Results tagged ‘ Gift Ngoepe ’

September 4: Cardinals (79-56) @ Pirates (53-79)

Jenifer Langosch/

Well, it has to get better, folks. Right? After an 0-7 road trip that included sweeps at the hands of the Brewers and Reds, the Pirates are home for six against division foes St. Louis and Chicago. There are certainly numbers to back the projection that the Pirates are bound to break out of this losing streak quickly… though there are as many ominous stats, too.

The good: The Pirates are 35-29 at home this season, which includes wins in seven of nine games last homestand.

The bad: The Cardinals and Cubs have combined to go 14-6 against the Bucs this season.

The ugly: The Pirates have won just two of their last nine games overall and are 19-39 against teams from the NL Central this year.

Oh, and I guess the inevitable countdown can begin — three more games until loss No. 82. Enough said.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • First baseman Jeff Clement is no longer a given to join the club this month. Clement was initially going to be a part of the second wave of call-ups (next Tuesday after the Triple-A season is over), but has been out since Aug. 27 with an oblique strain. The organization is considering sending him to instructional league for extra work this month rather than bringing him up to the big league club right off the injury
  • It’s expected that catcher Robinzon Diaz and shortstop Brian Bixler are the only other two players summoned from Indianapolis’ roster next week.
  • Reliever Jeff Karstens (lower back strain) made another two-inning rehab appearance with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. He didn’t allow a run and struck out one. He is scheduled to return to the team as soon as his 15 days is up next week.
  • Lefty Donnie Veal (sprained left index finger) will likely remain with Altoona through the Curve’s final set of games and then return to Pittsburgh next week. He has so far pitched 11 1/3 innings in a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona. He has allowed two earned runs on four hits, walked nine and struck out 16.
  • Right-hander Jose Ascanio continues to throw long toss and is close to being ready to throw off the mound. The Pirates are hopeful that he’ll be able to contribute out of the bullpen for the season’s final two weeks or so.
  • Though he’s not in the lineup, Pittsburgh-area native Neil Walker is preparing to play in his first game at PNC Park. He said he expects 20-25 family and close friends to be in attendance on Friday.
  • Altoona named Pedro Alvarez the team’s Most Valuable Player for the season. After starting the year with Lynchburg, Alvarez played his final 60 games with the Curve. He hit .333 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs. The Curve named Yoslan Herrera (11-1, 3.23 ERA in 23 appearances) the team’s Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Miguel Perez (.266 in 28 games) was given Altoona’s “Unsung Hero Award” largely for being a mentor to the young catchers on the team.
  • Indianapolis catcher Erik Kratz was named to the Triple-A Postseason All-Star Team. He led all IL catchers with 11 homers and 42 RBIs this season. Kratz also represented the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in the mid-season All-Star Game.
  • With final rosters for the World Cup not out, the Pirates will be represented by six players. Those include Alvarez (USA), Brad Lincoln (USA), Dustin Molleken (Canada), R.J. Rodriguez (Puerto Rico), Tom Boleska (Great Britain) and Gift Ngoepe (South Africa).
  • Also, for those of you who don’t frequent the Triple-A website — — often, I wanted to point you to something that might be of interest. The Indians are currently having a game-worn jersey auction. The auction ends on Sept. 10 and since a number of these jerseys belong to players who are now in Pittsburgh (Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge, Daniel McCutchen, Walker, Garrett Jones) or elsewhere (Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Jack Wilson), I thought some of you might be interested. Here is the auction link.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Brandon Moss (RF)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Kevin Hart (RHP)

Cardinals lineup:

  1. Skip Schumaker (2B)
  2. Colby Rasmus (CF)
  3. Albert Pujols (1B)
  4. Matt Holliday (LF)
  5. Ryan Ludwick (RF)
  6. Mark DeRosa (3B)
  7. Yadier Molina (C)
  8. Brendan Ryan (SS)
  9. Adam Wainwright (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB     

August 28: Pirates (58-72) @ Brewers (61-66)

Jenifer Langosch/

OK, we’re going to keep this short and sweet since I’ve been dealing with computer issues for the last four hours and am still working with IT to get everything fixed.

Today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Manager John Russell said he has not yet determined who will start Monday’s extra doubleheader game in Cincinnati. Paul Maholm will obviously start one of the two (since it’s his normal day to pitch), though it hasn’t been decided if that will be the day game or the night cap. Phil Dumatrait is still a candidate to start the second game, though his availability will depend upon if he is needed in the bullpen this weekend. The Pirates would like to avoid having to call someone up from Triple-A to make the start knowing that rosters expand the next day
  • Ronny Cedeno remains out of the lineup with the pinky injury. Though the Pirates were most concerned about how it would affect his ability to grip a bat, it’s actually bothering him fielding and on short throws more than anything else. Obviously, he’s hitting just fine, evidenced by the two pinch hits in as many at-bats during the Phillies series.
  • No word yet from Russell about when Jose Ascanio (right shoulder injury) will resume tossing again.
  • Luis Cruz got hit in the head with a line drive off Garrett Jones’ bat during batting practice this afternoon and had to come off the field briefly. Fortunately, a few minutes later Cruz was up and bouncing around as normal, joking that he was just practicing his soccer skills. He remains in the lineup.
  • While I was off the last few days, Team USA announced its World Cup team. Both third baseman Pedro Alvarez and right-hander Daniel McCutchen were selected from the squad and will be participating. This eliminates any possibility that McCutchen will be a September call-up. He’ll have to wait until next spring to fight for a big-league rotation spot, and yes, he’ll certainly be in the mix. Double-A right-handed reliever Dustin Molleken has been selected to play for Team Canada. The Pirates also expect that Lynchburg righty Tom Boleska (Canada), Lynchburg right-hander RJ Rodriguez (USA) and GCL Pirates shortstop Gift Ngoepe (South Africa) to also be on their respective country’s final rosters. 
  • The Pirates have decided to stick with a five-man rotation in September, even as Kevin Hart and Ross Ohlendorf creep closer to what managment has deemed their maximum innings counts. GM Neal Huntington, who made the trip to Milwaukee with the team, said that once Hart and Ohlendorf hit their innings count, they will be shut down. That likely won’t be but one or two starts before the end of the season. 
  • Huntington listed Virgil Vasquez and Dumatrait as the most likely candidates to spot start when needed. Eric Hacker was an outside possibility, but not the most likely.
  • Huntington said that third baseman Neil Walker is still being considered for a call-up in September based on merit. The concern, though, is finding him enough at-bats to make it worthwhile. Regardless, spending September with the Major League team would at least allow Walker the chance to work with infield coach Perry Hill.
  • Oh yeah, and in case anyone forgot — which I doubt you have — the Pirates haven’t won here at Miller Park since  May 3, 2007. I started covering the team less than two weeks after that, so no, I have never seen the club win in Milwaukee. Altogether, the Pirates have lost 18 straight.
  • And I guess that wasn’t too short afterall. Oh well.. had to get all the news in.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  7. Steve Pearce (1B)
  8. Luis Cruz (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Felipe Lopez (2B)
  2. Jason Bourgeois (RF)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Mike Cameron (CF)
  7. Jason Kendall (C)
  8. Alcides Escobar (SS)
  9. Manny Parra (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

August 9: Cardinals (61-51) @ Pirates (45-65)

OK, here’s one for you, thanks to my boyfriend who was evidently bored on Saturday and started crunching numbers:

Albert Pujols — 355 career home runs; 1,077 career RBIs (including nine straight seasons of 100+, a feat he accomplished on Saturday night)

Sunday’s entire Pirates lineup — 104 total home runs, 557 total RBIs. Lastings Milledge leads the group with 25 career home runs. Ramon Vazquez is tops in career RBIs with 173. Pujols had 137 just in 2006 alone.

Just food for thought.

And now on to today’s news, notes and randomness:

  • Zach Duke gets another shot at becoming the team’s first 10-game winner since 2007. Both he and Ross Ohlendorf were unable to reach that plateau in their starts last week.
  • Fresh off being demoted to Double-A, second baseman Shelby Ford had quite the night for the Curve on Saturday. Ford hit the 33rd grand slam in Altoona franchise history and finished with a career-high five RBIs.
  • Not all was good in Altoona, however. Lefty Daniel Moskos came off the DL and lasted only 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the seaosn. And as a whole, the Curve pitching staff walked 10 batters in the 10-6 loss.
  • Shortstop Ray Chang left Altoona’s game on Saturday with an injured left ankle. Farm director Kyle Stark said he expects to know later on Sunday the severity of Chang’s injury.
  • Another Double-A infielder is also out, as Brian Friday missed Saturday’s game after being hit in the head with a pitch on Friday. Stark said Friday is expected to miss only a couple more days.
  • Indianapolis right-hander Eric Hacker took the win for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday as he pitched seven strong innings. Hacker gave up one earned run and walked seven.
  • For those wanting to keep tabs, former Pirates right-hander Ian Snell made his second start for the Mariners on Saturday and it was a disaster. Snell recorded only four outs before being pulled. He gave up three runs on two hits and six walks.
  • After the Pirates’ off day on Monday, the team begins a six-game road trip that includes stops in Colorado and Chicago. The Pirates have lost five in a row on the road and have won just three of their last 30 road games.
  • One of a few bright spots in the Pirates’ seven-game losing streak: shortstop Ronny Cedeno has homered twice and has seven RBIs while going 11-for-35 since being acquired from the Mariners. He has hit safely in eight of his nine games as a Pirate.
  • This losing streak has put the Pirates 20 games under .500 with 52 games remaining. At this point last year, Pittsburgh was eight games under .500 and on its way to a 67-win season.
  • Oh, and another plug for those who may have missed it earlier this week: Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith wrote a feature on young Pirates infielder and South African Gift Ngoepe in this week’s edition. I got a chance to read the feature in full on Friday and it is absolutely well worth the read.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Delwyn Young (2B)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  8. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Cardinals lineup:

  1. Julio Lugo (SS) Brendan Ryan (SS)
  2. Mark DeRosa (3B) Julio Lugo (2B)
  3. Albert Pujols (1B)
  4. Matt Holliday (LF)
  5. Ryan Ludwick (RF)
  6. Yadier Molina (C)
  7. Colby Rasmus (CF) Khalil Greene (3B)
  8. Brendan Ryan (2B) Colby Rasmus (CF)
  9. Joel Pineiro (RHP)

Note: Mark DeRosa was a game-time scratch with tightness in his upper back.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

August 4: D-backs (47-59) @ Pirates (45-60); Garrett Jones named NL Rookie of the Month

Garrett Jones wasn’t able to snag Player of the Month honors for July (Ryan Ludwick of the Cardinals did), but the outfielder/first baseman was named the Rookie of the Month after his monstrous offensive month in which he led the NL in home runs (10) and slugging percentage (.700).

Not bad for a guy who made his season debut for the team on the final day of June. More on Jones’ reaction to the honor coming on shortly.

As for today’s other news, notes and randomness…

  • Right-hander Craig Hansen was in Pittsburgh today to have his monthly nerve test. Hansen revealed that he has been diagnosed with parsonage turner syndrome, which has taken away his strength in his right shoulder and limited his range of motion. There are still a whole bunch of unknowns about his recovery process, which Hansen said research shows could be seven months to five years. Hansen will not pitch again this season, though he is optimistic of a return for 2010.
  • The Pirates traded RHP Mike Koplove to the Mariners for SS Deybis Benitez. Koplove has been pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis since mid-season and had been one of the Indians’ most reliable relievers. He went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 22 relief appearances. Benitez has been assigned to low-A West Virginia.
  • Double-A catcher Steve Lerud has been activated from the Curve’s disabled list.
  • Gift Ngoepe, the South African infielder signed by the Pirates last fall, will be featured in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. The issue will be available starting on Wednesday. Gary Smith, who in my opinion is one of the best sportswriters I’ve ever read, penned the story. Ngoepe is currently hitting .259 for the Gulf Coast League Pirates.
  • With a win on Tuesday, Zach Duke will reach the 10-win mark. Remember how last season no Pirates starter reached double digits in win? Duke, Ross Ohlendorf (9-8) and Paul Maholm (6-6) all have a shot to do so this year.
  • The Pirates enter Tuesday’s game against the D-backs not having scored against Arizona in the last 19 innings the two teams have played.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

D-backs lineup:

  1. Stephen Drew (SS)
  2. Ryan Roberts (2B)
  3. Justin Upton (RF)
  4. Mark Reynolds (3B)
  5. Gerardo Parra (LF)
  6. Chris Snyder (C)
  7. Chad Tracy (1B)
  8. Chris Young (CF)
  9. Yusmeiro Petit (RHP) 

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB   

Bucs to send nine to WBC

Final 28-man rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic were released on Tuesday, and the Pirates have nine players that will be participating:

  • Ian Snell (Puerto Rico): Snell is one of three starters for Team Puerto Rico and will be starting the second game his team plays.
  • Ramon Vazquez (Puerto Rico): Vazquez, who signed a two-year deal with the Pirates this winter, is expected to be the team’s starting third baseman.
  • Dave Davidson (Canada): Davidson, who pitched for the Canadian team in the 2008 Olympics, will be coming out of the bullpen for Team Canada again.
  • Joshua Hill (Australia): The right-hander started at Double-A Altoona last year, finishing 4-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts).
  • Paul Mildren (Australia): Mildren, who was signed by the Pirates this offseason, will be making his second appearance in the Classic.
  • Eliecer Navarro (Panama): Navarro is one of 13 pitchers on the Panamian team. The 21-year-old lefty pitched for the Pirates’ Domincan Summer League team last year.
  • Gift Ngoepe (South Africa): The 19-year-old infielder was signed by the Pirates last fall.
  • Chi-Hung Cheng (Chinese Taipei): Cheng was another offseason acquisition by the Pirates, though he has never pitched above Single-A after being signed by the Blue Jays in ’03.
  • Raymond Chang (China): After being acquired by the Pirates midseason, Chang pitched in five games last year for Double-A Altoona. 

The Pirates will also be represented by bullpen coach Luis Dorante, who will serve in the same capacity for the Venezuelan team.

All information regarding the World Baseball Classic can be found on’s official WBC site.