If there is such thing as momentum, it’s difficult to know which team might have it in their pocket Saturday as the Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting Cleveland Indians head into the second game of their weekend series.
Aptly, it was a fireworks night at PNC Park when Pittsburgh ended a 10-game losing streak Friday. The Indians, whose four-game winning streak came to an end, also have reason to feel they gained an edge going into the rest of the series after what they did in an 11-10 loss.
The Pirates built an 11-1 lead through six innings, then nearly blew it as Cleveland kept the pressure on and had the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the ninth.
“Got my juices going — I’ll tell you that,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
If the Pirates were shaken by the Indians’ big comeback, it wasn’t showing.
“You know man, hey, things happened in the game, but we never gave up. We kept fighting,” Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco, who hit a homer Friday, told AT&T Sportsnet.
“We’re going to turn this thing around, and we’re going to keep competing. Trust. Trust.”
Entering the series, Pittsburgh had scored 227 runs, least in the major leagues. During their 10-game skid, the Pirates scored just 22 runs. They totaled half of that on Friday.
Cleveland is still in good shape despite injury problems. The Indians have won six of their past eight.
On Saturday, Cleveland right-hander Cal Quantrill (0-2, 3.11 ERA) is expected to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (0-4, 6.75 ERA).
In Quantrill’s last start, on Tuesday against visiting Baltimore, he pitched four innings, giving up one run and three hits, with no walks and four strikeouts. The Indians went on to win the game 7-2.
He didn’t continue that game because he was capped at 60 pitches, apparently so he could come back on short rest and start against the Pirates.
Quantrill has also spent time in the bullpen this year, but Cleveland’s rotation is shorthanded, with ace Shane Bieber the biggest name out, and Francona needed to plug holes.
“We told our guys that we’re going to have to figure some things out,” Francona said. “(While we’re in Pittsburgh), we’ve got some things we’re going to have to figure out every day. But it’s OK when guys are playing like they’re playing and giving the effort. We’ll figure it out together.”
Quantrill is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three career appearances, two of them starts, against Pittsburgh.
Crowe is hoping the 10th time will be the charm. He has four losses and five no-decisions in his first nine starts this year as he chases his first career win.
On June 13 in Milwaukee, he struck out eight and pitched into the sixth inning, charged with two runs, but did not figure into the decision despite one of his best outings.
He retired 15 straight batters before normally reliable reliever David Bednar failed to clean up for him in the sixth after he walked the leadoff hitter, the only free pass he gave up.
“His slider was really good, and the fastball was really jumping out of his hand … and he threw some really good changeups,” Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings said of Crowe.
“I thought he looked good and maybe just overall command was better than the previous two (outings). He was really throwing the ball well and gave us a chance and got pretty deep into the game,” Stallings said.
Crowe has never faced Cleveland.
–Field Level Media