Sunday, September 23, 2018

See Ya, Buccos - Brew Crew In the Last Home Match of 2018, The King v Miley, Lineup & Notes

Today: The farewell to 2018 at PNC Park begins at 1:35 and will be aired by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. It's the last Kids' Day and the tykes will get a Pirates knit cap to serve as summer reminders during the coming gray months.

Pitchers: RHP Nick Kingham (5-6, 4.69) closes the last homestand against LHP Wade Miley (5-2, 2.08). Nick's replacing Big Joe Musgrove, who was shut down yesterday. Kingham hasn't started since September 2nd and only appeared one other time since, on the 8th. But he has seen Milwaukee plenty. In three outings (two starts) he's 2-0, but with a scary 5.27 ERA. He's been tagged for eight runs in 13-2/3 IP, but on the other side of the coin, he does own 18 whiffs against the Brew Crew. Miley has made 14 Brewers starts and surrendered two or fewer earned runs in 13 of them, letting in three earned runs in the other. He's faced Pittsburgh twice this season and allowed two runs over five innings in each outing.

Nick Kingham gets the last home start of the campaign (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Lineup: Pablo Reyes RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Elias Diaz C, Jordan Luplow LF,Jose Osuna 3B,Josh Harrison 2B, Jordy Mercer SS & Kingham P. Lefty lineup.We thought Clint was saving J-Hay & Jordy for the home finale; nice touch for a pair of vets who aren't likely to be returning.

Notes:
  • Nick Kingham will make both starts that were on tap for Joe Musgrove, today and Friday in Cincy.
  • Ric Rod's 85 strikeouts are the club's single-season rookie record for a relief pitcher, topping the old mark of 84, set by Blas Minor in 1993.
  • Ryan Lavarnway has gone 3-for-3 as a pinch hitter since joining the Pirates on September 4th.
  • Edgar Santana will have an MRI on his arm tomorrow.
  • Big Joe told the press gang that he first noticed his ab injury just prior to the All-Star break and it got progressively worse. He added that surgery is still a possibility if the rest period doesn't solve the problem, like the wait-and-see process recently undergone by Chad Kuhl.
  • After tonight, the Bucs have four games at Wrigley against the Cubs starting tomorrow and close out the year at Great American Ball Park versus the Reds; there are no remaining off days.

9/23 Through the 1920’s: 1925 Clincher; Pud Pick-Offs; Clarke Day; HBD Joe, Johnny, Dino & Lino; Game Stories

  • 1886 - According to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology and Wikipedia, Pittsburgh Alleghenys’ pitcher Pud Galvin walked the first three Brooklyn Bridegrooms he faced, and then picked them all off for a 1-2-3 inning! Pittsburgh went on to win the game at Washington Park by an 8-2 score. The Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette made no mention of the feat, but did note that “Galvin...showed up well. To-day he not only twirled with great effect but showed remarkably good judgment when men were on base.” 
Pud Galvin 1994 American Archives
  • 1886 - OF Joe Kelly (not to be confused with Bucco “Handsome Joe” Kelly of earlier years) was born in Weir, Kansas. He played regularly during his rookie campaign as a Pirate in 1914, hitting .222, and spent parts of five seasons in the show. Like many players of that era, Joe had a long career in minor league ball that spanned 23 seasons (1908-30), spending the last five years as a player-manager. 
  • 1895 - OF Johnny Mokan was born in Buffalo, New York. He started his seven-year career with the Bucs in 1921-22, hitting .262 off the bench, then spent the next five campaigns with Philadelphia where he blossomed. He spent the last two years of his playing days with the local farm clubs at Buffalo and Rochester and later worked as an equipment operator for NY State. 
  • 1904 - The Pirates downed the runaway NL leaders, the NY Giants, by a 7-0 score at the Polo Grounds. Charlie Case tossed a two-hitter, and didn’t give up a knock after the second frame. His opponent wasn’t quite up to snuff; the Pittsburgh Press said that “Leon Ames...was as wild as a March hare and issued six free passes. Besides, the Pirates stung his delivery at a lively rate and practically sewed up the game in the second inning, when three free passes turned into tallies.” The New York Herald was a little less kind - "Pittsburg Plays All By Itself" was its headline. 
  • 1907 - The Pirates dropped the NY Giants 2-1 at Exposition Park. Vic Willis tossed a six-hitter with six K to outgun Hooks Wiltse. Bill Hallman had three hits and a run scored for the Bucs, Honus Wagner added two knocks and a stolen base, and Ed Abbaticchio doubled and scored. The game had a little added spice when umpire Bill Klem and Giant manager John McGraw argued during the lineup exchange, greasing the skids for McGraw’s ejection in the sixth inning. 
"Batty" 1911 Colgan Stars of the Diamond
  • 1915 - It was “Fred Clarke Day” in Pittsburgh, and Cap suited up one last time in his only on-field appearance of his final season. He played four innings and went 1-for-2 against Dick Rudolph of the Boston Braves in an 8-4 win at Forbes Field with Wilbur Cooper on the hill. For farewell gifts, Clarke received an eight-day grandfather clock from his players and a leather binder containing the names of several thousand supporters as a keepsake. 
  • 1922 - LHP Lino Donoso was born in Havana. Donoso was a star in the Mexican League (and for a few seasons with the Negro League NY Cubans) although it didn’t quite translate in MLB. The Pirates brought him up on the strength of his 19-8/2.37, Pitcher of the Year performance in 1954 for Hollywood in the PCL; the only problem was that Lino came to Pittsburgh as a 33-year-old and had lost some steam on his fastball. He worked 1955-56 as a Bucco, going 4-6/5.21 and returned south of the border. He became one of the few ML pitchers with 100+ wins and was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. 
  • 1924 - OF Dino Restelli was born in St. Louis. He had just a two-year MLB career (1949, 1951) spent with the Pirates, but has a legit claim to fame: he hit a record seven home runs in his first ten games. He, along with Jose Abreu (White Sox - 2014) and Mark Quinn (KC - 1999), are the only players since 1914 to have a pair of multi-HR outings in their first 10 career games. But his star dimmed quickly. In parts of two seasons (1949-50), he hit .242 with 13 HR and was nagged by a series of injuries. The theories as to why he fizzled seem to focus on two issues - one was fear of the Lord, instilled in him by the Reds’ Ewell Blackwell who drilled him high with a fastball as a rookie. The other was his eyesight - he wore glasses that fogged up and he would often back out of the box to wipe them clean with an ever-present red hankie (which precipitated his incident with Blackwell). After his baseball career ended in 1955, he became a San Francisco police officer briefly before another injury caused him to leave that job. But he found work in nearby San Carlos where his parents lived. There he became a civic mover and the local Mr. Baseball, coaching and working with the local Parks Department.
Dino Restelli 1949 (photo via Find-A-Grave)
  • 1925 - The Pittsburgh Press wrote “The Phillies gave the Pirates a merry tussle in the game that clinched the pennant for the Smoky City…” as the Bucs turned six DPs and edged the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Forbes Field to claim the NL flag for the first time since 1909. It was the ninth straight victory for the Pirates. Emil Yde tossed a seven-hitter for the victory with late help from Tommy Sheehan. Max Carey and Pie Traynor contributed a pair of knocks.

9/23 From 1930 Through the 1960’s: Murry's 20; Ralph's 51; Scoops 1st; HBD Rook, Jim, Dennis & Jim; Game Stories

  • 1935 - Behind the four-hit pitching of Jim Weaver and Pep Young’s three knocks and seven RBI, the Bucs left the St. Louis Cardinals pennant hopes on life support, taking a 12-0 over the Redbirds at Sportsman’s Park to drop the Redbirds four games behind the Cubs in the loss column with four games to go. Woody Jensen had four hits, including a pair of doubles, while Lloyd Waner and Arky Vaughan added three hits and runs apiece. 
Jim Rooker 1981 Fleer
  • 1942 - LHP Jim Rooker was born in Lakeview, Oregon. Rook pitched eight years (1973-80) for the Bucs with a line of 82-65/3.29, which he equalled in playoff time with a 3.20 ERA, including a strong start in Game #5 of the 1979 Series, a crucial match that the Pirates, down 3 games to one, won. He was also a Pirate TV color analyst from 1981 through 1993, and worked for ESPN from 1994 to 1997. Rooker’s most memorable TV moment came when he said on air that he’d walk home from Philadelphia if the Pirates lost, which they did. True to his word, he staged a charity walk after the season. Retired now, he’s an author of children’s books. 
  • 1947 - Ralph Kiner hit his franchise record 51st homer (he would break that mark in 1949) against Jim Kearns of the Cards at Forbes Field in an 8-4 loss to the Redbirds. It was the only hittable ball he saw that night. He was walked on four pitches in three other at-bats and was ahead 2-0 before his swat. 
  • 1951 - Murry Dickson tossed a five-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field to win his 20th game 3-0. Gus Bell had a pair of hits and two RBI to back Dickson. Murry was the only Bucco pitcher to win more than eight games that season; the team only won 64 contests. 
  • 1952 - IF Jim Morrison was born in Pensacola, Florida. He spent half (1982-87) of his 12 year career as a Pirate, hitting .274 as a Bucco with a standout 1986 campaign. That year, Morrison together a line of .274/23/88 as Pittsburgh’s starting third baseman. He had his most memorable outing on June 1st, 1986, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Jim chased home seven runs with a double, a triple and a grand slam, the only granny of his career. After he quit playing, he managed in the Phillies system for a couple of years and has been with the Tampa Bay organization since 2007. 
Jim Morrison 1984 Donruss
  • 1952 - RHP Dennis Lamp was born in Los Angeles. He worked in Pittsburgh in 1992 as a 40-year-old, finishing out his 16-year MLB career going 1-1, 5.14 in 21 appearances until his June release. Dennis has worked behind the seafood counter at Bristol Farms in Newport Beach since 2004. According to his store manager, "He talks sports. He sells fish. He works hard." Lamp, for his part, shrugs and says he doesn’t really need the money, but just likes to work. 
  • 1956 - With the Dodgers leading the Pirates 8-3, 44,932 fans, the largest crowd in Forbes Field's history (with several thousand turned away at the gates), lured by a “prize day” promotion, left early when a ninth inning rain delay postponed the game with two outs, triggering the Sunday curfew with the Dodgers up 8-2. Brooklyn officially won the game the next day. Don Newcombe got the win in a match that saw seven Bucco hurlers take the bump. 
  • 1959 - RHP Jim Winn was born in Stockton, California. A first round draft pick (14th overall) of Pittsburgh in 1981, the reliever never quite panned out, plagued by a series of injuries. He tossed from 1983-86 for the Bucs with a 7-11-4/4.47 line, then spent a couple of years in the AL to end his career, which was short-circuited by TJ surgery back in the day when it was a new and not always successful procedure. After his baseball days were done, he became a salesman. 
Al Oliver 2005 Topps Rookie Cup
  • 1968 - In his Bucco debut, Al Oliver spanked his first MLB hit in the second game of a twilight doubleheader at Forbes Field, singling and scoring off Clay Carroll in the fourth inning of a 2-1, 10-inning win over the San Diego Padres. He started in right field and got into four games that season after a September call-up. Al would spend a decade in Pittsburgh and collect 1,490 hits with a .296 BA here; in all, Scoops put together an 18-year, seven-team MLB run and piled up 2,743 hits, a lifetime .303 average, seven All-Star caps and a World Series ring (1971).

9/23 From the 1970’s Forward: 2013, '14, '15 WC Clinchers; Pud Remembered; Rook Gem; Rallies

  • 1974 - Jim Rooker threw nine shutout frames as the Bucs beat the St. Louis Cards 1-0 in 10 innings at Busch Stadium, with Dave Giusti working the last frame for the save. The Bucs scored when pinch hitter Paul Popovich singled and was replaced by Miguel Dilone on the basepaths. He was bunted to second and came around on Richie Hebner’s single. The win moved the club to ½ game behind the Cards in a see-saw pennant race that Pittsburgh eventually eked out.
  • 1978 - Dave Parker was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Peerless Pirate.” He would win the MVP and his second batting crown (.334) despite playing with a football-like mask on his helmet after breaking his jaw in a plate collision in late June. 
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Philadelphia’s Steve Bedrosian to give Pirates a walkoff 6-5 win. The slumping Bonds (he hit .223 in his rookie ‘86 campaign) had tried to lay one down to set up Bobby Bonilla (Jim Leyland told Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press that “I almost passed out when he tried to bunt.”) before he decided to swing away. The Bucs scored five times in the last two frames for the comeback; Mike Diaz was the hero, with three RBI at TRS. Four Pirate relievers tossed 6-⅔ innings of shutout ball, with Barry Jones getting the win. 
  • 2011 - The Bucs let the Reds tie the game in the ninth when Joel Hanrahan plunked Todd Frazier with a bases-loaded, two-out, 3-2 pitch, but came back to claim a 4-3 walk off win after Jason Jaramillo doubled and came in on Ryan Ludwick’s knock. Garrett Jones’ two-run homer had staked the Pirates to an early lead. 
  • 2013 - For the first time in 21 years, the Pirates clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 win at Wrigley Field. Charlie Morton tossed seven innings of three-hit ball through seven and was up 1-0 on Neil Walker’s first inning homer. The Cubs tied it in the eighth on a ball that scooted through a drawn up infield, but the Bucs retook the lead in the ninth on Starling Marte’s two-out, two-strike homer deep into the bleachers. The drama wasn’t quite over; with two outs and Nate Schierholtz on first, Ryan Sweeney blooped a ball into right that glanced off Marlon Byrd’s mitt. Schierholtz was waved around, but an Andrew McCutchen-to-Justin Morneau-to-Russ Martin relay and tag were just enough to give Mark Melancon the win and Jason Grilli the save. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates guaranteed themselves a playoff berth with a 3-2 win over Atlanta at Turner Field, but it wasn’t easy. Down 2-0 after two innings, and saved from a bigger hole thanks only to bad Brave baserunning and a bases loaded, no-out DP, Gerrit Cole found his rhythm and retired 17 straight Bravos. Andrew McCutchen scored on a delayed steal of home when the catcher’s throw to second was high in the fourth, then Travis Snider tied it with a leadoff homer in the fifth. Doubles by Cutch and Starling Marte gave the Pirates their first lead in the sixth. Cole worked seven innings and struck out eight for the win, with Jared Hughes picking up a hold and Tony Watson taking the save. To earn their playoff spot, the Pirates won 15-of-18 games after being written off following a sweep by the Cardinals in early September. 
  • 2015 - The Bucs defeated the Colorado Rockies 13-7 at Coors Field to clinch a postseason spot for not only the third straight year, but on the same 9/23 date, too. The Pirates jumped out to a 7-1 lead after a first inning bloop and third inning blast by Neil Walker, who ended up going 4-for-5 with a homer and career best six RBI. But Charlie Morton couldn’t stand prosperity and was yanked in the fifth after a homer cut the lead to 7-6. The Buc bullpen took over, putting up zeros until the bats put up a six spot in the ninth, keyed by Sean Rodriguez’s bases loaded, bases clearing double on an 0-2 pitch. Joe Blanton got the win for Pittsburgh. 
  • 2016 - Pittsburgh rallied to defeat the Washington Nationals 6-5 in 11 innings at PNC Park on a pair of do-or-die knocks. With two gone in the ninth and down by a run, Sean Rodriguez doubled home Pedro Florimon to send the game into extras. The hit was off former Bucco closer Mark Melancon, making his first appearance versus Pittsburgh since a deadline trade only to earn his first blown save as a Nat. With the bases loaded and two away in the 11th, the Pirates sent up their last bench player, September call-up Jacob Stallings. He fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and then singled home the winning run for his first MLB walk-off hit, just the second knock of his career. The game lasted 4:36 and featured 44 players, 17 of which pitched, leading Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle to quip "That's your snapshot of a September, expanded-roster game." 
  • 2017 - SABR held a celebration of the life of Hall of Famer Pud Galvin. The event was at Calvary Cemetery in Hazelwood, where Pud’s flat stone marker was replaced by a headstone. Galvin’s resting spot was the third grave topped with a new tombstone by the SABR 19th Century Grave Baseball Marker Project. The dedication ceremony featured the life story of Galvin, prepared by his biographer Chip Martin, as well as a gathering of other baseball notables and members of the Galvin family.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bucs Quiet Brewer Bats, Starling Clutch In 3-0 Win To Even Series - Other News: Big Joe Done For the Year

After a whiff, Kevin Newman ruined a 10-pitch battle between Willy and Christian Yelich by throwing away his grounder but caused no damage to the scoreboard. After Fraze lined an at 'em ball to Yelich in center, Starling walked against Zach Davies. A wild pitch moved Marte up, then he was caught trying to steal third, with a tapper ending the frame. A single, punch out and strike 'em out, throw 'em DP made up the Brew Crew second. Corey D opened with a single; J-Low bounced into a 4-6-3 DP on the next pitch followed by a whiff; hope its not another of those days. Milwaukee left a Davies knock and Yelich walk aboard in the third. The Bucs got a two-out infield knock by Trevor. Fraze banged out a rap and Starling doubled the pair home. He went to third on the throw home, but J-Bell couldn't cash him in. There was no Brewski noise in the fourth; ditto for the Pirates. A leadoff single in the fifth was countered by a whiff and 4-6-3 DP. Brandon Woodruff came on to hurl. Stalls walked with an out; he was sent to third on a two-out single by Fraze after Willy couldn't bunt him along. Starling was bopped on a 1-2 pitch on the hand to pack the sacks, staying in after a check by the trainers, but J-Bell's fly left 'em loaded.

Willy is a baddd man... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the sixth, Ryan Braun dropped a two-out bunt single (who'd thunk it?) to set up Travis Shaw. No sweat; Willy fanned him. Xavier Cedeno was waved on and red hot Corey D started it up with a single. A wild toss got him second. After an out, Joey O came to pinch hit and the Brewers answered with Taylor Williams; Clint flipped Osuna for Colin Moran. He singled off the pitcher's glove to put Bucs on the corners. K-Man fanned and Stalls bounced out. It was another opportunity lost; the Pirates have stranded five in the past two frames. Ric Rod got the seventh inning job and sailed through it on eight pitches. Joakim Soria took the hill and Ryan Lavarnway greeted him with a knock. A pop and Marte 6-4-3 DP quickly ended the frame. Kyle Crick was beckoned in the eighth and was sharp, getting two whiffs & a roller in front of the plate. Lefty Dan Jennings took the ball and J-Bell led off with a single. After a force, righty Jacob Barnes came on to face J-Low, who walked. Red Beard singled the opp way on a 3-2 heater to plate a third run. Newman fanned for the second time with a runner on third and one out. The Bucs tried a delayed double steal; it didn't work as J-Low was tossed out by a mile. Felipe Vazquez entered for the close; Yelich said "hi" with an opening double. The Nightmare waved back and cruised out with a bouncer & two strikeouts for his 36th save. RTJR.

Notes:
  • The Pirates announced that Joe Musgrove was diagnosed with a stress reaction (a microfracture, as best we can figure) on the front of his pelvic bone and an abdominal wall muscle strain. The injuries call for six weeks of rest before he can start his offseason work routine. Nick Kingham will pick up tomorrow's start. Geez, Bucco pitchers are dropping like flies...
J-Grove is done for the year (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Fraze, Corey D and Colin Moran each had a pair of knocks; Starling's two-out, two-run double was the telling blow. It was Pittsburgh's only extra-base hit.
  • There were 23,070 at the ballyard tonight.
  • This was Willy's 10th shutout start of six+ innings this year, and he has an ERA of 1.00 over his last 12 outings. Tonight, he put up six zeros on four hits with a walk and seven K after 95 pitches.
  • Starling is fourth in MLB with 33 stolen bases; he leads the majors in caught stealings with 14.
  • Jordan Luplow has hit into six GIDP in 33 at bats with runners on first; he has three hits in that time.
  • Rough transition: In his last 18 at bats, Kevin Kramer has one hit and 13! strikeouts.
  • Kinda Figuring It Out: In his last 11 games, Kevin Newman is 10-of-40.

Brew Crew Round Two, Willy v Davies, Lineup & Notes

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. Today's giveaway is a Bucco Oktoberfest stein (it's early October weather already), so trink, trink, trink und essen.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (13-9, 3.16) meets RHP Zach Davies (2-6, 4.66). After a burp, Willy got back to dealing in his last outing. He owns a 1.10 ERA over his past 11 starts and a 1.19 mark in the second half; he and Jamo have become pretty formidable at the top of the rotation. He's owned the Brewers - in two 2018 starts, he's gone 13 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and four walks while fanning 14. This is Davies' second straight start against the Pirates and just his 12th of the season, as he was on the DL for three months before returning in September. In that outing, he allowed two earned runs on three hits in five innings last Saturday.

Willy on the bump (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Jordan Luplow RF, Kevin Kramer 3B, Kevin Newman SS, Jacob Stallings C & Williams P. Four starters, four auditioners & Willy.

Notes:
  • The Pirates didn't provide updates on the conditions of Edgar Santana (forearm) or Fran Cervelli (stomach).
  • J-Bell recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game Friday night after going 2-for-4 and hitting his 11th homer. It's the first time in his career he's put together four multi-hit games in a row.
  • Corey Dickerson’s 52 extra-base hits are the fourth-most by any left fielder in all of MLB, and the most by a Pirates LF'er since Jason Bay banged 67 in 2006. Corey-D also ranks first with a .996 fielding percentage and .958 zone rating among NL left fielders, with one error in 256 total chances, and is tied for second with a career-high seven assists.
  • Trevor Williams is the only pitcher in MLB this season to make 10 starts of at least five innings without allowing a run. He's also made nine starts of at least six innings without allowing a run this season, with three zeros in his last four outings. Willy is the only pitcher in Pirates history (since 1908) to do that deed.

9/22 Through the 1930s: Wheeling Alleghenys; Heinie, Hal Shine; HBD Harry & Ira; Game Stories & More

  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys moved their home game with the New York Giants to Wheeling, WV, due to attendance issues at home (they couldn’t draw flies; they went 23-113). The game at Island Grounds, home of the Wheeling Nailers, drew 1500 fans and it remains the only major league game ever played in the state of West Virginia. According to the Wheeling Daily Register, “The game was played under some slight disadvantages, as the outfield was unkempt and unshaven, the grass being so tall that the ball, and almost the players, frequently got lost. (The Giants Mike) Tiernan knocked one into the tall grass, and while some seven or eight players were still on the hunt, he modestly crossed the home plate...” for a ninth-inning, cherry-on-top inside-the-park homer. The Alleghenys lost 8-3 and the Pittsburgh Press wrote “to be sure, the local team lost to be in keeping with its record and (team owner) Mr. McNeill may rest assured that his team will establish a world record in time (for losing).” The paper was right; they were baseball’s worst until the Cleveland Spiders of 1899 finished 20-134, bumping the Alleghenys to runner-up. It would also be the last regularly scheduled Pittsburgh home game moved to a neutral site until 2017 when the Pirates played St. Louis in Williamsport to help celebrate youth baseball. 
Pittsburgh Press 9-23-1890
  • 1893 - OF Ira Flagstead was born in Montague, Michigan. Ira closed out his 13-year career in Pittsburgh from 1929-30, a journey that had begun with the Tigers and blossomed with the Red Sox where he was a top shelf CF’er with a good stick and rifle arm. He signed with the Pirates on July 8th, 1929, bolstered by his acquaintance with Pittsburgh manager Donie Bush, whom Ira played played with in Detroit, and that Washington, which had signed him earlier, wanted to dump his contract. He hit .257 and was released in August, 1930. Ira closed out his pro ball in the PCL in 1931. He retired to Olympia, where he grew up, and managed the local Timber League nine. “Flaggy” (he was also known as “Pete” from his teen days) was elected to both the Red Sox and Washington State Halls of Fame. 
  • 1894 - After tossing 12 innings in a tie game the day before, Phil “Red” Ehret threw a complete game four-hitter to salvage a doubleheader split with the NY Giants by a 4-1 score at Exposition Park. His opponent was Les German, the same pitcher whom he had squared off against the previous day. Pittsburgh lost the opener 6-2. 
  • 1903 - Pittsburgh's 16-game winner Ed Doheny‚ suffering from bouts of paranoia‚ was escorted home by his brother. After the World Series‚ Doheny was committed to the Danvers Insane Asylum and at the age of 26‚ his major league career was over. Not only was this a tragic turn of events for Doheny, but it cost the Bucs dearly in their World Series loss to the Boston Americans as they were short of pitching for the series. He, Deacon Phillippe and Sam Leever formed the Pirate rotation, and with Leever nursing an injury, Phillippe was forced to start five of the seven games, eventually wearing down. Poor Doheny, whose mental issues were said to be triggered after he developed a dead arm during the season, never recovered. He had some violent episodes at home and was committed full-time to the Danver asylum. He never recovered and was transferred to another institution where he died at 43. 
Ed Doheny (image via the Vermont Historical Society)
  • 1908 - The Brooklyn Superbas cashed in a run in the ninth, scoring when no one covered first on a two-out grounder to the right side, but Pittsburgh and Nick Maddox prevailed 3-2 in 11 innings at Washington Park. Alan Storke tripled home Hans Wagner with the go ahead run and scored himself on a wild throw home. Maddox gave up a homer in Brooklyn’s half, but hung on for the win as the Pirates stayed alive in their late drive for the flag, which fell a game short. 
  • 1911 - Cy Young, pitching for the Boston Rustlers (they didn’t “rustle” players like the Pirates had “pirated” them; the moniker was a play on the name of team owner William Russell; they were aka the Nationals), earned his 511th and final career victory by defeating the Pirates, 1-0. Cy scattered nine hits and fanned three at Forbes Field to best Babe Adams. Although 20 games above .500 at the time, the Bucs were well off the pace and in third place, drawing just 1,208 fans. The Pirates feasted on Boston during the season: the Rustlers (they became the Braves in 1912) won only 3-of-22 against Pittsburgh, with two of the victories coming on shutouts thrown by the 44 year-old Cyclone. 
  • 1929 - Utilityman Harry Bright was born in Kansas City. He played for parts of eight seasons, with the first three (1958-60) in Pittsburgh. Bright hit .237 and was traded to the expansion Washington Senators after the ‘60 season as part of the Bobby Shantz package. Harry had a long pro career, playing 20 years and in nearly 2,000 games between the show and the farm. Bright managed the PCL’s Sacramento club and in the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers & Atlanta Braves organizations, plus he scouted for the Montreal Expos after he retired. 
Harry Bright 1959 Topps
  • 1931 - The Phillies overcame a 2-0 ninth inning deficit to send the game to overtime, but the Pirates tacked on a run in the 13th to claim a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine went the distance for the victory, tossing a four hitter. It was his 19th win, which led all NL pitchers that season. The Bucs left 20 men on base as Philadelphia pitchers allowed 10 hits and 13 walks. The workhorse logged 284 IP in 35 starts by season’s end, both marks also league highs. 
  • 1932 - Rookie Hal Smith recorded a six-hit shutout in his first MLB start in a 7-0 Bucs’ win at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Bucs got all the runs they would need by scoring five times in the third inning. Arky Vaughan and Adam Comorosky led the way with two RBI apiece while Paul Waner banged out three hits and scored twice. Former (and future) Pirate pitcher Burleigh Grimes took the loss. 
  • 1938 - Pittsburgh swept a twinbill from the Brooklyn Robins by 6-0 and 11-6 scores at Ebbets Field to take a 3-½ game lead in the race for the pennant. Jim Tobin tossed a four hitter in the opener. Arky Vaughan had four hits, with three doubles and three RBI to go with Pep Young’s four runs driven home to power the win in the nitecap. But the 1938 NL crown would go to Chicago, which won their last ten games while the Bucs stumbled to a 3-7 finish.

9/22 From the 1950s Forward: '71, '75, '91 Clinchers; 11-In-A-Row; 1-0 B-2-B; HBD Wally; More

  • 1958 - The Pirates set a pair of wrong way records during their 3-2 and 1-0 twinbill losses to the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Three Phil pitchers fanned a MLB record 21 Bucs in the opener, and Jack Sanford whiffed 10 in the nitecap for a MLB record 31 Ks for the day. 
  • 1959 - Utilityman Wally Backman was born in Hillsboro, Oregon. He spent one season of his 14-year career in Pittsburgh in 1990, and it was more than solid as he got into 104 games and swatted .297. He came to Pittsburgh as a free agent (1 year/$400K) and left the same way, signing a two-year, $1.3M deal with the Phils. Thanks to some personal issues, Wally has had a bumpy road coaching/managing since retiring in 1993 and is now an indie league skipper. 
Wally Backman 1990 Topps
  • 1971 - Pittsburgh clinched the NL East with a 5-1 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Luke Walker and Dave Giusti defeated Bob Gibson thanks to a big eighth inning. The floodgate opened when SS Ted Kubiak booted Vic Davalillo’s ball, and a walk, two hits and a sac fly later, the Bucs had turned a squeaky 2-1 lead over the Cards into a 5-1 tally. After the pennant, the Buccos eliminated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and then took care of the Birds to claim the World Series crown. 
  • 1975 - The Pirates clocked the second place Philadelphia Phillies 11-3 at TRS to clinch the NL East title. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve did the pitching honors, while three Pirate hitters had three hits each to lead the attack - Willie Stargell (2B, 2 RBI, 4 RS, 2 BB), Dave Parker (HR, 4 RBI, 1 RS) and Richie Zisk (2B, 4 RBI, 1 RS). 
  • 1978 - The Pirates purchased OF’er Cito Gaston from the Atlanta Braves. The 34-year-old went 1-for-2 in the last week of the season, his last MLB appearances in an 11-year MLB career before spending the next couple of campaigns in the Mexican League and later beginning a long run as the Toronto Blue Jay’s manager. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs won consecutive NL East titles when they beat the Phillies, 2–1, at TRS. Doug Drabek went the distance to outlast five Philadelphia pitchers. Orlando Merced walked twice and scored twice. Pittsburgh only had three hits, but seven free passes and a botched DP was just enough to do in Philadelphia. 
  • 1996 - Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 11-3 for their 11th win in a row, posting the longest winning streak in the majors for the year. Jay Bell was the star with a homer and four RBI. They still finished last with a 73-89 record, but it raised a vain “wait ‘til next year” hope among the faithful. 
Jay Bell 1996 Fleer
  • 2006 - Chris Young carried a no-hitter into the ninth against the Bucs, but lost his bid to become the first San Diego Padre to toss a no-no when Joe Randa smacked a two run homer on a 3-1 pitch following a one-out walk to Jose Bautista. Young, who was drafted by the Pirates in 2000 before being traded for Matt Herges, claimed an easy 6-2 win at Petco Park. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates won back-to-back 1-0 games for the first time since 1976 when Francisco Liriano, with help from Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Mark Melancon made Andrew McCutchen’s sixth inning homer off Aaron Harang stand at Atlanta’s Turner Field. The third straight 1-0 game for the Bucs (they lost 1-0 on 9/20 to the Brewers and old matey Zach Duke) was the first time that trifecta hit since 1917 when Pittsburgh lost three consecutive 1-0 games to the Cardinals.

Brewers Bomb Bullpen, Use Four Homers To Run Away 8-3

Ivan Nova started of with a nice, quick six-pitch inning, with glovely plays by Pablo and Red Beard. With two outs in the Bucco half, J-Bell took Jhouly Chacin's first pitch and sent it into the RC seats. A leadoff walk in the second was erased on an around-the-horn DP, and a pop ended it. Christian Yelich evened the books by robbing Pablo's laser to The Notch, and a walk ended up all the Bucco action, with some hard-hit balls and nice leatherwork going on early for both sides. It was 1-2-3 for the Brew Crew in the third; Chacin almost evened it up by lifting a ball into the windstream, but it was gathered in at the track. Fraze doubled with one gone and was stranded. Nova came back from 3-0 to fan Curtis Granderson to open the fourth. Yelich then banged a double onto the RF corner. A K was followed by an intention walk of lefty Travis Shaw; it backfired when Ryan Braun singled home the tying run before Mike Moustakas' comebacker. Cervy started the Bucs off with a knock and Corey D golfed a tight slider over the Clemente Wall to get the lead back. The rest of the frame went quietly. With one out in the fifth, Orlando Arcia dropped a bunt single. Eric Thames pinch hit, but before he got to swing, the rains came and he was replaced by a tarp.

photo: Pittsburgh Pirates
2-1/4 hours later, the game resumed with Ric Rod on the bump to face Tyler Saladino, as Craig Counsell decided to keep Thames in his back pocket for later. A whiff and a grounder later, the Bucs were up against Corbin Burnes. Fraze singled up the middle with an out and was caught stealing before Starling bounced out. Edgar Santana was called upon for the sixth and was greeted by a Yelich rap. Jesus Aguilar doubled him home on a catchable ball that Reyes lost at the wall; the Brewer was safe at third after the throw home when Cervy's peg was offline. Fran left the game after that toss with Eli Diaz taking over; no obvious sign of injury, so we'll see what type of discomfort the Pirates announce. It got worse; Travis Shaw homered over the short porch in right and Milwaukee had the lead. After running a 3-0 count on Braun; Santana also left the game with the trainer, again with no apparent trigger. Steven Brault came in and finished the walk.That was followed by a long ball served to Moustakas and another to Erik Kratz, sheesh. He got three of the next four to close out a nasty frame, and Josh Hader took the ball. After a pair of punch outs, sizzlin' Corey D drilled a triple into the RF corner, but Pablo joined the whiff parade on a borderline full-count strike.

Ivan was strong again before the rains fell (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Dovy Neverauskas climbed the bump in the seventh and got two outs (and an ejection as Shaw was yapping at the ump from the bench) before giving up yet another dinger, this one to Keon Broxton. After getting an out, Corey Knebel took the ball and fanned Joey O and K-Man. Clayton Holmes answered the eighth inning bell. he plunked Kratz, causing a little snarl, then Pablo made up for his misplay by running down a bullet by Arcia before a K and grounder put it to bed. Joakim Soria tossed next and walked Fraze. Starling hit into an around-the-horn DP. J-Bell dropped a bloop single after that,but Eli fanned. Holmes walked the first pair in the ninth before settling down. Jeremy Jeffress was waved in for the ninth, and nine pitches later the game was done.

Dunno what the Pirates did during the rain break, but we'd sure change that routine. What this does point out is the need for the Pirates to bolster the pen next season. The B-team isn't cutting it, and that'll hurt now, with just three A-Listers left, and they need a Frenchy LeBlanc or Joe Hudson type to anchor the long guys next year.

Notes:
  • Fraze, J-Bell and Corey D had three hits; those guys are rakin' every day.
  • Fran's stomach was acting up, ending his day. Edgar Santana's ache was more worrisome - it's the dreaded forearm/elbow "discomfort" symptom.
  • Ric Rod's 85th K set a record for rookie Pirates relievers.
  • Corey Dickerson's homer was his first since July 22nd.
  • This was Eli's first appearance behind the plate this month following his hammy strain.
  • The attendance was 19,243 for a rainy fireworks night.
  • The Pirates announced their minor league PoY award winners: 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (Altoona- .293 BA) is Player of the Year and RHP JT Brubaker (Indy/Altoona 10-6/2.81) is the Pitcher of the Year.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Brew Crew Three-Gamer To End PNC's Season, Ivan v Davies, Lineup & Notes

Today: First pitch is at 7:05 and the game will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.The 14-and-under gang will get a Starling Marte replica jersey, delayed from the recent Marlin rainout with the added attraction of the final Zambelli Fireworks night slated for after the game.

Pitchers: RHP Ivan Nova (9-9, 4.07) opens the three-gamer against RHP Jhoulys Chacin (14-8, 3.54). Ivan's allowed just one run in his last two stars,lasting 12 innings, and he's gone 7-4/3.46 in 16 starts since being reinstated from the DL, so he's been a solid second half contributor. He's 1-0/1.69 in two starts against the Brew Crew this year. Super Nova had a no-decision in a 2-1 Bucco win in July and won a 3-1 decision last week, cruising through six innings. Chacin has been consistent for Milwaukee, allowing three or fewer earned runs in each of his last eight starts. He hasn't been very lucky against the Bucs though he's pitched solidly with an 0-3/2.55 slash, and the Brewski Bunch has dropped four of his five 2018 starts against the Buccaneers.

Ivan & Fran are the battery (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Corey Dickerson LF, Pablo Reyes RF, Colin Moran 3B, Kevin Newman SS & Nova P.  Looks like Starling & J-Bell are biometric-proof; those dudes never sit.

Notes:
  • The Bucs have been the Brewers kryptonite this year; they're 11-5 v Milwaukee. The Pirates have been victorious in 11 of the past 14 contests and have won four consecutive one-run games for the first time since 1992, with the only time they've won five squeakers in a row back in 1946, per @joe_block.
  • Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors looks at the silver lining for non-playoff teams in the Central Division. For the Buccos, it's pitching, especially if bolstered by some "strategic investments" during the off season. 
  • The Pirates have switched Low Class A affiliates, flipping from West Virginia to Greensboro, both members of the Sally League. The Power, based in Charleston, will become a Seattle Mariner feeder while the Grasshoppers had been a long-time Miami Marlin farm club. It's a two-year deal.
  • Backyard Brawl, hardball version: the WV Mountaineers will take on the Pitt Panthers on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019, at PNC Park. The 'Eers have played Penn State the past two seasons at PNC, and their rivalry with Pitt extends unbroken back to 1895.
  • Boy, that was quick - Banny is out as Texas Rangers manager, w/the story first broken by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season effective immediately. Wonderin' if there may be a Pirates reunion in the cards...?

9/21 Through the 1940’s: Mack Packs; 10 For Kiki; TV Time; HBD Sudden Sam, Max, Del, Gil & Tom; Game Stories

  • 1860 - OF Tom Brown was born in Liverpool, England. Brown played from 1885-87 for the Alleghenys, hitting .287 and posting a 0-0, 4.30 line as an emergency pitcher (three games, eight IP) over that span. He came over to the North Side club when it purchased the entire Columbus team after the 1884 season and became the first English-born player for Pittsburgh. After a 17-year MLB career, Brown became an umpire. 
Tom Brown 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1891 - SS Gil Britton was born in Parsons, Kansas. His MLB career was a three-game stand with Pittsburgh in 1913, with an 0-for-12 batting line and three errors. He spent from 1909-17 in the minors, mostly the Texas, Western and Central Kansas leagues. Gil hung ‘em up young at age 25 and returned to his hometown, where he remained until his death at age 91. 
  • 1896 - Manager Connie Mack (given name: Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy) announced that he was leaving Pittsburgh to guide the Milwaukee club of the Western League; the Pirates finished in sixth place with a 66-63 slate during his last campaign. Patsy Donovan took over the reins in 1897. Connie’s claim to fame was managing the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons of play, starting in 1901, and he became a Hall-of-Famer in 1937. 
  • 1899 - RHP Del Lundgren was born in Lindsborg, Kansas. He started his brief three-year career (he pitched for Boston in 1926-27) with the Pirates in 1924, tossing eight games with an 0-1/6.48 line. Del tossed pro ball from 1922-30 before retiring with a sore arm. He got a job in a flour mill in Topeka and then retired to live the life of an outdoorsman in Lindsborg. 
  • 1910 - RHP Max Butcher was born in Holden, West Virginia. He went 67-60/3.34 for the Bucs in seven seasons (1939-45), and had an ERA over 3.43 just once as a Pirate. His best year was 1941, when he went 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA. Though he was a big guy at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he wasn’t an overpowering hurler, averaging only 2.5 K/nine in Pittsburgh. 
Max Butcher 1942 Play Ball
  • 1925 - In a 9-7 win over the Phillies at Forbes Field, Kiki Cuyler singled off Roy Crumpler in the second inning to run his consecutive hit streak to 10, a team record that still stands today. Cuyler began his streak against Boston’s Skinny Graham, and the hits fell in conjunction with a nine-game winning string for Pittsburgh, which won 95 games, the NL pennant and the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. Kiki went 4-for-4 in the next day’s game with two homers, making him 14-of-16 during his streak, in a 14-4 Bucco victory in the second game of the series. Johnny Morrison won the first game and Ray Kremer took the honors the following day. 
  • 1940 - OF Deb Garms went 5-for-6 in the second game of a twinbill split against the Cincinnati Reds to push his BA to .379. He doubled, scored three times and drove in a pair in the 8-7 win during the second game after going 0-for-4 in a 8-1 loss in the opener at Forbes Field. Though he wore an 0-for-23 collar over the remainder of the season, his .355 BA won the NL crown. He played just 103 games (100 games played was the accepted, although unwritten, standard) with 385 PA and was awarded the title, causing some grumbling by those who preferred a full-time awardee. His title eventually led to the adoption of minimum plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship. 
  • 1942 - LHP Sudden Sam McDowell was born in Pittsburgh. Though he pitched only briefly for the hometown Pirates in 1975 (2-1/2.86 in 14 games) , he may be the most dominating hurler the area ever produced. Sam went directly to the majors out of Central Catholic HS, signing with Cleveland. He played from 1961-75 with the Indians, Giants, Yankees and Bucs. McDowell struck out 2,453 batters in that span with a blazing fastball. His career was infamously short circuited by booze and pills, and he was said to be the inspiration for Cheers bartender Sam Malone. He beat his demons after retiring and became a MLB drug and alcohol counselor. His nickname was bestowed on him by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bob Dolgan during Sam’s first spring training camp in 1961. 
Sudden Sam 1975 Topps
  • 1947 - The Bucs were a part of Queen City broadcast history when their game against Cincinnati was broadcast on TV by W8XCT (WLWT), the first time a Reds game was aired. An estimated home audience of 10,000 viewers watched the Redlegs lose 11-7 at Crosley Field. Elbie Fletcher, Jimmy Bloodworth and Clyd Kluttz each had three RBI; Gene Woodling had the other pair. The opening game of the doubleheader wasn’t shown (we think), and it turned out better for the Reds, who won 3-1 as Ewell Blackwell bested Kirby Higbe.

9/21 From 1950 Through the 1970’s: Boss Baker; '72 Clincher; HBD Danny, Rene, Jason & Ben; Game Stories

  • 1959 - RHP Danny Cox was born in Northampton, England. The Brit hurler spent 11 years in the league and managed to squeeze in 16 games as a Bucco in 1992, going 3-1-3/3.33 as a starter converted to back-end bullpen work. He was picked up from the Phils off waivers in June and at the end of the year signed with the Blue Jays, spending the final three seasons of his career in Toronto. 
Danny Cox 1993 Donruss
  • 1962 - Scout Rene Gayo was born in Miami of immigrant Cuban parents and raised in Chicago. In 1989, Cam Bonifay hired Gayo as a part-time scout for the Pirates, then he went off to work for the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. In 2004, the Pirates hired Gayo to lead their Latin American scouting system, filling a position inexplicably left vacant for five years under Bonifay and Dave Littlefield. He reeled in players like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Elias Diaz along with moved-on prospects Alen Hanson, Dilson Herrera, Harold Ramirez and Joely Rodriguez. He was dismissed in 2017 after being caught in a messy Mexican financial deal while signing Luis Heredia. 
  • 1963 - In the top of the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium, the Bucs left the bases loaded after losing a bang-bang play at first that was close enough to get manager Danny Murtaugh and coach Frank Oceak ejected after heatedly questioning ump Doug Harvey’s eyesight. That set the stage for coach Gene Baker to take the reins for the rest of the game, becoming MLB’s first black manager. It wasn’t an auspicious start, as Baker entrusted Tommy Sisk with a 3-2 ninth inning lead that evaporated four batters later after Willie Davis belted a three-run, walkoff homer. Still, it was just another day at the office for Gene. He was the first rostered black player for the Cubs in 1953, and in 1961 became the first black manager in pro baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia farm club. Baker had four campaigns with the Bucs as a player and was part of the 1960 squad. After coaching/managing at various levels in the organization, he became a long time Pirate scout. 
  • 1969 - LHP Jason Christiansen was born in Omaha. The reliever worked six seasons (1995-2000) for the Pirates with a 14-20-10/4.13 line before being traded to the Cards at the 2000 deadline for SS Jack Wilson. He must have enjoyed working under the lights; after retirement, he became a co-owner and CEO of an LED company. 
Jason Christiansen 1997 Pacific Prism
  • 1969 - OF/1B Ben Shelton was born in Chicago. Shelton was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1987 draft out of high school. He got his only shot at the majors in 1993 with the Bucs and hit .250 (6 hits in 24 AB, including two homers and a double), but that showing wasn’t enough (his minor league lifetime BA was .233). He closed out his pro career in 1995 after playing on the Twins and Red Sox farms. 
  • 1972 - Fueled by a five-run third inning, Pittsburgh clinched the East Division crown with a 6-2 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium; the club won the pennant by 11 games. The Pirates had seven straight batters reach in the third, and the big frame provided plenty of cushion for Steve Blass, who tossed a seven-hit, seven K complete game victory. 
  • 1977 - The Pirates beat the Mets 4-0 at Shea Stadium in a game more appreciated for what didn’t happen rather than the action on the field. Before the game, manager Chuck Tanner received a thinly veiled death threat, a phone caller later asked “What do Bob Moose and Roberto Clemente have in common? They’re both dead,” and Ed Ott was told to stay off the field in another hotel call. NYC had plainclothes cops watch the pair (Tanner came out twice for pitcher meetings, but after the game stayed on the top step of the dugout and off the field; Ott didn’t play because a lefty, Jerry Koosman, was on the hill although he went through the usual pre-game drills, including BP). Nothing ever came of the calls, probably triggered by Ott breaking Felix Millan’s collarbone earlier in the year and Tanner’s defense of the play. As for the game, Bruce Kison got the win and Goose Gossage closed it out with the Bucs chipping away with four runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. In an amusing contrast of wheels, Kison drove in Omar Moreno with a knock into the right-center gap; The Antelope scored all the way from first while Bruce satisfied himself with a one-bagger. 
Matt Alexander (photo via Mainline Autographs)
  • 1978 - The Bucs nipped the Cubs 3-2 in 14 frames at Wrigley Field. Rennie Stennett walked to lead off the 14th and pinch runner Matt Alexander made it happen. As he stole second, C Doug Radar's throw went into center. Alexander bolted for third and was hit in the back by CF Bobby Murcer’s peg‚ which ricocheted away and allowed Matt “The Scat” to score. Ed Whitson got the win and Jim Bibby the save. Cub manager Herman Franks pulled out all the stops to no avail as Chicago tied an NL record by using 27 players (20 position, seven pitching) in the loss.

9/21 From the 1980’s Forward: Bonds 30/50; AJ's 200; Jason's Jets; HBD Zach & Antonio; Game Stories

  • 1985 - LHP Antonio Bastardo was born in Hato Mayor del Rey, Dominican Republic. The mid-inning arm was obtained from the Phillies in December, 2014 for minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez to replace Justin Wilson, who had been traded to the Yankees for C Francisco Cervelli. AB went 4-1-1 w/2.89 ERA in 66 Bucco appearances, a performance he turned into a two year, $12M free agent deal with the NY Mets. Wasn’t for long, tho - he came back to Pittsburgh when the Pirates returned ex-Met hurler Jon Niese at the 2016 deadline, but it was a short-lived homecoming. He was injured, ineffective and released in July, 2017, after nine outings and a 15.00 ERA. 
Antonio Bastardo 2015 Topps
  • 1986 - LHP Zach Phillips was born in Sacramento, California. Phillips came to Bucs from the Orioles in a deal for Kyle Lobstein at the 2016 deadline. He got into eight games with no decisions, giving up two runs on eight hits in 6-2/3 IP. The Pirates didn’t sign tender him after the campaign and he signed with the Cards. He was released by the Birds, and spent the last two seasons pitching in Mexico. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates defeated the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium by a 5-2 count behind the strong pitching of Doug Drabek and Jeff Robinson. Felix Fermin had three hits while Barry Bonds, Chico Lind, Andy Van Slyke and Sid Bream added a pair. It capped a late push toward respectability for the Bucs. The victory finished a stretch of winning 20-of-26 games and after a short bump would close the year by winning 6-of-8. The run at the end didn’t put them in race, but the went from 18 games under .500 on August 23rd (53-71) to a season-ending 80-82 mark. It was an early coming out party for the core (Bonds, Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Drabek) of Jim Leyland’s 1990-92 pennant-winning clubs. 
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds became the first Pirate player (and just the second major leaguer, along with the Reds Eric Davis) in history to hit 30+ homers and steal 50 + bases in the same season when he swiped second against the Cards at TRS in a 1-0 Bucco victory. Zane Smith tossed a five hitter for the win, and Bonds scored the game’s only run in the seventh when he led off with a single and come around on Sid Bream’s double. 
  • 1992 - Bob Walk and Steve Cooke (who went seven innings for the win) combined for a four-hit, 3-0 blanking of the St. Louis Cardinals at TRS. Don Slaught had three hits including a homer as Pittsburgh won for the seventh time in eight games to stretch their lead over the Montreal Expos to seven games. 
Jason Kendall 1998 Pacific Aurora
  • 1998 - The Pirates, playing out the string during a September freefall, were drubbed 8-1 by the Giants at 3 Comm Stadium. Jason Kendall provided the lone bright spot when he swiped his 26th base, breaking the modern stolen base record for NL catchers previously set by John Stearns in 1978. Kendall was quite adept at basepath larceny in his early years; he stole home twice during the ‘98 campaign. Jason swiped 103 bases in his first five campaigns but only 96 more over his last 10 years, slowed by a severe ankle injury in 1999 and later, age caught up as he played until he was 36. 
  • 2013 - AJ Burnett struck out a dozen Cincinnati Reds in seven innings, becoming the first Pirate RHP to whiff over 200 batters in a season with 203 K, as the Bucs took a 4-2 decision at PNC Park. The big blow was a two-run homer by Russ Martin, and the tying and go-ahead runs were set up by Marlon Byrd, who hit a sac fly to drive in Andrew McCutchen and move Justin Morneau to second, where he scored on a two-out knock by Pedro Alvarez. Jason Grilli nailed down the save in his first save since coming off the DL as the Bucs moved ahead of the Redlegs by a game for the home wild card. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates shut out the Brewers, 1-0, behind the pitching of Vance Worley and an RBI single by Russell Martin in the seventh that chased home Andrew McCutchen. Vanimal went eight innings of four-hit ball for the win; Tony Watson tossed the ninth for the save while Wily Peralta took the tough-luck loss. The Bucs jumped 4-1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL wild card race with the win and moved into a tie for home field with the SF Giants.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday: Off Day Notes & Ponders; Chad Has TJ Surgery & Lots More

The Pirates may be off, but there's still some noteworthy stuff going on...

  • The Bucs are 77-74 after winning five straight, 11 of 14, and are 77-74 on the campaign. They have 10 games left (assuming the Marlin rainout won't be played).The weekend ends the home season with three against the Brew Crew, then the year closes out with four matches at Wrigley v the Cubs and three to end the year at GABP v the Reds.
  • The Pirates announced that Chad Kuhl underwent right elbow ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John) surgery in New York yesterday afternoon. Typically pitchers return to Major League competition at an estimated 14-to-16 months.
Ouch! (from @CoolWhhip_11)
  • The Pirates rotation is really stretching out their arms this year, with some career workload highs. Jameson Taillon (30 starts, 170 IP; 2017 - 25 starts, 133-2/3 IP) has been a beast. Trevor Williams (29 starts, 159-2/3IP; 2017 - 25 starts/31 GA, 150-1/3 IP) and Joe Musgrove (19 starts, 115-1/3 IP; 2017 - 15 starts/31 GA, 109-1/3 IP) both added innings at a modest rate. Workhorses Ivan Nova and Chris Archer will actually spin fewer innings this campaign; they both spent a big chunk of time on the DL. Except for Keone Kela, who was injured for part of last season, the bullpen guys are pretty much in good shape with innings.
  • Corey Dickerson has been on a tear in the past two weeks. Though he historically fades in the second half, we wonder if he may have come off the DL before his hammy was completely healed. At any rate, it's good to see him swinging with a little authority again - he has 11 hits, including six doubles, with seven runs and five RBI in the past 10 games.
  • Josh Bell is outdoing Corey over that span - in his last 11 games, J-Bell is 16-of-38 (.421) with five doubles, two homers, nine walks/eight K, eight runs scored and five RBI. 
  • With 19 home runs and 33 stolen bases, Starling Marte is one homer shy of becoming just the third player in team history with at least 20 home runs and 30 steals in the same season. Barry Bonds accomplished the feat four times (1987, 1990-92) and Andy Van Slyke did it twice (1987-88).
Will he stay or will he go? (photo Dan Kubis/Pgh Pirates)
  • One off season wildcard - what will the FO do with Jung Ho Kang? His wrist injury really screwed up his progression back to the show and the Pirates ability to evaluate his value, but he is the only upper level player with the potential to add some immediate pop to the big league lineup. He has a $5.5M option for 2019; it'll be interesting to see if the FO exercises it, tries to work out a less expensive deal, or lets him walk. He's just starting to swing it again in the Instructional League, so the suits won't have much eyeballin' to go on.
  • Jeff Bannister may be skating on thin ice at Texas, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

9/20 Through the 1950’s: Burleigh's Last Spin; Nick No-No; Champion Craws; HBD Vic, Red & Dennis; Game Stories

  • 1907 - In his third big league start, Nick Maddox became the first Pirate pitcher to throw a no-hitter by defeating the Brooklyn Superbas, 2-1, at Exposition Park. At the age of 20 years and 10 months, Maddox was the youngest pitcher and the second rookie to throw a no-hitter. Errors by Maddox and Honus Wagner gave Brooklyn their run; Fred Clarke had both Bucco hits, but neither figured in the scoring as the Pittsburgh runs were also unearned. 
Nick Maddox 1908 (photo Bain/Library of Congress)
  • 1916 - IF Red Juelich was born in St. Louis. Red played four years in the Cards’ minor league system and then got his shot with the Pirates in 1939, where he was a bench 3B/SS, hitting .239 in 17 games. Juelich stayed in the Pirates system at AA for the next three campaigns before dropping off the roster after 1942. Red, btw, was a ginger. 
  • 1922 - LHP Vic Lombardi was born in Reedley, California. He put in three good years with the Dodgers and a workmanlike season with the Bucs in 1948 (10-9/3.70) but went downhill over the next two years to put up a slash line of 15-19/4.56 in Pittsburgh. Branch Rickey offered him a 1951 contract with a 25% cut; Lombardi didn’t take it and that was the end of his MLB career as took his services to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. 
  • 1924 - The Pirates edged Brooklyn‚ 5-4‚ in 11 innings at Ebbets Field to end Dazzy Vance's 15-game winning streak. Pie Traynor singled with two gone in the 11th‚ and Rabbit Maranville lined a ball to center that got past the Robins’ outfielder Eddie Brown, who whiffed on a shoestring effort to glove the ball. Pie came in with the game winner, touching home for the third time during the game. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win. It wasn't quite enough for the Bucs, tho. They cut the front-running Giants' lead to 1-1/2 games, but finished three games off the pace as they followed the win with a four-game losing streak, dropping an extra-inning game to the Bums and being swept in a three-game set by New York. 
  • 1925 - Owner Barney Dreyfuss and the City announced a deal that would allow the Pirates to build temporary bleachers for the World Series at Forbes Field (The location around FF was considered parkland and needed a city ok for any changes in use). The ballyard had just added 10,000 seats in right field before the season and were permitted to add 6,000 more seats at the princely price of $1.10 for the Fall Classic, bringing the field up to a fan capacity of 41,000. 
Burleigh Grimes (photo via Detroit Public Library)
  • 1934 - In a 2-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbet’s Field, Burleigh Grimes made his last appearance, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a whiff. Not only did it mark the end of a 19 year career that led to the Hall of Fame, but also the end of an era. Grimes was the last legal spitballer standing after the pitch had been outlawed starting in 1921. 17 practitioners, including Grimes, were grandfathered into the ruling and allowed to serve a wet one at will. 
  • 1935 - The Pittsburgh Crawfords beat the New York Cubans to win the Negro NL Championship 3-0. Left-handed curveballer Leroy Matlock, who went 18-0 during the regular season, tossed a three-hitter. He was backed by Josh Gibson‚ Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and Oscar Charleston, all future Hall of Famers. The Crawfords won the hard fought seven game series after falling behind three-games-to-one to the Cubans. It was the only undisputed Negro League title won by the Crawfords. 
  • 1941 - RHP Dennis Ribant was born in Detroit. The Pirates got Ribant in 1967 from an overflowing Mets staff in exchange for veteran Don Cardwell, and he got his last real shot joining a rotation with the Pirates, getting the ball 38 times, 22 as a starter. His line was 9-8, 4.08, and he was sent back home by the Bucs at the end of the year, with the Tigers giving up Dave Wickersham. Ribant was converted to reliever, had a couple of so-so seasons with four different clubs and his six-year career ended after 1969. 
  • 1956 - The seventh place Pirates edged Milwaukee 2-1 in 10 innings at Forbes Field. It was a classic spoiler win, as the Braves eventually lost the pennant on the last day of the season by one game to the Dodgers. Bob Friend held the Braves to four hits for the complete game victory.

9/20 from the 1960’s Through the 1970’s: Moose No-No; K-Mark Set; Willie's First; HBD Jay & Rudy; Game Stories

  • 1960 - Bob Friend beat the Phillies 7-1 as the opener of a DH sweep at Connie Mack Stadium, and set a new club record for strikeouts in a season with 179 (he ended the campaign with 183; Bob Veale's 276 in 1965 blew the mark away). The old mark was held by RHP Claude Hendrix with 176, set in 1912. Friend tossed a complete game and fanned six. The nightcap was a 3-2 squeaker; Hal Smith’s eighth-inning solo shot was the game-winner for Clem Labine, who tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Harvey Haddix. Bob Skinner drove home the other tallies with a pair of two-out singles in the third and seventh innings. 
Randy Kramer 1989 Donruss
  • 1960 - RHP Randy Kramer was born in Palo Alto, California. Kramer was drafted by the Rangers in 1982, joining the Bucs in the 1986 off season for P Keff Zaske. He worked four seasons in the majors for the Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners. The righty spent most of his time as a Bucco long man/spot starter from 1988-90, slashing 6-12-2/4.22 in 52 outings. He retired after the 1994 campaign, then coached in the indie leagues, high school & college and scouted for the Blue Jays. 
  • 1962 - Rookie Willie Stargell collected his first hit, a triple that scored Bob Skinner. Young Willie had happy feet and was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park HR. The Bucs rallied in the ninth to take a 4-3 win at Forbes Field against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh scored three times, thanks to a two-out boot by 3B Eddie Kasko that allowed one run to score followed by a two-run, game-winning double by the Tiger, Don Hoak. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates turned four DP against the Giants at Candlestick Park, helping Vern Law to a 6-0 win. The first twin killing set a NL record at 199, and the Bucs ended the year with 215 double plays. Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley both won Gold Gloves that season, with Maz participating in 161 twin killings and Alley in 128. 
  • 1969 - At New York's Shea Stadium, Bob Moose stopped the pennant-bound Mets 4-0 with a no-hitter, just the third in franchise history. He walked three with six whiffs. The only ball hit hard enough to cause concern was a belt by Wayne Garrett in the sixth inning, but the wind held it up and Roberto Clemente took care of the rest, leaping against the wall to reel in the horsehide. Two of the Pirates four runs scored on wild pitches by Gary Gentry as the Bucs only collected six hits themselves. 
Topps 1970 No-Hitter series
  • 1973 - With Richie Zisk on first in the top of the 13th inning at Shea Stadium, Dave Augustine banged a two-out drive to the left field wall. As Cleon Jones turned to watch, the ball grazed the top of the wall, just barely staying in the yard, and it bounced straight into his glove. His relay nailed the speed-challenged Zisk at the plate by 15’. Following the "Ball on the Wall" play, the Mets scored in their half to win 4-3 and moved within half a game of the first place Bucs. As beat writer Charlie Feeney of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette noted “The Pirates, stunned, bewildered, are a sinking...club” as the Bucs were in the midst of losing 4-of-5 and finishing 6-11 down the stretch. NY eventually won the division, the NL title, and took Oakland to a seventh game in the World Series before calling it a season. The Pirates finished 2-½ games behind. 
  • 1974 - The Pirates scored three times in the ninth at TRS to drop the NY Mets 4-3. After keeping the Bucs on ice, Ray Sadecki walked Art Howe and Tug McGraw took over. A wild pitch, whiff and back-to-back singles by Paul Popovich and Rennie Stennett cut the lead to one and left Bucs on the corners. A short passed ball allowed Rennie to get to second, and the Met infield stayed back, willing to concede the tying run. Manny Sanguillen hit a sharp grounder and SS Ted Martinez tried to catch a hustling Stennett steaming toward third but was late; without the passed ball, The Roadrunner’s worm-burner would have been a likely game-ending DP. Al Oliver was intentionally walked to load the bases. Willie Stargell hit a hopper to John Milner at first; he stepped on the bag, eliminating the force at home, and fired to the plate, but Rennie beat the tag. So the Bucs put up a game-winning three-spot on two hits, two walks, and two plays in the field that the Mets probably wish they had back. It was a big win for the Pirates, who won the division that year by a 1-½ game margin over the Cards before the LA Dodgers ended their year in the NLCS. 
Jason Bay 2007 Upper Deck Artifacts
  • 1978 - Jason Bay was born in Trail, British Columbia. In his six years as a Pirate, his line was .268/219/715 and he was an All-Star twice. In 2004, he set the Pirate record for rookie home runs with 26 and was selected the NL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News, the second Pirate player to win the award after 2B Johnny Ray in 1982. Bay was the first Canadian player to win the ROY. He was traded to Boston at the 2008 deadline and played well there through 2009 before signing a monster contract with the Mets. That didn’t work out so well; Jay was hit with a string of rib & concussion-related injuries and he retired before the 2014 campaign. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs lost 2-1 to the Phils at Veterans Stadium, but it could have been worse. Philadelphia C Keith Moreland hit a loud foul up the left field line with two aboard that third base ump Eric Gregg lost in the lights. The story goes that the Philly ball girl went into a dance, thinking it a home run, and seeing that, so did Gregg. Chuck Tanner protested, and the umps got together and made the right call. That set Dallas Green off; he littered the field with equipment after being ejected, and Mike Schmidt added his helmet to the debris. Green also protested the game, but it was all for show; the Phils squeaked it out as the Bucs squandered nine hits, and ended the game when Manny Sanguillen bounced into a DP with one away and runners on the corners. The loss cut the Buccos lead over the Expos to ½ game; Pittsburgh would eventually hold off Montreal by a two game margin.

9/20 from the 1980’s Forward: High on Cocaine; Triple Nyjer; Bonus Wins; HBP Steve; Game Stories

  • 1984 - With a crowd of 33,651 Cub fans at Wrigley Field, Chicago passed the 2M mark in attendance for the first time in its history. But Pittsburgh ruined the big day as the Pirates overcame a 6-2 deficit to rally past the Bruins by a 7-6 score. Jim Morrison was the offensive spark plug, hitting a homer, driving in a pair and scoring a pair to lead a balanced Bucco attack. Lee Smith lost to Kent Tekulve with John Candelaria chipping in with the save. 
Jim Morrison 1984 Donruss
  • 1985 - A federal jury in Pittsburgh convicted Curtis Strong of 11 counts of cocaine distribution after hearing evidence in the “Pittsburgh Coke Trial.” Prominent players who were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony included Dave Parker‚ Lonnie Smith‚ Keith Hernandez and Tim Raines. Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner, pushed through the beginnings of MLB drug testing because of the trial and its stain on MLB. 
  • 1988 - IF Steve Lombardozzi Jr. was born in Fulton, Maryland. Now a six year vet, with a couple of seasons of regular time with the Nats, Lombardozzi was purchased by the Pirates in 2015. The jack-of-all-trades played mostly at AAA Indianapolis, but did see some big league time with the Bucs, going 0-for-10. He got a sip of coffee at Miami in 2017 and spent this season in the Oakland system. Junior is the son of former MLB second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. 
  • 1992 - It was a struggle, but the Bucs finally dispatched Philadelphia by a 3-2 tally after 13 innings at TRS. The Phils scored twice on solo homers while the Bucs cashed in on a pair of sac flies. Jeff King brought home the winner when his single off Keith Shepherd plated Cecil Espy to give Roger Mason, the Pirates sixth pitcher, the win. The Phillies blew a couple of opportunities, going 0-for-8 w/RISP. The Bucs trumped them despite 2B Mickey Morandini's unassisted triple play, the first NL player to pull one off in 65 years. He snagged a line drive off of the bat of King, touched second to force Andy Van Slyke, and tagged out Barry Bonds, who was on the move from first base. 
Roger Mason 1992 Fleer Ultra
  • 2000 - The Pirates scored three times in the 10th inning thanks to long balls by Emil Brown and Adam Hyzdu, then hung on for dear life in a 7-6 win at Veterans Stadium. With two runs in for the Phils, runners on the corners and one away in the the tenth, Mike Williams got 2B Marlon Anderson to bang into a game saving 4-6-3 DP. 
  • 2007 - For the second straight night, Nyjer Morgan led off the game against San Diego with a triple, the first time in five years that feat had been pulled off in the NL. Though he scored both times, the Pirates couldn’t hold either lead and lost 5-3 and 6-3 decisions to the Padres at Petco Park. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs started off on fire when Jose Tabata and Neil Walker led off the game with homers for the fourth time in club history, and the Pirates were cruising along when Francisco Liriano K'ed Chris Heisey in the eighth for his 1,000th strikeout, also setting the team record for K's at 1,193, breaking last year's mark. But the 5-2 lead wasn’t enough to hold off the Cincinnati Reds, who scored three unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a two-out error by Jordy Mercer. Cincy won in the 10th on a wrong-way home run by Joey Votto that just dropped over the fence and a few feet inside the LF pole to stun the Bucs at PNC Park 6-5, tying the teams for second place in the NL Central and the home wildcard spot with eight games left.