Pirates hope to feast on Phillies yet again

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The Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting Philadelphia Phillies are playing this weekend for the first time since 2019.

The Pirates are probably wishing the teams could play more often after what happened Friday in the series opener — a 7-0 pasting of the Phillies after losing four straight, including being outscored 28-3 while being swept in three games by Milwaukee.

“The team wasn’t going good the (previous) couple days, but it’s … a new series,” Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco, who drove in two runs Friday, told AT&T Sportsnet. “I told the team, ‘Let’s go.'”

Both teams made deals leading up to and just before Friday’s trade deadline, but no players involved were part of Friday’s game.

The Pirates, in a rebuilding year, shipped out players for prospects.

The Phillies, trying to take a run at the National League East title, brought in major leaguers Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy and Freddy Galvis along with prospects and cash. It’s not clear when any of them will play.

“We think we made ourselves better,” Philadelphia president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said.

Saturday, Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.37 ERA) is slated to start opposite Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (4-10, 4.67).

Nola had a strong outing in a 2-1 win Sunday against Atlanta, picking up a victory after throwing 8 2/3 innings and giving up one run and four hits, striking out nine and walking none.

He wasn’t given the chance for a complete game after the lone run he allowed came on an Austin Riley solo homer in the ninth and on his 116th pitch.

He has lasted nine innings once, in April, and since had gone as many as seven innings only three times.

“As starters, we always want to go deep in the games,” Nola said. “My biggest thing is if I stay healthy, I always believe I can do it.”

Showing the kind of fastball control he had against the Braves would help, too.

“If you can command it to both sides, (it) kind of sets up all your other pitches,” Nola said. “So that’s what I kind of worked on a lot (leading up to Sunday’s game) in my bullpen (session), trying to get that fastball back in sync. So I’m going to try to keep doing that … going into the next start.”

Nola is 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.

Brubaker, who has never faced the Phillies, has lost six straight decisions and seven of his past eight.

His last time out, Brubaker was pulled after four innings Sunday against San Francisco. He gave up two runs and three hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.

That short outing apparently had as much to do with his cumulative work this year as it did with his performance — and that is likely to continue with Brubaker at 96 1/3 innings and nearly 1,500 pitches.

“We really have to make sure with JT that we’re going to monitor what his work is because he was down in ’19, ’20 (it was) the pandemic, and he’s reaching some innings limits and pitches limits,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

Brubaker missed most of the 2019 season, when he was with Triple-A Indianapolis, because of a forearm issue, then reached just 47 1/3 innings last season.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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