Bob Smizik: What was Hurdle thinking?

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Eight random thoughts on the Pirates and the game that really, really got away.

• Bringing Ernesto Frieri on to pitch the ninth inning with the Pirates trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks by one run was a peculiar decision by manager Clint Hurdle. It’s understandable Hurdle did not want to use Justin Wilson, Tony Watson or Mark Melancon, but based on how Frieri has pitched this season and particularly since joining the Pirates both Jeanmar Gomez and Stolmy Pimentel were better options. Frieri faced six batters and five of them got hits as the Diamondbacks scored seven runs on their way to a 10-2 win.

• Not that Frieri got much defensive help. Gregory Polanco is playing like an inexperienced outfielder, as opposed to an inexperienced MLB outfielder. He had room to go back on a ball but misjudged the distance to the right-field wall and instead of an out the Diamondbacks had a run-scoring double. Josh Harrison elected to try to tag the runner moving from second to third instead of going for a doable 5-4-3 double play and ending up getting one out instead of two.

• Another good performance by Vance Worley, who pitched four perfect innings and five hitless innings before allowing three runs in the sixth. Two of them came on a home run David Peralta. In seven inning, Worley gave up three runs, four hits and two walks while striking out six.

• Ike Davis is 4-for-11 with four RBIs in the past three games. That’s hardly a roll, but for a guy who had four RBIs in his previous 45 at bats, it’s a hopeful sign.

• With left-hander Oliver Perez relieving in a one-on, two-out situation in the sixth, Hurdle called back Pedro Alvarez and sent up Harrison. Alvarez was batting .193 (11-for-57) against lefties. Harrison, who grounded out, was batting .304 (14-for-46). Alvarez has two homers since June 3.

• Jose Tabata is batting .207 (6-for-29) since being demoted to Indianapolis. He left last night’s game after being hit by a pitch in the third inning.

• When the Pirates began their current 16-game stretch against some of the weakest teams in MLB, they were 35-37 and eight games out of first. They are 9-4 so far, which has raised their record to 44-41 and they are 6 1/2 games behind the Brewers.

• The Pirates begin a three-game series with Philadelphia this afternoon at PNC Park. The Phillies have lost 10 of their past 13 after seemingly righting their season by winning nine of 11. After the Phillies, the Pirates have two big-time Central Division series: Four games in St. Louis and three in Cincinnati before the All-Star break.

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