Tuesday, May 15, 2012

1966 Pittsburgh Pirates clinch KOD14 World Championship in 4 straight games

GAME 4 - Forbes Field
Mike Flanagan (3-3) vs Vern Law (6-3)
Pirates 6, Blue Jays 0

3 hit shutout plus a 2 run homer
Down three games to none the Jays put the ball in the hands of late season acquisition Mike Flanagan.  Pittsburgh turned to the 1960 Cy Young award winner, Vern "The Deacon" Law.  Flanagan, who stumbled a bit down the stretch was tasked with the unenviable job of trying to break the momentum of a Buc team that got hot at just the right time.  Pittsburgh started out fast in this game and never looked back.  With runners on 1st and 3rd in the bottom of the first Roberto Clemente hit a deep fly to the warning track to score Alou easily.  Flanagan was able to get Stargell to hit in to a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning without any further damage.  The bottom of the 2nd would turn out to be Flanagan's Waterloo.  The crafty lefty walked the lead off batter (Clendenon), then served up a 1 out single to Pagan to put runner's on the corners.  Maz lifted a sac fly to left to make it 2-0, but with 2 outs Flanagan looked to have limited the damage once again.  With the opposing pitcher Law batting Flanagan let his guard down and threw a straight change right down the middle of the plate.  Most ordinary pitchers would have swung through that pitch for strike one.  Law, who is an accomplished batsman, jumped all over the crippled pitch and sent it high and far over the ivy in left center to make it 4-0.  Law, who had his up's and down's on the mound all season long never had such troubles at the plate hitting a crisp .444 in 10 starts.  Facing a 4-0 deficit in the game and a 3-0 deficit in the series, the Jays looked very much down and quite possibly out.  In the bottom of the 6th Roberto Clemente (the eventual series MVP) hit a solo blast to make it 5-0.  Four batters later Jose Pagan narrowly missed hitting a 2 run shot, but settled for a sac fly to score Clendenon to make it 6-0.  Those six runs began to loom large as Law was completely locked in on the mound.  Toronto would manage to get just 3 hits off of he Deacon with 2 of them coming in the top of the first.  No Toronto baserunner advanced past first over the final 8 innings of play.  With 2 out in the 9th George Bell refused to be the final out of the series by lining a single to right.  Ernie Whitt had the dubious honor of being the final out as Law threw him high heat and struck him out on 3 pitches to clinch the Series for the Bucs.  Clemente, who hit .353 would be the star of the series, but Law who tossed a tidy 3 hit shutout would be the star of the day.
Pirates win series 4-0

World Series MVP with a .353 avg
Editor's Note:  The poor fans attending this series were treated to rain during all 4 games.  The "Lake Erie" series had it's share of precipitation.  George Bell was the lone Blue Jay who came to hit.  Collectively the Jays hit .189.  Pittsburgh hit well over 100 points higher.  Special nod to Blue Jays manager Robert Chisholm, who did a masterful job getting to the series in just his second full season behind the bench.  No manager could have overcome a collective team batting drought like the Jays exhibited.  "Chis" made all the right moves, but in the end his players let him down.  With 2 complete game shutouts (Fryman & Law), and one almost shutout (Blass), the much maligned Pirate rotation managed to make their manager look good and take the focus away from the team's overworked pen that only saw mop up duty in limited action.  Closer Pete Mikkelsen, who saved 10 games this season didn't even get to warm up in the pen.  Only Al McBean saw action in relief.  Matty Alou, who hit over .400 in the regular season was injured in the 5th sliding into 3rd and was replaced by Manny Mota.

Game 3: Pirates 8, Blue Jays 4

GAME 3 - Forbes Field
Jim Clancey (5-3) vs Steve Blass (7-1)
Pirates 8, Blue Jays 4

8 2/3 innings of shutout ball
Pittsburgh headed home in the enviable position of needing just 2 wins to clinch the KOD World Championship.  Wasting no time the potent Buc offense, which has been firing on all cylinders, posted a quick 3 spot in the bottom of the first.  RBI hits by Stargell, Clendenon and Bob Bailey got the party started right from the get go.  The Bucs added 3 more in the bottom of the 6th, when pitcher Steve Blass doubled home Bailey and Maz with 2 outs to help is own cause.  Matty Alou followed that up with an RBI double of his own to make it 6-0.  A Bob Bailey solo shot to lead off the 8th made it 7-0 and a Matty Alou RBI single later in the inning gave Blass a commanding 8-0 lead.  Blass entered the top of the 9th needing 3 outs for a shutout victory.  After walking Rick Leach and giving up singles to Liriano and Mulliniks to load the bases it became apparent that he had run out of gas.  Blass looked his manager straight in the eye and said, "Skip, I'm running on fumes, but I still have enough left to get the shutout".  Blass then got Ernie Whitt to pop out to his opposite number (Pagliaroni) behind he plate and Barfield to hit an elevator in a silo to shortstop Gene Alley.  With 2 outs Blass needed to find something left in his tank to get the scrappy Tony Fernandez.  Blass' first offering was a called strike right down Broadway.  His second offering was a slider on the outside corner.  With the count 0-2 Glass needed to make Fernandez hit a pitcher's pitch to end it.  Instead Blass put one right down Broadway and Fernandez hit an opposite field rocket that split the gap between Alou and Stargell.  When the dust finally settled Fernandez was standing on 3rd with a bases clearing triple and the score was now 8-3 Pirates with 2 out in the top of the 9th.  Al McBean was brought in to replace the weary Blass and immediately served up a 2 out single to Lloyd Moseby to make it a 8-4 game.  McBean then walked the "Crime Dog", Fred McGriff and had to face the hard hitting George Bell, who turned on a 1-0 fastball that Pagan had to elevate for just off the 3rd base line.  Pagan safely corralled the ball to end the game.
Pirates lead series 3-0

Game 2: Pirates 4, Blue Jays 0

GAME 2 - Exhibition Stadium
Woodie Fryman (6-3) vs Jimmy Key (8-2)
Pirates 4, Blue Jays 0

In a battle of soft tossing crafty lefties, Woodie Fryman came out on top thanks to some fine Pirate defense and fine clutch hitting.  After 5 innings of scoreless ball the Bucs solved Key with 4 runs in the top of the 6th.  After "Bob" Clemente led off with single, Willie Stargell lined a bullet to center for out number 1.  Donn Clendenon, who shines bright in World Series competition, deposited a 1-2 Jimmy Key offering into the left field pavilion to break the scoreless deadlock.  With the score 2-0 Pittsburgh DH Manny Mota doubled to deep center and scored on Jose Pagan's double to the exact same spot.  With 2 outs the ever so clutch Bill Mazeroski doubled down the rightfield line to make it 4-0.  With Fryman locked in like he was those 4 runs felt like 20.  Toronto would get just 2 hit over the next 4 innings as Fryman would go the distance and record the 4-0 shutout.
Pirates lead series 2-0

KOD 14 World Series: 1966 Pirates vs 1987 Blue Jays

GAME 1 - Exhibition Stadium
Bob Veale (5-3) vs Dave Stieb (4-5)
Pirates 13, Blue Jays 3

The Bucs jumped all over Dave Stieb in the top of the first and when the dust settled 6 runs were able to cross home plate.  The first 6 batters were able to reach base successfully before Toronto even recorded an out.  The Jays chipped away and got two runs back with 1 in the bottom of the first and another in the bottom of the third.  The Bucs broke the game open with another 6 run inning in the top of the 6th to send the hometown fans toward the exits.  Pirate starter Bob Veale went 7 and gave up 3.  His goal, on a day where runs were plentiful, was to throw strikes and not worry about being too fine.  Willie Stargell was the hitting star with a grand slam in the 6th and 5 RBI's on the day.  Roberto Clemente and Matty Alou both had 3 hit days.  Bill Mazeroski hit a solo shot off reliever John Cerutti  in the 7th.  George Bell hit 2 solo shots, which accounted for 2 of Toronto's 4 hits and 2 of their 3 runs.
Pirates lead series 1-0

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NLCS Game 5: Pirates 3, Braves 2...Bucs win NL Pennant

GAME 5 - Forbes Field
John Smoltz vs Bob Veale
Pirates 3, Braves 2

Up 3 games to 1 the Bucs sent Bob Veale to the hill to close the game out.  Veale's escape artist performance would have made the great Houdini proud.  After Otis Nixon led the game off with a clean single to center Jeff Blauser wound up on first courtesy of a rare dropped ball in right by the great Clemente.  David Justice legged out a infield single to load the bases with nobody out.  Ron Gant walked on 4 pitches to make it 1-0 and the makings of a big inning were right there for the taking.  Instead Veale went deep into his book of magic striking out McGriff and Pendleton and forcing Berryhill to ground back to the box.  The Braves got 1 run, but they did not take full advantage of the bases loaded situation that they had.  A one out single by Stargell in the bottom of the inning scored Matty Alou to tie the game a 1 all.  The game remained tied until the top of the 5th when Veale walked Blauser with 1 out and Gant with 2 out, then was victimized by a Texas Leaguer to right by McGriff to score Blauser and make it 2-1.  Pendleton was up next and he hit a bullet to right.  Gant, feeling his oats, decided to take a shot at scoring.  Most times it's a great decision to draw the throw and tempt the arm of the outfielder, that is unless the outfielder's name is Roberto Clemente.  "Bob" came up throwing and threw a dart to the plate for Pagliaroni to easily tag Gant for the final out of the inning.  Atlanta clung to a tenuous 1 run lead heading into the bottom of the 7th.  Smoltzie fanned pinch hitter Jerry Lynch to start the inning and looked to have an easy second out when catcher Damon Berryhill dropped a pop up in front of the plate and the speedy Alou ran down the line and reached 1st easily.  After Gene Alley singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd, Clemente struck out for the second out of the inning.  Stargell, who was 2 for 2 with a walk to this point was unintentionally walked by Smoltz to face the righty Donn Clendenon, who lined a single to left to score Alou and Alley and give the Bucs a 3-2 lead.

Atlanta managed just a harmless walk in the top of the 8th vs reliever Don Schwall.  Pittsburgh threatened to score in the bottom of the inning but reliever Kent Mercker was able to get 3 out in a row and strand a Buc runner at third with what might have been a coffin nail run.  That new life paid off dividends immediately as pinch hitter Deion Sanders walked on 5 pitches off of closer Pete Mikkelson.  With the speedy Sanders on 1st the Bucs started paying him more attention than pinch hitter Sid Bream.  Sanders got himself a nice running lead and headed for second as Bream lined one to first that the nimble Clendennon layed out for and caught in the webbing of his glove.  Sanders was nearly on second when Clendenon caught the ball and was a dead duck at first as Clendenon rose to his feet to double up the 2 sport star.  With 2 out Otis Nixon worked the count to 3-2 and eventually walked.  Atlanta was not going to go down without a fight.  Mikkelson, who was obviously laboring, still had the ball in his hand since no one was warming in Pittsburgh's pen.  Jeff Blauser stepped to the plate and he too worked the count to 3-2.  On the pay off pitch Mikkelson painted the black with a hard sinker that Blauser swung over for strike 3 to end the series

Special thanks to Ron Burnette who had a fabulous season with the Braves and battled right down to the wire for the NL Pennant.  Even though this series went just 5 games, all of the games were tight and could have gone either way.  Ron's a fantastic competitor and one of the great recent additions to the KOD family.
Pittsburgh wins series 4-1

Friday, May 11, 2012

NLCS Game 4: Pirates 5, Braves 3

GAME 4 - Forbes Field
Steve Avery vs Tommy Sisk
Pirates 5, Braves 3

Atlanta drew first blood when Otis Nixon scored easily on a 4-6-3 DP off the bat of Ron Gant.  Avery was sharp and had a no hit bid going until the 6th when of all people pitcher Tommy Sisk broke it up with a slow roller that no one could get to in the infield.  Matty Alou, the NL Batting Champ, lined a single to right on a perfectly executed hit and run play to put runners on the corners with 1 out.  Gene Alley, the goat of game 1 for his huge 2 out error, delivered a 2 run double off the ivy in left center to give the Bucs a 2-1 lead.  Terry Pendleton's RBI single in the top of the 7th knotted the game up a 2-2.  "Bedrock", Steve Bedrosian, was brought on to start the 7th in relief of Avery.  Catcher Jim Pagliaroni walked on 4 pitches then scored on a opposite field double by Jose Pagan.  Maz singled to move Pagan up 90 feet.  Manny Mota was called on to pinch hit for Sisk, who did a great job on the hill today.  Bedrock uncorked consecutive wild pitches to score Pagan and move Maz to third.  Mota finally got a pitch to hit and he lined a double over Nixon's head in center to make it a 5-2 game.  Damon Berryhill's sac fly in the 8th cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2.  Lefty Bill O'Dell was solid in relief, but after allowing Gant to single with 2 out he was replaced by Mikkelson, who got Justice to line out to first to end it with the tying run on base.
Pirates lead series 3-1

editor's note:  The remaining games in the series will be completed Sunday night @10pm EST.  So stay tuned to see which NL team will get to face Toronto in the KOD14 World Series.

NLCS Game 3: Pirates 3, Braves 1

GAME 3 - Forbes Field
Tom Glavine vs Steve Blass
Pirates 3, Braves 1

Steve Blass took a page out of Woodie Fryman's book and scattered 10 hits over 8 innings and notched himself a 3-1 victory.  Blass didn't allow a free pass which forced the Braves to hit their way on.  Atlanta got their "knocks", but just couldn't bundle them together.  Tommy Glavine went 7 2/3 and gave up 3 runs, which turned out to be enough for Pittsburgh to hang on and win.  The Bucs scored solo runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 6th innings.  Ron Gant had a huge 3 for 4 day and scored Atlanta's lone run.  Matty Alou, Jose Pagan and surprise starter (at catcher) Jerry May each had RBI singles.  Pete Mikkelsen got back on the horse after falling off in game 1, and pitched a perfect 9th inning to get the save.
Pirates lead series 2-1