The Cubs are starting to play the kind of ball they were expected to earlier in the season; they've gone 18-10 since June 25th and have won five of their last six series. The Pirates are only 4-3 against them and the Astros in the past week. Pittsburgh has to focus on the three game set at Wrigley before tackling the Reds mano-a-mano at Great American, and can't afford to be looking ahead further than the contest at hand.
The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Alex Presley RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Mike McKenry C, Clint Barmes SS, Erik Bedard P.
- Happy B-Day, Clint Hurdle. The skip turns 55 today.
- RHP Juan Cruz, on the DL with elbow inflammation, threw his first bullpen session since the injury yesterday.
- The Altoona Curve's OF Adalberto Santos and RHP Phil Irwin swept the Eastern League "Player/Pitcher of the Week" awards for July 23rd-29th. Santos hit .500 (12-24) with a 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, & 2 stolen sacks. Irwin pitched a seven inning, two-hit shutout with nine K.
- Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted "Billy Butler was named AL Player of Week. I'm told Pirates asked about him, but offered very little and talks went nowhere." Nice stick, but there's nowhere in the NL to hide that glove.
- The Astros bounced SS Brian Bixler back to AAA today.
- Lee Tunnell, who had a pretty good year for the Bucs in 1983, was named the Brewer's new bullpen coach on an interim basis. He's spent the past four seasons as their minor league pitching coordinator.