ST. LOUIS — Ivan Nova's murmur was barely audible in the empty visitors clubhouse at Busch Stadium, though the leader of the pitching staff had little to say about the result Tuesday night.
"It's just one of those days," Nova lamented after he was tagged for two towering two-run homers and lasted only 3 1/3 innings in the Pirates' 5-2 loss to the Cardinals. His unpredictable offense continued a month-long slump by grounding into three rally-killing double plays, causing them to fall to 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
Their fall from contention began shortly after the non-waiver trade deadline and now includes 12 losses in their last 16 games. All along, Clint Hurdle and the front office have been taking a long look at one player who could help the Pirates in 2019. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, acquired from the Rays on Aug. 6, went 0 for 3 Wednesday. However, he's already won over his teammates with his effortless defense and is hoping this late-summer audition is enough to convince his new bosses to bring him back.
"I just want to be somewhere that I’m wanted and that wants me to play," Hechavarria, a free agent this winter, told DKPittsburghSports.com through team interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "Obviously I’m going to be a free agent at the end of the season. That’s going to be a variable. Hopefully they want me in return. If not, that’s out of my control. Right now, I’d love to come back. This is all definitely an opportunity for me to evaluate. This is definitely where I just want to play."