drawing no blood. Both teams were quiet in the fourth. Pittsburgh got a two-out single in the fifth. The Bucs won a challenge when Richard was ruled safe on an infield bleeder. It was a timely decision to toss the flag as it was followed by a two-bagger that ended up harmless (it even looked harmless off the bat, but Joey O did the cha-cha chasing the bloop).

Cole Train chugged today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

A walk to Cutch started Richard down a slippery slope in the sixth. Freeser singled, Joey O trip-trip-tripled and Jordy knocked him in. Then came the obligatory GIDP, but it's not as stinging when the club is up 4-0. A leadoff double went nowhere for the Friars. Kyle McGrath took the mound and served a calm seventh. Dusty Coleman homered for the Padres; apparently Gerrit was displeased and plunked the following batter with the next pitch, then got a DP two tosses later. Jose Torres was torched for another Cutch dinger and left two Pirates on in the eighth. The Bucs added on in the ninth with a J-Bell pinch hit tater and another *ho hum* Cutch blast. Felipe came on and gave up a slap single before closing out another game.

When the big dogs get off the porch, the Bucs can be tough. Cole Train went seven strong, Cutch homered three times (and was walked in his other two appearances) so all is well today. Too bad they couldn't break out their A game more often on this trip, especially considering the string of ERA-challenged guys they faced. Next up: will anyone change addresses in the next 24 hours before the deadline?

Who da man? (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Andrew had three taters and two walks; Joey O and Jordy each had a pair of raps.
  • Cutch did it. His seventh straight 20-homer season (he has 22 this year) as a Bucco is topped only by Willie Stargell, who had 13.
  • Per the Pirates: "Bucco infielder Josh Harrison left with left lower leg discomfort. Status is day to day."
  • Ex-Bucco Steve Pearce had quite the week; he hit a pair of walk-off grand slams for Toronto. He's the third player to have two walk-off grannies in a single season and the first to do it in a week's span.
  • More congrats: Adrian Beltre doubled up the 3B line off Wade Miley to become the 31st player in MLB history to join the 3,000-hit club.

Sunday: Padres-Pirates Finale, Cole Train v Clayton Richard, Lineup, Notes

Today: The set end today with the opening toss at 4:40.The game will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan as the Bucs try to avoid a brooming.

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna 1B, Jordy Mercer SS, Jordan Luplow RF, Chris Stewart C & Gerrit Cole P. A Sunday lineup for sure.

All aboard the Cole Train (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (8-7, 4.12) spins against Clayton Richard (5-11, 5.37). Cole Train is making his 22nd start of the season and he's been on a little roll, going 5-1/3.04 over his last eight outings with only one clinker in the group.
Gerrit has gone 3-1/1.52 in four career starts against the Friars with his most recent effort an 11-1 win at Petco Park last year. Richard's career was rejuvenated when the Bucs signed him to a deal in 2015 after Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery, and a good stint at Indy got him work first with the Cubs and now with the Padres, where's he's been an innings-eating (21 starts, 127-1/3 IP) back-ender. The southpaw is riding a rough streak; in his last six games, he's 1-5, 8.73 with a .403 oppo BA and seven homers surrendered in 33 IP. Despite that, Richard has been rough on the Bucs with a 2-1/2.01 slash in eight games (three starts), but not so much last year when he faced the Pirates three times in relief and gave up two runs in an inning of work. A thing to watch for: Richard is an extreme ground ball guy (58%) and the Bucs have been burning a lot of worms lately. That combo potentially leads to a lot of singles and a lot of GIDP.

  • Gerrit Cole has won his last five road starts.The last Pirates pitcher to win five consecutive starts on the road was Kevin Correia in 2011. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Pittsburgh pitcher to win more than five straight road starts was Don Robinson, who won seven consecutive during the 1982 season.
J-Bell has been running hot and cold (photo via MLB Pipeline)
  • J-Bell has gone 1-for-16 in the last four games after going 9-for-19 in the prior four games.
  • Pittsburgh batters have been hit by a pitch three times in this series and lead MLB with 58 plunkings this season.
  • On a carousel: The Pirates have lost six of their last seven games after winning a season-high six in a row.
  • Tyler Glasnow punched out the side in the first at Indy, breaking Ian Snell's record for July strikeouts when TyGlow whiffed #44. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, he did the same in the second. Glasnow whiffed seven straight before a foul out snapped the string.
  • Congrats to Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell, who will inducted into the Hall of Fame today, along with suits John Schuerholz and Bud Selig.

7/30 - Deadline Deals: Jack Wilson, Joey Bats, J-Hay, Derrek Lee, Blanton & Soria, Felipe and More Wheelin'

  • 2000 - The Bucs got SS Jack Wilson from the Cards in exchange for LHP Jason Christiansen. Wilson was the starter at short when healthy from 2001 until he was traded in 2009, and won a Gold Glove and All-Star berth in 2004. Jason tossed through the 2005 season but only had one strong year in that span. 
Jack Wilson 2001 Donruss Rookies
  • 2001 - The Bucs sent RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal to the Giants for OF Armando Rios and RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt went 7-1 the rest of the year for SF and then signed a big four-year contract. Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery two months later. 
  • 2004 - The Pirates traded RHP Kris Benson and IF Jeff Keppinger to the Mets for 3B Jose Bautista (who they had lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft), IF Ty Wiggington and RHP Matt Peterson. Bautista became the tenth major leaguer to play for four teams in a season, having been on the rosters of Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In fact, he was actually on five teams, as he was acquired by the Mets from the Royals but sent to Pittsburgh the same day. 
  • 2009 - The Pirates shipped lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs in exchange for IF Josh Harrison and RHPs Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio. Gorzo became a bullpen guy for several clubs, Grabow’s last season was 2011, Hart & Acasio succumbed to injuries and J-Hay ended up the keeper of the deal. 
Derrek Lee 2011 Just Fair
  • 2011 - The Pirates traded minor league 1B Aaron Baker to the Orioles for 1B Derrek Lee, the first time that Pittsburgh was a buyer at the trade deadline since dealing for SS Shawon Dunston in 1997 to bolster the “Freak Show” lineup. Baker never made it past the AA level while Lee hit .337 with seven long balls for the Pirates in 28 games (he missed a month with a wrist injury) before retiring at the end of the year at age 35. 
  • 2012 - In a trade of 2006 first rounders, Pittsburgh sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Toronto for OF Travis Snider. The change of scenery didn’t help much - Lincoln’s MLB career ended after the 2014 season and Travis has bounced around between AAA and the show since.
  • 2015 - Keep the phone charged: The Pirates acquired veteran RHP Joe Blanton, 34, from the Royals for cash after he had been DFA’ed. Blanton went 5-0/1.57 for the Pirates during the dog days. RHP Vance Worley was released to make room for him. In a bigger deal, RHP Joakim Soria was picked up by the Pirates from the Tigers for Altoona SS prospect JaCoby Jones. The Detroit closer, slotted to work the back end of the bullpen behind Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, had 29 Bucco appearances with a 2.03 ERA, one save and 11 holds. Finally, IF Justin Sellers, who had been DFA’ed, was sent to the Chicago White Sox for cash.
Joakim Soria 2015 Topps Update
  • 2016 - The Pirates sent closer Mark Melancon and $500K to the Washington Nationals for a pair of hard throwing lefties (both have touched 100), reliever Felipe Rivero and prospect Taylor Hearns. The Shark was a bullpen backender that came over in the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston. In four years w/Pirates, he went 10-10-174/1.80. Rivero is on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite back-end relievers. Hearn was a 21-year-old lanky southpaw with an upper 90s heater and control issues. He was already on the Bucco radar; he was the Pirates 22nd-round pick in 2012, but didn’t sign and went to Oklahoma Baptist. As for Melancon, he turned into a pure and costly Nat rental, signing with the Giants after the campaign.

7/30 Happenings: HBD Bill, Perfesser, Chuck, Hal, Johhny, Bill, Clint & Josh; Umps, Axes, ASG, Bing

  • 1886 - Enjoying an off day between games against the Metropolitans in New York, Allegheny pitcher Gentleman Jim Galvin decided to take in the NY Giants-St. Louis match at the Polo Grounds, and ended up with the best seat in the house. Still steaming over some verbal blasts unleashed during the prior day’s game, ump John Gaffney demanded a pre-game apology from the Giants. With none forthcoming, he stormed of the grounds, and Pud was pulled from the stands to ump. He must have done OK; the Giants edged the Maroons 2-1 and he escaped in one piece. 
Pud Galvin (artwork Dick Perez)
  • 1870 - C/1B Bill Merritt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The reserve played for the Pirates from 1894-97, with a brief stop in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh was one of Bill’s six MLB outposts). He hit .280 with the Bucs. 
  • 1890 - OF Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The old Perfesser spent 1918-19 as a Pirate, with a .280 BA, and performed his famous “bird in the hat” stunt as a Bucco. He’s much more associated with New York, of course, than Pittsburgh. Between playing and managing, the Hall-of-Famer is the only person to have worn the uniforms of all four of New York's major league clubs - the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and Mets. 
  • 1891 - The Pirates got off to a 31–47 start following a disastrous 23–113 season, demoted captain/manager Ned Hanlon (who had left the team in 1890 for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the Alleghenys after that league folded) and hired Bill McGunnigle as skipper. McGunnigle managed the club to a modest 24–33 record over the remainder of the year. He was replaced by Tom Burns, who didn’t make it through the 1892 season before losing his job to Al Buckenberger. 
Al Buckenberger Ars Longa
  • 1894 - IF Chuck Ward was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He started his six-year MLB career with the Pirates, playing 125 games and hitting 236 in 1917. The next five campaigns were spent with the Brooklyn Robins, where he became a deep bench player, batting 100 times in just one season. 
  • 1905 - C Hal Finney was born in Lafayette, Alabama. He was a reserve that played for the Bucs from 1931-34 & 1936. He spent his MLB career in Pittsburgh, finishing with a .203 BA. Finney came by that BA honestly - he held the record for non-pitchers for most at bats in a season without a hit from 1936, when he went 0-for-35, until 2011. His OBP was .000 as well, a futility mark that stood until 2008. 
  • 1912 - OF Johnny Rizzo was born in Houston. He burst on the scene in 1938, hitting .301 with 23 HR and 111 RBI as a rookie; his HR mark for a first year Pirate stood until Jason Bay bettered it in 2006. Rizzo drove in nine runs against the Cardinals in 1939, and that’s still the team’s single-game record. He cooled off after that red hot start, and early in 1940 was traded for Vince DiMaggio after putting up a line of .283 with 29 HR and 168 RBI while in Pittsburgh. Johnny joined the Navy in 1943 and played minor league ball upon his discharge, then worked in the sporting goods business. 
Bill Hall 1959 Topps
  • 1928 - C Bill Hall was born in Moultrie, Georgia. Hall signed as an amateur free agent with the Pirates in 1947 season. He got cups of coffee in 1954 and ‘56, then a longer look in 1958. In the three campaigns, he hit .262 in 57 games. Bill retired to his Georgia farm after the 1960 season. 
  • 1956 - Sports Illustrated wrote that “Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.” 
  • 1957 - Clint Hurdle was born in Big Rapids, Michigan. After a 10 year stint as a player and then managing the Colorado Rockies from 2002–2009 with a World Series appearance, Hurdle took over the Pirate reins in 2011, replacing John Russell. He broke the Pirate 20-year losing season streak in 2013 when he guided the club to 94 wins and the playoffs. 
Clint Hurdle (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1962 - In the second All-Star game of the year, this one played at Wrigley Field, the AL bashed the NL 9-4. Dick Groat went 2-for-3 and was HBP while driving home two runs. Roberto Clemente went 0-for-2 and Bill Mazeroski 0-for-1. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy tossed out the first pitch.
  • 1978 - IF Josh Bonifay was born in Macon, Georgia. The son of Bucco GM Cam Bonifay, the Pirates drafted Josh in 1999. He had a long and successful minor league career, mainly at Altoona. He hung up the spikes after the 2007 season and became a coach in the Pirates system. In 2011, he moved to the Houston organization and now is with Texas.

7/30 Games: Party Hearty, Christy's Skein Snapped, Ladies Day, Streaking, Game Stories

  • 1904 - Baseball had some pretty rowdy roots. Per BR Bullpen: “Cardinals pitcher Jack Taylor walked seven and tossed three wild pitches to help the Pirates beat St. Louis, 5-2 at Exposition Park. The outcome was viewed suspiciously because several local gamblers had bet heavily on Pittsburgh before the game, but the real reason was Taylor and teammate Jake Beckley's late-night public drinking.” Pittsburg Press writer Ralph Davis did note dryly that “Taylor was not hit hard, but he was inclined to be wild.” Bucco hurler Roscoe Miller’s five-hitter may have played a role, too. It was the opener of a twin bill; the Pirates also took the nitecap behind Sam Leever 2-1. “Old Sam” even chipped in with a pair of hits, outdone only by Tommy Leach’s three knocks. 
Vic Willis 1909 American Tobacco
  • 1909 - The Bucs ended NY Giant’s Christy Mathewson’s 13-game winning streak by a 3-1 score at Forbes Field. Tommy Leach doubled in Fred Clarke & Alan Storke, and Wee Tommy in turn was chased home by Dots Miller in the first. That’s all the support Vic Willis would need, scattering nine hits for the complete game win. 
  • 1922 - Max Carey went deep twice as the Pirates beat the Giants 7-0 at the Polo Grounds. Carey hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning and then connected for another two-run blast as part of Pittsburgh’s 13-hit attack. Johnny Morrison went the distance for the Pirates, allowing seven hits in the shutout. 
  • 1948 - Pittsburgh unleashed a four homer barrage against Brooklyn to take a 10-5 win at Ebbets Field. Wally Westlake hit for the cycle, while Max West, Monty Basqall and Clyde Kluttz homered to chase Dodger workhorse Ralph Branca. Bob Chesnes went the distance to claim the win. 
Bob Chesnes 1949 Bowman
  • 1968 - The Bucs swept the Milwaukee Braves 8-5 and 5-4 at Forbes Field. In the opener, Donn Clendenon’s error led to three unearned Bravo runs, but the battery (and 8-9 hitters) of the Bucs, Milt May and Steve Blass, drove in a combined five runs to overcome the boot. There was a memorable bit of glovework to help make up when Roberto Clemente robbed Mike Lum. Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press wrote “Clemente took off in pursuit and ran as hard and as fast as he could. Just as he approached the wall, Clemente reached up and caught the ball, still with his back to the diamond. He crashed into the wall...and was stunned for a second but held the ball." The Great One didn’t start the evening match, but did rally and came on in the eighth inning. The second game went 10 innings before Manny Mota’s roller scored Matty Alou from third. Maury Wills and Clendenon each went 4-for-5 to help Ronnie Kline, who tossed 4-⅓ innings of shutout relief, to the victory. 
  • 1975 - The Pirates had to delay the start of the game at TRS by 18 minutes to let the Ladies’ Day promotion crowd of 43,260 get to their seats. It was worth the wait as the Bucs pounced on the Phils’ Steve Carlton on the way to an 8-1 win. Jerry Reuss went the distance, as Manny Sanguillen had a big day, going 5-for-5 with a homer. Al Oliver (HR, 2B), Willie Stargell (2B) and Dave Parker (2B) each had two-hit days. There were 21 hits banged out between the clubs, but the game still took just 2:25 to play. 
Manny Sanguillen 1975 SSPC
  • 2002 - Pittsburgh snapped a six game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Bucs broke open a pitching duel between Kris Benson and the Rox’s Denny Neagle in the eighth, scoring three times with two outs. The rally was keyed by Adam Hyzdu’s two-run double. Mike Williams earned the save of Benson’s win. 
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh concluded a five game winning streak by taking a 2-1, 10 inning victory from the SF Giants at PNC Park. Jose Castillo’s leadoff homer in the ninth forced the game into extras, and Jose Hernandez’s single in the 10th scored Jack Wilson with the tie breaker. Both starters, Zach Duke and Matt Morris, put up zeroes but were gone before the seventh was done, and it took 11 more pitchers to finish up what they had begun. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Cards by 2-1 and 6-0 scores at PNC Park to vault over them into first place in the NL Central. The opener went 11 innings, with the winning run scoring after Alex Presley’s apparent DP ball deflected off pitcher Kevin Siegrist’s glove and into left to plate Russ Martin. Vin Mazzaro got the win. The key blow in the nitecap was Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer that bounced off Matt Holliday’s glove and into the second row of seats in left. Rookie Brandon Cumpton went seven frames for the win, tossing three hit ball. C Tony Sanchez took his MLB bow behind the dish and became one of seven Pirates to call a shutout in his first game; the last was Jason Kendall in 1996. 
Brandon Cumpton 2015 Topps
  • 2014 - The San Francisco Giants broke a six game losing streak largely thanks to a DP via a walk. The Pirates, who had won three in a row, led 5-4 in the sixth when Chris Stewart drew a one-out walk with runners on second and third. Giant hurler Jean Machi got the ball back from the catcher and noticed Travis Snider had wandered off second base, apparently thinking it was a bases-loaded walk (he later admitted that was the case). Machi picked him off, and Gaby Sanchez, who was at third, was caught in the backwash and picked off, too. The Bucs went on to lose 7-5 at AT&T Park, wasting long balls by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pirates Drop Fourth Straight 4-2

Rookie Dinelson Lamet had his stereotypical inning, with a walk, two whiffs and a lot of pitches. Nova was touched for a leadoff blooper; a stolen base and fly got Manuel Margot to third. No need for all that small ball; San Diego followed with a triple and double. He escaped more damage with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP. In the second, two more Bucs fanned. Nova got his groove back and K'ed a couple while he was at it. The third went 1-2-3 with Starling flailing at ball four of a full count; the pitch was in the opposite batter's box. Try to focus, boys. SD got another triple, this one with two outs, and couldn't cash it in. Pittsburgh was shut down again in the fourth. A single/double combo plated another run before Nova bore down and fanned the next trio of Friars.

Fraze has his mojo back (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Pirates showed a pulse opening with back-to-back knocks in the fifth; Cervy then lined a bullet to second that turned into an at 'em ball DP to kill the frame. Margot led off with another at 'em ball to a fan in the LF seats to make it 4-0. It was 1-2-3 for the Pirates in the sixth. Wade LeBlanc took the mound and tossed a clean frame. Pittsburgh had a bit of an inning in the seventh, but shot themselves in the foot nevertheless. A bop, two wild pitches and a walk brought on Craig Stammen who was touched for two singles. A run in, the bases loaded with no outs...yep, a 4-6-3 DP by Fran. Another walk, another pitcher and another whiff (Joey O and the strike zone need introduced) closed it down at 4-2. Tony Watson took the call and sailed through the inning. Phil Maton gave up a bunt single to Starling to open the eighth and nothing else. Juan Nicasio took his turn and served up a walk, whiff and DP. Kirby Yates tucked the Bucs in.

11 K, DP's with runners lined up to score...this road trip has all the earmarks of kicking off Steeler season in Pittsburgh. The Bucs had great pitching matchups in almost every left coast game but couldn't capitalize and with 54 games left, the Pirates are running out of time for a push.

  • Freeser and Fraze had a pair of knocks tonight.
  • Ivan Nova has surrendered 14 long balls in his last 10 games, with just two games without a dinger and five-multi-homer outings during that 10-game span.
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a profile of the newest Bucco, Jordan Luplow.

Saturday: Bucs & Friars, Nova v Dinelson Lamet, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: The Pirates and Padres meet in the middle game at Petco Park with first pitch at 8:40. The contest will air on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.

Cervy's been an iron man since returning from his concussion (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Adam Frazier RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Nova P. Clint sure is riding Freeser and Cervy hard lately. Amore has started 17 of the last 18 games while Freese has been in 22-of-24 matches (19 as a starter) in July. Both are hitting OK, so the workload doesn't seem to be wearing them down.

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (10-7, 3.62) vs. Dinelson Lamet (4-4, 5.92) The 30-year-old Nova will be making his 21st start of the season tonight. He ranks among the NL leaders in innings pitched (131-2/3) and the workload may be catching up. In his last 13 starts, he's tossed to a 4.43 ERA and his home run rate has jumped to 1.2/nine innings this year as he's given up seven long taters in his last four outings. His last start was a loss in Colorado Sunday in his worst performance of the year, giving up seven runs in five frames. Ivan has only seen the Padres twice, both times as a Yankee. Last year he received a no-decision in New York’s 2-1 loss, going 5-1/3 IP and surrendering a run. The 24-year-old Lamet has made a handful of sharp starts in his rookie campaign, but in his last three outings has given up 14 runs (12 earned) in his last 14-2/3 IP. His Achilles heel is the long ball as he surrenders nearly a pair per game. One thing he can do is strike guys out; he averages almost 12 K per nine innings, along with 3.5 walks, using a fastball/slider combo. It's his first outing against the Pirates.

Ivan hoping for a summer breeze to fill his sails again (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • While the position players have taken their lumps, the Pirates have used the fewest number of starting pitchers (six) in the MLB. In addition to the current five-man rotation, Tyler Glasnow made 12 starts and that's been the gang.The Bucs used a total of 14 different starting pitchers last season with the club record for fewest starting pitchers used in a season is seven (1902, 1972 and 1997).
  • Cutch is one tater shy of hitting 20 or more in seven consecutive seasons. The only other Pittsburgh player to accomplish that feat was Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell, who did it in 13 straight campaigns between 1964-76. Andrew’s 194 career homers rank fourth on the club’s all-time list behind Stargell (475), Ralph Kiner (301) and Roberto Clemente (240); he passed Barry Bonds (fifth with 176) earlier this season.
  • Wonder why there's a 40-man roster? Jordan Luplow was the 40th different player to appear in at least one game for the Pirates this season.

7/29 From the 60s Forward: HBD Tommy & Mike; Freddie, Ian, Jack Traded; FranKie; Henry Hammered; Game Stories

  • 1963 - OF Tommy Gregg was born in Boone, North Carolina. A seventh-round pick of the Pirates in the 1985 draft from Wake Forest, Gregg spun for the first two years of his nine-season career for the Buccos in 1987-88. He hit .217 in limited time before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves as part of the Ken Oberkfell deal.Tommy spent several seasons as a bench player for the Bravos, and is now part of their minor-league coaching staff. 
Tommy Gregg 1988 Fleer Update
  • 1968 - Henry Aaron was caught red-faced thanks to some smoke and mirrors by the Buccos. On a hit-and-run, Gene Alley and Bill Mazeroski decoyed Hammerin’ Hank into believing Joe Torre had hit a grounder between them; the reality was he had lifted a fly to Roberto Clemente in right. When Aaron stopped at second to try to find the ball, it was too late; it was already on its way to first for the DP. It wasn’t one of his better days on the bases as he was also picked off first base in the Pirates 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Beside his Emmy performance, Maz also homered to help Bob Veale to the win. 
  • 1968 - RHP Mike Williams was born in Radford, Virginia. In six seasons (1998-2003), he went 15-23 and saved 140 games for Pittsburgh with a 3.78 ERA. His mark of 46 saves in 2002 is still a team standard, but fame is fleeting - his 12-year baseball career closed after the 2003 season. 
  • 1971 - Gene Clines was the hero of the Bucs 8-5 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. His three run homer was the big blow in a six-run sixth inning, and the CF went 4-for-4 with four RBI and a pair of runs. Bob Robertson and Willie Stargell also went yard in the win that was cemented by 5-2/3 scoreless frames tossed by the bullpen. 
Gene Clines 1974 Topps
  • 2000 - Brian Giles went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles while Warren Morris and Emil Brown homered as the Bucs ran up a 10-2 count against the San Diego Padres at TRS. Francisco Cordova got the win as three Buc pitchers scattered six hits in front of a Saturday night crowd of 30,118. 
  • 2009 - 2B Freddy Sanchez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Tim Alderson. The Bucs also traded RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson to the Mariners for RHP Aaron Pribanic, RHP Brett Lorin, 1B Nathan Adcock, SS Ronny Cedeno and 1B Jeff Clement. Snell was out of baseball by 2010 while Freddy & Jack were snake-bitten by injury. For the Bucs, the only contributor was Cedeno, and he wore out his welcome after 2011. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 at AT&T Park behind Francisco Liriano’s 11 whiffs and homers by Travis Snider and Josh Harrison. After an April-May slump that saw them fall nine games behind in the NL Central race and eight games below .500, the Bucs pulled within a game of first and even in the loss column plus while moving into the second wild card spot.

7/29 Through the 50s: HBD Cutty & Dave, Doheny's Demon, 21 Gamer for Frankie, Hans Grand Salami, Game Stories

  • 1886 - 2B George Cutshaw was born in Wilmington, Illinois. He came to the Bucs in exchange for Burleigh Grimes and manned second base for four seasons (1918-21). Cutty hit .275 as a Pirate. His best year was his last, when he hit .340. But he was injured in August, and the 35-year-old was sold to Detroit, where he spent the last two years of his career. 
Pittsburgh Press July 29th, 1903
  • 1903 - P Ed Doheny, it was announced in the Pittsburg Press, “..had left the team under a mental hallucination (he believed detectives were tailing him) and returned home.” His mental state had slowly unraveled as the season went on, and owner Barney Dreyfuss told the paper “If it is true that Doheny is mentally deranged, I am certainly sorry to hear of it. (Manager) Fred Clarke told me that there was something wrong with the pitcher before the team started West, but I laughed at him. Now it seems that Fred was right.” Ed was wrestling with real demons. After rest at home, he returned to the Pirates briefly and in September was escorted home by his brother. After some violent episodes there, he was declared insane and sent to the Danvers State Asylum, where he died in 1906. 
  • 1915 - Honus Wagner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Brooklyn Dodger Ed Pfeffer (It was “a dandy drive” per the Pittsburg Press) during the Pirates 8-2 victory at Forbes Field. The inside-the-park round tripper made the 41-year old infielder the second oldest player ever to hit a homer with the bases juiced, a record set by 42-year old Cap Anson in 1894. (Cap's mark stood until 1985 when 44-year-old Tony Perez of the Reds claimed it.) Erving Kantlehner scattered nine hits while going the distance for the win, helped by an unassisted DP when RF Bill Hinchman snared a short line drive and raced to first base to double off Pfeffer. 
  • Wilbur Cooper 1922 Exhibits
  • 1922 - Max Carey (2), Reb Russell, Cotton Tierney and pitcher Wilbur Cooper all homered at the Polo Grounds as the Pirates whipped the league-leading NY Giants, 8-3. Cooper went the distance for the win. Charlie Grimm had four hits while Carey & Russell banged out three knocks. It was a sweet victory over their rivals, but in the long run the G-Men took the flag with the Pirates finishing in third place, eight games behind. 
  • 1940 - The Bucs scored six times in their final at-bat, with the lead run thrown out at the plate as Frank Gustine tried to score from first on Vince DiMaggio’s single. It was a big play; the Dodgers pushed across a two-out run in the bottom half as the Pirates went down 7-6 at Ebbets Field. The game was marked by a ninth inning brawl started when Brooklyn C Babe Phelps spiked P Mace Brown at a play at first. Manager Frankie Frisch was fined $100 and ejected while three of his players were hit with $25 fines. 
  • 1947 - Frank Gustine went 4-for-5 against the Boston Braves to lead Pittsburgh to a 6-5 win at Forbes Field. It ran his hitting streak to 21 games before it was snapped the next day. Tiny Bonham went the distance for the win. 
Dave LaPoint 1989 Topps
  • 1959 - LHP Dave LaPoint was born in Glen Falls, New York. the 12-year veteran spent part of 1988 with the Pirates, coming over from the Chicago White Sox in August for Barry Jones. He got eight starts for the Bucs, slashed 4-2/2.77 and signed with Yankees in the off-season, almost doubling his salary from $425 K to $800K. He’s bounced around several baseball-themed activities since his retirement after the 1991 campaign, coaching minor & indie league ball, hosting a talk show and running academies. Dave now describes himself on twitter as a “Former MLB Pitcher with a face made for radio and a body made for bowling”

Bucs Continue Tailspin, Drop 3-2 Decision to Friars

Travis Wood ran into a little two-out trouble when Cutch walked and Freeser singled, but he fanned J-Bell to ease the pressure. Chad Kuhl got a walk and a pair of whiffs in his turn. Pittsburgh went quietly in the second; the Friars got a double and intentional walk that they stranded when Wood popped out. J-Hay got bopped - seems like awhile since he's worn one (July 7th) - with two outs in the third and it was opportune as Cutch happened, walloping his 19th dinger of the campaign. The Padres went down in order. The Pirates did the same in the fourth. A one-out knock and walk put Chad in a hole, and a walk an out later jammed the sacks for Wood, who singled in a run. More damage was prevented when the Padre runners channeled the Keystone Kops (the guy at second headed toward third, which was occupied, oops) and got tagged out in a quick rundown.

Chad had a nice outing (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Wood got through the fifth inning for the first time this year, capping it by whiffing Marte who never bothered to take a swing. Kuhl lost a Friar with an out but Wil Myers came to the rescue and bounced into a first pitch DP. The Bucs remained baffled in the sixth; Wood has set down 10 in-a-row. SD got a single to right with an out, bringing on Daniel Hudson (Chad was at 97 pitches). Huddy promptly gave  up a game-tying triple (prob a double until Luplow fumbled the ball). With two outs, a ball four slider in the dirt that got through Cervy gave San Diego the lead. An infield single and throwing error by J-Hay (J-Bell tried to hold the bag rather then go to the ball) put runners on the corners, but Huddy finally escaped. Craig Stammen came on in the seventh and struck out the side with some help from plate ump Chris Guccione, who has been calling some wide strikes both ways tonight. AJ Schugel got the call. A leadoff single was erased via a GIDP and a fly ended the frame.

Kirby Yates got the ball in the eighth. Jordy almost got it all, but the ball settled landed in Manuel Margot's mitt in deep center. Starling was plunked in the knee an out later (Fraze also hit a loud out to right), but J-Hay K'ed despite a bundle of balls served down the middle. In fact, it was the second time he whiffed during the at-bat; two pitches prior he went down swinging but a balk call saved his bacon temporarily. Jhan Marinez took the ball, and except for a two-out plunking (karma?) tossed a clean frame. Brad Hand kicked the rubber looking for the close. Cutch opened with a single to right. A Freeser strikeout and J-Bell DP took care of that in a hurry.

At least Cutch remembered his stick tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Let's see - two hits off a guy with an ERA approaching seven who served up a lot of hittable balls, walking the eight hitter unintentionally then giving up an RBI knock to the pitcher, blah fielding, bullpen blowup, losing to a team 12 games under .500 - yep, sounds like the story of the season. The Bucs play nice ball against the better teams but dumpster dive against the have-nots. Makes you wonder if it's the talent level or the focus/preparation level.


  • The Pirates had three hits; Andrew had two of them plus a walk. Cutch's homer brought him to exactly 700 RBIs during his Bucco career. He's 13th on the franchise list, closing in on Al Oliver's 717 mark.
  • If you were wondering, Jordan Luplow needed to be placed on the 40-man roster after his call-up and was slid into the spot the team had kept open for Jung-Ho Kang.
  • The Buccos have lost 5-of-6. They're 50-53 and 4-1/2 out of first. The tailspin makes it likely they'll end up sellers of guys in their walk year - Juan Nicasio, Tony Watson, John Jaso - if there are takers.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday: Pirates at Padres, Cool Chad v Travis Wood, Lineup (Luplow Up & Playing), Notes

Tonight: Pittsburgh is at San Diego with first pitch at 10:10. The game will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. The Pirates are finishing up a pretty blah road trip, going 2-4 against Arizona and San Francisco.

Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordan Luplow RF, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P. All righty, an all-righty lineup against the lefty Wood.

Jordan joins the show (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (3-7, 4.92) takes on Travis Wood (1-3, 6.91) in the opener.  Chad is making his 21st start of the season and is still sputtering; he struck out seven in a win against the Brewers and then was chased by the Rox in his last outing (although it was his first effort in Coors, which is always a shock to a pitcher's senses). He's gone 2-3/3.96 in his 10 road starts but just 1-4/6.04 ERA in his 10 starts at PNC Park, so that's a good sign tonight tho not so promising in the long-term. Kuhl does show signs of coming around, though. He's allowed more than two earned runs just three times in his last 10 starts and is starting to get his R/L splits under control (.263 - RH, .298 LH; trust us, it's a nice bounce back after lefties clobbered him earlier in the year. He still owns an ungodly .541 slugging % v opp-siders). He's seen SD once, winning last year after giving up two runs in six frames. Wood was recently acquired from the Royals, where he went through a pretty doggo campaign (and my apologies to canines everywhere). He got just three starts (his last three outings for KC) and gave up 12 runs in 13 IP, never getting through the fifth. Travis has seen the Bucs quite a bit, with 30 appearances (15 starts) and a 6-8/4.10 slash. He hasn't started against them since 2015.

  • Jordan Luplow was called up and Stephen Brault returned to Indy. Jordan's been hitting the ball well (.296/21/50 between Indianapolis & Altoona) and plays an acceptable outfield after converting from 3B. THE 23-year-old Luplow was Pittsburgh’s third round selection in the 2014 draft out of Fresno State, where he was a college teammate of  the Yankees' Aaron Judge. The fourth OF'er pickings are pretty slim, so it looks like the Bucs have settled on working with a Luplow/Frazier platoon for at least the short term. With Brault's departure, the pen-bench balance is back to normal.
  • The Pirates and Padres are meeting tonight for the first time this season. The two teams split the six games played in 2016, with the Bucs winning two-of-three in Pittsburgh and losing two-of-three in San Diego
  • Edwin Espinal has been promoted to Indy after hitting .283/15/72 for the Curve. He's described (and lived up to the rep) as a professional hitter, his major problem in the organization being blocked by J-Bell as Double-E is thought of as a 1B-only guy.
  • Austin Meadows began his rehab stint in the rookie league today after recovering from a hammy issue.

7/28 Happenings: Suhr for Butcher, Cordero Deal, No-No Norris, JJ for Ross, HBD Duke & Carmelo, Thomas on SI

  • 1867 - LHP Duke Esper (birth name: Charles H. Esbacher) was born in Salem, New Jersey. Duke spent nine seasons in the show with a pair of brief stops with the Alleghenys (1890: 0-2, 5.29) and the Pirates (1892: 2-0, 5.40). In between those stops, Duke won 36 games, including 20 with Philadelphia in 1891, in 59 outings. He ended up with a solid 101-100/4.39 lifetime slash before retiring after the 1898 campaign. 
Max Butcher (photo Harriwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1939 - The Pirates traded veteran 1B Gus Suhr to the Phillies for RHP Max Butcher. Suhr was nearing the end of his career (he was released after playing just 10 games in 1940, his last MLB season), but Butcher became a mainstay for the Bucs, pitching for seven seasons, making 154 starts and winning 67 games in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1958 - Frank Thomas was featured as the cover story of Sports Illustrated in an article titled “Nobody Knows Him But Everybody Wants Him.” In case you’re among the gang that doesn’t know him, the Pittsburgh native hit 163 HR in eight years as a Bucco and 286 bombs in his 16 seasons in the majors. 
  • 1960 - 1B/OF Carmelo Martinez was born in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Carmelo (he’s Edgar’s cousin) spent parts of the tail end of his nine-year career with the Pirates. The Pirates got him in 1990 as part of the Wes Chamberlain deal with the Phillies and then sent to KC for Victor Coles in May of the following year. Martinez didn’t see much action in that span, getting in 23 games and hitting .229. He works for the Cubs now as their Latin Field Coordinator. 
Carmelo Martinez 1991 Fleer
  • 2000 - The Bucs sent OF Wil Cordero to the Indians for IF Enrique Wilson and OF prospect Alex Ramirez. Cordero played respectably through 2003, while Wilson was traded again in 2001 and Ramirez began a long career as a slugger in Japan after the 2000 season. 
  • 2005 - The Bucs traded for IF JJ Furmaniak from the San Diego Padres in exchange for C David Ross. Furmaniak batted 52 times as a big leaguer with a .186 BA while Ross hit .229 but had a long shelf life ahead of him, playing through the 2016 season. 
  • 2013 - The final page in a deal that didn’t happen was turned when the Astros passed on the Bucs final offer of Luis Heredia & a competitive balance pick for Bud Norris. The give and take was released as part of Astro e-mails leaked by St. Louis Cardinal staffers. The Pirates offered one of Heredia, Tyler Glasnow or Alen Hanson for Norris; Houston GM Jeff Luhnow wanted Glasnow and either Heredia or Nick Kingham as a package, offers that Neal Huntington wisely rejected. (Thanks to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review).

7/28 Games: Rally for the Ages, 16-Frame Draw, Big Night For A-Ram, McBean & More

  • 1908 - In much ado over nothing Vic Willis and the NY Giants Hooks Wiltsie battled to a 2-2 tie at the Polo Grounds after 16 frames as the game called because of darkness. The Pittsburg Press called it “A fitting finish to a great baseball series. Willis and Wiltse pitched high class baseball and their comrades supported them in grand style. The twirlers were cheered to the echo on leaving the slab after innings of excitement where they had baffled their foes.” The Pirates had taken 2-of-3 against their rivals while drawing 70,000 fans, a big number for old-timey baseball, for the four-game series. 
Vic Willis 1986 TCMA All-Time Greats
  • 1932 - Pittsburgh swept a twin bill from the NY Giants‚ winning 10-7 and 9-1. Earl Grace had three hits and three RBI during the lidlifter to pace the Pirate attack. In the nitecap, Tony Piet smacked a grand slam and three-run homer to go along with two more hits for a seven RBI, three run day to plow the road for Heinie Meine. 
  • 1940 - The Pirates won their eighth of nine games and fifth in a row after sweeping Boston at Braves Field by 5-2 and 7-3 scores. Maurice Van Robays was the hero of the opening match, homering and driving in three runs to give Dick Lanahan all the support he needed. The Bucs used a balanced attack to support Max Butcher’s four-hitter in the nitecap. 
  • 1968 - Al McBean had one of those can-do-no-wrong Sundays. He gave up 13 hits to the Cards at Forbes Field, but still went the distance for a 7-1 win. The big blow? McBean’s grand slam in the fifth off Larry Jaster, coming with two down after Milt May was walked to get to Alvin. He also had fun on the hill, tossing several blooper pitches to the Giants. Donn Clendenon added a two run blast to the cause. McBean became one of five Pirates pitchers in franchise history to bang out a grand slam. 
Al McBean 1968 Topps
  • 1971 - Luke Walker spun a four-hit, complete game whitewash at Los Angeles in a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium. Bob Robertson homered and had a sac fly to bring home two runs. The Bucs nickled and dimed the Dodgers; every position player had a hit, four different guys scored and three had RBI as the club put up their runs one at a time in four different frames. 
  • 1987 - Barry Bonds hit 176 homers while wearing the Bucco colors, but only one was an inside-the-park job. In an otherwise blah 5-2 loss to the Phillies at TRS, rookie Bonds drilled a two out liner to right off Shane Rawley that kicked around, allowing him and Junior Ortiz to score the only Pirate tallies of the day. "Glenn Wilson tried to cut the ball off and missed it," Rawley recalled for the AP. "It rolled around the corner and ricocheted all the way around. By the time he got the ball, there was no way to get Barry." The hit was payback for Bonds, who Rawley had plunked twice. It was the first of three Bonds’ homers that didn’t clear the fence among his 762 long flies. The other two were hit in 1997 with the Giants. 
  • 1996 - Orlando Merced hit two home runs and tallied four RBI while Al Martin & Mark Johnson had four hits each as the Bucs beat the Phillies 12-8 at TRS. Reliever John Ericks took home the win of the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball match. It would be the last SNB appearance for the Bucs until 2014. 
Orlando Merced 1996 Topps
  • 2000 - Aramis Ramirez drove in six runs with a pair of homers, Emil Brown went long to plate four more runners while John Vander Wal also went yard in a 16-5 romp over the San Diego Padres at TRS. A-Ram, Jason Kendall, Kevin Young and Vander Wal scored three times each. 
  • 2001 - Pittsburgh became only the second team in NL history (the Cubs were the first in 1952) to win a game by scoring seven runs with two outs and nobody on base in the ninth inning. Brian Giles capped the scoring with a walk-off grand slam off Astros ace Billy Wagner to win the game 9-8 after Pat Meares had hit a two-run shot earlier in the frame. The game was the opener of the first home day-night doubleheader in franchise history before a crowd of 32,977 at PNC Park. There was no drama in the nightcap as Houston rolled 12-3. 
  • 2003 - Jeff Suppan won his sixth consecutive start with a 3-0 decision over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, scattering seven hits. He was backed by Reggie Sanders’ homer and three hits from Randall Simon. Suppan was flipped to the Red Sox three days later as part of a deal for Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez. 
Jeff Suppan 2003 Upper Deck
  • 2004 - In one of their more frustrating losses, the Bucs collected 11 hits but were shut out by the Braves 1-0 at PNC Park. Ollie Perez threw a five hitter with 10 K, but Chipper Jones’ fourth inning homer was enough run support for the Bravos. John Smoltz came out of the bullpen to save the game for Russ Ortiz. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates won for the ninth time in 11 games, taking a 4-3 decision from the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Alex Presley and Neil Walker had solo shots, and Rod Barajas singled in Andrew McCutchen with the game winner with two out in the eighth. They remained two games back in the NL Central race. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates laid some small ball on Madison Bumgarner in the first inning, and it led to a big frame. The Bucs used three hits, two walks, an error and a pair of sac flies to jump ahead of the SF Giants 4-0, and then added on a final run when Josh Harrison homered. The rest of the night at AT&T Park belonged to Vance Worley, who tossed his first MLB shutout and just his second career complete game. He allowed four hits, facing two batters over the minimum, only one of whom advanced past first thanks to three DPs and a caught stealing, to toss the Bucs first complete game shutout since AJ Burnett turned the trick in 2012.