Bob Smizik: Late rally produces romp

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Quick thoughts on a late game:

* There was no more heartening aspect to the Pirates’ 9-4 win over Arizona last night than the back-to-back, laser-shot doubles in the eighth inning of the bats of Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, which served to tie the game at 4. McCutchen had been in a 3-for-32 slump; the two RBIs by Alvarez were his first since July 11.

* No more fun aspect than the key pinch-hit, run-scoring single in the ninth -- after a Jordy Mercer double put the Pirates ahead -- by light-hitting shortstop Michael Martinez. Martinez had been 2-for-18 without an RBI as a Pirate. The Pirates scored five times in the ninth to break open the tie game.

* The team’s peculiar decision to keep Brent Morel on the active roster and start him did not have a detrimental effect. Morel was hitless in two at bats and is 0-for-14 as a Pirate. Morel had a .661 OPS at Indianapolis before his recall.

* The big news off the field was a one-sentence statement about the status of Gerrit Cole from general manager Neal Huntington, which scratched Cole from a scheduled start at Indianapolis today: “After Gerrit's last outing and last bullpen, we decided another bullpen to refine some things was the best course of action.” It could mean a setback in Cole’s rehab, but more likely means a realignment of his return to the starting rotation. There should be more forthcoming news today.

* Edinson Volquez pitched five scoreless innings but gave up four runs in the sixth, including a three-run homer to Ender Inciarte. In his past three starts, Volquez has pitched only 15 2/3 innings and has a 5.74 ERA.

* Ike Davis was hitless in three at bats, but the hoped-for second-half splurge is still a possibility. Since the All-Star Game, Davis’s batting line in 22 plate appearances -- a small sample -- is: .304/.346/.609 -- .955.

* Jose Tabata, whose presence on the roster would make a lot more sense than Morel’s, isn’t helping his case. He was hitless in four at bats last night for Indianapolis and is batting .226 with a .569 OPS. Still, Tabata was one of the Pirates best players last August and a key to their successful drive to the playoffs.

* The Pirates are in second place in the NL Central, one-half game ahead of St. Louis and 2 1/2 behind Milwaukee. They are in second place in the wild-card standings.

* San Francisco, a team expected to be in contention for a wild-card berth, got a strong dose of bad news yesterday with the word that Matt Cain, one of their best pitchers, was likely out for the season. Cain hasn’t pitched since July 9. The Giants are first in the wild-card standings but have lost six of their past eight.

First Published August 2, 2014 12:00 AM

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