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Pirates hang a dozen on the Cubs on Labor Day

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The youngsters lead the way on Labor Day, with Chad Kuhl going seven shutout innings and Josh Bell and Max Moroff providing the offense in a 12-0 Pirates win over the Chicago Cubs.


Max Moroff and Josh Bell have been playing a game ever since they were in AA called “hardest hit ball.” The goal is simple: hit the ball the hardest. Distance doesn’t matter (that’s for a different game they sometimes play), though both of their hardest hits went over the fence.

Moroff won Monday. According to Statcast, the second baseman’s home run had an exit velocity of 102.5 MPH. Bell’s hardest hit ball was “only” 101.6 MPH.

But those were not the only hard hit balls between the two rookie switch-hitters. Both Moroff and Bell went 3-5 with a home run and four RBI in Monday’s 12-0 win over the Cubs. They both had RBI knocks from each side of the plate, too.

Rookie Elias Diaz also drove in a run, and recently-promoted outfielder Jordan Luplow scored as well.

“We all did good today, and it’s fun to watch,” Moroff said. “It’s really cool to see how far we’ve come.”

Bell may not have had the hardest hit ball, but he did set a new National League record for most home runs by a switch-hitting rookie. His 24th of the season broke the tie he had with Chipper Jones, who hit 23 in 1995.

“It’s cool to be mentioned with a guy of that caliber,” Bell said.


Bell’s first inning two run shot opened the scoring, with Starling Marte also coming in to score. Max Moroff added a home run to open the third to make it 3-0 Pirates.

Bell drove home Andrew McCutchen with a fifth inning single, and Moroff plated Marte with a seventh inning double.

The Pirates piled on seven runs in the eighth. Elias Diaz opened the scoring when he doubled home Jordan Luplow, and then came around on a Moroff two run single which also scored John Jaso. McCutchen then singled home Marte, and Moroff scored on a Bell groundout. David Freese capped the offense by hitting a two run homer into the bullpen.


Starter Chad Kuhl ran into trouble in the second inning, putting the first two runners on with nobody out. He got some help from Starling Marte, who threw out Ben Zobrist at home on Mike Freeman’s single for the second out of the inning. Kuhl caught Jake Arrieta looking at strike three to end the frame.


A rocky second inning notwithstanding, Kuhl was dominant Monday, going seven innings of shutout ball with only four hits and two walks on his ledger. He struck out eight, which is a new career high for him.

Hurdle said he thought Kuhl was not pitching with a full tank. The righty agreed, but thought it did not hold him back.

“Baseball’s weird. There’s been games where I felt really good and gone four innings, and there’s games where you feel bad and fight through some things,” Kuhl said. “I felt like today was one of those days.”

The slider was Kuhl’s go-to Monday, picking up six whiffs and 12 strikes looking on the 30 times he threw it. The Cubs went hitless on the three sliders they put in play, as well.

Kuhl started with a first pitch strike to 17 of the 26 batters he faced and retired six on three pitches or less. He ended the night retiring 13 of his last 14 batters faced.

He was relieved by A.J. Schugel- who allowed two singles and struck out a batter- and Dovydas Neverauskas, who worked around a hit and also fanned a batter.

Jake Arrieta was pulled after 2.1 innings after suffering a right hamstring injury. He fell to 14-9 after allowing three runs on four hits and a walk, striking out four. No timetable for his return has been announced yet.


The Pirates hit Arrieta hard at home for a fourth straight time. Arrieta has lost all four of those starts, with the Pirates hitting .338 (27/80) with six home runs and six doubles.


Chad Kuhl: W, 7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K


“I love working here. I love working in this organization. I’m proud to be a Pirate I have been proud to be a Pirate I’m going to do everything I can, if I get an opportunity to move forward, to bring a world championship to this city.”- Clint Hurdle on the potential opportunity to remain the Pirates’ manager for years to come. Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette was the first to report Monday that Hurdle and the Pirates have come to terms on a new four year extension.


Game two of the four game set will be Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.. Steven Brault (0-0, 5.93) will be making his first major league start of the season in place of Ivan Nova, who is being skipped in the rotation because of fatigue. Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 3.32) will take the bump for Chicago.


1. Bell is three home runs away from tying the major league switch-hitting rookie home run record, which is currently held by Eddie Murray (1977) and Tony Clark (1996). As for club records, Bobby Bonilla is the only switch-hitter to hit more home runs in a season than Bell’s 24 (Bonilla hit 32 in 1990).

2. Moroff is hitting .344 (11/32) with three home runs and two doubles since the All-Star Break.

3. McCutchen’s eighth inning double was the 1,436th hit of his career, giving him sole possession of 14th place all-time in Pirates’ history. Dave Parker is 13th with 1,479 hits.

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