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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