Gerrit Cole to return to Pirates’ rotation Wednesday

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The Pirates have lost four straight games and would not have a spot in the playoffs if the regular season ended today, but a big boost is coming this week.

Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that right-hander Gerrit Cole is due back from the disabled list on Wednesday and will start for the Bucs in their series-finale that night against the visiting Braves. He will be taking over the rotation spot left vacant by Charlie Morton, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning with inflammation in his right hip.

Cole has been out since early July because of a lat injury. He experienced a few setbacks along the way, but the young starter tossed seven scoreless innings in a rehab outing at Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night and six scoreless frames for Indianapolis last Sunday.

The 23-year-old former first overall pick owns a 3.46 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 33 career major league starts.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.