Pirates Beat Jays, Steelers Beat G’ants

Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco injured in Pirates’ victory over Blue Jays

| FridayAug. 11, 2017, 10:00 p.m.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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 rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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T.J. Watt-Arthur Moats sack party drives Steelers’ win over Giants

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.

Martavis Bryant makes a catch during warmups Friday at MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, New Jersey.

 

Gerry Dulac
Martavis Bryant in uniform for warmups but not on the field for preseason opener

“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.

PG Live: Steelers Report with Ed and Gerry: Steelers vs Giants Preseason 2017

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.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

 

Adam Bittner
Mike Tomlin’s job one of NFL’s most secure, according to ESPN

“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.

Image DescriptionFormer Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward takes a selfie with Steeler fans Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

Wide gallery: Pittsburgh Steelers vs NY Giants Preseason 2017

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: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.

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101 thoughts on “Pirates Beat Jays, Steelers Beat G’ants

        1. Well, not really. The Pirates still play the Brewers 8 more times.
          ——————————————————————————

          Great point.

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    1. Interesting as there are a lot of Pittsburgh connections in Milwaukee/Wisconsin. If he is healthy and gets the oppertunity, he could hit 10 home runs in that ball park.

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      1. Gosselin was the only bat NH signed in the offseason to replace the 30ish home runs hit by SROD and Joyce last year.

        I’m sorry, I said “bat” didn’t I? My bad.

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          1. Then who were the replacements that NH brought in?

            And, as I recall, Gosselin was dfa before NH got him, yet people still thought it was a good move.

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        1. Good point. The only team I saw connected to him were the Brewers. The Walker news seems to indicate it wasn’t them. I can’t imagine there’s too many other fits. Especially losing Phil G and potentially Polanco.

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          1. Yes, it was reported late in the week that it wasn’t Milwaukee. I think Heyman had it.

            Could have been the Pirates blocking I suppose. They need a bat and I would hav ebreferred a LH one.

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            1. Ah I missed the it wasn’t MIL tweet.

              I would have preferred a lefty too, but I would definitely welcome Kinsler this year and potentially next, having JHay fill the 3rd base hole.

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  1. For the most part, I believe coaches and GMs have much more knowledge and information for building teams…but there are exceptions.

    Tampa Bay just cut the kicker they drafted in the 2nd round last year. Which means it took just 15 months for the stupidity of that selection to come full circle.

    Anybody who’s ever done fanatasy football has done a league with one guy who did not know what he was doing and picks a kicker in the early rounds. He always tries to justify it; while not realizing that same kicker would be available 8 rounds later.

    Apparently it happens in the NFL as well. Teams rarely draft kickers because history has shown you can get one as a free agent just as easily as in the draft. See the Steelers with Boswell or Gary Anderson. Using a second round pick on a kicker is just dump. It’s trying to be smarter than everyone else…and not being.

    Tampa likely could have grabbed a free agent rookie last year who was more qualified.

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    1. The Saints made one of the most boneheaded draft decisions ever in 1979 when they picked kicker/punter Russell Erxleben in the first round. He was never good enough as a placekicker to make the team doing that, and he was a mediocre to bad punter for about 5 years. The bright side was that his flameout opened the door for the Saints to draft Morten Andersen 3 years later…in the 4th round.

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  2. Neil Walker had a couple more hits last night and appears to have found his stroke. He’s also played three different positions since returning to the lineup.

    I would be somewhat surprised if he’s not moved this month.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Do you see a fit here still? With SRod back, I don’t see a fit for Neil.

      Unless we send John Marley packing. Plus Walker makes about $3 mil a month right? Not in Uncle Bobs budget, but think of the tickets he may sell.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I doubt he’s on Huntington’s radar at this point given, as you state, the acquisition of Rodriguez. Not that they couldn’t use the LH bat but, yes, that $4M or so he’s still owed would seem to preclude it.

        I don’t trust Polanco’s bat to heat up again and that leaves them with Bell as the only LH power threat. Though Jaso and Walker have the exact same HR ratio.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When Glasnow comes up in September what will his role be? Mop up, set up, spot start? Is it dependent on how the Pirates stand?

    Kontos has been a pretty strong acquisition thus far.

    3 games out is doable. 6 1/2 out of WC is a long shot but not impossible. Colorado and Arizona seem to be fading.

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      1. I imagine he’s near the pitch limit they’ve set for him, so I don’t think he’ll be much use in Pittsburgh. All those wasted AAA pitches, way a shame.

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        1. I do not understand how you do not see the high cost there would be for both Glasnow and for the Pirates if he were to fail once again. I’m pretty certain this must be a concern to NH.

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          1. don’t be surprised with anything “he” says about Glasnow and he won’t recant-he’s never changed his stand on that flop Matt Hague so he won’t do it now for Glasnow !

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        2. wasted AAA pitches?
          by what measurement please

          would like to bet on that, sir?
          that is, my position s that they have not been “wasted AAA pitches”?

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Glasnow threw 140 innings last year. This year he is at 123. The team would probably have no issue with him getting to 170. That would have approximately 30 innings left for the Pirates.

          His latest stint at Indy may have saved his career, that’s hardly a waste.

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    1. Probably need to start watching his innings. Let him be a swing man in 2-5 run games (winning or losing) when the starter has too many pitches.

      Not quite mop up, not quite hard leverage.

      Unless Nova is headed to the phantom DL, then he can take his spot.

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  4. Back at .500 and it feels soo good! I know the post-game news about Cutch’s knee was positive, but I will be concerned about it until he shows me it’s normal. For the first time in several years, Cutch had his wheels back this year, this could change that.

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    1. I can’t imagine him playing CF today, if anything, he assume the DH role.

      Takes away the opportunity for a fourth LH bat in the line up facing this rookie pitcher today. Let’s see if Polanco and Bell can step it up a notch or two.

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        1. Well, I guess all for the best. That’s a tough surface up there.

          Although Jaso did not get a hit last night, he did get hit sparking that 4 run outburst, but I would expect to see Rodriguez getting the start today.

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            1. Hit it with a shot, order a shoe two sizes bigger, take two percs and get out there, I say! We’re in a pennant race here!

              I bet Cal Ripken fouled a few off his feet in two thousand plus games. 😜

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                  1. All the more reason to be cautious with him, imo. The team won’t have much of a shot if he can’t pull it back together.

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  5. I want to thank Rob Refsnyder for coming thru in the clutch for us last night. Without him, we get shut out?

    Our offense is so offensive and if Cutch’s ‘day to day’ extends too long, we will really be hurting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glass does it again! What’s the only thing more certain than death and taxes? A scintillating win and K performance by T-Glass, that’s what.
    Tyler Glasnow (W, 8-0) 7.0 5 1 1 1 11 1.57 96 pitches, 68 strikes.
    Notice how Glass is only walking 1 per game lately….hmmmmm….he must not have his really good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was out in Indy last night for the game. My first time here and it isn’t a bad place.

      Glasnow pitched well, efficient and only in one real threat the whole night.

      I hope he can make the same plays when he’s back on the Pirates roster. Because if he goes up and pitches like that, he’ll be nearly unbeatable.

      Too bad AAA is such a far cry from the batters to be faced in the show.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The major league hitters don’t bite like the minor league hitters do. Thus, the walks go up and the k’s go down. I think it’s a real concern.

        And while it is great that he throws hard, it’s not like major league hitters are completely unaccustomed to 100mph fastballs.

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  7. I wonder how the Pirates could reinvest 2/162 of Clint’s compensation, since some here who protested his two-game absence, you know the ones who probably had perfect attendance for 12 years in school, never have a sick day at work, and never take off for a kid’s school meeting, seem as if they would not be satisfied unless his pay would get docked.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My sentiments exactly, Mike, but I think your comment begs the point.

        This is not strictly an issue of how Hurdle pays his respects. He is a seasonal employee making a lot of money in a critical position at a very important time in the business year.

        Would people feel the same way if he took off two games in the postseason?

        If Andrew McCutchen took off two games?

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The Steelers need a true impact player on defense, a player that offensive coordinators have to game plan around. Polamalu when healthy was they player. Harrison in his 3 or 4 most dominant years was that player. They really have not had anyone at the level for 3 or 4 years, though Heyward is close.

    Can Watt be that guy? Good start tonight but preseason football is worth little or nothing in the big picture evaluation process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Adam, congratulations to you and Emily on the birth of your son, Brandon Phillip. Being a husband and father has been the most rewarding experience of my life. But, I won’t lie. Those sleepless nights can be brutal 😉

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    2. 100% agree Adam

      Let’s hope he can only get better and at least for this year Harrison has one more left in him.
      Steelers have been lacking a pass ruhs for a long, long time.

      Hopefully others “feed” off this, especially the defensive backfield where they can take advantage of that extra split second.

      Still, in the end, will need one of the defensive backfield guys to take a major step forward.

      Like

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