Game 77: Bastardo’s back… and so is Cutch (in a familiar spot)

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – While the biggest pregame news of the day is clearly that The Longtime Face of the Franchise is back in his prominent spot in the batting order, there was other news Monday. Namely, the Bucs’ beleaguered bullpen has grown – and it welcomed back one of its more veteran members.

 

Antonio Bastardo was reinstated from the disabled list (and Bastardoresulting lengthy rehab assignment). The 31-year-old veteran lefty had been on the DL since April 25 because of a quad strain and had spent the maximum 30 days as part of Triple-A Indianapolis.

 

“We have seen some very good things from him at this level,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He didn’t start (this season) the way he wanted. This will give him an opportunity to come back and help us out in the bullpen – and we could use some help in the bullpen.”

 

Opponents are hitting .258 against the Pirates’ bullpen, ranking it 21st in the majors. Its 12 blown saves is third-most in the National League.

 

Of course, Bastardo was part of the problem in April – in six games, he allowed 12 runs on 15 hits and seven walks in 6 2/3 innings for a 16.20 ERA and 3.30 WHIP. He allowed at least three baserunners in all but one of his appearances.

 

Bastardo said his delivery had become too closed toward home plate, and the time in Indy helped fix that. He initially was stretched out some in terms of pitches; later on, he was used in a routine of every-second-or-third-day.

 

“Sometimes maybe you get too comfortable or sometimes you need to see the things (from a different perspective),” Bastardo said. “To focus better, sometimes you have to pass some type of process. So it’s like when the injury and everything happened, it opened up my eyes and figured out the things I was doing wrong.”

 

In games he pitched for the Pirates in 2015 and 2016, Bastardo had a 3.51 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 92 strikeouts and 58 hits allowed in 81 13 innings for the Pirates.

 

 

>>> Cervelli with the team:

Five days after being placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list and eight days after suffering his most recent concussion, catcher Francisco Cervelli was with the team and in the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon.

 

He declined to speak with reporters and headed into the trainer’s room for treatment.

 

 

>>> “Excited for him to be back there:

Here’s Josh Harrison talking about not only McCutchen’s return to a familiar lineup spot but also the Pirates’ improved offense of late (via the magic of You Tube dot com):

 

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“We’ve taken those training wheels off and pushed him out there.” 

Josh Bell winning Clint Hurdle’s confidence with improved defense

 

“What he’s done the past month or so, that’s Cutch. And right on time, coming back.”

Pirates’ McCutchen returns to No. 3 in the lineup


Quickie story on Antonio Bastardo being back

 

 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None. Radio: 93.7 FM

Rays: Mallex Smith 8, Corey Dickerson 7, Even Longoria 5, Logan Morrison 3, Steven Souza 9, Wilson Ramos 2, Tim Beckham 4, Adeiny Hechavarria 6, RHP Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Gregory Polanco 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09)

Gamecast: On June 15, Cobb became the seventh pitcher to make 100 starts with the Rays. The others: James Shields (217), David Price (170), Scott Kazmir (144), Chris Archer (141), Jeremy Hellickson (108) and Jake Odorizzi (109). … The curveball has been Cobb’s most-used secondary pitch. Last season, he relied more on the changeup. … Williams has gotten three straight no-decisions since beating the Mets on June 4. In that span, he has put up a 6.60 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. … Over his past six starts (29 13 IP), Williams has served up just one home run.

 

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

Rays: Lineup TBA. LHP Blake Snell (0-4, 4.71)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (7-5, 3.06)

 

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

Rays: Lineup TBA. Chris Archer (6-4, 3.97)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.33)

 

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

Giants: Lineup TBA. Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.20)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (6-6, 4.11)

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Giants at Pirates, 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Giants: Lineup TBA. LHP Matt Moore (3-8, 6.04)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.58)

 

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

Giants: Lineup TBA. RHP Jeff Samardzija (3-9, 4.63)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09 plus Tuesday)

 

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

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Game 76: Mercer powers up

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Getty Images

After slugging two-run homer, Jordy Mercer is greeted at the plate by Andrew McCutchen
After slugging two-run homer, Jordy Mercer is greeted at the plate by Andrew McCutchen.

ST. LOUIS — Jordy Mercer took some good-natured ribbing from his teammates about his postgame workout habits on Saturday. Whatever routine Mercer is using, it’s working. He smacked his seventh homer — a two-run shot in the fourth off Lance Lynn — and collected three RBI in the 7-3 rout of the Cardinals.

In April, Mercer hit just .220 with a .609 OPS. He got two homers and nine RBI over the first 24 games of the season. Over his past 30 games, Mercer is batting .360 with eight doubles, three triples, five homers and 17 RBI. He has the third-best batting average among NL shortstops.

“With Jordy … I mean, same old freakin’ story, guys,” pitcher Gerrit Cole said. “Jordy and April don’t agree with each other. That’s fine. Jordy’s one of the more stalwart shortstops in the league. He’s going to put quality at-bats together and hit .270-.280 with 10 pops every year. It’s always great to have a player like that on your side.”

Mercer’s .793 OPS is on track to be a career best. He’s only five shy of matching his career high for home runs, set in 2014, his first season as the everyday shortstop. Where does that power come from? “For me, being tall and long, if I can get some extension and some flex in the barrel, the ball tends to jump a little bit more,” Mercer said. “That’s what every hitter wants to do, get extended. But, for me, it definitely helps my power.”

>>> Keep an eye on LHP Steven Brault at Triple-A Indianapolis. Through his first 20 starts with Indy, the Indians went 4-16. The team has won eight of his past nine starts. Brault went 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in five starts in May, and this month is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA over five starts. Yesterday, Brault tossed seven innings in the first game of a doubleheader vs. Louisville and gave up two runs on seven hits, walked three and stuck out five. He also delivered an RBI double.

>>> UPDATE 4:49 PM CT – Gregory Polanco was benched today after going 0 for 9 in this series. He sat out Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee, then went 2 for 4, including a homer, on Thursday. “He’s looked a little disconnected at the plate,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s been a lot of barrel in and out of the zone and a lot of head (movement) in and out of the zone. I want him to clean his slate. We’ll see if we can get him ignited.”

>>> UPDATE 4:53PM CT – Top prospect OF Austin Meadows (torn hamstring) got a platelet-rich plasma injection last week when he was examined by team doctors in Pittsburgh. Meadows is expected to be out two to four weeks. That means Meadows might not be ready for an immediate callup if Andrew McCutchen is traded at the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links

Pirates 7, Cardinals 3: Gerrit Cole puts his foot down, squarely on the Cardinals’ throats

Notebook: In which John Jaso offers advice about concussions to Francisco Cervelli

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (34-40): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, John Jaso 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Elias Diaz 2, RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46)

Cardinals (33-39): Matt Carpenter 3, Tommy Pham 8, Steven Piscotty 9, Randal Grichuk 7,  Yadier Molina 2, Aledmys Diaz 6, Paul De Jong 4, Greg Garcia 5, RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)

Gamecast: Friday’s game was the fourth time in his past six outings in which Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh had allowed a run. His four losses are his most in any MLB season and tie his most in any season in Japan or Korea. … Aledmys Diaz leads the majors with 18 infield hits. … Kuhl is 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cardinals. … Leake is riding a team-worst four-game losing streak, which is one shy of his career worst (April 10, 2012 to May 11, 2012). … Leake has won nine of his past 11 decisions vs. the Pirates, going back to September 2012.

>>> Monday: Off

>>> Tuesday, Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09)

>>> Wednesday, Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: LHP Blake Snell (0-4, 4.71) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-5, 3.06)

>>> Thursday, Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: RHP Chris Archer (6-4, 3.97) Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.33)

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 75: Polanco flashes skills in right field

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Getty Images

PolancoCatchGettyST. LOUIS — I wondered briefly if Gregory Polanco was injured when he failed to run out a ground ball in the sixth inning last night. He hit a bouncer to the right side and third baseman Jedd Gyorko, who was shifted, snagged the ball and threw to pitcher Adam Wainwright, who was covering first.

Any doubts I had about whether Polanco’s legs were healthy were erased over the next three innings. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals had Stephen Piscotty on the move from first base with one out when Jose Martinez hit a blooper to shallow left. Polanco ran in, dove to catch the ball inches off the grass and tumbled hard. Polanco then got up and threw to first base to double off Piscotty.

It was the Polanco’s second outfield assist of the season and his first as a right fielder. He also made superb running catches in the seventh and eighth innings. “Look at the plays Polanco made out in right field,” manager Clint Hurdle gushed after the game. “We were talking 10 days ago about him not making plays, and he lays out for three balls tonight.”

>>> UPDATE 4:22 PM CT — Polanco said he got a poor break out of the batter’s box because the pitch jammed him inside and he tried to veer out of the way. Hurdle offered a similar assessment, but did not excuse Polanco for the execution and said Polanco was made aware of that.

>>> Josh Lindblom was activated off the disabled list and sent outright to Triple-A Indy. The righty reliever had been out since May 20 with left side discomfort.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links

Some postgame video of Jameson Taillon, with clubhouse hijinks amid the background noise:

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Dude, that’s a pretty clutch homer.

Notebook: In which the division stinks, Stewie says he can be the man, and more draft picks take the money and sign.

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (34-40): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28)

Cardinals (33-39): Matt Carpenter 3, Dexter Fowler 8, Tommy Pham 7, Jedd Gyorko 5, Jose Martinez 9, Paul DeJong 6, Greg Garcia 4, Eric Fryer 2, RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33)

Gamecast: Since the All-Star Game was first played in 1933, Josh Bell’s 13 hour runs (through Thursday) are the second-most by a Pirates rookie in the first half of the season. Ralph Kiner hit 15 before the break in 1946. … In 17 games vs. the Cardinals, his hometown team, David Freese hit .333 (19 for 57) overall and .358 (19 for 53) in his 13 starts. … In 11 career starts vs. the Cardinals, Cole is 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA. He’s 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in six starts at Busch Stadium.

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)

>>> Monday: Off

>>> Tuesday, Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09)

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 74: Cervelli’s latest injury merits extra caution

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

cervelliHBPST. LOUIS — There’s a reason the Pirates are being uber cautious with catcher Francisco Cervelli, who yesterday went back on the seven-day concussion DL. Actually, there are a couple dozen reasons:

2017: June 22, concussion, 7-day DL; June 7, concussion, 7-day DL; June 2, sinus, missed 2 games; April 30, 2017, foot, missed 4 games.

2016: Sept 7, thumb, missed 1 game; Aug. 11, wrist, missed 1 game; Aug. 2, concussion protocol, missed 2 games; June 11, broken hamate, 15-day DL.

2015: Aug. 26, foot, missed 4 games; June 2, foot, missed 3 games; Sept. 18, leg, missed 1 game; Aug. 25, feet, missed 1 game; July 20, wrist, missed 2 games; May 19, concussion protocol, exited game.

2014: Sept. 2, migraine headaches, missed 14 games; April 14, 2014, hamstring strain, 60-day DL.

2013: July 4, broken finger, sore elbow, 60-day DL; April 26, broken hand 60-day DL; Jan. 7, 2013, whiplash.

2011: Sept. 9, concussion, 15-day DL, missed rest of season;  March 2, broken foot, 15-day DL.

2010: April 1, hamstring strain, missed 9 games; March 6, head injury, missed several spring games.

2009: November, concussion, missed one month.

2008: March 8, broken hand, missed six weeks.

Catchers take a beating. It’s part of their job. However, Cervelli has at least eight reported incidents of head trauma. “I think you (media) guys are all well-versed in the uncertainties of head injuries, specifically concussions in sports,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said. “There are a lot of contributory factors with concussions. Dizziness, fogginess — those are all symptoms that are real. They’re all symptoms that our doctors are examining and will constantly monitor with any athlete who has a head injury.  The doctors in Milwaukee were very accommodating in helping us work though this process. Most importantly, Francisco is back in Pittsburgh getting examined by the doctors who know his health history and who know him the best.”

>>> Second-round pick RHP Steven Jennings signed for a $1.9 million bonus. The team also signed RHP Jake Webb (19th round), C Manny Bejerano (30th), RHP Hector Quinones (32nd round) and RHP Ryan Valdes (33rd round).

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links

Brewers 4, Pirates 2: Ivan Nova was a bit out of sorts.

Notebook: Cervelli goes back on the DL, but the three-headed catcher monster lives on.

>>> Friday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (33-40): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38)

Cardinals (33-38): Matt Carpenter 3, Tommy Pham 8, Stephen Piscotty 9, Jed Gyorko 5, Yadier Molina 2, Jose Martinez 7, Aledmys Diaz 6, Paul DeJong 4, RHP Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75)

Gamecast: Taillon is coming off arguably his worst start of the season. On Sunday, he gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings vs. the Cubs. … Taillon is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four road starts this year. … Andrew McCutchen has hit .298 (17 for 57) — nine of those hits went for extra bases, including two home runs — with eight RBI and an .866 OPS vs. Wainwright. … Wainwright is coming off one of the worst starts of his career. On Saturday, he surrendered nine runs in 1.2 innings vs. the Orioles. Three of the seven hits he allowed were home runs. He had allowed just five homers over his first 13 starts this year.

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33)

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)

>>> Monday: Off

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 73: Kilroy was here

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Story by Rob Biertempfel

MrRobotoMILWAUKEE — The 3-2 pitch was low and well outside the zone, so Josh Bell dropped his bat and took a step toward first base. He stopped, dumbfounded, when he heard umpire Jerry Layne call strike three. It one was one of several inexplicable calls by Layne in the eighth inning last night that went against the Pirates. Gregory Polanco also was a victim of errant calls.

“I don’t think we liked them,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You (reporters) get a much better look that we do. We don’t have a TV monitor in the dugout. You get some guys who watch the game from time to time, and come down … That’s part of the game that we all kind of enjoy, at least having an umpire back there. I’m not saying it’s time to make a switch and put a bot back there. Sometimes, they go your way. Sometimes, they don’t. But I think there were three calls that were pretty close that maybe could have switched our way and they didn’t.”

At this point, you could say I’m just looking for an excuse to post an ‘80s pop rock video. And to that I would say … well, yeah.

Hurdle’s guarded comments were as close as anyone in the Pirates’ clubhouse was going to come to calling out Layne (on the record, at least). Nobody wanted to risk a fine or create ill will with the umpires. Then again, maybe they didn’t need to say anything and instead just let this tweet by Chris Mack do the talking:

Or, we all could shut up and let yinz do the talking:

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Brewers 4, Pirates 3: Nice job by Trevor Williams. Not so much by the bats.

Notebook: In which Cervelli is mysteriously ill, Meadows is injured and everybody gets plunked a lot.

>>> UPDATE 11:08 AM CT – Francisco Cervelli has been placed on the seven-day DL with post-concussive symptoms. Jacob Stallings is on his way here from Triple-A Indianapolis. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Cervelli has “returned to Pittsburgh to be evaluated by our medical experts for both the post-concussive symptoms and his post-viral symptoms. … We all felt is was in the best interest of Francisco, both short and long term, to to allow him to play and make sure his overall well-being is our first and utmost concern.”

>>> UPDATE 12:41 PM CT – Manager Clint Hurdle said Elias Diaz and Chris Stewart will share starts while Cervelli is out. “I don’t think it’s important to designate a starter,” Hurdle said. “Both guys are going to catch and be used appropriately.”

Hurdle insisted Stallings’ call-up is not an indication Chris Stewart is not fully game-ready. “There are thoughts that you go get another bat,” Hurdle said. “The best bat we have right now is probably Diaz when he’s not catching, so we looked at it from that standpoint. This way, we have in-game moves we can make. We’re not going to be out of catchers are two, so we can be flexible with Diaz when he’s not starting.”

>>> Thursday, Pirates at Brewers, 2:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (33-39): John Jaso 7, Josh Harrison 5, Gregory Polanco 9, Josh Bell 3, Elias Diaz 2, Andrew McCutchen 8, Max Moroff 4, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91)

Brewers (39-35): Eric Sogard 4, Eric Thames 3, Domingo Santana 9, Travis Shaw 5, Hernan Perez 7, Jeff Bandy 2, Keon Broxton 8, Orlando Arcia 6, RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92)

Gamecast: On the 94th and final pitch of his last outing, Nova struck out John Jay with a 97 mph fastball. “I had not seen 97 mph from Nova in all the starts he’s made for us,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Now that we know he has that card, I’m going to ask him, ‘Where’s it been?’ ” … Even with the extra zip on his fastball, Nova’s strikeout rate (5.1 per nine innings pitched) is the lowest of his career. … Anderson has produced eight quality starts among his 15 appearances this season. The Brewers are 7-7 when he pitches. … In eight career starts vs. the Pirates, Anderson is 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA. … Corey Knebel ranks first among MLB relievers with 64 strikeouts. He has at least one strikeout in each of his 37 outings this season. That’s tied with Aroldis Chapman (2014) for the longest streak exclusively by a reliever to begin a season in the modern era (since 1900).

>>> Friday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38) Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75)

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33)

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)

>>> Monday: Off

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 72: Hutchison, Glasnow rolling up Ks

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

Don't look now, but Drew Hutchison is on a bit of a roll at Indy.
Don’t look now, but Drew Hutchison is on a bit of a roll at Indy.

MILWAUKEE — The news out of Miller Park the past two nights certainly was good for Pirates fans. There also were some noteworthy doings in Indianapolis. On Monday, Drew Hutchison — yes, that Drew Hutchison — racked up 10 strikeouts against Toledo. Last night, Tyler Glasnow — yes, that Tyler Glasnow — one-upped Hutch with an 11-strikeout performamce.

It’s the fourth time since the start of the 2005 season that Indy has had back-to-back starters collect 10 or more strikeouts. The others: June 16-17, 2007, Shane Youman and John Wasdin; June 27-28, 2009, Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell (who struck out 17 in 7.0 IP); April 26-27, 2016, Glasnow and Steven Brault.

Hutchison and Brault have been pitching well lately. Glasnow remains too good for Triple-A batters (although his success in the majors has been spotty). After another uneven performance last night by Chad Kuhl — who struggled after being handed a 6-0 lead, and needed 98 pitches merely to make it through five innings — you have to wonder if another change is due for the Pirates’ starting rotation.

>>> Here is a (way too long) time-lapse video showing recent improvements to BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, where the Pirates will play host to the Cardinals on Aug. 20 in the MLB Little League Classic:

>>> UPDATE 4:36 PM CT -- Manager Clint Hurdle said he’s not sure yet if Francisco Cervelli, who was scratched yesterday due to flu-like symptoms, will be available off the bench tonight. Chris Stewart is making a planned start, which will be his first since coming off the DL.

Elias Diaz has done the Futures Game thing and the Indy thing. The next step is a regular spot on the active roster.
Elias Diaz has done the Futures Game thing and the Indy thing. The next step is a regular spot on the active roster.

The Pirates continue to carry three catchers, something Hurdle had hoped would go away at the end of this series against the Brewers. Now, it appears Cervelli, Stewart and Elias Diaz will be on the roster when the Pirates open a three-game set on Friday against the Cardinals. “A three-man catching rotation is challenging,” Hurdle said. “It doesn’t happen very often. It takes a unique three to make it happen. In our case, with Cervelli’s health, there really is no other option for us to go.”

When Cervelli is finally healthy (or at least as healthy as he’s going to be in-season), the Pirates will either cut ties with Stewart or send Diaz back to Indy. “Diaz is a guy you want catching four times a week,” Hurdle said. “That’s my thought and the thoughts within our organization. It would be very difficult to continue to have him up here if he’s not catching multiple times a week.”

>>> After Stewart strained his hamstring legging out a triple, Hurdle vowed that Stewie would never be allowed to try to another three-bagger. I asked what happens tonight if Stewart drops a hit into the outfield corner and the ball rattles around a bit. “I’ve got … that ‘invisible fence’ company? I’ve worked with them on a couple of concepts. I’d slip a sensor into his pocket and would buzz to get his attention,” Hurdle said with a smile.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 7, Brewers 3: Kuhl wasn’t great, but he was good enough.

Notebook: In which J-Hay is plunked time and again, Mercer flashes his moves and a bunch of newbies sign contracts

>>> Wednesday, Pirates at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (33-38): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, John Jaso 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16)

Brewers (38-35):  Eric Sogard 4, Domingo Santana 9, Jesus Aguilar 3, Travis Shaw 5, Hernan Perez 7, Manny Pina 2, Keon Broxton 8, Orlando Arcia 6, RHP Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84)

Gamecast: Williams has made one career appearance vs. the Brewers. On Sept. 22, 2016, he gave up one run in 2.2 innings of relief at Miller Park. … Williams has allowed just one home run over his past six starts. … Guerra is holding opponents to a .191 batting average. The Brewers are 2-4 when he pitches this year. … In four career games (three starts) vs. the Pirates, Guerra is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA. … Brewers 3B Travis Shaw went into Tuesday’s game without making an error over his previous 40 games (94 chances). He made an error in three straight games from April 23 to 26. 

>>> Thursday, Pirates at Brewers, 2:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91) Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92)

>>> Friday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38) Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75)

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33)

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)

>>> Monday: Off

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 71: First wave of draft signings announced

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

GM Neal Huntington gives first-round pick Shane Baz and his family a tour of the field last week,
GM Neal Huntington gives first-round pick Shane Baz and his family a tour of the field last week,

MILWAUKEE — The Pirates signed nine draft picks, all former college players: C Jason Delay (fourth round, Vanderbilt), C Deon Stafford (fifth, St. Joseph’s), OF Jared Oliva (seventh, Arizona), LHP Blake Weiman (eighth, Kansas), OF Bligh Madris (ninth, Colorado Mesa), RHP Beau Sulser (10th, Dartmouth), INF Tristan Gray (13th, Rice), RHP Gavin Wallace (15th, Fairfield) and INF Nick Valaika (24th, UCLA)

Delay and Valaika were assigned to rookie-level Bristol. The others went to short-season Class A Morgantown, which last night opened its New York-Penn League season.

The Pirates have signed 10 picks, including top choice Shane Baz. The deadline is July 7.

Signing bonuses were not announced, but Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com offered this tidbit:

>>> UPDATED 6:28 PM CT — The Pirates signed two more players: OF Calvin Mitchell (second round, Rancho Bernardo High School) and OF Conner Uselton (Comp round B, Southmoore High School) Both were assigned to the GCL Pirates.

>>> ICYMI, RHP Mitch Keller, the Pirates’ second-ranked prospect, made his first rehab start last night with Morgantown. He worked two innings, as scheduled, threw 30 pitches, gave up one hit and struck out four. Keller has been on the DL since mid-May due to lower back tightness. 

>>> UPDATE 3:47 PM CT — Josh Bell is getting the day off and Jose Osuna will start at first base tonight against RHP Zach Davies.

On May 7, Osuna started in left field against Davies at PNC Park and went 1 for 4, including a a two-run homer and two strikeouts. Bell went 0 for 4 that day, with two strikeouts. “I thought (Osuna) had some really good, aggressive swings against Davies,” Hurdle said. “He’s not a right-left split guy. Actually, his numbers are better against right-handed pitching this year.” A right-handed batter, Osuna has a .266/.319/.500 split against righties and a .233/283/.395 line against left-handers.

“There are certain kind of pitchers who, if I want to give Josh a day off, I’ll look for certain things,” Hurdle said. “This guy (Davies) falls in that category. He’s shown the ability to be a reverse-split guy, as well, at times, where right-handers have seemed to have a little bit more success. It’s a combination of those things.”

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 8, Brewers 1: (Old-school headline) Cole cool as Bucs bash baffled Brewers

Notebook: In which Kuhl dials up the velo, Hurdle bounces balls and the division remains tightly bunched

>>> Tuesday, Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

UPDATE 4:55 PM CT -- Francisco Cervelli was scratched from the lineup due to flu-like symptoms.

Pirates (32-38): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Elias Diaz 2, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jose Osuna 3, Jordy Mercer 6 RHP Chad Kuhl (1-6, 5.61)

Brewers (38-34): Eric Sogard 4, Eric Thames 3, Domingo Santana 9 Travis Shaw 5, Manny Pina 2, Nick Franklin 7, Lewis Brinson 8, Orlando Arcia 6, RHP Zach Davies (7-3, 4.91)

Gamecast: Josh Harrison is 4 for 4, including a pair of doubles, with a walk and one RBI vs. Davies. … Davies has given up double-digit fly balls in seven of his 14 starts this season. In six of those games, he served up at least one home run. … The Pirates are 3-10 in games Kuhl has started. … Kuhl’s curveball remains a work in progress. He threw it just three times in his last start on Wednesday vs. the Rockies. Ian Desmond whacked one for a homer. … At the start of the season, Kuhl’s fastball averaged around 93 mph. Against the Rockies, it was 95.5 mph. On June 7 vs. the Orioles, it was 97.2 mph.

>>> Wednesday, Pirates at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16) Brewers: RHP Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84)

>>> Thursday, Pirates at Brewers, 2:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91) Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92)

>>> Friday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38) Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75)

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33)

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl () Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake ()

>>> Monday: Off

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 70: A well-deserved breather for Rivero

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

RiveroSaveMILWAUKEE — Felipe Rivero needed that day off he got yesterday. Each of Rivero’s three saves consisted of more than one inning’s work. On Saturday, he tossed 1.2 innings vs. the Cubs. On June 10 and 11, he worked 1.1 innings to close out games vs. the Marlins.

Rivero is the first Pirates pitcher to notch three saves of four or more outs since Joel Hanrahan in 2011. Who’s done it four times? According to Elias, it was Julian Tavarez, who got seven such saves in 2003. Four of those saves came consecutively.

>>> UPDATE 3:56 PM CT – Manager Clint Hurdle said both Juan Nicasio and Rivero will be available out of the pen tonight. Nicasio was out with what the team described as fatigue on Saturday, but was available yesterday.

>>> That latest NL All-Star fan voting update was released today. As before, there are no Pirates listed among the top vote-getters for position players:

FIRST BASEMEN

 

CATCHERS

#

Player

Club

Votes

 

#

Player

Club

Votes

1.

Ryan Zimmerman

Nationals

1,404,251

 

1.

Buster Posey

Giants

1,890,039

2.

Anthony Rizzo

Cubs

1,247,219

 

2.

Willson Contreras

Cubs

957,933

3.

Paul Goldschmidt

D-backs

828,361

 

3.

Yadier Molina

Cardinals

857,109

4.

Freddie Freeman

Braves

637,030

 

4.

Matt Wieters

Nationals

573,072

5.

Joey Votto

Reds

517,833

 

5.

Yasmani Grandal

Dodgers

525,432

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND BASEMEN

 

OUTFIELDERS

#

Player

Club

Votes

 

#

Player

Club

Votes

1.

Daniel Murphy

Nationals

2,365,180

 

1.

Bryce Harper

Nationals

2,827,330

2.

Javier Báez

Cubs

1,328,917

 

2.

Charlie Blackmon

Rockies

2,259,867

3.

DJ LeMahieu

Rockies

401,768

 

3.

Jason Heyward

Cubs

973,333

4.

Brandon Phillips

Braves

350,150

 

4.

Ben Zobrist

Cubs

887,804

5.

Kolten Wong

Cardinals

285,496

 

5.

Marcell Ozuna

Marlins

871,393

 

 

 

 

 

6.

Matt Kemp

Braves

835,324

THIRD BASEMEN

 

7.

Giancarlo Stanton

Marlins

823,558

#

Player

Club

Votes

 

8.

Kyle Schwarber

Cubs

775,212

1.

Kris Bryant

Cubs

1,603,326

 

9.

Yoenis Céspedes

Mets

576,463

2.

Nolan Arenado

Rockies

1,300,612

 

10.

Adam Duvall

Reds

532,243

3.

Justin Turner

Dodgers

747,659

 

11.

Dexter Fowler

Cardinals

490,136

4.

Anthony Rendon

Nationals

635,838

 

12.

Jayson Werth

Nationals

457,714

5.

Jake Lamb

D-backs

564,447

 

13.

Jay Bruce

Mets

432,805

 

 

 

 

 

14.

Yasiel Puig

Dodgers

430,423

SHORTSTOPS

 

15.

Billy Hamilton

Reds

367,684

#

Player

Club

Votes

 

 

 

 

 

1.

Zack Cozart

Reds

1,465,327

 

VOTING UPDATE SCHEDULE

2.

Corey Seager

Dodgers

1,143,767

 

Monday, June 19th

NL Voting Update #4

3.

Addison Russell

Cubs

967,495

 

Tuesday, June 20th

AL Voting Update #4

4.

Trea Turner

Nationals

652,507

 

Monday, June 26th

NL Voting Update #5

5.

Chris Owings

D-backs

541,960

 

Monday, June 26th

AL Voting Update #5

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Cubs 7, Pirates 1: Jameson Taillon was hit hard

Notebook: In which Stewie stops at second, Diaz stays on the roster, and Marte ramps it up in Florida

>>> Monday, Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (31-38): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Gerrit Cole (4-6, 4.54)

Brewers (38-33): Eric Sogard 4, Eric Thames 3, Domingo Santana 9, Travis Shaw 5, Hernan Perez 7, Manny Pina 2, Keon Broxton 8, Orlando Arcia 6, RHP Matt Garza (3-2, 4.17)

Gamecast: Garza is making his 15th start against the Pirates, the most of versus any NL opponent. He is 3-6 with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP that’s the fifth-worst of any of the 30 major league teams he’s faced.  On May 6 at PNC Park, Garza allowed just one run in seven innings of what ultimately was a 2-1 Pirates victory. … In his past four starts, Garza has a 6.75 ERA (15 earned runs in 20 innings). … Cole emerged from an awful stretch with a strong outing last week (one run on three hits in seven innings). Cole had allowed 23 runs in 19 1/3 innings in his prior four starts (10.52 ERA). … The Brewers have spent 30 days in first place in the NL Central and have not been more than a half-game out of first since May 15. … The Pirates have not been higher than in fourth place in the division since April 17.

>>> Tuesday, Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-6, 5.61) Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (7-3, 4.91)

>>> Wednesday, Pirates at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16) Brewers: RHP Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84)

>>> Thursday, Pirates at Brewers, 2:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91) Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92)

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Game 69: Out of sight, out of mind? Hurdle doesn’t risk Rivero temptation

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Clint Hurdle might have been was kidding. But even if he wasn’t, could you blame him?

 

Speaking 2 ½ hours before Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago Cubs, Hurdle said that Felipe Rivero won’t be at PNC Park on Sunday because he was sent to Milwaukee a day early.rivero

 

“To make sure I don’t pitch him,” Hurdle said in a deadpan manner that left the assembled media chucking. “Just to play it safe. You look down at that guy, and you’re thinking, ‘Ehhhhhhh?’”

 

Rivero pitched Friday and Saturday, going 1 2/3 innings the latter evening – 10 batters and 37 pitches in all.

 

Twice early in the season, Rivero worked three consecutive days. But one of those stretches included a total of 34 pitches; another a total of two innings pitched.

 

Compounding the matter for Hurdle and the Pirates on Sunday is that the availability of Juan Nicasio was in question. Nicasio was shut down Saturday after he experienced “fatigue” in his fantastical blown save Friday night.

 

Hurdle said Nicasio’s status wasn’t to be determined until pitching coach Ray Searage had a chance to work with him in a flat-ground throwing session Sunday.

 

 

Stew is back:

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but twice on this Father’s Day morning in the Pirates clubhouse I was left chuckling at something that I assumed was a joke but was, perhaps, true. In the case of whatStew Chris Stewart said, it absolutely was.

 

Stewart (left hamstring strain) was activated off the disabled list Sunday morning. His stint on the DL was entirely due to trouble running the bases (he was able to catch and throw and hit), and it began as the result of the 35-year-old legging out a triple.

 

“We’ve shut down the triples. Eliminated that one,” Stewart said.

 

“I’m aware that there’s going to be a big stop sign out there at second base, so I need to stay there from now on.”

 

 

I laughed. But then a few minutes later, in Hurdle’s office…

 

“He’s actually the first player that… I have ever had that triples are off the board,” the manager said. “We felt we had fun with him: if he chose to go play any games or do any of that that he’d have to hit a triple before he could come back. We thought that would absolutely lock him up.

 

“But he took (triples) off the docket.”

 

While Jacob Stallings went optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, the move still leaves three catchers on the 25-man roster (starter Francisco Cervelli and rookie Elias Diaz).

 

Put simply, Diaz (reached base in nine of his 10 starts; .378 average) is too hot to send down. So for now, the Pirates have three catchers.

 

“It won’t be for a long period of time,” Hurdle said, “unless something drastic happens and something changes.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“There was a lot of emotion going into that game. I feel like it was one of the best games I’ve played here in Pittsburgh.” 

Ivan Nova pulls through as Pirates down Cubs

 

“It’s very frustrating. I know that, hitting in the middle of the lineup, I need to produce.”

Notebook: Clint Hurdle looks for ways to shake Gregory Polanco’s slump

 

 

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

Cubs: Anthony Rizzo 3, Ian Happ 4, Wilson Contreras 2, Jason Heyward 9, Albert Amora Jr 8, Tommy La Stella 5, Javier Baez 6, John Lackey RHP (4-7, 5.26), Jon Jay 7

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Elas Diaz 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Jameson Taillon (3-1, 2.90)

Gamecast:  In his last start, Lackey gave up four runs, all via homers, and took the loss vs. the Mets. Over his past five starts, he is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA. … Lackey is allowing 2.27 home runs per nine innings, which is more than double his career rate (0.98 HR/9). He has served up 19 homers in 75 13 IP. Last year, Lackey allowed 23 home runs in 188 13 IP. … It’s been 364 days since Cubs C Willson Contreras got his first at-bat in the majors and smacked a first-pitch homer off Pirates reliever A.J. Schugel at Wrigley Field. … Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Anthony Rizzo became the first Cub since at least 1920 to hit a leadoff homer in each of his first two games batting leadoff. … Taillon is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cubs.

 

>>> Monday’s game:  Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (4-6, 4.54 ERA)

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Garza (3-2, 4.17 ERA)

 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-6, 5.61 ERA)

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Zach Davies (7-3, 4.91 ERA)

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16 ERA)

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84 ERA)

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Brewers, 2:10 p.m., Miller Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (7-4, 2.91 ERA)

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 2.92 ERA)

 

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

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Game 68: Polanco’s slump deepens

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photos by Christopher Horner

PolancoPointGregory Polanco last night went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, which lowered his batting average to .238 with a .651 OPS. He’s hit three homers, which puts him below Jordy Mercer (five) and John Jaso (four). He ranks 10th on the team with 14 RBI. Since coming off the DL on May 25, Polanco is hitting .212 with a .549 OPS.

As Polanco struggles to pull out of his funk, manager Clint Hurdle said he might go the route he went with Andrew McCutchen — putting Polanco on the bench for a day or two, maybe dropping him in the batting order.

“We’re still putting our collective thoughts in play,” Hurdle said. “There’s just a little flaw in the swing that we think we’ve identified. Getting that work done early and then taking it out into the game … It’s just been off the barrel. There’s definitely some swing and miss, but balls are being hit without the exit velocity that we’ve seen from him over the years. We’re working through it. Andrew went through it for an extended period. Maybe we’ll figure some things out and take some of the routes that we used with Andrew to help (Polanco) reignite as well.”

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Cubs 9, Pirates 5: Avert your eyes. The bullpen’s at it again.

Notebook: A Happ(y) homecoming, a trio of catchers and a multi-inning test for Santana

IanHapp>>> A leftover snippet from Hurdle about Mt. Lebo’s Ian Happ: “It’s always entertaining when a local kid can come back home and play. I don’t know how much street cred Pennsylvania has for producing ballplayers, but it’s real. I remember when (Devin) Mesoraco (of Punxsutawney) showed up for his first big league game in Pittsburgh. I remember when (Slippery Rock product) Matt Adams showed up for his first big league start in Pittsburgh. It’s got to be really cool for a lot of people. … A lot more quarterbacks who I’m aware of, have come from this area.”

Some kids get an iTunes gift card or $50 savings bond for their birthdays. Shane Baz got a check $4.1 million

>>> Saturday: Cubs at Pirates, 8:15 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. 

Cubs (33-33): Anthony Rizzo 3, Ian Happ 8, Kris Bryant 5, Miguel Montero 2, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9, Javy Baez 4, Kyle Schwarber 7, RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 4.68)

Pirates (30-37): Adam Frazier 4, Francisco Cervelli 2, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, John Jaso 7, Jordy Mercer 6,  RHP Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.83)

Gamecast: Josh Harrison, who is 2 for 23 (.087) vs. Arrieta, is not in the lineup today. … Since May 7, Anthony Rizzo has put up a .436 OBP, the second-best mark in the majors in that span (Buster Posey, .443). … The Cubs have not been more than four games over .500 or more than two games under .500 at any point this season. … Kris Bryant hit 13 homers in 146 at-bats from April 28 to June 15. That average of one home run per 11.23 at-bats was second-best in the NL in that span (Cody Bellinger, 9.06). … Nova has no record and a 1.69 ERA in one career start vs. the Cubs. … The Cubs’ six-run outburst ast night was their biggest ninth-inning spree since June 16, 2015, at Cleveland, when they scored seven runs in a 17-0 victory. … If the Cubs win today or Sunday, they’ll win a series on the road for the first time in more than six weeks. The last time it happened was April 24-26, when theCubs won two of three vs. the Pirates at PNC Park.

>>> Sunday: Cubs at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Cubs: RHP John Lackey (4-7, 5.26) Pirates: Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon (3-1, 2.90)

>>> Monday: Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (4-6, 4.54) Brewers: RHP Matt Garza (3-2, 4.17)

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Brewers, 7:40 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-6, 5.61) Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (7-3, 4.91)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Miller Park, Milwaukee. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.16) Brewers: RHP RHP Junior Guerra (1-1, 2.84)

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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