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An unofficial Pittsburgh Pirates blog



Updated: 2017-07-20T01:11:46-04:00

 



Youngsters, Cole come through in the clutch

2017-07-20T01:11:46-04:00

Max Moroff was hitting just .083 as the league headed into the All-Star Break last week. With Starling Marte due back in the Pirates lineup a couple weeks later, the Pirates' 23-year old utility infielder presumably did not have a sure grip on his spot on the big league roster. Manager Clint Hurdle said that the team kept him because he is the second-best shortstop option on the team and can play the other three most demanding infield positions. Even though Moroff wouldn’t get the at-bats he needed in the majors, his glove, not his bat, made him valuable. Since the break, Moroff has only had three hits. But he has certainly squeezed as much value out of those hits as he possibly could. On Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Moroff clanged a ball off of the foul pole for his first career home run. On Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, he gave the Pirates a late two-run lead with a pinch-hit RBI single. And on Wednesday night, with the winning run on third in the tenth inning, Moroff did it again. “It’s amazing,” Moroff said. “That’s the stuff that you see on TV when you’re little.” Down by a run in the ninth inning, Moroff pinch ran for David Freese after the third baseman worked a one-out walk. Moroff would come around to score the tying run, first hustling from first to third on Gregory Polanco’s single to right field and then coming home on Francisco Cervelli’s clutch single. Then, with two outs in the tenth inning, Moroff made the most his first and only plate appearance of the day when he fought off a 2-1 sinker from former Pirates reliever Jared Hughes and sent a soft line drive that nestled neatly between the Brewers second baseman and center fielder. Josh Harrison, who doubled earlier in the inning, came around to score and Moroff was doused with four coolers of Powerade and a few buckets of bubblegum. Freese, who had two hits and reached base three times on Wednesday, played the backup role last season and knows what it is like to have sporadic at-bats. The veteran third baseman commended Moroff’s efforts, even if they haven’t shown up on his stat line. “Over the years, we’ve all seen guys who have come up to just be put into tough spots, potentially to not succeed,” Freese said. “[Moroff] is doing a great job up here.” Now six games into a crucial seven-game home stand against division rivals, the Pirates are 5-1. All five of those were come-from-behind wins, three of which ended in walk-off fashion. Each one of those walk-off hits came from players in their first full major league seasons. “That’s baseball, man,” Harrison said. “You get presented with opportunities at different times. He’s done a good job of just staying the course and taking advantage of every opportunity out there.” Josh Bell hit a walk-off homer on Friday. Adam Frazier drove the winning run home on Sunday. Moroff came through on Wednesday. Clint Hurdle has seen a lot of baseball in his day, but the Pirates skipper could not recall a time when three first-year players (he called them rookies, which doesn’t officially apply to Frazier) came through with walk-off hits in one week. “I’ve never seen that and I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff,” Hurdle said. “Teams get on rolls and different people continue to show up. This is no different.” The Pirates have now won 10 of their last 12 games, which include seven wins against the three teams that are currently ahead of them in the National League Central. If the Bucs complete the four-game sweep against the Brewers tomorrow afternoon, Pittsburgh will once again reach .500 and will be just three games behind Milwaukee in the standings. Freese said that things feel different inside of the clubhouse. Morale is high. Camaraderie is strong. The Bucs are winning and winning is good. “Anybody walking off for us is awesome, but when you get three young guys in one week, you can’t beat that,” Freese said. Is Cole an “ace”? Who cares? Mark Madden, local sports radio host and gleeful Pirates detractor, challeng[...]



Harrison, Freese lead Bucs comeback

2017-07-18T22:47:28-04:00

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Josh Harrison’s two-out, two-run homer in the sixth tied the game and David Freese’s single drove in the go ahead run as the Pirates roared back with four in that inning to down the first place Brewers 4-3, taking a two games to nothing lead in the four game series.

Ivan Nova looked like batting practice when he gave up six consecutive hits in the third, but the only scoring came on Travis Shaw’s three-run blast that cleared the right-center seats.

Over the next three innings Nova settled down and only allowed two more singles, one of which was erased on a double play. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra faced the minimum through five, the only base runner being a line-drive single by Starling Marte in the fourth, who was then picked off second base with two outs.

That all changed in the bottom of the sixth when Francisco Cervelli led off with a shot into the left-field seats for his fifth homer of the season, cutting the Brewers’ lead to 3-1. After retiring Jordy Mercer and Adam Frazier, Guerra suddenly lost his command, walking Marte on four pitches and falling behind 3-0 on Harrison. After taking a strike, Harrison lined an outside pitch over the Clemente Wall in right for his eleventh homer, tying the game at three.

Guerra was done for the night but the Pirates weren’t. Reliever Oliver Drake walked Andrew McCutchen and allowed a single to Josh Bell, putting runners at first and second with two outs. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Freese worked it to 3-2, then grounded a single into right to score McCutchen with the go ahead run.

That’s when Clint Hurdle called on the bullpen, and recently reunited A.J. Schugel was filthy in the seventh, throwing 12 of 16 pitches for strikes while allowing only an infield hit to Eric Thames and striking out Ryan Braun swinging to end the inning.

Daniel Hudson, now apparently in the circle of trust, started the eighth with a called strike three on Milwaukee’s cleanup hitter Shaw that may have been six inches outside. Shaw slammed his bat on the ground and turned to saw a few choice words to home plate ump Mike Muchlinski who promptly tossed both Shaw and manager Craig Counsell. Two ground balls later, it was a 1-2-3 inning.

As is now the custom, Felipe Rivero was called on the pitch the ninth. After Keon Broxton struck out his league-leading 120th time, Orlando Arcia singled off Rivero’s glove and pinch-hitter Jett Bandy lined another hit into right. With the tying run at second, Rivero pumped the 100 mph heat to strike out two of the Brewers’ better hitters, Domingo Santana and Eric Thames, to end the game.

The series continues with game three on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. Eastern, with Zach Davies (11-4, 5.08) facing the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.35)




Cannonballs coming: Edison Lantigua stays hot

2017-07-18T22:38:04-04:00

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West Virginia was off and the GCL Pirates were rained out.

— Indianapolis (53-42) lost to Durham, 5-1. Drew Hutchison had an odd start. In six innings, he was charged with five runs even though he allowed only five hits, no walks and no gopher balls. What hurt him were two fielder’s choice plays, on which the defense got no outs, in a four-run second inning. Hutchison struck out four. The Indians managed just four singles.

Chris Bostick: 1-3, BB
Jordan Luplow: 0-4
Elias Diaz: 1-3, BB
Eric Wood: 0-3, BB
Montana DuRapau: IP, K

— Altoona’s (48-45) bullpen had another meltdown in a 9-7 loss to last-place Harrisburg. The Curve scored seven times in the third inning and took a 7-2 lead into the seventh. Unfortunately, Sean Keselica and Brandon Cumpton, who’s been struggling in his rehab, combined to get torched for seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Starter J.T. Brubaker gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits in five innings. He walked two and fanned six. Elvis Escobar went 3-5 with a double and Edwin Espinal hit his 13th HR. Some guy named Dragmire got the win.

Kevin Newman: 2-5, 2B
Jerrick Suiter: 2-4, BB
Jin-De Jhang: 2-4
Wyatt Mathisen: 0-3, BB
Pablo Reyes: 2-4, 2B

— Bradenton (52-39) beat Fort Myers, 3-1. Bret Helton, who’ll probably take Taylor Hearn’s spot in the rotation, threw seven strong innings, giving up a run on four hits and a walk. He fanned six. Christian Kelley was 2-3 with a double.

Ke’Bryan Hayes: 1-4
Will Craig: 1-4

— Morgantown (17-11). beat Auburn, 7-6, in 11 innings. Starter Sergio Cubilete pitched well but was hampered by his defense. He allowed three runs, all of them unearned, on six hits and no walks in five innings. Blake Weiman gave up a run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but did strike out five over two innings. Black Bears pitchers fanned 15 total in the game. Lucas Tancas went 2-5 with a double and his first pro HR. Tristan Gray hit his third HR.

Deon Stafford: 3-6, 2B
Dylan Busby: 1-4, BB

— Bristol (8-18) beat Elizabethton, 9-4. Domingo Robles had a good start, but he also was hurt by errors. He gave up three runs, two of them unearned, in five innings. Robles allowed four hits, walked none and struck out four. Edison Lantigua (pictured) went 2-4 with a pair of doubles, a walk and three RBIs. Through 21 games, Lantigua is batting 307/441/573. Nelson Jorge hit his second HR, a three-run shot.

Yondry Contreras: 1-4, 2B, BB
Huascar Fuentes: 3-5, 2B

— The DSL Pirates (21-17) beat the Indians/Brewers, 9-7. Williams Calderon went 3-4 with a double and Ronaldo Paulino 2-5. Pablo Santana, Wilmer Contreras and Francis Del Orbe struck out nine in six and two-thirds innings of relief.

Jean Eusebio: 1-5, BB
Sherten Apostel: 0-4, BB




Gamethread: Time to Parte

2017-07-18T17:55:04-04:00

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The big news around the Pirates is the return of center left fielder Starling Marte from his 80 game suspension for PED use. Marte had appeared in only 13 April games before his suspension, then hit 304/320/348 in 12 minor league rehab games over the past couple of weeks in getting ready for his return.

The Pirates will return to their pre-2017 defensive alignment, wife Marte in left, Andrew McCutchen in center and Gregory Polanco in right. To make room on the roster, infielder Phil Gosselin was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, and to make room in the lineup, Adam Frazier takes a seat, at least for tonight.

On the mound for the 7:05 start, Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.20) faces Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.78) who is again returning from the disabled list, as he suffered right shin discomfort after being struck by a batted ball. Guerra defeated the Pirates 4-3 on June 21, allowing 3 runs in 6 innings.

.

BREWERS

1 R Domingo Santana, RF

2 L Eric Thames, 1B

3 R Ryan Braun, LF

4 L Travis Shaw, 3B

5 R Hernan Perez, 2B

6 R Manny Pina, C

7 R Keon Broxton, CF

8 R Orlando Arcia, SS

9 R Junior Guerra, RHP

.

PIRATES

1 R Starling Marte, LF

2 R Josh Harrison, 2B

3 R Andrew McCutchen, CF

4 S Josh Bell, 1B

5 R David Freese, 3B

6 L Gregory Polanco, RF

7 R Francisco Cervelli, C

8 R Jordy Mercer, SS

9 R Ivan Nova, RHP