Leading up to the first pitch…
FOLLOW THE GAME WITH GAJTKA
10:26: BALLGAME. Judge scoots a grounder to Mercer for the easy force out at second base. The Pirates get back on track and Watson earns his fifth save, if you care about such trivial stats. More coverage to come!
10:24: Fourth time in nine innings that the Pirates have retired the first two Yankees, only to see them put at least two runners on base. Judge to the plate as the tying run …
10:19: Count me as a fan of Tony Watson‘s entrance video. ‘Take Out The Gunman’ by Chevelle is the backing track.
10:16: The bespectacled Tyler Clippard works a perfect bottom of the eighth.
10:08: Swing and a miss! Hudson gets Holliday on a low slider. Pirates are three outs away from ending a three-game slump.
10:06: There are a lot of Yankees fans on the third-base side of the lower seating bowl. They just jeered Cervelli for visiting Hudson with the count at 3-2.
10:04: Daniel Hudson is close to falling victim to badbaseballitis here in the eighth. Freese mishandles a routine Romine grounder, giving the Pirates their third error. Pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks singles past the diving Harrison. Now familiar face Matt Holliday pinch-hits with two on and two out.
9:48: RUN. Freese singles anyway, giving the Pirates a 6-3 lead. It’s an unearned run.
9:45: Layne walks Polanco. Girardi wants the righty Jonathan Holder. I thought Rob Manfred was supposed to save us from this nonsense.
9:41: RUN. Mercer, who walked against Warren, sprints home on Castro’s ugly dropped-catch error (are there pretty errors?) with two outs. McCutchen sprints to second on the mistake.
Warren is out and Tommy ‘Night Train’ Layne comes in.
9:25: Frazier made that catch more flashy that it needed to be, but he tracks down a Castro liner in the right-field corner nonetheless. Had to reach behind his head to grab it, because he overran the ball.
At any rate, it’s a perfect seventh for Felipe Rivero.
9:23: No grand slam for Bell off Warren this time. We’re on to the seventh.
9:10: Nicasio retires the side in the sixth with no trouble. Former Cub Adam Warren to the mound for the Bombers.
9:03: Man, the Yankees have some large men in their employ. Last year’s 41-homer Brewer Chris Carter pinch-hits for Sabathia.
8:57: Fantastic leaping catch by Judge at the wall in right-center, robbing McCutchen of at least two bases.
8:52: Big strikeout for Nicasio to stop the damage at two runs. Halfway through at PNC Park with the Pirates up one.
Glasnow threw 102 pitches, 65 strikes.
8:47: RUNS, but not earned runs. Back-to-back two-out singles by Ellsbury and Judge give the Yankees an opportunity, which Bird converts with help from Harrison’s second error of the game. Playing in shallow right-center field, Harrison has Bird’s hard grounder skip under his glove. Two runs score because both runners were off on contact.
It’s 4-3, Pirates, and Glasnow’s night is done. Juan Nicasio will face Romine.
8:32: Mercer strikes out on a curveball down and away. Sabathia’s retired seven of eight. Fifth inning upcoming.
8:28: Just noticing this, but there’s a Steelers logo on the backside of the pitcher’s mound. I’m a sharp one.
Osuna walks to start the bottom of the fourth.
8:22: I’ll give you the bad news first: It’s taken Glasnow 77 pitches to get through four innings.
Here’s the good news: Despite walking a pair, Glasnow has thrown 57 of those pitches for strikes. He whiffs Gardner on a good ‘downer’ curveball to end the top of the fourth and waste Romine’s leadoff single.
8:06: An eventful inning ends with Glasnow K-ing the powerful Bird on a down-and-in curveball. Two pitches previous, Bird cracked a deep foul ball that struck the Pirates Charities sign on the fly. That’s a first … and a blow for decency in DK‘s eyes.
Prior to that, Glasnow walked Ellsbury, who stole second base. The Yankees have snagged two bags on two tries so far.
7:59: RUN. Osuna taketh away. His fielding error on Headley’s double to right allows the quick Gardner to score from first base. 4-1.
7:48: From DK: I’m taking tonight off, though I’ll be at the yard covering the second game tomorrow. That said, I live a mile upriver and can always tell when the Pirates are doing well. Three sets of fireworks in the early going, and I’m guessing that’s good.
7:43: RUNS. Bell punishes an 87-mph meatball from Sabathia over the North Side Notch for his second homer in two games. This mammoth shot puts the Pirates ahead 4-0 in the second.
7:41: Woah! Osuna’s first big-league hit is a triple off the wall in right-center. Someone check to make sure Matt Sunday didn’t faint in the photographers’ well.
7:38: Glasnow gets around a two-out boot by Harrison to retire the side in the second. Nice swing by Sabathia on his popout to shortstop. The man has a .217 batting average in 115 at-bats, it turns out.
7:29: RUN. Freese’s infield single to third baseman Headley gets another run home. It followed a bunt single by Harrison and a single through the left side by McCutchen.
Cervelli bounces into a 6-4-3 to get CC and the Yanks out of it.
7:22: RUN. On the first pitch of the bottom of the first, Mercer lines an elevated Sabathia fastball into the center-field shrubbery. Second career leadoff jack for Jordy.
7:17: Two quick outs for Glasnow, then a pair of singles. But, in an extended rookie-vs.-rookie at-bat, he gets Judge looking at an inside fastball for Strike 3. Inning over, with a bit of drama.
7:08: Glasnow gets Gardner to bounce out to second base. We are underway on a beautiful Friday night in April. An usher told me to expect 28,000 or so on this fireworks night.
7:02: Some historical stuff that means nothing to this game: The Pirates are 2-1 at PNC Park against the Yankees, with all of those meetings occurring in 2008. Meanwhile, due to a fluke of interleague scheduling, the Pirates have played three series in the Bronx, going 1-8.
The previous meeting between the two teams was in 2014, when the Pirates won one of three in their first trip to the new Yankee Stadium.
6:55: A dignified pregame tribute to Dan Rooney features P.A. man Tim DeBacco reading an extensive list of Rooney’s accomplishments while in charge of the Steelers. A moment of silence followed.
Also, ‘Daniel M. Rooney 1932-2017’ is inscribed in gold ink on the dirt surrounding home plate.
6:14: Let’s get to tonight’s starting pitcher, shall we? This is start No. 3 of the Glasnow ‘experiment,’ if you want to call it that. Either way, he has a 12.10 ERA and a 2.55 WHIP through two appearances lasting a total of 6 2/3 innings.
However, after giving up four runs in the first inning last Saturday in Chicago, Glasnow got the Pirates through five against the Cubs with a diverse repertoire that included 26 changeups, 12 more than he’d thrown in his previous 25 big-league innings combined.
“I saw him come off the mound (after the first) with some angst, which is good,” Hurdle said. “I saw him absolutely cut up a lineup in the second, third and fourth. Power curve. A changeup that had bottom to it. Good velocity.”
Either way, Hurdle doubled down on his statement that Glasnow needs to learn at this level, not Triple-A, where he has dominated with raw stuff.
“This is the place for him to develop,” he said. “He’s going to learn valuable lessons here. And the sting of learning lessons is much more (significant) for a guy learning.”
6:05: Stopped by José Osuna‘s locker to congratulate him on making the major leagues, even if it took Marte’s suspension to make it so.
“It’s a little nicer than (Triple-A),” Osuna quipped when I asked how the big-league life was treating him. The spring phenom makes his first major-league start tonight, batting seventh and playing right field.
In case you’re curious, the Pirates aren’t planning to bump Bell to the outfield to allow Osuna to play his natural position — first base — a little more. Hurdle said Bell needs more reps at first and moving him around would only detract from that purpose.
6:00: Count Hurdle as “intrigued” by any Yankees fan attracted to the Bill Mazeroski statue beyond the right-field entrance to PNC Park. He said he saw a few New Yorkers snapping photos next to it yesterday.
“To this day, they’ll still complain about the one that got away instead of the 27 (championships) they have,” Hurdle said. “It’s still the rock in their shoe.”
5:55: Hurdle said he still enjoys the “freshness” and “pop quiz” nature that comes with preparing for interleague play, noting that the Pirates get to face a Yankees team with some exciting young players, like gargantuan slugger Aaron Judge, who has popped five homers over the fence in 15 games. He’s the first under-25 Yankee since Derek Jeter (1999) to do that.
Judge, who stands at 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, is 24, or 12 years younger than New York’s starting pitcher. Sabathia carried a shutout into the eighth inning last Saturday against the Cardinals, lowering his three-start ERA to 1.47. This is the first time Sabathia has pitched against the Pirates since 2008, when he carried the Brewers to the playoffs after a midseason trade.
5:41: Girardi, who went through the multi-year Alex Rodríguez PED ordeal and all it entailed, is a little more qualified to comment on the subject of suspended players than most.
The 10th-year Yankees manager said he’s “always surprised” whenever a prominent player like Marte gets penalized for ingesting a banned substance.
“The players are well aware of the risk,” he said. “I think the message has been sent prior to this. … But, it happens. I think we all, in our lifetimes, would’ve done something differently. Sometimes you get caught up in the competitiveness and wanting to be great. Your competitive juices come out and you do something you wish you wouldn’t have done.
“You hate to see it happen in our sport, but it happens in all sports.”
5:25: Plenty of buzz around Francisco Cervelli‘s locker stall today, since he spent the first 10 years of his pro career in the Yankees organization. However, the part of his history that’s most newsworthy this week is the 50-game suspension he served in 2014 for his affiliation with the infamous Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.
Cervelli said he’s reached out to Starling Marte to tell him he’ll support him no matter what, modeling that stance after how his Yankees teammates treated him in 2014 when he had to sit.
“If you need me, I’m here,” Cervelli said, relaying his message to Marte. “Eighty days are gonna go quick, so get ready, because we’re going to need you.”
4:25: Planning to sit in on the Joe Girardi press availability, if only to get a better idea on what’s going on with the Yanks these days.
In the meantime, here are his starting nine:
1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Chase Headley, 3B
3. Starlin Castro, 2B
4. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
5. Aaron Judge, RF
6. Greg Bird, 1B
7. Austin Romine, C
8. Ronald Torreyes, SS
9. Sabathia, P
4:21 p.m.: Here we go from PNC Park, where there are already Yankees fans in pinstriped jerseys surrounding the place. Fair warning if you’re coming down.
Here’s Clint Hurdle‘s lineup card:
1. Jordy Mercer, SS
2. Josh Harrison, 2B
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Gregory Polanco, LF
5. David Freese, 3B
6. Francisco Cervelli, C
7. José Osuna, RF
8. Josh Bell, 1B
9. Glasnow, P
The Pirates welcome the Yankees to town for the first time since 2008. Matt Sunday and myself will have you covered. Follow along with all the action right here.