One year ago today…

On July 26th, 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves played a 19 inning game that last six hours and 39 minutes. It ended in Atlanta’s favor, ultimately because of a blown call at home plate by umpire Jerry Meals. It was the 101st game of the year for the Bucs, and their record dropped to 53-48.

Between a girl yelling “LET’S GO PIRATES” at the top of her lungs throughout the game and guys stacking cups around Turner Field, it was a crazy night indeed. Twitter was going nuts all night long. After the missed call, “#JerryMealsSaysItsSafe” surfaced on Twitter, and remained to be hashtagged for quite sometime.

As for the game, Michael McKenry launched a homer in the second, Nate McLouth and Fredi Gonzalez were ejected in the ninth, and Brian McCann left with an oblique strain in the 10th. Daniel McCutchen pitched an unreal 5.1 innings, and threw 92 pitches. The Bucs used 20 different players in the game. Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 6 but drew three walks; he saw 38 total pitches. Pedro Alvarez was 1 for 7 with four strikeouts. The starting lineup for the Pirates that night:

1. Xavier Paul, LF
2. Garrett Jones, RF
3. Neil Walker, 2B
4. Andrew McCutchen, CF
5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
6. Lyle Overbay, 1B
7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
8. Michael McKenry, C
9. Jeff Karstens, P

With one out in the bottom of the 19th, Atlanta pitcher Scott Proctor stepped to the plate. He hit a dribbler to third, and Julio Lugo charged to the plate. McKenry applied a quick swipe tag after receiving the throw from Alvarez, and it appeared Lugo was out. He didn’t even reach home plate, but was called safe by Meals.  The Pirate fans who were still awake at 1:52 in the morning (technically July 27th) were enraged.

Many people blame the second half collapse on the “Jerry Meals Game” but that’s not entirely accurate. Sure, it was a mentally and physically draining game for the Pirates, but the pitching was set to regress and they weren’t exactly built to win. Still, they were just 19-42 after July 26th.

Most believe it was one of the worst calls ever, while some think that Meals actually got the call right. Either way, it was a ridiculous finish to a hard-fought game.

Hopefully we’ll be able to erase this game from our memory, and nothing like this will happen to the Pirates again.

Game Stats:
Braves (60-44) – Pirates (53-48)

W: Scott Proctor (2-3)
L: Daniel McCutchen (3-2)

BOX SCORE

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Farm Report: Indianapolis Indians

Indianapolis Indians, Triple-A Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Indianapolis Indians are enjoying a hot start to the 2012 season, as they possess the best record in the International League at 47-30 (.610 winning percentage). They are 8-2 in their last ten games, and lead the IL West division by 9.5 games. The Columbus Clippers, who are the Cleveland Indians’ AAA team, are in second place with a record of 38-40. The Indians are just 20-20 on the road this season, but have been phenomenal at home in 2012; they are 27-10 at Victory Field.

Batting Leaders
Jordy Mercer: .303 average, 3 HR, 22 RBI in 47 games
Jose Morales: .295 average, 0 HR, 19 RBI in 35 games
Jeff Clement: .292 average, 8 HR, 32 RBI in 62 games
Yamaico Navarro: .268 average, 2 HR, 12 RBI in 20 games
Starling Marte: .264 average, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 70 games

Pitching Leaders
Jo-Jo Reyes: 5-1, 2.05 ERA
Daniel McCutchen: 3-2, 2.10 ERA
Tim Wood: 3-3, 2.11 ERA
Evan Meek: 2-2, 2.13 ERA
Rick VandenHurk: 6-0, 2.27 ERA

Prospect Watch
Jordy Mercer – After a few weeks in Pittsburgh that featured limited playing time, Mercer returned to Indy on Sunday. In his first game back with the Indians on Monday night, he went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Mercer will get the chance to play everyday in Indianapolis instead of sitting the bench for the Pirates. Hopefully he will continue to improve in triple-A ball, and we could see him later this season in Pittsburgh, especially when the roster expands in September. Mercer turns 26 on August 27th.

Starling Marte – After a great season for double-A Altoona in which he won the Eastern League batting title, Marte hasn’t produced quite as much in Indy. He’s hitting .264/.326/.439 so far in 2012. On Monday night, he went 2 for 4 with a double, triple, and 3 RBI. At the earliest, we could see Marte make his debut a month or two down the road, but he still needs some more time at triple-A. Like Mercer, there’s a strong possibility that he’s in Pittsburgh when the roster expands. Marte turns 24 on October 9th.

Rudy Owens – Along with Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson, Owens is part of the trio of southpaw prospects in Indianapolis. Rudy is 6-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 90.2 innings pitched. In 14 games, he’s struck out 62 while walking 14. Owens was named the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009 and 2010. He was selected by the Pirates in the 28th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Chandler-Gilbert Community College.He turns 25 on December 18th.

Jeff Locke – Locke appeared in four September games for Pittsburgh last season, but went 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA. He finished second among all Pittsburgh Pirates farmhands with 139 strikeouts in 2011. Locke was called up on May 20th but didn’t appear in any games. The 6’1″, 180 lbs. left-hander is 5-4 with a 3.27 ERA this year for Indianapolis. He has struck out 72 while walking 18 in his 14 starts thus far. Locke was acquired by the Pirates along with pitcher Charlie Morton and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder Nate McLouth on June 3, 2009. He will turn 25 on November 20th.

Justin Wilson – Wilson threw 7.1 scoreless innings on April 29th and led Indy to a combined no-hitter with the help of Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten. Wilson is 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 2012. In 15 games, he has struck out 81 while walking 39 walks. His 39 walks are the most of any Indy pitcher; Locke’s 18 are the second-most. Wilson was selected by the Pirates in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Fresno State, where he won the College World Series. He was named the International League Pitcher of the Week on June 18th. Wilson will turn 25 on August 18th.

More:
Current Roster
I.L. Standings
Individual Stats
Victory Field
Tickets
Shop

Number Changes

Alex Presley will change from 44 to 7. Last year, 7 was off-limits due to the passing of Chuck Tanner.

Josh Harrison will change from 62 to 5. No real explanation to this yet, other than 62 being a bizarre number that was probably randomly assigned to J-Hay when he got called up.

Tony Watson will change from 65 to 44.

Chase d’Arnaud will change from 12 to 3, to accommodate for newcomer Clint Barmes.

Jeff Locke will change from 61 to 37.

– Not necessarily a number change, but Nate McLouth will wear number 2.  He primarily wore 13 in his previous go-around with the Pirates.

Daniel McCutchen will change from 34 to 25, to accomodate for the newest Pirate, A.J. Burnett.

– Be careful if you plan on purchasing a jersey tee with anyone of these players, and be aware of the changes.

Go Bucs

Pirates Player Profile: Jose Tabata

Jose Tabata
Age: 23
Birth Place: Anzoategui, Venezuela
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Also check out Pirates Productions’ “Driven” – Jose Tabata

Career Stats:

(FanGraphs)

2012 Projections:

(FanGraphs)

Jose Tabata emerged onto the scene after being an international signee in 2005. He participated in the Futures Game at PNC Park in 2006, and was named the Yankees’ #2 prospect in 2008. However, he was traded later that season when the Yanks sent Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen, and Jeff Karstens to Pittsburgh in exchange for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. In 2009, his ex-wife Amalia Tabata Pereira, who is 23 years older than Jose, was arrested for abduction after kidnapping a 2 month old girl. She told him that she gave birth and that the child was his. He made his big league debut in June of 2010 against the Washington Nationals, and entered last season as the starting left fielder.

In 2010, he finished with an average of .299, hitting 4 homers, driving in 35 runs, and swiping 19 bags in 102 games. He ended up 8th in the voting for NL Rookie of the Year. Last offseason, it was reported that Tabata really bulked up, adding a ton of muscle, and was supposedly ready for a breakout season in which he would produce higher power numbers. However, it was much of the same and it was a disappointing season for Jose. Just like the rest of the Pirates offense, he failed to hit for power, and his average dropped 33 points from 2010. He also missed a large chunk of the season because of a groin injury. Still, the Pirates inked him to an extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh for years to come. He signed through 2016 for $14.75 MM guaranteed and an additional three club option years for 2017-2019.

One big thing with Tabata is his age. It came out in 2010 that Pirates acknowledged that he could actually be in mid-20s. Each year makes a difference in terms of age, and it really matters when it comes to his contract. His value is definitley less if he is acutally 27 instead of 23. It’s especially worrisome due to recent cases of “Fausto Carmona” and “Leo Nunez”. Hopefully Jose is being truthful about his age.

If Tabata does well, the Pirates offense can certainly follow his lead. It is so important for the top of the order to produce and cause havoc. He definitely has room for improvement, and a spike in his offensive numbers would certainly help the team. For a team without much power, we need as much as we can get from the top of the lineup. Even if it’s Hurdle’s bunting style, we need guys to get on base, and it all starts with Tabata and Presley. If the Pirates want to be successful, Jose Tabata needs to improve his production and have a breakout season.

Go Bucs

Bucs Rewind: July 26, 2011

If there is one thing that people will remember from the Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 season, it will definitely be the 19-inning heartbreaker in Atlanta.

Not only was it physically devastating for a team that was in the midst of a pivotal roadtrip, but also a kickstart for a demoralizing freefall back to the bottom of the standings.

It was just another game, another chapter in the middle of the Pirates magical July. As extra innings settled in, we hung on to every pitch.  There has never been a time in our lives that we wanted the Buccos to win so badly. Each game meant so much. Every win brought the Pirates closer to being a winning team.

While the innings kept piling on, Twitter remained abuzz. Bucco fans stayed up to support their team and it really showed on Twitter.

There was also the girl at Turner Field who wouldn’t stop cheering “Go Pirates!”…

…and the guys who managed to collect a crazy amount of cups

The Pirates couldn’t convert on many chances. It was the true story of the first-half of the 2011 season: pitching was keeping them in it, but the offense continued to struggle.

The Braves turned to their last and worst reliever, Scott Proctor. Still the Buccos couldn’t find a run. Meanwhile, Daniel McCutchen worked through a few stressful frames and ended up throwing 5.1 innings, most of any Pirate pitcher that night.

The Braves finally got something going in the bottom of the 19th when they had 1st and 3rd and Proctor at the plate. Proctor grounded one to third and…

 

The first run since the bottom of the 3rd crossed home plate, but Julio Lugo never really crossed at all.

After sitting through the entire game, which took 6 hours and 39 minutes, it was hard to understand what had really happened until the next morning. The game had already gained national attention just a few hours after sunrise, and Twitter was still going insane with the infamous “#jerrymealssaysitssafe” hashtag.

The Pirates used almost their entire roster that game, and believe or not, nine of those guys are already off the roster. Xavier Paul, Steve Pearce, Lyle Overbay, Ronny CedenoMatt Diaz, Joe Beimel, Brandon Wood, Jose Veras, and Eric Fryer have all found new homes since that disastrous night in Atlanta.

Although it was a turning point of one of the best seasons this decade, we are ready to move on. Hopefully we won’t have to experience any heartbreak this season, but we would certainly enjoy more winning baseball (preferably for the entire year) at PNC Park this summer.

Go Bucs