Monday, April 30, 2018

Buc Bats Quiet in 3-2 Loss

The Bucs got a Fraze knock and S-Rod walk in the first off Tanner Roark but no damage resulted. Jamo tossed a clean frame, even whiffing Bryce Harper. The Bucco second was a grounder, walk, 6-4-3 DP; been a lot of them going around lately. After a single that Gregory should have tucked away, Fraze threw away a ball he should have eaten trying for a DP (w/o much help on the other end from J-Bell) allowing the runner to get to second, where he scored on a single. In the third, Gregory had a two-out rap, but was caught stealing to end the frame. JT gave up a leadoff double and this time walked Harper intentionally; it worked out as the scoreboard remained unlit. 1-2-3 for the Pirates in the fourth while the Nats banged consecutive one-out knocks. A wild pitch (actually, a missed bunt that Cervy muffed) and two more knocks, one by Roark through a drawn-in infield, made it 3-0 before another DP ended the inning; the 7-8-9-1 hitters did in Taillon this frame.

Jamo's not there yet but getting closer (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

In the fifth, it was a Cervy single, Red Beard DP, Jordy single, and Jameson helping himself with an RBI double. DC went quietly. The Pirates didn't get a ball out of the infield in the sixth. It was calm for Jamo too, with J-Bell digging out another wayward Fraze throw to get the last out. Corey D worked a full count to open the seventh and hammered the eighth pitch over the wall and into the second deck (and was choked up on the bat). JT was done after 101 tosses and Richard Rodriguez got the call, as Michael Feliz tossed 27 pitches yesterday. After a K, the Nats got a single off Jordy's glove. A fly and tag got Trea Turner to second despite a strong throw by Gregory; the Bucs challenged. Jordy missed on the first swipe, which cleanly beat the runner, but Turner came off the base. The judges ruled that Mercer was late on that tag, too. Harper was intentionally walked again and a fly ball turned the page.

Ryan Madson took over in the eighth and worked the frame cleanly. Kyle Crick toed the rubber (not sure why Kontos sat; he's had back-to-back 11-pitch outings; maybe this is an audition day for bullpen roles) and stranded a one-out double. Brandon Kintzler climbed the hill and the Pirates couldn't get a ball out of the infield against him.

Kyle Crick got some back end action tonight (photo Robbie Rogers/Getty)

The Pirates started three guys who finished the game hitting above .250 - Dickerson, Cervelli and Moran. The once deep lineup needs J-Bell and Gregory to wake up. The pitching has gotten much stronger with a couple of starters beginning to get into a rhythm and the rearranged bullpen shaping up, but even during the win streak, it was a big load for the staff to carry. With Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg lined up next, it's not gonna get easier.

Notes:
  • The Pirates had six hits tonight; nobody reached base twice.
  • Jamo's two-bagger was his first career extra base hit (and fourth RBI). He smoked it, sending to the track with 100 MPH exit velo.
  • The Pirates will flip Nick Kingham into Steven Brault's spot in the rotation. Kingham will start Friday against the Brewers while Brault will return to the bullpen.
  • Gift Ngoepe was called up to Toronto from AAA Buffalo.

Pirates-Nats Open, Taillon v Roark & Notes

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. The Nats are in a slump, having lost 7-of-10 as the attack has been banged with Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton on the DL while the Bucs are on a five-game roll.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B; Gregory Polanco RF; Sean Rodriguez CF; J-Bell 1B; Corey Dickerson LF; Fran Cervelli C; Colin Moran 3B; Jordy SS & Jameson Taillon P. Starling gets a day off, his first, and Clint decided not to mess with the lineup, so he plugged S-Rod into Marte's three-hole. And raise your hand if you had Sean as the backup in center...

Jamo looking for a bounce-back game (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Jameson Taillon (2-2, 4.91) opens against RHP Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.77). It's been the penthouse or outhouse for Jamo; he had a 16-inning scoreless streak, but now is coming off a pair of pretty poor performances. So we'll see if he stays in a funk or gets his mojo back tonight. JT is 0-0/3.00 in two career starts against the Nats, once last year and once in 2016. While he didn't get a decision in either outing, the Bucs are 2-0 in those games. Roark has been stingy with hits and strong with walks/K's, but a bit of a long-ball issue has hurt him this year. He spun an eight-inning, five-hit goose egg against the Pirates in 2016 but was treated much less gently last year, giving up nine runs in six IP in his two Pittsburgh outings.

Notes:
  • Nick Kingham will remain on the roster (d'oh) for the road trip, but his role hasn't been determined yet. The team celebrated his debut win yesterday by wheeling him around the locker room in an equipment hamper while showering him with mustard from a squirt container. We suspect he may have preferred a Gatorade shower, but it was cold out...
  • LHP Enny Romero will not be DFA'ed as originally planned but instead placed the 10-day DL with a left shoulder impingement. His agent told the Pirates he was hurt in his last outing, so he got a trip to the DL rather than to the waiver wire. And for the conspiratorial, we don't think this a roster-related ploy; Enny's fastball has dropped from 98 to 95 this year, so it appears he was trying to soldier through a semi-dead arm.
  • MLB.com has a team effort (Daniel Kramer, Manny Randhawa, Matt Kelly and Jaylon Thompson), inspired by Nick Kingham's debut, of great MLB opening acts, some by guys who went on to stardom and others who faded from the scene. 
  • The beat goes on: the latest fan-management head butting involves a fan who was forced to remove his T-Shirt that said "Spend Nutting, Win Nutting." Kinda childish thing to draw a line over, we think.

4/30 TRS-PNC Park Era: King Connects; Bye-Bye Bert; Meares Inked; Mad Dog Cover; Game Stories

  • 1980 - Phil Garner had his first two homer game, good for three RBI, and Bill Robinson added another as the division leading Pirates took a 5-0 victory over the Expos at TRS. Jim Bibby tossed a six-hitter for the win. The long balls were a birthday gift to himself; Scrap Iron turned 31. 
Scrap Iron 1981 Kelloggs
  • 1980 - Pitcher Bert Blyleven left the team and announced that he would retire if he wasn’t traded, citing “the non-support and lack of confidence from his manager,” unhappy that Chuck Tanner wouldn’t let him pitch deeper into games. He did finish out the year, going 8-13/3.88 with 216 IP and was granted his wish when he was sent to the Indians during the off season. 
  • 1984 - Bill Madlock was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Have Bats - Will Hit.” Not quite...Mad Dog tried playing through a sore elbow and eventually had surgery in August to remove bones spurs. He batted just .253 for the campaign. 
  • 1996 - For the second time in his career, Jeff King hit a pair of bombs in the same inning - one a grand slam - to lead the Bucs to a 10-7 win over the Reds. The first baseman joined Andre Dawson and Willie McCovey as the only MLB’ers to have accomplished the feat twice. The Bucs tallied nine times in the fourth frame to spark the victory at Cinergy Field, sending Cincinnati to its eighth straight loss. 
  • 1999 - Pat Meares, 30, was signed to a one year, $1.5M contract by Cam Bonifay. He broke his wrist in spring training (the Pirates misdiagnosed it as a sprain), and a week after he came off the DL was given a four year, $15M extension. He played 240 games for the Pirates and 2001 was his last season, reaching a settlement that paid him for 2002-03 without him playing. 
Dave Williams 2001 Bowman
  • 2002 - Buc starter Dave Williams turned hog wild when he hit two batters and committed two balks in the fourth inning of a 10-0 thumping by the Rox at Coor Field. The Bucs mustered just three hits against Mike Hampton; the Rockies banged out 13 knocks, including a pair of homers. 
  • 2008 - Pirate RF’er Xavier Nady went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks while driving in three runs during a 13-1 rout of the Mets in New York. Nady’s three RBI increased his total to 26 for the month of April. That was tops in the NL at the time, and the most for a Pirate in the season’s first month since Willie Stargell’s 27 in 1971.

4/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Pud's Zippo; Rabbit Hops; Hans Statue; Alleghenys Open; Game Stories; HBD Scrap Iron, Ray, Tony & Jeff

  • 1877 - Jim “Pud” Galvin of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys tossed the International Association’s first shutout‚ defeating Columbus 2-0 at Union (Recreation) Park. The IA disbanded after the season. He tossed for 15 years, was MLB's first 300-game winner (he won 365 games) and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965. 
Pud Galvin 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1887 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first NL game, defeating the defending champion Chicago White Stockings 6-2 behind Pud Galvin in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Recreation Park. In pre-game ceremonies, Fred Carroll’s beloved pet monkey (the chimp was also the team mascot), which had passed on to simian heaven, was buried beneath home plate. The team wouldn't become the Pirates until 1891, after they "pirated" the services of second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  • 1891 - C Tony Brottem was born in Halstad, Minnesota. He mad a couple of short visits to MLB baseball, getting into 62 games in three seasons, mostly as a Bucco in 1921, hitting .242 in 30 games. He had a long minor league career covering a dozen campaigns. His career had a sad ending; he tried a comeback in 1929 and was cut after 60 Class B games. Depressed, the 37-year-old committed suicide. 
  • 1924 - At Cubs Park, Rabbit Maranville lined a triple in the 14th inning and then stole home to beat Chicago‚ 2-1. Johnny Morrison was the winner over Elmer Jacobs as both pitchers went the distance. The Pirates had 12 hits, led by Max Carey’s three, but shot themselves in the foot via four DPs during the day. 
Rabbit Maranville 1924 (photo Conlon Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1938 - 3B Bill Brubaker set a modern MLB record by committing four errors (he also was picked off second) in a 2-0 loss to Ray “Peaches” Davis and the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field. Bill’s boots didn’t contribute to the loss; both Red runs (one off Russ Bauer and the other off Mace Brown) were earned. The outing was played in front of 10,000 fans, of which 6,300 were knotholers who got in gratis. It was an overdue victory for the Redlegs; it snapped a 20-game win streak against them by the Buccos. 
  • 1945 - Ray Miller was born in Takoma Park, Maryland. He spent ten years as the Pirates pitching coach (1987–96) under Jim Leyland, replacing Ron Schueler, and worked with Cy Young winner Doug Drabek. Miller also managed for Minnesota and Baltimore and tutored Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone while with the Os. 
  • 1949 - Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He spent five years (1977-81) with the Pirates, playing second base for the 1979 World Series club. Scrap Iron hit .267 and stole 112 bases while a Bucco. After his playing career, Garner managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. 
  • 1955 - A statue of Honus Wagner, created by Frank Vittor and paid for from donations, was unveiled outside the left field gates at Forbes Field. It’s been moved twice: first to TRS, then to PNC Park where his likeness greets fans at the main gate. 
Honus at PNC Park (photo Amy Posner)
  • 1960 - Pittsburgh scored ten times in the second inning against the Reds at Crosley Field on the way to a 12-7 win, their eighth victory in a row. Roberto Clemente, Billy Maz (who was 4-for-5) and Dick Stuart each drove home three RBI.
  • 1964 - Utility man Jeff Reboulet was born in Dayton, Ohio. Jeff had a 12-year MLB career as a jack-of-all-trades, playing every position on the diamond except pitcher. He closed out his big league run with Pittsburgh in 2003 as a backup infielder, batting .241, just about his lifetime average (.240). After living on a bench-warmers pay during his baseball days, Jeff turned that experience into his second career - when he retired, Reboulet co-founded Horizon Wealth Management and became a financial advisor. 
  • 1967 - Juan Pizarro struck out eight batters and tossed a four-hit shutout in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Jerry May knocked in both of Pittsburgh’s runs with a run-scoring single in the second inning and a solo home run in the fifth frame.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Kingham Brilliant, Diaz Stays Hot As Bucs Sweep Redbirds 5-0

Nick Kingham, 26, and Luke Weaver, 24, are out to to show the kids are alright; they both tossed clean openers. In the second. Nick fanned the side while the Bucs wasted a walk and a knock by Corey D and Red Beard. It was another quiet frame in the third for the Cards while Pittsburgh left Fraze at first. The fourth was another 1-2-3 for Nick, who now has six whiffs; the Pirates stranded a two-out Eli single. No Redbirds or Buccos reached base in the fifth. Add a couple of more swinging K jobs to Nick's line in the sixth; his slider is criminal today. Starling singled with an out and a bloop by J-Bell put Buccos at the corners. A walk to Corey D juiced the sacks and Eli's single to right plated a pair to break the deadlock. Jordan Hicks was waved in but the party continued with a Moran RBI knock into center. Eli was out #2 on the contact play, third base to home. Nick walked to load 'em again and Fraze used his puppies for another RBI, taking a slider off the foot to make it 4-0. Gregory made the last out on a 110 MPH bullet to second.

Nick dazzled 'em (photo via MLB.com)

S-Rod took over at second; whether for D or because Fraze's foot is achy is TBD. After a long but fruitful wait between innings, Nick got the first two outs before Paul DeJong gently bounced a slider through the left side. Kingham got the third out and called it a day, going seven scoreless with one hit and nine K after 98 pitches; if he wanted to leave a good first impression, consider it done. Luke Gregerson put away the Pirates and Michael Feliz worked the eighth. He gave up a single to Yadier Molina, who was doubled off first base an out later by Starling, after taking off on a routine fly. The Cards have, tbh, played fundamentally like a little league team this series. Greg Holland came in and was greeted by an Eli rap. He then gave up back-to-back knocks to Jordy and Freeser with an out to run it to 5-0. Edgar Santana took the bump in the ninth. He gave up a double and walk but no runs. RTJR!

Eli hot as a pistol in April (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It's sure been a turnaround. Nick was dazzling, Eli continues to rake, the Bucs played fundamentally solid ball again (unlike the storied masters of the book, the Cards) and have been rewarded with a five game winning streak and relevance in the NL Central. Heck, who knows what they're capable of once baseball weather arrives.

Notes:
  • Per @joe_block, Nick Kingham is the first #MLB pitcher in his debut to pitch seven+ innings without allowing a runner to reach second. He also retired the first 20 batters he faced today in his opening game, and per @EliasSports, that's the longest run by a player in his first outing during the Expansion Era (since 1961).
  • Lost a bit in the Kingham hubbub is Eli's start - he had three more hits and is batting .484. Red beard also added a pair of knocks today
  • 17 wins is the most for a Bucco team during March/April.  
  • 14,738 paid to watch Nick's performance today. And lots more heard about it thanks to Doc Emrick, who mentioned Kingham's outing during the national TV broadcast of the Penguin-Caps game.

Bucs-Cards Close Homestand, Kingham v Weaver & Notes - Enny DFA'ed, Fifth Starter Options

Today: The game is at 1:35 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. It's a Sunday Kids Day and all fans 14-and-under get a mini-bat.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Elias Diaz C, Colin Moran 3B, Jordy SS & Nick Kingham P. Pretty much the A-Team with Eli spelling Cervy for the day-after-night game (never a given with Clint).

Nick takes his first MLB bow today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Nick Kingham (0-0, 0.00) v RHP Luke Weaver (2-1, 4.85) battle to close out the set. Nick, 26, was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft and is making his MLB debut after fighting his way through 2015 TJ surgery. His spring camp showing was up-and-down, but he's been solid at Indy, already earning a Pitcher-of-the-Week award from the International League. A good outing here could earn him consideration for a couple of more starts as Steven Brault's turn in the spotlight is not going so well and Joe Musgrove is just beginning his rehab stint. Weaver was a first round draft pick out of HS in 2011 and debuted in 2016. He had a solid 2017 campaign after joining the rotation at the deadline in lieu of any Bird deals, and started off this year en fuego, but has returned to earth in his last couple of starts. Weaver features a bread-and-butter change to go with a four-seamer and hook. He's 1-0/1.54 in three outings against the Pirates, but with some LOB luck involved as he also has a 1.371 WHIP. His 10 K/per nine has done a lot to offset those runners.

Notes:
  • LHP Enny Romero was DFA'ed to clear a 25-man space for Nick Kingham.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Amore became the seventh Pirate with 20 or more RBI before the end of April. The others (by year) are Xavier Nady (26) and Nate McLouth (25) in 2008, Brian Giles w/20 in 2000, Jeff King plated 23 in 1996, Bobby Bonilla had 21 in 1990 and Willie Stargell set the club record with 27 in 1971.
Cervy is sizzlin' in April (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Willy stays on regular rest against the Nats in the next series, bypassing Steven Brault. With two off days, the Bucs can: go to a four-man rotation, pitch Brault with extra time off, or plug Kingham into the fifth starter role while awaiting Joe Musgrove. Musgrove will begin his rehab assignment with a three-inning start Tuesday for Bradenton. He's expected to make three or four outings before he's stretched out for six innings and ready to to rejoin the big team. Stay tuned; still lots of moving pieces.
  • Starling Marte & Josh Bell have played in all 27 Bucco matches. Everyone else has had at least two sit-down days.
  • The Pirates have homered in a season-high seven straight games.
  • Jack Flaherty, yesterday's Card starter, was optioned back to the minors today. St Louis called up LHP Austin Gomber to bolster their pen, which had been put through the wringer in the first two games thanks to Mike Matheny's match-up love. 
  • After the game, the Pirates leave for Washington and the start of a 10-day, nine-game road jaunt. After playing four games in DC, the trip continues with three games in Milwaukee and ends with two against the White Sox.

4/29 TRS-PNC Park Era: Sweep, Sacs, Maddux; Wilson No-No; HBD Steven & Tony Jr.

  • 1978 - RHP Tony Armas Jr. was born in Puerto Piritu, Venezuela. Tony worked 10 big league campaigns as a journeyman starter and spent 2007 as a Pirate (4-5, 6.03) after inking a $3.5M deal. It proved to be his final full MLB season as the Bucs didn't pick up his 2008 option and the Mets released him the following year after one outing. Junior was the son of All-Star OF Tony Armas who had been a hot Bucco prospect but was traded to the A’s after a cup of coffee in Pittsburgh as part of the Phil Garner deal. 
Tony Armas Jr 2007 Topps Update
  • 1990 - The Bucs swept San Diego 10-1 behind a four homer barrage at Jack Murphy Stadium. Barry Bonds and Jay Bell hit three-run bombs, Bobby Bonilla banged a two-run blast, and Don Slaught added a solo shot to grease an easy outing for Doug Drabek. It was the Pirates sixth consecutive win. 
  • 1992 - LHP Steven Brault was born in La Mesa, California. Drafted by the Orioles in 2013, he was sent to the Pirates as part of the Travis Snider deal. The lefty moved through the system quickly and in July of 2016 made his MLB debut. He slashed 0-3, 4.86 but was in the running for a back-end rotation spot in 2017 camp, where he pitched well but lost out to Tyler Glasnow and was returned to Indy. He returned later in the year (1-0/4.67) and broke camp with the Bucs in 2018 as a long man and spot starter. 
  • 2000 - For the purists and the believers in productive outs, this was a game for you - the Pirates and Reds tied the MLB record in Cincinnati's 6-5 victory at TRS by hitting five sacrifice flies (the Redlegs also dropped a pair of successful bunts). Neither club was very clutch other than cranking out flies - the two teams combined to go 1-for-19 w/RISP during the game. Pat Meares and Warren Morris both homered in the losing effort, triggered when Cincy overcame an early Bucco lead by scoring five times in the seventh and eighth innings (with two of the runs plating on sac flies). 
Justin Wilson 2013 Topps
  • 2012 - Pitching for the AAA Indianapolis Indians against the Durham Bulls, Justin Wilson tossed the first 7-1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter (two walks, nine K, 107 pitches), completed by Jose “Jumbo” Diaz and Doug Slaten. He worked his first Bucco game on August 20th and also tossed for the Yankees, Tigers and now the Cubs after being converted to the pen. 
  • 2017 - Ivan Nova tossed a 95-pitch, complete-game shutout against Miami at Marlins Park, winning 4-0. His "Maddux" (a complete game shutout using fewer than 100 pitches) was the first for a Bucco since Jeff Karstens tossed one on July 15th, 2011 against the Astros. Another factoid on the strike-throwing righty: In his 16 starts to date with the Pirates, Nova has more complete games (five) than walks (four). The 95 pitches approached his Bucco high; despite the five CGs, he hadn’t yet hit the 100-pitch mark as a Pirate. For the rest of the club, it was their third straight win. John Jaso homered, but the big frame was the sixth when Fish hurlers walked four straight batters (two of them battling back from 0-2 counts) to force in a pair of runs.

4/29 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Greenlee Park, Rally Time; First Sunday Game; HBD John, Phil, Lefty & Frank

  • 1860 - RHP Frank (Hengstebeck) Beck was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. Franks had five MLB outings in 1884, three with the Alleghenys . All three starts were complete-game losses as he put up a 6.12 ERA, although he did have better luck as a part-time outfielder, going 4-for-12. He finished up with two more losses with the Union Association’s Baltimore Monumentals to end his big league stay. He returned to baseball’s independent leagues, where he started from, and his trail dies off after his 1887 campaign with Ionia of the Northern Michigan League. 
  • 1896 - LHP Ralph “Lefty” Mellix was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mellix’s family moved to Pittsburgh when he was a child and the Peabody HS grad became a semi-pro legend (he kept a day job at Westinghouse and later with the City), tossing briefly for the Homestead Grays in 1935 and part of a Gus Greenlee touring team in the 40’s. Lefty played for local and regional clubs too numerous to mention, often as a rental headliner, but his regular home was in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop, as he pitched and managed for the Beltzhoover Black Sox (later the 18th Warders), based out of McKinley Park. His playing days covered 1917-57, earning him the title of “The Granddaddy of the Sandlots.” Though records are scarce, it’s said that he was on the bump for 1500+ games and claimed nine no-hitters. After Mellix retired, the Pirates recognized him by giving him a lifetime pass and he become a historian of sorts as a dispenser of local black baseball lore. 
Rollie Hemsley (photo via Retro Images Archive)
  • 1930 - Rollie Hemsley, George Grantham, and Charlie Engle combined for 11 hits and 12 RBI to lead the Pirates to a 13-9 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs rallied from a 7-1 deficit with a seven run sixth inning and never looked back. Ralph Erickson got the win (his only MLB victory) in relief of Ray Kremer with a save going to Steve Swetonic. Pittsburgh and Chicago were just holding up their end in a day of MLB fireworks - in the seven games played on this date, an average of 17+ runs a game were scored. 
  • 1932 - Greenlee Field in the Hill, home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, opened in front of 4,000 fans. Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were the battery as the Pittsburgh Crawfords lost the opener to the New York Black Yankees 1-0 in a pitching duel with Jesse "Mountain" Hubbard. Paige struck out 10 and allowed six hits, but Hubbard was better, surrendering just three knocks. The Allegheny County commissioners, Pittsburgh's mayor, and the city councilmen caught the opener from the field boxes. It was the first ballfield built specifically for a black team, erected by team owner Gus Greenlee. When finished, the grounds would seat 7,500, with lights added in 1933. It was demolished in 1939 to create space for the Bedford Dwellings. 
  • 1934 - Red Lucas won Pittsburgh’s first Sunday home game as the Pirates beat Cincinnati 9-5 at Forbes Field, backed by Gus Suhr’s three hits and four RBI. Both Suhr and Paul Waner, who also had three knocks, homered. Because of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, Pittsburgh was the last major league city to play a home game on a Sunday after local referendums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia approved Sunday ballgames in the 1933 November elections. 
Gus Suhr 1934 Batter Up
  • 1938 - Pittsburgh sportswriter Phil Musick was born; he was raised in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh. He began locally at the Greensburg Tribune-Review as sports editor. He joined The Pittsburgh Press in 1969 and later moved across the street to the Post Gazette, covering the Pirates and Steelers in his columns (“Stop the Musick,” usually filled with musings under “Things I think I think...”). He later was the first sports columnist at USA Today before returning to the Press. He left the paper in 1987 and hosted a talk show on WTAE-Radio while teaching journalism at LaRoche College. He also had a handful of books and national freelance articles on his resume before passing away in 2010. 
  • 1959 - The Giants jumped ahead of the Pirates and Ronnie Kline 2-0 at Forbes Field early on and the lead held up until the Bucs counter punched in the seventh. Roberto Clemente opened with a triple, Smokey Burgess followed with a double, and Dick Stuart’s single tied the score. A double play dampened the festivities a bit, but Bill Mazeroski put the cherry on top by homering off Johnny Antonelli to give Pittsburgh the lead. Kline, who fanned nine Golden Gaters, cruised to the finish line, retiring the last eight G-Men as Pittsburgh went on to take a 3-2 win. 
John Vander Wal 2001 Topps Heritage
  • 1966 - OF/1B John Vander Wal was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played for the Bucs in 200-01 and in 232 games hit .290 w/35 HR and 144 RBI. The Pirates traded him at the 2001 deadline with Jason Schmidt to the Giants for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios in one of GM Dave Littlefield’s early deals after replacing Cam Bonifay in mid-July. In his career, Vander Wal banged 129 pinch hits off the pine and holds the single-season record for pinch hits with 28 with the Rox in 1995.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bucs Roll to 6-2 Win; Eye Sweep Tomorrow Afternoon

Willy tossed a quiet first; Jack Flaherty gave up an opening knock to Fraze, who was erased an out later on a Starling around-the-horn DP. The Cards were 1-2-3 again in the second. J-Bell walked and Corey D hit into another DP; too bad as Amore followed with a homer. A single, bunt and two-out Tommy Pham double knotted it in the third; the Bucs wasted another Fraze knock. The Redbirds went down w/o a peep in the fourth, and guess what - Starling led off with a single and J-Bell hit into a DP to kill another frame. St. Louis drew a walk in the fifth; he died at second. Red Beard also drew a free pass that turned the order over. A double/single combo by St. Louis (Marcell Ozuna worked a nine-pitch at bat before chasing home the run) put the Redbirds ahead in the sixth.

Willy keeps on winning (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

Fraze walked to open for the Buccos, then Gregory did the same. Dominic Leone replaced him and almost got a DP, but Starling beat out the relay for a force, leaving Bucs on the corners. J-Bell knocked home one run and made it to second after a Pham bobble. Corey D was walked intentionally to juice the sacks before Cervy lifted a sac fly to give the Pirates the lead. Willy gave up two runs in six innings on four hits with two walks, two whiffs and 104 pitches, leaving the seventh to Michael Feliz. He gave up a leadoff knock and almost a second, but Moran made a nice stop to get an out at first, with Feliz cruising after that save.

Luke Gregerson came in and gave up a Jordy double and walk; Matheny waved in Tyler Lyons, and Clint flipped Fraze for Freeser. A passed ball moved the runners up 90' and Freeser, who worked from 0-2 to a full count, poked a fly into right to plate an insurance run. Gregory was plunked to put Pirates at first and third and that brought on Mike Mayers. Starling legged out an infield hit to load 'em; S-Rod's fake break off third may have helped the cause. J-Bell K'ed on a foul tip of ball four. Corey D softened the blow with an excuse-me ma'am dink over third to add another point. It wasn't exactly a Lumber Company frame, but the BABIP gods gotta give a dog a belly rub every so often.

Fraze had two knocks and a walk tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

George Kontos got two outs in the eighth before Jordy booted a grounder, but no blood was shed. Moran walked and Mad Max singled and it was worth a run when the Card's kicked Gregory's grounder, allowing Red Beard to score. And we're glad for that extra tally - Clint had Felipe Rivero warming up for what would have been his fourth straight outing, but with the immediate save opp by the boards, Edgar Santana took over. 10 pitches later, it was time to RTJR.

From the outhouse to the penthouse in four games; tough to tell what Bucs will show up. When they play with discipline at bat (they drew seven walks tonight) and in the field, they're a pretty nice club. And it sure is sweet to go into that third game of a set looking for a sweep instead of wrestling for the series.

Notes:
  • Fraze and Marte had two hits; Cervy now has four HR/20 RBI in 22 games. In 2017, he had five homers and 31 runs chased home in 81 matches.
  • Clint won his 600th game as Bucco skipper tonight.
  • 18,568 was tonight’s paid attendance, kinda dismal for a fireworks night but then again wintry pyrotechnics isn't usually a thing.
  • AJ Schugel made his fifth overall rehab appearance yesterday; he struck out two of the three batters he faced in his third outing with AAA Indianapolis.

Williams v Flaherty & Notes on Fireworks Night

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will be on AT&T Sportsnet and 93.7 The Fan. It's slated to be a Zambelli Fireworks Night; it's supposed to be dry but cloudy, with temps in the mid-40s.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Fran Cervelli C, Colin Moran 3B, Jordy SS & Trevor Williams P. The A-Team lineup worked last night, albeit after a slow start, so here it is again.

Fraze sticks at leadoff (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (3-1, 2.15) v RHP Jack Flaherty (0-0, 1.80). Willy has been consistently good so far, getting into the sixth inning of every start and not allowing more than two runs in any outing. His only soft spot is command; he throws a lot of pitches (15 walks in 29-1/3 IP) and while he gets to the sixth, he's usually sitting out the seventh. Trevor hasn't had much luck v the Redbirds with a line of 1-2/8.15 ERA in six career appearances (three starts). He was 0-2/8.78 last year in three starts. Flaherty got a start earlier in the year when Adam Wainwright was on the DL; Waino is on it again and Flaherty is his replacement again. He features a heater/slider combo and is part of the pipeline of good young pitching in the Cards system.

Notes:
  • Tyler Glasnow has 11 whiffs in his last two outings covering 6-2/3 IP.
  • J-Hay is starting to take infield again, with a catcher's mitt hybrid rather than a regular infielder's glove.
  • The Pirates are 15-11 record. They've won 16 games by the end of April just once, when the 1988 team posted a 16-6 mark.
  • Last night's rally was Pittsburgh’s first five-run comeback since beating the Brewers, 7-6 in 11 innings, at PNC Park on September 13th, 2015.
  • The Pirates are 6-2 against their own division this season after finishing 33-43 v NL Central foes last year.
  • Clint is one win shy of becoming the fifth manager in club history to record 600 victories,joining Fred Clarke (1422), Danny Murtaugh (1115), Jim Leyland (851) and Chuck Tanner (711).He has 1,133 big league wins in his career, fifth among active skippers.
Joe's a busy man lately (photo via MLB.com)
  • Joe Musgrove threw out the first pitch today - of the Brookline Baseball Association, to help them celebrate Opening Day for Little League. He's scheduled to make his first three-inning rehab start with High-A Bradenton on Tuesday.

4/28 TRS-PNC Park Era: Game Stories;HBD Freeser, Yoslan, Romulo & Danny

  • 1981 - RHP Yoslan Herrera was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. Yoslan defected from Cuba in 2005 and the Bucs signed him in 2006. After a solid minor league resume, he was called up to Pittsburgh in 2008, where he went 1-1/5.81 in five starts as a 27-year-old. He had a good year in the minors in 2009, but was released and picked up by the Twins, who also cut him. He was out of pro ball for a couple of years, came back pitching for an indie team and had a last hurrah with the Angels, going 1-1/2.70 in 20 games. He asked for a release to pitch in Japan, tossed there for a year, and that marked the end of his pro career. 
Yoslan Herrera (photo Doug Pensinger/Getty)
  • 1983 - 3B David Freese was born in Corpus Christi. He began his career in St Louis and had a dream postseason in 2011, winning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors along with the Babe Ruth Award. Freese was traded to the Angels in 2014 and signed a one-year FA contract with the Pirates worth $3M in March of 2016 to fill the dance card while Jung Ho Kang recuperated from leg injuries suffered the season before. Freeser held up his end, hitting .270 w/13 HR and the Pirates inked him to a two-year agreement during the season with a guaranteed $11M/team option year that put him under team control through 2019. That deal proved a godsend after Kang was picked up for DUI during the winter. He held a starter’s job in 2017 (.263/10 HR) and was bumped to the bench in 2018 by Colin Moran. 
  • 1984 - RHP Romulo Sanchez was born in Carora, Venezuela. He spent two years with the Pirates in 2007-08, going 1-0-1/4.60 in 26 outings. He finished with the Yankees in 2010, then tossed in Japan and China. He worked a year in Mexico and has been pitching in the Venezuelan League since 2013. 
  • 1986 - LHP Danny Moskos was born in Greenville, South Carolina. He was the fourth overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Pirates out of Clemson. GM Dave Littlefield announced that they projected Moskos as a closer, raising a storm of criticism from the fans and media who were anticipating Josh Vitters (who was taken one pick ahead of Moskos and fizzled) Matt Wieters (who signed for $6M and thus fit into the “too-cheap Pirates” narrative, taken the round after Moskos), or perhaps Jason Heyward (who was the 14th pick) to be the selection. Moskos was signed by scout Greg Schilz to a $2.475M deal, but ended up a bust. He tossed for part of the 2011 season for the Bucs in his only MLB campaign, going 1-1, 2.96 but with serious control issues. He’s pitched indie ball and in the Mexican Winter League last year and is a free agent now. 
Daniel Moskos 2011 Topps Update
  • 2010 - The Pirates defeated the Brewers for the second consecutive game to take the series at Miller Field with a 6-5, 14-inning victory. The Bucs tied the game in the ninth on a Ryan Doumit homer off Trevor Hoffman (the second straight game that Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, had blown a save against the Bucs) and went ahead in the 10th on a Cutch long ball. The Brew Crew came back to tie it off Octavio Dotel, who left the bases full of Brewers before escaping the frame. Garrett Jones doubled home Akinori Iwamura with two down in the 14th while DJ Carrasco worked three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief for the win. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates beat St. Louis 9-0 behind rookie Jeff Locke’s seven-inning, three-hit performance at Busch Stadium to take the division lead. C Russell Martin had three hits - a pair of homers and a double - while RF Garrett Jones also had three knocks including a HR and two-bagger. The victory was also Clint Hurdle’s 700th win as a big league manager. The Bucs turned the corner during this campaign, finishing with their first winning season since 1992 (and what a monkey-on-the-back that losing streak was!), coming in second place in the NL Central with 94 wins and advancing to the NLDS where they lost in five games to the Cards. 
Jeff Locke (photo Grant Jeffries/Bradenton Herald)
  • 2017 - Pittsburgh reeled in the Fish 12-2 at Marlins Park, sparked by an eight-run second inning that saw eight straight Bucs reach base after two outs. Winning pitcher Jameson Taillon struck out with the bases loaded twice to bracket that run, saving Miami further embarrassment. The attack was led by a pair of rookies who had started the campaign at Indy, OF Jose Osuna and 2B Gift Ngoepe. Jose went 4-for-5 with a free pass; Gift collected three knocks and walked twice as the pair reached base safely 10 times in 11 appearances. Ngoepe became the first Pirate since Eddie Moore in 1923 to reach base five times in his first MLB start. The contest also was first time since August of 2013 that the Pirates hit three triples (Fran Cervelli, Ngoepe and Alen Hanson) in a game; Jordy Mercer added a long ball.

4/28 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Game Stories; HBD Nashville Narcissus, Tom, Pedro, Walt & Mark

  • 1875 - RHP Walt Woods was born in Rye, New Hampshire. After playing for Chicago and Louisville (he tossed their final MLB game), he came to Pittsburgh in 1900, got into one game and was hammered. He was strictly pitch-to-contact (1.07/K per nine innings!), depending on guile, and was a back-end rotation guy who saw his MLB days end when the league contracted in 1901, putting a lot of hurlers out of work. While he was primarily a pitcher, he also appeared at second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions, although with a lifetime .206 BA, he never threatened anyone’s job in the field. He did enjoy a long career in minor league baseball, playing from 1895-1914. He retired to become a grocer and later a mailman. 
Red Lucas 1936 National Chickle
  • 1902 - RHP Red Lucas, The Nashville Narcissus (his nickname was penned by Colonel Bob Newhall, a reporter for the old Cincinnati Tribune, when Red was a fast flowering player with the Redlegs, per SABR’s Allen Quimby) was born in Tennessee. The righty spent the last five years of his career (1934-38) with Pittsburgh after coming over in a deal with the Reds. He put up a 47-32/3.73 line for the Bucs. Lucas was also a good stickman; he pinch hit in more games as a Pirate than he pitched, though his .238 BA was well below the .300 average he carried with Cincy. Oh, and he remembered well the team that traded him - he was 14-0 against the Reds during his Pirate stint. 
  • 1924 - Bucco rookie SS Glenn Wright hit his first homer off Vic Keen in a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. Wright was better known for his mitt than his thunder; he set a MLB record during the season with 601 assists, a mark that lasted until 1980, when Ozzie Smith had 621 Astroturf assists. “Buckshot” was the Pirate SS until 1928 when he was traded to Brooklyn Robins. He hit .298 during his Pirates tenure. 
  • 1930 - RHP Tom Sturdivant was born in Gordon, Kansas. Nicknamed “Snake” because of his nasty curve, he was an outstanding pitcher for the Yankees until he suffered a rotator cuff injury in 1958 that threw up a speed bump on his promising career: after posting 16 wins in 1957, he never again reached double-figures in season victories. He persevered as a seven-team journeyman, not leaving baseball until after the 1964 season. Snake hurled for the Bucs from 1961-63 with a 14-7-3/3.49 slash. 
Tom Sturdivant 1962 Topps
  • 1935 - RHP Pedro Ramos was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. A 15-year vet, the Pirates signed him at the tail end of his career in 1969 as a 34-year-old. He made five appearances, put up a 6.00 ERA and was released. He finished the year with the Reds, the after a couple of 1970 outings with the Senators was released in late April, ending his MLB days. Pete was an All-Star once and had a great run as closer for the Yankees in 1964; he also led the AL in losses four times. 
  • 1960 - OF Mark Ryal was born in Henryetta,Oklahoma. He spent six years in the show with five clubs, getting 100 at bats just once, and closed out his career as a Pirate in 1990, going 1-for-12 in nine games as a late season call-up from AAA Buffalo. Ryal went on to spend two more seasons in Japan before hanging up the spikes. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates scored one run in each of the final five innings of regulation and added four more in 10th to outlast the Cubs at Wrigley Field 9-6. The tying run scored with two out in the ninth. Roberto Clemente fell behind Ted Abernathy 0-2, worked the count full and drew a walk after fouling off eight straight pitches. He then came around on Willie Stargell’s double. The Bucco 10th was highlighted by a delayed double steal, with Clemente swiping second and Manny Mota home. 
Manny Sanguillen 1969 Topps
  • 1970 - The Bucs 6-1 victory at Forbes Field ended Chicago’s 11-game winning streak. Luke Walker, Bruce Dal Canton and Dave Giusti combined for a three-hitter while Manny Sanguillen hit a pair of homers and had three RBI. Gene Alley, known more for his leather than wood, went 3-for-4.

Friday, April 27, 2018

HBD Phil: Late Buc Rally, Air-Tight Bullpen Earn Pirates a 6-5 Victory in 11 Frames

Steven Brault and Miles Mikolas traded clean first innings. The Cards went down quietly in the second, and the Bucs blew a golden opportunity. With an out, Corey D and Cervy singled, then Colin Moran got plunked. Jordy had one job with Brault on deck and couldn't do it, popping out. The Redbirds then jumped on Brault in the third - a homer, double, single and two walks led to three runs, and the Bucs  responded with nada. An error, walk, wild pitch and sac fly gave St. Louis another run while the Pirates got a Cervy single. In the fifth, a double/single combo made it 5-0 and Kyle Crick came on to close the inning. Pittsburgh went down quietly again. Tyler Glasnow took over in the sixth and gave up a knock and walked the pitcher, but a caught stealing helped him put up a zippo. The Buccos dented the board on a Gregory dingeroff a changeup and back-to-back knocks by Starling & J-Bell, followed by a Corey D sac fly. Tyler gave up a double in the seventh that led to no damage, and the Pirates went down in order. Glasnow had himself an inning in the eighth, striking out the side with some nasty cutter action on his heater. Bud Norris came on and gave up a rap to Gregory but nothing else.

Phil Coyne was the only bright spot early in the game (photo MLB.com)

Richard Rodriguez tossed a 1-2-3 ninth with two K. Greg Holland took the ball and gave up a double to Corey D and Cervy single to put Buccos on the corners. The Bucs caught a break when Colin Moran's grounder to first was booted, plating a run and leaving Pirates at first and third. The wheels were turning as Cool Chad ran for Red Beard, and he got his day's running in after Jordy banged a game-tying double. He got to third on the play when Tommy Pham had trouble corralling the ball. Dominic Leone was hastily waved in and got Max Moroff on a short fly to center. Freeser was walked intentionally and lefty Tyler Lyons was called in to face Gregory. Lyons won that bout easily; Polanco struck out without seeing a strike in a wasted at-bat. Matt Bowman joined the posse, called on to face Starling. He struck out chasing first a ball in the dirt, fouling off a couple, and then fishing for a slider that was in a different zip code. The Cards got two big whiffs on nine pitches, two of which were strikes.

Jordy had several shots at being the hero and came through in the 9th
(photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Felipe Vazquez got the 10th and tossed a clean frame. Bowman walked Amore with two outs and moved him to second with a wild pitch. Eli grabbed a bat - he's the last bench player - and worked a walk. Jordy ran the count full but was out of heroics, swinging through a slider. George Kontos tossed the 11th; after a one-out walk, he got a gift Gregory-to-J-Bell DP when pinch runner Harrison Baden took off on a liner that was easily hauled in by El Coffee. Jordan Hicks answered the phone. With an out, he walked Freeser and wild-pitched him 90' further. A grounder moved him to third, Starling was up again and again bit on a two-strike slider off the dish, but this one was within the bat's reach and he dropped it into center to cue a Marte Partay and more importantly, RTJR.

Give the boys credit - they got another shaky start from Steven Brault (Nick Kingham may be auditioning for a couple of extra turns on Sunday) and left ducks on the pond, but they came through in the end. The Cards came into town on a roll, so this is a key start to the series, especially with the NL Central tighter than a constrictor's coil as the top four teams are within a game of one another (sorry, Reds). And finally, happy birthday, Phil, hope you enjoyed your party!

Walk it off Starling (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Notes:
  • Amore had three hits; Starling, Gregory and Corey D each had a pair. The foursome collected nine of the Bucs 11 knocks.
  • This was the Pirates second consecutive walk-off win after having none prior this year. It's old hat to Starling as tonight was his seventh walk-off knock.
  • Tonight's paid attendance was 15,748.

Cards Visit, Brault v Mikolas & Notes - Kang to Camp, Kingham Starts Sunday

Today: The game is at 7:05 and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. The first 20,000 fans get an umbrella; they may need it. And tonight is the "Phil Coyne 100th Birthday Celebration" as a legend is celebrated. The Pirates will present Phil with a proclamation from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and his usher's uniform and ID card will be on permanent display in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Fran Cervelli C, Colin Moran 3B,Jordy SS & Steven Brault P. It's the A-Team lineup tonight against the Redbirds.

Brault on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: Steven Brault (2-1, 4.44) starts against Miles Mikolas (3-0, 3.46). Steven tossed decently last outing after a couple of lackluster appearances. He's been a classic nibbler, and gets himself into hitters counts and high pitch totals more than is advisable. He's 0-0/3.38 in two career appearances (one start) against the Redbirds, but has just eight innings of work against them. Miles was on the Bucco roster in 2013, coming over with Jaff Decker from San Diego in the Alex Dickerson deal (you might recall him as the "Lizard King," a nickname earned after he ate a lizard in the bullpen while in the Padres system), but never tossed here. He was shipped to the Rangers for Chris McGuiness a few weeks later. Mikolas hit a wall, then went to Japan for three years where he excelled, and he's back in the bigs and doing well for the Cards, using mid-90s heat and efficient command. Miles has made four starts; he was roughed up in the pair against the Brewers but was light outs in the other two against the Reds. MM hasn't faced the Buccaneers since 2012.

Notes:
  • Nothing new here - the Cards are red hot. The Redbirds (15-9) are coming off a 5-1 homestand and are enjoying a 10-of-12 stretch of wins. The Pirates were 6-4 against the Birdies at PNC last year.
  • Clint told the media mob that Nick Kingham will be Sunday's spot starter.
Red Beard likes home cookin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Colin Moran has taken a liking to his Steel City home - he's hitting .441 with two homers and 12 RBI in 12 games at PNC Park this season.
  • AJ Schugel continues his rehab; he tossed two scoreless innings at Indy on Tuesday.
  • Kang will report to Pirate City Monday; Neal Huntington said that the team and MLB won't add any more punishment, feeling that the time missed was sufficient.
  • Baseball America's poll had PNC Park as baseball's second best ballyard, between AT&T Park in San Francisco and Camden Yards in Baltimore. 
  • Hayden Hurst was a first-round pick last night in the NFL draft. If the name sounds familiar, it's because the Pirates picked the 1B/P in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB draft. The Pirates signed him for $400K, but he caught Steve Blass disease, switched to first and finally walked on to South Carolina to play football after three years in the Pittsburgh system. Ends up he's a better tight end than hurler.

4/27 TRS-PNC Park Era: Stargell Bombs; 6-Hit Wally; Matty Mo Goes; Diaz Deal; 300 For Jose; Game Stories

  • 1971 - Willie Stargell set a then-MLB record with his 11th HR in the month of April, a shot over the TRS center field wall against LA’s Pete Mikkelsen, in a 7-5 loss. The record stood for 36 years until it was broken by Albert Pujols, who hit 14 opening-month bombs in 2006. 
Wally Backman 1990 Topps
  • 1990 - Wally Backman became the first NL’er to get six hits in one game in 15 years when the 3B’man went 6-for-6 against the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in a 9-4 Pirate win. The Bucs banged out 19 hits, with Barry Bonds collecting four, including two homers and a double. Neal Heaton claimed the win. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs had their way with the Mets at Shea Stadium, winning 10-1. Randy Tomlin and Bob Patterson combined on a four hitter while a trio of Pirates had three hits - Bobby Bonilla, who had four RBI and a run scored, Spanky LaValliere, with two runs driven in and one scored, and Curtis Wilkerson, who plated three times. Pittsburgh took over sole possession of first place, and never lost it as they won the division by 14 games. 
  • 1993 - Tim Wakefield threw 172 pitches in defeating Atlanta‚ 6-2‚ in 11 innings at Fulton County Stadium, and he didn’t even go the distance. He was relieved by Paul Wagner in the 11th after issuing a leadoff walk. It was the most pitches tossed by one pitcher in a single game during the nineties and the most ever by a Pirate. Fernando Valenzuela was the last to throw that many pitches in a game back in 1987. The Pirates took command of the game when Mike Stanton threw away a bunt attempt by Wakefield in the 11th, setting up a pair of two-out knocks and four unearned runs. 
  • 1985 - Pittsburgh traded minor league C Steve Herz to the Phillies for utility PH Mike Diaz. Diaz fit in nicely as a bench player for a couple of seasons, putting up a line of .250/28/89 in 606 PA while Herz never made it out of AAA. 
Jose Mesa 2005 Topps Total
  • 2005 - Jose Mesa sat Houston down 1-2-3 in the ninth to save Kip Wells’ 2-0 victory. It was his 300th career save, making Mesa the 19th pitcher in MLB history to reach that mark. Jason Bay and Jack Wilson drove home the runs at PNC Park. 
  • 2008 - RHP Matt Morris, GM Dave Littlefield’s final swing-and-miss, was released by the Pirates after going 1-2/3 innings against the Phillies and giving up six runs on six hits. The 33-year-old compiled an 0-4 record with a 9.67 ERA in his five outings with Pittsburgh in 2008. He retired soon after, but the Bucs ate $11,037,283 in salary, including a $1M buyout for 2009. Pittsburgh replaced him by calling up RHP John Van Benschoten. 
  • 2010 - A five-run ninth inning sparked by Ryan Doumit's grand slam and Ronny Cedeno's solo shot off Trevor Hoffman ended the Pirates 22-game losing streak in Milwaukee as the Bucs took a 7-3 victory at Miller Park. The Brew Crew's hometown hex over the Bucs was the longest held by one team over another since the Browns/Orioles lost 27 consecutive contests to the Indians in Cleveland from 1952-54.

4/27 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: B-2-B, B-2-B; Duels; 24 Runs, 27 Hits; Game Stories; HBD Phil, John & Paul

  • 1893 - The Pirates opened the season against the Cleveland Spiders and were spanked by Cy Young, losing 7-2 in front of 7,600 fans at Exposition Park. The team had a strong season despite that sluggish start, finishing second in the National League with a 81-48 mark. Louie Bierbauer had two hits, as did Jake Beckley and Denny Lyons. Frank “Lefty” Killen took the loss (The Pittsburgh Press, somewhat unkindly, noted that “Killen was an easy mark for the visitors”) after surrendering four first inning runs. But it was a noteworthy game - it was the last time a season-opening game was played in Pittsburgh until 1954, a 61-year streak of road trips. 
  • 1902 - Pittsburgh whipped Chicago 2-0 at Exposition Park‚ as Deacon Phillippe bested rookie Jim St. Vrain. St. Vrain only gave up a single to Ginger Beaumont, but it came after the Pirates had loaded the bases on an error sandwiched between a pair of plunked batters in the eighth inning. Phillippe fanned seven and all the other outs were recorded by the infield, with 1B Kitty Bransfield recording 16 putouts. St. Vrain wasn’t quite as sure of himself in the box as he was on the mound. He grounded a ball to Honus Wagner in the seventh and lost his bearings; the confused 19-year old ran toward third base as the astonished Hans threw him out rather easily, per Gene Alston’s Journal column. 
Deacon Phillippe 1910 Sweet Caporal
  • 1912 - The Pirates walloped Cincinnati 23-4 at Forbes Field‚ and without a home run (although they had five doubles and three triples among their 27 hits). Bobby Byrnes and Dots Miller had five knocks apiece. Reds reliever Hansey Horsey surrendered 14 hits and 12 runs in four innings in what would be his only MLB appearance. Vice President James “Sunny Jim” Sherman, a big baseball fan, attended the game along with PA Congressman Jim Burke, Lieutenant Governor JM Reynolds and an assortment of politicos and generals. 
  • 1918 - Usher Phil Coyne was born in Oakland. He started out dusting seats at Forbes Field in 1936 at the age of 18 and continued to serve the fans through the TRS era and at PNC Park until 2017. He retired after 81 years as a Pirates employee and good will ambassador at age 99 for health reasons, but came back to the old ballyard as the Buccos’ guest to be honored pre-game during his 100th birthday. 
  • 1918 - Umpire John Rice was born in Homestead. After serving in the Marines during WW2 (Rice fought in Guadalcanal and Peleliu), he began his umpiring apprenticeship in 1948. Rice graduated to the AL in 1955 working through 1973, and arbitrated four World Series, including the 1971 Pirates-Orioles clash, and three All-Star Games. He made his home in Chicago after the war and was inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. 
Adam Comorosky 1929 (photo Conlon Collection/Getty)
  • 1930 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game 9-5 over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. OF Adam Comorosky went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Gus Suhr drove home three more and Ira Flagstead homered. 
  • 1954 - Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch hit back-to-back homers in back-to-back at-bats in the sixth and eighth innings, the first Pirates to accomplish the feat in the 20th century (Neil Walker & Gaby Sanchez matched the feat in 2014). It wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh lost to the Reds 8-7 at Crosley Field as Ted Kluszewski hammered a pair of long balls for Cincy. 
  • 1965 - RHP Paul Miller was born in Burlington, Wisconsin. Miller’s MLB career lasted 10 games (two starts) tossed between 1991-93 for the Bucs with a line of 1-0/4.10. Paul Miller spent his entire pro career in the Pirates organization, selected in the 53rd round of the 1987 draft and remaining a Bucco until retiring in 1994 after a final campaign with AAA Buffalo. 
Paul Miller 1992 Fleer Ultra
  • 1970 - Steve Blass lost a pitching duel to Joe Decker and the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at Forbes Field. Blass surrendered just four hits over eight innings. One was a two-out triple by Glenn Beckert; he tried to stretch it into an inside the park HR and was dead at home, but Manny Sanguillen whiffed on the relay throw to allow the unearned, and only, run of the game to score. Roberto Clemente was thrown out at the plate twice during the game, once trying to score on a Willie Stargell double and again in the ninth when he tripled but was caught in a rundown a batter later, trapped following a comebacker. The Cubbies ran their winning streak to 11 games with the victory, a string the Pirates would snap the next day.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bucs Take Ninth Inning, 1-0 Thrilla From Motown & the Series; Notes - Kang Back

Leonys Martin, who has been a Bucco thorn this series, started the game with a triple off Ivan Nova. But he stayed on third; the Tigers froze him with a pair of grounders to third and a 6-3 kept it scoreless. Gregory got a full-count, down Broadway two-seamer from Michael Fulmer and spanked a double, but two whiffs and a soft comebacker left him there. El Tigres went quietly in the second; ditto the Bucs,who have already fanned four times. A leadoff single in the third moved up on a grounder and wild pitch, but he stayed 90' short. Two more Pirates went down swinging in a 1-2-3 frame. In the fourth, a two-out Tiger knock was quickly erased by a Cervy caught stealing. Starling singled with one gone for Pittsburgh and went nowhere. Motown went down in order in the fifth; the Pirates got a Red Beard double but no cigar.

Ivan was a rock (photo Gregory Shamus/Getty)

The sixth saw Houdini Nova dodge another threat. His misplay and a single put Tigers at first and third with an out, but he coaxed a 4-6-3 (Frazier-Rodriguez-Bell) DP from Miggy to escape. The Bucs were frustrated, too. A Fraze single was erased by a Gregory DP. Starling walked and stole second, but J-Bell couldn't cash him in. Lots of smoke but no fire in the frame both ways. In the seventh, Detroit stranded a two-out double and the Burghers couldn't dent Daniel Stumpf. A two-out single was all the noise for Detroit in the eighth, and that had to survive a challenge; the Pirates wasted a two-down two-bagger by Fraze off Joe Jimenez, followed by a walk. Fraze danced around a tag at third, but the second base ump, it appeared, ruled him out of the baseline. Clint disagreed and was ejected.

On to the ninth. Felipe Vasquez got into quick hot water, giving up two singles (one deflecting off him on a comebacker) and a walk. Bases loaded, no outs? No prob. A grounder to Colin Moran turned into a force at home, followed by a pop up by the dangerous Victor Martinez and another grounder to leave three aboard. Alex Wilson fanned J-Bell, but his second pitch to Corey D was a slider that cleared the fence (after a review upheld the original call; a fan caught the ball in the first row, but behind the railing) and it was a dramatic 1-0 RTJR day for the Pirates.

One sweet swing is all it took (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Baseball is a funny game, no? The teams killed the ball yesterday only to be tamed today (maybe sun and decent temps got them off their rhythm). Ivan goes eight shutout innings giving up six hits and whiffing five while Felipe squeaks out frame, but guess who gets the win? Yep - Pittsburgh.

Notes:

  • @RobBiertempfel of The Athletic reported that 3B Jung Ho Kang has been granted a US work visa and plans to rejoin the Pirates shortly, later confirmed by the FO. He'll have to fulfill the steps in his treatment program (tho he may have already) and will then report to Pirate City before a rehab assignment. It'll be an interesting reunion; the Bucs control him for the 2019 season via club option but at the same time kinda awkward with Colin Moran, Freeser and up-and-coming K'Bryan Hayes on the hot corner. There may be a position flip - remember, he started out at SS - in the makings. Still, it's a big win if he can recover his MLB mojo.
He's back...(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • The Bucs had six hits; Fraze had two of them.
  • Corey D's dinger was the first walk-off homer of his career.
  • S-Rod may not be hitting much, but he's made at least three plus plays with his glove over the past two days at two different positions.
  • It was a beautiful day for a ball game, sunny and in the fifties. The Bucs drew 12,049.
  • The Pirates traded minor-league OF'er Todd Cunningham to the Chicago White Sox for a PTBNL; Todd was a glove-first bench guy at Indy.

Detroit Series Rubber Match w/Nova v Fulmer, Notes

Today: It's a 7:05 start with the game on AT&T SportsNet, MLB Network (out-of-market) and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Fran Cervelli C, Colin Moran 3B, S-Rod SS & Ivan Nova P. Clint just can't stand a stable lineup; but this is Sean's birthday, so...

HBD S-Rod! 2016 Topps

Pitchers: RHP Ivan Nova (2-1, 4.20) closes the set against RHP Michael Fulmer (1-2, 3.47). Ivan's been tossing the ball pretty solidly the past two or three starts, so he looks like he's settling into a rhythm. He earned no decision on Opening Day although he went six IP and gave up two runs on six hits; his bugaboo that day was three walks, his season high. Fulmer isn't quite into his groove yet as the Tigers main gun, but it'd be tough to tell from his outing against the Bucs - he went eight innings and gave up a run on four hits, but lost to Trevor Williams and the Three Musketeers 1-0.

Notes:
  • As a pair, Bucco backstops Fran Cervelli and Eli are hitting .357 with five homers, 21 RBI and a Major League best 1.070 OPS.
  • Earl Weaver would be so proud - the Pirates hit a pair of three-run homers in yesterday’s doubleheader (Cervy in game one and Joey O in game two). Pittsburgh is tied with Atlanta for the most three-run homers hit in the majors this season w/six. Individually, Amore is tied with Atlanta’s Preston Tucker for the most with three.
  • Sunday's starter is still up in the air - Tyler Glasnow is available so far, and Nick Kingham's Saturday start at Indy has been left open as a TBD, so stay tuned.
  • Nope, they didn't change colors. The Pirates are wearing new alt jerseys and caps that feature green trim and hats during all Thursday home games as part of the team’s Military Appreciation Program.

4/26 TRS-PNC Park Era: False Alarm; Kiner Statue; Gift Debut; 5 Homers; Hack Day, Game Stories; HBD Francisco & S-Rod

  • 1972 - RHP Francisco Cordova was born in Cerro Azul, Mexico. He spent his five year MLB career (1996-2000) as a Pirate, first as a reliever who notched 12 saves in his rookie year before becoming starter. His slash was 42-47-12/3.96. He was part of one of the great Pirate moments on July 12th, 1997 at a sold out Three Rivers Stadium when he pitched nine innings of a combined 10-inning no-hitter, with Ricardo Rinc√≥n closing it out. The Pirates won the game on a three-run, pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith. 
Ed Ott 1979 Hostess
  • 1978 - Ed Ott hit an 11th-inning home run at Shea Stadium to give the Bucs and Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game six-hitter, a 1-0 win. It took 35 years for another Pirate, Neil Walker, to homer for the only run in a Bucco extra inning victory. 
  • 1980 - The Pirates scored five times in the first inning and cruised to a 9-2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh pounded out 17 hits, led by three apiece from Mike Easler and Dave Parker. John Candelaria went the distance, allowing two runs on eight hits as the Pirates split a brief two game series with Chicago. 
  • 1985 - Utilityman Sean Rodriguez was born in Miami. In his career, S-Rod has played every position but pitcher and catcher. The Bucs traded for him during the 2014 off season and he played around the field for Pittsburgh. He was signed up again for 2016 after hitting .246 and playing six different spots in 2015. The super-sub had a super year, batting .270 w/18 HR and turned that into a nice FA deal with Atlanta. He missed much of the 2017 campaign due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-season car accident and returned to the Bucs via the trade route in August. 
HBD S-Rod!
  • 1995 - 34,841 fans at TRS disrupted a delayed Opening Day by throwing whatever was handy (mainly giveaway day Bucco pennants) on the field to show their displeasure with the freshly resolved player’s strike and some shoddy play by the Bucs. The game was delayed for 17 minutes until the announcer told the unruly crowd that the contest was about to be forfeited. It might as well have been; Montreal won the game 6-2, chasing Jon Leiber in the fifth. The team was lucky they weren’t wrapped in Jolly Rogers and tossed overboard after one of the worse innings in their history. Going into that fateful frame, it was a 1-1 game between Pittsburgh and Montreal before the floodgates opened. There were two outs, Expos on the corners (the runner on first reached when his right side, shoulda-been inning-ending nubber was fielded but nobody covered the sack) and one run in when Roberto Kelly bled another soft roller, this one up the left side. 3B Jeff King flipped the ball into the outfield; RF Orlando Merced missed the mark on the throw home, and all three Montreal runners scored. Montreal added another run on a hit batter, single and wild pitch. Jason Christiansen added a throwing error to the pot before the Bucs got back into the dugout (and the ground crew picked up a field littered with pennants tossed by frustrated fans). So instead of being out of the inning, it ended up game, set and, match for Montreal, 6-2 winners. C Mark Parent told the Post Gazette’s Paul Meyer “That whole fifth inning was a fiasco. It was like Murphy’s Law.” 
  • 1995 - As the Pirates were bungling away at the North Shore, Mayor Tom Murphy and Vince Sarni, chairman of the Pittsburgh Associates, left the Duquesne Club and announced that they had reached a framework to sell the Pirates and keep the team in Pittsburgh with Chambers Development Company chairman John Rangos, saying that an agreement could be reached within a week. Wrong; the deal was never finalized and the PA held on to the team until selling it to the McClatchy group in 1996. 
Kiner Statue (photo Kenny Muz/Flickr)
  • 2008 - Alhambra, California, dedicated a bronze statue to honor of its native son Ralph Kiner for his "accomplishments and contributions to the game of professional baseball and sports broadcasting.” The former Pirates slugger, a member of the Hall of Fame, grew up in Alhambra and graduated from its high school in 1940 before moving on to Southern Cal and the Buccos. 
  • 2010 - The Brewers romped over the Bucs 17-3 for their 22nd straight win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park after they had already taken the opening series by 8-1, 8-0 and 20-0 tallies. The curse, dating back to 2007, was snapped the next day 7-3 by the Pirates, who also took the third game of the series for good measure. 
  • 2016 - Pittsburgh pounded five home runs in the thin air of Coors Field to claim a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit three long balls and chased home five runs. With his second career three-dinger match, Cutch joined Ralph Kiner (four), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two) on the list of players who have multiple three-homer games as Pirates. Starling Marte and David Freese added to the fence busting party, propelling Gerrit Cole to victory. 
Gift's first hit (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 2017 - IF Gift Ngoepe made his first MLB appearance, going 1-for-2 (he singled in his first big league at-bat) with a walk and turning the game-ending DP as the Pirates hung on to beat the Cubs 6-5 at PNC Park. Ngoepe was the first African native (he’s from South Africa) to ever play in the majors, and it took the 27-year-old eight-plus minor league seasons to get the call. Pittsburgh jumped off to a 5-1 lead, started off by Josh Harrison’s lead-off homer in the first. Josh Bell later went long (both Joshes collected a pair of hits), but the Cubs kept chipping away. After an error on a potential inning-ending DP ball in the ninth left two Cubbies aboard, Tony Watson served up another grounder that did the trick to save Wade LeBlanc’s win. 
  • 2017 - Ellwood City’s Hack Wilson, who banged 56 home runs and drove in a major league record 191 runs in 1930, was recognized before the Cubs game at PNC Park. It was it the 117th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, who put up those big 1930 numbers as a Cubbie (he spent half his 12-year career in Chicago from 1926-31), the night’s opponents. It was a nice touch by the Ellwood City Area Historical Society to recognize a local boy that made good, even if the Cubs didn’t opt to participate in the celebration. Proving once again that karma is a beach, Chicago lost 6-5.