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The Tuesday Takeaway

 

Break up the Pirates.

A 9-4 win against the Indians on Tuesday made it 11 straight for the Buccos and 13 wins in their past 14 games. After beating up perennial Cy Young contender Corey Kluber on Monday, Pittsburgh made quick work of Cleveland rookie Shane Bieber, with Starling Marte giving his team the lead just 11 pitches into the game.

The floodgates opened from there. The second inning brought a Corey Dickerson two-run triple, an RBI single by Marte, and a two-run blast by Gregory Polanco to give the Pirates a 7-1 lead. They never looked back.

During this 14-game span, the Pirates have outscored their opponents by 51 runs, and four of the five teams those wins have come against are contenders — Philadelphia, Washington, Milwaukee, and the aforementioned Indians (plus the Reds).

They’re now only six games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and three back in the crowded NL Wild Card race. The team that traded away Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen during the offseason probably isn’t good enough to overcome the teams in front of them or hold off the pack behind, but they’re sure as hell making things interesting right now.

Quick Hits From Tuesday
While the Pirates are trying to make a wild NL playoff race even more interesting, the Oakland Athletics keep trying to keep an otherwise docile AL race awake. Coming back from eight runs down is a helluva way to do it.

The A’s trailed 10-2 at one point. They trailed 10-3 after six innings before scoring three in the seventh, four in the eighth, and then sent the game to extras thanks to Stephen Piscotty.

 

Oh, but they weren’t done. Khris Davis’s three-run homer in the 10th inning sent Oakland to one of those wins you might call “season defining” if the narrative fits at season’s end.

If not for the Athletics, the most impressive comeback of the night would’ve likely belonged to the Milwaukee Brewers, who battled back from an early 4-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals in 10 innings.

 

The Brewers have thus far struck out in the trade market despite seemingly being in the market for every available player, but even with their recent struggles still sit atop the NL Wild Card standings and just 1 ½ games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. As for the Nationals, they’re now seven games behind Philadelphia and six back in the Wild Card race and you have to kinda start to wonder if they’re not actually going to turn it around.

***

You may have read that the Yankees acquired a reliever. Our transaction analysis team will have you covered there. On Tuesday, though, they didn’t even need one.

 

The Yankees added Zach Britton to a bullpen that included, if my math is correct, approximately eight other closer-quality relievers. But with a starting rotation that’s been shaky at times, Masahiro Tanaka provides a welcomed, dominant performance in the complete game shutout.

***

Britton, of course, did not appear in his final game as a Baltimore Oriole as the trade was being finalized, but his old team did a good deed for his new team as the last-place O’s squeaked past the first-place Red Sox despite J.D. Martinez’s best efforts.

 

A team that is already on a historically bad pace has now traded its best position player and best reliever. But when it’s nearly the end of July and you’ve only got 29 wins, you celebrate ever win like a minor miracle.

***

The Dodgers played in Philadelphia on Tuesday and the game still ended after all the West Coast games because it took a position player pitching for things to finally be decided.

Enrique Hernandez was thrust into duty, of course, because the game was in the 16th inning and the Dodgers had used pretty much everyone who was available. The Phillies had too, but turned to an actual pitcher in starter Vincent Velasquez. Things went about how you might expect.

 

Look I know we’re all at this point used to the Cardinals pulling random schmucks out of nowhere and turning them into legitimate major leaguers. But two pitchers making their major league debuts on back-to-back nights taking no-hitters deep into the game? The Reds had seen enough of that crap.

 

Austin Gomber’s no-hit bid ended promptly, and after Joey Votto broke it up with a single, Eugenio Suarez tied things up with a two-run blast. The Cardinals, who recently fell into fourth place in the NL Central and are struggling to survive in the loaded NL Wild Card race, would up needing extras but survived thanks to Dexter Fowler.

 

Defensive Play of the Day
The Pirates provided Joe Musgrove with plenty of offensive support in their 11th straight win, but Musgrove put on one of the more athletic displays you’ll see from a pitcher in just the first inning.

What to Watch For Wednesday
If you want to be weirded out by how Britton looks in a Yankees uniform, they’ve got an afternoon tilt against the Rays with Luis Cessa facing Nathan Eovaldi. The Dodgers and Phillies didn’t end their 16-inning marathon until after 1 a.m. on the East Coast and are scheduled to begin Wednesday’s matinee at 12:35 p.m. with Walker Buehler against Jake Arrieta. The Pirates will look to make it a dozen straight in a pretty nifty pitching matchup in Cleveland as Jameson Taillon and Trevor Bauer do battle in another afternoon start.

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