This Date in Pirates History: April 27

Just one former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date and no transactions of note, so we take a look at the Pirates 1893 Opening Day and guest contributor John Fredland covers a game exactly 100 years later against the Braves, with extra innings and an unusually high pitch count. The lineup for the 1893 team is included below and all nine players have links to their bios that have been posted on Pirates Prospects.

Paul Miller(1965) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1991 until 1993. He was a 53rd round draft pick of the Pirates in 1987 out of Carthage College in Wisconsin and he is still the only player from that school to make the major leagues. In 1986 the Cincinnati Reds took him in the 27th round of the amateur draft but he did not sign. Paul spent his first full season of minor league ball pitching for Augusta in the South Atlantic League. He went 6-5 2.89 in 15 starts, with 51 strikeouts in 90.1 innings. He moved up a level to Salem in 1989 and struggled, forcing the Pirates to repeat him at the level to start the next year. In 22 starts for Salem in 1990, Paul went 8-6 2.45, pitching a total of 150.2 innings. He was moved up to AA Harrisburg to finish the year and had a 2.19 ERA in five starts. Miller had a breakout season in 1991, splitting the minor league season between AA and AAA. In 25 total starts, he had a 12-4 2.01 record with a 1.11 WHIP in 156.1 innings. On July 30,1991, he earned a promotion to the majors to make a spot start. In five innings against the Braves, he allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Paul started the 1992 season on the disabled list, making a brief rehab stop in AAA before being recalled in early May when the Pirates released Kirk Gibson. Pitching in relief, Miller made six appearances, throwing a total of 11.1 innings with a 2.38 ERA. Despite the strong stats, he was optioned to the minors in late May when the Pirates called up veteran pitched Jerry Don Gleaton. Paul made just a few more starts before going on the DL again, this time for the rest of the season. In 1993, he made 16 minor league starts, going 5-3 3.77 in 90.2 innings before getting called up to the majors in September. With the Pirates, he made two starts and a relief appearance, allowing six runs in ten innings of work. Miller was granted free agency after the season but chose to resign with the Pirates in January of 1994. He made 13 appearances in AAA in 1994, nine as a starter, with a 4.91 ERA in what would be his last season of pro ball. He had a 47-46 3.11 record in eight seasons in the minors and was 1-0 4.10 in ten major league games.

1893 Opening Day

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Spiders opened up the 1893 season on April 27th, the latest that Pittsburgh has opened their season since 1887, their first year in the National League. Cleveland went with 26 year old starter Cy Young, a 36 game winner in 1892 with a league leading 1.93 ERA. The Pirates had 22 year old lefty Frank Killen on the mound, an off-season acquisition from the Washington Senators. The Spiders ended up winning that day with a lineup that included two other future Hall of Fame players besides Young, catcher Buck Ewing(played right field this game) and left fielder Jesse Burkett. The also had Chief Zimmer, who caught for the Pirates from 1900-02 and one of the better double play combos in baseball history, one that most people couldn’t name either player involved. Ed McKean played shortstop for 12 years in Cleveland, hitting .304 with 1084 RBI’s. His double play partner was Cupid Childs, who hit .318 with 541 RBI’s and 758 walks in eight seasons alongside McKean.

Young went the distance and allowed two runs on six hits with both runs coming in the first inning. The Spiders put four runs on the board in the first inning and took the game by a 7-2 score. The attendance that day was considered strong at nearly 5,000 due to the cold weather but for the town of Pittsburgh, it was the first time in two weeks, according to the newspaper, that the sun was out. The lineup for Pittsburgh that day was as follows:

Patsy Donovan,rf
George Van Haltren,cf
Frank Shugart,ss
Mike Smith,lf
Jake Beckley,1b
Denny Lyons,3b
Louis Bierbauer,2b
Connie Mack,c
Frank Killen,p


Jolly Roger Rewind: April 27, 1993

In a rematch of the previous two National League Championship Series, the Pirates beat the Braves in eleven innings for the second night in a row, 6-2, at Fulton County Stadium.

To say that Bucco starting pitcher Tim Wakefield earned this victory over the twice defending NL Champs represents semantic understatement: the knuckleballer contributed one of the most remarkable pitching efforts in franchise history. Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Wakefield found his floater harder to control than when beguiling Atlanta with two complete game victories in the 1992 NLCS. Through eight innings, Wakefield’s first 128 pitches of the night had yielded six walks and two hit batsmen, but two bases-loaded double plays kept the Braves at bay in the early innings, and the Bucs took a 2-1 advantage into the ninth.

Atlanta rookie Ryan Klesko, however, batted for starter Steve Avery to lead off the bottom of the ninth and turned Wakefield’s 129th pitch into his first major league home run and a tie game. Wakefield rebounded to close out the balance of the ninth quietly, and, despite two more walks, then held Bobby Cox’s team scoreless in the tenth.

Carlos Garcia, starting at second base as a rookie, led off the top of the eleventh with a double. In the third inning, Garcia had likewise hit a leadoff double; Wakefield followed by bunting him to third and Lonnie Smith drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Hoping for a repeat, Jim Leyland sent Wakefield up and called for the bunt. This time, it worked even better: Atlanta reliever Mike Stanton threw the ball away and Garcia scored from second. RBI hits by Jeff King and Orlando Merced later, the Pirates had a 6-2 lead.

Notwithstanding Wakefield’s pitch count of 161, Leyland sent his starter out in the bottom of the eleventh to complete the game. After walks to Francisco Cabrera (a batter-pitcher matchup that many disgruntled Pirate fans had wanted to see the previous October) and Otis Nixon, the Bucco skipper finally called upon his bullpen. Paul Wagner made relatively quick work of Terry Pendleton and Jeff Blauser (on strikeouts) and Dave Justice (on a foul out) to end the game.

Wakefield finished with one of the most distinctive pitching lines in Pirate history. His final totals included ten walks and two hit batsmen, against a single strikeout, but he managed to strand 12 runners and hold the Braves hitless with runners in scoring position. By pitching into the eleventh inning, Wakefield accomplished a feat unequaled by any Buc starter since Rick Reuschel in May 1986. And his staggering total of one-hundred-and-seventy-two pitches stands as the most for any Bucco pitcher in the years contained in Baseball-Reference’s database. (Johnny Lindell’s 165 pitches in April 1953 is the second-highest total, and Mike Dunne (158 in June 1988), Brian Fisher (154 in April 1988) and Doug Drabek (150 in July 1990) are the only others to exceed even 150 since 1988.)

Here’s the play-by-play and box score