The Pittsburgh Pirates have won the first two contests of a three-game series against the visiting Detroit Tigers, putting the hosts on the precipice of their first series sweep of the season.
The Pirates, who host the Tigers on Wednesday night, have failed to close the deal on all 11 of their opportunities to record a sweep heading into a series finale.
The Pirates have had some success winning series at home. Their 3-2 win Tuesday clinched this series, making them 8-5-2 in their past 15 series at PNC Park.
The next step would be a sweep.
The Tigers have been swept eight times.
Pittsburgh (50-89) is 4-1 against Detroit (65-75) this season.
“We’re going to play hard. Win, lose or draw, we’re going to be out there regardless of what happened the day before and we’re going to play hard,” said Pittsburgh outfielder Ben Gamel, whose two-run single in the sixth inning was the difference Tuesday.
“I’m just going to go out there and try and make plays for my team. That’s about it.”
In the series finale, Detroit right-hander Matt Manning (3-6, 6.29 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (4-10, 6.23).
Manning is coming off a rough outing after two straight no-decisions. The rookie gave up eight runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings in an 8-6 loss against Oakland last Thursday.
“No one likes to get beat up like that,” the 23-year-old said. “We’re trying to expect zeros and keep our team in the game. It’s frustrating.
“I didn’t put away hitters when I had two strikeouts and didn’t finish innings when I had two outs. I think I did a good job getting there, but maybe I put a little too much pressure on finishing those out and trying to get strikeouts.”
Bouncing back from that will be one of his bigger challenges early in his major league career.
“It is part of the growth and the learning curve,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “When you set the bar pretty high, don’t execute and things don’t go your way, it’s a lonely area out there on the mound. … As you mature as a pitcher, those will be less distracting, and he’ll be able to still hold himself to a high bar but not overreact to something that he misfires.”
Manning has yet to face the Pirates in his career.
Keller is coming off perhaps his best outing of the season. He did not get a decision Thursday against the Cubs in Chicago after pitching six shutout innings and striking out eight.
“Mitch was outstanding. He commanded the fastball,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.
Keller reached career highs in innings and strikeouts, reached 96 mph on his fastball, and things were going so well that he didn’t want to come out of the game at 89 pitches.
“I threw fastballs and sliders. I threw a couple of curveballs later in the game,” Keller said. “I was feeling good, but when they take me out, they take me out.”
Keller has recorded a pair of no-decisions and a 3.60 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers, including April 22 when he gave up two runs in five innings in Detroit.
–Field Level Media