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Nova Fans A Season-High Nine In Bucs’ Fifth Straight Win

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MLB: Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Bell homered and Ivan Nova struck a season-high tying nine batters as the Pirates climbed back to .500 with their fifth straight win Saturday at PNC Park, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1.

Nova, who missed his last scheduled start to deal with a personal matter, came back strong, allowing just three hits and a walk in his six innings pitched. He threw 15 first pitch strikes to his 23 batters faced and retired nine on three pitches or fewer.

“Today, all my pitches were on point,” Nova said. “...All year, that’s the best curveball I’ve had.”

Nova had six whiffs on the curveball, which is tied for a season-high for him. Five of his 26 curves also fell in for called strikes.

Pitch location for Nova’s whiffs with the curveball Saturday. Courtesy of Baseball Savant.

“It was almost like a bowler,” Clint Hurdle said. “He just got spin and lane and everything was just finishing.”

The AAA September call-ups got the Pirates’ offense going early, with Jose Osuna coming home in the second and third innings on RBI hits by shortstop Kevin Newman and catcher Jacob Stallings. Bell also came home on the Stallings hit in the third inning to make it 3-0 Pirates.

Marlins’ starter Wei-Yin Chen did not last much longer after that, getting chased after the fourth. He was charged with three runs on five hits and two walks, punching out six.

Bell added an insurance run in the sixth on a solo shot to center field. Starling Marte tacked on another run in the seventh on an RBI double, bringing home Adam Frazier.

The Marlins got their only run on a Nick Kingham wild pitch in the eight. Kingham pitched the final two innings in a non-save situation.

Down Goes Polanco

The Pirates announced Saturday that Gregory Polanco will be shut down for the rest of the season with a significant bone bruise in his left knee. The injury will require 6-8 weeks of rest and rehab.

Polanco hurt himself sliding into second base on a double in Friday’s game.

Despite having his season cut short, Polanco set new career highs in home runs (23), OBP (.340), slugging percentage (.499), wRC+ (123) and fWAR (2.5). His 61 extra-base hits this year are the most by a Pirate since Andrew McCutchen had 62 in 2015.

Polanco also injured his left shoulder on the slide and is getting a second opinion on that injury.

On Deck

There is plenty rain in the forecast for Sunday as the after effects of hurricane Gordon reach the area. If there is a game, Trevor Williams (12-9, 3.15) will go against the team that drafted him at 1:35 p.m.. The Marlins will counter with Jeff Brigham (0-1, 9.00).

NUMB3RS

  1. Nova is 4-0 in four career starts against the Marlins with a 0.98 ERA (27.2 IP, 3 ER). His other nine strikeout performance this year was against the Marlins on Apr. 15.
  2. This is the first time Bell has homered in back-to-back games since Sept. 27 and 28, 2017.
  3. The Pirates’ pitching staff has a 3.15 ERA since July 8- the lowest in the majors (480.2 IP, 168). (Note: the LA Dodgers have not played yet Saturday and have a 3.18 ERA since then.)