Thursday, May 31, 2018

Vazquez Loses Three Run Lead In Brutal 10-8 Loss to Cards

J-Hay opened with a single off Jack Flaherty and a misfired pickoff sent Josh to second. A couple of whiffs later he was still there; J-Bell watched strikes one and three. The Cards opened with two singles off Trevor Williams, and an out later he walked Jose Martinez after being up 0-2. Dexter Fowler got an 0-2 heater on the inside corner and banged it for a two-run rap. A following double made it 4-0, not exactly how you want to jump out of the gate. Corey D started the second with a knock and out later, Gregory singled. After a passed ball, Jordy slapped a shoe-top, two-strike slider into left for a run. Willy bunted them up, but J-Hay K'ed; he saw one strike in five pitches. The Redbirds got a leadoff hit, but Willy settled down and got the next three hitters. It was a 1-2-3 third for the Pirates, though a foul-fest has run Flaherty's pitch count to 66. St. Louis managed a bunt single but nada else. Corey D's single started up the fourth and an out later, Gregory's two-bagger plated him to half the spread to 4-2. The Cards got a two-out infield knock and steal to no avail.

T-Willy should be glad the month is over (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pittsburgh came back in the fifth; Cervy got bopped in the arm by a pitch and with two outs, J-Bell finally found a slider he liked and dropped it into the right-center seats to tie the contest. The tie didn't last long - Dexter Fowler, who was hitting .172 coming into the game, got his second hit, a double, and scored on a two-out single. He's driven in a pair and scored twice so far against Willy. Tyler Lyons came in for the sixth and retired his two lefties. Righty John Brebbia came in to face Jordy and walked him. Austin Meadows pinch hit; he put a good swing on a fastball, but it was pulled in at the left field wall...that close. Tyler Glasnow gave up a couple of soft hits (an infield knock and a grounder against the shift) but no points. Brebbia was tapped for a pair of infield knocks that left Bucs on the corner with an out in the seventh; Jordan Hicks came on and walked J-Bell. Hicks has been a ground ball machine, and kept to his MO by getting Corey D on an inning-crushing 6-4-3 DP. Ty tossed a clean frame.

Red Beard singled to begin the eighth and S-Rod came in to run. And run he did, coming all the way around when Gregory doubled. Fraze walked an out later. J-Hay flew out, and the throw in was offline, moving the runners up 90'. Hicks was yanked after 30 pitches and closer Bud Norris took the ball to take on Amore. Mr. Two-Out Money watched five pitches go by to run the count full, then drilled a cutter over the wall to give the Bucs an 8-5 lead and bring on Mike Mayers to close out the frame. Kyle Crick got the Bucco call and tossed a clean inning. Mayers stayed on in the ninth abd cruised. Felipe Vazquez started off by giving up a double, then S-Rod booted a ball. A walk loaded 'em, and a single chased home a pair and left another runner at third on the throw home; Vazquez's velo is again way down tonight. Yario Munoz made it academic; he hit the next pitch, a 96 MPH fastball thrown right through the heart of the plate, out of the park, his second of the year, and the bullpen is letting the season slip away.

How clutch has Amore been? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Clint can shoulder some of the blame for this. After the single, he should have pulled Vazquez, who was obviously off and working his third straight game after suffering arm numbness, but Edgar Santana barely had his jacket off before it was all over. As for Vazquez, we can't believe there's not some physical problem, either with his arm or mechanics, that needs to be taken care of; his velocity shouldn't be going like a yo-yo otherwise. Another issue is Trevor Williams; in six May starts, his ERA is 5.51. The team's not playing much differently than it had earlier in the year, but the pitching is often digging holes at one end and blowing leads on the other. Wonder if the FO has any urgency in addressing that issue or is going to use the year as a developmental season? There was a silver lining - Gregory looks like he's snapping out of it, knock on wood.

Notes:
  • Tonight was Gregory Polanco's first three-hit game since Opening Day against Detroit on March 30th; he also chased three runners home. Cervy added a pair of hits and three RBI while Corey D had two raps. J-Bell's homer plated the other two runs.
  • In his last six games, Felipe Vazquez has blown four saves and has an ERA of 17.17.
  • Hey, vita bella - Fran's homer was his eighth, a career high - at the end of May!
  • Tonight was the Pirates 10th loss in 13 games.

Off To Birdland, Williams v Flaherty & Notes

Today: The game starts at 7:15 and will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: J-Hay 2B, Cervy C, Starling CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey D LF, Colin 3B, Gregory RF, Jordy SS & Willy P. Austin gets a day off, so much for going with the hot hand.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (5-3, 3.43) gets the ball rolling against RHP Jack Flaherty (2-1, 2.15). This is already the third time these two have gone head-to-head and this will be their rubber match. Willy's had a tough May, posting a 4.88 ERA in five starts and only getting past five innings twice. He's faced the Cards twice this year, getting chased after four innings in a loss last week (four runs, seven hits) after winning in April, going six innings and surrendering two runs on six hits. Flaherty went six innings and gave up a run while beating Willy in his last outing, and gave up a three-spot in five innings in an April loss to him.

Trevor on tap tonight (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)
Notes:
  • Cervy and Eli have caught 11-of-31 attempted base swipers for a 35% toss-out rate; last year the Pirates backstops tossed out just 23%. The league average so far in 2018 is 27%.
  • The Cardinals took two of three in Pittsburgh, and then dropped two of three at first-place Milwaukee as they too are jogging on the Central Division treadmill. They're 29-24, five games behind the Brew Crew and one game ahead of the Buccos.
  • Jung Ho Kang will join the Bradenton roster tomorrow. (The Marauders are the Bucs High Class A club.) And yes, it was just a day ago that Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Jung Ho Kang was still "in spring training build-up." Guess a goods night sleep was all it took, lol. Btw, it's not like a rehab assignment where he gets 30 days to join the roster. The Bucs can keep him in the minors until they deem him capable of playing MLB ball again.
  • The Pirates added Bob Smizik and Stan Savran to their Media Wall of Fame today.
  • The Phils DFA'ed RHP Drew Hutchison, who was traded to Pittsburgh for Frankie Liriano & company in 2016.

5/31 Events: Doubles King; Satch v Dizzy; Coke Trial; HBD Kenny, Joe & Russ and More...

  • 1888 - The Alleghenys forfeited a game to the New York Giants when they failed to show up at the Polo Grounds while it was raining, staying high and dry in their hotel. The Pittsburgh Press wrote “Manager Phillips claimed that he had word that there would be no game and that it rained from 3:30 to 4 (the game’s starting time). President Nimick will protest the game.” He did; the league didn’t buy the alibi and the Pittsburgh nine forfeited the match. 
Horace didn't want his boys to get wet (image NY Clipper 1884)
  • 1930 - Umpire Russ Goetz was born in McKeesport. After 13 seasons of honing his craft in the minors, he was an AL umpire from 1968 to 1983. Goetz was part of the blue crew for two All Star Games, four AL playoff series, and two World Series, including the Bucs 1979 battle against the Baltimore Orioles. Russ went into umpiring after serving in the Navy during the Korean War with deployments in Korea and China. He started his sporting days as a basketball player for the Tigers and remained in Tube City after he retired. 
  • 1932 - Paul “Big Poison” Waner banged out his 20th double of the month at Forbes Field in the fifth inning against Cincinnati’s Red Lucas to set the MLB record. The Pirates won the game 4-1 as Waner went 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI to back Larry French’s mound work. During the month, Big Poison collected 43 hits - 21 singles, 20 doubles and two triples. 
  • 1942 - Satchel Paige rejoined his old Grays teammates when they played against the Dizzy Dean All-Stars in an exhibition game at Washington’s Griffith Park. The match drew 22,000 fans (the major league Senators averaged just 5-6,000 per game) and the Satchels beat the Dizzys 8-1. Clark Griffith, the Sens’ owner, told Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard after the game that he was going to “break up your league” and sign black ball players, but he never made good on the promise. 
  • 1953 - Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to play MLB when he appeared as a pinch runner for the Pirates in the first game of a doubleheader loss to the Dodgers. He was a better gridder than ballplayer; he hit .214 in his 1953-54 MLB stint with the Buccos. He went on to play a little NFL ball, but a car accident in 1956 ended his pro sports days. 
Joe Orsulak 1985 Topps
  • 1962 - Joe Orsulak was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. A sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 1980 draft, he was seen as the Bucs future lead-off man and CF’er. In his four years in Pittsburgh (1983-86) he never managed to secure the job, though he did hit .272. He lasted 14 years in the show, hitting .273 lifetime as primarily a bench/platoon outfielder. 
  • 1967 - OF Kenny Lofton was born in East Chicago, Indiana. The Bucs signed him as a free agent for $1.025M and he had a nice year in 2003, hitting .277 with 18 swiped sacks. He became part of perhaps the biggest salary dump in Pirates history when he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback. Lofton and A-Ram helped Chicago to the 2003 NL Central title. Kenny played until he was 40, retiring after the 2007 campaign with 17 seasons, 11 playoff years and six All-Star berths on his resume. After Lofton left baseball, he went into film and television, his major at the U of Arizona. He does some media gigs and founded FilmPool Inc., a movie company. 
  • 1985 - A Federal grand jury indicted seven for cocaine distribution and sales in baseball, none of which were Pirates (the players that testified were granted immunity). GM Joe Brown hoped the indictments would “...remove the shadow that has existed over the Pirates…” but his hope was in vain. The coke trials tainted the team’s freewheeling clubhouse culture and several Bucs, notably Dave Parker and Rod Scurry, in the eyes of the fans. 
Roberto - Pirates Legends Collage
  • 2016 - Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that this date would be Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball. The highlight of the celebration was to be a game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Unfortunately for Roberto’s homeland, the game was moved to Miami after a Zika outbreak on the island, and his special day was pushed back. The day of remembrance began in 2002, and beginning in 2009 was marked by pre-game ceremonies around MLB with the teams presenting their Roberto Clemente Award to its nominee, with the overall winner announced after the World Series.

5/31 Games: Babe Takes Two; 1-0 Sweeps; Nine Doubles; Pops Blast; Castillo 5-Pack & More

  • 1909 - Babe Adams won both ends of a doubleheader at Exposition Park against the Cardinals. He worked the final two frames of a 5-4 win in the opener, then tossed a complete game 4-2 victory in the second match. Dots Miller had five hits during the twin bill with Hans Wagner adding three more knocks. The two games drew 20,633 fans. 
Babe Adams (photo source: Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1915 - The Pirates swept the first place Cubs by identical 1-0 scores at Forbes Field in front of 15,000 fan as Wilbur Cooper (three hits, eight K) and Al Mamaux (five hits, five K) hurled complete game whitewashes. The Pirates won the first game when RF Bill Hinchman was plunked with the bases loaded to force home C George Gibson (they wouldn’t win another 1-0 game via the plunk again until 2017) and the second on a wild pitch that allowed Hinchman to plate from third. As Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press noted, “This was getting the breaks...it was the luck of the Buccaneers to profit twice from slips made by Chicago twirlers.” 
  • 1927 - The Pirates overcame a 6-1, sixth inning deficit by scoring nine times in the final four frames to nip the Cubs 10-9 at Forbes Field. 1B Joe Harris was on fire, going 5-for-5 with two triples, a double, four RBI and two runs scored. 
  • 1937 - The Reds beat the Pirates 8-3 in the opener of a doubleheader at Crosley Field. It was the only game Cincinnati won against the Pirates that season. Starting with a 7-5 loss in the nightcap - Pep Young’s three run homer was the big blow - Cincy lost the next 17 straight to the Buccos, and dropped 21 of 22 games‚ tying the MLB record set by the Cubs over the Braves in 1909 and the Yankees over the Browns in 1927. In fact, the Reds would drop the first three to open 1938 for a 20 game losing streak against Pittsburgh, another MLB record. 
Elmer Riddle 1949 Eureka Sports Stamps
  • 1948 - At Wrigley Field‚ the Cubs set a paid attendance record when 46‚965 fans passed through the turnstiles during a doubleheader split with the Pirates on Memorial Day. The Bucs lost the opener 4-3 after Chicago scored in the ninth off Kirby Higbe. Pittsburgh rallied in the nightcap behind Elmer Riddle to win 4-2. Danny Murtaugh chased home a pair of runs and scored once to provide Riddle with some working space. 
  • 1961 - Pittsburgh bashed out nine doubles (two by Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, with one each from Joe Gibbon, Dick Groat, Hal Smith, Gino Cimoli and Dick Stuart) in a 9-1 laugher at Forbes Field against the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Gibbon tossed a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts to earn the win over Warren Spahn. 
  • 1964 - Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Pirates 6-4 at Forbes Field, but had to survive a towering blast by Roberto Clemente to do it. The Great One hit a ball halfway up the light tower 450’ away in center field. Post Gazette writer Jack Herndon estimated the drive would have traveled 500’ if the lights hadn’t been in its way; the Dodgers beat man Frank Finch of the LA Times agreed. 
Willie Stargell 1973 PSA
  • 1973 - The Bucs topped the Atlanta Braves 3-1, backing up Nellie Briles three-hitter with Willie Stargell’s three-run blast in the eighth at TRS. Stargell’s ball went 468’ and landed in the upper deck. Of the 12 shots that carried into the cheap seats in TRS history, Pops launched the most; this was his fourth and final second-tier homer. It broke up a gem by Gary Gentry; he had a shutout going into the eighth when with one out, an infield single and 3-2 walk that raised the hackles of Bravo manager Eddie Matthews was followed by Willie’s blast. Briles went the distance for the win, sending Atlanta to their seventh straight loss. 
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds collected his first MLB hit, a first-inning double off Rick Honeycutt, as the Bucs beat the LA Dodgers 4-0 at PNC Park. Bonds must have been excited; he was picked off a batter later. BB had debuted a day earlier, but went 0-fer. Bill Almon’s two-run homer and Bob Kipper’s eight shutout innings keyed the win. 
  • 1994 - It wasn’t a good day to be a Pirate pitcher. San Diego scored 13 runs in the second inning on the way to a 15-5 whipping of the Bucs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Cooke and John Hope were the hapless hurlers in that unlucky frame. 
Jose Castillo 2007 Topps
  • 2006 - Jose Castillo homered in his fifth straight game as the Pirates defeated Milwaukee 6-1 at PNC Park. Castillo hit a two run shot off Chris Capuano in the second inning to continue a streak that began on the 26th against Houston’s Taylor Bucholtz, the third longest in franchise history behind Dale Long’s eight game streak and Jason Bay’s six-gamer. Ian Snell and three relievers combined on a three hitter against the Brew Crew. 
  •  2008 - SS Luis Rivas had four RBI, two runs scored, a homer and double as the Bucs pounded St. Louis 14-4 at Busch Stadium to ruin Tony LaRussa’s 2,000th game as St. Louis skipper. Ronny Paulino added three RBI with three hits and a homer of his own while Jose Bautista chipped in with four knocks. Xavier Nady and Freddie Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates pounded out 19 knocks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bucs Get Just Enough Behind Musgrove, Crick & Feliz, Salvage Game Three 2-1

Well, the second outing is starting off a little differently for Joe Musgrove; a double/single combo to lead off made it 1-0; he kept it there, but at a cost of 27 pitches, getting two whiffs after two walks (one intentional) to leave the bases juiced. J-Hay got it back in one swing off Kyle Hendricks, knocking one the opp way into the Clemente Wall crowd. A Cubbie leadoff single did no damage in the second. Corey D opened with a three-bagger, also going opp up the third base line, and Gregory's sac fly cashed him in. J-Grove gave up a two-out knock in the third. Musgrove opened with a knock and was forced at second, sliding into Javy Baez, who took exception. The benches and bullpens rushed the field and an umpire review was burned for naught as they decided it was non-reviewable after all; Baez never tried to make a throw to first, so there was nothing to interfere with. Joe just cemented his relationships with his mateys in the Bucco dugout while making Joe Maddon sputter like a snowflake. The rest of the inning went quietly.

J-Grove got some dirt on his uniform tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Chi-town opened the fourth with a knock and a walk; J-Grove picked off Addison Russell at second to ease the pressure; he cruised to the next two outs. J-Bell opened with a rap and was forced by Corey D, who moved to second on a misthrow. He was cut down at the plate trying to score on Red Beard's knock to right, a bad send by Joey Cora against Jason Heyward's arm with just one out. It was a 1-2-3 inning for the Bruins. The Bucs loaded the bases with an out on knocks by Jordy and J-Hay plus an intentional pass to AM, but left them aboard and Cervy and J-Bell couldn't chase anyone home; that's a couple innings of squandered runs. Chicago got a single in the sixth; Randy Rosario came on and spun a clean frame thanks to a Gregory DP.

 J-Grove gave up a two-out walk in the seventh, then got Anthony Rizzo on a pop (his arm pump, oddly enough, didn't cause another mashup). He gave up a run on seven hits, fours walks and five whiffs on 100 tosses; great job after a stormy opening frame. Cory Mazzoni took the ball and walked Fraze with an out; another walk an out later brought lefty Justin Wilson in to face Amore, who has a sizable reverse split against southpaws. It held true as he flew out. Kyle Crick answered the bell for the eighth inning - last man standing, we're guessing - and twirled a quiet frame. Moran singled with two gone; Gregory K'ed. It's now Felipe Vazquez time. The Cubs opened with a seeing-eye single and with two out got another, a soft liner hit to J-Bell that he batted down instead of catching. But all's well that end wells, and a Kris Bryant bouncer put the game to bed. RTJR!

It was interesting at the end but Felipe held down the fort.
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Both sides left a boatload of runners on the pond, combining for 19 stranded ducks. But it was nice to see the old tried-and-true formula work again; take a lead into the seventh and close the book. Now it's off to St. Louis and a four game set with the Redbirds; the Bucs could stand to get their mojo workin' again before the NL Central runs away from them.

Notes:
  • Colin Moran had three knocks and J-Hay a pair to lead the Bucs nine-hit attack.
  • J-Hay has led off a game with a homer six times in his career and 15 times overall as a leadoff hitter of an inning.
  • Another disappointing crowd of 14,126 tonight; the Pirates drew under 45,000 for the three-game set.

Pirates - Cubbies Close It Out, Musgrove v Hendricks & Notes

Today: The finale is at 7:05 with AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan carrying the action. Might get a little damp tonight, but the storms should hold off until post-game.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Austin Meadows CF, Fran Cervelli C, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, Colin Moran 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Joe Musgrove P. Starling sits tonight, Cervy is backand Gregory remains at the bottom of the order.

J-Grove is back on the bump for his second outing (photo Pgh Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Joe Musgrove (1-0, 0.00) takes on RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-3, 3.40). Tough to beat the start Joe had against the Cards; we'll see how his second outing goes. We do know he likes to attack the zone, so he's a guy who relies on mixing pitches and locations, which he did pretty well in his debut. J-Grove has faced the Cubbies once, as a rookie in 2016, going six innings and giving up two runs on three hits in a 2-0 loss. Hendricks had a couple of tough outings in the middle of the month, but tossed a beaut in his last go, a seven-inning, one-run, two-hitter against the Giants. He twirled against the Bucs in April and took the loss though he pitched decently, giving up two runs in six frames. The righty has been solid against the Pirates during his career with a line of 4-3/3.21 in 11 starts.

Notes:
  • Josh Bell Is the only Bucco to appear in all 54 games this year (49 starts).
  • Following the game tonight, the Pirates head to St. Louis where they'll begin a four-game series.
  • The Pirates are 28-26 and fading fast; they're 6-1/2 games behind the Brew Crew after losing four straight games and nine of their last 11.
  • On the recovery front: Ivan Nova is tossing the ball, Jung Ho Kang is playing back-to-back games now in Florida and will shortly advance to three in-a-row, Enny Romero is playing catch and AJ Schugel still is shut down.
Ivan is getting back into the flow (photo Pgh Pirates)
  • Altoona LHP Brandon Waddell, 23, was promoted to Indy. His line was 2-1/2.68 with a 1.081 WHIP in eight starts for the Curve. He was a fifth round pick of the 2015 draft from the U of Virginia and has worked through a couple of injuries on a steady march through the minors.
  • The draft is June 4th-6th and the Pirates have the 10th overall selection, along with #36 and #51. Their first pick, per the pundits, should be when the board is still pitcher-heavy, especially w/prep arms. The system has bulked up after the Cutch/Cole trades, but still could use an infusion of position players too, so it'll be a toss-up as to what direction they choose. 

5/30 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Leach/Leifield Deal; Rizzo's 9 RBI; 8 Trip,Trip, Triples; Hidden Ball Trick; Game Stories; HBD Turkey & Al

  • 1878 - OF Mike “Turkey” Donlin was born in Peoria, Illinois. Mike played one of his 12 big league campaigns in Pittsburgh, hitting .316 as a 34-year-old in 1912. Known as "Turkey Mike" because of his strut, Donlin’s baseball career was held back by his bid for stage stardom. While a player, he spent three off seasons touring in a play called “Stealing Home” and after his retirement moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in 50+ films but as a bit player. 
Turkey Donlin, entertainer (and yes, that is Mugsy McGraw on the playbill too)
  • 1892 - Mark “Fido” Baldwin, a native Pittsburgher alleged to have the best fastball in the league, tossed both ends of a Pirates doubleheader sweep of the Baltimore Orioles at Exposition Park, winning 11-1 and 4-3. Baldwin went 26-27/3.47 with 45 complete games and 440 IP in ’92. 
  • 1893 - From Baseball Chronology: "Jake Beckley successfully pulls the 'ancient’ hidden-ball trick on Baltimore Oriole Joe Kelley as Pittsburgh wins 9-1.” The Bucs swept a doubleheader from the Birds (they were managed by former Pittsburgh field general Ned Hanlon, who in a three-year span skippered the Alleghenys, Burghers and Pirates) at Exposition Park, also claiming a 10-3 victory. It was a pretty good Pirates club; the team finished 81-48, five games behind the NL Champs, the Boston Beaneaters. 
  • 1894 - RHP Al Mamaux was born in Pittsburgh. He went to Duquesne University and pitched for the Pirates from 1913-17. Mamaux was 49-36/2.61 during that time, and had strong seasons in 1915-16, going 42-23 with back-to-back 21 win campaigns. He spent the off-season as a crowd pleaser of another sort, touring as a vaudeville singer touted as "The Golden Voice Tenor.” 
  • 1912 - In a not-so-hot deal, the Pirates sent veteran 3B/OF Tommy Leach and P Lefty Leifield to Chicago for UT Solly Hofman and P King Cole. Leach, 34, started the next two years for the Cubs and came back to retire as a Pirate in 1918. Lefty pitched five more seasons, going 57-25. Cole lasted one year in Pittsburgh, going 2-2/6.43 while Hoffman played two years for the Pirates, getting into 45 games and hitting .246. 
Possum Whitted 1921 Exhibits
  • 1921 - There were four NL doubleheaders on this date, and all four resulted in a sweep. The Pirates did their part by taking two from the Chicago Cubs at Forbes Field, 13-0 and 6-3. Jimmy Zinn tossed a five hitter in the opener, backed by four RBI from George Cutshaw and Possum Whitted, with Max Carey scoring four times. The nitecap was led by Whitted and Walter Schmidt who both went 3-for-4, with Possum scoring three times and Schmidt driving in a pair. Chief Yellow Horse, the third Pirate pitcher, went 7-⅔ shutout innings for the win and recorded the only strikeout of the day by Pittsburgh’s moundsmen. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates set a MLB record by hitting eight triples against the St. Louis Cardinals in spacious Forbes Field during the nitecap of a twinbill. Max Carey and Clyde Barnhart each banged out a pair of three-baggers while Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor (who added two doubles), Glenn Wright and Eddie Moore each had one. Barnhart had four hits, four runs and five RBI in the game as the Bucs ran their win streak to seven with a 15-5 romp. The Bucs took the opener 4-1 behind Emil Yde. Max Carey had a pair of RBI and George Grantham had three hits, including two doubles, in that match. 
  • 1927 - The Bucs lost the opener of a Forbes Field Memorial Day doubleheader to the Cubs 7-6 in 10 innings, ending the Pirates 11-game win streak. The big play was made by Cubs’ SS Jimmy Cooney, who snared Paul Waner's liner, stepped on second to double up Little Poison, and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first for an unassisted triple play. Pittsburgh came back to win the nitecap‚ 6-5‚ also in 10 innings. Lloyd Waner collected seven hits during the twin bill. 
Johnny Rizzo 1938-39 (photo source: The Sporting News)
  • 1939 - Johnny Rizzo set a club record that still hasn’t been matched by driving in nine runs against the St. Louis Browns in a 14-8 win at Sportsman's Park, gaining a doubleheader split for the Bucs. He banged a pair of homers and two doubles. 
  • 1958 - The Milwaukee Braves beat the Bucs and ElRoy Face 7-4 at Forbes Field. The Baron of the Bullpen gave up four runs, two unearned, but came back strong; he wouldn’t lose again until September 1959, claiming 22 straight wins. 
  • 1969 - Al Oliver started a triple play that saw him get two putouts and two assists during the action against Houston at Forbes Field. With Jesus Alou at first and Doug Rader at second, Johnny Edwards grounded to Scoops, who took the out and then relayed the ball to Gene Alley at second. Alley chased Alou back and flipped to Oliver for the tag. Meanwhile Rader, who had stayed on second thinking Edwards had hit a line drive, broke for third late when the light went on but Oliver gunned him down with Richie Hebner slapping the tag. The Bucs won the twinbill opened 9-3. Al had two of the Bucs 17 hits as Jim Bunning cruised to victory. The nightcap didn’t go so well as Bob Moose and Chuck Hartenstine got roughed up in a 9-6 defeat. Matty Alou and Billy Maz each had three hits but the Pirates couldn’t outscore the ‘Stros in a shootout.

5/30 TRS-PNC Park Era: Lofton 26-Gamer; Bye-Bye Raul; Cover Cobra; Moose Surgery; Game Stories; RIP Max, HBD Tony

  • 1971 - Willie Stargell launched a Ken Holtzman pitch into the upper deck in right field, the third of four that he’d ship to the top tier at TRS in his career, to cap a 10-0 win over the Cubs. Roberto Clemente and Bob Robertson also went long. Bob Moose didn’t need much help; he fired a three-hitter and fanned seven. 
Bob Moose 1974 Topps
  • 1974 - Bob Moose had surgery to remove a blood clot from his arm after it had swollen to double its size. The clot wasn’t thought to be baseball related, but it cost Moose the rest of the season as one of his ribs also had to be removed. He was having an outlier year anyway, with a 1-5 record and 7.57 ERA, easily the worst numbers of his career and related to his arm woes. Moose never again reached the 100 IP mark after averaging 213 IP and 30 starts in 1972-73 before meeting a tragic end in a car wreck after the 1976 campaign. 
  • 1976 - Hall of Fame OF’er Max Carey passed away in Miami. In 17 Pirates seasons, he hit .287 (a very strong average for the deadball era) with 688 stolen bases and a reputation as the best center fielder in the game. After he retired, Carey went on to be a Pirates coach in 1930, then was the skipper of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932-33. Max won a NL-record 10 stolen base titles and ranks among the top ten all-time in outfield chances per game (6,937 total) seventh in assists (339) and third in double plays (87). 
  • 1977 - Dave Parker was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the story “Battle Royale In the East.” The Buccos finished second in the NL East race with 96 wins, five games behind the Phils. The Cobra played in a team-high 159 games with 21 HR and a .338 BA. 
  • 1985 - LHP Tony Watson was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The ninth round pick of the 2007 draft was a converted starter that moved to the pen, and made his debut with the Bucs in 2010, evolving into a solid bridge man for the Pirates and then taking over the eighth inning role in spectacular fashion, posting a 1.63 ERA with a couple of saves, 34 holds and 9.4 K per nine innings to earn a spot on the 2014 All-Star team. The media coined the phrase "It's elementary, Watson" to describe his consistent excellence. Tony took over the closer’s role in the summer of 2016 and held it until he was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline in 2017 (he notched 30 saves as a Bucco) and was replaced by Felipe Rivero (Vazquez). He’s now with the Giants.
Tony Watson 2016 Topps
  • 1998 - Jason Kendall hit a walk off bases loaded single to cap a three-run ninth and give the Pirates an 8-7 win over the Montreal Expos at TRS. It was Kendall’s third hit of the day and his second RBI. Manny Martinez hit a two run homer and Kevin Young banged out four hits. Three Pirate relievers tossed four goose eggs, with Jason Christiansen earning the victory.
  • May 30, 2003 - Kenny Lofton homered against the Cards in a 7-3 win by Jeff Suppan to keep his 26-game hitting streak alive. He would go 0-fer the next day against the Cards Woody Williams and Jeff Fasaro, falling a game short of tying the club record during a 5-4 Pirate victory tossed by Kip Wells. 
  • 2004 - The Raul Mondesi saga officially ended when the outfielder signed a $1.75M deal with the Anaheim Angels. He left the Pirates on May 7th after signing as a free agent ($1.15M) to return home to deal with a lawsuit and family safety issues. He never came back; it was all a ploy to get out of the Pirates agreement and head for greener pastures. Pittsburgh could have opted to keep him on the restricted list until the cows came home (and in hindsight, should have; that way they might have gotten some compensation for his flip) but instead washed their hands of him when he failed to report on the team-mandated “drop dead” date of May 18th, terminating his contract the next day. 
  • 2006 - The Bucs walloped the Milwaukee Brewers 12-1 at PNC Park behind a pair of Jose Castillo homers. Jose added a single & double to chase home six runs while scoring three times. Freddy Sanchez also had four knocks and Jack Wilson added three as the Pirates collected 17 raps, seven for extra bases, to help Victor Santos to victory. 
Jose Castillo 2006 Topps Heritage
  • 2013 - For the second time in three days, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers, 1-0, in 11 innings. The Bucs used four pitchers - Mark Melancon got the W - and a Neil Walker homer to win at Comerica Park on the 28th, then came home to PNC Park and won behind Bryan Morris and five other pitchers, cinched by a Russell Martin walk-off single off the wall in left center field. This one was a stolen win as the Tigers stranded 11 runners during the game. The squeaker was the club’s fourth 1-0 win in an 11 game span and their 16th win in the past 20 contests. 
  •  2016 - The Pirates rolled over Miami at Marlins Park 10-0. Gregory Polanco hit his first MLB grand slam, Sean Rodriguez added a two run blast, and David Freese went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. The big story was lefty Jeff Locke, who pitched a complete game shutout, the first time he had gone the distance in 101 career starts. It was the Bucs first CG since 2014, when Vance Worley went wire-to-wire. Locke gave up three hits without a walk, and thanks to two DPs, faced the minimum amount of batters until two were gone in the ninth when he was touched for a bloop single. It was a textbook example of pitching to contact; the Pirate southpaw had just one K.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Stop Us If You've Heard This Before: Buc Bullpen Blows Up in 8-6 Loss

That third out gave Nick Kingham some problems; he gave up a two-out single, double (to Rizzo, yah, shoulda plunked him) and then bopped a batter, but a fly to center finally ended the frame with no damage. The Bucs did some damage in their half. Back-to-back two baggers by Austin Murphy (his was a liner lost in the sun field by Ian Happ) and Starling Marte, followed by a J-Bell knock, made it 2-0. In the second, a one-out Chi-town knock was rectified by a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP; why Jason Heyward was running with an 0-2 count on the pitcher only Joe Maddon knows. Eli expressed his feelings about yesterday's ado when he smacked the first pitch 420' over the wall. The King was paid back in a way by taking a pitch off the tootsies but no further action resulted. The Cubs all went down on strikes in the third; J-Bell and Freeser hit consecutive singles with one away but were left on the pond. The Windy City got a four-pitch walk in the fourth while Pittsburgh went down in order.

Nick's start would have been fine if he could figure out how to retire the pitcher...
(image source: Positively Pittsburgh)

With an out in the fifth, Lester slapped a down-the-middle heater into right for a knock and Ben Zobrist put an 0-2 slider that hung mid-plate into the stands - note to Nick: get the pitcher out; solo shots don't hurt as much. A fastball to Kyle Schwarber was ripped for a two-bagger; the King is serving up some fat ones this inning. Rizzo was walked intentionally with two gone to get to righty Wilson Contreras and a pitch later, a pop up calmed the seas. AM got one run back when he launched a 3-2 cutter off the back wall of the right center stands. Again in the sixth, Kingham had trouble finding that third out; it was against the bottom of the order and cost him. Jason Heyward doubled and scored on Lester's second hit; he only had two knocks coming into today's game. That brought in Tyler Glasnow, who lost Zobrist but whiffed Schwarber to put out the fire. Lester hung three straight changeups to the Pirates; S-Rod flew out, Eli's rocket was run down in center and Jordy doubled. Colin Moran pinch hit and fanned - on the changeup - to keep it 4-3.

Edgar Santana got the seventh; after a K, he gave up a homer to Rizzo that barely cleared the wall; there was a review for fan interference after a Cub rooter reached over and caught it. On the tube, it looked like it was short of a dinger, but it was close and the NY guys upheld the call. Rizzo should send them a pizza & six-pack after the last two games... But two-or-four bags didn't make any diff on the scoreboard as a single and double plated another run, so he just scored sooner as opposed to later. Another knock brought in an insurance run and Richard Rodriguez was waved in with an out. Santana faced five hitters; all five hit the ball with 100+ MPH exit velocity. Ric Rod settled things down and Carl Edwards Jr. toed the rubber, stranding Starling at second after his two-out double.
Michael Feliz has given up nine runs in his last three innings (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Michael Feliz's woes continued in the eighth - double, Schwarber homer, walk, plunked batter - adding a pair to the Cubby swag bag. Steve Cishek grabbed the ball and spun a clean frame. Felipe Vazquez was back in action and got three grounders in the ninth; Brian Duensing gave up back-to-back one-out knocks. Brian Morrow got the call and an AM liner went off a glove for an infield rap to load the sacks. Starling brought a pair home with a knock. J-Bell whiffed chasing a slider in the dirt and Corey D grabbed a bat. He went after the first pitch and popped to shallow left, ending another game with another loss on the North Shore.

The Pirates are 2-of-11 during this recent funk, and while a couple of losses can be chalked up to anemic offense, by our count the bullpen has lost leads in five of the nine losses. We don't know if all the youngsters being kicked up a notch into higher leverage situations since George Kontos was cut is the cause or if they were just due to return to earth with a thud and decided to do it all at once. The starters are beginning to come around and the lineup is still chugging along, and except for the collapse of the relief corps have been playing decent ball; hopefully they'll get with the program before the Pirates in the division's rear view mirror.

Notes:
  • Austin Meadows and Starling each had three hits and J-Bell added a pair as the Bucs banged out 13 knocks.
Austin Meadows keeps on keepin' on (Image source: AT&T SportsNet)
  • Meadows is hitting .425 with 4 HR over his first 40 at-bats. Per @EliasSports, he is the fifth player since 1961 to do that. The others were Yasiel Puig, Jeff Francoeur, Albert Pujols, & Brian Giles. He's also the first lefty to homer off John Lester this year.
  • By the by, Felipe Vazquez hit 100 four times tonight. Guess that pop he felt from his elbow on Sunday was just his arm loosening up.
  • Edgar Santana was prob due for a spanking; he had gone 13 outings in May without allowing a run before tonight.
  • There were just 11,475 in the ballyard tonight.

Chicago - Pittsburgh In Round Two, Kingham v Lester & Notes (MLB Sez "Ooops")

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Austin Meadows RF, Starling Marte CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, S-Rod LF, Elias Diaz C, Jordy SS & Nick Kingham P. Corey D is batting .385 against lefties & sitting; David Freese is hitting .194 against lefties and starting; Colin Moran apparently will never get a look at a southpaw. Clint logic...and especially odd with Cervy still out; guess the flu bug bit him hard; knock on wood that Eli's sore ankle holds up.

Nick on the bump (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Nick Kingham (2-1, 3.44) meets LHP Jon Lester (4-2, 2.37) in the middle game. Nick has been sitting on the shelf for eight days while the Pirates decided Ivan Nova's fate. The King is probably dizzy from his yo-yo existence as the Bucs' pull-out-of-the-hat starter, and it shows as he tries to settle in - he's been brilliant, bad and meh in his three grudging starts. The peripherals we like are his 21 whiffs in 18 IP and 11% swinging strike rate; that tells us that he's shown enough stuff to succeed. This will be his first outing against the Cubbies. Outside of a couple of rough April starts, Lester has been rock solid on the hill for the Bruins. One of those rough starts was against the Buccos, who scored four runs on seven hits in five frames against the veteran lefty. Overall, he's been solid but not spectacular when facing Pittsburgh with a 5-5/3.50 slash in 13 starts.

Notes:

  • Ah, MLB. Both the Cubs and Pirates were informed by league that Anthony Rizzo should've been called for interference for his slide into Eli yesterday. The umps and a review OK'ed the play (the vid apparently didn't have an angle - or maybe it had too many - to determine if it was a legal slide or not, so the call on the field stood). Clint was tossed over the affair; Maddon called it "the perfect play."
  • In the past three weeks/17 games, Jordy has gone 18-for-59 (.305) with two triples, three homers and 10 RBI; he's always been a slow starter.
  • Tyler Glasnow has given up one run in his last six outings covering 11-1/3 IP.
  • Rennie Stennett will rep the Bucs at Monday's draft. Yep, it's that close.

5/29 Through the 20s: Big Bill Taft; Brain Storm; Stuffy Signed; The Supremes Rule; Game Stories; HBD Jim & Hitch

  • 1884 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys were no-hit by Columbus Buckeyes hurler Ed “Cannonball” Morris at Recreation Park during a 5-0 whitewash. Morris walked just one in a near perfect performance. The Alleghenys had been no-hit just five days earlier by Al Atkinson of the Philadelphia Athletics, who hit the first batter and was perfect the rest of the way. Cannonball joined the Alleghenys the following year and won 129 games over the next five seasons. He played a final year with the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League in 1890 before retiring to run his North Side bar. 
Jake Beckley 1887 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1895 - Jake Beckley blasted a three run homer in the ninth to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Washington Senators at Boundary Park. The 1B ended the year with five homers, second on the team to Jake Stenzel’s seven, with a club-leading 111 RBI. The win left the Pirates in first with a 22-8 slate, but it wouldn’t last. They had a piece of the top spot last on July 18th, then finished the rest of the year at 30-34 and in seventh place, 17 games behind the Baltimore Orioles (the NL version of the O’s were contracted out in 1899 when the league cut teams and was then reorganized and resurrected in 1901 as an AL franchise). 
  • 1901 - 3B Jim Stroner was born in Chicago. Jim hit .367 w/42 HR for Wichita in 1928 and the Pirates brought him to camp the following season to take Pie Traynor’s place; manager Donie Bush wanted to move Pie to SS to replace Glenn Wright. Despite the bona fides and the tutelage of Traynor, Stroner only lasted six games (he was 3-for-8 hitting, but made three errors in seven chances at the hot corner) before he was sent to the minors. He had a convergence of tough luck - he wasn’t nearly at 100% physically, having undergone an appendectomy in the off season, and he wasn’t quite there mentally either, still recovering from the loss of his mother and wife, both who had passed away in the past year. Stroner never got another shot at the ring; he played in the minors through 1939 before retiring. As for Pie, the SS thing didn’t work out; he hurt his back and moved back to third. 
  • 1905 - Dave Brain tied a modern-day MLB record with three triples in the same game when the Pirates lost a 6-3 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals at Exposition Park. Brain would repeat the feat in a game against Boston later during the season, becoming the first player to accomplish the triple-triple twice in one season. Oddly enough, it was feast or famine in regard to three-baggers for the infielder; they were the only six triples he hit during the campaign, the only one he spent with Pittsburgh. 
Big Bill Taft at Expo Park 1909 (photo Frank Bingaman/Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1909 - President William “Big Bill” Taft visited Exposition Park (Forbes Field would open a month later) to catch a Bucs-Cubs match, and made himself at home in the cheap seats, delighting the 14,091 fans. The Pirates weren’t so delightful, tho, as they went down to Three Finger Brown in 11 innings, 8-3, with Lefty Leifield taking the loss. The Prez must have made the Buccos nervous as the loss was the only time the team was defeated in a 19 game stretch. 
  • 1921 - At Redland Field‚ Clyde Barnhart hit a ninth inning inside-the-park homer to tie the game with the Reds 2-2. He scampered to his first ITPHR after his ball was swallowed up by the right field tarp, considered in-play by the ground rules. It didn’t help in the long run as Pittsburgh lost 4-3 in 13 frames. But the freaky dinger did spoil what would have been the longest no-homer streak of the modern era - it was the only four-bagger that Cincy twirler Eppa Rixey allowed in 301 IP. 
  • 1922 - In a decision that was pretty big for the Pirates as well as MLB, the US Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not a business, and exempted it from antitrust and interstate commerce laws. 
  • 1925 - 1B Jack “Stuffy” McInnis was signed as a free agent. The veteran was a reserve, getting into 106 games over two seasons, starting 64 of them. But his bat still held up; in 1925-26, he hit .337 for Pittsburgh, and .286 in the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. He played one more game after leaving Pittsburgh for his original club, Philadelphia, in 1927 before hanging ‘em up. 
Stuffy McInnis 1925 (photo George Bain/Library of Congress)
  • 1928 - 2B Norma “Hitch” Dearfield Whitney was born in McKeesport. She played fast-pitch softball as a youth and after tryouts at the hometown Renziehausen Park, Hitch got to play with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Chicago Colleens in 1949 and the South Bend Blue Sox in 1950 (no stats available). An injury while with South Bend in 1950 forced her to retire. She returned home, coached girls softball and was a member of the board of directors of the McKeesport Softball League. 
  • 1929 - The Pirates leapfrogged the Cubs into a first place tie with the Cards after a 7-2 win at Forbes Field, their eighth victory in a row. Paul Waner had a triple, two runs scored, and two RBI. Pie Traynor added a pair of knocks with a three-bagger and three runs chased home; Dick Bartell also had a two hits. Rookie Steve Swetonic held the Cubs scoreless for seven frames before fading and got the W with help from Carmen Hill. Though the Bucs would jockey for first throughout July, they finished the campaign with just 88 wins, 10-½ games behind the Cubs. A blah August (13-16) dropped them out of contention.

5/29 From the 30s Forward: Grace Trade; Zane 1-Hitter; Roberto & Frank Star; Big Bats; HBD Charlie

  • 1931 - C Earl Grace was traded by the Cubs with cash to the Pirates for C Rollie Hemsley. Grace caught five years for the Bucs and hit .275 over that span, retiring after 1937. Hemsley ended up playing 15 more seasons for five teams, hitting .262 and playing on five All-Star teams. 
Earl Grace 1934 Goudey
  • 1955 - At the age of 20 years and 284 days, Roberto Clemente became the second youngest player to hit three doubles in a game in MLB history, behind the Braves’ Eddie Mathews (ironically against the Pirates in 1952). The Bucs beat the Phillies 11-5 at Forbes Field; the young Clemente was the leadoff hitter, and banged his two-baggers off three different pitchers while going 5-for-5. Every Pirate starter had a hit. Dick Groat had four knocks, Frank Thomas went long and Max Surkont got the win. It was the back end of a doubleheader. The Buccos dropped the opener 5-2; Thomas had a home run in that contest, too. 
  • 1965 - Despite allowing three runs in the first inning, the Pirates rallied to defeat the New York Mets 7-4 at Shea Stadium. The Buccos were led by Roberto Clemente, who went 4-for-5, collected two RBI, scored three runs, and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The Pirates put the game away in the seventh when a two-out walk followed by four singles plated three runs. Don Schwall took the win and Al McBean got the save. 
  • 1965 - 3B Charlie Hayes was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Charlie manned the hot corner and played a little first base for 14 big league seasons for seven teams (and three of them he played for twice), spending most of 1996 with the Pirates. He hit .248 as a Bucco starter before being sent to the NYY for a minor-league guy. The deadline deal worked out great for Charlie; he ended up a member of the Yankees ‘96 World Championship club after leaving the Buccos, a Central Division bottom feeder that campaign. Hayes now runs the Big League Baseball Academy in Texas, and his son Ke'Bryan was selected 32nd overall by the Pirates in the 2015 draft and is one of their hot prospects at his dad’s old spot, 3B. 
Charlie Hayes 1996 Circa
  • 1991 - The Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 at Busch Stadium as Zane Smith threw the second one-hitter of his career, striking out five to earn his seventh win on the season. Orlando Merced led the attack with two hits and two RBI for the Bucs.  
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh rocked the San Francisco Giants 13-3 at TRS. Barry Bonds went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI, Jose Lind chipped in with three runs driven in and Andy Van Slyke had three hits to give Vicente Palacios the win and Bob Patterson a save for tossing the final three frames. The Pirates used a 13-hit, 10-walk attack and an eight-run seventh inning to pull away. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates put on a show for the 17,282 fans at TRS in a 10-4 romp over the Florida Marlins. Every Bucco starter reached base safely, including winning pitcher Jason Schmidt who walked, while John Vander Wal, Kevin Young and Pat Meares combined for eight RBI and every starter but Meares scored. Pittsburgh had 13 hits and the Fish hurlers aided the cause by issuing seven walks.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Pirates Play Dead In 7-0 Loss

Chad Kuhl spun a 1-2-3 first and ditto for Mike Montgomery. Anthony Rizzo sent the opening pitch of the second over the wall; an out later, Kyle Schwarber tried to do the same when he tucked a fly inside the LF foul pole, but Corey Dickerson sprung above the wall and brought the ball back in for a loud out. The Cubs had some spark left with back-to-back singles, but Chad worked out of that jam. It was again nada by the Pirates. The third was messy as Kuhl walked three, but again he escaped thanks to caught stealing on a bullet shorthop by Eli and a nice block & tag by S-Rod. The Bucs were silent again, although Eli banged a long out into The Notch. A single and bunt was all the havoc the Cubs created in the fourth. This is now the longest outing of  the season for Montgomery and went as well as the first three; he's perfect after four. Kuhl gave up a couple of liners and a walk in the fifth, but he's done a great job at damage control today. With an out, Corey D rolled a single up the middle to end the hitless streak. The good times lasted three pitches until Freeser bounced into a 6-4-3 DP.

Chad dodged some raindrops to toss a fine game (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Chad twirled a clean sixth and finished the day with a nice line - one run on four hits, four walks, and five whiffs after 93 tosses. Like Taillon yesterday, he used his slider often and to good effect. S-Rod opened with a soft infield knock, but Eli and Red Beard K'ed. Steve Cishek came on to face J-Hay to get a righty match; it was a great outing for Montgomery, pulled from the pen to spot start. Josh K'ed, too; so far the Bucco bats have been on holiday. Steven Brault got the seventh inning call and didn't help matters; he gave up a single and a two-out homer to pinch hitter Addison Russell, and 3-0 looks like Mt. Everest the way the Pirates are swinging it. Kyle Crick finished the frame, getting Kris Bryant on a long, loud fly. Ol' matey Justin Wilson toed the slab and the Pirates couldn't get a ball out of the infield. A single and dribbler thrown away by Crick put Cubs on the corners in the eighth. An intentional walk followed, and then another typical Cubbie rhubarb broke out - a grounder led to a force at home; Rizzo chopped down Eli as he was making a throw for two, with the ball airmailed into right and Diaz down after the collision, leading to two more runs.

The slide (image AT&T SportsNet)

Clint charged out and got a review; Joe Maddon joined the fray and probably raved about Eli having a sudden case of plantar fasciitis. The ruling was upheld (Rizzo went right at Diaz and took out Eli's back leg which was still in front of but well away from the plate as he stepped toward first; it was a text book take-out slide. One side will say cheap shot; the other just breaking up a DP, and the MLB rule's interpretation is seat-of-pants. Clint got ejected, but at least Eli hung in there after limping it off; Cervy is still flu-bitten and S-Rod was the nominal back-up. Maddon was still arguing after the fact; guess he can't take yes for an answer. Anyway, the rest of the inning went quietly and Pedro Strop put down the Pirates in order. Ric Rod had a rough ninth, giving up two runs on four hits and a wild pitch - actually, Eli  wasn't quite mobile enough to block it - with Rizzo getting a two-run knock, the ultimate Pirate punking. Luke Farrell came in to finish and didn't break a sweat doing so. And to boot, Joey Cora and David Freese had to be separated by Gregory Polanco in the dugout after the game, though we don't don't know what triggered that bout. The team locked the doors and had a meeting afterward about the slide.

This club is a hot mess right now; they can't hit the ball, the bullpen has gone to five alarms and they can't draw fans to PNC Park. Then a little scuffle after the game between Joey Cora and team elder Freeser? Clint better channel some of this team's frustration-fueled energy into performance or the season could go south fast. The living is easy when you're winning; not so much when you're down-and-out.

Notes:
  • The Pirates have lost 8-of-10.
  • This was the first time Steven Brault has appeared on consecutive days.
  • Pirate pitchers have committed six errors this year; five have been by Ivan Nova and Kyle Crick.
  • Freeser tied Jordy for the team lead with his fourth GIDP. Mercer has 40 AB w/runner on first, < two outs; Freese 15 AB w/runner on first, < two outs.
  • Another dismal crowd - 19,382 visited PNC Park on Memorial Day. And by the sound of it, half came from Chicago.
  • The park held a moment of silence at 3 PM in remembrance of those who gave their lives defending the nation. The game's first pitch was thrown by Air Force Master Sgt. Tammanica Muse.

Cubs Visit Bucs, Cool Chad v Montgomery & Notes - Nova on DL, Felipe "Irritation"

Today: The Memorial Day game starts at 1:35 and will be on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Austin Meadows RF, Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Corey Dickerson LF, David Freese 3B, S-Rod SS, Elias Diaz C & Chad Kuhl P. Lefties Gregory and Colin Moran are off against a southpaw. So is Jordy,just as a rest day as he hits LHP better than righties; Clint has to work it now to get S-Rod at-bats with J-Hay's return and AM on the roster. And finally, it seems Cervy is still a little under the weather with the flu bug.

Chad opens against the Cubbies (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pitchers: RHP Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.20) kicks it off against LHP Mike Montgomery (0-1, 5.33). Cool Chad is still riding on a bumpy road, but his last outing was strong and he's getting more consistent as the season goes on. He's 1-4/8.23 in seven career starts v the Cubbies; he went 1-2/6.35 in four 2017 appearances. This will be his first 2018 outing against the Baby Bruins. Tyler Chatwood was penciled in for this start but was bumped up a day after Yu Darvish went on the DL, so Montgomery got the call. It will be his first opening bell of the year, but he's been a spot starter throughout his career - he made 14 starts last year - so it's not new territory for him. But he hasn't gone more than three innings nor thrown more than 46 pitches in any outing this season, so he probably won't have to worry about seeing the order for a third turn. Mike has worked against the Bucs once this year, giving up three runs in two innings. In seven lifetime appearances (one start), he's 1-0/3.45 v the Buccos.

Notes:
  • Felipe Vazquez left the game yesterday with "left forearm discomfort." He told the trainers he felt it during the last two pitches he threw. Makes us wonder how long it's been achy; a bum wing could explain losing two or three ticks off his heater and virtually ditching his slider. He told the beat gang that he feels fine today though he won't be allowed to pitch. The docs said that Vazquez has minor irritation to a flexor muscle and is day-to-day.
Nothing major for Felipe (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Ivan Nova was officially placed on the DL (retroactive to 5/25) and Nick Kingham added to the roster; the King will take Nova's rotation turn on Tuesday.
  • Clint said he doesn't plan a strict OF rotation, but expects to get Austin Meadows in seven or so of every 10 games. He also warned that despite his en fuego start that there's no guarantee that AM has a secure roster spot for the rest of the year.
  • The Cubbies may be a little drowsy today; they played the ESPN Sunday Night Game last night at Wrigley. They beat the Giants 8-3 in a game that ended at 11:40 PM our time. Chicago has been puttering along lately with a 5-5 record in their last 10 games, which is better than the Bucs, who have lost 7-of-9.
  • Per @JohnDrecker of Pirates Prospects, today's game will be the 2,500th regular season meeting between the two clubs. They'll be the first pair of teams to reach that rivalry mark in baseball history.

5/28 Expo Park-Forbes Field Era: Long's 8-Game HR Streak; Game Stories; HBD Kirk, Sarge, Steve, Reddy & King

  • 1881 - RHP James “King” Brady was born in Elmer, New Jersey. King worked two of his five MLB seasons with the Bucs in 1906-07, and didn’t get much work, going 1-1, 2.16 in four starts but giving up an average of 11.5 hits every nine innings, and was shipped to the minors early in 1907 after taking a liner off the bean. He spent eight years on the farm, winning 85 games. The source of his nickname is uncertain, although it’s thought that a Pittsburgh writer gave it to him after a good outing. 
  • 1903 - OF Romer “Reddy” Gray‚ brother of author Zane Grey (they were both originally Grays; their dad changed the spelling allegedly to dodge some bills), made his MLB bow as a Buc. He went 1-for-3 in his only big league game as the Pirates beat Boston 7-6. Gray scored a run, knocked in another, drew a walk, and caught the only ball hit his way in the OF. He played on loan from the nearby Worcester minor league club as the Pirates, due to some injuries and personal issues, found themselves short handed for the game against the Beaneaters at the South End Grounds. Gray was an early AAAA ballplayer; he never found a home in MLB but had a career .311 minor league BA. His author brother was also a ballplayer in his younger days; he even played at Pitt briefly. They were teammates on both the Jaxons and Findlay Sluggers of the Interstate League in 1895, and Zane went on to pen several baseball themed stories. 
Steve Nagy (photo source: Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1919 - LHP Steve Nagy was born in Franklin, New Jersey. Steve was teammates with a couple of famous folk, notably TV star Chuck “The Rifleman” Connors (who played for the Dodgers and the Cubs before going on to Hollywood) at Seton Hall University and Jackie Robinson as a Montreal Royal, but their fame didn’t provide him with any coattails. He pitched briefly in the majors for two years, spending 1947 as a Pirates reliever and going 1-3, 5.79. Steve missed some time during WW2 while in the navy, but still managed to play 14 minor-league campaigns before he retired from the game after the 1958 season. 
  • 1921 - Pittsburgh protested their 4-3‚ 10-inning loss to the Reds and won. After Reds P Dolf Luque misfired the ball into the Cincinnati dugout‚ Clyde Barnhart was called out going to third when the ball was tossed back into the field. The Pirates said no way; it was a dead ball, and NL president Heydler agreed. The game was later replayed from that point (it was 3-3), and the Bucs took full advantage of their second chance, turning the table to win 4-3 on June 30th. 
  • 1923 - LHP Bob “Sarge” Kuzava was born in Wyandotte, Michigan. Bob spent 10 years in MLB, stopping in Pittsburgh for four appearances lasting two innings and giving up two runs in 1957. It was the last big league season for the 34-year-old; he was sold to the Cards and got three final outings. He began his career as a starter and finished it as a reliever/spot starter, with his highlights in 1952 when he went 2-2/3 no-hit innings for the Yankees to save the seventh game of the World Series against Brooklyn, a 4-2 win after saving the clinching sixth game the year before with a perfect ninth inning to defeat the Giants, 4-3. Kuzava was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. He got his nickname of Sarge after spending three years during WW2 in Burma. 
Dale Long 1956 Topps badge
  • 1956 - First baseman Dale Long set a major league record by hitting a home run in his eighth consecutive game, a 3-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Forbes Field. The liner was hit off of Carl Erskine in front of 32,221 Forbes Field fans who didn’t settle down until the big first baseman made a curtain call, said to be the first in MLB history. The record was later tied by Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993). Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe closed out the string the following day as Long went 0-for-4. 
  • 1957 - OF Kirk Gibson was born in Pontiac, Michigan. He spent 1992 as a Pirate toward the end of his 17-year MLB run, coming over from KC in a swap for P Neal Heaton, and the 35-year-old was released in May after hitting .196. He closed out the final three years of his career with the Tigers after Sparky Anderson talked him out of retirement. The 1988 World Series hero has since worked as a coach, manager and announcer. 
  • 1960 - More Destiny’s Darlings lore: Roberto Clemente was on third and Hal Smith on first with two outs in the eighth with Maz up at Forbes Field. He fanned on a ball that hit in the front of the plate, ricocheted off ump Al Barlick and straight to Phillies pitcher Jim Owens. Maz froze, Smith jogged to second and Clemente went halfway down the baseline. Owens chased Roberto as his bench called for him to throw to first, which he either didn’t hear or ignored. In the run-down‚ Clemente knocked the ball out of C Jim Coker's glove to score the tying run. The Pirates won 4-2 in the 13th on Don Hoak's two-run HR. 
Temper, temper... 1963 Fleer
  • 1963 - Called out at first on a close play for the second time in the game‚ Roberto Clemente twice jostled ump Bill Jackowski while arguing the decision. Clemente was ejected‚ and skipper Danny Murtaugh got his Irish up, challenging the man in blue to duke it out until he was pulled away. The Great One was fined $250 and suspended for five days by the league. To top the day off, the Pirates lost 5-1 to the Phils at Forbes Field.

5/28 TRS-PNC Park Era: Mack Celebrates Fatherhood; Four Homers; Jay's HR String; Motown Walk Off; Game Stories; HBD Alex

  • 1977 - OF/1B Alex Hernandez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Alex was taken by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 1995 draft and spent two campaigns in Pittsburgh, getting into 27 games and hitting .183 in 2001-02. He spent his last couple of seasons playing indie ball and in the Puerto Rican Winter League before retiring in 2006.  
Barry Bonds 1988 Fleer
  • 1988 - The Pirates whipped the Reds 5-2 at Riverfront Stadium behind an unstoppable leadoff man Barry Bonds. BB went 2-for-2 and was walked three times, scoring three runs with a RBI to rev the Bucco engine. Bobby Bonilla and Darnell Coles both added a single and double to help Bob Walk to the win with a Bob Kipper hold & Jeff Robinson save. 
  • 1990 - Memorial Day seemed like it was going to be more memorable for Dodger pitcher Tim Belcher, who was working on a one-hitter through eight innings at TRS, than anything the Bucs would do. But in the end, the Pirates provided the holiday fireworks, scoring five times in the ninth off two Dodger relievers to take an improbable 6-5 win from LA. The Bucs trimmed the lead to 5-3 and loaded the bases with two down in the final frame. Jose Lind spanked a 3-2 liner through the right side and RF’er Hubie Brooks tried to cut down the tying run, Gary Redus, at the plate. The throw was up the line and C Mike Scioscia tried to pick the ball and swipe the runner. It didn’t pan out; he missed the throw entirely and it rolled to the back wall, allowing Don Slaught to lumber in from first to plate the game winner for Bill Landrum, who had worked the ninth for Pittsburgh. 
  • 2004 - In the lidlifter of a twin bill, utilityman Rob Mackowiak smacked a two-out, walk-off grand slam for a 9-5 Pirates victory barely nine hours after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first child, Garrett Matthew. Chicago’s Matt Clement had a tough outing with a wild pitch and plunks of Bobby Hill, Jason Kendall and Craig Wilson in the fifth frame of the opener (the three HBP in an inning tied the modern era MLB record), opening the gates to a four-run frame. In the second game, Mack drilled a two-run shot, the 500th homer at PNC Park, into the same right center field seats as the one he hit three hours earlier to send the nitecap into extra innings, later won by Craig Wilson’s 10th inning homer, for a 5-4 sweep of the Cubs. It was the first time since 1967 that a doubleheader was won by walk-off homers. 
Whack-A-Mack 2004 Topps Total
  • 2006 - The Pirates lost to the Astros 5-4 at PNC Park. Houston scored four times in the ninth off three different Pirate pitchers to tie the game, then won it in the tenth on a Preston Wilson knock off Salomon Torres. The game did have a bright side. Jason Bay homered off Fernando Nieve in the fourth inning to run his consecutive game HR streak to six contests, the second longest in Pirate history after Dale Long’s 1956 eight-game streak. It started on the 22nd against Arizona’s Orlando Hernandez. Bay had a pair of bombs on the 20th, too, giving him nine home runs in eight games. 
  • 2011 - Four Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Ronnie Cedeno) went long as Pittsburgh whipped the Cubs 10-1 at Wrigley Field. Paul Maholm tossed a three-hitter for the complete game victory. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs rode strong pitching and an 11th-inning home run by Neil Walker off Jose Ortega to edge the Tigers at Comerica Park 1-0, despite striking out 14 times. Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello started the game while Jason Grilli finished it in style with swinging strikeouts of Motown’s Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order to earn his 21st save and Mark Melancon’s first win as a Pirate.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Felipe & Feliz Flounder in Brutal 6-4 Loss To Cards

Matt Carpenter doubled to start the game and moved to third with two outs. He scored on Marcell Ozuna's left side bleeder that the speedster barely beat out, and it was 1-0. Austin Meadows legged out an infield knock with an out against Miles Mikolas. The Bucs remain frustrating; Starling got a pair of hung changeups but fouled them both before flying out and J-Bell saw one toss over the plate in seven pitches and still fanned. St. Louis went down 1-2-3 in the second, same for the Bucs. Carpenter banged another two-bagger in the third but was left aboard while the Pirates again went quietly. Jamo spun a clean fourth. Austin opened with a soft opp field single and stole second. After two quick outs (AM tagged to third on J-Bell's fly), Red Beard tied the game with a knock before Gregory K'ed for the second time. Jamo tucked the bottom of order away efficiently in the fifth with two K and eight pitches.

A good outing wasted (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Eli walked and Jordy followed with a single. With the Cards charging hard on the wheel play, Jamo took a cut, but flew out to right. Fraze had a great at bat, battling through 11 pitches before he found a slider he liked, and he banged it for a two-run three-bagger the opp way into The Notch. AM followed with a sac fly to put the Pittsburgh nine up 4-1. Carpenter walked to start the sixth; can't keep him off the sacks this series. A grounder moved him up, and another roller clanged off Red Beard's mitt; the boot put Redbirds on the corners. No sweat as Jamo picked him up by feeding Ozuna a 6-4-3 DP ball. The Pirates went quietly. Kolten Wong dribbled an infield knock with an out and Yairo Munoz followed with another rap in the seventh, and that brought Edgar Santana to the hill. JT gave up five hits, a walk and whiffed six after 85 tosses; he used his slider early and often today and it was effective. Santana uncorked a wild pitch and gave up a two-out a flare to Jedd Gyorko, and suddenly it's 4-3. Sam Tuivailala denied a Buc response and Michael Feliz was the eighth inning moundsman.

He surrendered a dying quail single and back-to-back walks. Feliz pumped out a K and Felipe Vazquez was called in and yep, another bloop single the opp way tied it. The Birds took the lead on a four-pitch walk, none of the tosses remotely close to the zone. A weak grounder chased home an insurance point and brought in Steven Brault (Vazquez went to the dugout cradling his elbow, so we'll see whassup with that) to get the third out, a whiff of Carpenter.  Jordan Hicks came on to twirl a clean inning. Brault put up a zero in the ninth despite bopping a batter and Bud Norris took the ball for the Cards. Three batters later, the brutal loss was in the books.

Felipe has hit on hard times (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs used to be among the best in closing games, but lately... In his last three outings, Felipe Vazquez has blown three saves, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks in 1-2/3 IP while Michael Feliz had given up seven runs on four hits and three walks and lasted two IP in his last three visits to the mound. Not only are the come-from-ahead losses brutal, but eventually they'll wear on the team ethos if they have no confidence in the back end holding onto leads.

Still, it's not as if the Cardinal voodoo wasn't in play - they stirred a mix of soft hits and walks into six runs; twice Pirate pitchers got a grounder with a runner on first that could have ended the inning if turned into a twin killing, but neither ball had enough pace and ended up scoring two runs, the margin of defeat. And the Bucco batters chased Mikolas, only to go nine up, nine down against three relievers; five hits isn't going to win a lot of games.

Notes:

  • Austin Meadows has six multi-hit games in the nine he's played; today was his fourth straight.
  • The Pirates became the second team to hang a four-spot on Mikolas; the Brewers did it twice.
  • There was a late lineup change - Cervy has the flu, so Eli is catching and batting seventh; Austin Meadows was bumped up to second and Gregory to sixth in the order.
  • Neal Huntington said on his Sunday radio show that the odds are in favor of Ivan Nova going on the DL, but they haven't decided who to use if he does among Nick Kingham, Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow.
Looks like Nick is on for Tuesday (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • He didn't commit to a time frame for how long Austin Meadows remains on the MLB roster, other than it will be for as long as they can get him regular playing time ("He needs to play.") The GM did say that AM isn't here as a fourth outfielder but as part of a four man outfield, so that bit of nuance bodes well for Meadows for the time being.
  • Another slow day at the gate with 19,608 in the house.
  • Cardinals bench coach Mike Schildt was smacked in the noggin by a smoked Starling foul and was taken, under his own power but dazed, to the clubhouse for evaluation. He suffered a contusion and was back on the bench two innings later, we're glad to report.
  • Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register takes a look at Iowa-bred prospect Mitch Keller.