The reeling Pittsburgh Pirates will look to right the ship when they visit the Baltimore Orioles on Friday in the opener of a three-game series
Pittsburgh followed up winning 20 of its first 28 games by dropping nine of its past 10. The Pirates, in fact, have scored more than two runs only once during their last 10 games
"When you scuffle a bit, you have guys who press," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said after his team's 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. "I think maybe that's where we're at now."
While the Pirates aren't hitting, they also are not pitching well, either. During a 1-5 homestand, Pittsburgh starters fashioned a 6.75 ERA in the five losses, and relievers compiled a 5.14 mark, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In addition, the successful aggressive baserunning that helped fuel Pittsburgh's strong start has faltered as well. The Pirates entered play on Thursday leading the majors with 48 stolen bases; however, they were caught stealing six times on the homestand
"People know what to expect, so they make adjustments," said Andrew McCutchen, who was a bright spot Wednesday, going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer.
"We have to be smarter and avoid trying to create something that may not be there and let the game play out."
Pittsburgh will turn to right-hander Johan Oviedo (2-3, 5.59 ERA) in the opener of the series.
Oviedo is 0-2 with a 12.08 ERA in his past three starts, allowing 17 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. He has struck out eight and walked seven during that stretch.
Last time out, Oviedo allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on 10 hits in five innings of a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
He has never faced the Orioles, who will counter with right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 5.95)
Bradish allowed three runs on five hits over five innings of a loss to the Atlanta Braves in his last start. Bradish will oppose Pittsburgh for the first time in his career.
Baltimore is facing a third straight division leader after losing two of three to the Braves before taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dean Kremer pitched six scoreless innings to help the Orioles record a 2-1 victory over the Rays on Wednesday. Austin Hays had two hits and drove in what proved to be the winning run for Baltimore
"We felt like we were in those games," Hays said. "We had a really good chance to win the series in Atlanta, to be in that same situation here. To have a hard-fought game again, good pitching on both sides and just try to find a way to have timely hitting and score some runs to get the lead and have the bullpen do their thing."
The Orioles held the Rays to six runs in the series, and Baltimore relievers gave up just two runs in 9 1/3 innings
With closer Felix Bautista having worked 1 1/3 innings in a win on Tuesday, manager Brandon Hyde turned to right-hander Yennier Cano on Wednesday. Cano recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his third save.
Cano has pitched 18 2/3 innings this season and has yet to allow a run while striking out 22 batters.
"It's still early," Hyde said. "Definitely take your chances with the stuff both those guys have in the back end of a game. They've proven it over and over again that they're extremely hard to hit."
--Field Level Media