All posts by Rob Biertempfel

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 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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Game 67: Three catchers on roster … for now

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

PTR-Stallings03-032816The Pirates plan to carry three catchers on their active roster through this weekend. Manager Clint Hurdle said keeping Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings around provides insurance in case Francisco Cervelli encounters unexpected trouble after coming off the concussion DL. The fact that Diaz has been hitting well makes it easier to keep him as a bench guy — for now.

“Our goal is to get Francisco through the weekend and see where that takes us,” Hurdle said. “I’m not warm and fuzzy about carrying three catchers. I’ve said that all along. The bat plays, which helps with Elias being able to hit off the bench. However, it’s still another catcher who plays no other position and really challenges your versatility. We have a need for it this weekend, with two night games and a day game, I’m want to get Cervelli up and running. It’s important to play it through the weekend and see where we take it after that.”

>>> UPDATE 5:22 PM — Cubs rookie Ian Happ has hit five homers in his past six starts, including a grand slam on Tuesday against the Mets. Happ moved from Cleveland to Pittsburgh as a kid and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High. he was the Cubs’ first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2015.

>>> Friday, Cubs at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Cubs (32-33): Anthony Rizzo 3, Ian Happ 4, Kyle Schwarber 7, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9. Willson Contreras 2, Tommy La Stella 5, RHP Eddie Butler (3-2, 4.03) 1, Albert Almora Jr. 8

Pirates (30-36): 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 Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.13)

>>> Saturday, Cubs at Pirates, 8:15 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM.  Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 4.68) Pirates: Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.83)

>>> 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 () Brewers: RHP RHP Junior Guerra ()

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

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Game 66: And the draft slogged on …

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

Cup2017As the Penguins paraded the Stanley Cup through the downtown streets — again — the Pirates today were in the midst of the final day of the MLB draft. Yeah, I know. Chills.

>>>  RHP Cody Bolton, the sixth-round pick (178th overall) out of Tracy High, has passed up a scholarship from the University of Michigan and signed his contract, according to his hometown newspaper’s website. The bonus amount is not yet available, but the slot amount for that pick was $255,900.

>>> RHP Matt Fawley was sent to the Yankees to complete the April 17 trade that brought reliever Johnny Barbato to Pittsburgh. Frawley was a 17th-round pick last year. He went 3-1 with three saves and a 1.62 ERA in 19 outings with  Low-A Charleston, W.Va.,

>>> Over his past 10 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, RHP Drew Hutchison is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA. Last night, he was the winner in a 7-3 victory against Norfolk. He tossed a season-high seven innings and gave up three runs on six hits. The fourth inning was tough — he plunked a batter, walked two and served up a three-run triple — then retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

>>> UPDATE 5:17 PMFrancisco Cervelli was activated off the 10-day concussion DL. A.J. Schugel was optioned back to Indy. Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates will carry three catchers today “just in case.” If Cervelli has no issues tonight, either Elias Diaz or Jacob Stallings likely will go to Indy after the off day Thursday — it’s a question of whether Diaz would be better served acting as a backup in the majors or playing every day at Indy. “It’s an ongoing conversation,” Hurdle said.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 5, Rockies 2: Cutch goes deep twice, Cole goes seven strong.

Notebook: In which Elias Diaz gets comfy, plus a review of day two of the draft.

>>> Wednesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Rockies (41-26): Charlie Blackmon 8, DJ LeMahieu 4, Nolan Arenado 5, Mark Reynolds 3, Ian Desmond 7, Raimel Tapia 9, Trevor Story 6, Tony Wolters 2, RHP German Marquez (4-3, 4.44)

Pirates (30-35): Adam Frazier 4, Josh Harrison 5, Gregory Polanco 9, John Jaso 7, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Francisco Cervelli 2, Max Moroff 6, Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 5.63)

>>> Thursday: Off

>>> Friday, Cubs at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Cubs: RHP Eddie Butler (3-2, 4.03) Pirates: Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.13)

>>> Saturday, Cubs at Pirates, 8:15 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM.  Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 4.68) Pirates: Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.83)

>>> 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)

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

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Game 64: Quick, to the Batmobile!

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Story by Rob Biertempfel

Batman2In their game notes today, the Colorado Rockies paid tribute to the late Adam West. The subheads of each item have a Batman theme.

From the “To the Batcave” section … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, “Friday’s win was the 40th of the season for Colorado, which reached the 40-victory mark ahead of every other National League team for the first time in the team’s 25-year history.”

From “Turbines to speed” … Colorado outscored opponents 50-11 during the seven-game win streak. The Rockies hit .305 (75 for 246), including .343 (23 for 67) with runners in scoring position.

“Holy travel agent!” …. Colorado has nine home games in June. Beginning May 31 at Seattle, the Rockies started a current stretch of 12 of 14 away from Denver (May31-June 14).

>>> UPDATE 5:04 PM — Jameson Taillon was activated off the DL and will start tonight. INF Phil Gosselin was optioned back to Triple-A Indy. I’ve always said I have the smartest followers in the Twitterverse …

>>> Neither team has announced details yet, but it appears the Penguins will attend Tuesday’s Pirates game against the Rockies. The Stanley Cup will be on display at PNC Park.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 3, Marlins 1: Diaz always had a good arm. He’s doubly dangerous if he can hit, too.

Notebook: In which Kuhl evolves, Santana debuts and Polanco needs more barrel

>>> Monday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Rockies (41-24): Charlie Blackmon 8, DJ LeMahieu 4, Nolan Arenado 5, Mark Reynolds 3, Carlos Gonzalez 9, Ian Desmond 7, Trevor Story 6, Tony Wolters 2, LHP Kyle Freeland (7-3, 3.34)

Pirates (28-35): Max Moroff 4, Josh Harrison 7, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Jose Osuna 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Elias Dias 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.31)

Gamecast: Taillon has never faced the Rockies. …. ESPN analyst Buster Olney had a valid point when he called Rockies closer Greg Holland “the best free-agent signing of the offseason.” Holland has made good on all 23 save chances (through Saturday) and had given up 10 hits in 23.2 innings. …. At their current paces, Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds each will collect 134 RBI and Nolan Arenado would get 116. It’s no surprise that the Rockies lead the NL in runs scored.

>>> Tuesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.37) Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (3-6, 4.83)

>>> Wednesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP German Marquez (4-3, 4.44) Pirates: Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 5.63)

>>> Thursday: Off

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

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Game 63: Uncork for a Cause with Cole

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Story by Rob Biertempfel

Gerrit and Amy Cole’s 2017 Uncork for a Cause will be held from 7-9 tonight at Sienna Mercato (942 Penn Avenue). Proceeds will benefit Pirates Charities and The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. The even includes dinner, beer and wine (of course) and an auction. It also marks the release of Cole’s 2014 Sonoma Reserve red wine. Only two barrels of this limited-edition blend were bottled for Gerrit’s charity program.

“Food and wine have always been a part of my family’s culture,” Cole said. “It was always spaghetti and meatballs on Christmas with Grandma’s lasagna and everybody has a glass of red wine. Same thing with Thanksgiving. My Dad really got into it the last 10 years or so. He got his level one sommelier certificate. He’s into food and wine pairings, so he’s a good guy to ask questions (about it). Sometimes, on the road, I send him pictures of wine lists and he gives me advice.”

Wanna buy tickets? Click this link.

>>> Jeff Locke this afternoon will make his second start since coming off the DL (biceps tendinitis). The lefty is enjoying Miami — “If I roll out of my bedroom window, I’d land on the beach,” Locke said — and his new team: “This is a great group of guys. There are so many similarities to the (Pirates). A good core group, a lot of guys eager to learn and get better.”

The Marlins signed Locke to a one-year, $3.025M deal and offered him a chance to start. “That’s a big reason why I wanted to be here, the opportunity to stick in the rotation,” Locke said. “I really like the club over here the last couple of years; they’ve been very competitive. I think there are so many similarities between the team I’m on now and the team here in the past before it got really good. It’s so close. If a few things go a different way, a few more wins, and we’ve got a really, really good ballclub here. Eddie (Volquez) was big, for me, knowing he was here. I was really excited to be reunited with him. I was rehabbing in Jupiter and all of the sudden I walked by Vance (Worley) one day. ‘What are you doing here?’ I thought he was still with the Nationals. Now, we’re up here at the same time. It brings back some memories. None of us had been back to Pittsburgh since (leaving) and now we’re all here together.”

>>> Clint Hurdle‘s take on facing Locke today: “We hope to chase him early, then wish him well the rest of the season.”

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Pirates 7, Marlins 6: The bottom of the lineup generates a lot of offense and Rivero protects the lead

Notebook: In which Glasnow is demoted, Taillion preps for his return and Locke sees old friends

>>> Sunday: Marlins at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Marlins (27-34):  JT Riddle 6, JT Realmuto 2, Christian Yelich 8, Marcell Ozuna 7, Derek Dietrich 5, Tyler Moore 3, Ichiro Suzuki 9, Christian Colon 4, LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.48)

Pirates (27-35): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Jose Osuna 9, David Freese 5, Elias Diaz 2, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.04)

Gamecast: Nova’s lone career start vs the Marlins was memorable. On April 29, he needed just 95 pitches to complete a three-hit shutout. … Nova has allowed more than three earned runs in two of his 12 starts this year. … The Marlins franchise record for most doubles in a game is eight. It’s happened four times, most recently vs. the Pirates on April 21, 2008. … JT Realmuto’s .363 batting average in road games is fifth-best in the majors. He’s gotten at least one hit in 23 of 26 road games and had a 15-game road hitting streak snapped on May 24 at Oakland. … Marcell Ozuna has been a streaky hitter. He batted .325 with 11 homers and 29 RBI over the first 32 games this year. Over the next 14 games, he slumped to .240 with no homers and four RBI. Over the next 14 games, Ozuna hit .407 with four home runs and eight RBI.

>>> Monday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (7-3, 3.34) Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.31)

>>> Tuesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.37) Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (3-6, 4.83)

>>> Wednesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP German Marquez (4-3, 4.44) Pirates: Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 5.63)

>>> Thursday: Off

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

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Game 62: Santana should help, but improved rotation would be better

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel

Reliever Edgar Santana will be called up today, according to a Tweet from his agency. In 23 games at Triple-A Indianapolis, he went 1-1 with five saves, a 1.93 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He also averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.


Santana’s arrival should boost the work-weary bullpen, which had to pick up five innings last night. You know what else would help the pen? Better starting pitching performances. “There’s been some solid volume of work, but we seem to be in a lull right now,” manager Clint Hurdle said after last night’s game. “We’re taxing the bullpen with the short starts. Williams and Nova have given us distance. Even with Kuhl’s outing the other day, it was five innings and 90-something pitches. Cole’s had two fives and two fours-pluses. That part of it has been hard right now.”

>>> UPDATE 1:45 PM -- Tyler Glasnow today was demoted to Triple-A Indy. Over 12 starts, Glasnow went 2-6 with a 7.45 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP. He issued a team-high 29 walks in 54 1/3 innings. “There’s been games when he’s been dominant and there’s been games when he’s been barreled,” Hurdle said. “It’s all part of the learning process.”

Glasnow’s departure opens a rotation spot for Jameson Taillon, who will be activated off the disabled list on Monday to pitch against the Rockies. That start will come exactly five weeks after Glasnow had surgery for testicular cancer.

Reliever Dovydas Neverauskas also was demoted to Indy. The Pirates are expected to call up  Santana and A.J. Schugel. The club also will have to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Santana. Neither of those moves have yet been announced by the team.

Chad Kuhl’s next start will be pushed back to Wednesday. He originally was slated to start on Monday.

>>> UPDATE 2:15 PM – Santana and Schugel have officially been added to the team. RHP Pat Light was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for Santana. It’s likely either Santana or Schugel will return to Indy on Monday when Taillon comes off DL.

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Marlins 12, Pirates 7: The less said, the better.

Notebook: Watson’s the closer. Maybe he’s not. Yes, he is. No, he’s not.

>>> Saturday: Marlins at Pirates, 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Marlins (27-33): Dee Gordon 4, Giancarlo Stanton 9, Christian Yelich 8, Marcell Ozuna 7, JT Realmuto 2, Derek Dietrich 5, Tyler Moore 3, JT Riddle 6, RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.59)

Pirates (26-35): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Elias Diaz 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.57)

Gamecast: In 13 games at PNC Park, OF Christian Yelich has hit .385 (20 for 52), with five homers and 10 RBI. His career average here is the fourth-highest among active visiting players (minimum 50 at-bats) behind Kris Bryant (.427), Chris Carter (.386) and Adrian Beltre (.386). … The Marlins went into Friday’s game with a .273 batting average on the road, the best mark in the NL and second-best in the majors behind the Astros (.291). … The Marlins have hit .342 this year with the bases loaded, the fourth-highest mark in MLB. … In one career start vs. the Pirates, Straily gave up three runs on four hits in 5.1 IP. … Trevor Williams’ lone outing vs. the Marlins was a relief appearance on April 30, 2017, in Miami. He allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning.

>>> Sunday: Marlins at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.48) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.04)

>>> Monday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (7-3, 3.34) Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.31)

>>> Tuesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.37) Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (3-6, 4.83)

>>> Wednesday, Rockies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rockies: RHP German Marquez (4-3, 4.44) Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 5.63)

>>> Thursday: Off

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

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Game 61: Who leaves rotation: Kuhl, Glasnow, Williams … or Cole?

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

ColeKneelOne glaring omission from today’s game notes is the list of starting pitcher match-ups for the series against the Rockies. That series begins Monday, which is also the day Jameson Taillon would be in line to make his next appearance, whether it’s with the Pirates or a continuation of his minor league rehab assignment.

There’s a really good chance Taillon will pitch for the Pirates on Monday. The only real question is who goes out of the rotation. Will it be Chad Kuhl, who’s gotten nothing but losses and no-decisions since the first week of the season? Will it be Tyler Glasnow, who’s making progress albeit at a baby-step pace? Will it be Trevor Williams, who opened the season as a long reliever but who also has looked good in his past two outings?

Here’s something to chew on: Will it be Gerrit Cole, who has been awful for much of the past month? You won’t see Cole demoted to Triple-A Indy, but — and this is just speculation at this point — he might end up on the disabled list. His 91 mph fastball would seem to be a big red flag that something is amiss.

>>> Alen Hanson was claimed off waivers by the White Sox.

>>> UPDATE 4:31 p.m. Tony Watson has been taken out of the closer’s role, manager Clint Hurdle said. Watson, who served up two two-run homes and blew saves in spectacular fashion on Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore, and will be used in low-leverage situations until he gets past his struggles. “We’re going to unplug Tony from the ninth and try to package some opportunities, similar to what we did with Daniel Hudson,” Hurdle said. “We’ll try to to give him multiple touches during the week, in a perfect world every other day and see how it plays out.”

Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio will share the ninth inning duties. “We’re going to use the bullpen to win games,” Hurdle said. “There’s not a closer. Depending on the lineup, depending on the game situation, Felipe could pitch the eighth. He’s going to be in the same role he’s been in. Nicasio’s going to be in the same role he’s been in. One of them will pitch the ninth inning.”

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Marlins 7, Pirates 1: The less said, the better.

Notebook: Clint Hurdle continued to keep everyone in suspense about the bullpen

>>> Friday: Marlins at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Marlins (26-33): Dee Gordon 4, Giancarlo Stanton 9, Christian Yelich 8, Marcell Ozuna 7, Derek Dietrich 5, Tyler Moore 3, J.T. Riddle 6, A.J. Ellis 2, RHP Vance Worley (0-2, 6.59)

Pirates (26-34): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregopry Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Jacob Stallings 2, RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-5, 6.97)

>>> Saturday: Marlins at Pirates, 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.59) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.57)

>>> Sunday: Marlins at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.48) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.04)

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

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Game 59: Flip Watson and Rivero? Maybe, but …

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

WatsonVsYankees2017BALTIMORE — Tony Watson will not be the Pirates’ closer next season. He almost certainly won’t be their closer on Aug. 1. In fact, he might not be their closer anymore as soon as tonight’s game against the Orioles.

Watson blew the save last night in spectacular fashion, serving up Jonathan Schoop’s 423-foot, two-run, game-tying homer. It was the fourth time in the last two weeks that Watson had allowed multiple runs. He’s being hurt by home runs, a problem he had last season after he succeeded Mark Melancon in the ninth-inning role.

Watson will be a free agent this winter. He recently hired Scott Boras as his agent. The Pirates have easier, cheaper options at closer for 2018. That not only guarantees Watson will be gone next year, it means he’s a good bet to be moved by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

So, there’s a chance manager Clint Hurdle could replace Watson tonight with Felipe Rivero, who has better stuff and has been much more successful this season. That would seem to be the correct thing to do for the ninth inning.

But there are other things to consider. Moving Watson into a setup role would diminish his trade value. It also would impact the contract offers he’ll get this winter. Who cares? Other players care — players who closely watch how their peers are treated by management and take it into account when they get free-agent offers from the Pirates.

Yes, moving Rivero to the ninth inning would make the Pirates more bulletproof when it comes to getting those final three outs. But if Watson is scuffling in the ninth, won’t he also scuffle in the seventh or eighth? A blown hold can be just as costly as a blown save.

And, because this is the bottom-line Pirates, you have to consider what making Rivero the closer now would do to his salary structure. Rivero will be first-time arbitration eligible after next season. And he also recently switched agents and hired … Scott Boras. Giving Rivero the closer’s job now could make the 2017 season more palatable, but is also could hasten Rivero’s departure a couple of years down the line.

>>> UPDATE 4:19 pm – After considering alternatives. Watson will remain the closer. “I’ve already given it a lot of thought, and the ball will go to Tony,” Hurdle said. Hurdle huddled with GM Neal Huntington and pitching coach Ray Searage and mulled a switch, but decided to stick with the status quo. “I still believe our best bullpen sets up the way it’s been working.” Hurdle said a mechanical issue has been spotted that, when corrected, will help Watson be more effective.

>>> UPDATED 4:22 pm — Jacob Stallings is here with the team in case Francisco Cervelli ends on the concussion DL. “We’re working through it,” Hurdle said. “Francisco has a history of concussions, and we’re making sure we get all the information and evaluations we can get to make the call that serves him best.”

>>> UPDATE 5:57 pm – Cervelli has been placed on the seven-day concussion DL.

>>> Low-A Charleston, W.Va., had three players chosen for the South Atlantic League all-star game. 2B Trae Arbet, OF Ty Moore, and LHP Cam Vieaux were named to the Northern Division team in the June 20 game.

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Orioles 6, Pirates 5: A lot of things happened, most of them not good, in the late innings.

Notebook: “We could use some more innings out of the starting rotation, truth be told.”

Sid Break said the instant celebration triggered by his slide in the 1992 ALCS might never never be repeated in a postseason game.

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (26-32):  Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Harrison 5, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese DH, Jose Osuna 7, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, Elias Diaz 2, Max Moroff 4. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02)

Orioles (30-26):  Seth Smith 9, Adam Jones 8, Manny Machado 5, Chris Davis 3, Mark Trumbo DH, Jonathan Schoop 4, Hyun Soo Kim 7, JJ Hardy 6, Caleb Joseph 2. LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82)

Gamecast: Miley will be the first left-handed starter other than Arizona’s Robbie Ray (on May 14 and May 30) that the Pirates will face since Patrick Corbin on May 12 in Arizona. … Kuhl has never faced the Orioles. In two career starts vs. AL clubs, he Is 0-0 with a 2.19 ERA. He was in line to get the win on April 13 vs. the Red Sox, but the bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth inning. … Andrew McCutchen went into Tuesday’s game with 498 career extra-base hits. Only seven Pirates collected 500 extra-base hits: Willie Stargell (953), Honus Wagner (865), Paul Waner (852), Roberto Clemente (846), Pie Traynor (593), Max Carey (590) and Dave Parker (524).  

>>> Thursday: Marlins at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins: RHP Edinson Volquez (2-7, 3.79) Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (3-5, 4.27)

>>> Friday: Marlins at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins: RHP Vance Worley (0-2, 6.59) Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-5, 6.97)

>>> Saturday: Marlins at Pirates, 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.59) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.57)

>>> Sunday: Marlins at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.48) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.04)

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

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