MILWAUKEE (TNS) – Sitting in a press box conference room at Great American Ball Park shortly before the first pitch of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington neatly summarized the team’s postseason odds.
“We’re balancing that, while it feels improbable, it is still possible,” he said. “We may need some help from some other clubs.”
The statement came during Huntington’s answer to the question of whether Tyler Glasnow might start another game; later, he discussed how the standings impacted playing younger players. These issues arise this time of year. Still alive for a wild-card spot, the Pirates aren’t in full-fledged play-the-kids mode, but not exactly in control of their own destiny either.
“I don’t know that we’d change that much if we were to get eliminated,” Huntington said. “You look at the at-bats that Adam Frazier and Josh Bell are getting, you look at the innings that (Jameson) Taillon, (Steven) Brault and now Glasnow are getting, (Felipe) Rivero is an anchor in our bullpen and he’s still a one-plus (service time) guy. The young players are playing a lot because they’re helping us make this late push.”
The young players made good on Huntington’s words Tuesday. Frazier, Bell and to a lesser extent Brault drove the Pirates to a 6-3 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, which leveled their record at 75-75. In the first game of the final leg of their three-city, 11-game road trip, the Pirates won for the sixth time in their past eight games.
Bell walked and scored in the first, and hit a two-run single in the fifth. Frazier went 3 for 5 with a double and two runs. He is now hitting .351. The old hands pitched in as well: Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 5 with a two-run double, Jordy Mercer hit two RBI singles, and Francisco Cervelli went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs.
Brewers starter Matt Garza had no room to breathe right out of the gate. He put the first two batters on base. McCutchen’s double drove both home.
Garza retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before Cervelli doubled with two outs in the fourth. Sean Rodriguez walked. Jordy Mercer single and Cervelli went home, but center fielder Michael Reed threw instead to third base in an attempt to retire Rodriguez before the run scored. Rodriguez was out, ending the inning, but he held up long enough for Cervelli to cross the plate.
Brault gave up three runs in four-plus innings but left after putting the first two batters on in the fifth. He allowed an RBI double to Domingo Santana in the third – McCutchen and Rodriguez executed a perfect relay and the ball beat Chris Carter to the plate, but Cervelli couldn’t handle the hop. Martin Maldonado hit a solo homer in the fourth.