The Pittsburgh Pirates will seek continued offensive improvement Friday when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals.
After enduring a 10-game losing streak, the Pirates have won four of their past six games while scoring at least six runs in each of the victories. That turnaround started on a five-game homestand that ended Wednesday.
“I thought we were more aggressive,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “We created those run-scoring opportunities throughout the homestand.”
The Pirates continued that trend with an 8-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday in the opener of the four-game series.
The reeling Cardinals have lost six of seven games and 17 of 23.
“We had a clubhouse meeting today, talking about the frustration that we’ve shown at times, just knowing how talented our team is and knowing that we are going to turn it around at some point,” Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman said Thursday. “There are a few things we need to adjust from that mental side of the game.”
Wil Crowe (0-4, 6.42 ERA) will start Friday for the Pirates. The right-hander has made 10 appearances and nine starts this season without earning a victory.
Crowe came from the Washington Nationals in the Josh Bell trade, so he is still adapting his pitching approach.
“We have a couple maybe … different ideas than what he’s had before,” Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin told The Athletic. “So he has to understand why we ask him to do certain things. He’s done a great job of asking really good questions and buying into what we’re trying to do.”
Crowe sustained a 3-0 loss to the Cardinals on May 3. He allowed all three runs on three hits and four walks while fanning two in five innings.
Harrison Bader delivered the damage in that game with a three-run homer. However, Bader is on the 10-day injured list with a cracked rib. Paul DeJong and Tyler O’Neill got the other hits against Crowe.
Left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (1-5, 3.60 ERA) will start for the Cardinals. Since returning from his most recent back trouble, he has allowed just two runs on six hits and six walks in 10 innings over two starts.
Kim has no wins or losses and a 3.65 ERA in three career appearances against the Pirates, including two starts. Ke’Bryan Hayes (2-for-3, double, homer), Colin Moran (2-for-4, double, RBI) and Erik Gonzalez (3-for-6) have had success against Kim.
The Cardinals have scored two runs or fewer in 10 of their past 12 games. Manager Mike Shildt tried to spark change by dropping Edman from the leadoff spot to sixth on Thursday and moving everybody else up one slot.
“Things haven’t gone well for us offensively,” Shildt said. “We’ve had some internal discussions about that. The lineup can be representative of change, but really the change is more about our approach right now.”
Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings could return to the starting lineup Friday. Michael Perez started in his place Thursday.
“Stalls has been catching a ton,” Shelton said. “He’s a little banged up, so I’m going to try and pick days to make sure. With the fact that we have two day games here (Saturday and Sunday), just give him a little bit of a breather.”
–Field Level Media