The Pittsburgh Pirates can complete a three-game series sweep of the Colorado Rockies when the teams meet Sunday at PNC Park.
Beyond that, the Pirates have a chance to earn a sweep with three shutouts after they won both ends of a doubleheader Saturday 7-0 and 4-0 following a rainout Friday.
Pittsburgh has not won a series since taking two of three from Minnesota April 23-25 and has not swept a series this year.
Five Pirates pitchers combined for the two shutouts Saturday, taking advantage of a Colorado offense that has scored just six runs in the past six games, seven runs in its past 10 road games. The Rockies have lost five straight and are 3-22 on the road.
Pittsburgh’s offense also came to life in the doubleheader. The Pirates had not scored more than three runs a game during a six-game losing streak that preceded the doubleheader.
“That’s a big step for us,” said Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco, who had two hits, including a triple, an RBI and a run scored in the first game. “We’re just going to keep swinging. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.”
Colorado got some discouraging news before Saturday’s games. Shortstop Trevor Story was placed on the 10-day IL because of right elbow inflammation. Manager Bud Black had expressed some hope that Story, who got injured Thursday, would not be out long enough to need the IL.
In the series finale, Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland (0-0, 2.25 ERA) is scheduled to start.
The Pirates have not announced a starter, but a good bet is Chad Kuhl (0-1, 6.32 ERA), who would need to be activated from the IL. Kuhl, who was in the dugout during the doubleheader, is coming back from a shoulder injury and made a rehab start Tuesday for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Over his career, Kuhl is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts against Colorado.
Freeland, a home-towner from Denver who was a key component that helped the Rockies get to the postseason in 2017 and 2018, will be making his second start after returning from a pitching shoulder strain he got during spring training.
Tuesday, he gave up a run in the first but otherwise was strong in four innings against the Mets in New York, giving up four hits, walking three and striking out five.
“Overall, I’m pleased with everything, especially with my health,” Freeland said. “That was, I’m sure, the first thing on everyone’s mind, was making sure that I’m healthy and I’m able to do my job without any doubt in my mind. And so nowadays, definitely a big positive for me and for the team and for the coaching staff.”
Freeland relied heavily on his changeup that game.
“His stuff was moving a lot. The ball had great action,” Black said.
Freeland said there would be adjustments going into Sunday’s start.
In his career, Freeland is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in four starts against Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media