Mark Melancon owes Starling Marte a nice steak dinner

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Pirates closer Mark Melancon has been pretty good this season. Great, in fact. He entered play Friday having strung together 21 consecutive scoreless appearances and hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 11. As a result, he was 32-for-33 in save situations with a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.

Melancon’s streak was in danger of ending on Friday night against the Reds. Staked to a one run lead, he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, but immediately served up a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips. Jason Bourgeois laid down a bunt to move Phillips into scoring position. The red-hot Joey Votto drew a walk, putting the potential winning run on first base and bringing 2015 Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier to the plate.

Frazier ripped a single past a diving Aramis Ramirez into left field. Marte fired a strong one-hopper to catcher Francisco Cervelli, who easily applied the tag to Phillips for the second out of the inning. Votto, now the potential tying run, stood on second base as Marlon Byrd stepped to the plate.

Byrd lined a 3-2 breaking ball towards Marte in left field. Marte ranged to his right and dove, snagging the sinking liner just before it could make contact with the grass at Great American Ballpark. On consecutive plays, Marte’s defense allowed the Pirates to walk away 5-4 winners and he kept Melancon’s scoreless streak alive.

It looks like Marte might’ve dinged up his wrist in making the catch. Hopefully it’s nothing a nice steak dinner — on Melancon’s tab — can’t help heal.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.