Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder and former Pirates player Travis Ishikawa (45) runs the bases after hitting a walk off three run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Those Former Pirates Set To Play For World Series Ring
by Drew Brown
The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are set to open up the World Series later tonight, and before us baseball fans sit down to enjoy that, let’s take a look at some of the former Pittsburgh Pirates greats – or not so much – that will be participating in it.
While the amount of former Pirates now playing with the Giants outweighs the Royals, there’s still a couple Kansas City players who wore the black and gold at some point in their career, and we’ll start it out with one of the most forgettable Pirates in recent memory.
Aug 23, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Erik Kratz (19) and relief pitcher Aaron Crow (43) celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Royals defeated the Rangers 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Kratz might be the least-known name on this short list, and he’s listed as the backup catcher for the Royals heading into tomorrow night’s game. A lot of Pirate fans will look at this name and think either 1) who the hell is Erik Kratz? or 2) when the hell did Erik Kratz play in Pittsburgh? The funny part about the whole thing is that Kratz played nine games with the Pirates in 2010, and his claim to fame was being run over at the plate by Prince Fielder, who was a Milwaukee Brewer at the time. Get it done Erik!
Aug 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (left) is tagged out at third base trying to advance on a fly ball by Pirates third baseman Jayson Nix (right) during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nix played 16 games for the Buccos this past summer and batted a wonderful .111. He was signed in the middle of the season and didn’t make it three weeks before being cut. The Royals scooped him up in late August as a bench bat and while Nix didn’t pick up a single hit in a Royals uniform, he still might be getting a ring before Andrew McCutchen does. Funny how baseball works.
Now over to the Giants, who actually have former Pirates on their roster that will make a difference to their team.
Oct 15, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) pitches during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the most valued player on this short list, Vogelsong has been a steady starter in the Giants rotation for the past four or five seasons. His career with the Pirates was all but forgettable, and it’s been tough – as a Pirate fan – watching Vogelsong pitch quality baseball over the past four seasons, after watching him get tagged all around PNC Park when he was a Pirate early in his career. While pitching 33 career games for the Bucs over the span of 2001-2006, Vogelsong recorded an earned run average of 6.00, and was released for the clear reason that he just simply wasn’t a good pitcher. After taking a long five-year break from the majors, Vogelsong returned to the show with the Giants where he has done nothing but be a solid contributor to one of the most dominate and consistent pitching staffs over the past five or six seasons.
He is slated as the starter for game four, Saturday night in San Francisco.
Oct 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off of San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (60) during the 8th inning in game two of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Strickland was part of the Adam LaRoche to Boston trade in 2009, where he came to Pittsburgh with Argenis Diaz. The 26-year old struggled severely in the Pirates farm system where he bounced between Bradenton and West Virginia. Eventually, the Pirates designated him for assignment which is where the Giants scooped him up. This past September, Strickland finally made it to the big leagues after years of mediocrity. He was the saving pitcher in the longest playoff game in MLB history, where he closed out the 18th inning of game two of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals. He’s had a rough time in the playoffs so far though, allowing four home runs in 4.1 innings of work. While Bruce Bochey most likely won’t go to him all that often, if at all, in the World Series, Strickland is another former Pirate who has a good chance of bringing home a ring.
Oct 14, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Javier Lopez (49) pitches during the tenth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Lopez spent a short time with the Pirates, but contrary to the other guys on the list, is the only one who put up positive numbers in a Pirates uniform. He only pitched for the Pirates in the first half of the 2010 season, where he recorded a 2.43 ERA over his last 48 appearances. He was traded to the Giants for a couple of scrubs and has since been a staple in Bruce Bochey’s bullpen. He was a valuable piece of the 2010 and 2012 World Series runs for the Giants, and has a chance to pick up his fourth ring (his first coming with Boston in 2007). He’s used primarily as a lefty-specialist out of the bullpen, and the submarine veteran has earned Bochey’s trust over the past five seasons as one of the team’s most reliable relievers. Look for him to appear in big spots this upcoming week and potentially close out his 11-year career with another ring added to the collection.
Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa (45) celebrates with third baseman Joaquin Arias (13) and catcher Buster Posey (right) as he tries to get to home plate after hitting a walk off three run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Giants won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Save the best for last. Yeah, this guy. Ishikawa was the opening day starter at first base for the Pirates this past spring, and in his short period with the Bucs, hit .206 before eventually being released to make room for Ike Davis in mid-April. Ishikawa, in his second stint with the Giants, has been undoubtedly the unsung hero for the 2014 Giants playoff run. In game one of the NLCS, he had the game winning RBI. In game three of the NLCS, he had a 3-run double. In game five of the NLCS, he had a 3-run walk off home run to send his squad to their third World Series in five seasons. Thanks for the help in April, Travis.
Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa (45) is greeted on the base path by starting pitcher Jake Peavy (22) after a walk off three run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Bumgarner vs. Shields at 8 PM on FOX tonight. Go Royals.