Game 28: Josh Harrison, an Energizer Bunny dipped in Tabasco sauce? Something like that…

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By Chris Adamski

 

CINCINNATI –

9:44 a.m. UPDATE: It’s raining at Great American Ball Park.

 

Furthermore, this forecast is what I’d term as less-than-encouraging:

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The weather potentially might cancel the game — but it takes more than that to cancel David Freese’s scheduled rehab work with head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk:

 

Regularly-scheduled blog post:

A week after referring to the phenomenon of Josh Harrison, Leadoff Hitter, as “Tabasco,” Clint Hurdle this time elected to use a different term.

 

“Energizer.”

 

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Be it by home runs or hit by pitch, Josh Harrison has found ways to spark the Pirates at the top of the lineup. (AP Photo)

Heading into the final of four games at the Reds on Thursday, Harrison had started all three games of this series so far at third base – and from the leadoff spot. He therefore become the player who’s most been at the No. 1 spot in the batting order for the Pirates this season (10 of the Pirates’ first 27 games, surpassing Jordy Mercer’s nine).

 

With a career .319 on-base percentage, Harrison is far from an ideal leadoff hitter. Hurdle is willing to accept that in light of what Harrison can bring.

 

“You’ve gotta know what you’re going to get, and you can’t have it both ways,” Hurdle said. “You can’t ask this man to go up and give you six- or seven-pitch at-bats to leadoff a game. That’s not who he is. I’ve used him as an energizer and he’s been able to do that.”

 

Harrison’s career numbers out of the leadoff spot (.807 OPS, .310 average, .345 on-base percentage, .462 slugging percentage, 18 home runs) dwarf his career numbers on whole (.734 OPS, .285 average, .415 slugging overall with 15 home runs out of every other spot). He had three home runs the first two games of the series.

 

Hurdle also mentioned Harrison’s splits depending on count – on whole, he is a better hitter when he swings earlier in the count (his .955 OPS when a ball is put in play on the first pitch is better than in any other situation Harrison faces except if he has three balls).

 

Harrison has four extra-base hits in the series and has reached base six times in the three games.

 

 

>>> Anything but boring

The Pirates haven’t been particularly good this season (after all, they do currently reside in last place) — although they haven’t been all that bad, either. The story has yet to have been completely told on the 2017 Pirates.

 

But one thing they are, for sure, through 27 games (one-sixth of the way into the season)? Interesting.

 

Hurdle and shortstop Jordy Mercer this week both have remarked about this. And if you sit back to think about it, it’s been quite the first month of play (April 3-May 3).

 

The Pirates recalled the first major-leaguer born and raised in Lithuania — and then immediately trumped that by calling up the first MLB player from the entire continent of Africa.

 

They began the season with five consecutive sweeps (alternating losses and wins). They’ve have somehow won four of the five starts by a pitcher whose season ERA climbed north of 9.00 during his most recent outing, and they’ve produced the NL pitcher of the month.

 

The Pirates became the fourth visiting team EVER to play on consecutive days at iconic Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, and they’ve also this far hosted the Yankees during the regular season for just the second time ever.

 

Throw in the fact that two of their best players are AWOL for non-injury reasons (Starling Marte via 80-game suspension and Jung Ho Kang because of ongoing visa issues related to his three DUIs), and there’s certainly no shortage of things to talk about.

 

Stay tuned for the final five-sixths of the season.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“The stuff was great tonight; that’s why it’s tough, you only get a handful of nights here where you feel that good.”

Taillon struggles in loss to Reds


“I’m relaxed. I’m being confident to go out there and have fun in the game.”

Pirates notebook: Nova ‘excited’ to be named National League pitcher of month

 

 

>>> Thursday’s game:  Pirates at Reds, 12:35 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, John Jaso 9, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Josh Bell 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Alen Hanson 4, Gift Ngoepe 6, RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50)

Reds: Billy Hamilton 8, Jose Peraza 6, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Arismendy Alcantara 4, Tucker Barnhart 2, RHP Tim Adelman (0-1, 4.70)

 

>>> Friday’s game: Brewers at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 5.34)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26)

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Brewers at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 3.88)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50)

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Brewers at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 6.07)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 6.97)

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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