Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco injured in Pirates’ victory over Blue Jays
TORONTO — The Pirates wound up with two outfielders in the trainer’s room after their 4-2 victory Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Andrew McCutchen took himself out of the game with an injury to his left knee. Gregory Polanco was examined after taking a foul ball off his foot.
Neither injury appears to be serious.
The club termed McCutchen’s injury as left patellofemoral discomfort.
“If your knee could get a cramp, that’s what it felt like,” McCutchen said. “I feel better now. I’m walking fine. They ran some tests, and everything looked good. We’ll see how I feel (on Saturday).”
McCutchen said he did not have an MRI exam.
“Right now, he’s day to day, and he’s feeling better,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said.
McCutchen was injured in the midst of the Pirates’ fluky, four-run third inning.
“They gave us a crack, and we took advantage,” said acting manager Tom Prince, who filled in for absent skipper Clint Hurdle.
With one out and the Blue Jays up 1-0, a slider from right-hander Marcus Stroman (10-6) grazed John Jaso’s foot. Francisco Cervelli hit a grounder to second baseman Rob Refsnyder, who tried for a force out but threw the ball into shallow left field. Jaso went to third base.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson made a sprawling stop of Adam Frazier’s hard grounder and tried to start a double play.
Refsnyder failed to touch the bag after getting the ball, then threw too late to get Frazier at first base. Jaso scored and Cervelli was safe at second on Refsnyder’s error.
Josh Harrison lined an RBI single to center. McCutchen ripped an RBI double that ticked off the mitt of diving center fielder Kevin Pillar. Josh Bell’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
When David Freese took a strike, McCutchen hopped back to the bag, clutched his left knee and signaled to the dugout.
“When I was taking my secondary lead, my knee kind of grabbed,” McCutchen said. “I’ve had this kind of pain before. We’ve all had it. You walk, and your knee kind of locks up. You wait for it, and it goes away. That’s what I was trying to do, but it never went away.”
The Rogers Centre has artificial turf, which can take a toll on players’ knees. McCutchen, however, would prefer to play center field than be the designated hitter in the next two games of this series.
‘I’d rather play on defense and play the whole game,” McCutchen said. “But we’ll see how I feel (on Saturday).”
McCutchen is batting .289 with an .899 OPS. He has hit safely in nine of his past 12 games and on Tuesday smacked his team-leading 23rd home run of the season.
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon (7-5) worked six innings, gave up two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out six.
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Kevin Pillar’s sacrifice fly. Jose Bautista led off the third with a solo homer.
After the home run, rookie Raffy Lopez, who replaced Russell Martin (strained oblique) in the second inning, looped a single for his first big league hit.
That’s when Taillon turned tough. He retired 12 batters in a row from the third through the sixth innings.
“Me and Cervy (Cervelli) just got rolling,” Taillon said. “Cervelli was great all night. He started setting really low in his squat on the two-seamers and curveballs. That really helps me get the ball down.”
Taillon gave way to George Kontos when the Blue Jays put runners on the corners with none out in the seventh. Kontos got out the jam without allowing a run.
“I was pretty fired up, the adrenaline was really pumping,” Kontos said.
Since being claimed off waivers last week, Kontos has set down all nine batters he’s faced.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — T.J. Watt had the kind of NFL debut that would do his brother proud, but it was an evening of mixed results for a couple of other prominent Steelers rookies in their 20-12 victory against the New York Giants Friday night at MetLife Stadium.
Watt, the Steelers’ top draft pick whose brother, J.J., is a three-time NFL defensive player of the year with Houston, bowed into the pros in a grand way. He started at right outside linebacker, played much of the way, had two sacks and helped pressure the quarterback into a poor throw.
The Steelers wanted more pressure on the quarterback, and they got that with seven sacks, six from the only three outside linebackers who played. Three of them came from old hand Arthur Moats, along with an interception. But it was the rookie Watt whose name was on everyone’s lips.
“Phenomenal,’’ Moats said of Watt. “From time he’s come in, OTAs and training camp, he hasn’t been overwhelmed by any day. You saw it out here today; the first two pass rushes he gets, he gets sacks on and played a phenomenal game.
“He had a great start to his career and he’s only going to get better.”
On the other hand, things did not go quite as well for two fellow rookies. Quarterback Josh Dobbs, who started, was shaky early with two interceptions and some questionable scrambles, but he did throw a gorgeous 28-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton and had another scoring pass scratched by a holding penalty.
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Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, the team’s second-round pick, started but left early in the game with a concussion after catching one pass and running for a 9-yard gain.
What coach Mike Tomlin and others liked about Dobbs was how he responded to his jittery start.
“I liked their demeanor,’’ Tomlin said of Dobbs and Watt. “They didn’t feel like it was too big for them.”
Dobbs, a fourth-round draft choice, said getting used to playing in his first pro game and the speed of everything might have helped get him off to a slow start.
“Adversity hit, but I was proud I was able to respond to that. It’s part of the game. You have to stay upbeat, you have to have confidence in yourself and be ready to respond because your teammates are looking at you, your coaches are looking at you to see how you respond in those situations.”
Both of Watt’s sacks came in the first 5½ minutes, and he also chased quarterback Josh Johnson into a poor pass when he hit him.
Dobbs’ interceptions led to two short New York field-goal drives for a 6-0 lead. Dobbs, though, threw two impressive deep passes, and Hamilton caught them both. He leaped high to pull down a 44-yard reception. Then, with 33 seconds left in the first half, Dobbs threw his best pass of the night, a dart that hit Hamilton in stride over a cornerback in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown.
His touchdown pass to Hamilton staked the Steelers to a 10-9 lead and came on their first play after Mike Hilton closed in on Giants punt-returner Donte Deayon, who muffed the punt as Hilton recovered at New York’s 28. Hilton, a cornerback with a chance to stick, also had a sack.
Other than Watt, it has not been a simmering summer for Steelers rookies, including their first preseason game.
They already were playing without No. 3 draft pick James Conner, who still has not returned fully from a sprained left shoulder sustained on the team’s first day in pads.
Cornerback Cam Sutton, their third-round pick, also did not play after missing most of the first two weeks of training camp.
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Besides Smith-Schuster, Tomlin said there were no other injuries of note, but noted they have to start getting some players back on the field.
“It’s important we get some of these guys back who missed some time tonight,’’ Tomlin said. “It’s important they get back on the field. That point was made to them.”
The Steelers defense played well throughout, holding the Giants to four field goals, even though the Steelers were without five starters. They had just three healthy outside linebackers. The veteran Moats was one of them.
Trailing, 12-10, the veteran linebacker picked off an underthrown Geno Smith pass and returned it 20 yards to the New York 14. Dobbs’ third-down, 7-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Grimble was nullified by a holding call, but Chris Boswell’s 37-yard field goal capitalized on Moats’ turnover to put the Steelers back on top, 13-12.
“Anytime you get the opportunity, you want to be productive,’’ Moats said.
They increased their lead to the final 20-12 early in the fourth quarter on Terrell Watson’s nice 15-yard run around left end, cutting inside the blocking of tight end Jake McGee.
Ed Bouchette: email@example.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.