8/1/2014 10:28 P.M. ET
Hurdle: Bucs primed to make a run
By Tom Singer and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Within the first seven games of this 10-game road swing, the Pirates have twice done something they had done only once before all season, back in early May: allow seven-plus runs in back-to-back losses.
Those sets of defeats -- by identical 8-1 scores in Colorado, and 7-5 in the last game in San Francisco and 7-4 in the series opener here -- would suggest the wheels are coming off a team fueled by pitching.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a different take.
"You don't always get the results you want. But all the things you look for -- preparation, focus -- are dropping all over the place," said Hurdle, who characterized his crew as "primed to make run."
"These are the challenging times when you got to pick it up," Hurdle continued. "You take it out west for 10 days, and you've got to fight, scratch and claw. One thing we've been good at is not getting ahead of ourselves, just dealing with the next step."
This four-game set with the Diamondbacks is the start of another opportunistic 10-game stretch against teams with losing records. It will continue with the first two series of the upcoming homestand, against the Marlins who, despite their sub-.500 record are contending for a National League Wild Card berth, and against the NL West also-ran Padres.
Thereafter, the Bucs will move up in class, dramatically: 22 consecutive games against current division leaders (Detroit, Washington, Milwaukee) and prime contenders (Atlanta, St. Louis, Cincinnati).
So being primed would be a good thing.
Cole scratched from rehab start
PHOENIX -- When Gerrit Cole was returned to the Pirates' disabled list on July 9 with a sore right latissimus muscle, the injury was portrayed as rare for baseball and finicky to treat and recover from.
In possible evidence of that, Cole has been scratched from his scheduled rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis.
There was no exact or elaborate explanation for the move from the Pirates, nor even a suggestion that it represented a setback in his recovery.
In a text message shared with reporters, Buccos general manager Neal Huntington wrote, "After Gerrit's last outing and last bullpen, we decided another bullpen to refine some things was the best course of action."
That last outing, for the Indians on Monday, was smooth and encouraging: Cole blanked Rochester for five innings on five hits, walking three and striking out seven. The day-after reports to manager Clint Hurdle indicated Cole "iced down and had only normal next-day soreness."
Thus, it is entirely possible Cole was scratched to hasten his return to the Pirates' rotation -- and that "another bullpen" alluded to a normal between-starts routine.
Cole threw 81 pitches on Monday, and had been targeted for 100 in Saturday's rehab start.
Top pitching prospect Glasnow throws six scoreless
Pirates' No. 1 prospect Tyler Glasnow threw six scoreless innings Friday, helping lead Class A Advanced Bradenton to a 3-2 victory against Brevard County.
Glasnow, ranked No. 20 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, struck out five batters and held the Manatees to two hits and four walks. He threw 97 pitches to complete his eighth scoreless outing in 18 starts this season.
Though Glasnow began the game with four hitless innings, his wildness meant he had just one 1-2-3 inning -- the first. But he had no trouble working around the baserunners, getting ground balls or strikeouts when he needed them.
With the victory, Glasnow improved to 8-5 with a 1.63 ERA. He has struck out 111 batters and walked 49 in 94 innings this season. He ranks second in the Florida State League in ERA and strikeouts, despite missing most of April due to a back injury he suffered in Spring Training.
Glasnow led all Pirates Minor Leaguers with 164 strikeouts in 2013 and is once again atop the organization's leaderboard this season. Right-hander Nick Kingham, the club's No. 5 prospect, ranks second with 96 strikeouts.
First number, last word
16: Home runs by Neil Walker, through Thursday, tops among all National League switch-hitters. Only Detroit's Victor Martinez (21) and the Yankees' Mark Teixeira (18) had more in the Majors.
"I don't recall any of those conversations since I've been here. 'What if? Do we claim him just to block?'" -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the common practice of putting in a claim for a player on the waiver list just to prevent a team lower on the claim chain from having a shot at him.
• Mike Carp, the left-handed-hitting first baseman/outfielder released on Friday by Boston, was on the Pirates' "persons of interest" list when they sought someone during Spring Training to platoon with Gaby Sanchez.
"We've had conversations in the past about Mike Carp," said manager Clint Hurdle, nodding.
Any remaining interest is uncertain. The Bucs acquired Ike Davis from the Mets in late April. He has hit .247 in 86 games, with an on-base percentage of .355 but with little of the power (six homers in 231 at-bats) expected from him.
• When Jason Lane, the onetime outfielder-turned pitcher, made his first big league start at 37 on Monday (he has since been released by the Padres), it triggered a conversation about the oldest pitchers to make their MLB starting debuts.
The oldest? The Bucs' Diomedes Olivo, who was 43 years and 251 days when he made his first (and only) big league start on September 30, 1962, in Milwaukee.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.