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4/14 From 1980: WS Rings; CBS Debut; HR Derbies w/Reds, Big Blasts; Game Stories; HBD John & Chris

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  • 1980 – The Pirates got their World Series rings at the home opener at TRS. The rainy day (the game was delayed three times) drew 44,088 to the yard. The Bucs were cruising in the ninth when Teke, the eventual game winner, was touched up for a couple of runs to tie the match; it was untied an inning later when Bill Robinson took Bruce Sutter yard for a walk-off 5-4 Bucco win. 
John Van Benschoten – 2004 Fleer
  • 1980 – RHP John Van Benschoten was born in San Diego. As a top draft pick in 2001 (eighth overall), the debate whether was to have JVB pitch (he was Kent State’s closer) or hit (he led the NCAA in HRs). The Pirates thought he had a better shot physically at pitching, and that was probably a bad decision. In three stops at Pittsburgh (2004, 2007-08) he went 2-13/9.20 along with an assortment of arm problems. He never tossed in the majors again. 
  • 1984 – RHP Chris Leroux was born in Montreal. The reliever pitched for the Bucs from 2010-13, getting fairly regular work between 2010-11. He was injured much of 2012 and released early in the 2013 campaign, which he finished out in Japan. His Pirate line was 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA. His last MLB posting was with the Yankees in 2014. 
  • 1990 – The Pirates and Cubs became the first MLB teams to be aired nationally by CBS Sports, which had outbid ABC and NBC for exclusive game rights with an offer of $1.8B over four years. Their Three Rivers match was the network’s first “Saturday Game of the Week” and marked the debut of the announcing team of Brent Musberger and Tim McCarver. The Pirates didn’t provide much bang for the buck as Doug Drabek fell to Mike Harkey 4-1. 
  • 1991 – Bob Walk hit the only home run of his career, a two-out solo shot off Chicago’s Danny Jackson in the second inning at Wrigley Field. Walk started the game but wasn’t around for the decision in Pittsburgh’s 6-4 loss to the Cubs as Stan Belinda gave up two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the defeat. Jeff King went 3-for-4. 
  • 2008 – The Bucs took a down-to-the-wire 6-4 win at Dodger Stadium when Nate McLouth hammered a three-run, two-out homer in the ninth off Dodger closer Takashi Saito. Matt Capps saved the win for Tyler Yates. 
Nate McLouth – 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
  • 2013 – The Pirates fell behind the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 before scoring 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings to rally for a 10-6 win behind Mike McKenry’s two long balls, the first multi-homer day of his career. The PNC fans wouldn’t sit down until The Fort tipped his cap during a curtain call. Appropriately, the Pirates were dressed in throwback seventies “Lumber Company” uniforms. 
  • 2014 – The Bucs and Reds combined for a GABP record 10 homers in just six innings before the game was suspended by weather with the score 7-7. The Pirates became the third MLB team to hit three back-to-back sets of HR. Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez hit that cycle twice in the second and sixth frames to tie a team mark from 1954 set by Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch. Starling Marte and Travis Snider banged the other pair. The Reds were no slouches themselves, hitting four homers, three of them two-run shots and all of them with two outs. Pittsburgh won the game the next day 8-7 on Russ Martin’s two-out knock that scored Andrew McCutchen. 
  • 2018 – It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but Pittsburgh slipped past Miami, 1-0, at Marlin Park. Jameson Taillon and Trevor Richards started in a game that saw just 11 combined hits, and it hinged on two plays. In the fourth inning, Miami’s Justin Bour was on third when Lewis Brinson hit a gentle roller to shortstop, with Jordy Mercer playing at DP depth looking for a twin-killing. But instead of steaming home with the conceded run, Bour froze at third and died there. In the ninth, Starling Marte singled with an out and went to third on a hit-and-run. Corey Dickerson surprised everyone by bunting, and it could have been a disaster, as he popped the ball up. But good fortune carried it far enough to drop between the pitcher and second baseman, allowing Marte to score the game’s only run. It wasn’t a safety squeeze but Dickerson’s personal brainstorm, even though he hadn’t laid down a bunt in a game since 2014. George Kontos got the win with Felipe Vazquez picking up the save.


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