Sunday, September 22, 2019

9/22 Through the 1930s: '38 Fade; Ed Goes Home; WV Home Game; Game Stories; HBD Ira & Harry

  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenys moved their home game with the New York Giants to Wheeling, WV due to attendance issues at home (they couldn’t draw flies; they went 23-113). The game at Island Grounds, home of the Wheeling Nailers, drew 1500 fans and it remains the only major league game ever played in the state of West Virginia. According to the Wheeling Daily Register, “The game was played under some slight disadvantages, as the outfield was unkempt and unshaven, the grass being so tall that the ball, and almost the players, frequently got lost. (The Giants Mike) Tiernan knocked one into the tall grass, and while some seven or eight players were still on the hunt, he modestly crossed the home plate...” for a ninth-inning, cherry-on-top inside-the-park homer. The Alleghenys lost 8-3 and the Pittsburgh Press wrote “to be sure, the local team lost to be in keeping with its record and (team owner) Mr. McNeill may rest assured that his team will establish a world record in time (for losing).” The paper was right; they were baseball’s worst until the Cleveland Spiders of 1899 finished 20-134, bumping the Alleghenys to runner-up. It would also be the last regularly scheduled Pittsburgh home game moved to a neutral site until 2017 when the Pirates played St. Louis in Williamsport to help celebrate youth baseball.
Pgh Press 9-23-1890
  • 1893 - OF Ira Flagstead was born in Montague, Michigan. Ira closed out his 13-year career in Pittsburgh from 1929-30, a journey that had begun with the Tigers and blossomed with the Red Sox where he was a top shelf CF’er with a good stick and rifle arm. He signed with the Pirates on July 8th, 1929, bolstered by his acquaintance with Pittsburgh manager Donie Bush, whom Ira played played with in Detroit, and the suspicion that Washington, which had signed him earlier, wanted to dump his contract. He hit .257 and was released in August, 1930. Ira closed out his pro ball in the PCL in 1931. He retired to Olympia, where he grew up, and managed the local Timber League nine. “Flaggy” (he was also known as “Pete” from his teen days) was elected to both the Red Sox and Washington State Halls of Fame. 
  • 1894 - After tossing 12 innings in a tie game the day before, Phil “Red” Ehret threw a complete game four-hitter to salvage a doubleheader split with the NY Giants by a 4-1 score at Exposition Park. His opponent was Les German, the same pitcher whom he had squared off against the previous day. Pittsburgh lost the opener 6-2. 
  • 1903 - Pittsburgh's 16-game winner Ed Doheny‚ suffering from bouts of paranoia‚ was escorted home by his brother. After the World Series‚ Doheny was committed to the Danvers Insane Asylum and at the age of 26‚ his major league career was over. Not only was this a tragic turn of events for Doheny, but it cost the Bucs dearly in their World Series loss to the Boston Americans as they were short of pitching for the series. He, Deacon Phillippe and Sam Leever formed the Pirate rotation, and with Leever nursing an injury, Phillippe was forced to start five of the seven games, eventually wearing down. Poor Doheny, whose mental issues were said to be triggered after he developed a dead arm during the season, never recovered. He had some violent episodes at home and was committed full-time to the Danver asylum. He never recovered and was transferred to another institution where he died at 43. 
  • 1908 - The Brooklyn Superbas cashed in a run in the ninth, scoring when no one covered first on a two-out grounder to the right side, but Pittsburgh and Nick Maddox prevailed 3-2 in 11 innings at Washington Park. Alan Storke tripled home Hans Wagner with the go ahead run and scored himself on a wild throw home. Maddox gave up a homer in Brooklyn’s half, but hung on for the win as the Pirates stayed alive in their late drive for the flag, which fell a game short. 
Alan Storke 1908 - Charles Conlon/Detroit Public Library
  • 1911 - Cy Young, pitching for the Boston Rustlers (they didn’t “rustle” players like the Pirates had “pirated” them; the moniker was a play on the name of team owner William Russell; they were usually known generically as the Nationals), earned his 511th and final career victory by defeating the Pirates, 1-0. Cy scattered nine hits and fanned three at Forbes Field to best Babe Adams. Although 20 games above .500 at the time, the Bucs were well off the pace and in third place, drawing just 1,208 fans. The Pirates feasted on Boston during the season: the Rustlers (they became the Braves in 1912) won only 3-of-22 against Pittsburgh, with two of the victories coming on shutouts thrown by the 44 year-old Cyclone. 
  • 1929 - Utilityman Harry Bright was born in Kansas City. He played for parts of eight seasons, with the first three (1958-60) in Pittsburgh. Bright hit .237 and was traded to the expansion Washington Senators after the ‘60 season as part of the Bobby Shantz package. Harry had a long professional career, playing 20 years and in nearly 2,000 games between the show and the farm. Bright managed the PCL’s Sacramento club and in the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers & Atlanta Braves organizations, plus he scouted for the Montreal Expos after he retired. 
  • 1931 - The Phillies overcame a 2-0 ninth inning deficit to send the game to overtime, but the Pirates tacked on a run in the 13th to claim a 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Heinie Meine went the distance for the victory, tossing a four hitter. It was his 19th win, which led all NL pitchers that season. The Bucs left 20 men on base as Philadelphia pitchers allowed 10 hits and 13 walks. The workhorse logged 284 IP in 35 starts by season’s end, both marks also league highs. 
  • 1932 - Rookie Hal Smith recorded a six-hit shutout in his first MLB start in a 7-0 Bucs’ win at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Bucs got all the runs they would need by scoring five times in the third inning. Arky Vaughan and Adam Comorosky led the way with two RBI apiece while Paul Waner banged out three hits and scored twice. Former (and future) Pirate pitcher Burleigh Grimes took the loss. 
Pep Young - 1939 Play Ball
  • 1938 - Pittsburgh swept a twinbill from the Brooklyn Robins by 6-0 and 11-6 scores at Ebbets Field to take a 3-½ game lead in the race for the pennant. Jim Tobin tossed a four-hitter in the opener. Arky Vaughan had four hits, with three doubles and three RBI to go with Pep Young’s four runs driven home to power the win in the nitecap. But the 1938 NL crown would go to Chicago, which won their last ten games while the Bucs stumbled to a 3-7 finish.

9/22 From 1950: Cito Joins; Clinchers; Game Stories; HBD Wally

  • 1958 - The Pirates set a pair of wrong way records during their 3-2 and 1-0 twinbill losses to the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Three Phil pitchers fanned a MLB record 21 Bucs in the opener, and Jack Sanford whiffed 10 in the nitecap for a MLB record 31 Ks for the day. 
  • 1959 - Utilityman Wally Backman was born in Hillsboro, Oregon. He spent one season of his 14-year career in Pittsburgh in 1990, and it was more than solid as he got into 104 games and swatted .297. He came to Pittsburgh as a free agent (1 year/$400K) and left the same way, signing a two-year, $1.3M deal with the Phils. Thanks to some personal issues, Wally has had a bumpy road coaching/managing since retiring in 1993 and is now an indie league skipper. 
Wally Backman - 1990 Topps Wide
  • 1971 - Pittsburgh clinched the NL East with a 5-1 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Luke Walker and Dave Giusti defeated Bob Gibson thanks to a big eighth inning. The floodgate opened when SS Ted Kubiak booted Vic Davalillo’s ball, and a walk, two hits and a sac fly later, the Bucs had turned a squeaky 2-1 lead over the Cards into a 5-1 tally. After the victory, the Buccos eliminated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and dropped the Birds to claim the World Series crown. 
  • 1975 - The Pirates clocked the second place Philadelphia Phillies 11-3 at TRS to clinch the NL East title. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve did the pitching honors, while three Pirate hitters had three hits each to lead the attack - Willie Stargell (2B, 2 RBI, 4 RS, 2 BB), Dave Parker (HR, 4 RBI, 1 RS) and Richie Zisk (2B, 4 RBI, 1 RS). 
  • 1978 - The Pirates purchased OF’er Cito Gaston from the Atlanta Braves. The 34-year-old went 1-for-2 in the last week of the season, his last MLB appearances in an 11-year MLB career before spending the next couple of campaigns in the Mexican League and later beginning a long run as the Toronto Blue Jays manager. 
  • 1991 - The Bucs won consecutive NL East titles when they beat the Phillies, 2–1, at TRS. Doug Drabek went the distance to outlast five Philadelphia pitchers. Orlando Merced walked twice and scored twice. Pittsburgh only had three hits, but seven free passes and a botched DP was just enough to do in Philadelphia. 
  • 1996 - Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 11-3 for their 11th win in a row, posting the longest winning streak in the majors for the year. Jay Bell was the star with a homer and four RBI. They still finished last with a 73-89 record, but it raised a vain “wait ‘til next year” hope among the faithful. 
Chris Young - 2002 Upper Deck Minor League
  • 2006 - Chris Young carried a no-hitter into the ninth against the Bucs, but lost his bid to become the first San Diego Padre to toss a no-no when Joe Randa smacked a two run homer on a 3-1 pitch following a one-out walk to Jose Bautista. Young, who was drafted by the Pirates in 2000 before being traded for Matt Herges, claimed an easy 6-2 win at Petco Park.  
  • 2014 - The Pirates won back-to-back 1-0 games for the first time since 1976 when Francisco Liriano, with help from Jared Hughes, John Holdzkom and Mark Melancon made Andrew McCutchen’s sixth inning homer off Aaron Harang stand at Atlanta’s Turner Field. The third straight 1-0 game for the Bucs (they lost 1-0 on 9/20 to the Brewers and old matey Zach Duke) was the first time that trifecta hit since 1917 when Pittsburgh lost three consecutive 1-0 games to the Cardinals.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

9/21 Through the 1940’s: Connie Goes; Debs Goes For Crown; 1- For Kiki; Radio Ball; HBD Sudden Sam; Max, Del, Tom & Gil

  • 1860 - OF Tom Brown was born in Liverpool, England. Brown played from 1885-87 for the Alleghenys, hitting .287 and posting a 0-0, 4.30 line as an emergency pitcher (three games, eight IP) over that span. He came over to the North Side club when it purchased the entire Columbus team after the 1884 season and became the first English-born player for Pittsburgh. After a 17-year MLB career, Brown became an umpire. 
  • 1891 - SS Gil Britton was born in Parsons, Kansas. His MLB career was a three-game stand with Pittsburgh in 1913, with an 0-for-12 batting line and three errors. He spent from 1909-17 in the minors, mostly the Texas, Western and Central Kansas leagues. Gil hung ‘em up young at age 25 and returned to his hometown, where he remained until his death at age 91. 
Connie Mack - 2012 Topps Archives
  • 1896 - Manager Connie Mack (given name: Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy) announced that he was leaving Pittsburgh to guide the Milwaukee club of the Western League; the Pirates finished in sixth place with a 66-63 slate during his last campaign. Patsy Donovan took over the reins in 1897. Connie’s claim to fame was managing the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons of play, starting in 1901, and he became a Hall-of-Famer in 1937. 
  • 1899 - RHP Del Lundgren was born in Lindsborg, Kansas. He started his brief three-year career (he pitched for Boston in 1926-27) with the Pirates in 1924, tossing eight games with an 0-1/6.48 line. Del tossed pro ball from 1922-30 before retiring with a sore arm. He got a job in a flour mill in Topeka and then retired to live the life of an outdoorsman in Lindsborg. 
  • 1910 - RHP Max Butcher was born in Holden, West Virginia. He went 67-60/3.34 for the Bucs in seven seasons (1939-45), and had an ERA over 3.43 just once as a Pirate. His best year was 1941, when he went 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA. Though he was a big guy at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he wasn’t an overpowering hurler, averaging only 2.5 K/nine in Pittsburgh. 
  • 1925 - In a 9-7 win over the Phillies at Forbes Field, Kiki Cuyler singled off Roy Crumpler in the second inning to run his consecutive hit streak to 10, a team record that still stands today. Cuyler began his streak against Boston’s Skinny Graham, and the hits fell in conjunction with a nine-game winning string for Pittsburgh, which won 95 games, the NL pennant and the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators. Kiki went 4-for-4 in the next day’s game with two homers, making him 14-of-16 during his streak, in a 14-4 Bucco victory in the second game of the series. Johnny Morrison won the first game and Ray Kremer took the honors the following day. 
  • 1940 - OF Deb Garms went 5-for-6 in the second game of a twinbill split against the Cincinnati Reds to push his BA to .379. He doubled, scored three times and drove in a pair in the 8-7 win during the second game after going 0-for-4 in a 8-1 loss in the opener at Forbes Field. Though he wore an 0-for-23 collar over the remainder of the season, his .355 BA won the NL crown. He played just 103 games (100 games played was the accepted, although unwritten, standard) with 385 PA and was awarded the title, causing some grumbling by those who preferred a full-time awardee. His title eventually led to the adoption of minimum plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship. 
Sudden Sam - 1975 Topps
  • 1942 - LHP Sudden Sam McDowell was born in Pittsburgh. Though he pitched only briefly for the hometown Pirates in 1975 (2-1/2.86 in 14 games) , he may be the most dominating hurler the area ever produced. Sam went directly to the majors out of Central Catholic HS, signing with Cleveland. He played from 1961-75 with the Indians, Giants, Yankees and Bucs. McDowell struck out 2,453 batters in that span with a blazing fastball. His career was infamously short circuited by booze and pills, and he was said to be the inspiration for Cheers bartender Sam Malone. He beat his demons after retiring and became a MLB drug and alcohol counselor. His nickname was bestowed on him by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bob Dolgan during Sam’s first spring training camp in 1961. 
  • 1947 - The Bucs were a part of Queen City broadcast history when their game against Cincinnati was broadcast on TV by W8XCT (WLWT), the first time a Reds game was aired. An estimated home audience of 10,000 viewers watched the Redlegs lose 11-7 at Crosley Field. Elbie Fletcher, Jimmy Bloodworth and Clyd Kluttz each had three RBI; Gene Woodling had the other pair. The opening game of the doubleheader wasn’t shown (we think), and it turned out better for the Reds, who won 3-1 as Ewell Blackwell bested Kirby Higbe.

9/21 From 1950 Through the 1970’s: Clincher; Baker 1st Black Manager; Game Stories; HBD Rene, Danny, Jason & Ben

  • 1959 - RHP Danny Cox was born in Northampton, England. The Brit hurler spent 11 years in the league and managed to squeeze in 16 games as a Bucco in 1992, going 3-1-3/3.33 as a starter converted to back-end bullpen work. He was picked up from the Phils off waivers in June and at the end of the year signed with the Blue Jays, spending the final three seasons of his career in Toronto. 
Danny Cox - 1993 Fleer
  • 1962 - Scout Rene Gayo was born in Miami of immigrant Cuban parents and raised in Chicago. In 1989, Cam Bonifay hired Gayo as a part-time scout for the Pirates, then he went off to work for the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. In 2004, the Pirates hired Gayo to lead their Latin American scouting system, filling a position inexplicably left vacant for five years under Bonifay and Dave Littlefield. He reeled in players like Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Elias Diaz along with moved-on prospects Alen Hanson, Dilson Herrera, Harold Ramirez and Joely Rodriguez. He was dismissed in 2017 after being caught in a messy Mexican financial deal while signing Luis Heredia. 
  • 1963 - In the top of the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium, the Bucs left the bases loaded after losing a bang-bang play at first that was close enough to get manager Danny Murtaugh and coach Frank Oceak ejected after heatedly questioning ump Doug Harvey’s eyesight. That set the stage for coach Gene Baker to take the reins for the rest of the game, becoming MLB’s first black manager. It wasn’t an auspicious start, as Baker entrusted Tommy Sisk with a 3-2 ninth inning lead that evaporated four batters later after Willie Davis belted a three-run, walkoff homer. Still, it was just another day at the office for Gene. He was the first rostered black player for the Cubs in 1953, and in 1961 became the first black manager in pro baseball when the Pirates named him skipper of their Batavia farm club. Baker had four campaigns with the Bucs as a player and was part of the 1960 squad. After coaching/managing at various levels in the organization, he became a long time Pirate scout. 
  • 1969 - LHP Jason Christiansen was born in Omaha. The reliever worked six seasons (1995-2000) for the Pirates with a 14-20-10/4.13 line before being traded to the Cards at the 2000 deadline for SS Jack Wilson. He must have enjoyed working under the lights; after retirement, he became a co-owner and CEO of an LED company. 
  • 1969 - OF/1B Ben Shelton was born in Chicago. Shelton was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1987 draft out of high school. He got his only shot at the majors in 1993 with the Bucs and hit .250 (6 hits in 24 AB, including two homers and a double), but that showing wasn’t enough (his minor league lifetime BA was .233). He closed out his pro career in 1995 after playing on the Twins and Red Sox farms. 
  • 1972 - Fueled by a five-run third inning, Pittsburgh clinched the East Division crown with a 6-2 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium; the club won the pennant by 11 games. The Pirates had seven straight batters reach in the third, and the big frame provided plenty of cushion for Steve Blass, who tossed a seven-hit, seven K complete game victory. 
Steve Blass - 1972 Topps
  • 1977 - The Pirates beat the Mets 4-0 at Shea Stadium in a game more appreciated for what didn’t happen rather than the action on the field. Before the game, manager Chuck Tanner received a thinly veiled death threat, a phone caller later asked “What do Bob Moose and Roberto Clemente have in common? They’re both dead,” and Ed Ott was told to stay off the field in another hotel call. NYC had plainclothes cops watch the pair (Tanner came out twice for pitcher meetings, but after the game stayed on the top step of the dugout and off the field; Ott didn’t play because a lefty, Jerry Koosman, was on the hill although he went through the usual pre-game drills, including BP). Nothing ever came of the calls, probably triggered by Ott breaking Felix Millan’s collarbone earlier in the year and Tanner’s defense of the play. As for the game, Bruce Kison got the win and Goose Gossage closed it out with the Bucs chipping away with four runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. In an amusing contrast of wheels, Kison drove in Omar Moreno with a knock into the right-center gap; The Antelope scored all the way from first while Bruce satisfied himself with a one-bagger. 
  • 1978 - The Bucs nipped the Cubs 3-2 in 14 frames at Wrigley Field. Rennie Stennett walked to lead off the 14th and pinch runner Matt Alexander made it happen. As he stole second, C Doug Radar's throw went into center. Alexander bolted for third and was hit in the back by CF Bobby Murcer’s peg‚ which ricocheted away and allowed Matt “The Scat” to score. Ed Whitson got the win and Jim Bibby the save. Cub manager Herman Franks pulled out all the stops to no avail as Chicago tied an NL record by using 27 players (20 position, seven pitching) in the loss.

9/21 From 1980: 30/50 Bonds; AJ - 200; Kendall Mark; Game Stories; HBD Zach & Antonio

  • 1985 - LHP Antonio Bastardo was born in Hato Mayor del Rey, Dominican Republic. The mid-inning arm was obtained from the Phillies in December, 2014 for minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez to replace Justin Wilson, who had been traded to the Yankees for C Francisco Cervelli. AB went 4-1-1 w/2.89 ERA in 66 Bucco appearances, a performance he turned into a two year, $12M free agent deal with the NY Mets. It wasn’t for long, though - he came back to Pittsburgh when the Pirates returned ex-Met hurler Jon Niese at the 2016 deadline, but it was a short-lived homecoming. He was injured, ineffective and released in July, 2017, after nine outings and a 15.00 ERA. 
Antonio Bastardo - 2015 Topps
  • 1986 - LHP Zach Phillips was born in Sacramento, California. Phillips came to Bucs from the Orioles in a deal for Kyle Lobstein at the 2016 deadline. He got into eight games with no decisions, giving up two runs on eight hits in 6-2/3 IP. The Pirates didn’t tender him after the campaign and he signed with the Cards. He was released by the Birds, and spent the last two seasons pitching in Mexico. 
  • 1987 - The Pirates defeated the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium by a 5-2 count behind the strong pitching of Doug Drabek and Jeff Robinson. Felix Fermin had three hits while Barry Bonds, Chico Lind, Andy Van Slyke and Sid Bream added a pair. It capped a late push toward respectability for the Bucs. The victory finished a stretch of winning 20-of-26 games and after a short bump would close the year by winning 6-of-8. The run at the end didn’t put them in the race, but the went from 18 games under .500 on August 23rd (53-71) to a season-ending 80-82 mark. It was an early coming out party for the core (Bonds, Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Drabek) of Jim Leyland’s 1990-92 pennant-winning clubs. 
  • 1988 - John Smiley spun a complete game, two-hit shutout with six whiffs and no walks in a 5-0 win over the Cards at Busch Stadium. The batting hero of the day was Benny DiStefano, whose three-run, pinch hit homer in the ninth broke up a tight battle between Smiley and Jose DeLeon. The Pirates only had five hits during the match; three of them came consecutively in the final frame. The victory was the last of a stretch where the Pirates won 11-of-16; they went 3-6 to finish the season with 85 wins. 
  • 1990 - Barry Bonds became the first Pirate player (and just the second major leaguer, along with the Reds Eric Davis) in history to hit 30+ homers and steal 50 + bases in the same season when he swiped second against the Cards at TRS in a 1-0 Bucco victory. Zane Smith tossed a five-hitter with 10 punch outs for the win, and Bonds scored the game’s only run in the seventh when he led off with a single and come around on Sid Bream’s double. The Pirates padded their divisional lead to 3-1/2 games after the Mets lost to the Cubs; they went on to win the 1990 NL East by four games over NY. 
  • 1992 - Bob Walk and Steve Cooke (who went seven innings for the win) combined for a four-hit, 3-0 blanking of the St. Louis Cardinals at TRS. Don Slaught had three hits including a homer as Pittsburgh won for the seventh time in eight games to stretch the divisional gap between them and the Montreal Expos to seven games. 
Jason Kendall - 1998 Pacific Aurora
  • 1998 - The Pirates, playing out the string during a September freefall, were drubbed 8-1 by the Giants at 3 Comm Stadium. Jason Kendall provided the lone bright spot when he swiped his 26th base, breaking the modern stolen base record for NL catchers previously set by John Stearns in 1978. Kendall was quite adept at basepath larceny in his early years; he stole home twice during the ‘98 campaign. Jason swiped 103 bases in his first five campaigns but only 96 more over his last 10 years, slowed by a severe ankle injury in 1999 and later, age caught up as he played until he was 36. 
  • 2013 - AJ Burnett struck out a dozen Cincinnati Reds in seven innings, becoming the first Pirate RHP to whiff over 200 batters in a season (he finished the year with 209 punch outs, handily passing up Kris Benson & Bob Friend), as the Bucs took a 4-2 decision at PNC Park. The big blow was a two-run homer by Russ Martin, and the tying and go-ahead runs were set up by Marlon Byrd, who hit a sac fly to drive in Andrew McCutchen and move Justin Morneau to second, where he scored on a two-out knock by Pedro Alvarez. Jason Grilli nailed down the save in his first save since coming off the DL as the Bucs moved ahead of the Redlegs by a game for the home wild card. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates shut out the Brewers, 1-0, behind the pitching of Vance Worley and an RBI single by Russell Martin in the seventh that chased home Andrew McCutchen. Vanimal went eight innings of four-hit ball for the win; Tony Watson tossed the ninth for the save while Wily Peralta took the tough-luck loss. The Bucs jumped 4-1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL wild card race with the win and moved into a tie for home field with the SF Giants.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Brew Crew Weekend

Yah, kind of curveball with this setup. But my boy is getting married Saturday, so you're on your own for this weekend; lots of good guys and material out there for you to keep ya up to speed from MSM to the blogosphere. See ya Monday, if I can pass the interweb sobriety test...

Games: Friday's game is at 8:10, Saturday's at 7:10, and the Sunday matinee at 2:10. All three games will be carried from Miller Park by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Milwaukee is three games behind the Cards in the NL Central standings, one game behind the Nats for the top NL Wild Card spot, and a game ahead of the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Brewers have sizzled in September, with a 14-4 record, even with Christian Yelich out. And the Pirates are 4-12 against them this year...

Friday Lineup: Kevin Newman SS, Reynolds CF, Colin Moran 3B, Jose Osuna RF, Adam Frazier 2B, Pablo Reyes LF, Jake Stallings C, Erik Gonzalez, Steve Brault P. Stalls and Pablo are back (injury & paternity leave)

Friday: LHP Steven Brault (4-5/4.98) opens the set against RHP Chase Anderson (6-4/4.50). Steven has had a pair of rocky back-to-back starts, giving up 16 runs (15 earned), covering just eight innings. Regression? September dead arm? Stay tuned... This should be a good pairing. Though he hasn't gotten a decision against the Crew, he has a 2.66 ERA in four starts against them this season. Anderson has lasted just four frames in his last four starts; he's almost become an opener pitcher for Milwaukee. He's 1-0/3.48 in four starts against the Pirates this year, and lasted just a little longer than his last few outings, averaging five frames per start.

Steven starts it off - photo Joe Guzy/Pirates
Saturday: RHP James Marvel (0-2/9.00) v RHP Zach Davies (10-7/3.70). Marvel was solid against the Cards and chased off the hill by the Cubs. He's projected as a back-end starter by evaluators, so the hype around his call up was probably overdrummed. Like Mitch, he's in a good spot for teaching moments as both learn what works and what doesn't in the show in a no-pressure setting. Davis is another Brewer who goes just five innings. He's been tough on Pittsburgh, going 2-0/2.31 in four starts.

Sunday: RHP Trevor Williams (7-7/5.59) v TBD. Willy's given up 11 runs in his last two starts, lasting just eight innings, so he's another Bucco starter with the September blues. He's faced Milwaukee once this year, giving up six runs in five frames.

  • Starling Marte and Josh Bell will both be out for this series.
  • The Pirates haven't homered since the San Francisco series, matching their current 0-6 run.
  • The blog will still be updated with daily history posts at

9/20 Through the 1950’s: Burleigh's Last Hurrah; Nick No-No; Game Stories; HBD Vic, Red & Dennis

  • 1907 - In his third big league start, Nick Maddox became the first Pirate pitcher to throw a no-hitter by defeating the Brooklyn Superbas, 2-1, at Exposition Park. At the age of 20 years and 10 months, Maddox was the youngest pitcher and the second rookie to throw a no-hitter. Errors by Maddox and Honus Wagner gave Brooklyn their run; Fred Clarke had both Bucco hits, but neither figured in the scoring as the Pittsburgh runs were also unearned. 
Nick Maddox 1908 - Bains/Library of Congress
  • 1916 - IF Red Juelich was born in St. Louis. Red played four years in the Cards’ minor league system and then got his shot with the Pirates in 1939, where he was a bench 3B/SS, hitting .239 in 17 games. Juelich stayed in the Pirates system at AA for the next three campaigns before dropping off the roster after 1942. Red, btw, was a ginger. 
  • 1922 - LHP Vic Lombardi was born in Reedley, California. He put in three good years with the Dodgers and a workmanlike season with the Bucs in 1948 (10-9/3.70) but went downhill over the next two years to put up a slash line of 15-19/4.56 in Pittsburgh. Branch Rickey offered him a 1951 contract with a 25% cut; Lombardi didn’t take it and that was the end of his MLB career as took his services to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. 
  • 1924 - The Pirates edged Brooklyn‚ 5-4‚ in 11 innings at Ebbets Field to end Dazzy Vance's 15-game winning streak. Pie Traynor singled with two gone in the 11th‚ and Rabbit Maranville lined a ball to center that got past the Robins’ outfielder Eddie Brown, who whiffed on a shoestring effort to glove the ball. Pie came in with the game winner, touching home for the third time during the game. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win. It wasn't quite enough for the Bucs, tho. They cut the front-running Giants' lead to 1-1/2 games, but finished three games off the pace as they followed the win with a four-game losing streak, dropping an extra-inning game to the Bums and being swept in a three-game set by New York. 
  • 1925 - Owner Barney Dreyfuss and the City announced a deal that would allow the Pirates to build temporary bleachers for the World Series at Forbes Field (The location around FF was considered parkland and needed a city ok for any changes in use). The ballyard had just added 10,000 seats in right field before the season and were permitted to add 6,000 more seats at the princely price of $1.10 for the Fall Classic, bringing the field up to a fan capacity of 41,000. 
Burleigh Grimes- 2013 Panini
  • 1934 - In a 2-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, Burleigh Grimes made his last appearance, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a whiff. Not only did it mark the end of a 19 year career that led to the Hall of Fame, but also the end of an era. Grimes was the last legal spitballer standing after the pitch had been outlawed starting in 1921. 17 practitioners, including Grimes, were grandfathered into the ruling and allowed to serve a wet one at will. 
  • 1941 - RHP Dennis Ribant was born in Detroit. The Pirates got Ribant in 1967 from an overflowing Mets staff in exchange for veteran Don Cardwell, and he got his last real shot joining a rotation with the Pirates, getting the ball 38 times, 22 as a starter. His line was 9-8, 4.08, and he was sent back home by the Bucs at the end of the year, with the Tigers giving up Dave Wickersham. Ribant was converted to reliever, had a couple of so-so seasons with four different clubs and his six-year career ended after 1969. 
  • 1956 - The seventh place Pirates edged Milwaukee 2-1 in 10 innings at Forbes Field. It was a classic spoiler win, as the Braves eventually lost the pennant on the last day of the season by one game to the Dodgers. Bob Friend held the Braves to four hits for the complete game victory. 
Bob Friend - 1956 Topps
  • 1958 - The Pirates won their seventh straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Phils at Connie Mack Stadium with the teams staging a wild and wooly ninth. The Bucs went ahead 4-2 on a one-out DP; the Phils 1B Ed Bouchee tagged first after fielding Bill Virdon’s grounder with Buccos on the corners; Ducky Schofield was heads up enough to get into a rundown after the force was removed to allow Dick Groat to score an insurance run that proved handy. In the bottom of the ninth, ElRoy Face gave up a run and had the bases loaded with an out. He got a short pop for the second out and Danny Murtaugh waved Bob Smith in to match up against Bouchee, who had whacked three doubles during the day. Smith caught him looking to close the book. The Bucs clinched second with the win, the highest finish for the club since 1944. And good thing, too - they went on to lose the final five games of the campaign though they did finish 84-70.

9/20 From 1960 Through the 1970’s: Moose No-No; Willie's First; Friend Fan Mark; Game Stories; HBD Randy & Jason

  • 1960 - Bob Friend beat the Phillies 7-1 as the opener of a DH sweep at Connie Mack Stadium, and set a new club record for strikeouts in a season with 179 (he ended the campaign with 183; Bob Veale's 276 in 1965 blew the mark away). The old mark was held by RHP Claude Hendrix with 176, set in 1912. Friend tossed a complete game and fanned six. The nightcap was a 3-2 squeaker; Hal Smith’s eighth-inning solo shot was the game-winner for Clem Labine, who tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Harvey Haddix. Bob Skinner drove home the other tallies with a pair of two-out singles in the third and seventh innings. 
Randy Kramer - 1989 Donruss
  • 1960 - RHP Randy Kramer was born in Palo Alto, California. Kramer was drafted by the Rangers in 1982, joining the Bucs in the 1986 off season for P Keff Zaske. He worked four seasons in the majors for the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners. The righty spent most of his time as a Bucco long man/spot starter from 1988-90, slashing 6-12-2/4.22 in 52 outings. He retired after the 1994 campaign, then coached in the indie leagues, high school & college and scouted for the Blue Jays. 
  • 1962 - Rookie Willie Stargell collected his first hit, a triple that scored Bob Skinner. Young Willie had happy feet and was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park HR. The Bucs rallied in the ninth to take a 4-3 win at Forbes Field against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh scored three times, thanks to a two-out boot by 3B Eddie Kasko that allowed one run to score followed by a two-run, game-winning double by the Tiger, Don Hoak. 
  • 1966 - The Pirates turned four DP against the Giants at Candlestick Park, helping Vern Law to a 6-0 win. The first twin killing set a NL record at 199, and the Bucs ended the year with 215 double plays. Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley both won Gold Gloves that season, with Maz participating in 161 twin killings and Alley in 128. 
  • 1968 - Steve Blass spun a two-hitter against Chicago at Forbes Field and Jose Pagan banged a two-run homer to carry the Pirates to a 5-0 win at Forbes Field. Blass went all the way for his 17th win, striking out eight and allowing just two Cubbies to reach second as he topped Fergie Jenkins. Pagan’s blast was the key blow in a four-run second inning that put the game away early while Maury Wills, who stole his 50th sack of the campaign, Roberto Clemente and Gene Alley each chipped in two hits.   
Bob Moose - 1969 Topps
  • 1969 - At New York's Shea Stadium, Bob Moose stopped the pennant-bound Mets 4-0 with a no-hitter, just the third in franchise history. He walked three with six whiffs. The only ball hit hard enough to cause concern was a belt by Wayne Garrett in the sixth inning, but the wind held it up and Roberto Clemente took care of the rest, leaping against the wall to reel in the horsehide. Two of the Pirates four runs scored on wild pitches by Gary Gentry as the Bucs only collected six hits themselves. 
  • 1973 - With Richie Zisk on first in the top of the 13th inning at Shea Stadium, Dave Augustine banged a two-out drive to the left field wall. As Cleon Jones turned to watch, the ball grazed the top of the wall, just barely staying in the yard, and it bounced straight into his glove. His relay nailed the speed-challenged Zisk at the plate by 15’. Following the "Ball on the Wall" play, the Mets scored in their half to win 4-3 and moved within half a game of the first place Bucs. As beat writer Charlie Feeney of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette noted “The Pirates, stunned, bewildered, are a” as the Bucs were in the midst of losing 4-of-5 and finishing 6-11 down the stretch. NY eventually won the division, the NL title, and took Oakland to a seventh game in the World Series before calling it a season. The Pirates finished 2-½ games behind. 
  • 1974 - The Pirates scored three times in the ninth at TRS to drop the NY Mets 4-3. After keeping the Bucs on ice, Ray Sadecki walked Art Howe and Tug McGraw took over. A wild pitch, whiff and back-to-back singles by Paul Popovich and Rennie Stennett cut the lead to one and left Bucs on the corners. A short passed ball allowed Rennie to get to second, and the Met infield stayed back, willing to concede the tying run. Manny Sanguillen hit a sharp grounder and SS Ted Martinez tried to catch a hustling Stennett steaming toward third but was late; without the passed ball, The Roadrunner’s worm-burner would have been a likely game-ending DP. Al Oliver was intentionally walked to load the bases. Willie Stargell hit a hopper to John Milner at first; he stepped on the bag, eliminating the force at home, and fired to the plate, but Rennie beat the tag. So the Bucs put up a game-winning three-spot on two hits, two walks, and two plays in the field that the Mets probably wish they had back. It was a big win for the Pirates, who won the division that year by a 1-½ game margin over the Cards before the LA Dodgers ended their year in the NLCS. 
Jason Bay - 2008 Topps/Allen & Ginter
  • 1978 - Jason Bay was born in Trail, British Columbia. In his six years as a Pirate, his line was .268/219/715 and he was an All-Star twice. In 2004, he set the Pirate record for rookie home runs with 26 and was selected the NL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News, the second Pirate player to win the award after 2B Johnny Ray in 1982. Bay was the first Canadian player to win the ROY. He was traded to Boston at the 2008 deadline and played well there through 2009 before signing a monster contract with the Mets. That didn’t work out so well; Jay was hit with a string of rib & concussion-related injuries and he retired before the 2014 campaign. 
  • 1979 - The Bucs lost 2-1 to the Phils at Veterans Stadium, but it could have been worse. Philadelphia C Keith Moreland hit a loud foul up the left field line with two aboard that third base ump Eric Gregg lost in the lights. The story goes that the Philly ball girl went into a dance, thinking it a home run, and seeing that, so did Gregg. Chuck Tanner protested, and the umps got together and made the right call. That set Dallas Green off; he littered the field with equipment after being ejected, and Mike Schmidt added his helmet to the debris. Green also protested the game, but it was all for show; the Phils squeaked it out as the Bucs squandered nine hits, and ended the game when Manny Sanguillen bounced into a DP with one away and runners on the corners. The loss cut the Buccos lead over the Expos to ½ game; Pittsburgh would eventually hold off Montreal by a two-game margin.

9/20 From 1980: Coke Trail; Trips to Open; Gott to be Good; Game Stories; HBD Steve

  • 1983 - Larry McWilliams tossed a two-hitter with a career-high 11 whiffs to tame the NY Mets, 2-0, at Shea Stadium. Jason Thompson atoned for a game-blowing error the night before with four hits, Dave Parker added three more, including a 450’ homer, and Mike Easler doubled & tripled to drive in a pair of scores. The win kept the Pirates two games behind the Phillies, although a late slide dropped them to six games off the pace when the final gun sounded.
Larry McWilliams - 1983 Donruss
  • 1984 - With a crowd of 33,651 Cub fans at Wrigley Field, Chicago passed the 2M mark in attendance for the first time in its history. But Pittsburgh ruined the big day as the Pirates overcame a 6-2 deficit to rally past the Bruins by a 7-6 score. Jim Morrison was the offensive spark plug, hitting a homer, driving in a pair and scoring a pair to lead a balanced Bucco attack. Lee Smith lost to Kent Tekulve with John Candelaria chipping in with the save. 
  • 1985 - A federal jury in Pittsburgh convicted Curtis Strong of 11 counts of cocaine distribution after hearing evidence in the “Pittsburgh Coke Trial.” Prominent players who were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony included Dave Parker‚ Lonnie Smith‚ Keith Hernandez and Tim Raines. Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner, pushed through the beginnings of MLB drug testing because of the trial and its stain on MLB. 
  • 1988 - It took Jim Gott one pitch to set the Pirates save record in a 5-1 win over the Cards at Busch Stadium. He came on with Redbirds at second & third with two outs, and Pedro Guerrero bounced Gott's first offering to short to earn his 32nd save, besting Kent Tekulve’s previous team mark (Mark Melancon holds the current record with 51 saves). “I felt cheated” he said of the easy save chance, though it had been a tough battle until the Bucs scored four times in the eighth to break up a 1-1 match between Dave LaPoint and Scott Terry. RJ Reynolds and Andy Van Slyke had two-run singles in the game-winning frame, but it was a cobbled-together small ball rally, with three singles, two Card errors, two bunts and an intentional walk, that won the day. St. Louis had plenty of chances - they had nine hits, drew five walks and swiped five bases, but they stranded a dozen runners. 
  • 1988 - IF Steve Lombardozzi Jr. was born in Fulton, Maryland. Then a six year vet, with a couple of seasons of regular time with the Nats, Lombardozzi was purchased by the Pirates in 2015. The jack-of-all-trades played mostly at AAA Indianapolis, but did see some big league time with the Bucs, going 0-for-10. He got a sip of coffee at Miami in 2017 and spent time in AAA; he played indie ball in 2019. Junior is the son of former MLB second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. 
  • 1992 - It was a struggle, but the Bucs finally dispatched Philadelphia by a 3-2 tally after 13 innings at TRS. The Phils scored twice on solo homers while the Bucs cashed in on a pair of sac flies. Jeff King brought home the winner when his single off Keith Shepherd plated Cecil Espy to give Roger Mason, the Pirates sixth pitcher, the win. The Phillies blew a couple of opportunities, going 0-for-8 w/RISP. The Bucs trumped them despite 2B Mickey Morandini’s unassisted triple play, the first NL player to pull one off in 65 years. He snagged a line drive off the bat of King, touched second to force Andy Van Slyke, and tagged out Barry Bonds, who was on the move from first base.
Mike Williams- 2001 Topps 50 Years
  • 2000 - The Pirates scored three times in the 10th inning thanks to long balls by Emil Brown and Adam Hyzdu, then hung on for dear life in a 7-6 win at Veterans Stadium. With two runs in for the Phils, runners on the corners and one away in the the tenth, Mike Williams got 2B Marlon Anderson to bang into a game saving 4-6-3 DP. 
  • 2007 - For the second straight night, Nyjer Morgan led off the game against San Diego with a triple, the first time in five years that feat had been pulled off in the NL. Though he scored both times, the Pirates couldn’t hold either lead and lost 5-3 and 6-3 decisions to the Padres at Petco Park. 
  • 2013 - The Bucs started off on fire when Jose Tabata and Neil Walker led off the game with homers for the fourth time in club history, and the Pirates were cruising along when Francisco Liriano K'ed Chris Heisey in the eighth for his 1,000th strikeout, also setting the team record for K's at 1,193, breaking last year's mark. But the 5-2 lead wasn’t enough to hold off the Cincinnati Reds, who scored three unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a two-out error by Jordy Mercer. Cincy won in the 10th on a wrong-way home run by Joey Votto that just dropped over the fence and a few feet inside the LF pole to stun the Bucs at PNC Park 6-5, tying the teams for second place in the NL Central and the home wildcard spot with eight games left.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Close But No Cigar - Bucs Swept Again, 6-5, In 11 Innings

Big Joe had a 1-2-3 inning, thx to a pick-off of the leadoff batter (confirmed by replay review) who he had walked. The Bucs bounced out three times against Yusei Kikuchi. In the second, aye carumba - a walk, a couple of singles, a bunt and two errors opened the gates for four Mariner runs. And holy moly, the Bucs roared right back. They hit four doubles, banged by Redbeard, Eli (should have been an error; yay home cookin'), Jake Elmore and Moose, with a two-out K-Man RBI rap, to score four runs and tie the match. The M's stranded a third inning single; Pittsburgh did the same with Moran's infield knock. Seattle had a quiet fourth. Erik Gonzalez singled and Newman bunted his way aboard with two gone. A walk packed the sacks, but Bucs and bases loaded... The Mariner's lost a leadoff infield rap in the fifth to a caught stealing and Moose fanned the other pair. Zac Grotz took the hill and the Bucs took the lead. Eli walked, went to second on a roller, then was chased home by Jake Elmore's two-out rap. Jake was tossed out on the play heading to second on the throw home, but did job #1.

Jake had a nice day with three hits - photo Pittsburgh Pirates
Ric Rod was called on for the sixth, and he left a pair of Mariners on the bases. Dan Altavilla fluffed the rosin, then pitched a 1-2-3 frame. Frankie Liriano got the seventh inning beckon. With two outs, he walked a pair and gave up a single to tie the game. Taylor Guilbeau was tapped for a Joey O single; the other three Buccos bounced out. Michael Feliz got a fly, gave up a walk and then teased out a DP ball to cruise through the eighth. Austin Adams gave up a Jake Elmore rap - go Jake! - and survived Dee Gordon's throwing error trying to turn a DP to post a zero. Keone Kela took the bump as the new ninth inning man. He gave up a trio of one-out raps to juice the sacks, but a whiff and fly doused the fire. Anthony Bass was waved on and put away the Pirates without a peep. Parker Markel got the 10th and gave up a two-gone single and no more. Brandon Brennan climbed the slope and retired the Buccos in order. Clay Holmes toed the slab in the 11th, and the leadoff runner reached on a Joey O boot. A knock with one gone put M's on the corners,and a grounder put them up. Weird play - Kramer went to first on a ball that was hit weakly (he had almost no chance to get the runner at home). That removed the force, though the Bucs did turn the DP via a rundown. Erik Swanson lost Erik Gonzalez with an out, but struck out the side around the pass.

The new closer? - 2019 Topps
Well, ya know - give up three unearned runs and lose by one in's not just bad luck that keeps losing streaks alive.

  • Jake Elmore had three hits; K-Man and Redbeard a pair apiece.
  • Today's game lasted four hours and 16 minutes.
  • The paid attendance at PNC Park was 12,543, again not near to matching the actual crowd.
  • Adam Berry of notes that going into today, Bryan Reynolds was batting .318 and Kevin Newman, .319. If they finish out the year both hitting above .300, they will become the first pair of qualified rookie teammates to hit .300+ in the same season since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice for the 1975 Red Sox. 
  • Last night, Gerrit Cole became just the 18th pitcher in MLB history to notch at least 300 strikeouts in a season.

Big Joe v Yusei Kikuchi, Lineup & Notes

Game: Getaway day begins at 12:35 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Kevin Newman 2B,Bryan Reynolds CF, Jose Osuna 1B, Colin Moran 3B, Elias Diaz C, Cole Tucker SS, Jake Elmore RF, Erik Gonzalez, LF, Joe Musgrove P. Elmore & Gonzalez playing corner OF; holy versatility. We thought Stalls might be ready to get behind the dish today, but it looks like Eli is gonna have to suck it up for a day-after-night game.

Big Joe on the hill - photo Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitchers: RHP  Joe Musgrove (10-12/4.52) ends the set against LHP Yusei Kikuchi (6-10/5.46). Big Joe has a sore foot, but he's worked through it OK. In the last five games, he's been solid (2-1/3.68) and is coming off a strong effort against the Giants. Moose has met Seattle five times (three starts), all in 2017, with a slash of 1-1/7.50. Kikuchi is 3-9/6.80 is his last 19 outings, and has given up 36 homers this year. He's had three quality starts to his credit since July; MLB hasn't been as kind to him as the Japanese League was. The big league newbie is facing the Bucs for the first time.


  • Seattle has won 6-of-8; the Pirates have lost five in a row.
  • Jake Stallings isn't starting yet, but should be available off the bench.
  • Bruce Bochy became the 11th manager to win 2,000 games last night. The other 10 are in the HoF.

9/19 Through the 1940’s: 21 For Rip, 50 For Ralph; Game Stories; HBD Stuffy, Yank & Mouse

  • 1859 - IF William “Yank” Robinson was born in Philadelphia. Yank had his heyday from 1885-89 with the American Association’s St Louis Browns. He could play just about anywhere and was patient at the plate: From 1887-90, Robinson drew 472 free rides (427 walks w/45 HBPs) and 400 hits for an OBP of .412. Yank got into a beef with the Browns’ owner in 1889 triggered by a pair of tight pants and jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers the following season, keeping up his old tricks. During the season, Robinson had just 70 hits for a .229 BA, but his 101 bases on balls jacked up his OBP to .434, fourth highest in the Players' League. That was his only Pittsburgh term. He was also noted because he played the field bare handed and could throw ambidextrously; the combination made him a dangerous fielder who could either make an outrageously difficult play or take a routine two-hopper off the pinky for an error. It’s thought that his nickname dates back from childhood as he was born just prior to the Civil War. 
  • 1860 - OF Ed “Mouse” Glenn was born in Richmond, Virginia. Ed played every other year in the majors, making stops in 1884-86-88, with the Alleghenys being his team in the middle. He hit .191 (his rep was as a gloveman), spent a year in the minors and split time in the NL in 1888. He lost his chance to repeat his two-year cycle when he injured himself badly crashing into another player while chasing down a fly while on the farm at Sioux City; he sat out 1890 and eventually passed away from injuries caused by the collision in early 1892. 
Guy Hecker - 1897 Goodwin/Old Judge
  • 1882 - Rookie Guy Hecker of the American Association Louisville Eclipse (aka Colonels) tossed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, winning 3-1 at Eclipse Park. He would join the Pirates in 1890, albeit for his final MLB season. 
  • 1890 - 1B Jack “Stuffy” McInnis was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Stuffy, a solid contact hitter and glove man, spent the tail end of his 17-year career as a Pirate in 1925-26. McInnis still had a sharp stick, hitting .337 over that span and .286 in four games of the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators, retiring after the 1927 campaign. He picked up his nickname as a youngster playing in Boston, where his feats on the field brought shouts of "that's the stuff, kid." 
  • 1901 - The Pirates game with the Phils at Exposition Park was postponed by order of NL President NE Young (it was a league-wide day of mourning) to honor the burial day of assassinated President William McKinley. Pittsburgh was a hotbed of McKinley enthusiasts; a South Hills Park and street were renamed for McKinley. The clubs played two the next day to make up the date, with a Pirates sweep putting them 9-1/2 games up in the standings. The team finished the year 90-49, winning the pennant by 7-1/2 games to earn the franchise's first title. 
  • 1908 - Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press wrote “In the presence of a grand out-pouring of more than 25,000 fans and in one of the most stubbornly fought battles ever waged at the Polo Grounds, the Pirates defeated the New York Giants by the score of 6-2 after ten innings of strenuous work.” The better part of that battle was fought by Lefty Liefield, who went the distance to outlast Red Ames and Doc Crandall. Ed "Batty" Abbaticchio knocked home a pair of runs in the 10th, and an error followed by Chief Wilson’s hit brought in the final two tallies. 
  • 1925 - The Pirates edged the Braves, 2-1, at Forbes Field as Kiki Cuyler had four hits and Pie Traynor added three more. The two teams combined for 23 hits and drew seven walks but managed to strand 23 runners, hitting into two DPs and getting three runners thrown out trying to steal. The Bucs and opportunity took nine innings to get together - Pittsburgh left the bases loaded with one away in the eighth and needed a two-out, bases-packed single by Glenn Wright in the ninth to squeak out the win for Vic Aldridge. 
Rip Sewell - photo via Sports Memorabilia
  • 1943 - Rip Sewell whipped the Reds, 10–3 for his 21st win, which would top the MLB chart that season. Rip also stole a base to finish the year with seven swipes. Elbie Fletcher had three hits and two RBI; Bob Elliott inverted that with two hits and three RBI. The Pirates swept the twin bill 2-1 as three Pirate pitchers (Xavier Rescigno, Hank Gornicki & Max Butcher, who got the W) combined to outlast Johnny Vander Meer. Pittsburgh was its own worst enemy in the nightcap, hitting into a DP, going 0-for-2 in stolen bases and getting a runner tossed out a home before scoring twice in the ninth on singles by Vince DiMaggio and Elliott. 
  • 1949 - In a 6-4 loss to the NY Giants at Forbes Field‚ Ralph Kiner hit his 50th home run (he finished the season with 54) off Kirby Higbe. With that blast, the 26-year-old outfielder became the first NL’er to hit 50+ bombs in two different seasons. It would take until 1965 for Willie Mays to match Kiner’s record.

9/19 From 1950 Through the 1980’s: 26 For Danny; #44 Retired; Bobby's Back; Game Stories; HBD JJ & Robinzon

  • 1953 - Danny O'Connell hit safely in his 26th consecutive game‚ a 4-1 loss to the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds. The streak ended later in the day as the Bucs won the back end of the twin bill by a 6-5 tally while Danny went 0-for-5. The streak was the second longest in Pirate history, trailing only Jimmy Williams’ 27-game streak of 1899 (Williams had a 26-game streak earlier in 1899 and Kenny Lofton also put together a 26-game run in 2003).
Danny O'Connell - 1953 Topps
  • 1959 - Bill Mazeroski, who homered earlier, drilled a two-run triple in the 12th as the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds‚ 4-3, at Forbes Field. Elroy Face gave up a run in the top of the 12th but got the win thanks to Maz. Face’s record was 18-1‚ and he won eight straight games in extra innings. He ended the year with the top winning percentage (.947) of any pitcher with 15 decisions, capping a season for the ages for the relief ace. 
  • 1965 - Bob Veale allowed one hit, a two-out, sixth-inning single by Tony Taylor, and struck out 12 to earn a 1-0‚ 10-inning win over the Phillies at Forbes Field. Roberto Clemente's two-out single off Philadelphia reliever Jack Baldschun to score Bob Bailey was the game winner; Veale had been thrown out at home the batter before, trying to score on Manny Mota’s single. 
  • 1966 - The Bucs took an 11-inning victory from the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park by a 6-1 score, sparked when Roberto Clemente ignored manager Harry “The Hat” Walker’s instructions. Clemente, leading off and in an 0-for-13 funk, was told to bunt for a hit; instead he swung away and homered. Bob Bailey added a grand slam to close out the frame, giving Pete Mikkelsen the win in relief of Bob Veale. 
  • 1970 - Roberto Clemente, out of action for 14 games with a bad back, returned to score one run and chase home another with a key double in Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory over New York, keeping their 1-½ game pad over Chicago intact. The Bucco D turned four DPs to give Luke Walker the win, with the final four frames closed down by the bullpen. With Roberto back, the club would go 12-5 to close out the month and win the division by five games, but were stopped by the Big Red Machine in the NLCS. 
  • 1974 - Pittsburgh put up a five spot in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 win from the St. Louis Cards at TRS. The big blows in the frame were Richie Hebner’s two-out, three-run homer and Willie Stargell’s two-run two-bagger, giving Ramon Hernandez the win with Dave Giusti nailing the save. The win moved the Bucs within ½ game of first place, and they won the pennant over the Cards by sweeping the Cubs in the last series of the season. 
Richie Hebner - 1974 Topps
  • 1978 - In one of Pittsburgh’s lighter moments, 38-year-old Willie Stargell attempted to steal 2B against Chicago (he did have three steals that year) quite unsuccessfully. As Cubs' SS Ivan DeJesus waited at the bag with the ball, Stargell slid in 10 feet short of the base, looked up and called for time-out. The Bucs won despite Pops’ baserunning antics and after blowing a 10-2 lead, 12-11. Dave Parker’s homer, his second of the day, in the 11th off Bruce Sutter, gave the Bucs their seventh straight win and 30th in their last 38 games. Parker and Bill Robinson, who also homered twice, combined for eight hits, seven RBI and five runs scored. John Candelaria started, giving up two runs in six frames but equalizing that with a hit, walk, and two runs scored himself. Odell Jones, the sixth Pirates hurler, got the win. 
  • 1983 - 1B/OF John Jaso was born in Chula Vista, CA. The Bucs signed the 32-year-old to a two-year, $8M deal after Jaso hit .286 and produced a .380 OBP/.839 OPS in 70 games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015. JJ was primarily a catcher and DH in the show until the 2015 campaign, when concussion issues necessitated a switch of positions. He was converted by Pittsburgh to a full-time first baseman to replace Pedro Alvarez after Petey was non-tendered. JJ adjusted to the field, pinch-hitting and playing 1B/OF off the bench. Jaso hit .245 in 258 Pirates games with 18 HR and retired after the 2017 campaign. 
  • 1983 - C Robinzon Diaz was born in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic. He was the return for the Jose Bautista swap with Toronto in a deal that Neil Huntington would no doubt like to claim a mulligan. Diaz played briefly in 2008-09 for Pittsburgh, hitting .289 in 43 games but he couldn’t beat out Jason Jamarillo for the back-up spot due to defensive shortcomings. After bouncing around in AAA, he took a gig in the Mexican League. 
  • 1987 - Ralph Kiner’s #4 was retired. The Mets won the game at TRS 5-4 in front of 20,933 fans in a match that he announced on WOR-TV. The slugger was a Hall-of-Famer, and in his eight years as a Buc, he hit .280 with 301 HR and 801 RBI.

9/19 From 1990: #20 For Doug; Jay Chases Home 8; Ian's First; Game Stories

  • 1990 - Doug Drabek won his 20th game and Bobby Bonds hit his 30th and 31st HRs as Pittsburgh beat Chicago 8-7 at Wrigley Field. Bonds and his dad became the first father-son members of the 30/30 club. Two days later, Bonds swiped his 50th base of the season to become the second MLB player to join the 30/50 club, joining the Reds’ Eric Davis. 
Dave Clark - 1994 Stadium Club
  • 1993 - A Buc rally fell short as the Cards prevailed 7-6 at Busch Stadium. Dave Clark swatted a two-run, pinch hit homer in the ninth to give the Bucs a 6-5 lead, but Mark Dewey surrendered the game after two outs with a walk (the second of the inning; the other was charged to Denny Neagle) and a double just inside the line by Mark Whiten that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Carlos Garcia and Jeff King each had three hits in the heartbreaker. Clark’s homer would be the last for another decade to give the Bucs the lead in the ninth after trailing going in until Rob Mackowiak’s blast defeated the Reds in 2003. 
  • 1997 - The Pirates held a Roberto Clemente commemoration night, unveiling a video of his career highlights followed by his widow Vera tossing out the first pitch at TRS before playing the Cards. They lost 6-5 in front of 16,235. 
  • 1998 - Jose Guillen homered and doubled to drive in five runs while Francisco Cordova scattered eight hits over eight innings (Rick Loiselle mopped up) for a 7-1 win over Houston at TRS. Turner Ward also went deep and Jason Kendall & Adrian Brown added two knocks each. The victory ended a seven-game losing streak to the Astros, whose pitching had dominated the Bucs during the season. 
  • 2000 - The Pirates rode a nine-run sixth inning to a 12-8 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The Bucs sent 13 batters to the plate, with the big hits being a two-run knock by Emil Brown and a bases loaded double by John Wehner. The Phils made a game of it in the ninth, scoring three runs off Scott Sauerbeck before Mike Williams came on to end it. 
  • 2003 - Jason Bay drove in eight runs (the franchise single game record is nine, set by Johnny Rizzo in 1939) during a 10-9 loss to the Cubs, hitting a pair of homers and a double in the first game of a DH split at PNC Park. It was a tale of two games; Chicago scored the final run in the top of the sixth and there was just one more hit between both clubs over the final 3-½ innings. The Buc bats stayed hot in a 10-6 response with Matt Stairs going long and five different Pirates collecting a pair of hits to give Salomon Torres the win. 
Jason Bay - 2004 Topps Rookie of the Year
  • 2005 - Ian Snell pitched eight innings to earn his first MLB win as he beat Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros 7–0 at PNC Park. Snell allowed just three hits, retiring the final nine batters he faced before José Mesa closed out the four-hit shutout in the ninth. Four different Pirates - Tike Redman, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson & Freddy Sanchez - had three hits, and every Buc starter except JJ Furmaniak had a hit and scored/drove in a run (or both). Though a loss, the game checked off another notch on Clemens’ bucket list - he had now pitched in every major league ballpark currently in operation. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates were dueling with the Milwaukee Brewers for the last wild card spot and losing late 2-0 at PNC Park, unable to dent long time nemesis Yovani Gallardo. Jonathan Broxton came on in the eighth, and after giving up singles to Starling Marte and Neil Walker, watched Russ Martin launch a ball into the right center field seats to give the Bucs a 3-2 lead, with the electrified sellout crowd of 37,974 fans demanding a curtain call. Ike Davis singled in an insurance run as John Holdzkom earned his first MLB win after a strong start by Jeff Locke, with Mark Melancon nailing down his 31st save. It also marked the 21st time that the Pirates won a game during their last at-bat that season. 
  • 2015 - Francisco Liriano and the Pirates beat LA ace Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium 3-2 to snap a four-game losing streak. Frankie K’ed nine and retired 16 straight batters during one stretch; Tony Watson and Mark Melancon finished up the game, with Mark the Shark recording a club record-setting 47th save. Andrew McCutchen and Aramis Ramirez provided the offense with doubles; Cutch’s two-bagger drove in a pair and A-Ram’s was the game-winner. The Pirates couldn’t quite catch the Cards in the NL Central race, falling two games short, but did win 98 games and finished as the top wild card team in the NL. 
  • 2018 - In a squeak-by series, the Bucs completed a sweep of the sad-sack Kansas City Royals (this was their 100th loss) by taking the nightcap of a twin bill by a 2-1 score at PNC Park. They won the opener 7-6 on a two-out, ninth-inning walk off hit by Jacob Stallings, the Bucs third-string catcher and a September call up from AAA Indianapolis. Then they took the middle game, 2-1, in 11 innings on a walk off single by Ryan Lavarnway, the fourth-string catcher and also a September call up from Indy, after a blown save by Felipe Vazquez, his first after converting 24 straight save opportunities. It was Stallings’ second MLB walk off knock and Lavarnway’s first. The final game wasn’t quite as dramatic - there were no walk off heroics, with the game winner a solo shot by 2B Adam Frazier in the fifth inning, followed by a row of goose eggs for both clubs. For the Pirates, it was part of a nice, albeit late (“wait til next year,” alas), run as they took their fifth straight win and were on an 11-of-14 roll to go three games over .500.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Pirates Drop Fifth In A Row 4-1

Dario got off to a good start with a clean first. B-Rey walked for all the Bucco action. A dribbler infield single and walk turned into a pair of Mariner runs after Dylan Moore's two-out double in the second. Fraze walked, then Eli hit into a DP, taking the wind out of Erik Gonzalez's rap. The M's went quietly and Tommy Milone took over, as planned. K-Man singled, but the inning ended on Redbeard's DP. Kyle Lewis and Tom Murphy hit back-to-back one-out bombs in the fourth because, why not? Dee Gordon singled, but was doubled up basically on a strike 'em out, throw 'em DP when Moore not only K'ed but interfered with an Eli throw. The Pirates were 1-2-3'ed. Seattle wasted a double in the fifth; the Bucs continued to be inoffensive. Chris Stratton was called on in the sixth and spun a clean frame; Pittsburgh got a two-out double from Redbeard, who was stranded.

Redbeard had a couple of knocks tonight - photo Pittsburgh Pirates

Geoff Hartlieb and Milone traded quiet frames in the seventh. Yacksel Rios worked the eighth, and a walk, a whiff and a DP carried him through it. Anthony Bass took over for the M's. Tuck tripled with one away, and with the infield back, Newman's bouncer scored him, even though it was hit to third. Yefrey Ramirez was waved in for the ninth. He loaded the bases with an out via a single and two walks. A whiff froze them, then lefty Williams Jerez came in to face LH pinch hitter Daniel Vogelbach, who lined out on a 3-2 backdoor slider. Matt Magill got the call, and gave up a Texas league knock to Moran and a rap to Joey O. Fraze took one to the fence, but it fell just short and was gloved for the first out. Eli roped one to center next, but it too was corralled. And why not a liner to left by Kramer to put it to rest?

Well, the bullpen didn't implode for a welcome change, but the offense without J-Bell and Starling is gonna have to grind it a little harder; one inning of good contact won't win too many games, especially with your impact guys out for at least the rest of the week.

  • Colin Moran had two of the Bucs six hits; no one else reached safely more than once.
  • Vera and Lorna Clemente presented the 2019 Pirates Clemente Award winner, Trevor Williams, with his trophy and a framed Roberto jersey before the game.
  • The paid attendance was 9,875, many disguised tonight as empty seats.
  •'s Jim Callis has released his final Top 100 Prospects List for the season. RHP Mitch Keller (#24), 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (#37) and SS Oneil Cruz (#58) made the cut.

Dario v Justin Dunn, Lineup & Notes

Game: The game begins at 7:05 and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup: Kevin Newman SS, Bryan Reynolds CF, Colin Moran 3B, Jose Osuna 1B, Adam Frazier 2B, Elias Diaz C, Eric Gonzalez LF, Kevin Kramer RF, Dario Agrazal P. The Marte-Bell-Stallings trio are still out; Gonzalez goes to left tonight.

Dario dealin' tonight - photo Associated Press

Pitchers: RHP Dario Agrazal (4-4/4.91) takes on RHP Justin Dunn (0-0/27.00). Dario grinds out four or five innings, but it's been rough - he owns a 7.08 ERA in his last eight starts. He has been limiting home runs lately, though, after a barrage of bombs in a brutal three-game stretch from the end of July through the start of August. Dunn is sort of the Mariners' opener tonight. He lasted 2/3 of an inning in his MLB debut (he walked five) and the M's hope to get two or three innings out of him before turning it over to lefty Tommy Milone.

  • Seattle is on a bit of a roll; they've won 5-of-7.
  • The local Baseball Writers picked their award winners: Roberto Clemente Award (Pirates team MVP): Josh Bell; Chuck Tanner Award (most media/fan friendly): Steven Brault; Steve Blass Award (top pitcher): vacant (it would have gone to Vazquez).
  • Today is Roberto Clemente Day around MLB. The Pirates had kids from Arsenal School visit the Clemente Museum to talk with some current Buccos about the Great One. They also made stops in Plum and Hazelwood.
  • The Pirates named James Marvel (16-5/2.49) as the Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Mason Martin (.254 BA, 35 HR, 129 RBI) as the Player of the Year.

9/18 Through the 1920’s: First Pro Game; Kiki Hit Parade; Game Stories; HBD Harvey & Heinie

  • 1865 - The Philadelphia Athletic Base Ball Club began a two-day series of four games against Allegheny City teams. The Enterprise, Lincoln, and Allegheny Clubs, as well as an all-star team of the best players from the three clubs, challenged the touring Athletics. The “Great Base Ball Tournament,” played in the Allegheny Commons (then in Allegheny City and now known as North Side’s West Park), marked the first time an out-of-town club visited the area, the first time a bleacher structure was built for fan seating locally, and likely the first time fans were charged admission to see a game (25 cents per game; 50 cents for all four). The Philadelphia AC won the four matches by a combined score of 247-42, per the Heinz History Center. 
Clip via Heinz History Center
  • 1889 - 3B Heinie Groh was born in Rochester, New York. He spent 15 years manning the hot corner for the NY Giants and Cincinnati Reds. The speedy Groh was a leadoff hitter extraordinaire, playing his invention, the bottle bat, to a .292 lifetime tune with a .373 OBP and 180 SBs. In 1927 Groh ended his career with Pittsburgh, playing only 14 games during the regular season (he had badly injured his knee in 1925, rendering him a bench player) and made his final big-league appearance as a pinch-hitter in the 1927 World Series; it was the fifth Fall Classic of his career. Per Sean Lahman of SABR: “When his playing days were over, Groh stayed in baseball, first as a minor league manager and later as a scout. He eventually returned to Cincinnati where he worked as a cashier at River Downs Race Track.” 
  • 1890 - The Pittsburgh Alleghenies switched their match against the Cleveland Spiders from Recreation Park to Canton’s Pastime Park, a minor league field (some cite Mahaffey Park, tho Pastime seems the more likely). It was the first of two games that season played at a neutral site (although 30 or so home games were played at opponent’s parks) in hopes of attracting a crowd larger than the team roster. The Spiders, who finished seventh in the NL with 44 wins, took the match 11-10 behind Ohio boy Cy Young, pitching in his rookie year. Pittsburgh would become baseball’s worst team ever at the end of the season with a 23-113 record; they would lose the top spot to the Spiders a decade later when Cleveland finished 20-134 in 1899. 
  • 1903 - The Bucs swept a twinbill from the Boston Beaneaters (aka Nationals) at Exposition Park in a pair of nail-biters, 7-6 & 6-5, to clinch the NL crown. The Pirates scored three times in the ninth in the opener and took the nightcap with a ninth-inning rally, too. In the first game, Fred Clarke was on first with two out when Hans Wagner doubled. Kitty Bransfield’s knock chased them both home and he scored the game-winner on Claude Richey’s knock. Clarke was the sparkplug in the second match, too, tripling in the ninth and scoring on Jimmy Sebring’s single. Sam Leever and Gus Thompson were both bloodied on the mound but each went the distance to earn the wins. The Boston Americans claimed the AL title the day before, and the teams would meet in the first World Series between the leagues after the NL/AL presidents had agreed to a best-of-nine match. 
  • 1909 - Vic Willis stopped the Brooklyn Superbas on one hit‚ a Baltimore chop off the plate in the third inning by Zack Wheat, for his 21st win of the year. It was the closest anyone ever came to a tossing a no-hitter at Forbes Field. Pittsburgh won‚ 6-0, with two hits each from Honus Wagner and Tommy Leach. 
Harvey Haddix - 2014 Panini Golden Age
  • 1925 - LHP Harvey Haddix was born in Medway, Ohio. The Kitten (he got that moniker as a rookie in St. Louis because of his veteran mentor Harry "The Cat" Brecheen) worked for the Pirates from 1959-63 with a line of 45-38/3.73. He won two games against the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, including the seventh, and tossed 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26th, 1959, losing in 13 frames, a game considered by many to be the best pitching performance in major league history. He was also the Pirates pitching coach from 1979-84. 
  • 1925 - Kiki Cuyler collected four hits to launch a torrid five-game hitting streak during which he banged out 15 knocks (he had three four-hit games in the span). C Earl Smith joined him with a four-rap day in a 9-7 win over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field to give the Pirates third hurler, Emil Yde, the win. The Pirates won all five of Kiki-streak games on their way to the NL and WS titles. Cuyler finished the campaign batting .357, the highest average of his career.