Pirates-Nationals Preview Capsule

Pirates (16-22) vs. Washington Nationals (24-13)

Site: PNC Park

Tuesday: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-3, 5.81) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 3.28), 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-4, 3.06) vs. Undecided, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 7.98) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.88), 12:35 p.m.

NOTES: The Pirates are in last place in the National League Central, six games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, but have won back-to-back games following a six-game losing streak. The Nationals lead the NL East by 7 1/2 games over the New York Mets and have won three of their last four games. … The teams are meeting for the first time in 2017 after the Nationals won the season series 4-2 last year. The Nationals have won each of the last three season series, going 12-8. … Pirates 1B Josh Bell is 3-for-8 (.375) with a double, two home runs and three walks in his last three games. … Nationals RF Bryce Harper is 10-for-24 (.417) with two doubles, three home runs, three walks and five strikeouts in his last six games. … Cole is 2-1 against the Nationals in his career while Kuhl and Glasnow have no decisions. … Strasburg is 3-2 against the Pirates and Roark is 2-0.

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Perrotto: Mentally Strong Taillon Faces Toughest Test

The 2017 season has seemingly been nothing but one major blast of bad news after another for the Pirates.

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang is still stuck in his native South Korea. He continues to try to secure a work visa after receiving a two-year suspended sentence in March for his third DUI conviction.

Starling Marte is playing in extended spring training games in Bradenton rather than patrolling center field in the major leagues. He is on the restricted list until mid-July after getting suspended 80 games last month for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy.

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Pirates-Brewers Preview Capsule

Pirates (12-16) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (15-14)

Site: PNC Park

Friday: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26) vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 5.34), 7:05 p.m.

Saturday: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50) vs. RHP Matt Garza (1-0, 3.38), 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 6.97) vs. RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 6.07), 1:35 p.m.

NOTES: The Pirates are in last place in the National League Central, four games behind the division-leading Cubs, while the Brewers are 1 ½ games back in second place. … The Pirates have lost two games in a row and four of their last five. … The Brewers have won three of their last four games. … The teams are meeting for the first time in 2017 after the Pirates won last year’s season series 10-9. The Pirates and Brewers are 57-57 against each other since the beginning of the 2013 season. … The Brewers have scored 57 runs in their last nine games while the Pirates have given up 28 runs in their last five games. … These mark the Pirates’ only three games at PNC Park in a 17-game stretch from April 28-May 14. … Pirates 3B Josh Harrison is 15-for-44 (.341) in his last 11 games with two doubles, one triple, four home runs, four walks and seven strikeouts. … Brewers C Jett Bandy is 11-for-32 (.344) in his last nine games with two doubles, three homers, three walks and six strikeouts. … Kuhl is 1-0 against the Brewers in his career while Cole is 2-3 and Glasnow has never faced Milwaukee. … Nelson has a 5-3 lifetime record against the Pirates while Garza is 3-6 and Davies is 0-2.

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Perrotto’s Three Thoughts on the Pirates

Three thoughts on the Pirates:

  1. Makes sense now

Last Aug. 1 was the most confusing day of Neal Huntington’s nearly 10-year tenure as the Pirates’ general manager.

On one hand, on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline, the Pirates dealt left-hander Francisco Liriano along with two prospects — catcher Ryan McGuire and outfielder Victor Ramirez — to the Toronto Blue Jays for right-hander Drew Hutchison.

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Ngoepe’s Major League Debut Truly a Gift

Jordy Mercer looked like a lunatic as he stormed up and down the Pirates dugout in the middle of the fourth inning yelling “1.62 billion” over and over.

However, the shortstop did not lose his mind Wednesday night. It just seemed that way.

The population of the Africa is 1.62 billion and Mercer was signifying just how special it was that teammate Gift Ngoepe had just become the first player from that continent to appear in a major-league game.

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No Help from Teammates Results in Cole Taking Tough Loss

Steve Blass knows a thing or two about pitching, regardless of the wildness that ended his career early and has made his name, quite unfairly, synonymous with each subsequent major-leaguer who has lost the ability to throw strikes.

Blass went 78-44 in a five-year span from 1968-72 for the Pirates. He won Game 7 of the 1971 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles and was second in the National League Cy Young voting the next year.

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Kuhl Gets Routed by Cubs But Refuses to Lose His Cool

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Chad Kuhl had made just 18 starts in the major leagues and been in the big leagues less than a year.

Few 24-year-olds possess the mound presence of the Pirates right-hander. He never seems to rattle, which he proved in his major-league debut last June 26 when he beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

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