The Pittsburgh Pirates will be going for a series sweep Sunday against visiting Milwaukee, which would be quite a feat for a club that entered Friday with four wins, total.
Pittsburgh won two games in a row for the first time all season by pasting the Brewers 12-5 Saturday.
A sweep isn’t foreign to the Pirates. After all, they were just involved in one in their previous series. Of course, that was on the wrong end of three games against Cleveland.
However, an explosive offense is something out of the ordinary for Pittsburgh, which has 19 runs and 28 hits in winning the first two games of the series.
“The mentality is everything is (about) how bad you want it, how you come to prepare for the game every day,” Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco told AT&T Sportsnet after he hit a two-run homer Saturday following an RBI single Friday.
“We can do nothing about the games last week. … That’s our mindset right now.”
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said that mindset gets a boost from securing back-to-back wins, especially with the offense breaking out.
“It’s nice to see for the group because you have some offensive players who have been scuffling and thinking about it, so for them to have consistent at-bats, it’s been really nice to see,” he said.
“We’d been inconsistent in terms of finishing games, and we were able to finish two games in a row. I think it’s an important step.”
The Brewers will try to end their longest road trip of the season — 10 games in 11 days — at 5-5.
One thing that would help Milwaukee is if former National League MVP Christian Yelich could get off the schneid against Pittsburgh.
Yelich is 1-for-22 against Pittsburgh in two series. Granted, the outlier is a solo homer Friday, and he walked and scored Saturday, but it’s been mostly a miserable five games against the Pirates for him.
Saturday, Yelich grounded into a double play, grounded out with a runner at third and two outs, and struck out with runners at first and second before he walked and scored in the seventh. In left field, he lost a ball in the sun that went for a double and helped lead to one of Pittsburgh’s runs.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell still believes in Yelich and other mainstays who have been struggling.
“These are our guys, and we have to stay the course with them,” Counsell said. “We have some guys who just haven’t got going. … It’s been hard to sustain things, and that’s a tough way to play offense. You need to get the circle going. It’s puzzling. We’ve been sticking with good matchups for guys and putting them in good places to succeed, but it hasn’t worked.
“I think offensively, we are a veteran group. What they have to go back on is they’ve all had pretty big degrees of success in this league. A lot of them had very good seasons last year; most of them had very good seasons. They’re not far removed from it. That’s probably made it more puzzling.”
In the series finale, Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes (0-0, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (0-0, 4.91 ERA).
Burnes is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 appearances, all in relief, against the Pirates. Tuesday at Minnesota, he allowed one and two hits in five innings without getting a decision.
Brubaker will be making his third career start, fifth appearance, first against the Brewers. Tuesday, in his second start, he gave up three runs in three innings against Cleveland.
–Field Level Media