Game 87: Time for a surge


Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Getty Images

CHICAGO — The Pirates need a surge. Going into this afternoon’s game vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Pirates are 40-46, seven games behind the first-place Brewers (!!) and 1 1/2 games ahead of the last-place Reds.

Over their past 25 games, the Pirates are 14-11. Going back to May 13, they are 26-23. That’s not going to get it done. Do the Pirates have a big run in them? Manager Clint Hurdle thinks so — and he seems to indicate the Pirates don’t need to be buyers at the trade deadline to make it happen.

“I’ve felt it since day one,” Hurdle told me this morning. “We’ve got to keep showing up, keep playing and work to get better and more consistent. There’s been opportunities in games for us to tip them our way, but we didn’t do it. However, we’re in the fight in a lot of games. We still have the opportunity for internal improvements. (Gregory) Polanco had a big night for us last night. (Josh) Bell has been a run producer and there is still more there. (Andrew) McCutchen getting hot, how timely has that been? Our offense has more to give. The bullpen has been inconsistent. We’ve had some challenges with the starting pitching. We have the group of men, I really believe, to compete in this division.”

In 11 days, Starling Marte will come back from his 80-game PED suspension.  “It has every opportunity to help us, but he’s got to come back and play,” Hurdle said. “We’ll see where that can take us.”

>>> UPDATE 12:22 PM CT – Reliever A.J. Schugel has been recalled and catcher Elias Diaz was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

PolancoPointGettyPirates 6, Phillies 3: McCutchen, Bell and Polanco. McCutchen, Bell and Polanco. McCutchen, Bell and Polanco.

Notebook: In which the Pirates sleep fast, Frazier sits and some folks wanna retire 21.

>>> To avoid being overworked, Juan Nicasio will  not be available out of the pen today. Yesterday, he got his first save with the Pirates.

>>> Friday, Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (40-46): Adam Frazier 4, Josh Harrison 5, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, John Jaso 7, Gregory Polanco 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.67)

Cubs (42-43): Ben Zobrist 4, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Ian Happ 8, Kyle Schwarber 7, Jason Heyward 9, Victor Caratini 2, Addison Russell 6, RHP Eddie Butler (4-3, 4.18)

>>> Saturday, Pirates at Cubs, 7:15 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (8-6, 3.24) Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (8-6, 4.33)

>>> Sunday, Pirates at Cubs, 1:10 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root and TBS. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (5-2, 2.73) Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (5-5, 3.94)

>>> Monday-Thursday: All-Star break

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