Cole Tucker was named the Florida State League Player of the Week on Monday afternoon to the surprise of no one. Not only did he have 13 total bases in one game, he also extended his on base streak to 21 games by reaching in all five games he played last week. He put up a .435/.458/1.000 slash line in 24 plate appearances. Tucker already began to build his case for this week’s Player of the Week award by driving in four runs on Monday night, extending that on base streak to 22 games in the process.
Bradenton is the team winning all of the Player/Pitcher of the Week awards this season. Indianapolis has had some terrific starting performances and Chris Bostick is among the league leaders in numerous categories. Alex McRae was strong in every game for Altoona and Kevin Kramer was one of the best hitters in the Eastern League, plus Luis Escobar was putting up huge strikeout numbers to start the season. Despite all of that, Bradenton has all three awards this season. Tucker joins Mitch Keller from last week and Kevin Krause from the first week of the season, as the only winners for the Pirates so far.
**Bradenton is on a seven-game win streak and that has them starting to think about the playoffs. The Florida State League is a split schedule league, meaning you can make the playoffs after only 70 games. Bradenton has a 25-13 record, which has them 6.5 games ahead of two teams in second place, with only 32 more games to go. If they can win the first half title, they will get home field advantage in September, regardless of their record in the second half (as in 0-70 still gets them home field).
I personally would appreciate the first half title, as it makes my job slightly easier. Instead of eight affiliates and the Pirates in our Playoff Push section (which returns very soon), I “only” have seven teams and the Pirates to update until they all get eliminated or clinch. West Virginia is only five games back right now, but they are also in fifth place with 32 games remaining, so they don’t seem to be doing me any favors.
**On Sunday, Andrew McCutchen hit his sixth home run of the season. It was his 492nd extra-base hit with the Pirates, pushing him into sole possession of ninth place. He was tied with all-time great Arky Vaughan before the homer. McCutchen needs just two more extra-base hits to tie another Hall of Famer, Bill Mazeroski. That’s probably as far as he will go this year on the list, even assuming he’s not traded. The top ten in extra-base hits now includes eight Hall of Famers, McCutchen and Dave Parker, who is seventh with 524.
McCutchen is also one double behind Lloyd Waner for 12th all-time. He’s just eight away from the top ten in doubles, and the 7-9 on the list is the same order as extra-base hits, with Parker 7th, Mazeroski 8th and Vaughan 9th. Al Oliver and Gus Suhr are tied for tenth now. As you can see, McCutchen is getting into elite company on the Pirates all-time lists.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
The Pirates were off on Monday
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates were off yesterday. They begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals tonight. Chad Kuhl will get the start, his eighth of the season. He allowed four runs over five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start. The Nationals will send Stephen Strasburg to mound for his eighth start. He has a 3.28 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 46.2 innings this season.
In the minors, Mitch Keller gets the start, six days after leaving his last game early due to a bee sting on his right forearm. He has thrown a total of 18.2 shutout innings in his last three starts combined. Indianapolis has a doubleheader today. Steven Brault will start game one, coming off an outing in which he allowed one run over six innings. He gave up one run over five innings in his previous start. Oddy Nunez has thrown 7.2 shutout innings over his last two starts. He’s on a strict limit of four innings or 60 pitches. Kevin Kramer has a 30-game on base streak active. Cole Tucker currently has a 22-game on base streak.
MLB: Pittsburgh (15-22) vs Nationals (24-13) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (5.81 ERA, 14:25 BB/SO, 31.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (16-18) @ Columbus (17-19) 5:35 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (3.19 ERA, 16:35 BB/SO, 36.2 IP) and Cody Dickson (6.75 ERA, 14:14 BB/SO, 14.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (21-13) @ Binghamton (18-13) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tanner Anderson (2.90 ERA, 12:17 BB/SO, 31.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (25-13) @ Daytona (20-18) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (2.54 ERA, 7:38 BB/SO, 39.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (17-20) vs Charleston (19-19) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (3.65 ERA, 5:23 BB/SO, 24.2 IP)
Here is video of Edwin Espinal’s third home run of the season, a three-run shot from Sunday.
5/15: Nick Kingham promoted to Indianapolis.
5/15: Casey Sadler and Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton. Sam Street assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/15: James Marvel placed on West Virginia disabled list. Chris Harvey assigned to West Virginia.
5/14: Cam Vieaux placed on West Virginia disabled list. Adrian Valerio added to West Virginia roster.
5/14: Barrett Barnes added to Indianapolis roster. Anderson Feliz assigned to Morgantown.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two teammates born on the same day. Mitch Webster was an outfielder for the 1991 Pirates and his teammate that year was pitcher Bob Patterson. Both players were born on May 16,1959. Webster played just one season for the Pirates, while Patterson played six years in Pittsburgh, including all three playoff seasons from 1990 until 1992. He pitched 207 games for the Pirates, 21 as a starter, posting a 3.97 ERA in 331 innings.
Other players born on this date include two very good pitchers from the 1980’s. Rick Reuschel and Rick Rhoden both celebrate their birthday today. Rhoden played eight seasons in Pittsburgh and had a very small part during the 1979 World Series winning season. He went 79-73, 3.51 in 213 starts and two relief appearances during his time in Pittsburgh. Known as a very good hitting pitcher, he batted .251 for the Pirates and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter.
Reuschel played three years for the Pirates and had a great season in 1985, despite the Pirates losing 104 games that year. He finished the year with a 14-8 record, thanks in part to a 2.27 ERA in 194 innings. Reuschel won 214 games over his 19 seasons in the Majors, while Rhoden had 151 victories.
The first time the Braves franchise and the Pirates franchise played each other was on this date in 1887. The Boston Beaneaters took that first game by a 6-2 score. Old Hoss Radbourn out-dueled Jim McCormick for the win. Between them, they won 574 Major League games. In the all-time series, the Pirates hold a 1,104-1,023 edge, with the two teams playing to a tie 16 times.