Help on the way for the Pirates?

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly doesn’t expect the club to deviate from their current plan, even as general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell enter the final year of their respective contracts:

1. Lame-duck years will not be regarded any differently by the
Pirates than any other years, and allowing someone to enter a lame-duck
year without an extension will not be seen as a lack of faith.

2. Coonelly would prefer that those under him never go into survival
mode and attempt short-term solutions that deviate from the team’s
overall plan. By not focusing on contract terms or arbitrary lame-duck
precedents, the concept goes, those involved are less inclined to
single out any year as one in which it would be OK to abandon the plan.

3. Coonelly displays a strong, genuine and unwavering confidence in Huntington and Russell.

Watch: Brian McCann’s incredible tag nails Greg Bird at home plate

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Things got a little wild in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday. With one out and runners at the corners, Astros’ right-hander Charlie Morton fired a 1-1 fastball to Todd Frazier. Frazier returned the ball to third baseman Alex Bregman, who tossed a perfect throw over to Brian McCann at the plate just as Greg Bird came charging home. McCann’s setup was flawless, nailing Bird as he slid into the plate and nullifying the Yankees’ first real attempt to get on the board.

That’s as close as the Yankees have come to scoring so far. The Astros took an early 1-0 lead with Evan Gattis‘ 405-footer off of CC Sabathia in the top of the fourth inning. Jose Altuve chimed in with an opposite-field solo shot in the fifth, while McCann followed his lead-preserving tag with an equally jaw-dropping two-out, two-RBI double. Houston currently leads 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth.