MILWAUKEE -- Here are the probables for this weekend’s series.
Friday: LHP J.A. Happ (3-1, 1.98) for the Pirates; RHP Carlos Martinez (13-6, 2.91) for the Cardinals.
Saturday: RHP Charlie Morton (8-6, 4.22) for the Pirates; LHP Jaime Garcia (7-4, 2.03) for the Cardinals.
Sunday: RHP Gerrit Cole (15-8, 2.64) for the Pirates; RHP John Lackey (11-8, 2.87) for the Cardinals.
Francisco Liriano and Clint Hurdle both don’t think Liriano’s control problems were systemic. They felt they resulted from not getting A) calls on the corners or B) swings at borderline pitches.
“I don’t know because I feel like I’m just missing the strike zone by a little bit, not way up or way down,” Liriano said.
Liriano had a 4.94 ERA in August and walked 15 batters in 271/3 innings, but said he felt healthy. Hurdle said the velocity -- Liriano hit 95 mph Thursday -- and spin rates on his breaking pitches showed no red flags.
“Sometimes they just have bad months,” Hurdle said.
Jordy Mercer went 2 for 2 with two doubles Thursday night. In eight games since returning from the DL he is hitting .400 (8 for 20).
“The knee’s responding really well,” Mercer said. “My timing feels really good, I feel like I’m in a good spot. The last couple games in triple-A was when I just started feeling really good and I carried it over to here.”
The Pirates trail the Cardinals by 61/2 games and have six more games head-to-head against them.
“I hear a lot, well, you’re chasing the Cardinals, does that frustrate you? Absolutely not,” Hurdle said. “There’s so much positive going on, there’s so much work to be done … everything starts with a thought. If your first thought in the morning when you wake up is that somebody else is frustrating you because they’re playing well, you’re missing the whole point of playing the game. Our focus needs to be on us playing better.”
Game story: Pirates swept in Milwaukee -- again.
Notebook: Cardinals series awaits; McCutchen sits.
INDIANAPOLIS (81-59) beat Columbus, 6-3. RHP Wilfredo Boscan (10-3, 3.07) was the winner, giving up 3 runs and 9 hits in 6 1/3 innings. 1B Josh Bell (.355) went 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs. DH John Bowker (.207) homered.
ALTOONA (72-66) lost to Bowie, 6-3. RHP Tyler Eppler (0-1, 10.13) was the loser, allowing 6 runs and 4 hits in 5 1/3 innings. C Jacob Stallings (.277) went 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBIs.
BRADENTON (72-63) beat St. Lucie, 4-2. RHP Luis Heredia (5-6, 5.44) was the winner, giving up 3 hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. CF Junior Sosa (.270) went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs. RF Harold Ramirez (.339) went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (83-52) lost to Kannapolis, 10-6. RHP Colten Brewer (4.90) gave up 6 runs (5 earned) and 7 hits in 7 innings. LHP Jared Lakind (2-1, 2.29) was the loser. 3B Tyler Filliben (.260) went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs.
WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (39-33) beat Williamsport, 2-1. RHP Dario Agrazal (6-5, 2.72) was the winner, allowing 1 run and 6 hits in 6 innings. DH Daniel Arribas (.279) went 2 for 3 and scored both runs.
MILWAUKEE -- Andrew McCutchen is not in tonight’s starting lineup on the day he won the NL player of the month award.
“We’ve been talking about a day off for the past four or five days,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Last night we decided today would be a good day off.”
Hurdle said McCutchen’s left knee, which had bothered him earlier this season, did not cause him trouble.
McCutchen hit .348 with five home runs, a .609 slugging percentage and .470 on-base percentage. He ranks fifth in the NL in Wins Above Replacement, behind Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, just ahead of Kris Bryant, Buster Posey and Anthony Rizzo.
McCutchen is hitting .303/.404/.517 with 20 homers, a weighted Runs Created plus (wRC+) of 154, with 100 being league average and Harper leading the league with 193. He will again finish within the top 10 in MVP voting.
Hurdle said he thinks the Pirates having had success without him makes it easier for him to agree to a night off.
“I think it’s also a relief off his mind, that he feels like he’s not doing a disservice to the ballclub,” Hurdle said. “I think earlier in his career there were times where he didn’t feel like taking the night off.”
Game: Pirates (79-52) at Brewers (57-75)
Time: 7:20 p.m. ET
TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7
Standings: Pirates in 2nd place, six games back of Cardinals in NL Central; first wild-card spot, 41/2 games up on Cubs
Weather: 77 and sunny
MILWAUKEE -- Here are the lineups for tonight’s game.
1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Josh Harrison LF
3. Starling Marte CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Neil Walker (S) 2B
6. Francisco Cervelli C
7. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
8. Jordy Mercer SS
9. Francisco Liriano (L) LHP
1. Jean Segura SS
2. Jonathan Lucroy C
3. Ryan Braun RF
4. Khris Davis LF
5. Jason Rogers 1B
6. Domingo Santana CF
7. Hernan Perez 3B
8. Elian Herrera (S) 2B
9. Taylor Jungmann RHP
INDIANAPOLIS (80-59) lost to Columbus, 4-2. RHP Chris Volstad (11-7, 3.33) pitched 7 2/3 innings where he gave up 4 runs – all in the first 2 innings – on 11 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5 in the loss. 1B Josh Bell (.343) walked 3 times and scored twice, while DH John Bowker (.207) and C Tony Sanchez (.235) each had 1 hit and 1 RBI.
ALTOONA (72-65) lost to Bowie, 4-0. RHP Chad Kuhl (11-5, 2.48) gave up 3 runs – 1 earned – on 3 hits while striking out 5 in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss. CF Austin Meadows (.500), in his first game since being called up from Bradenton, was 2 for 4, as was C Jacob Stallings (.273) as the two combined for all 4 Curve hits.
BRADENTON (71-63) did not play
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (83-51) defeated Lexington, 12-9. RHP Jake Burnette (5-4, 4.56) gave up 1 run on 3 hits in 3 innings of relief to pick up the win. LF Elvis Escobar (.297) went 3 for 5 with a triple, 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored. 1B Connor Joe (.247) and RF Jerrick Suiter (294) each went 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 3B Chase Simpson (.250) was 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs.
WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (38-33) defeated Williamsport, 6-5, in 11 innings on a walk-off single by CF Casey Hughston (.219). RHP Tate Scioneaux (1-0, 2.08) pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief as he allowed 2 hits and struck out 5 to pick up the win. LF Ty Moore (.284) was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and a run scored.