Some reinforcements are on the way for the Wild Card-leading Pirates, as manager Clint Hurdle told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this afternoon that both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer could return from the disabled list for this weekend’s series against the Giants.
Harrison, who has been out since since July 5 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, is 1-for-19 (.053) over his first five minor league rehab games with Triple-A Indianapolis. Mercer, out since July 19 with a MCL sprain in his left knee and a leg contusion, is 3-for-17 (.176) through five games.
The Pirates are going to have a bit of a log jam when Harrison and Mercer return, as Aramis Ramirez and Jung Ho Kang have held down the left side of the infield of late. But it’s nice to have options. Harrison can also play the outfield if need be.
The Pirates enter play tonight at 71-47, four games in front of the Cubs for the first Wild Card spot and five games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.
Via our own Craig Calcaterra–who took off early today to see “Ant Man” and is still breaking news–the Pirates have acquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers.
Ramirez began his career in Pittsburgh, debuting in 1998 as a 20-year-old and playing six seasons for the Pirates. He returns at age 37 with the hopes of putting together a good second half before potentially retiring after the season.
Ramirez was long one of the best, most underrated right-handed hitters in baseball, but he’s hit just .247 with 11 homers and a .725 OPS in 81 games this season. Of course, even that modest production would help the Pirates with infielders Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the disabled list.
In exchange for Ramirez the Brewers receive minor leaguer Yhonathan Barrios, a 23-year-old converted infielder now pitching at Triple-A as a reliever with modest success.
I hope Calcaterra bought himself a large popcorn with extra butter or something.
UPDATE: The Pirates placed Jordy Mercer on the 15-day disabled list with a lower leg contusion and MCL sprain. As expected, Brent Morel has been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.
9:08 AM: Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was injured in yesterday’s loss to the Brewers when Carlos Gomez slid into him in the second inning while trying to break up a double play. It appears that Gomez and Mercer’s knees collided. Mercer was taken off the field on a cart. Mercer is back in Pittsburgh today to have his knee looked at.
No one seems to have taken issue with the slide. Clint Hurdle said after the game yesterday that it was a “baseball play,” even if it was a hard one. Gomez, for his part, tweeted out his thoughts after the game:
Jung Ho Kang, who has been starting at third lately for the injured Josh Harrison, will take over at shortstop while Mercer is out. Kang says he is comfortable with the switch given that he played most of his time at short while in Korea. Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are likely to make a roster move today before the game, probably calling up Brent Morel, who can play third base.
If you have an infielder to shop, you may want to call the Pirates.
Yesterday we heard that Orioles are interested in Justin Upton (or could settle for Carlos Gomez). Today Jon Morosi of Fox adds that the Pirates could be in on that Upton action as well:
The Mercer stuff is based on this earlier report, of course. But really, if they have a bad bat/good glove infielder to cover for Mercer they could add Upton and put him in front of Gregory Polanco, who has hit a paltry .241/.318/.344 this year.
Upton is a free agent after this season and the Padres are unlikely to sign him so they’re clearly willing to send him to a club that’ll use him as a rental.
Update #3 (6:27 PM EST): It seemed like a foregone conclusion with the way Scherzer had been pitching through six innings. Scherzer was one strike away from a perfect game against the Pirates. In the ninth inning, he got Gregory Polanco to foul out to the third base side on a nice play by Anthony Rendon, Jordy Mercer to fly out to center field, then hit pinch-hitter Jose Tabata with a pitch to end his bid for a perfect game. He salvaged the no-hitter, getting Josh Harrison to fly out to end the game, completing the no-hitter.
Scherzer threw 105 pitches, 80 for strikes. He recorded 10 strikeouts in the outing, his sixth double-digit strikeout start of the season. Scherzer joins Chris Heston as pitchers to have thrown no-hitters this season. Jordan Zimmermann was the last National to throw a no-hitter, who accomplished the feat on the final day of the regular season last year.
Update #2 (6:11 PM EST): Scherzer remains perfect through eight innings. He got Jung Ho Kang to pop out, struck out Francisco Cervelli, and got Pedro Alvarez to ground into the shift, with second baseman Danny Espinosa making a very nice play to get the out with inches to spare. Scherzer has 10 strikeouts on the afternoon. He one more inning left to complete baseball’s 24th perfect game.
Update (5:55 PM EST): He’s perfect through seven innings. Scherzer carved through the top of the Pirates’ batting order, getting Josh Harrison to fly out weakly, then striking out Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. Stay tuned for the final two innings as Scherzer attempts to polish off his perfect game.
We could have some history in the making this afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., as Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer is perfect through six innings against the Pirates.
Scherzer has struck out seven batters thus far while throwing 50 out of 67 pitches for strikes. He has only had two three-ball counts out of the 18 batters he has faced. He’s cruising.
The Nationals currently lead 1-0 on a solo home run from Bryce Harper. Stay tuned to see if Scherzer can finish it off.