The Pirates put a bunch of runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning and in doing so, chased Cardinals starter Joe Kelly. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a walk. Following a lazy fly out by Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting with a double to left, putting runners on second and third with one out. With Pedro Alvarez coming to the plate, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered the intentional walk to load the bases before pulling Kelly for reliever Seth Maness.
Russell Martin swung at the first pitch he saw from Maness, a 91 MPH sinker, driving a high fly ball to center fielder Jon Jay. McCutchen scored easily, putting the Pirates up 3-2 with two outs in the sixth. Jose Tabata, pinch-hitting for Clint Barmes, grounded out to end the inning. As part of a double-switch, Jordy Mercer came in at shortstop in the nine-spot in the lineup.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano did not take the hill in the seventh, having thrown 101 pitches. Reliever Tony Watson entered in the eight-spot in the lineup.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.