The Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates are in much different spots — and perhaps mindsets — entering their series opener Tuesday at PNC Park.
For the visiting Indians, an 8-5 win Sunday at Detroit featured five home runs and produced a weekend three-game sweep. It also kept the beat going on what has been a successful run and as normal a schedule as possible this shortened season.
For the Pirates, Tuesday’s game is their first since Friday after the final two of their four games in Cincinnati were postponed because a Reds player tested positive for COVID-19, followed by a day off Monday.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton expects to have all his players available Tuesday, with no positive tests for the virus. Pittsburgh also had a series against St. Louis wiped out this season because of a series of positive tests among the Cardinals organization.
“The immediate reaction is obviously concern because of the fact that somebody has tested positive,” Shelton said of the latest postponements his team experienced because of the pandemic. “Regardless of whether it’s one of your own players or somebody else, you’re concerned for that player and for their group. After that, you have to start to be aware of the contact that possibly is had among your group.”
The Pirates have played just two games in eight days going into the series against the Indians. One of those games was a win, 9-6 over Cincinnati on Thursday. It was just their fourth win this season.
The Indians, on the other hand, have won eight of their past 11 games. Their offense has started to catch up with a strong pitching staff, which is paying off. Cleveland is 10-0 when scoring at least three runs.
Cleveland is expected to get top catcher Roberto Perez back from a shoulder strain for this series, and likely for Tuesday’s opener. He has been out since July 28.
“I think that’s a legitimate target,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think, all things considered, it’s probably still quick. But the trainers have signed off and … I think we’re all on board with that.”
In the series opener Tuesday, Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.22 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander J.T. Brubaker (0-0, 3.38).
Carrasco is coming off his shortest and only non-quality start of the season, giving up three runs and four hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
“He was pitching out of danger the entire time,” Francona said.
With injuries among Pirates pitchers abounding, most recently to starter Joe Musgrove, Brubaker will be making his second career start.
In his first, Aug. 6 against Minnesota, he gave up three runs (on a first-inning three-run home run) over three innings. Those are the only three runs the rookie has allowed this year in eight innings. He has struck out nine and walked three.
–Field Level Media