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Yankees, Pirates continue rare series

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees had better be quick studies.

The two teams, separated by less than 400 miles, don't get to see one another very often. They've played just 13 regular-season games in the history of the two franchises to go along with splitting 1927 and 1960 World Series.

That is ancient history when it comes to this year's squads, but even the teams' recent history doesn't mean much. When the teams last met in Pittsburgh in 2008, Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' starter on Saturday, was a sophomore in high school.

In 2014, when Pirates and Yankees last faced off in The Bronx, New York right fielder Aaron Judge was playing in Class A.

So clearly, there isn't a lot to go on when it comes to scouting the other side based on previous experience, and it doesn't help that several key players for each squad are youngsters. Taillon and Judge are 25. Yankees first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Ronald Torreyes are 24.

The Pirates have 10 players 25 or younger. That makes going in to the film room and putting in the work even more important when it comes to figuring out how each pitcher is going to attack each hitter and vice-versa.

"You don't get a re-do," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You get three games. It's not like we get to go there and play after we've figured some things out."

Taillon (1-0, 0.90 ERA), who made his major league debut in 2016, has never faced the Yankees. But he's done just fine against the National League, solidifying his spot as one of the Pirates' top starters.

First baseman Chris Carter is one of the few Yankees to face Taillon, and he's only 1-for-8 against the young right-hander.

It won't be any easier for the Pirates against Yankees starter Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.44 ERA). Pineda has never faced the Pirates and the only Pittsburgh player he's faced is backup first baseman John Jaso, who is 2-for-2.

The Yankees will be looking for Pineda to keep things rolling -- he's won each of his last two starts -- while the offense gets untracked on the road. They are averaging 5.77 runs per game at Yankee Stadium, but just 3.86 away from home where they are 2-5.

On Friday night, the Pirates used the long ball to jump out to a big lead early and held on for a 6-3 victory over the Yankees to snap a three-game losing streak.
Jordy Mercer and rookie first baseman Josh Bell hit early home runs off Yankees' starter C.C. Sabathia (2-1).

"We had chances," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We had a lot of chances tonight, we just didn't capitalize."

The Yankees' defense gave away two runs with two outs in the seventh, when second baseman Starlin Castro dropped a pop up off the bat of Andrew McCutchen that scored Mercer from second. Two batters later, David Freese singled home McCutchen.

"It's my fault. It's a play I should make -- especially in a close game like that," Castro told The Daily News.

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