5/18/2014 10:42 P.M. ET
Pirates avoid Tanaka in series against Yankees
By Nate Taylor / Special to MLB.com
NEW YORK -- One Yankees pitcher the Pirates were not scheduled to face during their trip to New York was rookie starter Masahiro Tanaka, who has been one of the most impressive players this season. Tanaka, who is set to take the mound Tuesday against the Cubs, has a 6-0 record with a 2.17 ERA. He has struck out 66 batters in 58 innings.
"From what I've seen, he's got a nice arsenal of pitches," said Russell Martin, a former Yankees catcher. "He has some late action with his hard slider and splitter. He's pounding the strike zone and expands with quality pitches when he's ahead in the count."
Martin said he would have liked the Pirates to have faced Tanaka, just to see how they would perform against him.
"He doesn't give in," Martin said. "From what I've seen so far, he looks like an awesome competitor. I love facing guys like that. I like facing [Tigers starter Justin] Verlander. I like facing the best."
Hurdle: Main objective in doubleheader is Game 1
NEW YORK -- As a child, manager Clint Hurdle thought a doubleheader was one of the coolest aspects of baseball. Before Sunday's doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, Hurdle reminisced about how he would watch back-to-back games as a batboy during the weekend afternoons in the Florida State League.
Hurdle's Pirates will try to perform better than they did in a twin bill earlier this month, when the Orioles swept them on May 1. The manager said one of the issues playing a doubleheader is trying to not overwork the bullpen. Hurdle is hopeful that starters Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole can pitch into the late innings in both games.
Hurdle said his main objective Sunday was to win the first game before worrying about the second.
"The only difficulty is it's usually harder to win two games in one day than it is to win a game today and a game tomorrow," Hurdle said before Saturday's 7-1 loss. "I think they can be engaging. I do think there's times when it can help your ballclub, because you can get reps for guys who might not get them."
The Pirates' lineup is expected to change in the second game when they face Yankees starter Vidal Nuno, a left-hander.
Hurdle said he does not approach a doubleheader much differently than any other game during the season. One of the few issues is making the decision as to whether a reliever can pitch in both games and still be effective. Hurdle said he would rest a reliever in Game 2 if he threw 20 or more pitches in the first game.
"There's not much new that comes at you," Hurdle said Sunday. "I try not to over-strategize too much. There might not be guys you can go back-to-back in both games. ... The most important game is the one we're playing first."
Cumpton called up, then sent back to Triple-A
NEW YORK -- The Pirates on Sunday called up Brandon Cumpton, a right-handed pitcher, as their 26th player on the roster for the doubleheader against the Yankees. On Tuesday, Cumpton pitched six innings and allowed two runs in his start for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. His ERA for Indianapolis is 1.41.
He didn't appear in either game and was then sent back to Triple-A after the twin bill.
Earlier this season, Cumpton started two games for the Pirates. He allowed six runs in 12 2/3 innings.
"He's fresh and he's shown up well," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think we have seen a lot of velocity. The fastball velocity might be a mile or two faster."
Hurdle also said closer Jason Grilli would have his next simulated bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Grilli is recovering from a strained left oblique.
Nate Taylor is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.