Sat, 18 Sep 2021

Plucky Pirates try to complete sweep of Phillies

Field Level Media
01 Aug 2021, 20:05 GMT+10

The Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday will be going for a weekend series sweep of the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. That's quite a bounce back.

The Pirates had lost four straight, including being outscored 28-3 while being swept in three home games against the Milwaukee Brewers, coming into this series.

Their two wins against Philadelphia have come in disparate ways.

Friday, it was a 7-0 smacking with three Pirates pitchers combining on a one-hitter. Saturday, it was a tight game that ended in the bottom of the ninth when Bryan Reynolds slid home safely on Jacob Stallings' walkoff fielder's choice for a 3-2 win.

There's no telling what sort of flavor Sunday's series finale might have, but Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton promised more of the sort of heads-up, attack-mode play from his team that Reynolds showed in scoring Saturday's winner.

"We're trying to be as aggressive as possible," he said. "Sometimes that will go against you if you get over-aggressive, but (Saturday) we stayed aggressive, we made the right reads, and because of it we ended up a winner."

The Phillies, who are chasing first place in the National League East, have lost four of five.

Philadelphia first baseman Rhys Hoskins is doubtful for Sunday. He left Thursday's game because of a groin issue and was listed as day to day, but manager Joe Girardi was pessimistic about Hoskins' availability for Sunday.

Coming off moves they made leading up to Friday's trade deadline and based on some unsteady performances from their starters, the Phillies are shaking up their rotation, beginning Sunday.

Spencer Howard originally was slated to start Sunday, but now it will be newly acquired right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-3, 2.87 ERA) after Howard was traded. Matt Moore and Vince Velasquez are out of the rotation, and Gibson, closer Ranger Suarez and Chase Anderson are in.

Another recent addition, Ian Kennedy, is the new Philadelphia closer.

"It's frustrating," Girardi said. "We haven't pitched consistently well the second half. We haven't gotten a lot of distance in a lot of our starts."

Gibson, a first-time All-Star this year who came from Texas in a trade, has pitched six or more innings in 14 of his 19 starts.

"We needed a starting pitcher to help us," Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombroski said.

Philadelphia thought it had one Tuesday in a trade with Pittsburgh for Tyler Anderson, but that fell through because of an undisclosed issue with one of the prospects coming back in the deal.

So the Phillies will turn to Gibson, 33, who has never faced the Pirates.

Pittsburgh has been in flux with its pitchers for a while, even before making trades last week.

The Pirates did not announce Sunday's starter until after Saturday's game. It will be right-hander Mitch Keller (3-7, 7.04 ERA).

Keller, 25, was recalled this weekend from Triple-A Indianapolis for his latest attempt to make things work at the big league level. He is 5-13 with a 6.31 ERA in his career.

His most recent start in the major leagues was June 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he gave up four runs and five hits in 2 2/3 innings.

His only appearance against Philadelphia came Aug. 28, 2019, when he started and pitched four innings, allowing eight runs and 11 hits.

--Field Level Media

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