Despite the losses the last two nights, the Pirates remain in first place in a very weak NL Central division. There are currently zero teams with a positive run differential in the division.
Here are the standings, by wins and losses.
- Pittsburgh 34-32
- Milwaukee 34-34
- Cincinnati 34-35
- Chicago 30-37
- St. Louis 27-42
By the records thus far, the Pirates are getting beat by one of the worst teams in the division. Here’s a look by run differential.
- Chicago -1
- Pittsburgh -10
- St. Louis -13
- Milwaukee -25
- Cincinnati -29
The Cubs have been unlucky to this point to have the record they have — just as the Padres are unlucky in the NL West with a +27 run differential at 33-34. The Cubs should be close to .500, putting them within range of the top of the NL Central. The Pirates are down after the last two games, but have been hovering around that .500 mark.
I wouldn’t say the Cubs are definitively better than the Pirates, despite the last two games. I would say this looks like the battle of the best two teams in the NL Central.
Despite the current records, you can see how Milwaukee and Cincinnati might regress toward the bottom of the division in the second half. They’re both .500 teams who are being outscored like they’re .450 teams. The Cubs, meanwhile, are playing like a .500 team, but stuck at .450. As we’ve seen the last two nights, they should be treated as one of the best teams in the division.
The question is whether the Pirates are in that mix. I believe they are, and I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking statement to say the Pirates could use a starter to boost their chances of winning the NL Central this year.
Johan Oviedo will take the mound for the Pirates tonight, hoping to avoid a three game sweep against the Chicago Cubs. I really like Oviedo. He’s got a 2.62 ERA in 34.1 innings over the last month, and has gone 6+ with two earned runs in each of his last two starts. The Pirates could use that positive momentum tonight.
Down in the minors, the highlight of the schedule is Braxton Ashcraft, who has been showing velocity and control in his return from Tommy John.
PIRATES GAME PREVIEWS
PIRATES (34-32) AT CUBS
Game Time: 8:05 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Johan Oviedo, RHP (3-5, 4.16)
Cubs Starter: Marcus Stroman, RHP (7-4, 2.42)
Our lineup for Game 3.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 15, 2023
Stro Show tonight! 🍿 Here's who is backing him up.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 15, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS (29-34) AT IOWA
Game Time: 7:38 PM EST
Projected Starter: Kent Emanuel, LHP (4-2, 6.28)
ALTOONA (30-27) AT SOMERSET
Game Time: 6:35 PM EST
Projected Starter: Aaron Shortridge, RHP (3-4, 6.29)
GREENSBORO (32-25) AT GREENVILLE
Game Time: 7:05 PM EST
Projected Starter: Braxton Ashcraft, RHP (0-2, 3.22)
BRADENTON (31-28) VS FORT MYERS
Game Time: 6:30 PM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
FCL PIRATES (5-2) AT FCL RED SOX (4-3)
Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
DSL PIRATES BLACK (3-4) VS DSL RED SOX RED (5-2)
Game Time: 11:00 AM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
DSL PIRATES GOLD (4-3) AT DSL TIGERS 1
Game Time: 11:00 AM EST
Projected Starter: TBA
THE NEW PROSPECT WATCH
With all of our game reports now going into this daily article, the Prospect Watch has been repurposed as a daily look at three prospects throughout the system. Check the site each day at noon for the latest edition. We’ll keep the archives updated here.
DAILY PIRATES NEWS
It’s been a big day for system evaluations.
Anthony Murphy went through each level, breaking down where the hitting prospects are in the Pirates’ system.
Baseball America updated their top 30 prospects yesterday.
The Pirates have a few players on the move, with John Dreker reporting that Anthony Solometo and Kyle Nicolas are being promoted to their next respective levels. Anthony Murphy looked at the rapid promotion of Solometo in today’s Pirates Prospects Daily.
Check the site throughout the day for all news updates.
More Recent Pirates Features
6/15: Where Are The Hitting Prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates Farm System?
6/14: Pirates Roundtable: The Book on Osvaldo Bido
6/11: Interview With Andrew McCutchen
6/10: Williams: How Much Depth Do the 2023 Pirates Have Left?
By Jeff Reed
Check back at the end of the night for all of the daily results throughout the system, or, join the discussion in the comments if you’re following Live.
Final Score: Cubs 7, Pirates 2
Player of the Game: Jason Delay 2-for-3
The Pirates entered the evening 7-28 in their last 35 games at Wrigley Field, and the game followed the previous two in similar fashion.
In the first two games, the Pirates hit a solo home run in the first inning for a quick lead, but this time around they waited till the third inning. Ji-Hwan Bae lead off with a single against Cubs starter Marcus Stroman and scored on a Tucupita Marcano single. Three batters later, Jason Delay scored on a Carlos Santana ground out for a 2-0 lead.
Cubs got one run back in the bottom of the inning, with an Ian Happ RBI single for their first run.
Starter Johan Oviedo was having trouble finishing hitters quickly, elevating his pitch count, but he had given up only one earned run while striking out eight batters through four innings. Oviedo came back out for the fifth inning on the verge of cracking 100 pitches, and for the third straight evening things got out of hand.
With a runner on and one out, Happ continued to torment Pittsburgh — who also made a fantastic diving catch in the fourth to rob Bae of extra bases — with a RBI double. A single later, and Oviedo was replaced by Jose Hernandez to face Cody Bellinger.
The odd part is, Bellinger has reverse splits this season, crushing LHP with an OPS over .900. So, as you would expect, he hit a RBI double to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Two runs and four batters later, Hernandez was finally replaced by recent call-up Yerry De Los Santos with bases loaded and two outs.
Yerry induced what should have been an inning ending ground ball to Marcano, but as the series has gone, Marcano bobbled it to let another run score and 6-2 deficit. De Los Santos would give up a run of his own in the sixth inning, because he also had to face Ian Happ, who led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-2.
That would be the final score as the Pirates offense managed only two hits after the Cubs fifth inning onslaught. The oddity that is the 2023 season continues, with the Pirates still sitting in first place, and 34-33 record. They’ll now head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers for the first time this season who sit a half game back of the Pirates.
PIRATES PROSPECT WATCH
By Wilbur Miller
Final Score: Iowa 10, Indianapolis 8
Player of the Game: Cal Mitchell 3-for-5, 3 RBI, SB
Indianapolis couldn’t quite overcome a first-inning meltdown by starter Kent Emanuel and a later one by Hunter Stratton, losing to Iowa, 10-8.
The game started well for Indy, as they got two in the top of the first. They drew four walks — one was wasted on a caught stealing — and Cal Mitchell drove in two with a single. Mitchell finished with three hits, a steal and three RBIs on the day.
Emanuel gave that back in a hurry, as he seems to be making a case that he’s not a depth option. The first eight hitters he faced reached base, six of them scoring. He managed to go four and two-thirds in all, allowing just the six runs.
By then, Indy had drawn to within one. Miguel Andujar homered in the third, his eighth in AAA. Mitchell singled in another run in the fifth and a wild pitch brought one in the next inning, making it 6-5. Unfortunately, Stratton had a blow-up in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a pair of two-run bombs to make it 10-5.
Indy came back partially with three runs in the seventh. One scored on a sacrifice fly and Nick Gonzales doubled in two more. But that was all the Indians could get. Gonzales finished with a single, double and walk. Henry Davis had a single, double and two walks, and stole a base. Endy Rodriguez doubled and walked, and Jared Triolo had two hits.
Final Score: Somerset 6, Altoona 3
Player of the Game: Aaron Shortridge 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K
Aaron Shortridge had an outstanding start, but the Altoona bullpen got torched late in the game, leading to a 6-3 loss. Shortridge threw six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six. He left with a 3-0 lead. The Curve got two in the first. Liover Peguero led off the game with his eighth home run of the year and Altoona got an unearned run later in the inning. The third run scored in the fifth when Matt Gorski reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on a ground out. Gorski had three steals on the day, giving him 13 on the year in 14 tries.
Once the Altoona bullpen got in the game, things went downhill fast. Bear Bellomy gave up a walk and a homer for two runs in the seventh. In the eighth, Cam Junker loaded the bases and then coughed up a grand slam. And that was it. Altoona had eight hits, with Peguero and Gorski each getting two, but they went 0-for-7 with RISP.
Final Score: Greensboro 6, Greenville 5
Player of the Game: Tsung-Che Cheng 4-for-5, 2B
Greensboro fell behind early, 3-0, but came back to beat Greenville, 6-5, in ten innings.
Braxton Ashcraft started and allowed three runs over four innings, on five hits and a walk. The bullpen, though, gave the Hoppers a chance to come back. Jaycob Deese and Grant Ford each threw two innings, with one unearned run scoring off Deese.
Tsung-Che Cheng led off the fourth with a single, went to third on a double by Will Matthiessen, but after Mike Jarvis and Jase Bowen both whiffed, he scored on a wild pitch. Cheng finished the day 4-for-5 with a double. His slash line now stands at 321/423/591. Matthiessen had two doubles in the game.
The Hoppers tied the game in the fifth on a two-run home run by Ernny Ordonez, his third homer of the year. Greenville went back in front on an unearned run, but the Hoppers tied it again on a force out in the seventh, then went ahead when Shawn Ross belted his third home run of the year to start the eighth.
The Hoppers took the 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Cy Nielson couldn’t hold it. Ross led off the tenth with a double to score the free runner, but the next three batters fanned. It didn’t matter, though, as this time Nielson struck out the side to strand the free runner. Brendan Dixon had three hits in the game, including a double, and Tres Gonzalez had two.
Final Score: Fort Myers 7, Bradenton 4
Player of the Game: Wilber Dotel 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Bradenton was done in by the longball in its 7-4 loss to Fort Myers. All seven runs came via the home run.
Wilber Dotel was shaky early, but ended up with a good start. He gave up a solo home run to start the second inning, but he allowed only one other hit and fanned five over four innings.
The Marauders took a 3-1 lead on some bad defense by Fort Myers in the second, then a solo home run by Nick Cimillo in the fourth, his fifth homer of the season. Luis Peralta replaced Dotel in the fifth and threw three innings. He allowed a solo homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the sixth, putting Fort Myers ahead, 5-4.
Rodolfo Nolasco tied the game with an inside-the-park home run in the seventh, a drive off the top of the center field wall that bounced back toward the infield. The Marauders, though, couldn’t add any more. Joshua Loeschorn threw a scoreless eighth, but the first two batters in the ninth reached on a hit batsman and a walk, and the next one went deep to finish the scoring. Nobody for Bradenton had more than one hit. After his big day yesterday, Termarr Johnson went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
ROOKIE: FCL PIRATES
Final Score: Pirates 12, Red Sox 11
Players of the Game: Michael Kennedy 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K; Solomon Maguire 1-for-1, 2B, 2 BB, 2 SB, 3 runs
The FCL Pirates took a 12-0 lead into the eighth inning and nearly blew the game, winning by one with the tying run on base. The game had to be a painful one to watch. It featured 21 walks, seven wild pitches and five hit batsmen.
The Pirates have been something of an offensive juggernaut. They went into the game tied with the Red Sox for the league lead in scoring and put up a dozen in this game despite going with a Sunday lineup. After a scoreless first, they got on the board in five straight innings.
Solomon Maguire and Jhonson Pena led the offense. Maguire’s pro career has been mostly a string of injuries and this was his first appearance this year. He got three plate appearances and scored every time, picking up a double, two walks and two steals. Pena also reached three times, on two hits and a hit batsman, and also stole two bases.
The Pirates also got two RBIs from Eybert Escalona, on a home run, his first of the year, and a sacrifice fly. Braylon Bishop had a two-run double. Escalona and Javier Rivas each had two hits, and Omar Alfonzo drew three walks.
The pitching was excellent for seven innings. Michael Kennedy made his second pro start and went four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and fanning six. He did walk three. In 7.2 IP so far, he’s allowed two hits and fanned 11, with six walks.
Andy Maldonado followed with a scoreless inning and Kevison Hernandez with two, but the roof caved in when Hernandez came back for the eighth. The first four batters reached, chasing Hernandez, and Eliecer Romero proceeded to retire just one of eight batters. In the end, Hernandez was charged with four runs and Romero with six. Keneth Quintanilla got the last two outs of the inning, then gave up a run in the ninth before bringing the ordeal to an end.
ROOKIE: DSL PIRATES BLACK
Final Score: Pirates Black 6, Red Sox Red 2
Player of the Game: Jonawel Valdez 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
The Pirates Black got offense up and down the lineup, and beat the Red Sox Red (Who assigns these names?), 6-2. Angel Aquino drove in half the runs, giving the team a 1-0 lead in the second with a sacrifice fly, then breaking the game open with a two-run single in a four-run fifth. Cristian Jauregui and Antonio Pimentel each had two hits. Jauregui is now batting .348. Angel Perez had a single, a walk and two runs scored. Carlos Caro reached three times on a single and two walks, and also stole a base.
Jonawel Valdez made his second pro start and allowed just one run over four innings. David Matoma followed with two scoreless innings, picking up his first pro win. He allowed two hits and fanned three. Janderson Linares gave up an unearned run in two innings and Eduardo Zapata worked a scoreless ninth.
ROOKIE: DSL PIRATES GOLD
Final Score: Pirates Gold 8, Tigers 5
Player of the Game: Adolfo Oviedo 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K
Inspired by the FCL Pirates, the DSL Pirates Gold took an 8-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth and just survived. They won, 8-5, leaving the bases loaded at the end.
Adolfo Oviedo had his second scoreless start. It wasn’t a totally clean one, as he walked three and came out after three and two-thirds innings. So far, though, he’s allowed just one hit over six and two-thirds.
The offense had a typical game for this level, picking up eight hits and seven walks. Ruben Vizcaya got them on the board in the third inning with his second home run of the year. The Bucs picked up three more in the fourth on a fielder’s choice and two bases loaded walks, one of the latter to Vizcaya.
After the Tigers got a pair of runs off Greiber Mendez in the fifth, a four-run seventh made it 8-2. Richard Ramirez doubled in a run, Edwarli Brioso singled him in, and wild pitches later brought in two more.
Things were going along swimmingly until the bottom of the ninth. Luis Joseph came on to get the last out in the eighth, but he got only one in the ninth while walking four and hitting one. Luis C. Gonzalez replaced Joseph and wild pitched in a run, leaving Joseph charged with three. He walked a batter to load the bases but finally got a pair of strikeouts to end it.
Fabian Urbina was the only Pirate with two hits. Brioso reached base three times thanks to two hit batsmen. Tony Blanco, Jr., doubled and drew two walks.