Sitting last in the National League Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates have hardly had a strong season, but they seem to be about as prepared as they can be for a three-game visit from the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, starting Tuesday night.
The Pirates are coming off a weekend home series in which they won three of four against the Miami Marlins and over the course of that series regained something close to their normal lineup.
Touted rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who sustained a wrist injury in the second game of the season, returned for the Marlins series and went 7-for-18 with a homer, a double and three RBIs, in addition to strong defensive work.
First baseman and cleanup hitter Colin Moran, out a month because of a groin injury, returned Sunday and smacked an RBI double in his first at-bat.
“It feels good to add (Moran) back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “He was a guy who was a big part of our lineup before he got injured. Now we’re getting closer to what we expected our lineup to be when we broke spring training.
“He had a bounce in his step … I thought he looked good.”
Perhaps Pittsburgh will notice that the Dodgers are just in third place in the National League West and are coming off a series loss at Atlanta, including a 4-2 loss Sunday.
Los Angeles fell to .500 on the road and has won just four of its past 11 games.
“It’s been inconsistent, I think,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said of his team’s offense, which had just 16 hits in the three games in Atlanta. “There’s been some really good play; there’s been some mediocre play.
“I think the pitching has been really good, consistently. I think offensively, we’ve just got to continue to take good at-bats and just be more consistent on that side.”
In the series opener Tuesday, Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (4-0, 2.82 ERA) is slated to start against Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker (4-4, 3.74 ERA).
Buehler is coming off a win Wednesday against St. Louis when he gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts.
He has faced Pittsburgh once, May 24, 2019, beating the Pirates when he gave up one run in six innings.
Brubaker, who has never faced Los Angeles, has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his first 10 starts, but he hasn’t pitched since May 29.
He tossed six scoreless innings in a win against Colorado in his last outing before going on the bereavement list, returning to the team Friday.
–Field Level Media