Pirates expect Andrew McCutchen back when eligible Tuesday

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First the Pirates delayed placing Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list in the hopes he could play through a fractured rib and now the team expects him to come off the disabled list when eligible Tuesday.

Manager Clint Hurdle told Tom Singer of MLB.com that the Pirates are “optimistic” the reigning MVP center fielder can “rejoin us tomorrow,” which would mean returning without first going on a minor-league rehab assignment.

In his absence Pittsburgh has shifted Starling Marte from left field to center field and used Travis Snider as the primary left fielder. And the Pirates have gone 5-8 without McCutchen in the lineup, including five consecutive losses.

Prior to the injury McCutchen hit .311 with 17 homers, 17 steals, a league-leading 68 walks, and a .949 OPS, once again ranking as one of the league’s most valuable all-around players.

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.