Game 28: Josh Harrison, an Energizer Bunny dipped in Tabasco sauce? Something like that…

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By Chris Adamski

 

CINCINNATI –

9:44 a.m. UPDATE: It’s raining at Great American Ball Park.

 

Furthermore, this forecast is what I’d term as less-than-encouraging:

IMG_2282

 

The weather potentially might cancel the game — but it takes more than that to cancel David Freese’s scheduled rehab work with head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk:

 

Regularly-scheduled blog post:

A week after referring to the phenomenon of Josh Harrison, Leadoff Hitter, as “Tabasco,” Clint Hurdle this time elected to use a different term.

 

“Energizer.”

 

J-Hay
Be it by home runs or hit by pitch, Josh Harrison has found ways to spark the Pirates at the top of the lineup. (AP Photo)

Heading into the final of four games at the Reds on Thursday, Harrison had started all three games of this series so far at third base – and from the leadoff spot. He therefore become the player who’s most been at the No. 1 spot in the batting order for the Pirates this season (10 of the Pirates’ first 27 games, surpassing Jordy Mercer’s nine).

 

With a career .319 on-base percentage, Harrison is far from an ideal leadoff hitter. Hurdle is willing to accept that in light of what Harrison can bring.

 

“You’ve gotta know what you’re going to get, and you can’t have it both ways,” Hurdle said. “You can’t ask this man to go up and give you six- or seven-pitch at-bats to leadoff a game. That’s not who he is. I’ve used him as an energizer and he’s been able to do that.”

 

Harrison’s career numbers out of the leadoff spot (.807 OPS, .310 average, .345 on-base percentage, .462 slugging percentage, 18 home runs) dwarf his career numbers on whole (.734 OPS, .285 average, .415 slugging overall with 15 home runs out of every other spot). He had three home runs the first two games of the series.

 

Hurdle also mentioned Harrison’s splits depending on count – on whole, he is a better hitter when he swings earlier in the count (his .955 OPS when a ball is put in play on the first pitch is better than in any other situation Harrison faces except if he has three balls).

 

Harrison has four extra-base hits in the series and has reached base six times in the three games.

 

 

>>> Anything but boring

The Pirates haven’t been particularly good this season (after all, they do currently reside in last place) — although they haven’t been all that bad, either. The story has yet to have been completely told on the 2017 Pirates.

 

But one thing they are, for sure, through 27 games (one-sixth of the way into the season)? Interesting.

 

Hurdle and shortstop Jordy Mercer this week both have remarked about this. And if you sit back to think about it, it’s been quite the first month of play (April 3-May 3).

 

The Pirates recalled the first major-leaguer born and raised in Lithuania — and then immediately trumped that by calling up the first MLB player from the entire continent of Africa.

 

They began the season with five consecutive sweeps (alternating losses and wins). They’ve have somehow won four of the five starts by a pitcher whose season ERA climbed north of 9.00 during his most recent outing, and they’ve produced the NL pitcher of the month.

 

The Pirates became the fourth visiting team EVER to play on consecutive days at iconic Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, and they’ve also this far hosted the Yankees during the regular season for just the second time ever.

 

Throw in the fact that two of their best players are AWOL for non-injury reasons (Starling Marte via 80-game suspension and Jung Ho Kang because of ongoing visa issues related to his three DUIs), and there’s certainly no shortage of things to talk about.

 

Stay tuned for the final five-sixths of the season.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“The stuff was great tonight; that’s why it’s tough, you only get a handful of nights here where you feel that good.”

Taillon struggles in loss to Reds


“I’m relaxed. I’m being confident to go out there and have fun in the game.”

Pirates notebook: Nova ‘excited’ to be named National League pitcher of month

 

 

>>> Thursday’s game:  Pirates at Reds, 12:35 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, John Jaso 9, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Josh Bell 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Alen Hanson 4, Gift Ngoepe 6, RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50)

Reds: Billy Hamilton 8, Jose Peraza 6, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Arismendy Alcantara 4, Tucker Barnhart 2, RHP Tim Adelman (0-1, 4.70)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 5.34)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 3.88)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 6.07)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 6.97)

 

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

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Game 27: Nova the NL’s pitcher of the month

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By Chris Adamski

CINCINNATI – In his second full calendar month with the Pirates and first since signing a three-year contract with the club, Ivan Nova has been honored as the National League’s best pitcher.

 

Nova
Ivan Nova was the most efficient pitcher in the NL in April. He’s also now been recognized as the best. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

Major League Baseball named Nova its pitcher of the month for April after Nova allowed just six runs on 26 hits and one walk in 36 innings over five starts in April. Nova led qualified NL pitchers in walks/hits per inning pitched (0.75) and was second in wins above replacement (1.7) and ERA (1.50) to St. Louis’ Mike Leake.

 

Nova has two of the five complete games and one of the two shutouts pitched so far this season in the National League – the latter coming in his most recent outing Saturday in Miami. He leads the NL in pitches per inning (12.1), pitches per plate appearance (3.27) and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

 

Nova signed a $26 million contract in December after being acquired Aug. 1 from the New York Yankees for two minor leaguers.

 

The only other time Nova was given the monthly honor was in August 2013 when he was with the Yankees. He won the AL award after going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six starts then.

 

Gerrit Cole was the most recent Pirate to be named N.L. pitcher of the month (April 2015).

 

Nova’s next scheduled start is in the series finale against the Reds on Thursday. He’s scheduled to be available to the media about two hours prior to Wednesday’s 7:10 first pitch.

 

 

>>> Bye, bye Bormann

Three days after his unexpected and frenetic major-league debut and two days after being optioned off the 25-man roster,  John Bormann is now officially no longer a major-league roster of any sort. The Pirates on Wednesday, in an expected formality, dropped Bormann from their 40-man roster and outrighted him to Class A Bradenton.

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“It was just buckle-down mode, and I did it.”

Glasnow steadies himself; Pirates bats bust out in win


“I have been through worse. And I’ll get through this and be better for it.”

Pirates notebook: Hudson has experience working through rough patches

 

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Jameson Taillon (2-0, 2.08)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

Gamecast: Taillon has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his five starts, permitting a total of three in those four outings. … In facing the Reds at PNC Park on April 11, Taillon was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk in six innings. … He faced Davis that day; it was by far Davis’ best start of the three he’d made in his young career: one run on two hits and four walks with three strikeouts in four innings. But after taking a Taillon line drive off his forearm, Davis was placed on the 10-day disabled list. … Davis was tagged for eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings in his lone start since then, April 26 at Milwaukee.

 

>>> Thursday’s game:  Pirates at Reds, 12:35 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Tim Adelman (0-1, 4.70)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 5.34)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 3.88)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 6.07)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 6.97)

 

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

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Game 26: Jaso at cleanup, Osuna in left, Diaz and Hanson starting

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By Chris Adamski

CINCINNATI – Five rookies, two players who were in Triple-A a few weeks ago, one guy making his first MLB start at a particular position and another who’s in the cleanup spot despite a .140 season average.

 

A spring training “B” game? No, it’s the Pirates’ lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Reds:

 

 

“Seventeen straight games,” manager Clint Hurdle said, simplifying the explanation. “Looking for opportunities to get guys off their feet. We’ll use (usual cleanup hitter Gregory) Polanco off the bench today. If he needs to play today, he will, just not start.

 

“We’re not hitting on the field tomorrow, so that’s more time off. It was an opportunity to take care of 48 hours. We’re going to find time for everybody. This isn’t a park (Polanco) hit really well in in his career, either, if you pull back some layers and look at numbers (.202 average, 27 strikeouts in 89 at bats). … The matchup today with (Reds starter Scott) Feldman, get (Jose) Osuna out in left, play (John) Jaso in right, get (Josh) Bell a couple extra left-handed at-bats with Polanco being out. It’s just a good time to give him a rest and to get him plugged back in tomorrow.”

 

Twitter ire mostly has centered around Jaso (.140/.233/.260 in 50 plate appearances this season) batting fourth. Actually, though, after today – assuming he comes up at least twice – it will be the fourth-most common spot he’s hit out of in his career. Jaso is also making his sixth start of the season in right field.

 

Osuna, a minor-league first baseman, is making his first MLB start in left (he’s made six starts in right). Alen Hanson (.182/.273/.182) is  making his fifth start at second baseman and Elias Diaz is making his first start of the season and second MLB start overall at catcher. He was recalled Monday.

 

The Pirates’ bench Tuesday? Polanco, Gift Ngoepe and Phil Gosselin – unless they want to burn their backup catcher, Chris Stewart. Francisco Cervelli remains out (Hurdle had no update on him pregame).

 
>>> No Frazier tomorrow:

Frazier
Adam Frazier won’t be back until at least the beginning of next week. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

And if anyone believed reinforcements were coming quickly… think again – at least when it comes to Adam Frazier. Frazier (left hamstring strain) said Tuesday that he will NOT come off the disabled list when first eligible Wednesday.

 

Frazier said he did plenty of on-field work Tuesday, and he added that he has not had any setbacks.

 

“Just not ready yet,” Frazier said.

 

“He had a pretty good workload today,” Hurdle said. “We’ll wait and see how he feels tomorrow and see what’s next. We anticipate him going on a rehab back end of the week.”

 

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“When you don’t execute, you put yourself at the mercy of the game.”

More miscues at second base contribute to Pirates’ loss to Reds


“In the offseason I’ll take a week off. Not now.”

Pirates notebook: Diaz recalled to boost depth at catcher


 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: None. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates (11-14): Josh Harrison 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, John Jaso 9, Jose Osuna 7, Elias Diaz 2, Alen Hanson 4, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98)

Reds (12-13): Billy Hamilton 8, Zack Cozart 6, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Jose Peraza 4, Devin Mesoraco 2, RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 3.25)

Gamecast: The Pirates have won three of Glasnow’s four starts – the best record they have with any starting pitcher – despite the fact he’s averaging just 3 2/3 innings per start. … Glasnow’s lone career start against the Reds (April 10) lasted only 1 2/3 innings and featured five earned runs, four hits and five walks. … Feldman has not faced the Pirates since 2010. … The Reds have lost four of his first five starts even though he’s allowed two or fewer runs in three of the five outings.

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Jameson Taillon (2-0, 2.08)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Brewers at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Tim Adelman (0-1, 4.70)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 3.88)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 6.07)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50)

 

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

Brewers: Lineup TBA. RHP Wily Peralta (4-1, 5.19 PLUS TUESDAY)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98 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 25: Cervelli on DL- “Not gonna happen”; Elias Diaz joins the club; Kuhl is cool

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By Chris Adamski

CINCINNATI – Francisco Cervelli was asked not once but twice if he believed it would be wise to shut down for a week or two to address the nagging right foot injury that’s kept him out of the lineup the past two days.

 

Both times, Cervelli has quick – and emphatic – answers.

 

“No. In the offseason I take a week off. Not now.”

 

So, no trip to the 10-day disabled list?

 

“No. Not gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen.”

 

OK, then.

 

But that doesn’t mean Cervelli is able to play currently. For the second day in a row, backup Chris Stewart is starting at catcher – and for the second day in a row, the Pirates summoned a catcher from the minor leagues to serve as the backup.

 

Monday, it was a more conventional and expected alternative – Elias Diaz was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.

 

Sunday, Single-A backup John Bormann was brought up on an emergency basis. For Diaz, this is his third stint in the majors (he’s appeared in three games – two in September 2015 and one last season). But don’t think he wasn’t just as excited as Bormann.

 

“Definitely, because here is where I want to be all the time,” Diaz said. “So it’s just as exciting for me.”

 

 

 

>>> Kuhl is cool after taking line drive off his knee

A day after a line drive struck him in Miami, starter Chad Kuhl could still see the indentation of a ball and its stitches in his right knee.

 

“You can see where it hit,” Kuhl said Monday afternoon.

 

But Kuhl doesn’t expect to be limited it all by the swelling or lingering pain – and he certainly doesn’t expect to miss his next scheduled start Friday in Pittsburgh.

 

“I think I’m gonna be fine,” Kuhl said. “Just bruised. I’ll go out there and play catch and see how it feels.”

 

 

>>> Freese, Frazier play catch

As manager Clint Hurdle asserted, this isn’t too much of an update on the pair of Pirates infielders who are currently on the disabled list with hamstring strains. But I did take a photo of it, so here it is:

 

 

“They were going to hit in the cage a little bit and see if they were good enough to hit on the field,” Hurdle said three hours before Monday’s first pitch and an hour after Fraizer and Freese were playing long toss as head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk watched. “Are they getting better? Yeah they’re getting better; I just don’t know where that stands or what that means right now.”

 

Frazier is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday; Freese on Friday.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“Pretty intense pain. I wanted to stay out there, but they took me out.”

Kuhl exits early in Pirates’ loss to Marlins

 

“It’s once in a lifetime, for sure. Something I’ll never forget.”

Pirates notebook: Class A catcher Bormann called up

 

 

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

Pirates (11-13): Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Phil Gosselin 4, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.60).

Reds (11-13): Billy Hamilton 8, Zack Cozart 6, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Scott Schebler 9, Scooter Gennett 5, Jose Peraza 4, Tucker Barnhart 2, RHP Amir Garrett (2-2, 5.09).

Gamecast: The Reds have owned Cole, who’s gone 0-6 with a 5.44 ERA in eight career starts against them. Five of those outings were at GABP, where Cole is 0-3 with a 4.55 ERA. … Scooter Gennett has gone 8 for 17 (.471) against Cole, but has never driven in a run against him. The Reds’ biggest run-producer vs. Cole is not Joey Votto (two RBI in 15 at-bats), but Eugenio Suarez (three RBI in seven at-bats). … Garrett began him MLB career by tossing 12 straight scoreless innings over his first two starts. David Freese ended that run with a two-run homer in the seventh inning on April 12 at PNC Park. … So far this season, eight Reds have made their MLB debuts. … Rookie pitchers have started 175 of the Reds past 348 games (50.3 percent), including a club-record 110 games in 2015.

 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 3.25)

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Jameson Taillon (2-0, 2.08)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 12:35 p.m., Great American Ball Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50)

Reds: Lineup TBA. RHP Tim Adelman (0-1, 4.70)

 

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

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Game 24: Nova goes the distance

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Getty Images

NovaGettyMIAMI — Remember when it seemed manager Clint Hurdle never let one of his starting pitchers complete a game? Last night, there was a moment in the eighth inning when Ivan Nova left a curveball up in the zone and Marcell Ozuna, who had whiffed on curves in the second and fifth innings, whacked it to left-center for a leadoff single. Was Nova tiring? Was it time to yank him? Hurdle indicated it was an easy call to allow Nova to go the distance.

“(Felipe) Rivero was up in the eighth, just because it can happen in a hurry,” Hurdle said. “I wanted to make sure we were going to give (Nova) rope to pitch the (entire) game. We had a pitch count for him that he never got to. He never got near it. So, I just wanted to let him pitch. A couple of times earlier, he’d shown the ability to get right back. My goodness, three hits on the night? It was his night.”

Nova used a tidy 95 pitches to blank the Marlins. It’s his highest pitch count this season — which is impressive, because he’s worked at least six innings in every start — and the second-most he’s thrown in 16 starts with the Pirates.

>>> Behind the left field wall at Marlins Park is The Clevelander, a brassy nightclub that usually attracts a big postgame crowd, especially on weekends. The press box is windowless (because domed stadium), so the thump, thump, thump of dance music pours in as we write our game stories. The music always is loud, but last night it was drowned out by the cheering from a huge contingent of Pirates fans who watched the Penguins-Capitals game on TV.

>>> Joe Block likes to poke around on baseball-reference.com, and thank goodness because it saves us all a lot of time and energy.

>>> UPDATE 11:12 a.m. – The Marlins will hold a pregame ceremony today to honor Ichiro Suzuki for passing the 3,000-hit plateau. The event originally was scheduled for last September, but was postponed due to the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

>>> BREAKING 1:35 p.m. – The Pirates  bought the contract of catcher John Bormann from High-A Bradenton and optioned outfielder Danny Ortiz to Triple-A Indianapolis. Bormann was en route by car from Bradenton as the game against the Marlins got under way. He was a 24th-round pick in 2015 and hit .231 in seven games with Bradenton.

The sudden addition of a backup catcher suggests an injury to starter Francisco Cervelli. The Pirates have not yet made any announcement about Cervelli’s status. Backup Chris Stewart started Sunday’s game against the Marlins.

Cervelli started each of the previous five games. On Saturday night, he moved slowly down the line on two grounders and a fly out. “If I am not bleeding, I am not going out,” Cervelli said. “Gotta keep playing.”

>>> Yinz want links? All right, all right, for cryin’ out loud. I’ve got links:

Pirates 4, Marlins 0: Nova, Nova, Nova, Nova, four straight walks, Nova, Nova, great infield defense, Nova, Nova.

Notebook: In which Freese is disabled, Ortiz makes his debut, the catchers give a bit more, and Taillon whiffs (and it was a good thing).

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, John Jaso 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Alen Hanson 4, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) 1

Marlins: Dee Gordon 4, Martin Prado 5, Christian Yelich 8, Giancarlo Stanton 9, Marcell Ozuna 7, A.J. Ellis 2, Miguel Rojas 6, RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14) 1

Gamecast: Koehler is 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in five career starts vs. the Pirates. … Kuhl took his first career loss on Aug. 20, 2026, vs. the Marlins at PNC Park. He gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings. The big blow was a two-run homer by Xavier Scruggs. … Andrew McCutchen has reached base in 18 consecutive games. It’s the longest active streak in the NL and is tied for longest in the league this season. … Josh Bell has reached base in 13 straight games. … Last night, J.T. Realmuto had his eight-game hitting streak snapped. It was the Marlins’ second-longest this season, behind Dee Gordon’s nine-game binge from April 5-14.

>>> Monday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.60) Reds: LHP Amir Garrett (2-2, 5.09)

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98) Reds: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 3.25)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (2-0, 2.08) Reds: RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

>>> Thursday: Pirates at Reds, 12:35 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (3-2, 1.50) Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (0-1, 4.70)

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

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Game 23: Jamo at the bat

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by The Associated Press

TaillonVsMarlinsMIAMI — It’s not often than a pitcher gets to bat with the bases loaded, but that’s where Jameson Taillon found himself — twice — in the second inning of last night’s 12-2 blowout of the Marlins. “I knew someone was going to ask about that,” Taillon said after the game. “I’m aware I’m the only guy who didn’t get a hit there.” (Actually neither did Gregory Polanco, who flied out and was hit by a pitch, and Josh Bell, who struck out and walked).

In his first at-bat, Taillon struck out swinging against lefty Adam Conley with the bases juiced and one out. As it turned out, that was the second-best thing that could have happened. The Pirates put their next eight batters on base and scored eight runs. If Taillon had made contact, he probably would have grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“I actually had that in my head,” Taillon said with a smile. “I didn’t strike out on purpose. I was thinking that (Conley) was struggling, so I took a first-pitch fastball to see if maybe he’d fall behind. Then he threw me a changeup and a slider. I don’t get paid to hit those.”

With two outs, Taillon came up again against reliever Jose Urena. Before the first pitch, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmulto looked up at Taillon and asked, “When you got to the park today, did you think you’d have two ABs in the second inning?” Taillon grounded into an inning-ending double play.

>>> UPDATE 4:31 p.m. – David Freese was placed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to April 26) with a strained right hamstring. Outfielder Danny Ortiz, 27, was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

In 17 games with Indy, Ortiz batted .217 with a .499 OPS and struck out 13 times in 60 at-bats. He is a natural center fielder, but also can play the corner spots. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a center fielder,” Ortiz said through translator Mike Gonzalez. “I feel the most comfortable in center field. But ever since I signed, they’ve moved me around. So, I feel comfortable in any position in the outfield, but of course my passion is for center field.”

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 12, Marlins 2: The Pirates are in for a lotta ball over the next 2 1/2 weeks. This was a good way to start.

Notebook: In which Gift handles celebrity, Freese is still sore, and the Pirates pay their bills

>>> What did you watch last night?

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, John Jaso 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Gift Ngoepe 4, RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) 1

Marlins: Dee Gordon 4, Martin Prado 5, Christian Yelich 8, Giancarlo Stanton 9, Justin Bour 3, Marcell Ozuna 7, J.T. Realmuto 2, Adeiny Hechavarria 6,  RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92) 1

Gamecast: In his last outing, Straily gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings vs. the Padres. Straily walked one and struck out 14, making him the 10th pitcher in Marlins history to collect 14-plus whiffs in one game. … Going into this series, Marlins outfielders led the majors by driving in a run every 4.78 at-bats and homering every 14.35 at-bats. … Marcell Ozuna’s 21 RBI since opening day is his highest total in any month in his career. … Josh Harrison is 4 for 12, including two solo homers, vs. Straily. Two of the Pirates’ best hitters vs. Straily — Jung Ho Kang (.333) and Starling Marte (.400) — are absent. … Nova has never faced the Marlins. In his last outing, Nova gave up one run in seven innings and picked up the win vs. the Yankees. … The Pirates are in a stretch of 17 games without a day off. Fourteen of those games will be on the road.

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) Marlins: RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14)

>>> Monday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.60) Reds: LHP Amir Garrett (2-2, 5.09) Note: The Reds were rained out on Saturday, so everyone in their rotation was pushed back one day.

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98) Reds: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 3.25)

>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (2-0, 2.08) Reds: RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

>>> Thursday: Pirates at Reds, 12:35 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (tbd) Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (0-1, 4.70)

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

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Game 22: Improvements needed, and quickly

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

ColeSadMIAMI — After the Pirates wasted Gerrit Cole’s gem and lost, 1-0, to the Cubs on Tuesday, I poked my head into Joe Maddon’s postgame presser. This part jumped out at me: “One of those nights. We always talk about you’ve got to win 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 to win championships. So, we’ll take it.”

Last season, the Pirates were 20-12 in one-run games. This year, they are 5-5. It’s going to get worse, unless the defense improves — dramatically — and the Pirates find a way to score more runs.

>>> In some ways, it’s a little bit amazing the Pirates (9-12) are as close to .500 a they are. Before this week’s roster shuffling brought about by Antonio Bastardo’s conveniently timed quad injury and the hamstring injuries to Adam Frazier and David Freese, the Pirates had essentially been playing with a 23-man roster. Bastardo was so out of sync he could not in pitch when a game was on the line, and Alen Hanson was buried on the bench. What’s more, the club has just two bona fide outfielders and no backup shortstop.

>>>Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports figures that at this point, the Pirates are closer to being sellers than buyers in July. It’s a valid point.

>>> Poor Tyler Glasnow. Earlier this week, when talking about the bullpen, manager Clint Hurdle kept stressing he needed a long reliever available on Wednesday because Glasnow was scheduled to start. Talk about a vote of no confidence, eh?

Turned out, Hurdle was right. Glasnow lasted only 3.1 IP vs. the Cubs and threw 89 pitches. He’s made it through five innings just once in four starts this year, including 1.2 IP vs. the Reds on April 10, 5.0 IP vs. Cubs on April 15, and 4.2 IP vs. the Yankees on April 21.

>>> Through his first four starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, RHP Drew Hutchison is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He’s averaged 3.8 walks and 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. His scheduled to make his next start on Sunday.

>>> Gerrit Cole’s second annual “Uncork for a Cause” will be held June 11 at Sienna Mercato in the Cultural District. The event will benefit Pirates Charities and The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh and also will serve as a release party for Cole’s 2014 Sonoma Reserve red wine. Click on this link for ticket info

>>> The Pirates broke out their beach gear for their chartered flight to Miami. Hawaiian shirts and shorts were mandatory, but the memo also cautioned “no open-toed shoes” on the plane. Maybe they’re saving the Penguins jersey theme for after the Pens knock off the Capitals in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

https://twitter.com/MeLlamoTrevor/status/857708816443600896

>>> You want links? I’ve got a grand total of … one:

John Jaso muses that perhaps he “have played basketball” to Trib reporter Jerry DiPaola

>>> Purely for entertainment purposes, non-scientific Twitter poll results:

>>> Friday: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Gift Ngoepe 4, RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13) 1

Marlins: JT Realmuto 2, Martin Prado 5, Christian Yelich 8, Giancarlo Stanton 9, Justin Bour 3, Marcell Ozuna 7, Derek Dietrich 4, Adeiny Hechavarria 6, LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00) 1

Gamecast: Ngoepe will make his first MLB start. … Taillon has never faced the Marlins. … Conley has made 44 career appearances, but has faced the Pirates just once before. On June 1, 2016, he held the Pirates to two hits over six scoreless innings in a 3-2 victory. … Conley has allowed one run in three of his past four starts. … The Marlins went 6-1 vs. the Pirates last season. It was their first winning record against them since 2011, when Miami went 6-0.  The Marlins’ .584 winning percentage at home vs. the Pirates is their second-best mark against any NL team. … Marcell Ozuna has 21 RBI, which is tied for second most in the majors. … Marlins outfielders have combined for 18 homers and 51 RBI in 19 games.

FreeseThrowPNC>>> UPDATE 4:50 p.m. – David Freese said his right hamstring discomfort “is still there a little bit” today, but has not yet ruled out being available off the bench for tonight’s game vs. the Marlins. 

Freese hit in in the indoor cage this afternoon. He also planned to take some grounders during batting practice (which has not yet begun as I type this). “I need to see where I’m at after that and we’ll go from there,” Freese said.

Freese said he strained his hamstring during Monday’s game vs. the Cubs. “I missed first on my hit down the line. I was trying to decide where I was going to go, based on (Ben) Zobrist’s throw, so I missed the bag, then planted (my foot), stopped an tried to get back and tweaked it a little bit.”

Freese’s name is on the lineup card posted in the clubhouse. “My name is on there, so to the Marlins, I’m available,” Freese said with a smile. “We’ll know more later.”

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92)

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) Marlins: RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14)

>>> Monday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.60) Reds: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2, 3.25)

>>> Tuesday: Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.98) Reds: RHP Rookie Davis (0-1, 11.17)

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

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Game 21: Freese not in lineup but not ruled out to be available; a new Gift to open

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Two days after injuring himself when he missed the bag at first base, David Freese is “getting better” and hasn’t been ruled out to be available for Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

 

“Right hamstring tightness, day to day (but) he does feel better today,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said about three hours prior to Wednesday’s scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch. “We will continue to treat and monitor him throughout the course of the day to see if there’s any availability for this evening. Obviously, (Thursday is a team off day) and we’ll re-assess him on Friday.”

 

On a team struggling offensively (last in the National League in runs), Freese has been the Pirates’ best hitter through three weeks. He leads the team in OPS (.954), home runs (tied, three), RBIs (10), average among regulars (.321) and walks (10).

 

The first game he missed was Tuesday – the Pirates were shut out.

 

>>> A new Gift to eagerly open:

GIFT
Gift Ngoepe is the first player from the continent of Africa to reach the Major Leagues. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

The Pirates made it farther into a season without a DL move than they had in 26 years. But once the transactions started coming, they kept coming.

 

For the third consecutive day, the Pirates announced a roster move. And in a never-seen-before twist, neither of the two parties involved in it were from the Americas.

 

Infielder Gift Ngoepe – a native of South Africa – was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Two days after being recalled and making his major-league debut, righty reliever Dovydas Neverauskas (MLB’s first born-and-raised Lithuanian) was optioned to Triple-A.

 

“I can’t describe the feeling right now. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Ngoepe said. “When (manager Clint Hurdle) calls me onto the field and says,`Hey, you have to go pinch-hit or pinch-run or take your glove out and play defense,’ that’s when everything will come together and I will burst into tears.”

 

As you might expect, Ngoepe is not in today’s lineup:

https://twitter.com/Pirates/status/857294863926263808

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates call up Ngoepe, send down Neverauskas less than 48 hours after his recall

 

“There are going to be ups and downs throughout the whole year. You can’t get frustrated.”

Punchless Pirates 2-hit Cubs, lose on unearned run

 

“I do not see it as a program failure that we have positive tests.” 

MLB commissioner Manfred has faith in drug-testing program

 

“”I’m going to take my time to get my body better, get healthy, and work on my stuff.”

Pirates notebook: Hobbled Bastardo joins growing list of sidelined players

 

 

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

Cubs (12-8): Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9, Willson Contreras 2, Javy Baez 4, Jon Lester 1, Jon Jay 8. LHP Lester (0-0, 2.66)

Pirates (8-12): Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Phil Gosselin 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94)

Gamecast: Going into Tuesday’s game, the Cubs scored four or more runs in an inning nine times this season. No other team in the majors has splurged as often. … In their first 11 wins, the Cubs hit .289 with an .870 OPS and averaged 7.4 runs. In their first eight losses, the Cubs batted .221 with a .614 OPS and averaged 2.8 runs. … Lester tossed seven scoreless innings vs. the Pirates on April 16 at Wrigley Field but wound up with a no-decision. Over his first three starts, Lester allowed a total of two runs on 14 hits. In his last outing Friday vs. the Reds, he yielded five runs on nine hits.

 

>>> Off day Thursday

 

>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13 ERA)

Marlins (10-8): Lineup TBA. LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00 ERA)

Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92 ERA)

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63 ERA)

Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14 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 20: As it turned out, adding an arm was the right call

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

NeverauskasDebutWhen Adam Frazier went on the disabled list on Monday, the Pirates recalled Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indy. It seemed an odd move, swapping out a utilityman for a reliever — especially considering the gaping hole in right field — but the Pirates figured they might need some bullpen depth with the high-flying Cubs in town.

As it turned out, they did. RHP Chad Kuhl was bounced in the second inning. Trevor Williams (four innings, 69 pitches), Antonio Bastardo (1.1 innings, 39 pitches) and Neverauskas (two innings) picked up the pieces.

“It pretty much played out perfectly,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Unless you’d like to use (Daniel) Hudson or (Tony) Watson (on Monday) or use your other long man (Wade LeBlanc) when you’ve got Tyler Glasnow coming two days from now. You’re really pushing your bullpen. If you look at the innings pitched, there are some guys in some areas who tonight the night they needed to pitch when we’re losing by 10 runs. So, it made all the sense in the world from our perspective to bring in the extra reliever.”

>>> Anthony Rizzo stole second base in the first inning last night. He got a huge jump off the bag and Kuhl never flinched or looked over. Hurdle was asked if someone should have made Kuhl aware that Rizzo was in motion.

“Fourteen different people yelled from the dugout and the infield,” Hurdle said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened to us. It’s something we’re well aware of, that we need to improve upon off the mound. We haven’t figured that one out yet.”

PalmTree>>> The Pirates will have their first themed road trip this weekend when they travel to Miami to play the Marlins. Instead of coats and ties, the dress code on the charter plane is relaxed: Hawaiian shirts and shorts.

>>> UPDATE 4:02 p.m. – LH reliever Antonio Bastardo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left quad. RH reliever Johnny Barbato was called up from Triple-A Indy.

Bastardo said he sustained the injury during the seventh inning of last night’s game, but he didn’t let management know about it until later last night: “I didn’t want to leave the game because of that. I tried to stay in there because the team needed me to.” Bastardo will be shut down for a week, then will begin his rehab at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. “I’m going to take my time to get my body better, get healthy, and work on my stuff and my throwing program,” he said. “I feel bad that it happened to me.”

 Barbato was acquired on April 17  from the Yankees for a PTBNL or (more likely) cash.  He pitched in two games (three innings) with Indy, and gave up one hit and struck out three. The day the Pirates got Barbato, Hurdle essentially said he knew nothing about him. This afternoon, Hurdle knew a little bit more: “Three-pitch guy, aggressive in the zone. Can give us multiple innings.” Take a peek over Jerry DiPaola’s shoulder (and his Android phone) and listen in as Barbato is grilled in his welcome-to-the-club presser:

>>> UPDATE 4:45 p.m.:  – MLB made a scoring change to the April 13 game v. the Red Sox.  In the bottom of the eight, Andrew Benintendi reached on what was originally ruled a fielder’s choice with an assist to Starling Marte and error on Phil Gosselin.  This has been changed to a single to center.  As a result, all the runs in the inning are earned. So, the Benintendi and the Red Sox gain a hit and Hudson picks up two earned runs.

Manfred>>> UPDATE 7:05 p.m. – MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before tonight’s game. A few quick hits:

— On MLB’s PED program: “I think there is widespread recognition … that Major League Baseball has the best drug program. And by that I mean testing, as well as investigative capacity; the number of tests we do, given the number of athletes we employ, is the best anywhere — professional or amateur sports. I do not see it as a program failure that we have positive tests. I doubt that we will ever get to the point where any sport can say with 100 percent certainty that no athlete is using a performance-enhancing drug. Occasionally, athletes are going to make a bad decision and we have a program in place that is the best at catching them if they make that decision.”

On the potential sale of the Marlins: “I have a policy about not commenting about sale processes, but given what’s been out there today, I think it’s important to clarify a couple of things. I am absolutely certain, know for a fact, that there are multiple groups interested in acquiring the Marlins. One of those groups is the (Jeb) Bush-(Derek) Jeter group. I’m going to go beyond that. There are multiple groups that have made bids for the club. When there is a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we’ll announce that pubicly. Until that happens, it’s just not appropriate for me to comment further.

Did Starling Marte appeal his positive PED test?  “No, he did not.”

Manfred’s role in the Jung Ho Kang saga:  “We’re monitoring the situation. We have not been actively involved other than giving advice. That’s what we ordinarily do, with respect to immigration matters. That’s generally handled by the club. They’re in a position to do that more effectively than we are.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Cubs 14, Pirates 3: No mercy.

Notebook: In which Cutch recalls The Ryan Doumit Experiment and other misadventures in right field.

Frazier goes down, Neverauskas comes up,

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

Cubs (11-8): Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, BenZobrist 4, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9, Willson Contreras 2, RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19) 1, Albert Almora 8.

Pirates (8-11): Josh Harrison 5, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, John Jaso 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Alen Hanson 4, RHP Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70)

Gamecast: In his last outing on Wednesday, Hendricks gave up four runs, including two homers, in five innings vs. the Brewers. The Cubs won the game on Addison Russell’s two-out, walkoff homer. … Coming into this series, the Cubs had scored 15 runs in the ninth inning. It was the most of any National League club and third-most in baseball behind the Indians (21) and the Angels (18). The Cubs’ .302 average (19 for 63) in the ninth inning is second in the NL behind the Marlins (.323). … Hendricks is battling mechanical problems. His fastball velocity is 86.2 mph, down 3.5 mph from last year, and there’s not enough separation from his 79.6 mph changeup.

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

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 2.66) Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94 ERA)

>>> Thursday: Off

>>> Friday: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13) Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92)

>>> Saturday: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Marlins:

>>> Sunday: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m. Marlins Park, Miami. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 3.94, not including tonight’s game)

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

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Game 19: Did Nova make Yankees wonder ‘what if?’

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

NovaVsYankeesDid the Yankees make a mistake? Should they have held on to RHP Ivan Nova last year instead of trading him to the Pirates? “Look at (Nova’s) numbers at our place,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Sunday’s game. “He had some good years, he had some tough years. We had to make a decision. Last year at that time we thought it was the right move to make and we made the move and we don’t look back.”

Nova’s digits in 67 outings at Yankee Stadium: 27-19, 4.35 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2.20 SO/BB

Nova’s digits in 15 outings with the Pirates (all venues): 7-4, 2.75 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.75 SO/BB.

What’s made Nova so good with the Pirates? Catcher Chris Stewart knows. “HIs ball moves,” Stewart said. “He’s got the good sinker. He’s throwing the changeup a lot more this year and keeping guys off balance. And he has a devastating curveball at times. Hitters never get comfortable and they can’t sit on one pitch in one spot. He’s comfortable throwing strikes and knows he can get a lot of outs quickly doing that.”

On Sunday, Nova had success against the Yankees by elevating the ball at times. It can be a risky move for some pitchers, but Nova’s ability to keep the ball low in the zone makes him tougher to hit when he tries the upper part of the zone. “When you throw the four-seam up a little higher than they’re expecting, they’re going to swing through it most of the time,” Stewart said. “The main thing is, it changes the eye level. He’s able to throw it not just in the strike zone, but we’re able to expand on it, too. I think that’s big that he’s able to go up and out of the zone and get swings.”

FrazierST2017SS>>> UPDATE 6:52 p.m. – Utilityman Adam Frazier was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Right-handed reliever Dovydas Neverauskas was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Neverauskas, 24, was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and signed in 2009 as a non-drafted free agent. When he pitches for the Pirates, Neverauskas will becomes the second Lithuanian to appear in the majors. Outfielder Joe Zapustas, who was born in Lithuania and grew up in Boston, played for the Philadelphia A’s in 1933.

This is the first time since 1991 that the Pirates were 19  games into the season before making their first DL move. 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 2, Yankees 1: The millions (well, 28,000 or so) who were there can tell their grandkids they say Stewie leg out a triple.

Notebook: In which Bastardo is puzzled, Huntington seems set to stand pat instead of adding an outfielder, and Marte makes plans to work out

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

Cubs (10-8): Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Ben Zobrist 9, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 8, Miguel Montero 2, LHP Brett Anderson (1-0, 4.40), Javy Baez 4

Pirates (8-10): Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, RHP Chad Kuhl (1-1, 2.60)

Gamecast: Kuhl is 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA in three starts (all last season) vs. the Cubs. … Kuhl is coming off a pair of quality starts, with nine Ks and one walk in 12.1 innings. … Over the past nine games, the Pirates’ leadoff batters have gone a combined .278 (10 for 36) with a homer, four RBI and seven runs scored. … The Pirates are 4-0-1 in their past five games vs. the Cubs, including a three-game sweep a week ago at Wrigley Field. The bad news? They went 3-6-1 vs. the Cubs last year at PNC Park. … Rizzo has homered in three straight games. … Heyward hit a solo homer on Friday and a three-run shot on Saturday vs. the Reds. It was the first time Heyward went deep in back-to-back games since joining the Cubs. He’s hit safely in 15 of 17 games this season, including each of his past 10 starts.

>>> The Cubs have scored 15 runs in the ninth inning this season. I’s the most of any National League club and third-most in baseball behind the Indians  (21) and the Angels (18). The Cubs’ .302 average (19 for 63) in the ninth inning is second in the NL behind the Marlins (.323), and their four home runs in the ninth are tied for third-most in baseball. The Blue Jays lead with with six homers in the ninth.

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

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19) Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70)

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

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 2.66) Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94 ERA)

>>> Thursday: Off

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

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– Rob Biertempfel