On Friday night, Cole Tucker and Kevin Kramer extended their on base streaks in two very different ways. Kramer got his streak to 29 games on an intentional walk, which only came after a wild pitch opened up first base. That would be the only time he reached base yesterday. He has actually reached base in every game he has played this year. Tucker reached on a fourth inning double, just minutes before Kramer drew his walk. That made it 21 games in a row for Tucker, but he wasn’t done. He homered two innings later, then tripled in the seventh and homered again in the eighth inning. He had a chance for a cycle, but ended up with a much better result than a single.
I called it a career night for Tucker in the Prospect Watch title. Just how does it stack up against his best games though?
Going into Friday night, Tucker had a high of four total bases in a game this season. He came into the day with no homers, so this was clearly superior to anything he has accomplished in one game this season. His OPS went from .702 to .792 in one day. He would have been 43rd in OPS among qualified players in the Florida State League with that .702 OPS, but he now ranks 22nd.
Back in 2016, his best game was also four total bases, which happened multiple times. Going into last night, Tucker had only hit two homers since the start of last season. That’s 461 at-bats and over 520 plate appearances with two homers before hitting two last night. He has now hit two homers in each of his four seasons of pro ball.
Going back to 2015, Tucker had two games in which he picked up five total bases. One was a four-hit game, three singles and a double. The other was a homer and a single. Good games, but nothing close to last night.
As a rookie in the GCL, he set a career-high with six total bases. The asterisk attached to that game is that he got seven at-bats in the 13 inning contest. That was his best game until tonight.
I didn’t look it up until after I said it, but Friday night was easily the best night of Cole Tucker’s career. In his first 234 games as a pro, he had a high of six total bases and that came during an extra inning game in which he picked up a single in the 13th inning to set the bar. The 21-game hitting streak, along with 24 stolen bases, shows that he has been playing well up to this point. His Friday night showed that there is potential for ever more.
** Bradenton is just over halfway done with the first half of the Florida State League season. They played their 36th game last night and won 20-2 over second place Palm Beach, pushing them into third place. That means the Marauders have a 4.5 game lead over second place Charlotte with 34 games left. Bradenton and Charlotte don’t play again during the first half, which wraps up on June 21st.
**West Virginia had their game rained out last night. The Power don’t play Asheville again this season, so the game has been officially canceled. The South Atlantic League schedule is split into two 70 game segments. That means that even if the two teams met again during the second half of the season, they still wouldn’t play a makeup game because it only matters for the first half standings. The Power are only 4.5 games back in their division at the halfway point, but they are also in fifth place, so it’s a tough task for them to win the first half title.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 11-4 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. The Pirates will send Trevor Williams to the mound to make his second start. His only other start was on Monday when he gave up eight runs over three innings of work against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Diamondbacks will counter with 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker, who has a 3.83 ERA in seven starts this season.
In the minors, West Virginia was rained out yesterday, so Luis Escobar tries again to bounce back from one of his worst career starts. In his first two games this season combined, he allowed two runs over 11 innings while picking up 23 strikeouts. In his last four games, he has a 6.86 ERA and has served up five homers. He leads all Pirates with 46 strikeouts. Alex McRae has gone at least five innings in every start this year, while allowing three or fewer runs each game. He has a 1.15 WHIP and a 1.65 GO/AO ratio. Gage Hinsz returns after missing a start due to shoulder soreness. He went seven innings in his last outing, giving up one run. In his prior start, he allowed one run over six innings. Kevin Kramer has a 29-game on base streak active. Cole Tucker currently has a 21-game on base streak.
MLB: Pittsburgh (14-22) @ Diamondbacks (21-16) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (7.98 ERA, 8:12 BB/SO, 14.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (14-17) vs Norfolk (15-19) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (4.28 ERA, 15:26 BB/SO, 33.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (20-12) vs New Hampshire (11-23) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (1.96 ERA, 8:21 BB/SO, 36.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (23-13) vs Palm Beach (17-18) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (5.63 ERA, 8:14 BB/SO, 24.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (16-18) vs Charleston (17-18) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.99 ERA, 13:46 BB/SO, 30.2 IP)
Here is the last out of Nick Kingham’s start for Bradenton on Thursday night. He joined Indianapolis on Friday night.
5/12: Pirates active Adam Frazier and David Freese from disabled list. Chris Bostick and Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis.
5/12: Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.
5/12: Zane Chavez added to Altoona roster. Tomas Morales assigned to Morgantown.
5/11: Chris Harvey assigned to Morgantown. Brent Gibbs assigned to West Virginia.
5/11: Nick Kingham assigned to Bradenton. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/10: Albert Baur activated from West Virginia disabled list.
5/9: Jackson Williams assigned to Altoona from Indianapolis. Zane Chavez assigned to Morgantown.
5/8: Pirates add Max Moroff and Chris Bostick to roster. Elias Diaz and Phil Gosselin assigned to Indianapolis.
5/8: Adam Frazier assigned to Indianapolis on rehab. Just Maffei assigned to Indianapolis.
5/8: Boomer Synek retired.
5/8: Kevin Krause placed on disabled list. Logan Ratledge promoted to Bradenton.
5/7: Michael Suchy placed on disabled list. Jerrick Suiter promoted to Altoona.
5/7: Jess Amedee activated from disabled list.
5/6: Jameson Taillon placed on disabled list. Josh Lindblom promoted to Pirates
5/4: Brandon Waddell activated from disabled list. JT Brubaker placed on disabled list.
5/3: Jordan George activated from Bradenton disabled list.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus an intriguing pitching match-up from the early days of the franchise. The players born on this date include catcher Jack Shepard (1953-56), pitcher Frank Miller (1916-19) and catcher Jimmy Archer, who played for the Pirates in 1904, and then again 14 years later as a teammate of Miller. Shepard played two games in 1953, then increased that game total each year until he played 100 games in 1956. In February of 1957, he retired to pursue a career in business. Shepard briefly returned as a minor league manager for the Pirates in 1959 before retiring from baseball for good.
On this date in 1892, pitcher Elmer Smith of the Pirates lost 6-1 to Cy Young, who made his debut two years earlier. This was one of the last starts for Smith, who became a full-time outfielder in 1893 and made up one of the best Pirates outfields ever that season. Smith won 34 games in 1887 as a teenager, but just three years later, he was in the minors. The Pirates gave him a chance to start 13 games in 1892 before converting him to the outfield. With the Pirates, he hit .325/.415/466 and stole 174 bases in seven seasons. Cy Young went 3-2 against the Pirates in 1892.
On this date in 1960, Dick Groat went 6-for-6 with three doubles in an 8-2 win over the Milwaukee Braves. Dick Stuart homered in this game, his first of the season in the 25th game of the year. He would end up with 23 homers that season.