Pirates clinch 18th consecutive losing season

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The Pirates dropped to 40-82 on the year with a 7-2 loss to the Mets last night, clinching their 18th consecutive losing season. It extends the longest streak in the history of the four major North American professional sports.

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this is the earliest that the Pirates have reached 82 losses during the 18 years. This year’s team is currently on pace to be 53-109 (.327), which would be the franchise’s worst showing since 1953.

Pirates manager John Russell had a hard time holding back the frustration after Friday’s loss.

“You expect something better every year. Nobody likes to lose this many
games. It [stinks]. Bottom line, it [stinks]. I hate to cuss, but it
does. Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. But we have to continue to get
these guys better. We have a very young team, and we have to keep
pushing.”

The Pirates spent a franchise-record $11.9 million on the draft, including a $6.5 million signing bonus for No. 2 pick Jameson Taillon and $2.25 million for second-round pick Stetson Allie. They also invested $2.6 million in Mexican pitching prospect Luis Heredia, the biggest bonus the franchise has ever awarded to a international amateur player. There’s some light at the end of this tunnel, but I’m sure it feels a million miles away for Pirates fans right now.

By the way, be sure to read all of Kovacevic’s piece regarding the streak. It’s fantastic.  

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.