Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bucs - Friars, Willy v Lucchesi & Notes

Today: The games starts at 10:10 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. Perfect timing to carry you through to last call at the pub.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (6-5, 4.03) takes on LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 3.57). Willy looks like he's getting back into his groove judging by his past two outings, and that would be some good news for a staff that has to be sharp while awaiting the offense to find some consistent thunder. He was quite meh in his only start against San Diego, allowing four runs in six innings on May 20th.  Lucchesi is making his third start since returning from a hip injury that sidelined him for over a month and is still showing some rust. His last outing was good albeit short: he tossed four innings and 70 pitches worth of shutout ball against the Rangers. It will be the 25-year-old rookie's first start against Pittsburgh.

Willy looking to let the good times roll (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Josh Harrison 2B, David Freese 3B, Elias Diaz, Austin Meadows LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Williams P. Another southpaw...

  • J-Clutch: Josh Harrison is hitting .439 (29-for-66) with runners on base this season and .433 (13-for-30) w/RISP.
  • Not exactly cleaning up: Colin Morin has been hitting fourth for his past 13 starts and gone 11-for-44 (.250) with two home runs and four RBI. Freeser hasn't been an improvement. He's 4-for-22 (.182) with one RBI and no extra base hits from the cleanup spot.
  • Bad trend: Corey D is hitting .263 in June after batting .307 in May and .323 in April/March.

6/30 Games: Forbes Field Opens; Stu & Smoky Explode; Drabek & Leiber Gems; 8-Hole; 8-Run Frame

  • 1909 - A SRO crowd of 30,338 was on hand, to date the largest gathering to ever watch a baseball game, as the Pirates fell to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the debut of Forbes Field. Ed Reulbach tossed a three-hitter to top Vic Willis. Mayor William Magee threw out the first ball. He was in the second tier and lobbed the ball to John M. Morin, Director of Public Safety, on the field below. Morin then went to the mound and threw the first pitch to open the festivities. The ball yard was one of the nation's first made completely of concrete and steel, featuring public phones, separate ladies room, ramps rather than stairs and even included a visitor’s clubhouse. FF’s firsts: the first radio broadcast in 1921, the first fan elevator installed in 1938, the first field tarps, the first pads to cushion the outfield wall in the forties and the first All-Star (1944) game played at night. It had a print shop (Banker’s Lithographing) in its interior and in the twenties, the space under the LF bleachers was used for car sales and repairs! It wasn’t exactly embraced at the beginning; it was often called "Dreyfuss' Folly" in its early years. Some folly; the yard was the Pirates’ home for 61 seasons. 
  • 1960 - Dick Stuart bombed three consecutive HRs to key an 11-6 win as the Pirates split a DH with the second place Giants at Forbes Field. Stuart had seven RBI in the nitecap and joined Ralph Kiner as the second Pirate to hit three homers in a game at Forbes Field. Joe Gibbon worked 7-⅔ innings, giving up six hits and a run after Vinegar Bend Mizell was chased by the G-Men in the second frame. The Bucs were flattened in the opener, losing by an 11-0 count. 
  • 1962 - The Pirates clobbered the Cards 17-7 at Busch Stadium. Smoky Burgess had two homers and a double, good for seven RBI. Roberto Clemente had a hot stick, too, going 4-for-5 with a homer, double and five runs driven in. Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart added three knocks apiece as the Pirates drilled 22 hits against St. Louis. 
  • 1992 - Pittsburgh eked out a 2-0 win v St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Doug Drabek was the man, tossing a three-hit, complete-game whitewash with nine strikeouts. It was the third time that Drabek went the distance on the way to a career-high 10 CGs during the season. The Bucs scored both runs in the sixth off Rheal Cormier when Cecil Espy and Chico Lind’s back-to-back singles plated Lloyd McClendon and Don Slaught. 
Jon Lieber 1997 Circa Rage
  • 1997 - Jon Lieber tossed a five-hit, ten K, complete game 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at TRS, backed by homers from Kevin Young and Dale Sveum. But the most memorable part of the afternoon was Lieber’s dominance of Albert Belle, whom he whiffed four times. The 28,070 fans loved it; Belle was in the first year of an $11M contract, while the “Freak Show” Pirates had a $9M payroll for the entire team. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline for Bob Smizik’s game story was “Pirates Clang Belle.” Lieber also held Frank Thomas, who was making a mere $7.15M, 0-for-2, though the Big Hurt did draw a walk and had a sac fly for Chi-town’s only RBI. 
  • 1999 - The Bucs rode an eight-run fourth frame to a 9-1 win over the Phillies at TRS. Brian Giles had a three-run homer, Al Martin had a three-run bases-clearing double and Brant Brown doubled in another pair as the Bucs banged out six hits to go with three walks in their big frame. Jason Schmidt cruised to victory, with ninth inning help from Brad Clontz. 
  • 2008 - The Pirates penciled a pitcher in the eight-hole for the first time in over 50 years when John Russell had Paul Maholm (.161) bat ahead of Jack Wilson (.312). Didn’t work as the Bucs went down 4-3 to the Reds at GABP after Matt Capps gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Junior. Maholm went 0-for-3; Wilson 1-for-3. 
Vin Mazzaro 2013 Quarry
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their ninth straight game, 2-1, in 14 innings over the Brewers at PNC Park. The game was delayed in the second inning for nearly 2-1/2 hours, and the bullpens took over with Milwaukee ahead 1-0. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the eighth when his two-out knock drove in Starling Marte. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 13th to miss a golden chance, but  in the following go-around, Russell Martin, the last position player remaining, singled home Gaby Sanchez, who had an infield knock and stolen base to open the frame, with the game winner. Tony Watson got the win after three scoreless innings. He followed five other Pirate relievers, and the ensemble tossed 12 innings of two-hit, shutout ball without issuing a walk, led by Vin Mazzaro’s perfect five-inning stint (it was the first Bucco five IP+ bullpen perfecto since Elmer Ponder did it in 1919). It was the first time in franchise history that the bullpen put up that many consecutive zeros in one game.

6/30 Happenings: Callahan Canned; Ouch; Barney Stone; McWilliams Deal; Fans For Change; Hanny Trade; Cutch PoM

  • 1917 - Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan was fired after the club staggered to a 20-40 start, and Honus Wagner took over as player-manager. The Wagner-led Bucs won 5-4 win over the Reds‚ with the Dutchman banging a two-run double. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win at Forbes Field. Wagner resigned after a five-game stint at the helm; he much preferred playing to filling out lineup cards, and business manager Hugo Bezdek took the reins. 
Glenn Wright (Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1927 - Sometimes ya just can’t win: Per BR Bullpen, SS Glenn Wright, sent home from St. Louis after being beaned batting against the Cards, was slightly injured when the train he was riding wrecked in Ohio. “Buckshot” lost two weeks to the twin traumas, not returning to the lineup until July 14th. Lee Meadows, who accompanied Wright on the trip home, escaped shaken but unscathed. 
  • 1934 - A small stone monument dedicated to Barney Dreyfuss was unveiled outside Forbes Field’s RF gates, leading to Schenley Park, on the 25th anniversary of the ballyard. The monument was later displayed in TRS and it’s now located at PNC Park, on the concourse behind home plate. The ceremony didn’t help the Bucs, who were 4-2 losers to the Cubs. 
  • 1982 - The Atlanta Braves traded LHP Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for RHP Pascual Perez and minor leaguer Carlos Rios. Both pitchers were solid starters for a spell (each won 33 games during his next three years) in an even up deal. 
  • 2007 - To protest the team’s small payroll and general ineptitude, a group called “Fans for Change” staged a walkout at PNC Park. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand of the 26,959 on hand who strolled out of the park after the third inning. They picked a bad day for it, as the Bucs beat the Nats 7-2 behind Tom Gorzelanny, who was supported by a three-run homer by Adam LaRoche. Though the sentiment was widespread, the boycott had little effect. 
Joel Hanrahan 2009 Topps Heritage
  • 2009 - The Bucs traded LF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge in a change-of-scenery swap. Hanrahan would become the major piece, eventually taking over as the Pirate closer. They also completed a minor deal the same day, shipping utilityman Eric Hinske to the Yankees for minor leaguers Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson. 
  • 2017 - The Bucs were bombed by the Giants 13-5 at PNC Park to complete a SF sweep, but the G-Men couldn’t slow down Andrew McCutchen. He went 2-for-2 with a walk to close out a red-hot month. He slashed .411/.505/.689 with six homers, 23 RBI and 22 runs scored, taking the Player-of-the-Month Award for a franchise record fifth time.

6/30: Birthdays: HBD Jovo, Tin Can, Delwyn, Dave, Chan Ho, Drew, Cole, Don, Davy & Hal

  • 1880 - OF Davy Jones was born in Manikota, Minnesota. After a 13-year career in the show, the 34-year-old Jones spent his last two campaigns (1914-15) with the Pittsburgh Rebels, where he hit .279 before an ankle injury led to his release. Jones had spent most of his MLB time fighting for a third outfield spot in Detroit between Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, and saw considerable time as the leadoff hitter, scoring at a good pace with those two Hall-of-Fame bats behind him. He even homered in the 1909 Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That he ended up with the Rebels was no surprise. Per SABR, “During his first years in the pros he jumped so many contracts that the press nicknamed him ‘The Kangaroo.’"
Johnny Miljus 1927 (Harwell Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1895 - RHP Johnny Miljus was born in Lawrenceville and went to Pitt, where he was a football and baseball star. Known as “Jovo” (short for Jovan, or John in Serbian) and “The Big Serb” (a nickname bestowed on him by Babe Ruth, per baseball lore), he got his start with an inning for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League in 1915, and later worked for the Bucs from 1927-28 (he fought in WW1 and was wounded in action, delaying his career), going 13-10-1 with a 3.53 ERA. He was multi-role hurler, and did everything from start to close. He’s best remembered for his wild pitch that allowed the Yankees to sweep the 1927 Series. Jovo struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel in the ninth of that game and got two strikes on Tony Lazzeri. But he muscled up on the next pitch (some say it was a spitter, tho Johnny never 'fessed up) and it got past C Johnny Gooch, allowing Earle Combs to score the winning run. Johnny was thought to be the first Serbian to play MLB. 
  • 1902 - RHP Hal Smith was born in Creston, Iowa. Smith broke into the big leagues as a 30 year old, and spent his four year career (1932-35) as a Buc, although most of his twirling in the first and last year was done for the AA Kansas City Blues. He went 12-11-1 with a 3.77 ERA as a Pirate with his time split between starting and the bullpen. Hal played for the Blues again in 1936, then hung ‘em up. 
  • 1909 - LHP Harry “Tincan” Kincannon was born in parts unknown. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930-36, being one of just three players to transition from the original independent club to the Negro National League. The curve-ball specialist made one All-Star appearance for the Crawfords before he was traded to the NY Black Yankees. He finished his career after the 1939 campaign. 
Dave Roberts 1966 Topps
  • 1933 - 1B/OF Dave Roberts was born in Panama City, Panama. After a couple of years playing off the Colt .45’s (Astros) bench, Roberts spent a year on the farm and joined the Bucs in 1966 via the Rule 5 draft, going 2-for-16 in his last MLB shot while spending most of the campaign at AAA Columbus. Afterwards, he put in eight seasons in Japan (1967-74) 
  • 1931 - LHP Don Gross was born in Weidman, Michigan. Gross pitched from the pen for the Bucs from 1958-60, going 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA. The Pirates made one of their “whatever was I thinking” deals when they got him from the Reds; they sent RHP Bob Purkey to Cincinnati, who won in double figures for eight seasons and made three All-Star teams. 
  • 1973 - RHP Chan Ho Park was born in Kong Ju City, South Korea. He finished his 17-year MLB career in Pittsburgh in 2010 after being claimed off waivers from the Yankees, making 26 appearances and slashing 2-2/3.49. He tossed for two more years in Korea afterwards before retiring to focus on various children charities on behalf of his Chan Ho Park Dream Foundation. 
  • 1982 - UT Delwyn Young Jr. was born in Los Angeles. A touted minor-league prospect, Delwyn was an AAA All-Star and played for Team USA, but the Dodgers outfield was loaded and he Young was sent to Pittsburgh for Eric Krebs & Harvey Garcia. He was the starting 2B for a spell, replacing the traded Freddy Sanchez. Delwyn began on fire but faded during the dog days, relegating him to a utility role in 2010. His bat slipped - he hit .238 following a .266 season - and he left at the end of the year as a free agent. Young had a couple of bites, but never caught on in the majors again. 
Delwyn Young 2010 Topps
  • 1983 - UT Drew Sutton was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. Drew had a dizzy but brief Bucco stay. The Pirates purchased Sutton from the Braves on May 20th, 2012. Then Tampa Bay purchased Drew from the Bucs on the next day; the Pirates had let him go as a professional courtesy because the Rays were going to add him to their MLB roster. 18 games and a month later, Sutton was DFA’ed by Tampa and claimed by Pittsburgh. He became the stuff of local folklore when Drew hit his first career walk-off home run into PNC’s batter’s eye off the Astro’s Wesley Wright to give the Pirates a come-from-ahead win after a blown save by Joel Hanrahan. The victory gave the Pirates a share of first place. Drew left as a free agent after the year, spent one more season as a 30-year-old at AAA Pawtucket for Boston and then retired. 
  • 1987 - IF Cole Figueroa was born in Tallahassee, Florida. He made three brief stops in the show between 2014-16 with his last hurrah in Pittsburgh. He got into 23 games in 2016, batting .154. He read the writing on the wall; he’s now with the Tampa Bay Rays, working in Baseball Research & Development and putting his Sports Management degree from Florida (he was selected to the All-SEC Academic Team) to good use.

Bucs Jump Out Early To Take A 6-3 Win v San Diego

J-Bell and J-Hay banged back-to-singles with an out, and a passed ball brought home a run against Eric Lauer, though the Bucs left Josh on third with one out. SD went 1-2-3 against Joe Musgrove with a very sweet play by Harrison. In the second, the Pirates got a bunt single from El Coffee, who advanced 90' on a balk, but couldn't move him around. The Friars got a leadoff knock from Wil Myers, who stole second and went to third on a bunt A two-out walk left runners on the corners and a whiff left them there. Starling opened the third with a rap and came all the way around on a J-Bell two-bagger, a huge hopper into left. J-Hay's single put Bucs at first and third. Freeser K'ed and Eli's hopper to short looked like it might 6-4-3 the inning, but a Friar throwaway saved the day, sending home a run. With two outs and an 0-2 count, Gregory battled until he got one he liked, doubling home two more runs tho getting tossed out trying for three.

J-Grove had a happy homecoming (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

A walk and two-out single again left Padres on the edges and again they stayed put. Jordy opened the fourth with a dinger to straightaway center after SD skipper Andy Green had been given the heave-ho by plate ump Angel Hernandez between innings for reasons unkown. J-Grove added a bloop bingle before Lauer settled down. Joe tossed a clean frame. The Pirates went down without a peep in the fifth; the Friars got an infield hit for their efforts. Kazuhisa Makita did the honors in the sixth. Jordy singled with an out and was bunted up, but Starling swung through a change to leave him at second. The Padres started with another infield knock and an out later, another rap put a pair aboard. J-Grove helped himself with some hustle, covering third on a ball Freeser knocked down to get a force, and a whiff put it to bed.

There was no Pirates action in the seventh. SD threatened with consecutive hits to open the frame, but a pop up and around-the-horn DP kept the zeros coming. Robert Stock took the ball in the eighth and bopped Eli, who got to second after a roller but no further. Steven Brault came in and was greeted by back-to-back raps; a wild pitch moved them up. A grounder scored one and Kyle Crick took over; he gave up a knock for a second run before closing the gate. Jose Castillo worked the ninth and Joey O opened with a triple, tho upon a SD challenge, it was downgraded to a double/tag-out at third, and the rest of the frame played out quietly. Edgar Santana was waved in, and was dented for a run after a leadoff double and one-out rap, bringing in Felipe Vazquez to face Eric Hosmer. He K'd him and then Myers to claim the save and RTJR.

J-Bell has thrived since being moved out of cleanup (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It wasn't a real clean win as the Friars had 12 hits and stranded 10, but a win it was. Three out of four is a good start to any road trip and sure beats what the Bucs have been doing over the past few weeks.

  • Four Pirates had a pair of hits: J-Bell, J-Hay, El Coffee and Jordy.
  • It's good to see Felipe back to using his whole toolkit - he got his K's on a slider and changeup.
  • You can tell Angel Hernandez was behind the plate - the teams combined for 16 whiffs and just two walks.
  • At the halfway point of their season, the Bucs are 39-42.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Pirates Open Against the Padres at Petco, J-Grove v Lauer & Notes - Kuhl to DL, Mad Max Back

Today: The first pitch is due at 10:10 with the game on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. The Padres won three of the four games played at PNC Park earlier in June.

Pitchers: RHP Joe Musgrove (2-3, 4.59 ERA) vs. LHP Eric Lauer (3-4, 5.05).. After a promising start, J-Grove is 0-3 in June, having given up 11 runs in 8-1/3 innings in his last two starts, so we're still trying to figure out his Bucco destiny. He was 4-8/6.12 in 15 starts for the Astros before being moved to the pen (where he excelled, slashing 3-0/1.44 in 23 outings) in 2017, so he's got to pick it up some unless he wants history to repeat. This will be Joe's first look at San Diego.  Lauer has gone 2-1/2.28 in June, so he's starting to turn it around. The Bucs scored four times on six hits in 4-2/3 IP against him in May in the 23-year-old's only career appearance against the Buccos.

J-Grove on the hill tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Josh Bell 1B, Josh Harrison 2B, David Freese 3B, Elias Diaz C, Corey Dickerson LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Musgrove P. Back-to-back lefties, soooo...

  • The Pirates placed Chad Kuhl on the 10-day DL with a right forearm strain (retro to June 27th) and have recalled Max Moroff from AAA Indy. Mad Max hit .216 with two homers and six RBI in 16 games in his earlier April-May stint.
Max is back in town (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)
  • Well, make up your mind - After going 3-for-28 in 11 games between June 3-16, Gregory Polanco is hitting .458 with a .590 OBP in his last 10 games.
  • This is a homecoming for three Bucco hurlers - Joe Musgrove, Steven Brault and Trevor Williams are all from the area. J-Grove and Willy are slated to start during the trip home and Steven has a good chance to get a call from the pen, so the families should get to see their boys in action.
  • Despite some local ties, SD hasn't been our kind of town. Pittsburgh was 1-2 in San Diego last year and haven't won a series here since 2014. Since the ballpark opened in 2004, the Pirates have gone 18-27 at Petco Park.
  • Mark Feinsand of thinks Ivan Nova is boosting his stock as a trade piece for the Bucs. 
  • The Pirates average 17,138 fans per game at PNC Park, the fourth-lowest home attendance in MLB and their lowest per-game average since 1996 at TRS. The average gate in 2017 was 23,696.
  • Altoona's 1B Will Craig, 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, LHP Taylor Hearn (starter) and LHP Sean Keselica (reliever) were named to the Eastern League All-Star Game.
  • Long-ago Bucco Steve Pearce was dealt to the Red Sox. He's now played with every team in the AL East.

6/29 Games: Expo Park Swan Song; Bye-Bye Ball; Wee Tommy, Howie, Max, Ralph, Pops, Kendall, Stairs, Steady Freddy Get Game Balls

  • 1907 - The Pirates edged the Cubs 2-1 at West Side Park when CF Tommy Leach threw out Chicago’s Harry Steinfeldt at the plate in the ninth inning. Per the Pittsburgh Press: “...the wee outfielder (Leach)...was as active as a cat all afternoon. Tommie grabbed the bounding sphere and hurled it to catcher (George) Gibson at the plate. It was a perfect throw and had ‘Steiny’ beaten by 20 feet.” Deacon Phillippe was the winner over Ed Reulbach‚ who had a 17-game winning streak snapped. 
Tommy Leach 1911 Gold Border
  • 1909 - The Pirates won the final game they played at Exposition Park by an 8–1 count from the Chicago Cubs in front of 5,543 people, moving on to Oakland and Forbes Field the next day. George Gibson banged the final big league hit in the ballpark and Lefty Leifield earned the win over Three Finger Mordecai Brown. Lefty ended the game dramatically, striking out Jim Archer. Tommy Leach and Dots Miller, with four RBI, each collected three hits, and three other Bucs had a pair of knocks. The Park was ushered out in appropriate style - “Commodore” Charles Zieg played Taps after the game concluded. 
  • 1915 - The Bucs and Cards split a doubleheader at Robison Field in less than ideal conditions. It may shock today’s groundskeepers, but the St. Louis crew used 300 gallons of gas to “bake” the infield after rain had turned it to mush. Doc Johnson of the Redbirds and the Buccos Hans Wagner both suffered minor leg injuries (they returned the next day) on the torched surface. Left fielder Max Carey, who had three assists in the two games, collected one with an assist from the hitter: the Cards LF Cozy Dolan's drive hit his own glove in the grass behind third base (it was common practice to leave your glove on the field between innings). Carey took advantage of the hop and threw Dolan out at second. Pittsburgh won the opener, 8-6, by scoring four ninth-inning runs. They were led by Hans Wagner and Carey with two hits RBI each; Babe Adams pitched the last two frames for the win. The Cards took the nitecap, 6-4, holding off the Pirates after jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. 
  • 1949 - Ralph Kiner had a feature article in the running in the current Saturday Evening Post and celebrated by driving in five runs with a grand slam (the fourth of his four-year career) and a double to lead the Bucs to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Forbes Field. Johnny Hopp led the hit parade with three knocks while Kiner, Pete Castiglione and Dino Restelli had a pair of raps. Vic Lombardi was given a six-run lead after two innings and coasted to the win, with a three-run dinger surrendered to Virg Stallcup his only major miscue. Kiner’s homer was his 19th of the year, tying him with Ted Williams for the MLB lead, but Ralph would run away with the title with 54 long flies, the still-standing Bucco record. 
1949 was a very good year for Ralph...(Eureka Sports Stamps)
  • 1952 - The Bucs stopped the Cards 2-1 at Forbes Field behind Howie Pollet. The game went just five frames as a thunderstorm rained out the remainder. The rain also pulled the plug on local son (he was from Donora) Stan Musial’s 24-game hitting streak; he walked and lined out in his only two at-bats before the weather turned soggy. 
  • 1977 - Pops Stargell became the first Pirates player to hit 400 career home runs when he connected in the fifth frame off Eric Rasmussen in a 9-1 win at Busch Stadium. Bill Robinson had a four-bagger and double while Phil Garner added a long ball against the Cards. Bruce Kison and Goose Gossage combined for a seven-hitter. Captain Willie finished his career with 475 bombs, far and away the most by a Bucco - Ralph Kiner is second with 301. 
  • 2000 - Jason Kendall put on a show with two hits, including a homer, walk, two stolen bases, three RBI and two runs as the Bucs outlasted the Cubs 5-4 in 10 innings at TRS. He capped the game with a walk-off single to bring home Mike Benjamin for the extra-inning win.Marc Wilkins, the fourth Pirates pitcher,got the win in a game started by Jose Silva. 
  • 2003 - Matt Stairs drove in four runs with a homer and double while Jason Kendall added four knocks to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 whipping of the Rockies at PNC Park. Jeff Suppan pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout for the win. 
Steady Freddy 2007 Topps Hobby Masters
  • 2006 - The Pirates edged the White Sox at PNC Park 7-6, ending a club-record 13-game losing streak. Freddy Sanchez was the hero with four hits, including a walk-off ninth inning homer. He had help from the Joses - Bautista, Castillo and Hernandez had two hits - and Jack Wilson, who also rapped out a pair knocks. Mike Gonzalez got the win after Roberto Hernandez blew an eighth-inning lead. 
  • 2012 - The Pirates pounded four homers on the way to a 14-5 win at Busch Stadium. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes and Alex Presley all went yard. Cutch had a 4-for-5 day with four runs and three RBI; Alvarez added four RBI. Kevin Correia went five frames for the win; Brad Lincoln and Chris Resop covered the final four innings. It was an early leg of a 24-of-35 winning streak that put them 16 games above .500 in early August, though a dog-day’s free fall left them at just 79 wins at season’s end.

6/29 Happenings: Ollie Boot; Arriba Dedication; HBD Rock, Tony, Patsy, Heinie & Whitey

  • 1867 - IF Henry “Heinie” Reitz was born in Chicago. Heinie had established himself as a dependable .290 hitter over his first five years and the Pirates sent three players to Washington to get him. Father Time won this deal. The 32-year-old Reitz played just 35 games for the Bucs, hitting a career low of .262 and was traded to Milwaukee of the American Association for Harry Smith, who spent six years with the Bucs as a back-up catcher. Heinie never played major league ball again after the deal and became a sad but historic footnote in baseball history when he died in 1914 at age 47, the first major league player to meet his Maker as the result of a car accident. 
Patsy Flaherty 1904 (photo Chicago History Museum/Getty)
  • 1876 - LHP Patsy Flaherty was born in Mansfield (now Carnegie). The Flaherty and Wagner families were neighbors and Patsy & Hans were lifelong friends. Flaherty was a “quick-pitch” stylist and master of the pickoff (between pitching as soon as he got the ball back from the catcher and his deceptive pickoff move, it’s been said that he struck out at least two batters who swung at throws to first!) who was recommended to the Pirates twice by his homie Hans. He pitched for the Bucs in 1900 and then again from 1904-05. He went 29-19-1 in that span. When he retired after nine years of major league ball with a dead arm, he coached, managed and scouted for various clubs until 1940. 
  • 1910 - Burgess “Whitey” Whitehead was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. A good glove, erratic hitting infielder, Whitey put in eight years with the Cards and Giants, winning a World Series, three NL pennants and an All-Star selection. After missing three seasons while in the military, he returned in 1946 for a last hurrah with the Pirates, hitting .220 at age 36 and then retiring after two more years in the minors. Whitehead was elected into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and was the last surviving member of the Gas House Gang when he died in 1993 at the age of 83. 
  • 1967 - John Wehner was born in Carrick. The Rock was drafted out of Indiana University by the Pirates in the seventh round of the 1988 draft and the infielder spent nine seasons (1991-96, 1999-2001) with the Bucs as a utilityman, hitting .250. On October 1st, 2000, Wehner hit the final home run smacked at TRS. He played every position except pitcher during his career. John shares the major league record of 99 consecutive errorless games at third base with Jeff Cirillo and has a 1997 World Series ring won with the Florida Marlins under Jim Leyland. After a couple of years as a Bucco hitting coach at Altoona, he became an analyst on the Pirates’ TV team. 
Tony McKnight 2002 Fleer Tradition
  • 1977 - RHP Tony McKnight was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. Tony was a big righty who was a first round draft pick and pitched modestly well for Houston (5-1, 3.91 in nine starts) in limited work. The Pirates took a dice roll on the 24-year-old by swinging a deadline deal that sent reliever Mike Williams to the ‘Stros for him. They rolled snake eyes; Tony went 2-6/5.19 in 12 starts with a 1.572 WHIP, then spent two years in the minors before moving on. He’s now a coach at Texas A&M at Texarkana. 
  • 2005 - LHP Ollie Perez was placed on the DL with a broken toe. He kicked a laundry cart in frustration after being pulled from a game in St. Louis on the 26th (an eventual 10-inning, 5-4 Pirate win) and was out of action for 10 weeks. 
  • 2013 - A life-size statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled at the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the Bronx. The likeness, sculpted by Maritza Hernandez, was the first in New York to honor a person of Puerto Rican heritage, according to the park's director.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thursday: Off Day Notes

The Bucs are settled in San Diego for a day of rest before kicking off some left coast hardball. It's quiet today, but here are a couple of bits to sate your Bucco jones:
  • The Pirates road trip continues tomorrow with a weekend set against the Padres, followed with a three-game set against the LA Dodgers starting on Monday. The Bucs are 1-3 v San Diego ans 1-2 v LA this year, with both series at PNC Park.
  • Still no news on Chad Kuhl's forearm soreness; not sure if that's good or bad. The Bucs have a growing list of guys on the DL - Fran Cervelli, S-Rod, Michael Feliz and Enny Romero are short-term while AJ Schugel, Nick Burdi and Nik Turley are on the 60-day. Jung-Ho Kang and Chris Bostick, both with a more-or-less realistic shot at the big club, are on the minor league DL.
It's been a bumpy road for JHK... (photo source:
  • Joshua Carney of The Sports Daily/Pirates Breakdown wonders if it's time to go to a full youth movement.
  • Jerry DiPaola of the Trib looks at the Bucco spending - or lack thereof - and points out that's mainly due to young pitchers, among other things. He adds that the Pirates have a couple of issues beyond the pocketbook.
  • Prospects SS Oneil Cruz (West Virginia) and 1B Mason Martin (Bristol) made this week's Baseball America Hot Sheet.
  • Mark Sheldon of picks the international player prospects to watch in the NL Central. For Pittsburgh, he likes CF Lolo Sanchez.
  • For our history buffs, lots of stuff OTD: Hans 3,000th hit (1914), Pops 300th HR (1973), Bill Madlock trade (1979), 13-game skid (2006), Cole Train goes 4-for-4 to start his career (2013) and a boatload of more mundane happenings. Scroll down for the stories.

6/28 Happenings: Mad Dog Deal; Ump Save; HBD Mike, Kevin, Orlando, Michael & Frank

  • 1865 - IF Frank Scheibeck was born in Detroit. He spent parts of eight seasons in the show and sported the Bucco colors for 23 games in 1894, batting .353. Frank played pro ball through 1906 and after his playing days, he went on to umpire. He later held hometown day jobs as a real estate salesman and as an auto plant assembler. 
  • 1880 - P Mike Lynch was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The righty pitched four seasons (1904-07) for the Pirates, picking up 32 wins and working over 400 innings in his first two years. He was still effective in his final two years with the team, but the Bucs had juiced up their staff and he became the odd man out, going to the Giants during the second half of ‘07 and then retiring to go into business. His career Pittsburgh line was 40-26/3.01. 
Orlando McFarlane 1962 Topps Rookie
  • 1938 - C Orlando McFarlane was born in Oriente, Cuba. Signed by the Bucs as an infielder in 1958, he was converted to catcher and got a cup of coffee with the Pirates in 1962, playing a bit more in 1964 and hitting .208 in his 45-game Bucco career. He was lost in the Rule 5 draft and played three more years with Detroit and the California Angels, but he battled nagging injuries while his impressive minor league bat never carried over to the show. Orlando played 10 years in the bushes with more stops in the Cuban, Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues. 
  • 1970 - SS Kevin Polcovich was born in Auburn, New York. He spent his MLB career of two years (1997-98) with the Pirates, hitting .234. The University of Florida player was drafted in the 30th round by the Bucs in 1992, getting his call when Kevin Elster was injured, and would become a key member of the 1997 “Freak Show” that against all odds stayed in the divisional race until late September despite a $9M payroll. After he left the game, Kevin did some scouting and established the Icrush Bat Company, a manufacturer of maple bats. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates traded pitchers Ed Whitson‚ Al Holland‚ and Fred Breining to the Giants for P Dave Roberts and infielders Bill Madlock and Lenny Randle. Mad Dog solidified the Bucco infield at third and spent six seasons with Pittsburgh, winning batting titles in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). Roberts was workmanlike for the Bucs in ‘79-80, though at 35 he was near the end of his journey; 1981 was his last season. Randle wasn’t here long enough to find his way to the North Shore before he was sold to the Yankees. Whitson pitched through 1991, winning 126 games and saving eight more while Holland worked out of various bullpens for 11 more seasons. Breining had a shorter career, lasting five years as a multi-role hurler. 
Bill Madlock 1980 Topps
  • 1993 - RHP Michael Feliz was born in Azua, Dominican Republic. Houston signed him in 2010 and he debuted in 2015. He averaged better than 13 K/nine innings with the ‘Stros from 2016-17 and was part of the Gerrit Cole package sent to the Pirates. He started as the seventh inning guy and was bumped up a notch when George Kontos was released, but hit on hard times and was removed from that role while he worked his way back. 
  • 2017 - Walking on the Roberto Clemente Bridge after lunch on his way to work the Pirates-Rays game at PNC Park, umpire John Tumpane saw a woman scaling the span’s railing; she told him she wanted a better view of the river. Sensing that she was suicidal and ready to plunge into the Allegheny River below, Tumpane grabbed one arm, passer-by Chris Dazen grabbed the other and a Tampa Bay staffer heading to the yard, Mike Weinman, joined in to keep her hogtied until emergency workers came to the rescue. John modestly said "I just happened to be there."

6/28 Games: Hans 3,000; Forbes Field Finale; 300 For Willie; Four For Cole; Unlucky 13 & More

  • 1914 - Honus Wagner became the first 20th century ballplayer to collect 3,000 hits when he singled off of Cincinnati's rookie Pete Schneider in the second game of a twinbill at Redland Field. While a good day for Hans, it wasn’t such a good one for the Pirates. They lost both ends of the doubleheader to the Reds by 7-6 and 1-0 scores. The first loss was especially gruesome as the Bucs blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth triggered by a missed call. Up by a run with two outs and two aboard, a 3-2 foul tip was gloved by catcher Bob Coleman. The Reds on base started to run to the dugout, but the batter, Bert Niehoff, jogged innocently to first and the ump bought his act, calling it a check swing and ball four. A protest, made en masse by the Pirate infield and battery, was to no avail and a following single gave Cincy the game. The second was a pitching duel with Schneider’s three-hitter bettering the four-hit work of Marty O’Toole and Erv Kantlehner. In the long run, it made little difference as the Pirates finished seventh and the Reds last in the NL that season. (There have been a slew of June dates tossed around for Hans’ 3,000th hit. June 9th was the consensus, but Bucco historian John Dreker of Pirates Prospects says that this date is the newly accepted one following research of old-timey box scores, which are generally kinda sketchy.) 
Honus Wagner 2016 Topps Update
  • 1916 - Cubs catcher Bill Fischer set an MLB record by catching all 27 innings of a doubleheader loss to the Bucs at brand new Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh won both games 3-2 with the second game going 18 innings. The winning pitchers were Mike Prendergast and Tom Seaton with Prendergast pulling double duty, coming on to get the save in the nitecap. Impressed with Fischer's stamina‚ the Pirates traded for him at the end of July, and he played his last two seasons in the show for Pittsburgh. 
  • 1970 - The Pirates swept a twinbill from the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 and 4-1, in the last games played at 61-year-old Forbes Field in front of 40,918, the second largest crowd to gather at the ballyard. Al Oliver hit the last home run in FF history. Jim Nelson got the final W iced by a Dave Giusti save. It was a fitting finale; the Cubs were the first team the Pirates played at Forbes Field in 1909. Bill Mazeroski had the last Pirate hit there, a seventh inning double, and recorded the last put-out on a force play at second. It was the Pirates seventh straight victory and the Cubs 10th straight loss. The Bucs went on the road afterwards and opened TRS on July 16th, after the All-Star streak.
  • 1973 - Willie Stargell hit his 300th career home run as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6–0 at TRS. Al Oliver had a huge day, going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and three RBI while Rennie Stennett added three hits to back Dock Ellis’ five hitter. 
  • 2006 - The Bucs set a team record with their 13th straight defeat, eclipsing the old mark set by the 1939 club when the White Sox edged them 4-3 at PNC Park with Paul Maholm taking the loss. They walked off the next game by a 7-6 score on a Freddy Sanchez homer, but still lost 7-of-11 on their way to a 67-95 campaign. 
Alex Presley 2011 Bowman Chrome
  • 2011 - Alex Presley was called up to replace an injured Jose Tabata and banged out a pair of hits, including his first MLB homer, while driving in three runs to lead the Bucs to a 7-6 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre. An unlikely pair of batting heroes, Matt Diaz and Ronny Cedeno, combined for five hits, three runs and an RBI to help the cause against the Jays. Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan pitched three scoreless frames to preserve the win for Kevin Correia. 
  • 2013 - Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, became the first Pirate rookie since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four games he started when the Bucs shellacked the Brewers 10-3 at PNC Park in front of 36,875. Cole went six frames for the win, with Ryan Reid tossing three scoreless, two-hit innings to cruise home. They were supported by Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, who each had three hits. Cutch had a double, homer, three RBI and a run while Starling added a double, triple, two runs and two RBI.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

That's Why You Play All Nine Innings: Bucco Rally Earns A 5-3 Win

Austin Meadow opened with a knock off Zack Wheeler (literally; it deflected off his glove). Two outs later, Colin Moran bled another infield knock but Eli couldn't cash them in, bouncing out to short. Ivan Nova was touched for a two-out two-bagger but no problems developed. The Buccos whiffed twice in the second; the Metros went quietly also. No noise in the third for the Pirates. Ivan plunked the eight hitter, who was bunted up. He was a pitch away from escaping, but Joey Bats drilled a two-out, two-strike four-seamer into right for a double, followed by an Asdrubal Cabrera two-strike bouncer into left to make it 2-0, both off fastballs away that the Mets punched where pitched. Wheeler made it 10 in a row in the fourth and Ivan cruised too. Corey D opened the fifth with a rap and Gregory walked. A soft roller by Jordy moved them up. Nova went down on three pitches and it took five more to sit AM down.

Colin Moran had a pair of raps (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Again the eight-hole guy proved a pest when Amed Rosario opened with a double and was sacrificed to third. Ivan kept him there with a whiff and then got Bautista to find a glove to strand Rosario. Red Beard singled with two away in the sixth; Eli whiffed. Wilmer Flores smacked a heater tossed down Broadway over the fence to make it 3-0. Gregory singled with an out in the seventh; Jordy hit into an around-the-horn DP. Tyler Glasnow tossed a quiet frame as his one walk was erased trying to steal. Robert Gsellman took the torch from Wheeler in the eighth and Starling said hi with a pinch hit double, then stole third. AM's sac fly got the Bucs on the board. J-Bell singled and Tim Peterson was waved in, closing it down without breaking a sweat. Felipe Vazquez toed the slab (they didn't use him in yesterday's extra-inning game; go figure). He put up a zippo, yielding a hit.

Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth and gave up an 0-2 roller up the middle to Eli, who scampered to third on Corey D's 0-2 rap to right. Gregory followed with a two-strike grounder into right (he had a huge hole as the Mets were playing for the DP in an anti-shift of sorts), plating Diaz and sending Dickerson to third. Jordy drew a four-pitch walk to jam the sacks. Anthony Swarzak answered the phone and David Freese grabbed a stick. Freeser dropped the horsehide softly into right on the first pitch to plate a pair and chase Jordy to third. AM K'ed on three pitches, a big out for the Mets, but J-Bell brought the insurance tally home with a sac fly. J-Hay added a knock, and Clint opted to let Felipe bat, his first plate appearance as a Bucco, and he went down on three pitches. He was in the odd position of saving his own win, and though Felipe fell behind every batter, he worked a 1-2-3 frame. RTJR!

Felipe got the six-out win (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Red Beard, Corey D and El Coffee each had a pair of knocks
  • In the last nine games, the Pirates have scored two or fewer runs five times; they've pushed across more than three runs twice. They won those two games, plus a 1-0 squeaker, over that span.
  • God helps those and vice versa: Ivan Nova has gone 0-for-29 at the plate this season and is hitless in his last 56 at bats.
  • The Pirates are off tomorrow; they play next in San Diego over the weekend.
  • RHP Mitch Keller (9-2, 2.72 at Altoona) has been promoted to Indy, so now he's just a step away. Other Indians' news: Jung-Ho Kang (wrist) and Chris Bostick (appendicitis) have been placed on the minor league seven-day DL.
  • Altoona OF Jason Martin was promoted to Indy; he's hitting .325 for the Curve.

Pirates-Mets Close It Out With A Rubber Match, Nova v Wheeler & Notes: S-Rod on DL; RHP Tanner Anderson Called Up

Today: The game has a 7:10 opening pitch and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan, with the winner taking the series.

Pitchers: RHP Ivan Nova (4-5, 3.98) closes the set against RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.85). Ivan's been pretty dang good since he's come off the DL (2-0/0.92); hopefully it's the start of a strong run. He hasn't faced the Mets since his Yankee days; his last outing against them was in 2013. Wheeler has struck out 67 batters over his last 64-2/3 innings, but his performance has been all over the board, displaying the good, bad and ugly. Zach's not a long-distance guy; he's gotten past the sixth twice in 14 outings. He's twirled against the Pirates just once in his career, allowing three runs in six innings in May of 2017.

Ivan looking for another sharp start (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Austin Meadows CF, J-Bell 1B, Josh Harrison 2B, Colin Moran 3B, Elias Diaz C, Corey Dickerson LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Nova P. Starling's turn to chill; he's hit .184 in the past month, covering 23 games.

  • The Pirates called up RHP Tanner Anderson from Indy and put S-Rod on the 10-day DL (retroactive to Monday) with a right quad strain. Guess that explains why he wasn't in the lineup yesterday, and makes us wonder if J-Hay is the new backup SS w/Freeser at 2B. Anderson, 25, was 1-1-1/2.34 for the Tribe as a multi-inning reliever; he's a converted starter. Tanner was a 2015-20th round draft pick from Harvard and features a big leg kick, ala Bronson Arroyo. To make room on the 40-man roster, AJ Schugel was placed on the 60-day DL.
Surprise call-up Tanner Anderson 2016 GoSports
  • No news on Chad Kuhl's "discomfort" yet. Good news on Cervy; he's out of shut-down mode and can begin working out now.
  • The true test for Elias Diaz is about to begin; last year, he hit .266 (he's at .297 now) in the first half of the season, but only .193 in the second half. It would sure help ease the concern over Amore's health if Eli proves consistent this year.
  • Jung-Ho Kang is still being bothered by his left wrist; he's being sat down with no baseball activities for a spell.
  • Indy's Kevin Newman, Chris Bostick and Dovy Neverauskas were named to the International League All-Star Game.

6/27 Birthdays: HBD Wendell, Daryle, AJ, Hank, Jackie, Minute Man, Roy, Elmo & Lee

  • 1861 - C Jackie Hayes was born in Brooklyn. Hayes played in three leagues - the National League, the American Association and the Players League - and spent two of his seven big league campaigns with the Alleghenys from 1883-84. Primarily a catcher, Jackie also played three infield positions and the corner outfield for Pittsburgh, batting .253. He fit right in with the rowdy bunch on the team at that time, gaining some notoriety for a late-evening brawl in a Cincinnati saloon. Hayes’ story had a sad ending as he died at the age of 43, deaf and suffering from locomotor ataxia, a condition that prevented him from walking unaided. 
Wendell Smith (photo source: Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
  • 1914 - Sportswriter Wendell Smith was born in Detroit, Michigan. After his graduation from West Virginia State in 1937, where he pitched and played basketball, Smith began his career with the Pittsburgh Courier, then perhaps the most influential black paper in the country. He covered the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords, and Pittsburgh Pirates until 1947, when he went to the Chicago Herald-American and later, the Sun-Times. He also became a WGN-TV sports anchor. He passed away of cancer in 1972, and was recognized posthumously for his baseball contributions. In 1993, he received the JG Taylor Spink Award for excellence in journalism, was inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame a year later and in 2014, was the winner of the Associated Press’ Red Smith Award. Locally, he tried relentlessly to get MLB tryouts for black ballplayers with no success, although he is often credited with getting Jackie Robinson on Branch Rickey’s radar. 
  • 1916 - P Cecil “Minute Man” Kaiser was born in New York. Per BR Bullpen, Kaiser got his start on the sandlots of West Virginia and debuted in 1945 with the Homestead Grays before heading south to play. Lured by a $700 per month paycheck, he returned to the Grays in 1947 and worked through the 1949 season for the club. He spent the majority of his time in the Latino leagues, getting a shot in the minors when he was 35; unfortunately, his arm was gone by then. He was a small guy in stature at 5’6” but with great control and a killer curve. He got his “Minute Man” moniker because it was said that’s how long it took for him to strikeout a batter. 
  • 1921 - RHP Hank Behrman was born in Brooklyn. The righty tossed for four seasons and split 1947 between his hometown Dodgers and the Pirates. The Bucs got him as part of the Al Gionfriddo deal, and worked him for 10 outings (0-2/9.12) before selling him back to Brooklyn. He did have one strong year for da Bums in 1946 featuring a strong heater/curve combo, but as Rob Edelman of SABR wrote “His career was all promise and little delivery.” His last MLB campaign was in 1949 and his last pro game in 1953 when his arm went bad. He retired and became a teamster. 
  • 1926 - C Roy Jarvis was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 17-year-old bonus baby when he played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jarvis then served in the Navy during WW2 and then returned to baseball with the Pirates which had claimed his rights in the 1944 Rule 5 draft. (Roy was the last Pirate to lose a full season to WW2 military duty. Pittsburgh sent 28 MLB players and 15 minor-leaguers to the service in WW2 per “Baseball in Wartime.”) He got a couple of cups of coffee with the Buccos in 1946-47, hitting .163 in 20 games and spent the rest of his career in the minors, retiring to become a salesman after the 1955 campaign. 
Elmo Paskett 1963 Topps
  • 1938 - C Elmo Plaskett was born in Frederiksted, Virgin Islands. Elmo got in 17 games for the Bucs between 1962-63, hitting .200. He was a great hitter in the minors, winning a batting title and being named “Player of the Year” with Asheville of the Sally League but it didn’t carry over to the show. He played other positions beside catcher, but wasn’t much with the mitt and when he broke his leg in a winter league game in 1964, it spelled the end of his MLB days in the pre-DH era. He played in the minors through 1969, then retired to operate beisbol programs as a rec specialist for St. Croix, developing Midre Cummings for the Pirates. Plaskett, who died in 1998 at the age of 60, had a sunny, Manny Sanguillen-type personality, was dedicated to baseball throughout his life, and is still a hero in the Virgin Islands. The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, inducted Elmo into the Museo Pancho CoĆ­mbre (Sporting Hall of Fame), and the Little League program on St. Croix is named after him, per SABR
  • 1967 - LHP Lee Hancock was born in North Hollywood, California. He got into 24 games from 1995-96 for the Pirates, with no decisions and a 4.45 ERA, and that was the extent of his MLB days. Lee joined the Pirates in 1990 from the Mariners, swapped straight up for Scott Medvin, but spent most of his Bucco time on the farm at Buffalo and Calgary. The Cal-Poly alum finished his pro career in 1997. 
  • 1975 - 1B Daryle Ward was born in Lynwood, California. He played from 2004-05 for the Bucs, with a slash of .256/27/120. Ward joined his father, Gary, to become the first father-son combination in major league history to hit for the cycle after he matched his dad’s feat in 2004 against the Cards. Ward was also the first player to hit one into the Allegheny from PNC Park while he was a member of the Astros, launching his shot off Kip Wells in 2002. 
AJ Schugel (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 1989 - RHP AJ Schugel was born in Winter Haven, Florida. A waiver claim by the Bucs, he got into 36 games for Pittsburgh in 2016, going 2-2-1. 3.63 as a long man in the pen with a nice 1.038 WHIP. He started 2017 at AAA Indy with a brief Pittsburgh stop in June and more permanent residence in August, but has spent 2018 on the DL.

6/27: Maz Triple Play; Neagle Granny; Triple Trouble; Frieri-Grilli Deal; Iron Man Goes Down & More

  • 1903 - The Pirates banged 15 hits off Iron Man Joe McGinnity‚ including four knocks by Honus Wagner‚ and it still took the Bucs extra innings to topple the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds. Tommy Leach hit a two-run double in the 11th, drilling a McGinnity curve off the LF wall, to earn a W for Deacon Phillippe, who notched his seventh straight victory. Hans stayed hot in the Big Apple; he had four hits in his next game against Brooklyn. 
Deacon Phillippe stares the batter (or cameraman) down... 1909
(Conlon Collection/Detroit Public Library)
  • 1964 - Roberto Clemente's two-run, ground-rule double to center (it one-hopped the wall) in the eighth tied the game against the Reds at Forbes Field. He became the winning run when pinch hitter Manny Mota homered to give the Pirates and Al McBean, in relief of Steve Blass, a 4-2 win. 
  • 1967 - Bill Mazeroski hit into the only triple play of his career (although he participated in a pair as a fielder) at Shea Stadium. It didn’t hurt the Bucs, though - it was staged before the game and filmed in ten minutes as a scene for the TV show “The Odd Couple.” 
  • 1971 - Roberto Clemente bombed a pinch hit homer in the eighth to give the Bucs a wild 10-9 win at Philadelphia. He became the first player to “ring the bell” as his drive hit the replicate Liberty Bell in the second level of center field at Veterans Stadium, perhaps to celebrate his 1,200 RBI. But Jose Pagan earned the game’s gold star with a pair of home runs and five RBI. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs solved rookie Frank Castillo in the ninth (he was making his MLB debut), turning a 3-0 deficit to the Cubs into a 4-3 win at TRS. Castillo and two relievers gave up four singles, two walks, and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Barry Bonds to score from third with the walk-off game winner. 
Denny Neagle 1995 Upper Deck Collectors Choice
  • 1995 - Denny Neagle helped himself to his ninth W by belting a grand slam off Jim Bullinger, the key blow in a 6-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Neagle became the first Pirate pitcher to hit a slam since Don Robinson on September 12th, 1985 and just one of five to smack one in franchise history. Neagle told Ben Walker of the Associated Press "Something must have been in the coffee." Paul Wagner got a hold and Dan Plesac the save for Neagle. 
  • 1988 - Ishmael Valdez was one batter shy of throwing a perfecto against the Bucs at Dodger Stadium, giving up a leadoff eighth-inning single to Kevin Young. Valdez struck out seven and used just 97 pitches to tame Pittsburgh. Francisco Cordova was the hard-luck loser, a victim of temporary loss of control when with two outs and a runner on third in the sixth, an intentional walk was followed by an unintentional pass to set up Raul Mondesi’s two-run single. 
  • 2004 - Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Craig Wilson combined to go 9-for-16 with three walks, three doubles, a triple and homer to score seven runs and drive in seven more as the Bucs romped over the Reds 14-4 at GABP. Josh Fogg got the win. 
Brandon Cumpton 2015 Topps
  • 2014 - Two youngsters, the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, pitched creditably and then turned the gamer over to the bullpens as the Pirates outlasted NY 3-2 in 11 innings at PNC Park. Pittsburgh was clutch; Jordy Mercer singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth after Pedro Alvarez was worked around and walked, then Josh Harrison doubled home Clint Barmes with the game winner with a two-out double to right center; both RBI knocks came on the first pitch. Jared Hughes picked up the win. 
  • 2014 - In a change of scenery deal, the Pirates and Angels traded struggling closers, with Pittsburgh sending Jason Grilli to LA for Ernesto Frieri. Both had lost their closing gigs in 2014 after being the shut-down guy in 2013, and both moved around since and are currently free agents.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Buccos Drop 10 Inning Decision To Mets 4-3

With one out, Steven Matz bopped Austin Meadows up high on a 3-2 pitch; the trainer checked him out and sent him on his way to first. Three pitches later, J-Hay bounced into a DP. Joey Bats opened with a knock off Chad Kuhl, and he went to second two outs later on a wild pitch, followed by a four-pitch walk and another wild pitch. Wilmer Flores slapped a 3-1 slider into left, scoring the pair, and ended up on third when Eli airmailed a throw trying to catch Flores heading to second. Kuhl got out of it with no additional blood-letting despite Diaz dropping a foul pop behind the plate. Sheesh, first innings. The Pirates went 1-2-3 in the second. The Mets got a one-out rap; he was bunted to second but got no further. No Bucco reached in the third; they have yet to hit a ball to the outfield. The first Metropolitan drew a free pass but stayed anchored at first. Not a peep from Pittsburgh in the fourth; they've K'ed five times already.

Chad left with a sore wing (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

With an out, Freeser botched a roller. The trainer came out to check on Kuhl after two outs and gave him the OK, then Chad tossed a wild pitch, which was followed by a steal. Kuhl fanned Matz; in between the mishaps, he also has five K jobs. Yay, Freeser opened the fifth with bouncer into right and Eli doubled him to third. Joey O fought off an 0-2 pitch and rolled an RBI knock to left. Gregory dropped a dying quail into center and it was tied, but with no outs the Bucs couldn't add anything on, largely due to, of all people, Joey Bats, who made a running grab of J-Bell's ball down the RF line. Ric Rod came on - Bell hit for Chad - and tossed a clean frame after the Bucs challenged a trap call on an El Coffee grab and had it ruled a legit catch. It took a dozen tosses to put away the Pirates in the sixth. Ric Rod gave up an opening rap and two-out wild pitch, followed by a plunked batter, finally serving up a fly ball to quiet the seas.

The Met pen is such a mess that they kept Matz in for the seventh at 96 tosses. Almost worked, too - he got two outs, one a bullet, before Gregory went yard on a 3-2 curve; it a good pitch, inside half and down, that El Coffee tracked and golfed out. Edgar Santana got the ball but couldn't keep the lead; he gave up a dinger to Michael Conforto off a fastball with two away. Anthony Swarzak got the eighth; an AM walk and J-Hay bunt single put him in one-out hot water and brought on Jeurys Familia. With his pick of lefties on the bench, Clint stuck with Freeser, who bounced into a force featuring a hard but textbook slide by J-Hay, which led to a union meeting at the mound after Familia (not Asdrubal Cabrera, who bore the brunt) started yapping. After picket duty ended, Eli walked on four pitches to fill the bases, but Joey O's bouncer doused the fire.

Gregory is coming around... (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Kyle Crick climbed the hill and Cabrera dropped a single into right, but a couple of at 'em balls sandwiched around a whiff left him there. The Bucs managed a two-out Corey D knock off Familia in the ninth that led nowhere. Steven Brault tossed a quiet frame and into overtime we go. Tim Peterson worked a calm 10th. Conforto walked to begin the Mets' half, then Todd Frazier rolled a single through the left side. The Metropolitans decided to bunt; Cabrera popped one foul that Eli again failed to grab, but the second was in the air, too, and Steven cradled it. It only delayed the inevitable; Wilmer Flores singled up the 3B line off a knee-high fastball (and the ump, who was in fair territory) to give the Mets the win.

The Pirates pitching gave up eight hits and fanned 10; they also walked three, hit one and tossed four wild pitches while the fielders committed three errors. The attack was AWOL again; this team is pretty bad right now.

  • Gregory, who came into the game hitting .196 against LHP, had two hits and two RBI; Freeser had a hit and a walk. The Bucs had seven knocks.
  • Chad Kuhl was removed from the game after four frames with "right forearm discomfort," per the Pirates. We'll have to keep an eye on him; that general description often spells trouble.

NY-Pgh Take A Second Spin w/Chad v Matz & Notes

Today: The game starts at 7:10 and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: RHP Chad Kuhl (5-5, 4.56) starts round two of the set against LHP Steven Matz (3-5, 3.68). Chad was turned every which way but loose in his last outing against Arizona and suspected he may have been tipping his pitches, tho his coaches think not. We'll see how he bounces back. Chad has seen the Mets once, and it wasn't pretty. He allowed five runs and eight hits in 4-1/3 innings of work and lost an 8-1 decision to Jacob deGrom on 5/26/17 at PNC Park. Matz has been one of the Mets’ bright spots, posting a 3.10 ERA since the start of May, although the Rockies beat him up some in his last outing. He's been susceptible to the long ball (1.5/nine innings) and averages 3.8 walks per game, so he can be worked. Matz allowed two runs in five innings in his only previous career start against the Pirates, back in 2016.

Bad Chad or Cool Chad tonight? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Austin Meadows LF, Josh Harrison 2B, David Freese 3B, Elias Diaz C, Jose Osuna 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy SS & Kuhl P. Clint's lineup against lefties minus S-Rod.

  • David Laurila of Fangraphs has the tale of Colin Moran's reinvented swing.
  • Back to the future: Tho last night was the first time J-Bell batted second this year, he's started in the two-hole 36 times prior to that as a Bucco. In fact, he's been in every lineup spot possible as a Pirate, even ninth (as a sub). Same deal for Starling at leadoff, which over his career has been the order spot he's been in the most. He also has batted in every position (eighth and ninth as a sub). Josh only had six games as the three hitter and has, like the rest of the gang, batted everywhere (cleanup as a sub). Eight different Bucs have hit leadoff this year; nine others in the two spot and seven from the three hole.
  • Homecoming: Ray Searage was born in Deer Park, NY, and is a 1973 graduate of Deer Park HS on Long Island. He made his MLB debut with the Mets on 6/11/81 and pitched two scoreless innings against the Reds at Shea Stadium. 

6/26 Birthdays & Moments: String Snapped; Clarke Clocked; Wills 24-Gamer; Meares Antics; HBD Jason, Bill, Debs, Howie, Elmer, Babe & Smokey

  • 1893 - RHP Elmer Ponder was born in Reed, Oklahoma. Elmer was an Oklahoma U grad who was of Cherokee descent and was part of the early wave of Native American players (the Bucs also had Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse on the 1921 roster). He played for the Pirates in 1917, then again from 1919-21. He got into three games his first year before he left to join the Army during WW1, and didn’t return until 1919. His late July debut was special; although the Bucs lost to the Phils 6-1, Ponder tossed 5-⅔ perfect innings of relief. No Pirates reliever could claim five or more innings of perfect work until 94 years later, when Vin Mazzaro did it in 2013 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Elmer went 14-21/2.74 for the Pirates before he was traded to the Cubs in ‘21. He finished the year there before being sent to the Pacific Coast League, where he toiled through the 1928 campaign before retiring to Albuquerque and the work-a-day world. 
Steve Brodie
  • 1897 - Pittsburgh CF Steve Brodie's string of consecutive games ended at 574. His arm was so sore the Pirates went on the road without him, though he did recover. The streak was a 19th-century NL record, three games shy of the then MLB mark. Brodie was a strong two-way player that the Bucs released the following year in a move to cut salary, a fairly recurrent theme throughout franchise history. Steve was eccentric, even for the era. Per the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Kingaman “Brodie talked to baseballs, caught flies behind his back and once nabbed a line drive that had ricocheted off his head. He mumbled to himself in the outfield, passing time by reciting soliloquies from Shakespeare. Once, Brodie chastised himself for committing an error, The Sun wrote: ‘Then, as further punishment, he refused to talk to himself for the rest of the game.’ A solid fielder, he cut a hole in the pocket of his glove, believing he could better grasp the ball with his bare palm. In winter, he stayed fit by donning a catcher's mask and chest protector and wrestling a muzzled black bear in his backyard.” 
  • 1903 - Lose the fight and the game: Before the start of a Giants-Pirates duel at the Polo Grounds, NY catcher Frank Bowerman started a fight with Pittsburgh’s player/manager Fred Clarke. Bowerman was fined $100 for starting the brawl while Clarke escaped with his wallet intact, as the league apparently felt his shiner was punishment enough. Christy Mathewson then led the fired-up New York nine over Pittsburgh by an 8-2 tally. There are various tales of what led to the fisticuffs, the two favorites being bad blood carried over from when Clarke managed Bowerman at Louisville to John McGraw egging Bowerman into the bout to light a fire under the G-Men before their series with the Bucs (though they won that battle, they lost the war, falling 6-1/2 games short of the Pirates at season’s end). 
  • 1903 - OF Floyd “Babe” Herman was born in Buffalo. His stories are legion, such as the time he ended up on third base with two other teammates or tales of fly balls bouncing off his body in the outfield. In actuality, Babe was an average fielder with a great stick - his lifetime BA was .324 and he retired with a 140 OPS+. Herman played part of his 13-year career in Pittsburgh, batting .235 (the lowest average of his career) in 1935, returning as a coach in 1951 and later serving as a Bucco scout. Per the New York Times, he got his nickname in the minors, playing when Babe Ruth was a star. ''He was put in to pinch-hit, and the first time he got a hit, the manager of the club said, 'You're my Babe,''' Charles Herman, Floyd’s son, told the paper. 
Debs Garms 1941 Goudey Big League
  • 1907 - OF Debs Garms was born in Bangs, Texas. Debs played 12 years in the show, mainly as a utility player although he did start three seasons for the Boston Braves. That’s where the Bucs got him from in 1940, and he hit .355 in 358 ABs. That was good enough for him to be awarded the batting title by Ford Frick; there was no minimum at-bat requirement and the NL President used 100 games played as the qualifier (Garms got into 103 contests). Stan Hack of the Cubs was the next highest hitter at .317, compiled in 603 at-bats, and Chicago fans cried “we wuz robbed” to no avail. Thx to Debs, in 1950 the standard was changed to a 400 at-bat minimum and a few years later to 3.1/PA per game (502 PA). There was no controversy the next season as he hit .264 for Pittsburgh. Garms was a good stickman with a .293 career BA, and in 1941 he set the then-record of seven consecutive pinch hits. He retired after the 1945 season to become a rancher and later a quarryman. BTW, Debs wasn’t a baseball moniker - he was named after socialist politician Eugene Debs. 
  • 1918 - RHP Elmer “Smoky” Singleton was born in Ogden, Utah. He came to the Pirates as part of the Bob Elliot deal, working for Pittsburgh from 1947-48 while slashing 6-8-3, 5.54. Bert put parts of seven seasons in the show and his overall professional career spanned 24 years, from 1940-63, when he retired at age 45 to become a salesman. 
  • 1921 - LHP Howie Pollet was born in New Orleans. After some stellar seasons with St. Louis (two World Series, three All-Star selections), he was sent to Pittsburgh in 1951, the victim of a slow start and back-to-back contract holdouts. He pitched here through 1953 and returned for his final bow in 1956, going 14-31-2, 4.59 for some sad sack teams. Howie coached for the Cards and Astros from 1959-64, then retired and joined the business world. 
  • 1943 - OF Bill Robinson was born in McKeesport. The Elizabeth-Forward grad played eight years for Pittsburgh, from 1975-82, batting .276 with 109 HR and 412 RBI. He was a fairly regular starter from 1976-79, and won a ring with the 1971 Bucs. He held a variety of coaching jobs afterward as a hitting coach for the Mets and Yankees, a minor league skipper for the Giants and Phils (he was also a batting instructor w/Philly) and Venezuelan manager,along with a brief gig with ESPN. 
Bill Robinson 1980 Topps
  • 1968 - Bucco 3B Maury Wills ran his hitting streak to 24 games against Bob Gibson in a 3-0 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium. It ended during the second game of the twinbill, a 3-1 Pirate win, when Larry Jaster and Wayne Granger laid an 0-for-5 on Wills. 
  • 1974 - Jason Kendall was born in San Diego. He spent nine years as a Pirate (1996-2004), putting up a .308 BA, hitting over .300 six times and earning three All-Star berths. He was on a Hall of Fame track before a string of injuries slowed his career, finishing his 16-year run with a .288 BA. Kendall has been a member of the KC Royals coaching staff, serving as a roving special assignment coach, since retiring as a player in 2012. 
  • 1999 - SS Pat Meares, on the DL recovering from surgery on his left hand but traveling with the team, ran in a mascot race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a bratwurst, won the race by defeating a hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days prior, Meares had been caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium for the first six innings of a game. He missed all but the first 21 games of the ‘99 season after signing a contract that carried him until 2003. He played 2000-01 for the team, then spent the next two years on the DL; the Pirates wanted further surgery on his hand and he didn’t. Needless to say, the relationship became contentious, involving the union, league office and random attorneys. They eventually reached an uneasy truce, but Meares never played in the majors again after his 2001 campaign.