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Pirates notebook: Some things didn’t smell right Sunday at PNC Park |

Pirates notebook: Some things didn’t smell right Sunday at PNC Park

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco stands at third base after failing to tag on a fly ball against the Cubs Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said “winning can be a deodorant.”

Which is a good thing, because there were a few events during the 2-1, 11-inning victory against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday that didn’t smell right.

“We all felt good after the game,” he said. “There were a lot of things we had to unpack after that game, a lot of things we can improve on moving forward.”

Among them was the failure of third-base coach Joey Cora and Gregory Polanco to capitalize on Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s poor throw home in the sixth inning.

With Polanco on third base and the Pirates offense struggling to score in a game that was tied, 1-1, Josh Bell hit a middle-distance fly ball to left field. Cora instructed Polanco not to run, but the throw from Schwarber, who has a career-high 10 outfield assists this season, eluded two Cubs players and would have allowed Polanco to score easily.

“Joey will be the first one to tell you, he should have sent him,” Hurdle said. “He chose not to send him. Polanco’s listening to a coach.

“Joey’s been so aggressive all year. It was a little out of character. We all know the point of time we’re in the game. We didn’t have many offensive opportunities. It didn’t work out, and then the throw goes where it goes.”

Brault is back

After he threw 5 1 3 innings in Triple-A Indiananpolis, left-handed relief pitcher Steven Brault returned to the Pirates on Monday.

During his stay in the minors, Brault was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA, allowing six hits and four walks and striking out seven. Before his demotion, Brault was 5-2 with a 5.06 ERA and 46 walks in 69 1 3 innings.

Hurdle said Brault’s command of his pitches improved in the minors.

“He was able to re-ignite and come up with a consistent delivery plan,” he said. “Holding his backside better, finishing pitches.”

To make room for Brault, left-handed pitcher Buddy Boshers, who never got in a game after joining the Pirates on Aug. 11, was sent to Indianapolis.

Newman’s turn

With Josh Harrison nursing a sore hamstring that would have forced him out of Sunday’s game if it had gone to the 12th inning, Kevin Newman played second base Monday in his first major-league start.

Mainly a shortstop in Triple-A, Newman played 21 games at second base this season.

Frazier’s power surge

Adam Frazier has hit 13 home runs in parts of three big-league seasons, but only five in Indianapolis over the same time span.

“It is weird,” Hurdle said. “Numbers have shown me they hit more home runs up here than they do in the minor leagues.

“Whether it’s the controlled pitching, whether it’s the lights, whether it’s the balls.”

He also suggested hitters gain confidence when they escape the minors.

He said he saw the same situation with Todd Helton, whom he managed in Colorado, and former Kansas City Royals teammate George Brett.

Helton hit 369 home runs in 17 big-league seasons, but only 26 in seven years in the minors. Brett hit 317 in 21 years, but only 25 in four minor-league seasons.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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