Thursday, October 4, 2018

10/4 TRS-PNC Park Era: Maz's Last Dance; Thrift, JR Canned; Bucs Even '13 NLDS; Clinch Home Field In '15

  • 1970 - Pittsburgh fell behind in the NLCS two games to none after being held to five hits by three pitchers and losing to the Reds 3-1 at TRS. Roberto Clemente drove in Dave Cash, who had doubled, in the sixth inning for the Bucs only tally. Luke Walker took the loss. Bobby Tolan had three hits, including a homer, three runs and an RBI for Cincinnati. 
Dock Ellis 1971 Topps coin
  • 1971 - Dock Ellis told the Post Gazette’s Charley Feeney that “I got something to say and I’m going to say it. The establishment around here, the brass as some call them, doesn’t deserve a winner,” a year after small TRS crowds led him to say the Pirates fans didn’t deserve a winner, either. He was triggered by a bed he thought was too small for him in his San Francisco hotel during the NLCS and that the charter plane carrying them to The Bay was also too small (it was near full passenger capacity, but included Pirates FO and the players’ wives and kids, including Dock’s). Ellis did add that manager Danny Murtaugh was “a good man” and that he wanted to remain on the team because “It is a young club. It is going to win some titles...I want to be part of it.” The Docktor won his one game against the Giants, lasting into the sixth, and only made one short appearance in the ensuing World Series, suffering from a bum elbow that had plagued him throughout September. He missed two weeks and the injury cost him a shot at 20 wins (he finished with 19). 
  • 1972 - The Pirates closed out the regular season at TRS in front of 4,603 fans, scoring twice in the ninth but losing to the St Louis Cards 4-3. The defeat was immaterial as the Pirates had already clinched the pennant, but it was notable as Hall-of-Famer Bill Mazeroski’s last regular season game. He got in as a pinch hitter and grounded out (no surprise; he finished the year batting .188) in just the 34th game he appeared in that season as Dave Cash had pushed him out of the lineup during the 1971 campaign. Mazeroski told Jeff Samel’s of the Pittsburgh Press post-game that “It happens to everyone sooner or later...I can’t do it any better than the guys we’ve got.” Maz would go 1-for-2 in the NLCS against Cincinnati before hanging up the spikes after 17 seasons. 
  • 1975 - Don Gullett hurled a complete game‚ then added a HR‚ a single‚ and three RBI at the dish to lead Cincinnati to an 8-3 win over Pittsburgh in the opening game of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium. The Pirates had an early 2-0 lead, when with two gone in the second, Dave Parker was HBP, Richie Hebner doubled him home and Frank Taveras’ single scored the Gravedigger. But then the Reds chased Jerry Reuss and ran up a four-run fifth inning off Larry Demery to leave Pittsburgh in the dust. Bob Robertson’s knock in the ninth chased home Parker with the Bucs last run. 
Syd had three eventful years in Pittsburgh (photo Associated Press)
  • 1988 - The Pirates fired GM Syd Thrift. He and the Buc ownership rarely saw eye-to-eye during his 1985-88 stint, but he hired Jim Leyland and helped lay the foundation for the successful early nineties teams, flipping veterans for young talent. Thrift was ambitious and said to have his eye on Carl Barger’s club presidency, and that was a battle he lost. He would be replaced a month later by Larry Doughty. 
  • 1990 - The Reds wasted no time jumping on the Pirates, taking a 3-0 first inning lead at Riverfront Stadium in the opener of the NLCS. But the Bucs had the last laugh, chipping their way to a 4-3 victory. Bob Walk, who got the win, settled down to toss shutout ball after a rocky start, handing the ball off the bullpen in the seventh (Ted Power nailed down the save). The Pirates tied the game in the fourth inning thanks to Sid Bream’s two-run homer. Andy Van Slyke drove home the winner in the seventh when he banged a two-out, ground rule double to left off Norm Charlton to score Gary Redus. 
  • 1992 - Tim Wakefield and three other Pirate pitchers spun a three-hitter to win a pitching battle against Bret Saberhagen and the Mets by a 2-0 count at Shea Stadium, ending the season with the Bucs easy pennant winners in the NL East. Barry Bonds’ solo homer and Alex Cole’s sac fly brought home the runs. 
  • 2010 - John Russell was fired as manager of the Pirates. He equaled a franchise record for most losses by a manager in three seasons, compiling an 186-299 record. The other Buc skipper with as many defeats in the same span was Fred Haney, posting a 163-299 record from 1953-55. He would be replaced by Clint Hurdle on November 14th. 
JR never had much to work with (photo Associated Press)
  • 2013 - After being trounced in the opener of the NLDS by the Cards, rookie Gerrit Cole fired two-hit ball for six innings in a 7-1 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium to square the series. Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte cracked home runs while Russell Martin added a pair of RBIs. Alvarez went 2-for-4 with the homer and a double, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs. El Toro became the first Pirate since Willie Stargell in 1974 to go yard in back-to-back playoff games. 
  • 2015 - It went to the last day of the season, but the Pirates clinched home field advantage for the wild card game with a 4-0 win against the Reds. JA Happ went six frames giving up three hits, three walks and collecting seven K’s. Josh Harrison went 3-for-4 with a RBI and run; Pedro Alvarez crushed a homer 479’ to right center. The Pirates ended with a 98-64 record, but finished second in the NL Central behind the 100-win St Louis Cardinals and barely nosing out the 97-win Chicago Cubs in a heart thumping pennant race.

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