Friday, August 31, 2018

Strong Pitching by Pittsburgh + Bobbles by Bravos = 3-2 Pirates Win

Starling opened with an infield knock against Anibal Sanchez, but was erased trying to swipe (he beat the rap cleanly, but the fielder pushed his hand off the base w/his glove to get a call; Clint and Marte were hot, but the out stood). J-Bell walked but the frame died after Ender Inciarte robbed Freeser with a web gem grab at the 375' mark to save a run. Inciarte got a one-out single when Marte inexplicably pulled up on a routine fly, but Jamo and Eli teamed up for an inning-ending strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP (Ender looked safe; tough inning for the second base ump). Corey D started the second with a two-bagger and came home on Eli's rap, with Diaz going to second on the throw home. Sanchez settled down to fan the side, using a cutter that kissed the inside corner to catch both J-Hay & Newman looking. Jamo bopped a batter, whiffed another and got two pops for an easy frame. Two more Bucs K'ed in a quiet third; Jamo also fanned a pair in a 1-2-3 Braves half. There was no Pirates noise in the fourth. Inciarte led off with a soft but well-placed double, but six tosses later, the Bravos were done. It was 12 in a row for Sanchez in the fifth; the Braves managed a two-out walk for their efforts.

Mr Dependable Won His 11th Game Tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Starling opened the sixth with a rap; J-Bell reached when his grounder was tossed high trying for a force. The safe call at second was challenged and upheld (the foot was off the bag). After smokin' two outs in his previous at bats, Freeser dumped a blooper into center with one out to plate Marte. Southpaw Sam Freeman took the ball with Corey D up and geez, a DP, this one a soft liner to second that trapped Freeser off first. The run was gotten back quickly by Ronald Acuna Jr., who homered the oppo way before Jamo shut it down. Luke Jackson got the seventh. Eli pulled up gimpy during a ground out, then J-Hay singled. A force and caught stealing of K-Man ended it. Johan Camargo tied it by leading off with a dinger; it was also an oppo taco. That was followed by a single, but JT worked out of it; at 103 tosses, he's done for the evening. Brad Brach was waved in for the eighth. Fraze led off with a walk; he was safe at second when the Braves misplayed another force attempt on Starling's grounder. Fraze tagged to third on J-Bell's fly and scored on Gregory's rap, followed by a nifty double steal. Freeser had a 3-0 count and swung at ball four twice, rolling out to first. Lefty Jeff Biddle was called on to match up with Dickerson and fanned him with a high heater.

Keone Kela answered the phone and tucked away the top of the Big Peach order with a pair of punch outs. Biddle stayed in and nine pitches later, the middle of the Bravos' lineup was up against Felipe Vazquez. Atlanta got back-to-back one-out knocks, both barely out of J-Hay's reach. Freeser got the lead runner on a grounder to third for the second out and a whiff put it to bed. RTJR.

Keone Kela has been even better than advertised (image AT&T SportsNet)

The offense still needs to find some juice, but tonight the Big A helped with a pair of misplays leading to runs, thank u kindly. Jamo spun his usual dependable outing, Kela and Vazquez did their thing, and hey, a win. Nice to get one of those every so often. Tomorrow's call-up day; Indy plays til September 3rd and is a heated pennant/wild card battle (like the Pirates used to be), so don't look for much movement until that's settled, although we'd expect Jake Stallings to be here immediately with Eli hobbled.

Notes:
  • Starling had two hits; he was the only Bucco to reach twice.
  • Jamo has tossed 17 straight games giving up three or fewer runs.
  • Elias Diaz left the game with right hamstring discomfort.
  • For those on the Tyler Glasnow watch, he was dealing again tonight. He allowed the Tribe two hits and one run over seven innings, striking out six with one walk.

March to Atlanta, Jamo v Sanchez, Lineup & Notes

Today: First pitch at SunTrust Park is slated for 7:35. The game will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: RHP Jameson Taillon (10-9, 3.49 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 3.05). Jamo will be making his career-high 27th start of the season; he'll be another guy that the Bucs may want to conserve in September. He's made 16 straight starts allowing three earned runs or less and in 23 of his 26 starts overall and has pitched into the sixth inning 15 times in his last 18 outings with a 2.61 ERA. He's never faced the Braves.Sanchez left his last start with hammy issues, but it ended up a cramp, he took his bullpen and is ready to go. He's been solid this month, with 1-2/3.20 slash, 1.07 WHIP and 26 K in 25-1/3 innings over five starts. Lifetime, he's 3-5/3.82 against the Pirates.

Jamo opens at SunTrust (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, J-Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Corey Dickerson LF, Elias Diaz C, Josh Harrison 2B, Kevin Newman SS & Taillon P. We still don't like them playing J-Hay hurt; there's no point to it. Eli and Freeser haven't started in a week or so, so it's shake-the-rust time for them.

Notes:
  • The Braves have lost 6-of-7 at home recently, but swept the Bucs at PNC Park, holding them to two runs in 1-0, 6-1, 2-1 wins. In their last visit here in May, 2017, the Pirates split a four-game series.
  • The Buc relievers have been sharp at stranding inherited runners - Ric Rod has allowed just 3-of-24 to score, Kyle Crick 3-of-16 and Steven Brault has been best of all with an 0-for-14 result.
  • Cutch is heading to the NY Yankees from the Giants for two prospects after clearing waivers. San Francisco is getting IF Abiatal Avelino and RHP Juan De Paula and is also sending cash to New York, where he'll be rejoining old matey Neil Walker.

8/31 Through the 1950’s: Lindell Sold; HBD Ramon, Red, Duke, Monte, Syd, Wally & Ray

  • 1866 - C Charley “Duke”/“Duke of Marlborough” Farrell was born in Oakdale, Massachusetts. Farrell was a big (6-1, 208), switch-hitting catcher who could fill in at other spots and batted .275 in 18 big league seasons. He stopped at Pittsburgh in 1890, playing three spots (C, 1B, OF) and batting .290. He went to Boston, then returned in 1892 but had a fairly miserable time, batting just .215 and never feeling quite at home in the clubhouse or city; he was traded in the offseason for Lefty Killen. He earned the nickname Duke of Marlborough early in his career; he was raised in Marlborough as a youth. 
Red Ehret Ars Longa
  • 1868 - RHP Phillip “Red” Ehret was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He played for Pittsburgh from 1892-94 and put up a 53-59/3.79 line in 109 starts and 15 relief appearances. Red also played some outfield and got 438 PA in that span (mostly as a pitcher), batting .201 (hey, at least he was on the right side of the Mario Mendoza line, right?) And yes, he was a redhead. 
  • 1869 - SS Monte Cross was born in Philadelphia. Monte spent 15 years in the show, known as a good glove man, and helped launch his career in Pittsburgh in 1894-95, batting .273 and becoming a starter for the first time in ‘95. He spent his last 10 seasons at home with the Phillies and the Athletics. When his MLB career ended in 1907, Monte hung on for awhile, playing minor league/semi-pro, umping and managing, notably for several seasons at Maine, before joining the real world as a salesman.
  • 1883 - C Syd Smith was born in Smithfield, South Carolina. He spent parts of five seasons in the show, with the last two in Pittsburgh from 1914-15, getting into six games, going 3-for-12. He then managed the Pirates’ Caddo Lake Gassers, a Texas League team in a gas/oil boomtown. Before baseball, he also was the head coach at the Citadel in 1905 - for the football team. 
  • 1888 - OF Wally Rehg was born in Summerfield, Illinois. He began his seven-year MLB career with the Pirates in 1912, going 0-for-9 in eight games. He did better with the Red Sox and later with the Braves as a bench outfielder. Known for his brash mouth, he greeted Hans Wagner in Pittsburgh by calling him “Grandpa.” He played in the minors until 1930, got a couple of movie cameos, and made movies his second career, albeit as an Paramount Studio electrician. 
  • 1907 - C Ray Berres was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a Bucco back-up from 1937-40, a good glove guy that hit .225. After his playing days, he was the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1949-66, then again from mid-season of 1968 through 1969, primarily under manager Al Lopez. He and Lopez had an interesting history together. Berres served as Lopez’s back-up early in his career and then was later traded to the Pirates straight-up for him. 
Ramon Hernandez 1973 Topps
  • 1940 - LHP Ramon Hernandez was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The reliever tossed six years (1971-76) in Pittsburgh, going 23-12-39/2.51 after being signed by Howie Haak, and was a bullpen member of the Bucco division champs of 1972, 1974 and 1975 (he was a September call-up for the 1971 team). In a nine-season career, Hernandez’s line was 23–15-46/3.03. 
  • 1953 - The Pirates sold RHP Johnny Lindell to the Phillies. His knuckler fluttered wildly that year, leading the league in walks and wild pitches. He was listed as a pitcher with the Pirates, but was often used as a pinch-hitter and hit .286, once tying a game with a three-run ninth-inning homer. The Phillies released him in May 1954 after his hybrid pitcher-outfielder role proved to be a not very strong pairing. Lindell was an odd story. He entered the league in 1941 as a pitcher, then was converted to outfield, where he played from 1943-50, earning an All-Star berth once with the Yankees. Then tried to come back again as a knuckleball pitcher after a couple of years in the minors.

8/31 From the 1960’s Through the 1980’s: Ray, Mad Dog, Face Deals; HBD Juan & Morris; Game Stories

  • 1960 - The Pirates fell behind the Giants and Billy “Digger” O’Dell 3-0 at Candlestick Park, but after seven were up 7-4 and that lead held up. The club got a two-run shot from Roberto Clemente in the fifth, used four singles to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth and iced it in the seventh with two more singles, a walk, an error and two sac flies. The G-Men got a run back in their half off Joe Gibbon and had a pair on, but Elroy Face came on and struck out Felipe Alou and Willie Mays. He finished up the game, striking out six in 2-⅔ IP for his 20th save. Reliever Clem Labine was credited with the win.
Morris Madden1989 Score Hottest Rising
  • 1960 - LHP Morris Madden was born in Lauren, South Carolina. He tossed 14 of his 16 big league outings (three starts) for the Pirates in 1988-89 with a 2-2, 5.03 line and was released after the ‘89 campaign. He had a long minor league career, spanning 1979-90 and collected 1,100 strikeouts over that stretch. Morris coaches the Carolina Metros, an umbrella organization for youth traveling teams with a strong mentoring component. 
  • 1968 - Steve Blass got the first out against the Atlanta Braves‚ and then moved to LF. ElRoy Face, 40, was in the process of being sold to the Tigers (actually, it was a done deal, but Detroit wouldn’t have an open roster spot until September 1), and the club sent him in for one last appearance (legend has it he was asked whether he wanted to start or relieve, and opted to make his last outing from the pen). He retired Felix Millan on one pitch to tie Walter Johnson's MLB record of 802 pitching appearances with one club. Then manager Larry Shepherd came out for him, Blass returned to pitch and the Pirates won 8-0 at Forbes Field. 
  • 1981 - The Pirates acquired 2B Johnny Ray and two PTBNL’s (pitchers Randy Niemann and Kevin Houston) from the Houston Astros in exchange for IF Phil Garner. Ray spent seven years in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, and was Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1982 to Steve Sax. Scrap Iron played through 1988 and hit .260 for the Astros, where he also had a seven-year run. 
  • 1985 - The Pirates traded former batting champion Bill Madlock to the Dodgers for prospects RJ Reynolds‚ Cecil Espy‚ and Sid Bream in a pretty solid deal for the Buccos. Madlock would last two more year in the show. 1B Bream spent six years in Pittsburgh, four as a starter, and hit .269 in that span. Reynolds, a platoon OF, spent six seasons with Pittsburgh and also hit .269. Bench OF Espy spent a couple of campaigns in town, batting .254. 
RJ Reynolds 1986 Fleer
  • 1986 - RHP Juan Nicasio was born in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The Pirates signed the five-year vet (LA, Colorado) in 2016 to a $3M deal and inked him again in 2017 for $3.65 M. After trying him out as a starter, the Pirates put him back in a bullpen role where he became an effective eighth-inning bridge. The Pirates let him go on waivers as an apparent salary dump and lost him to the Phils with no return. He’s now with Seattle. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game, defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-3 at TRS. Andy Van Slyke went 3-for-3 with a homer and walk, scored three times and drove home a pa and Al Pedrique chipped in two raps. Mike Dunne went the distance, tossing a six hitter and earning his sixth win in the last seven decisions. As the cherry on top, earlier in the day Doug Drabek had been named the NL Player of the Week for going 2-0, giving up two runs in 16 innings the week before.

8/31 From the 1990’s Forward: A-Ram Inked; Dunston, Morneau, Diaz Deals; Nicasio Cut; Game Stories

  • 1991 - The Pirates rode six innings of perfect relief by Roger Mason, Bill Landrum and game winner Bob Kipper to a 3-2, 12-inning victory over San Diego at Jack Murphy Stadium. The Buc tallies came in the second on Barry Bonds’ two-run shot and a leadoff homer to left by Don Slaught off Jose Melendez in the 12th. 
A-Ram 1998 Bowman
  • 1994 - In one of their better international deals, the Pirates signed 16-year-old Aramis Ramirez as an amateur free agent. A-Ram was the Pirates' last significant signing from the Dominican until the Rene Gayo era began a decade later. Ramirez had a pair of stints with the Bucs to open and close his career. 
  • 1997 - The Bucs became buyers instead of sellers when they obtained SS Shawon Dunston from the Cubs for future considerations to bolster the chances of the “Freak Show” team sneaking into the playoffs after Kevin Polcovich injured his ankle. Dunston hit .394 with five homers, but after an 18-game Bucco career was lost to the Indians in free agency after the season. He was a pretty good Plan B; the Pirates had first cast their eyes toward former Pittsburgh SS Jay Bell, but the Royals wanted more in return than the FO was willing to give. 
  • 1999 - The Bucs provided lots of late-inning drama while topping the Rox at Coors Field in 10 innings by a 9-8 score. Kevin Young gave the Bucs an 8-4 lead with a two-out, first-pitch grand slam down the LF line in the ninth. In the bottom half, six straight runners reached off Mike Williams to make the score 8-8, but Angel Echevarria was thrown out at home by Brian Giles to keep the game knotted. The Bucs came up with four hits and a walk in the tenth, but could only tally a run to take a shaky lead. With two away for Colorado, Dante Bichette singled off Jose Silva and was waved around on Vin Castilla’s double to left center, but was cut down by Al Martin to Mike Benjamin to Keith Osik (7-6-2) to preserve the win. 
Kevin Young 1999 Pacific
  • 2008 - Milwaukee thumped the Bucs, 7-0, for Pittsburgh's 10th loss in a row. Ricky Weeks led off with a homer at PNC Park and it went downhill from there. The big story was CC Sabathia’s one-hitter; the lone rap was a weakly-hit fifth-inning grounder by Andy LaRoche that Sabathia dropped; the scorer, much to the chagrin of manager Ned Yost, ruled it a hit (and not unreasonably). Yost felt that CC had fired a no-hitter and even filed an unsuccessful appeal over the ruling. CC blamed himself for the controversy, telling ESPN "The ball was still rolling and I probably should have picked it up with my glove...I think if I pick it up with my glove, I get him." 
  • 2011 - Pittsburgh shipped OF Matt Diaz to the Braves for a PTBNL, P Eliecer Cardenas, who was quickly released. Diaz hit .259 in his brief spell as a Buc and spent two more bench years before hanging up his spikes after the 2013 season. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates pulled off their second trade of the week, picking up 1B Justin Morneau from Minnesota for OF Alex Presley and a PTBNL (RHP Duke Welker). They celebrated by going out and whipping the Cardinals, 7-1, at PNC Park to retake the NL Central lead behind AJ Burnett. Russ Martin had the big bop, a three-run homer, while Neil Walker added three knocks. Morneau was ready to rep; although not needed for this battle, he arrived in mid-game after flying in from Texas. Justin hit .260 w/.370 OBP during the month, but his lack of power (0 HR, 4 2B, 92 PA) led the Bucs to let him walk the following year. 
Juan Nicasio 2016 (image from Positively Pittsburgh)
  • 2017 - In an unusual move, RHP Juan Nicasio was placed on irrevocable waivers and claimed by the Phillies on his birthday. It was odd because Nicasio was a solid eighth-inning set-up guy (2-5-2, 22 holds, 2.86 ERA in 65 games w/60 K in 60 IP) who the Pirates let go for nothing. Nicasio was a FA after the season and unlikely to have been retained, but the Bucs, who were still hanging around in July when they could have traded him with no strings attached, kept Nicasio and then tried to slip him through trade waivers when the team faded. In some one-upmanship, Juan was claimed by the Chicago Cubs to block him from going to another contender. So the FO pulled him back and later put him on the waiver wire, saving some cash ($600K owed for September), opening up his spot to audition for 2018, and finally to reward Juan with a “better situation” (ie, joining a playoff contender) that was foiled by Philadelphia, the NL’s worst team, but rectified when they dealt him to St. Louis.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Buccos Drop Series To Cards 5-0

The Bucs got a Cervy knock around two walks to fill the bases (one on a blown 3-2 call) with two outs off John Gant before Red Beard fanned. Joe Musgrove had a clean first act. Jordy started off the second with a smoked at 'em ball followed by a pair of comebackers. It was 1-2-3 for the Redbirds, with the last out well stroked but right at Gregory. Big Joe has thrown 18 pitches, all strikes, so far. Starling opened the third with a bunt single followed by a Fraze rap, but a fly and two whiffs finished by rising heaters ran up the LOB count to five. The bottom of the order gave J-Grove fits; Harrison Bader and the pitcher Gant mashed back-to-back 410'+ homers, one drawback of filling up the strike zone. The Bucs went down without a peep in the fourth, with a pair of K's looking. The Birds loaded the bases with three straight singles. A run scored on a force; J-Bell dropped the relay, costing a DP. No diff; Musgrove came back with a pair of whiffs. The Bucs hit a couple of balls on the nose in the fifth, but none found grass. A one-out walk and double that zipped past Moran put J-Grove in another pickle. Jose Martinez singled them both home with a hopper inside third, although there was the cold comfort in him being tossed out at second by Fraze.

Starling had the only hot stick tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucco ball luck continued in the sixth; Gregory and Fran lined into 700' of outs, with Tyler O'Neill robbing El Coffee with a leaping over-the-shoulder grab at the track. J-Bell walked and Red Beard reached on a boot, bringing on Dakota Hudson, who got Jordy on a bouncer that 3B Yairo Munoz dove to cut off, saving a hit. Big Joe finished his day with a quiet frame featuring two K. After two whiffs in the seventh, a knock by Starling and walks to Fraze & Gregory packed the sacks. Carlos Martinez was waved in to face Cervy, who hit a can of corn to center. Nick Kingham tossed a clean, 10-pitch inning. Chasen Shreve tossed the eighth. J-Bell opened with a double and Jordy walked with an out, bringing on Jordan Hicks. His 101 MPH heat overmatched Kevin Newman, who looked at three strikes; Corey D went down swinging. Ric Rod fanned a pair and got a comebacker. Luke Weaver got the ninth and Starling opened with a leg single. Fraze flied out, and what would a Bucco game be without a DP, courtesy tonight of Gregory 1-6-3.

The offense continues it's woes; the stranded a dozen runners and went 0-for-9 w/RISP. The pitching may be facing another problem; Big Joe, Willy and Jamo are all approaching career highs in IP. The Pirates will be managing their innings in September, whether by going six-man, skipping starts or through pitch counts will be an interesting call

Notes:
  • The Bucs had six hits; Starling had three of them.
  • Big Joe began tonight's game with 21 consecutive strikes, the most by any starting pitcher to begin a game since pitches were first tracked in 1988 per Stats by STATS.
  • John Gant tied his season high with seven K's.
  • The Curve gave out their player awards tonight. The winners - MVP: Will Craig; Pitcher of the Year: Cam Vieaux; Unsung Hero: Jordan George; Fan Appreciation Award: Cole Tucker; Defender of the Year: Ke'Bryan Hayes & Teammate of the Year: Logan Ratledge.
  • Baseball America has each team's top ten draft bonuses, with the Bucs running from Gerrit Cole to Tony Sanchez. 
  • Stewie on the move again: the D-Backs have made a deal to acquire C Chris Stewart from the Braves, terms not yet announced.
  • Giancola Stanton joined the 300 home run club tonight.

Cardinal Finale, J-Grove v Gant, Lineup & Notes - Newman Starts at 2B, AFL Squad Announced

Today: The getaway contest begins at 7:15 and will be aired by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. It's also available to out-of-market MLB Network viewers.

Pitchers: RHP Joe Musgrove (5-7, 3.56) goes for the rubber match win against RHP John Gant (5-5, 3.76). J-Grove has been tossing the ball pretty well, though he hit a bump in his last outing. He's close to matching last year's inning count, even with the late start, so it'll be interesting to see how the Bucs handle him in September. Big Joe's only outing against the Cards was an 8-1 decision over Gant in his Pirates debut on May 25th at PNC Park. He scattered five hits while striking out seven batters in seven scoreless frames. Gant has been strong lately, giving up five runs on 15 hits in his last four starts covering 22-2/3 IP. He hasn't had much luck against the Pirates, going 0-1/8.68 in two starts, giving up nine runs in 9-1/2 IP on 15 hits with 12 whiffs.

Big Joe looking to win tonight's rubber match (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Adam Frazier LF, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Colin Moran 3B, Jordy SS, Kevin Newman 2B & Musgrove P. Corey D broke out of a short five-game slump last night with two hits and sits down, shifting Fraze to the pasture and getting Newman  a start at second base.

Notes:
  • Last night, Trevor Williams made his eighth start of the season of at least five innings without allowing a run, which is the most in the MLB.
  • Felipe Vazquez notched his 28th save of the season out of 32 save opportunities.
  • Cervy had his eight game hitting streak end last night, but kept his 12-game on-base string alive.  
  • These guys are heading to the Arizona Fall League: pitchers Dario Agrazal, Matt Eckelman, Geoff Hartlieb & Blake Weiman, catcher Arden Pabst, infielders Will Craig (1B) & Cole Tucker (SS) and outfielder Bryan Reynolds. They're all on Altoona's roster and Tucker, Craig, Reynolds and Agrazal are Top 30 Pirates prospects per MLB.com. Bryan Hickerson, the Curve pitching coach, will be on the staff of the Pirates AFL club, the Surprise Saguaros. The team is made up of players from the Bucs, Cards, Rangers, Royals & Blue Jays. WTM of Bucs Dugout has a rundown on the players.

8/30 Through the 1930’s: Cooper's 200th; Five for Pie; Robertson Cycle; Sweep; HBD Kiki, Johnny, Will & Charlie

  • 1870 - RHP Will Thompson (he also played 1B and the OF) was born in Pittsburgh. He made one MLB appearance, working three frames for the 1892 Pirates. He gave up a run and took the loss. After playing at Penn, he spent time in the local minors in the New York State League at Elmira, the Pennsylvania State League at Johnstown and the Iron & Oil League for New Castle. He later served in the 1898 Spanish–American War. 
  • 1878 - IF Charlie Starr was born in Pike County, Ohio. Charlie played three years in the show, joining the Bucs in the middle in 1908 after a couple of years at Youngstown and batting .186 in 20 games. He played for two more clubs after that in 1909, then joined Buffalo for a couple of seasons before heading south, suiting up for New Orleans, Mobile, Chattanooga and Little Rock before his last pro at-bat in 1916. He retired and became a metal worker in construction. 
Kiki Cuyler (image via The Sporting News)
  • 1898 - OF Hazen Shirley “Kiki” Cuyler was born in Harrisville, Michigan. The Hall-of-Famer spent his first seven seasons (1921-27) as a Pirate, hitting .336 with a .399 OBP. The end of his Pittsburgh era was rocky. In 1927, Cuyler was benched for nearly half the season because of a dispute with rookie manager Donie Bush. The Pirates went to the World Series, but Cuyler was on the pine, and that November, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He played 11 more seasons and ended his career with a .321 BA. Per SABR, two explanations have been given for his nickname "Kiki." In one version, the players called him "Cuy" in the minors at Nashville, so when a fly ball was judged to be his play, the shortstop would call out "Cuy" as would the second baseman, and the echoed “Cuy-Cuy” caught on with the fans. A variant says that "Kiki Cuyler" was caused by his stuttering problem and was the way Cuyler's name came out when he pronounced it. 
  • 1916 - RHP Johnny Lindell was born in Greeley, Colorado. Johnny started as a pitcher in 1942 and ended as one in 1953, spending the eight years in between as an outfielder. After hitting below the Mendoza line in 1950, he was sent to the Hollywood Stars in the PCL where manager Fred Haney turned him into a knuckleballer. Lindell returned to the majors in 1953 at the age of 36 with the Pirates, who had Haney at their helm. His knuckleball was tough to hit but tougher to control, and Johnny led the league in walks and wild pitches with a line of 5-16/4.71. His stick recovered as he batted .286 in 91 appearances, but it was the end of his road. He was sold to Philly in late August of 1953, finished out the season there, then got five at-bats the following campaign before leaving the show. 
  • 1921 - Dave Robertson connected for the cycle to lead the Bucs to an 8-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. He scored twice and drove in three runs. George Cutshaw and Clyde Barnhart added three knocks each as Whitey Glazner cruised to victory, scattering seven hits for the complete game win. 
Wilbur Cooper (photo via Detroit Public Library)
  • 1924 - Wilbur Cooper, who is the Pirates all-time pitching leader with 202 opponent scalps and 236 complete games, won his 200th career contest (he finished with 216 wins) in a 12-3, complete game decision over Cincinnati at Forbes Field. It would be Wilbur’s last Pirates campaign and he finished the year slashing 20-14/3.28 before becoming part of a six-man deal with the Cubs after the season. The 32-year-old lefty had started out with Pittsburgh in 1912 when he was just 20. Wilbur won double-digit games 10 times in that time, including four 20 or more win seasons and two more at 19. 
  • 1929 - Pie Traynor went 5-for-5 to lead a 21-hit attack in an easy 15-0 win over Chicago at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine tossed a three-hitter as Pittsburgh dominated. It was the Pirates' fourth win over the Cubs in three days, with the Windy City snapping their losing streak with a 7-6 win the following day. 
  • 1930 - The Pirates swept a twinbill from Cincinnati, 5-0 and 3-2, to win their 12th game in 14 outings. The Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd, scored all five runs in the opener with George Grantham driving them in three times. Spades Wood tossed a six-hitter for the win. Grantham was big in the second game too, with three hits, two runs and an RBI as Larry French outdid the Reds’ Larry Benton.

8/30 From 1950’s Through the 1970’s: Arlin & the Gunner; RIP Arky; HBD Marlon & Luis; Game Stories

  • 1951 - The Pirates rallied from an 8-1 deficit to take a 10-9 victory from the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Frank Thomas hit his first MLB homer and Ralph Kiner won it with a long ball in the ninth while Gus Bell and Pete Castiglione also went deep for the Bucs. Pittsburgh climbed back to take the lead in the eighth only to have the Giants tie it, but the G-Men were trumped by Kiner in the end. Murry Dickson blew the save but ultimately got the win, one of 20 he earned during the campaign. 
Arky Vaughan Baseball Heroes Deck
  • 1952 - Arky Vaughan, 40, and his friend Bill Wimer drowned in California’s Lost Lake. While the two were fishing, their rowboat overturned. Wimer couldn’t swim, and both men went under when Vaughan tried to save his bud. Vaughan retired with 1,173 runs scored, 926 RBI, 118 steals, a .318 BA and a .406 OBP. His .385 batting average, .491 OBP, and 1.098 OPS in 1935 are Pirate team records, and the batting average is a 20th century record for NL shortstops. Arky was a Hall-of-Famer, included in the Ritter/Honig book "The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time" and cited by Bill James as the second greatest SS in history, behind only Honus Wagner. 
  • 1959 - ElRoy Face notched his 17th straight victory of the year, earning a 10 inning win against Philadelphia, 7-6, at Forbes Field after Dick Stuart’s two-run double in overtime. The Bucs rallied from a five-run ninth inning deficit on the strength of Danny Kravitz and Stuart homers to sweep the doubleheader. They took the opener 2-1 behind Harvey Haddix’s arm and Bob Skinner’s two-out, ninth-inning knock that scored Dick Hoak. Face had also won the last five decisions of 1958, giving him a 22 game winning streak. He finished the year 18-1, and his 18 relief wins remains the major league record. The Baron went a month (6/11-7/12) without giving up a run, and his 22 straight wins is second only to Carl Hubbell’s 24-gamer. 
  • 1960 - The Pirates defeated Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 5-2, at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Bob Friend, with late help from ElRoy Face, picked up the win supported by long balls from Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente, who was the only right-handed hitter beside Frank Howard to homer the opposite way in the Coliseum during the season after swatting an outside-half heater 400’. 
Bob Prince & Harold Arlin (photo Hall of Fame collection)
  • 1972 - Bob Prince turned the mic over to ex-KDKA announcer Harold Arlin, the first man to ever broadcast a live baseball game. The Gunner graced him to call a few innings in Pittsburgh while Harold’s grandson‚ Steve Arlin‚ was on the mound for San Diego. Pap-pap didn’t have much to brag about as the Bucs won 11-0, with Manny Sanguillen and Dave Cash combining to drive in seven runs on five hits. There was a highlight moment, though - Roberto Clemente tied the club record for hits with a pair of knocks, equaling Honus Wagner's franchise mark of 2,970 career hits. 
  • 1977 - OF Marlon Byrd was born in Boynton Beach, Florida. The Pirates acquired the vet, along with John Buck, from the Mets for the 2013 stretch run in exchange for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. He came through, hitting .318 with three homers during the regular season and .364 in the postseason with a big three-run homer in the Wild Card win against the Reds. He then signed with the Phils during the off season. Byrd also had two PED suspensions, in 2012 and 2016, with the second one ending his 15-year career. 
  • 1979 - IF Luis Rivas was born in La Guaira, Venezuela. Luis played for eight years, primarily for the Twins, and finished his career in Pittsburgh in 2008, batting .218 (he had never hit under .256 in his prior stops) after signing a minor league FA deal for $525K. He did have one big week for the Bucs, though - he had his first two-homer game on May 25th and banged his first grand slam on the 31st.

8/30 From the 1990’s Forward: Martinez, Buechele,Corn Deals; Hot Race In '13; New CBA; Latin HoF; More

  • 1990 - The Pirates picked up vet OF/1B Carmelo Martinez from the Phillies for OF’s Tony Longmire, Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero. Martinez lasted less than a season with the Bucs, while the young outfield prospects ended up with bench roles during their brief careers, with Chamberlain the only solid producer of the three. 
Carmelo Martinez 1991 Fleer
  • 1991 - The Rangers traded 3B Steve Buechele to the Pirates for young pitchers Kurt Miller and Hector Fajardo. Buechele, a FA, signed with the Pirates after the season, but was moved at the next deadline for Danny Jackson after hitting .248 in 453 BA. Miller tossed off-and-on until 1999, appearing in 44 games for the Marlins and Cubs, while Fajardo was done in 1995 after pitching in 28 games for the Rangers. 
  • 1996 - The Pirates sent 3B Charlie Hayes to the Yankees (the eighth player New York brought in during August) for a PTBNL, RHP Chris Corn. Charlie hit .286 for the Yankees and played through 2001; Corn never advanced past AA ball. 
  • 2002 - After marathon sessions, Bud Selig & Donald Fehr announced a new four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. Revenue sharing increased, random drug tests were permitted, a luxury tax was introduced, the minimum salary rose to $300K and contraction, a major bone of contention, was ruled out until 2006 at the earliest. The 30th was the drop-dead date set by the Union to wrap up negotiations and the two sides just crossed the wire. 
  • 2005 - The Milwaukee Brewers fell 6-0 to the Bucs behind Paul Maholm’s four-hitter at Miller Park. It was an oasis in an otherwise arid stretch of games that saw Pittsburgh lose 11-of-12 contests. The Bucs put up a five spot in the first inning, keyed by Jack Wilson’s three-run, bases-loaded double. The Bucs had the bases empty with two outs, but Doug Davis walked four of next the five batters, all on 3-2 pitches, before Wilson cashed in. 
Paul Maholm 2005 Topps Prospects
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh scored three times in the 11th inning to come back against the Cubs 10-9 at PNC Park. Chicago scored twice off Marty McLeary (who got the win), but the Bucs scored on Jose Castillo’s single to cut the lead to one. Ryan Dempster walked Jose Bautista on four pitches to load the bases for Freddie Sanchez, who lined a two-run, two-out single to right for the win, giving him four RBI on the night. Castillo had four knocks while Jason Bay and Xavier Nady had three hits apiece. 
  • 2011 - Andrew McCutchen was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal outing as he hit a ninth inning homer against the Houston Astros in an 8-2 loss at Minute Maid Park, becoming the eighth Pirates player to ring up 20 home runs/20 stolen bases in one season, and the first since Nate McLouth in 2008. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cards 5-0 at PNC Park behind Francisco Liriano’s two-hitter and a 3-for-4 night by Garrett Jones, who had four RBI and was a triple short of the cycle. The HR was #100 of his career. Pittsburgh moved back into a Central Division tie for first with the Redbirds in front of a sellout crowd of 38,036. 
  • 2013 - The Latino Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest class, including ex-Pirates Matty Alou (1966-70), Vic Davalillo (1971-73), Rennie Stennett (1971-79), Tony Armas (1976) and Julian Javier (minors 1956-59, traded to SL 1960).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Willy and the Po' Boys Shut Down Redbirds 2-0

Fraze singled with an out and moved up when the ball was mishandled (he was credited with a double, go figure). Cervy worked a pro 10-pitch walk with two away, and Corey D followed with an infield knock to jam the bases. A J-Bell fly to center eased Miles Mikolas out of the jam at the cost of 31 tosses. A walk and double got Willy in quick hot water, but a pop snared very nicely over-the-shoulder by Fraze between whiffs calmed the waters. Mikolas struck out the side in the second. Williams couldn't quite keep up; he only fanned a pair in a clean frame. The Bucs got a two-out Gregory knock in the third but no more action. The Cards worked a walk with an out, quickly erased on a DP - both guys are dealing, with five K's each. J-Bell singled off a glove with an out in the fourth; Red Beard hit into a twin killing. The Redbirds stranded a two-out two-bagger. The Bucs opened the fifth with a Jordy double; a bunt and bloop knock by Starling produced a run. Fraze's hit-and-run rap and Gregory's knock chased Marte home before the music stopped. Willy tossed a shut-down frame.

Willy just keeps putting up zeros... (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)

With an out in the sixth and Chasen Shreve on the bump, Moran singled and was erased on a Jordy around-the-horn DP. Willy began to labor a bit, giving up a knock and one-out walk but gritted up to get out of it. He was hit for in the seventh, with a three-hit, three-walk whitewash and eight whiffs after 92 pitches for his line. Domenic Leone got the Bird call and survived a boot to put up another zippo. Edgar Santana toed the slab and followed a one-away muff by Red Beard by a bopped batter, but got a big 3-2 whiff and pop to cruise out. Brett Cecil worked the eighth; Corey D got an infield single/bad throw combo to reach second with an out. A pair of whiffs nullified that misadventure. Keone Kela was waved in and gave up a single that never advanced. Carlos Martinez got the ninth inning and after two soft outs escaped Starlings loud laser to center that was hauled in. Felipe Vazquez gave up a double after two were away, delaying the win by a batter. RTJR.

Willy has been amazing since the break, and the Bucco bullpen has rocked steady. The Redbirds were 0-for-9 w/RISP, but that's a little misleading as they had just one runner reach third. The bats are still slumbering, but tonight for once it wasn't an issue. A little small ball paid off, using a bunt, bloop and hit-and-run to generate the runs.

Notes:
  •  Fraze, El Coffee and Corey D each had a pair of knocks as the Pirates collected 10 hits, with nine runners LOB.
  • Trevor Williams set a career high with eight strikeouts tonight. 
  • J-Hay pinch hit and hobbled going down the line; we're not sure why the Bucs don't let the guy sit awhile to save his hammy. It's tough to showcase someone who's hopping around on one leg.
  • Matt Carpenter left the game in the fourth inning; the Cards said he was nauseous, cause unknown.
  • Chad Kuhl tossed off the slope of the mound today; the next step in his recovery will be controlled bullpen sessions.
  • Austin Meadows had three homers tonight for AAA Durham, giving him 10 in 27 games with the Rays' top affiliate, and he's batting over .320. He went 4-for-4 and was rewarded by being plunked with a high heater, causing a bench-clearing brawl.

Bucs-Birds, Willy v Mikolas, Lineup & Notes - Jordy Back, S-Rod DFA'ed

Today: Tonight's game starts at 8:15 and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (10-9, 3.44) v RHP Miles Mikolas (13-3, 2.94). Willy has gone 3-2/0.97 in six starts (37 IP) since the All-Star break. He's 1-2/5.85 in four starts against the Birds this year. His latest decision was a 2-1 loss Jack Flaherty - he made all four starts against him - on 8/5 at PNC Park. Mikolas has been the de facto Card ace this year, but he may be wearing down a bit, as he's given up four runs in two of his last three outings. MM is 0-1/3.38 in three games against the Pirates this year.

Willy on the bump. (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran Cervelli C, Corey Dickerson LF, Josh Bell 1B, Colin Moran 3B, Jordy Mercer SS & Williams P. Jordy is back in the saddle.

Notes:
  • Jordy's back; S-Rod (.167) was DFA'ed to clear a spot for him on the active roster, so Kevin Newman escaped a return to Indy, although with Jordy/Hechy at short and Fraze/J-Hay at second, it's tough to see many innings for him until the Buccos decide to shift into audition mode. 
Sean gone. (image Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Fran Cervelli has hit safely in eight straight games, bella vita! Gregory's seven-gamer came to an end last night.
  • Felipe Vazquez has converted 17 consecutive save opportunities, the longest active NL streak. He ranks 14th in team history with 48 saves and is closing in on Rich Loiselle (49) for the lucky 13th spot.
  • The Pirates are 3-8 against Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, & St. Louis in their last four sets and 4-12 in their last 16 games.
  • Ron Morris of Baseball America catches up with Kris Benson.

    8/29 Through the 1910’s: Byrne Deal; HBD Pep, Billy, Dode, Woody, Ensign & Jimmie

    • 1883 - UT Jimmie Savage was born in Southington, Connecticut. Savage appeared in a the show for three seasons, including 1914-15 when he played for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League. Jimmie, then 30-years-old, played mostly in left but filled in at short and third base as needed. He finished his Rebel days with a .278 BA. He stayed local, dying in New Castle, but returned to his family roots and was buried in Southington. 
    • 1888 - LHP Ensign (his given name) Cottrell was born in Hoosick Falls, New York. He started his five-year career in the majors in 1911 with the Pirates after leaving Syracuse University, giving up four runs in his inning of work, and was released later in the season without any more action. His last game was tossed in 1915, and he went off to RPI to finish his schooling, becoming a self-employed civil engineer and surveyor. 
    • 1892 - OF Roy “Woody” Wood was born in Monticello, Arkansas. Roy started his three-year career with the Pirates after playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He hit .286 in a short stint and left baseball after the 1916 season to become a naval aviator in WW1. Woody went back to Fayetteville afterward, opened a dry goods store and was a mover in the town’s civic affairs before passing away at home in 1974. 
    Pep Young 1940 Play Ball
    • 1907 - IF Lemuel Floyd “Pep” Young was born in Jamestown, North Carolina. He played eight years (1933-40) for the Bucs, hitting .264 and playing mainly second, but with some short and third thrown in. The high tide of his career was in 1938, when he received some votes for the NL MVP after hitting .278 in 149 games. As fate would have it, he hurt his knee the next season, and played just 93 games over the final three years of his career (1940-41; 1945). He came by his nickname honestly. Per the Harrisburg Daily Independent "He is the sort of player...who is on his toes all the time, chock full of life and ginger. It was his great display of energy in the minors that earned him the nickname of 'Pep.'" 
    • 1909 - The Pirates traded 3B Jap Barbeau, 2B Alan Storke, and cash to the Cardinals for 3B Bobby Byrne. Byrne had his best years as a Buc, playing through the 1913 season and hitting .277 while helping the Pirates to the 1909 World Series title. Barbeau and Storke finished the year strong but both were near the end; Storke was done after 1909 and Barbeau in 1910. 
    • 1918 - C Joe “Dode” Schultz Jr. was born in Chicago. He played for the Bucs from 1939-41, hitting .231 as a seldom used reserve and pinch hitter. His dad, Joe Sr., was also a Pirate, donning the Bucco uni in 1916. Dode went on manage the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and replaced Billy Martin as the Tigers skipper in 1973 to cap a long minor league coaching career. As for his nickname, Rory Costello of SABR wrote “As a child, Joe’s parents nicknamed him Dode, although the boy (Joe) ‘had no idea what it meant, if anything.’” The book “Detroit Tigers Lists and More” by Mark Pattison & David Raglin claims Dode is shorthand for “Dodo.” No wonder Joe pleaded ignorance. 
    Billy Cox 1941 (photo Pirates promo)
    • 1919 - SS Billy Cox was born in Newport, located in central Pennsylvania. He got a September call-up in 1941, spent four years in the service and became the starting Bucco shortstop in 1946-47, batting .280. He was traded to Brooklyn, moved to the hot corner, and played seven seasons for them and in three World Series.

    8/29 From 1950 Through the 1980’s: First TV; RIP Big Poison; Ray Traded; Friend & Robby Help Themselves & More

    • 1953 - TV station WENS (Channel 16) kicked off its entry into the Pittsburgh market by being the first to televise a Pirate game from Forbes Field. There were two high cameras (one behind home, the other on the first base line; eventually, a third field-level camera was added) and the radio announcers, Rosey Rowswell & Bob Prince, did the play-by-play. Oh, the Bucs lost to the St. Louis Cards 5-4 in front of 3,145 that Saturday afternoon despite 2B Johnny O’Brien’s three hits. WENS chose the ballgame to start as they were heavily into sports, televising not only the Bucs but Duquesne basketball and Pittsburgh Hornet hockey. WENS (W-Entertainment, News, Sports) was an ABC affiliate and went off the air in 1957 after Channels 4 & 11 were licensed. 
    Bob Friend 1958 Topps
    • 1958 - The Bucs squeaked out a 3-2 win against Milwaukee at County Stadium. Dick Stuart went long to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Bob Skinner made it 2-0 in the fourth with another solo homer. Pittsburgh pushed across the winning run in the seventh when Hank Foiles brought Frank Thomas home to give Bob Friend the win with ninth-inning help from Don Gross. 
    • 1959 - Bob Friend helped himself by driving in three runs with a two-out, bases loaded double and tossed a nine hitter against the Phils in an 11-1 romp at Forbes Field. Smoky Burgess also chased home a trio of runs with a pair of homers while Dick Groat added four hits. 
    • 1965 - Hall of Fame OF’er Paul “Big Poison” Waner died in Sarasota, Florida at age 62. Among his many marks were a .333 lifetime BA, 3,152 hits with eight 200+ hit seasons, and a 1927 MVP award. His #11 was retired by the Pirates in 2007. After his playing days, he owned a batting cage establishment in Harmarville. One of the guys he helped develop there was rookie shortstop Dick Groat of Wilkinsburg. 
    • 1970 - Dave Giusti was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Pirate Cutthroat.” He finished his “cutthroat” season 9-3 with 26 saves and a 3.06 ERA, working 66 games/103 IP as a multi-inning finisher. 
    • 1984 - God helps those who help themselves: RHP Don Robinson pitched two scoreless innings of relief, knocked in the go-ahead run and scored the insurance marker as the Pirates beat the Astros, 4-2, at The Astrodome. Robinson broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th inning with a two-out single and touched home for the fourth run after Tony Pena followed with a double. 
    Andy Van Slyke 1987 Topps Traded
    • 1987 - Lotta firsts: Andy Van Slyke hit his first (and only) grand slam off Larry Andersen with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to ice an 8-2 win against the Houston Astros at TRS, extending the Bucco win streak to five games. Mike LaValliere went deep for the first time on the season and Mike Bielecki picked up his first win of the campaign while tossing the first complete game of his career. His six-hitter topped Nolan Ryan and Larry Anderson. Bobby Bonilla added three hits, including a double, and chased home three runs. Not all the goodies were first-timers: Ryan passed the 200+ K mark for a record 11th year. 
    • 1987 - The Pirates traded 2B Johnny Ray to the Angels for two minor leaguers, 3B Bill Merrifield and LHP Miguel Garcia. With Jose Lind in the wings, the Pirates thought Ray, whose range had diminished noticeably at age 30, was expendable after seven years and a .286 BA. Maybe he was, but they Bucs sure didn’t get much - Merrifield never played for Pittsburgh and Garcia made 13 Pirate appearances with a 7.71 ERA. Meanwhile, Ray won an All-Star berth and hit .296 in four seasons for the Halos before closing his career in Japan. Ray’s agent said that the 2B had demanded the trade after GM Syd Thrift brought up Lind, claiming that Chico would cut into Ray’s playing time and cost him bonus money. The two sides had been cool since spring training when an expected (by Ray) contract extension didn’t happen. 
    • 1988 - LHP Dave LaPoint became the first Pirate starter to begin his career here with three one-run or fewer starts when he whipped the Reds 8-1 at Riverfront Stadium. He was obtained for reliever Barry Jones in August from the White Sox, finished the year 4-2, and then signed with the Yankees as a FA the following season.

    8/29 From the 1990’s Forward: Last Hurrah; J-Hay Day; Wagner 1-Hitter; Game Stories

    • 1990 - Barry Bonds went 3-for-4 with five RBI to lead the Bucs to a 10-0, rain-shortened seven inning win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton Stadium. Jeff King added three RBI, two off sac flies, as Doug Drabek won his 17th game. The game ended a four game losing streak and followed a clubhouse meeting held by manager Jim Leyland after a lackadaisical 9-0 loss the night before. 
    Paul Wagner 1995 Fleer
    • 1995 - RHP Paul Wagner came within one strike of a no-hitter with a one-hit, 11K, 4-0 win over the Rox at TRS. With two away in the ninth, 1B Andres Galarraga chopped a 3-2 pitch past the mound and over second, where Nelson Liriano made the grab but couldn’t beat The Big Cat to first with his throw. For Wagner, it was just his third win against 13 losses, and the victory snapped a six game Pittsburgh losing string. 
    • 2000 - Kris Benson shutout the Giants 8-0 at TRS. He gave up one hit in eight frames, a first inning single to Barry Bonds. The Pirates banged four doubles (two by Enrique Wilson), a triple and a homer (John Vander Wal) off Livian Hernandez, who only managed six outs before getting the hook. 
    • 2006 - The Pirates scored twice in the 11th on an error and bases loaded walk to defeat the Cubs 7-6 at PNC Park. Matt Capps, the sixth Pirate pitcher, picked up the win while Xavier Nady went 3-for-5 with a double and couple of runs scored. The Cubs had jumped out to a 4-0 lead; the Bucs tied it in the sixth, then the clubs exchanged tallies in the seventh to set up some bonus baseball. 
    • 2012 - The Pirates made their last push of the year by dropping the Cards by a 5-0 score behind Wandy Rodriguez at PNC Park. Pedro Alvarez banged a three-run homer to lead the attack. The Bucs moved within a game of the wildcard, having shut out the Redbirds 9-0 the day before with Petey adding another pair of homers and four RBI in support of James McDonald. It was just a tease; Pittsburgh finished September 7-21 and ended the season with just 79 wins. 
    Josh Harrison 2014 Topps Update
    • 2014 - It was Josh Harrison day at PNC Park against the Cincinnati Reds. Presented with the Heart & Hustle Award before the game, J-Hay had the key hit in the Pirates come-from-behind, 2-1 win. His triple off Jonathan Broxton scored Andrew Lambo to tie the game in the eighth inning, and Josh came home with the game winner on Jose Tabata’s chopper through a drawn-in infield. Not only did J-Hay have three hits, but made several web-gem plays during the contest, the best of the bunch being a diving stop that he turned into a 5-3 DP and a hustling chase of a bad relay that led to a cut down runner at home. Edinson Volquez had a no-hitter through six frames, but was in line for a loss after Tony Watson, in relief with two outs in the eighth, allowed a soft single to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Watson got the win (funny game sometimes) and Mark Melancon tossed a perfect ninth for the save. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 37,209 fans.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2018

    Pirates Continue To Sputter In 5-2 Loss to Redbirds

    Jack Flaherty worked an easy first. Matt Carpenter opened with an infield knock (that should have been a boot) after a kinda comical effort by J-Bell on a roller. He moved up on a wild pitch and grounder but could have saved the effort as Jose Martinez clubbed a down-and-in sinker 402' to make it 2-0. Three Buccos, three pop-ups in the second. It was a clean frame for Ivan thanks to a sliding grab by Starling. Flaherty sailed through the third and then singled to start the Bird half. Marte ran down a liner just short of the track and a 6-4-3 DP barred the gate. Starling drilled a 392' out before the Bucs went down in the fourth. A single and Tyler O'Neill's crushed dinger (436') on another tight sinker gave St. Louis a comfy pad. A walk and infield single with one gone, and a two-out walk to Flaherty on five pitches packed the sacks. With Carpenter up, that was it for Nova and in came Steven Brault who put out the fire. The Bucs did a lot wrong in the fifth but still got a run - Cervy singled; Corey D hit into a DP. Then J-Bell doubled and scored on Red Beard's single; Moran was thrown out at second after a late throw home; four batters, three hits and the inning is over. Steven stranded a lead off two-bagger.

    Steven has looked pretty good in his second stint (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

    The was no Bucco noise in the sixth. Brault bopped a batter but no damage done. Cervy singled with two away in the seventh to no avail. Carpenter led off with a bloop to center before the side struck out. Jordan Hicks got the call in the eighth and walked J-Bell. Colin singled him to third; a Hechy around-the-horn DP plated a run, a trade off that the Birds will take every day. That was followed by another walk and an infield bleeder legged out by Starling. Dakota Hudson was waved in to face Fraze, and got a grounder to shut it down. Kyle Crick came on and he plunked a batter, then gave up a Jeff Gyorko double, dialed back from the original homer call after review. A routine grounder scooted past a drawn-in infield for one run; another was cut down at home before two whiffs sat St. Louis down. Bud Norris bopped Amore with an out in the ninth, but no prob; Corey hit into another DP.

    Some pretty uninspiring baseball considering this stretch is against the teams they have to beat; doesn't seem to be much fire coming from the Pirates, who blew a couple of golden opps. Sure not a good sign for September...

    Notes:
    • Cervy had two hits and was bopped; Red Beard had two knocks, too, of the Pirates six raps.
    • Bucco PR man Dan Hart dug out that Steven Brault is the first Pirates left-handed reliever to strike out six batters in a game since Ron Villone (also six) on May 13th, 2002 vs. Arizona. Take that, Elias!
    • Josh Harrison's hammy may not be 100% for the rest of the year, per Clint, so he'll "pick our spots" for J-Hay to play.
    • Adam Frazier had three straight multi-RBI games before his string was snapped tonight. The last Bucco to have four straight was Cutch in 2014.
    • Old nemesis Kolten Wong won't be available this series; he was just placed on the 10-day DL with a hammy twinge. Jeff Gyorko hurt his groin late in the game and took a seat, so we'll see where he's at physically tomorrow.

    Pittsburgh-St Louis Open; Nova v Flaherty, Lineup & Notes

    Today: First pitch at Busch Stadium is at 8:15. The game will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

    Pitchers: RHP Ivan Nova (7-8, 4.20) v RHP Jack Flaherty (7-6, 2.97). Nova hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last three starts and given up more than three just once over his last eight, so he's been rolling along. But he hasn't fared well against the Birds. He gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings during his only 2018 start on 8/4 and is 1-2/4.88 in five career starts.The 22-year-old Flaherty features a wipe-out slider and has 11+ strikeouts/nine innings & 1.05 WHIP to show for it. He's rollin' too, having given up just three runs in his last four starts covering 25 IP. This will be his fifth start already against the Buccos; he's 2-1/2.86 against them, tossing six shutout innings in his last outing in early August.

    Ivan on the bump (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

    Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Adam Frazier 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Fran Cervelli C, Corey Dickerson LF, Josh Bell 1B, Colin Moran 3B, Adeiny Hechavarria & Nova P. Clint just can't resist moving his guys around in the order.

    Notes:
    • Most teams are mum on who clears August trade waivers (and it is half the league), but it's been reported that Josh Harrison is one of the Pirates who have, which would make him trade-eligible across the board. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic confirmed and believes a trade will happen. We're not so sure; that contract is why no one claimed him, and he's likely to be a FA after the season. They won't get much for him as a rental.
    • Jordy is doing some baserunning now; he could be back for September 1st, if not sooner.
    • Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a survey/feature on manager salaries; Clint does pretty well, making $3M. He's way behind Joe Maddon ($6M) but comfortably ahead of the rest of the division's skippers.
    • Tyler Glasnow told David Laurila of Fangraphs that actually, not much has changed with his pitching; it's mostly a carry-over of things he and the staff had been working on in Pittsburgh, with more use of the slider. Amazing what a little confidence and getting the ball every five days will do for a guy...
    • The most average team in the history of baseball? Per David Paine of FiveThirtyEight, it's the Buccos. 
    Kevin Kramer...see you in September (photo Bradenton Marauders/MLB Pipeline)
    • 2B Kevin Newman (.302) and SS Kevin Kramer (.303, 14 HR) of Indy were named International League Season All-Stars. Newman is on the big team; Kramer will join sometime in September, depending on whether the Tribe makes the playoffs or not (they're currently tied for first).
    • Indy 1B Jose Osuna was named the International League Player of the Week. The 25-year-old went 11-for-23 with three home runs, nine RBI, four runs scored and a 1.370 OPS in six games.
    • SS Oneil Cruz (.286, 14 HR) and OF Calvin Mitchell (.279, nine HR) of the WV Power were named to South Atlantic League Season All-Star Team.
    • Altoona's in the Eastern League playoffs for the fourth straight year. But it's not all roses and cream; RHP's Luis Escobar and Yeudy Garcia were both suspended for "violation of club policies." Escobar started the year as the Pirates #11 prospect per MLB.com. Garcia's star has dimmed somewhat in AA.
    • The Cards are expected to announce Mike Shildt as their full-time manager, with a three-year contract extension.

    8/28 Through the 1920’s: Ens Replaces Bush; Kiki Legs Out Two; HBD Chauncey, Jolly Cholly, Wally & Howie

    • 1873 - IF Bill “Chauncey” Stuart was born in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Bill was a two-sport star, playing halfback for Penn State. He got into 19 games and collected 77 at-bats in 1895 with the Pirates, batting .247; he would get one more major league plate appearance in 1899 with the NY Giants. He retired after that and went into oil speculation. He died in Fort Worth, but was buried at State College. 
    Jolly Cholly 1919 (via Detroit Public Library)
    • 1898 - Charlie “Jolly Cholly” Grimm was born in St. Louis. The 1B played six years (1919-24) in Pittsburgh, hitting .286, but made his reputation with Chicago in the following dozen years after a big 1924 trade sent him to the Windy City. Charlie became a manager after his playing days with stops in Boston/Milwaukee and the Cubs. He earned his nickname for his cheerful, upbeat manner, ala Chuck Tanner. 
    • 1902 - OF Wally Roettger was born in St. Louis. Wally ended his eight-year MLB career (mostly with the Cards and Reds) in Pittsburgh in 1934, hitting .245. A college hoopster beside ballplayer, Wally went on to become the baseball skipper at the University of Illinois from 1935-51 and an assistant basketball coach from 1936-49; he started on that trail when he coached hoops at Illinois Wesleyan during the baseball off-season. His tale had a sad ending; at age 49, with heart problems and failing eyesight, he took his own life. 
    • 1911 - Pirate super scout Howie Haak was born in Rochester, NY. Pittsburgh discovered much of its legendary Latino talent from the mid-1950s through the 1980s thanks to Haak's efforts. He recommended that Pittsburgh draft Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn system and signed Manny Sanguillen, Omar Moreno and Rennie Stennett of Panama; Julian Javier, Tony Pena, Jose DeLeon, and Cecilio Guante of the Dominican Republic; Al McBean of the Virgin Islands and Roman Mejias of Cuba. 
    Howie Haak (photo Getty Images)
    • 1925 - The Pirates hung on to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-9 at the Baker Bowl. Kiki Cuyler had four hits, including a pair of inside-the-park homers, Eddie Moore and Clyde Barnhart added three knocks apiece and George Grantham homered. Babe Adams and Tom Sheehan gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth and Ray Kremer had to come on to get the final out with the bases juiced. He retired pinch hitter Nelson “Chicken” Hawks, who was batting for the second time in the inning and already had a hit and run under his belt. 
    • 1929 - Donie Bush resigned as the Pirate manager, replaced by coach Jewel Ens. Bush took the team to the World Series in 1927, where they were swept by the Murderer’s Row Yankees and played without Kiki Cuyler, who Bush had benched. The Pirates had lost 8-of-9 when Bush resigned and were 14-½ games behind the eventual titlists, the Chicago Cubs.

    8/28 From 1930 Through the 1960’s: Big Bats; Big Arms; 27 For Brown; Rallies

    • 1930 - The Pirates scored in double figures for the third straight game, beating the Cincy Reds 11-2 at Forbes Field in the second game of a twin bill after winning 16-12 in the lid lifter. The club started the streak at Wrigley Field with a 10-8 win over the Chicago Cubs. Gus Suhr went 7-for-13 with six runs, eight RBI, two homers, two triples and a double over that span.
    Gus Suhr 1934 Batter Up
    • 1940 - Homestead Grays RHP Ray Brown earned his 27th consecutive victory over a two year span when he shut out the Baltimore Elite Giants 5-0 on three hits, bringing his record to 12-0 (he finished 15-4). Brown played for Cum Posey's Grays from 1932-45 and again in 1947-48 (in fact, he married Posey’s daughter Ethel), winning 109 games in his career. He was selected for the Hall of Fame in 2006. 
    • 1951 - The Bucs ended the New York Giants winning streak at 16 games, the longest since 1935, when LHP Howie Pollet tossed a six-hit shutout for a 2-0 win at the Polo Grounds. The Pirates only had three hits (two by rookie Frank Thomas), but were issued eight free passes (three to Ralph Kiner), and both Bucco runs were unearned. 
    • 1956 - The Bucs spotted Warren Spahn and the first place Milwaukee Braves a four-run lead at County Stadium, then scored four times in the seventh to tie the game on the back of Dale Long’s three-run homer. The Pirates took command the next frame when Dick Groat’s two-out infield knock to the SS hole plated Frank Thomas. A tag team sixth-inning catch may have ignited the Bucs: per the Milwaukee Journal's Cleon Walfoort "Clemente and Bill Virdon robbed Spahn of an extra-base hit and the Braves of one or more runs. Clemente got his glove on the ball against the fence and Virdon grabbed it as it squirted out. It was just after this remarkable catch that the Pirates came to life." 
    Vern Law 1959 Topps
    • 1959 - Vern Law whitewashed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-0 on five hits at Forbes Field, striking out seven and supported by three solo homers off the bats of Roberto Clemente, Smoky Burgess and Rocky Nelson. Clemente’s was an inside-the-park four-bagger that hit off the flagpole in left center 457’ away on one hop, the deepest part of FF. Pittsburgh banged out 10 hits and drew nine walks. 
    • 1964 - Joe Gibbon and the Phils’ Jim Bunning traded zeroes for the first seven innings at Forbes Field. Then Bunning led a charge of four straight Philadelphia hits in the eighth as the Brotherly Love nine pulled ahead 2-0 before Tommie Sisk and Roy Face could quiet their bats. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth. A Bill Virdon knock and one-out Jerry Lynch walk was followed by a Willie Stargell single to make it 2-1, and then old Shake, Rattle and Roll, Smoky Burgess, lifted an Ed Roebuck offering into the seats to walk off a 4-2 win. 
    • 1967 - Roberto Clemente had three hits, including two homers, to lead the Bucs to a 4-3 win over the Braves. He hit the game winner with two outs in the 10th at Atlanta Stadium. Denny Ribant got the win, and Juan Pizarro the save.

    8/28 From the 1970’s Forward: Oberkfell, Schmidt Deals; Byrd's the Word; Pop's Pops; Petey Moon Shot; HBD TJ

    • 1972 - Willie Stargell single handedly carried the Bucs to a 5-3 win over San Diego at TRS with a pair of two-run blasts off Mike Caldwell. He gave Bob Moose a 5-1 lead to work with, and until the ninth he was cruising before the Padres banged back-to-back long balls with one out; he then gave up a single. Ramon Hernandez was waved in; he gave up another knock to bring the winning run to the plate. Ramon settled down and a whiff & a pop into short right closed the book. Pops’ blasts were big; the Pirates only had six hits during the contest. 
    Willie Stargell 2000 Topps Stars Spotlights
    • 1974 - The Giants banged out 14 hits at Candlestick Park, but the Bucs took home the win 3-1 in 11 innings on Ed Kirkpatrick’s two-out double. San Francisco stranded 16 runners as Jerry Reuss and game winner Dave Giusti bent but didn’t break. It was Pittsburgh’s sixth straight win and nudged them 1-½ games ahead of the Cardinals. 
    • 1980 - RHP TJ Beam was born in Scottsdale, Arizona. TJ put his second and last MLB campaign in with the Pirates in 2008, slashing 2-2-1/4.14 in 32 appearances. He afterward inked a couple of minor league deals and closed out his playing days in an indie league. Beam served as a pitching coach for Ole Miss for two seasons when he returned to campus to complete his degree. 
    • 1988 - The Atlanta Braves sent IF Ken Oberkfell and cash to Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Tommy Gregg. Oberkfell spent a season and change with the Bucs as a seldom used reserve while Gregg played nine more years, mostly as a reserve outfielder. 
    • 1996 - LHP Denny Neagle was traded to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jason Schmidt, OF Corey Pointer and 1B Ron Wright. Schmidt continued the series of starters who would be developed by the Bucs (like Neagle) just to blossom elsewhere because of salary constraints in Pittsburgh. 
    Jason Schmidt 1997 Circa
    • 2012 - Pedro Alvarez hit the longest homer by a Pirate to date at PNC Park, bombing a sixth inning Brandon Dickson delivery 469’. The shot cleared the seats in center and bounced onto the Riverwalk beside the Allegheny River during the Bucs 9-0 win over St. Louis. El Toro also added a 422’ shot in the third off Jake Westbrook as James McDonald got the win. 
    • 2013 - Newly acquired Marlon Byrd hit a homer and tallied three RBI in his first game with the Bucs to ice Pittsburgh’s 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park, with Charlie Morton getting the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Byrd was the third Pirate player to hit a home run and have at least three RBI in his first game with the team after playing for another MLB team earlier in the season. Derrek Lee hit two dingers and had three RBI on August 1st, 2011 after being traded by the Orioles and Shawon Dunston hit two long balls and drove in four runs on September 2nd, 1997 after being acquired from the Cubs.

    Monday, August 27, 2018

    8/27 Through the 1920’s: Pirates Win Pair 1-0; Alleghenys Give Up 28; HBD David, Eddie & Cholly

    • 1875 - RHP David Wright was born in Dennison, Ohio. He had a slim MLB resume, working one game for the Bucs in 1895 and giving up six runs in two innings featuring a pair of wild pitches, then tossing a barely more successful outing for the Chicago Colts two years later. 
    The 1887 Alleghenys Kalamazoo Tobacco/Charles Gross & Co
    • 1887 - The Alleghenys gave up the most runs in franchise history when they were bombed by the Boston Beaneaters 28-14 at North Side's Recreation Park. It was the sixth season of the franchise and its first in the NL, where the Alleghenys finished sixth with a record of 55–69. 
    • 1894 - IF Eddie Mulligan was born in St. Louis. Mulligan had a long and strong minor league career with short MLB interludes. He made his big league debut with the 1915-16 Chicago Cubs, then returned to the minors. In 1921, he joined the Chicago White Sox after the Black Sox scandal and after two seasons there, he went back to the minors with the San Francisco Seals. Five years later in 1928, Mulligan spent his final season in the majors as a utility infielder for the Pirates, batting .233. Eddie returned to the Pacific Coast League, this time for another decade. He spent 17 years overall in the PCL for eight teams, banged out 2,574 hits. He was elected as a member of the PCL Hall of Fame and was later presented with the King of Baseball award given by Minor League Baseball.
    • 1903 - IF Charlie “Cholly” Engle was born in New York City. Cholly had a couple of cups of coffee in the show, then got his only real taste of the bigs with Pittsburgh in 1930 when he got into 67 games, playing 2B, SS & 3B while hitting .264. Cholly played in the minors for eight years after that, then managed on the farm through the 1950 season. Engle then ran a bar/restaurant in San Antonio for 25 years after his baseball days. 
    • 1917 - In the fourth inning in New York at the Polo Grounds, Max Carey beat out a bunt and moved to second on a single by Tony Boeckel. Both runners stole on the next pitch from Rube Benton and when Boekel and the Giants 2B Buck Herzog got jumbled up at second, Carey steamed home before they could untangle. Wilbur Cooper made that one run stand up to top Benton and the G-Men, 1-0. It was Carey’s 13th swipe of home; he would set the NL standard of 33 steals of home during his career. The loss didn’t slow down NY, which won the NL title with 98 victories. The Pirates went the opposite way, winning just 51 times and finishing in the cellar, 47 games behind the Giants. 
    Vic Aldridge (photo Bain/Getty)
    • 1925 - The Bucs tossed their second straight shutout against Boston at Braves Field, winning 1-0. The Pirates Vic Aldridge and Boston’s Larry Benton traded four-hitters; Pie Traynor drove in Eddie Moore in the third with the game’s only run. The day before, Lee Meadows threw a nine hit, 2-0 whitewash of the Braves, and did it without striking out a soul.