Joel Hanrahan survives shaky ninth as Pirates snap seven-game losing streak

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Joel Hanrahan’s ninth inning against the Cubs this afternoon was painful to watch. Very painful. But the Pirates’ seven-game losing streak is over.

Hanrahan entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 7-4 lead, but quickly gave up a double to Joe Mather and walked Darwin Barney. He got the first out of the inning after Anthony Rizzo flew out to right field, but then Alfonso Soriano singled to left to score Mather. After Starlin Castro flew out to right-center for the second out of the frame, Hanrahan walked consecutive batters to force in a run. But just before you could say, “here we go again,” Hanrahan struck out Dave Sappelt swinging to eke out a 7-6 victory. Ugly wins are better than an eighth straight loss.

Wandy Rodriguez allowed three runs (one earned) over six innings in the victory while Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-3 with a homer and two walks. The National League MVP candidate has four home runs in his last six games and 28 on the year. Neil Walker went 0-for-5 with a strikeout in his first start since August 26.

The Pirates now sit at 73-71 on the year, 2 1/2 games back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot. They need nine wins in their final 18 games to ensure their first winning season since 1992.

The Angels to lower the right field wall

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The Los Angeles Angels announced today that they will lower the right field wall at Angel Stadium from 18 feet to eight feet.

The stated reason: to make room for a new out-of-town scoreboard and “philosophical changes.” Obviously, though, helping out lefty power hitters is on the agenda too. As it was, Angel Stadium was in the bottom ten of all parks in allowing homers for lefties.

One of their own lefties is Kole Calhoun, who is a pull hitter. Another one could be Shohei Ohtani, who is a lefty hitter. Although, as a righty pitcher, that could harm him against opposing lefty batters. I’m assuming, though, that the Angels ran a bunch of numbers to establish that this move helps them more than it hurts them, or else they wouldn’t be doing it.