The Pittsburgh Pirates, enduring another tough season, once again are looking toward the future.
On Tuesday, the Pirates will continue a three-game series with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, another club enduring a challenging campaign.
The Pirates seem to have found their closer for at least the near future if not beyond. David Bednar was eased into that spot after Richard Rodriguez was traded last month, and the right-hander picked up his second save in three days on Monday.
Bednar’s 1-2-3 ninth secured Pittsburgh’s comeback 6-5 win over the Diamondbacks in the series opener.
To make things even more satisfying, Bednar, who was acquired in an offseason trade, is from Western Pennsylvania.
“Not even in my wildest dreams,” he told AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh of aspiring to such a role while growing up. “To have it actually happen is something special.”
Special moments have been hard to come by for both clubs this year. The Diamondbacks, like the Pirates, also are in contention for worst record in the majors.
Before Monday, Arizona could at least lay claim to having Pittsburgh’s number. The Diamondbacks had won the three earlier meetings between the clubs this year and had won 10 in a row in Pittsburgh. They are still 15-3 against the Pirates since the start of the 2018 season.
On Tuesday, Arizona left-hander Madison Bumgarner (7-7, 4.06 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (4-13, 5.49).
Bumgarner is 3-2 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in seven starts since the All-Star break. Most recently, he gave up one run on three hits in eight innings Thursday during a win over Philadelphia.
Bumgarner relied on control against the Phillies, throwing 69 of his 105 pitches for strikes.
“A lot of teams are being aggressive these days,” Bumgarner said. “I am trying to make good pitches from Pitch 1. Usually just trying to make pitches early and throw them strikes.”
His efficiency was underscored in the fourth inning, when he got out of the frame with three groundouts on six pitches.
“It was about making the right pitches to the right guy,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He has been very consistent. Ton of swing and misses in crucial counts is what stands out to me.”
Against Pittsburgh, Bumgarner is 3-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 10 career starts, including a no-decision July 21 at home when he gave up three runs (one earned) in five innings.
Brubaker, who has never faced Arizona, stands out among Pittsburgh starters lately, and not for a good reason.
The Pirates’ rotation has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of the past nine games. One of the exceptions was Brubaker’s most recent outing, when he gave up seven runs and eight hits in four innings Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
“I felt like my slider was there. I was executing it down, bottom of the zone like I was early in the year,” Brubaker said. “That’s the positive I’m taking from it — the slider was there. Now I’m trying to build off of (that by) executing consistently with my other pitches.”
Brubaker has lost his past nine decisions and 11 of his past 12. His most recent win came on May 29. He has allowed 39 runs (38 earned) and 15 homers over his past eight starts, compiling an 8.84 ERA in that span.
–Field Level Media