Perrotto: Does Hurdle get creative and go against the grain?


The Pirates, like practically every other team in the National League, hasn’t been able to figure out Jake Arrieta since the beginning of summer. Now the Pirates face the task of trying to beat the Chicago Cubs ace on Wednesday night in a winner-take-all setting of the NL wild card game at PNC Park. It is a daunting task as Arrieta led the major league in wins by going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 32 starts during the regular season. Since June 21 — the first day of summer — the 29-year-old is 16-1 with a 0.86 ERA in 20 starts. Runs figure to be at a premium Wednesday night, which is why there is so much interest in how the Pirates’ lineup might look. Manager Clint Hurdle wouldn’t even hint at who he might run out against Arrieta when he spoke to the media Sunday following a 4-0Read More »

Perrotto: Lots to ponder for Charlie Morton moving forward


Photo: David Hague Charlie Morton is the deepest thinker on the Pirates’ roster. Ask him a question about pitching or anything else related to baseball, or just life in general, and the right-hander always gives a thoughtful and detailed answer. With that in mind, it is easy to wonder how Morton will respond when the Pirates convene for the start of spring training in 2016, the final year of his three-year, $21-million contract, after the way his 2015 season ended. Morton failed to make it past the third inning this past Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals with the Pirates facing elimination from the National League Central race. He gave up five runs and five hits in two-plus innings as the Cardinals rolled to an 11-1 victory in the second game of a day-night doubleheader at PNC Park to wrap up their third straight division title. Morton was devastated.Read More »

Squandered Opportunities and a pitching matchup tonight that doesn’t inspire much confidence


Photo: David Hague It was almost like a question from an old Algebra I textbook. If a baseball team draws 10 walks and has six hits, is it possible it can be shut out in a nine-inning game? The answer for the Pirates, in their biggest game of the season, was yes on Monday night. They are nearing the brink of elimination in the National League Central race with a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park. The Pirates (95-62) fell four games behind the first-place Cardinals (99-58) with just five to play. The Pirates stranded a whopping 16 runners on base and were hitless in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They left the bases loaded four times then saw their closer Mark Melancon, who leads the major leagues with 51 saves, give up three runs in aRead More »

Scouts Buzz on Melancon: The best cutter since Rivera


PIRATES – FRIDAY Francisco Rodriguez knows what it’s like for a closer to have a great year. Rodriguez had 62 saves for the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, which remains the major league single-season record. Now closing for the Milwaukee Brewers, the right-hander has 383 saves in his 14-year career. Pirates closer Mark Melancon is having a season unlike any other in franchise history. He extended his club record for saves to 50 on Thursday when he closed out a win over the Colorado Rockies at Denver in his 52nd opportunity. Melancon lowered his ERA to 1.86 ERA through 74 games and 72 2/3 innings. To boot, he has also thrown nine consecutive hit-less innings — a relief pitcher’s equivalent of a no-hitter. Since the Brewers and Pirates both play in the National League Central, Rodriguez has the chance to admire Melancon’s work. “You watch him pitch and he justRead More »

Pirates – Friday: On the Abrupt end to Jung Ho Kang’s season


Photo: David Hague PIRATES – FRIDAY Jung Ho Kang is done for the season and, in the day after, it seems easy to assign blame to Chris Coghlan. Kang, the Pirates’ rookie infielder, suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee and a broken fibula in his left leg Thursday after Coghlan, the Cubs’ right fielder, slide into him at second base while trying unsuccessfully to break up a double play in the first inning of a game the Cubs eventually won 9-6 at PNC Park. The injuries are so severe that Kang may not be ready when the Pirates open next season April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. The team’s medical staff estimates Kang will be out 6-8 months after undergoing surgery Thursday night. However, all parties agreed that Coghlan should not be blamed for the injury, including Kang in a statement issuedRead More »

Pirates – Cubs Reactions


Photo: David Hague PIRATES – CUBS REACTIONS PITTSBURGH — The Pirates did not beat Jake Arrieta on Wednesday night but they at least gained some confidence that perhaps get the better of the Chicago Cubs right-hander should they face him in the National League wild card playoff game Oct. 7. The Pirates lost 3-2 at PNC Park when Anthony Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Vance Worley in the top of the 12th inning. The loss dropped the Pirates four games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-4 at Milwaukee. It also increased the Pirates’ chances of playing in the wild card game for the third straight season. The Cubs stayed seven games behind the Cardinals in the division race but drew within three games of the Pirates for the first NL wild card and remained 7 ½ games in frontRead More »

Pirates – Cubs Reactions


Photo: David Hague PIRATES – CUBS REACTIONS Gerrit Cole wasn’t crazy about the idea of getting extra rest. After all, few athletes are more creatures of habit than starting pitchers. However, the right-hander admitted after he pitched into the seventh inning and the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in the first game of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader that some time off helped. The Pirates lost the second game 2-1 and remained in control of the National League wild card race with the split of the twinbill, leading the Cubs by two games. Cole did not get the decision and his line was not dominant as he allowed four runs — three earned — and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks while failing to notch his 17th win. However, Cole did not get a lot of cooperation from his teammates. Catcher Chris Stewart’s throwing errorRead More »

Pirates – Tuesday


Photo: David Hague PIRATES – TUESDAY Today represents the longest — and biggest — day of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates to this point. The Pirates host the Chicago Cubs in a day-night doubleheader at PNC Park that opens a four-game series. It will be just the second split-admission twinbill at the facility it opened in 2001. The Pirates have a chance to take a big step toward at least clinching home-field advantage in the National League wild card. The Pirates are four games ahead of the Cubs for the first wild card while both trail the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central standings with Pittsburgh 2 ½ games behind and Chicago 6 ½ back. However, the Pirates insist they are not overly excited about the series with the Cubs. In fact, they seemed downright blasé about it Sunday after rallying from five runs down to beat theRead More »

Josh Harrison’s big weekend had him looking like the Player from last year


PIRATES – BREWERS REACTIONS PITTSBURGH — Josh Harrison knew the hits would start falling sooner or later. A big one fell for him Sunday. The utility player singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Pirates rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 at PNC Park. The win kept the Pirates 2 ½ games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central and widened their lead to four games over the Chicago Cubs for the first NL wild card. The Cubs visit PNC Park for a four-game series that begins Tuesday with a day-night doubleheader. Harrison was on the disabled list from July 6-Aug. 20 after tearing a ligament in his left thumb and undergoing surgery. Prior to the start of the four-game series with the Brewers on Thursday, Harrison was hitting just .179 in 17 gamesRead More »