Pirates draw 2.5 games out of first place

 

Photo: David Hague PIRATES – BREWERS REACTIONS PITTSBURGH — Suddenly, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made things interesting in the National League Central again. The Pirates drew within 2 ½ games of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night with a 10-2 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. The Cardinals lost twice to the Reds at Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon, dropping the completion of a game suspended Friday night then the regularly scheduled game. The Pirates also padded their lead in the NL wild card race — and for second place in the division — to five games over the Chicago Cubs, who lost to the Phillies at Philadelphia on Saturday night. The Pirates haven’t been this close to first place since winning three games in a row from the Cardinals at PNC Park just before the All-Star break in July. However, there was little celebrating after theRead More »

Chris Stewart leads Pirates past Brewers

 

Photo: David Hague PIRATES – BREWERS REACTIONS Chris Stewart came to the Pirates with the reputation of being a good “catch-and-throw guy,” which is baseball shorthand for a catcher who can’t hit. Stewart had a .214 career batting average over seven seasons when the Pirates acquired him in trade from the New York Yankees in the 2013-14 offseason. Yet while the 33-year-old will never be confused as a hitter with Mike Piazza — or even Russell Martin — he is no longer a zero at the plate. In fact, he has become an offensive contributor as evidenced again Friday night. Stewart had three hits and three RBIs to lead the Pirates to a 6-3 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park, ending their seven-game losing streak to Milwaukee. The Pirates also got within four games of first-place St. Louis in the National League Central after the Cardinals’ game with theRead More »

Pirates – Brewers Reactions: Burnett not impressed with his outing

 

Photo: David Hague PIRATES – BREWERS REACTIONS PITTSBURGH — In the hours leading up to Thursday night’s game, Clint Hurdle would not commit to how he thought 38-year-old right-hander A.J. Burnett would respond in his first start since spending six weeks on the disabled list. “I don’t have expectations for the players,” Hurdle said. “I’m just going to sit back and watch.” It turned out Hurdle wouldn’t have been wrong whether he said he thought Burnett would pitch poorly or well. The 17-year veteran did a bit on both while pitching five innings and not factoring in the decision of a game the Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 in 13 innings at PNC Park. Out since July 31 with a strained a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow, Burnett allowed each of the Brewers’ first five hitters hit the ball hard as Milwaukee built a quick 3-0Read More »

With cracks showing in rotation, Pirates eager to find out what Burnett can bring to the table

 

When A.J. Burnett takes the mound Thursday night at PNC Park, it will be not a moment too soon. The Pirates’ starting rotation needs a shot in the arm in the worst way. They hope the 38-year-old right-hander can provide it when he faces the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a four-game series. Ever since Burnett went on the disabled list July 31 with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow, the rotation has shown cracks. Right-hander Gerrit Cole has gone 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA in eight starts during that span. While he hasn’t pitched poorly — he had a gem Sunday night, pitching two-hit ball over seven shutout innings to beat the Cardinals at St. Louis — Cole has showed enough signs of fatigue that the Pirates will skip his next turn in the rotation. Left-hander Francisco Liriano has gone 2-1 with a 5.29 ERA inRead More »

Perrotto: Pirates need a defining moment to their season this weekend

 

FRIDAY – FEATURE Perhaps it was nothing more than a slip of tongue. Or perhaps it was a Freudian slip. When the Pirates prepared to open a series with the Arizona Diamondbacks a little more than 2 ½ weeks ago at PNC Park, it was interesting what second baseman Neil Walker had to say when asked about his team’s inability to gain ground on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. “All we can worry about right now is playing the Arizona Cardinals,” Walker said. Oops. Regardless of what they say publicly, the Pirates can’t get the St. Louis Cardinals off their mind. Their current four-game losing streak notwithstanding, the Pirates are having a fantastic season with a 79-53 record. Yet they trail the Cardinals by 6 1/2 games as St. Louis has the best record in the major leagues at 86-57. “It gets somewhat frustrating,” Pirates left-handedRead More »

Perrotto: Bob Nutting’s latest move behind the scenes won’t help shake reputation of always trying to turn a profit

 

PITTSBURGH — Owner Bob Nutting still can’t quite shake the reputation of being more concerned about turning a profit than winning, even though his Pirates are seemingly on their way to a third consecutive postseason appearance. Management and the players had a behind-the-scenes battle in recent weeks that reportedly became a little testy about when the Aug. 3 game against the Chicago Cubs that was postponed by rain at PNC Park would be made up. Management wanted the game to be played on Sept. 14, a Monday, which is the only Pirates’ off day during the entire month. Nutting had team president Frank Coonelly push hard for that to happen so the Pirates would not lose a home date and the gate receipts that go with it. However, because playing on that day would have necessitated the Pirates playing on more than 20 consecutive days, the Major League Baseball PlayersRead More »

Charlie Morton had the kind of day that frustrates Pirates management to no end

 

PITTSBURGH — A fan in the PNC Park started a unique, one-man chant Sunday afternoon after a hideous throwing error by Charlie Morton. “D-F-A! D-F-A!,” the fan yelled. No the Pirates did not designate the right-hander for assignment following Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park that snapped their four-game winning streak. The Pirates fell 4 ½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 7-5 at San Francisco, in the National League Central. Morton had the kind of day that frustrates the fans and Pirates management. He was so good for three innings and then so bad for three innings. Morton retired nine of the 10 batters he faced to begin the game, only opposing pitcher Jorge De La Rosa reaching first when third baseman Aramis Ramirez booted his grounder with two outs in the third. Then it all fell apart on Morton at the startRead More »

Ramirez Homers, Happ another fine outing as Pirates move 30 games above .500

 

PIRATES – ROCKIES REACTIONS Aramis Ramirez had some history on his mind. The 37-year-old third baseman wanted to know when the last time the Pirates had been 30 games above .500. When he was told that it was six years before he broke into the major leagues in 1998 as a teenager with the Pirates, his eyes grew wide. To be exact, it was the final day of the 1992 regular season when the Pirates finished 96-66 while winning their third consecutive National League East title. “Wow, that’s a long time,” Ramirez said. The Pirates finally got back to 30 games over .500 on Saturday night as a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park raised their record to 79-49. They remained 3 ½ games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central after the Cardinals won 6-0 at San Francisco. Ramirez played a big part inRead More »

Gregory Polanco’s three hit night was just a footnote to the impact he made in right field

 

PIRATES – ROCKIES REACTIONS PITTSBURGH — It was almost comical to watch Gregory Polanco to throw when he first came to the major leagues last season in June. The Pirates right fielder seemed to take forever to unload the ball with his long right arm. He looked more like a pitcher working from the windup than an outfielder trying to get the ball back into the infield. Polanco’s throwing is no longer a joke, though, which he proved Friday night in the Pirates’ 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park, their 13th in the last 16 games to move a season-high 29 games over .500 at 78-49. In the top of the eighth, Polanco made the play of the game when he threw out Jose Reyes at home plate to the end the inning and keep the score tied 3-3 when the speedy shortstop tried to tag upRead More »

Top prospects Bell, Glasnow unlikely to be called up, Hanson viewed as pinch-running specialist

 

The Pirates haven’t made any final decisions on who will be called up Sept. 1, when the major league roster limit expands to 40 from 25, or beyond. However, it is extremely doubtful that their top two prospects, right-hander Tyler Glasnow and first baseman Josh Bell, will be promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis, according to a source with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking. Locked in tight races in both the National League Central and in the chase for the first NL wild card, the Pirates plan to only promote players who they feel could legitimately help them in the stretch run. Glasnow and Bell were both promoted to Indianapolis from Class AA Altoona on Aug. 1 and the Pirates’ plan is for them to begin next season back at Indy then make their major league debuts at some point in 2016. Glasnow is 0-1 with a sparkling 0.81 ERARead More »