All posts by Rob Biertempfel

Game 58: More misfortune for Cole Tucker

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

TuckerBALTIMORE — Shortstop Cole Tucker is out of action at High-A Bradenton with a fractured right thumb. Farm director Larry Broadway declined to divulge any details about how long Tucker will be out of action: “He was hit by a pitch during batting practice, and is still being evaluated by our physicians, so I don’t have any further information as of today.”

Hey, at least he didn’t call it discomfort.

Tucker was placed on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to June 3. First baseman Daniel Arribas took Cole’s place on Bradenton’s active roster. In 51 games this year, Tucker hit .271 with a .779 OPS, four home runs and 27 stolen bases.

A first round pick in 2014, Tucker is ranked as the Pirates’ eight-best prospect by Baseball America. He has been hampered by major injuries from the start. He hit .267 in 48 games in rookie ball before having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. In August 2015, Tucker had surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.

>>> RHP Casey Sadler was sent up to Triple-A Indianapolis when LHP Dan Runzler went on the DL. Sadler had Tommy John surgery in November 2015 and missed all of last season. This year, he made six relief outings with Bradenton and went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got a link:

Adam Frazier has gone from being a relatively anonymous sixth-round pick to batting leadoff in the majors.

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

Pirates (26-31):Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polacno 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell DH, Andrew McCutchen 8, John Jaso 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6. RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92)

Orioles (29-26): Seth Smith 9, Adam Jones 8, Manny Machado 5, Mark Trumbo DH, Chris Davis 3, Jonathan Schoop 4, Trey Mancini 7, JJ Hardy 6, Caleb Joseph 2. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92)

Gamecast: Nova notched each of his two complete games this season on the road (April 17 vs. the Cardinals, April 29 vs the Marlins). In his last road start on May 25 at Atlanta, Nova came within two outs of a complete game. Two of Nova’s seven career complete games happened vs. the Orioles when he pitched for the Yankees. … In 138 games vs. American League foes, Andrew McCutchen has hit .302 with 17 home runs and 86 RBI. He is the Pirates’ all-time leader in interleague RBI and is tied for most homers with Pedro Alvarez, Brian Giles and Kevin Young. Cutch has gone deep twice this season vs. AL clubs: April 13 at the Red Sox and on April 22 vs the Yankees at PNC Park.

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02) Orioles:  LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82)

>>> 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 () Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova ()

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

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Game 57: Mercer riding streak of multi-hit road games

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

JordyMercer1NEW YORK — Jordy Mercer is quietly going on a bit of a tear. Mercer last night went 3 for 4, posting his sixth consecutive multi-hit game on the road. During that stretch, he is 14 for 26 (.538).

Over his past 12 games (home and away), Mercer is batting .440 (22 for 50) with five doubles, one triple and three home runs. He’s reached base in 21 of his past 26 games.

And, at the risk of jinxing him … Mercer is riding a streak of 33 games without an error. His last gaffe came on April 26.

Cutch21>>> Eight years ago today, Andrew McCutchen made his Pirates debut at PNC Park. In his first at-bat, McCutchen singled off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Cutch finished the day 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Since June 4, 2009, McCutchen ranks first among National League players in hits (1,348), extra-base hits (497) and total bases (2,254) and is fourth in RBI (662). “Yes, yes … it’s gone by so fast,” McCutchen said. “It’s been what I imagined. It’s what I expected. I expected to be here, stay here, have some success here. I still haven’t gotten a World Series like I wanted to yet, but we’ve definitely done some things. It’s been a whirlwind. It started off with us being a nobody and now we’re somebody. To be part of that has been really great. So, yeah, it’s been a really good eight years for me. And I’m looking forward to the next eight.”

>>> The Mets have clubbed 12 home runs in give games vs. the Pirates this season. … Eight of Jay Bruce’s 13 home runs have given the Mets the lead. Last night, he hit a solo shot off Tyler Glasnow in the third to break a 2-2 tie. … In 29 games since May 1, Neil Walker is batting .322 (37 for 115), including nine doubles, two triples, five homers and 21 RBI. He’s also batting .361 with four homers and 10 RBI in nine games vs. the Pirates. “More than anything, it’s about winning. I really could (not) care less who we’re playing,” Walker told the New York Post. “I’ve turned the page and most of my family and friends have as well. Yeah, it’s always nice to play well against a former team, I guess, but (it’s not paramount).”

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Mets 4, Pirates 2: Mets hit three dingers off Glasnow, Pirates fail to hit in the clutch

Notebook: Taillon might mark the five-week anniversary of his surgery by starting vs. the Rockies

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (25-31): Aam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, John Jaso 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Francisco Cervelli 2, RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20)

Mets (24-30): Michael Conforto 7, Asdrubal Cabrera 6, Jay Bruce 9, Neil Walker 4, Lucas Duda 3, Wilmer Flores 5, Curtis Granderson 8, Ttravis d’Arnaud 2, RHP Tyler Pill (0-1, 3.00)

Gamecast: Pill’s father, Michael, pitched in the Pirates farm system from 1977 to 1979. The elder Pill was a second-round pick in 1977, but never made it any higher than Class A ball. … On May 27, when the Pirates beat the Mets, 5-4, in 10 innings, Pill became the sixth reliever in Mets history to lose in his major league debut. He also was the second straight to have it happen in a game at PNC Park (Gonzalez Germen, July 12, 2013). … Pill began this season at Triple-A and did not allow a run over his first 34.1 innings pitched. … Going into Saturday’s game, the Mets led the majors with a .390 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position and ranked third with a .305 batting average with RISP. … Williams has allowed one run in each of his past two starts. Last Monday, he tossed a career-best six innings and got a no-decision. … After this afternoo’s game, the Pirates are taking a train to Baltimore — old-time baseball travel.

>>> Monday: Off day

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92) Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02) Orioles:  LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82)

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

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Game 56: Is Gerrit Cole pentaphobic?

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Getty Images

ColeMets2017NEW YORK — What is it with Gerrit Cole and the fifth inning? In that inning this season, the right-hander has a 10.12 ERA , a .362 batting average against, a 1.154 OPS against and a .353 BAbip.

On Friday, the Mets torched for five runs in the fifth. The onslaught included a two-run homer by the No. 5 hitter, Lucas Duda. In his previous start, also vs. the Mets, Cole gave up a solo homer to Duda in the fifth inning. On May 22, the Braves put up a three-run fifth inning against Cole.

“It’s been a little bit of an undesirable go of it the last three times,” Cole said. “The fifth just kind of got away from me. The ball was flat, the delivery was a little out of whack, and location and the crispness of the pitches suffered.”

Merson

>>> Elias Diaz drove in six runs Friday in what was his 10th game in the majors. Per Elias Sports Bureau, since 1920 (when RBI were first tracked) only one other Pirate has collected six or more RBI in a game within his first 10 games in the bigs. On Sept. 15, 1951, Jack Merson got six RBI in his second career game. Also, Diaz joined Starlin Castro (2010) and Hunter Renfroe (2016) as the only active players to drive in six or more runs in a game after entering that game with no more than one RBI in the majors.

>>> The Pirates matched a season high by scoring 12 runs on Friday. It’s the fourth time they’ve plated a dozen. Also, the sixth inning marked the third time this year the Pirates scored seven runs in a single frame. They did it in the 10th inning on May 24 at Atlanta and in the second inning on April 28 at Miami.

>>> High-A Bradenton had a record nine players named to the Florida State League all-star team: SS Cole Tucker, RHP Mitch Keller, RHP Dario Agazal, RHP Seth McGarry, RHP Yunior Montero, LHP Jake Brentz, OF Logan Hill, OF Casey Hughston, and C Christian Kelley.

Mr. Met was always nice to me. What made him turn to the dark side earlier this week?
Mr. Met was always nice to me. What made him turn to the dark side earlier this week?

>>> In the wake of the Mr. Met kerfuffle, Onlinegambling.lv issued these odds for the next MLB team mascot to make an obscene gesture: Swinging Friar (Padres) 7/1, Raymond (Ray) 8/1, Southpaw (White Sox) 10/1, Pirate Parrot 12/1, Phillie Phanatic 15/1, field 7/8.

>>> UPDATE 4:52 PM – Jameson Taillon will make his third rehab start on Wednesday with Triple-A Indy. “He’s gonna pitch one more … He’s gonna go out and make another start (June) 7,” Hurdle said. “We’re going to look for however many ups we get him at 85 to 90 pitches.” That would put Taillon in line to rejoin the rotation on June 12 vs. the Rockies at PNC Park.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 12, Mets 7: Elias Diaz to the rescue.

Notebook: In which Moroff slugs, Taillon deals, Cervelli sits and Gosselin gets back

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Mets, 7:15 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (25-30): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Elias Diaz 2, RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-4, 6.95)

Mets (23-30): Michael Conforto 7, Asdrubel Cabrera 6, Jay Bruce 9, Neil Walker 4, Lucas Duda 3, Wilmer Flores 5, Curtis Granderson 8, Rene Rivera 2, RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75)

Gamecast: In 12 career outings (10 starts) at Citi Field, Gsellman is 4-4 with a 3.67 ERA. Over 16 career starts in the majors, Gsellman is 6-5 with a 4.47 ERA. … In his last outing May 29 vs. the Brewers, Gsellman worked seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits, walked two and struck out five. It was the first time since Sept. 30, 2106, that he’d allowed fewer than two earned runs as a starter. … OF Curtis Granderson got his 1,600th hit on Friday, a single in the second inning. Only 22 active players have 1,600-plus hits. … 1B Lucas Duda has 118 home runs, which ties him with Ed Kranepool for 10th place in Mets history. … Neil Walker played in his 1,000th game on Friday. In eight games against the Pirates, he is 11 for 33, including one double, one triple, three homers and eight RBI. … Paul Sewald was socked for a career-high five runs in 0.1 inning on Friday. He had allowed three runs over his previous 20.0 IP.

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20) Mets: RHP Tyler Pill (0-1, 3.00)

>>> Monday: Off day

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92) Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02) Orioles:  LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82)

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

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Game 55: Hanson DFA’d, Ngoepe sent to Indy

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

PTR-Bucs01-030316PTR-Bucs04-030316NEW YORK — Alen Hanson used to be one of the Pirates’ top prospects. Gift Ngoepe was one of this seasons’s feel-good stories when he was called up in late April.

On Friday, the Pirates dumped both players from their active roster. Ngoepe, the first African-born player in MLB, was demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Hanson, who’s out of minor league options, was designated for assignment.

To fill those spots, the Pirates brought up infielders Max Moroff and Phil Gosselin from Indy.

In 42 games with Indy, Moroff batted .269 with nine doubles, 13 home runs and 36 RBI. Moroff is tied for the International League lead in home runs and is  ranked second with a .954 OPS. A 16th-round pick in 2012, Moroff hit .111 in nine games with the Pirates on May 8-12. Gosselin hit .310 with six doubles, a triple, seven RBI and 15 runs scored in 22 games with Indianapolis. He was on the opening day roster, then was sent down on May 7.

Hanson, 24, played in 36 games and batted .193 with a .483 OPS. Two of his 11 hits were triples and he went 2 for 3 in steal attempts. The Pirates signed Hanson for $90,000 in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic. In 2012, Baseball America rated him the sixth-best prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League.

” It had been a hard road for him to get to this level with part-time play,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We still haven’t seen the tools he has come together. You see a tool here, you see a tool there. The challenge has been putting them all together.

Ngoepe, 27, played in 27 games and hit .222 with a .619 OPS.

>>> The Pirates’ next homestead includes the third annual THON game on June 13. A portion of proceeds from tickets sold via this link will benefit the Penn State Dance Marathon. THON has raised more than $146 million since 1977.

>>> UPDATE 6:47 p.m. — Francisco Cervelli has been scratched due to an unspecified illness. New lineup below …

>>> Friday: Pirates at Mets, 7:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Gregory Polanco 9, David Feese 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jordy Mercer 6, Elias Diaz 2, RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.65)

Mets: Michael Conforto 7, Asdrubel Cabrera 6, Jay Bruce 9, Neil Walker 4, Lucas Duda 3, Wilmer Flores 5, Curtis Granderson 8, Travis d’Arnaud 2, RHP Matt Harvey (4-3, 4.95)

Gamecast: In his last outing on Sunday vs. the Pirates, Harvey worked six innings, his longest outing in six starts. He gave up one run, which matched his season low. … Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes has been out since April 27 with a hamstring injury. He hit .270/.373/.619 with six homers in 18 games before going on the disabled list. … Despite a .313 batting average, Wilmer Flores was benched on Tuesday, but manager Terry Collins will continue to give the utility infielder chances to break out from his platoon role if he improves vs. right-handed pitchers. … One week ago, Neil Walker went 3 for 5 in the Mets’ 8-1 rout of the Pirates. Walker became the first Mets batter to hit two home runs in one game at PNC Park. Five Metropolitans hit a pair at Three Rivers Stadium: Mike Piazza (April 14, 2000), John Olerud (June 29, 1997), Mark Carreon (June 17, 1990), Willie Montanez (May 24, 1978) and Dave Kingman (July 31, 1975; Sept. 10, 1975; April 18, 1976)

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Mets, 7:15 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-4, 6.95) Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75)

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20) Mets: RHP Tyler Pill (0-1, 3.00)

>>> Monday: Off

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92) Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02) Orioles:  LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82)

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

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Game 54: And your All-Star rep is … um, …

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

Harrison1MLB released the first round of results of fan balloting for the All-Star Game. The top five vote-getters at each infield position and the top 15 outfielders are listed. There are no Pirates on any of the lists.

The leaders are 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Daniel Murphy, SS Corey Seager, 3B Kris Bryant, C Buster Posey, OF Bryce Harper, OF Charlie Blackmon and OF Jason Heyward. Harper is the top overall vote-getter with 900,079.

Last year, the Pirates sent Starling Marte and Mark Melancon to the All-Star Game. The had four reps —starter Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole and Melancon — in 2015. Four seasons ago, five Pirates were All-Stars, the most since 1972.

Who will go this year? I think the most likely pick is Josh Harrison. Felipe Rivero is a possibility, especially if he begins to get some save chances. It all depends on the makeup of the NL roster when it comes time to pick a Pirate.

>>> There was an Astros scout in the seats last night at PNC Park. As you might have heard, the worst-kept secret in ball this year is the Astros are in the market for a starting pitcher.

>>> UPDATE 10:59 a.m. — Jameson Taillon will make his second rehab start on Friday with Triple-A Indianapolis. … Chris Stewart’s MRI exam this morning revealed a strained hamstring. He got a platelet-rich plasma injection and will be re-evaluated in a few days. … Two days after spraining his right ankle, Gregory Polanco is feeling much better and is able to walk without  too much discomfort. The DL has been ruled out, but the trainers have not yet determined what type (if any) of availability Polanco will have today.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Diamondbacks 3, Pirates 0: Well, at least it was quick.

Notebook: In which Stewie goes on the DL, Frazier gets some rest and the Steelers rookies take in batting practice.

>>> Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Pirates, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

D’backs: Gregor Blanco 8, David Peralta 9, Paul Goldschmidt 3, Jake Lamb 5, Chris Owings 4, Chris Iannetta 2, Daniel Descalso 7, Nick Ahmed 6, RHP Zack Godley (1-1, 1.99)

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, John Jaso 9, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jose Osuna 3, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.29)

Gamecast: Godley’s only career outing vs. the Pirates was a relief appearance on Aug. 19, 2015, at PNC Park. He allowed one run over two innings. … In five starts this season, Godley has allowed two or fewer runs four times. … The D’backs have 18 comeback wins, which is tied with the Angels for second-most in the majors. … Arizona’s current 11-game road trip is its longest since April 26-May 10, 2010, when it played 11 games in Colorado, Chicago and Houston. … Kuhl has lost his past five decisions. He has gone 1-3 with a 8.61 ERA in six starts at PNC Park this season.

>>> Thursday: Off day

>>> Friday: Pirates at Mets, 7:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.65) Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (4-3, 4.95)

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Mets, 7:15 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-4, 6.95) Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75)

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20) Mets: RHP Tyler Pill (0-1, 3.00)

>>> Monday: Off day

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

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Game 53: Stewie goes on the DL

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

Gregory Polanco is helped onto a cart after injuring his right ankle on Monday.
Gregory Polanco is helped onto a cart after injuring his right ankle on Monday.

Of the two players who were injured during yesterday’s game, it seemed at the time that Gregory Polanco had sustained the more serious mishap. Polanco had to be carted off the field after crashing into the short fence in foul ground in right field. Chris Stewart came up hobbled while running out a triple, but made it to the dugout under his own power.

Today, the Pirates put Stewart on the 10-day disabled list with what the team described as a strained left hamstring. Elias Diaz was called up from Indy. “We don’t really know exactly (what it is),” Stewart said. “It’s upper calf, lower hamstring. We’re going to get it MRI’d in the morning to find out exactly what’s going on.”

Polanco, who sustained a sprained right ankle, is still on the active roster, although he almost certainly will sit out the next couple of games. At his pregame presser this afternoon, manager Clint Hurdle said he was awaiting more info from the training staff on Polanco’s status.

SteelersPNC2017>>> Nineteen Steelers players stopped by PNC Park for batting practice before today’s game. First-round pick TJ Watt will throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch. James Conner, who threw out a first pitch on opening day, will catch.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 4, D’backs 3: Andrew McCutchen wins it with a solo homer in the ninth

Jameson Taillon says he’ll make at least one more rehab start

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

D’backs: Chris Owings 6, David Peralta 9, Paul Goldschmidt 3, Jake Lamb 5, Yasmany Tomas 7, Brandon Drury 4, Chris Herrmann 2, Rey Fuentes 8, LHP Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.45)

Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Harrison 7, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Andrew McCutchen 8, Jose Osuna 9, Gift Ngoepe 4, RHP Ivan Nova (5-3, 2.83)

Gamecast: Although he was bothered by a sore left knee, Nova worked 8.1 innings in his last outing on Thursday in Atlanta. He gave up four runs on 10 hits, walked one and struck out one. … Coming into this series, D’backs closer Fernando Rodney had posted nine straight scoreless outings and in May had held batters to a .074 average, the third-best mark among MLB relievers. … Ray is tied for sixth in the NL with 74 strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 0.81 ERA in five road starts this year, the lowest mark in franchise history through five starts. Ray is riding a career-best 15.2-inning scoreless streak.

>>> Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Pirates, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM D’backs: RHP Zack Godley (1-1, 1.99) Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.29)

>>> Thursday: Off day

>>> Friday: Pirates at Mets, 7:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.65) Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (4-3, 4.95)

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Mets, 7:15 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-4, 6.95) Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75)

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Mets, 1:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.20) Mets: RHP Tyler Pill (0-1, 3.50)

>>> Monday: Off day

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

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Game 52: Polanco is a snake charmer

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

PolancoPointGregory Polanco has hit safely in each of his last 12 games against the Diamondbacks. In those games, Polanco went 20 for 52 (.385) with five doubles, three homers, 13 RBI, nine runs scored and a 1.050 OPS.

>>> Jameson Taillon (testicular cancer) said he’s is the “normal kind” of sore today after making a three-inning rehab start yesterday with Double-A Altoona. “I’m going to throw a bullpen (Tuesday), for sure, then we’ll assess” what comes next, he said. “I’m going to have to throw one more rehab start at least. We’ll see how my bullpen goes tomorrow and then we’ll map it out.”

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 7, Mets 2: Tyler Glasnow scuffled in the middle innings

Notebook: In which Taillon pitches (!!) and Jaso is clutch

>>> This …

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

D’backs: Chris Owings 6, David Peralta 9, Paul Goldschmidt 3, Jake Lamb 5, Yasmany Tomas 7, Brandon Drury 4, Gregor Blanco 8, Jeff Mathis 2, RHP Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.82)

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, Gregory Polanco 9, John Jaso 7, Andrew McCutchen 8, Alen Hanson 4, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.93) 1

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

D’backs: LHP Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.45) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-3, 2.83)

>>> Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Pirates, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

D’backs: RHP Zack Godley (1-1, 1.99) Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.29)

>>> Thursday: Off day 

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

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Game 50: Bastardo, Lindblom on the mend

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

BastardoST2017Injured relievers Antonio Bastardo (strained left quad) and Josh Lindblom (left side discomfort) today began rehab assignments with Triple-A Indianapolis. Bastardo has been out since April 25. Lindblom went on the disabled liston May 20.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Mets 8, Pirates 1: Have a night, Neil Walker

Notebook: Cutch bats sixth, Polanco returns

>>> Saturday: Mets at Pirates, 7:15 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM

Mets: Michael Conforto 7, Jose Reyes 5, Jay Bruce 9, Neil Walker 4, Lucas Duda 3, Asdrubel Cabrera 6, Curtis Granderson 8, Travis d’Arnaud 2, RHP Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74) 1

Pirates: 1. Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Josh Bell 3, Gregory Polanco 9, David Freese 5, Andrew McCutchen 8, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.36) 1

Note:  LHP Tommy Milone (1-2, 7.91) originally was slated to start for the Mets, but on Wednesday he was placed on the DL.

>>> Sunday: Mets at Pirates, 8 p.m., PNC Park. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM

Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (3-3, 5.36) Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-3, 6.69)

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

D’backs: RHP Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.82) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.93)

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

D’backs: LHP Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.45) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-3, 2.83)

>>> Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Pirates, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

D’backs: RHP Zack Godley (1-1, 1.99) Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.29)

>>> Thursday: Off day in New York

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

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Game 48: Abandon all hope? Hold that thought.

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Story and video by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Gerry Images

HighFiveOsunaATLANTA — Is all hope lost? Is a spot in the postseason out of reach? Is is already time to start thinking about next year? Should the Pirates be sellers at the trade deadline?

Not so fast.

The folks at Baseball Prospectus compiled their oppRPA+ standings, which gauges every team’s strength of schedule to this point in the season. The Pirates’ slate has a oppRPA+ of 105.6, meaning it’s been the toughest in the majors ahead of the Giants (105.2), Royals (104.0), Blue Jays (103.7) and Tigers (102.9).

Eno Sarris, writing for Fangraphs, said the strong test early in the season could help the Pirates later this summer. He noted they have “only” 13 games left against the Cubs and that there are encouraging signs of improvement from Tyler Glasnow. If the schedule gets easier from here, and if Starling Marte is himself (or reasonably close to it) when he rejoins the team, and if Jung Ho Kang ever digs a tunnel out of South Korea (I know it would have to be really deep to go under the Pacific Ocean, but bear with me, OK?) then maybe the Pirates have a shot to do something this year after all.

>>> UPDATE 10:42 a.m. – Gregory Polanco was activated off the 10 -day DL, but is not in the lineup today. Danny Ortiz was optioned back to Triple-A Indy. … Jameson Taillon (testicular cancer) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session this morning, his second such post-surgery workout. “This was more of a competition bullpen,” Taillon said. “I’m tired, but it’s all good.” Bullpen coach Euclides Rojas simulated at batter (without actually holding a bat) while Taillon threw. “I think I struck out Euky a couple of times,” Taillon said with a grin.

>>> Andrew McCutchen is benched today for the second game in a row. Yesterday, he said, without getting into too much detail (well, actually, without getting into any detail) that a big part of his problem at the plate is his upper body is too rotational. After last night’s win (in which McCutchen singled and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seven-run 10th inning), manager Clint Hurdle said he’s not going to discuss McCutchen’s struggles with reporters and told McCutchen to do the same.

Before the game, Hurdle was asked if McCutchen is being hindered by “hard luck,” as indicated by a career-worst .220 BAbip (the league average is .298). “Hard luck plays a way in life,” Hurdle replied. “There is no rule that if you hit a ball hard you get a hit. If you want to hit .300, you’ve got to hit a lot of balls hard. We all get that. So, yeah, it plays a role on hard contact and how it plays out. We’ve got numbers for that. You guys can crunch them and throw them out there. However, there comes a point in time, too, when it’s overall quality of at-bat, the consistency of the at-bat. It’s hard for Andrew right now, so we have to find a way to help him.”

There is more than just bad luck working against McCutchen. His bat speed has declined from 62.1 mph in 2015 to 61.2 mph last year to 59.6 this year. When the bat slows down, exit velocity drops. More softly hit balls usually equate to a lower BAbip. Will mechanical adjustments to his rotation help generate more bat speed? McCutchen isn’t saying, so we’ll have to watch and see over the next few weeks.

>>> Josh Collmenter was DFA’d this morning by the Braves. Last night, he gave up seven runs — including consecutive homers by David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer — in the 10th inning. RHP Matt Wisler was recalled from Triple-A.

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Pirates 12, Braves 7: Adam Frazier might never make another out the rest of his career.

Notebook: In which McCutchen sits, Polanco runs, Bastardo pitches and alarms go off.

>>> Thursday: Pirates at Braves, 12:10 p.m. SunTrust Park, Atlanta. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Adam Frazier 8, Josh Harrison 7, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Gift Ngoepe 4, RHP Ivan Nova (4-3, 2.63) 1

Braves: Ender Inciarte 8, Dansby Swanson 6, Nick Markakis 9, Matt Kemp 7, Matt Adams 3, Kurt Suzuki 2, Rio Ruiz 5, Jace Peterson 4, RHP Bartolo Colón (2-4, 6.28) 1

Gamecast: Colon, a 20-year veteran, turned 44 on Wednesday. He has 235 career wins and needs nine more to pass Juan Marichal as the winningest pitcher ever from the Dominican Republic. … Over his first three games since being acquired by the Braves, 1B Matt Adams went 5 for 13 (.385) with two homers and four RBI. … After Kurt Suzuki went 3 for 4 on Tuesday, Braves catchers were hitting a combined .320, the top mark in the majors. Their .427 OBP also was best in MLB. … Josh Harrison notched his 600th career hit on Wednesday.

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

Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74) Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-4, 5.85)

>>> Saturday: Mets at Pirates, 7:15 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM

Mets: TBA Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.36) Note: LHP Tommy Milone (1-2, 7.91) was slated to start, but on Wednesday was placed on the DL.

>>> Sunday: Mets at Pirates, 8 p.m., PNC Park. TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.7 FM

Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (3-3, 5.36) Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-3, 6.69)

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

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Pirates go from heartbreak to homer-happy, rout Braves

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Story and videos by Rob Biertempfel

ATLANTA — Down two runs in the ninth inning on Wednesday, the Pirates had runners on first and second when Josh Harrison mashed a fly ball to the deepest part of SunTrust Park.

If the ball touches grass, the game is tied. If it clears the fence, it’s a go-ahead homer. Instead, Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte hauled it in at the wall.

“I hit that ball well, but he ran it down,” Harrison said with a shrug. “That’s one of those times when you look at baseball and you say, ‘Baseball sucks.’ ”

Not very long after that, however, the ballpark wasn’t big enough to contain the Pirates.

In the 10th inning, the Pirates exploded for seven runs — including consecutive homers by David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer — and crushed the Braves, 12-5.

“It’s crazy,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Harrison drives that ball to the wall and it looks like out heart is broken, and we still answered.”

The Pirates took a three-run lead in the first inning on Adam Frazier’s three-run homer. Right-hander Julio Teheran shut them down after that, which gave the Braves time to rally for a 5-3 lead.

Osuna tied the game in the ninth with a two-out, two-run single.

Mired in a deep batting funk, Andrew McCutchen was not in the starting lineup for just the second time in 47 games. He led off the 10th inning as a pinch-hitter and lined a single to left.

Rookie Gift Ngoepe stroked an RBI double off Josh Collmenter.

“You could feel it in the dugout when he got that knock,” Harrison said. “It let a little bit of pressure off the rest of the squad.”

It was Ngoepe who began the game-tying rally in the ninth by legging out an infield single. In the 10th, he reached out for a 1-2 cutter and laced it toward the right field corner.

“I was just trying to battle and look for a good pitch I could swing at,” Ngoepe said. “(Collmenter) is a little funky, and he threw me a pitch I could throw my hands out there and put it in play.”

After Adam Frazier was intentionally walked — reaching base for the sixth time in the game — Harrison lined a two-run single.

Freese hit a two-run homer to left field. Osuna and Mercer followed with solo shots. It’s the first time the Pirates went deep in three straight at-bats since Sept. 13, 2013, against the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s why people come to the ballpark, you never know what’s going to happen,” Hurdle said. “Not a lot of hitting early. For us to show up in the ninth again was big, was fun. You can’t figure it out. It’s fun to watch.”

In the second inning, Frazier’s two-out homer gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Frazier isn’t afraid of two-strike counts. He owns a career .325 average with two strikes and is hitting .379 when the count was 0-2.

Yet, Frazier had never hit a home run in his first 136 plate appearances with two strikes. That changed in the second inning.

Mercer led off with a single up the middle. With one out, Mercer should have been the front end of a double play, but shortstop Jace Peterson booted Chris Stewart’s routine grounder. Trevor Williams sacrificed the runners over.

Teheran got lucky with his first pitch, a slider down and out of the zone that was called a strike by umpire Vic Carapazza. Frazier then fisted a fastball into foul ground to fall behind 0-2.

Teheran opted to try be sneaky in another four-seamer up and in to the lefty batter. Frazier timed his swing perfectly.

The home run traveled 401 feet and crashed off the brick wall of the Chop House restaurant beyond the right field wall.

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

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