The San Francisco Giants will be going for a three-game series sweep Sunday against the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
Despite two close games — 2-0 Friday and 7-5 Saturday — these are teams on opposite trajectories.
The Giants have won seven of their past eight games to reach 10 games over .500 for the first time. The Pirates have dropped 11 of 12.
San Francisco has clinched its first series win against Pittsburgh since July 2017, losing or tying the six interim series.
The Giants’ last 10 home runs have all been solo shots, including four this series — Luis Gonzalez and Joc Pederson Friday, and Wilmer Flores and Austin Slater Saturday.
With that, and with seven runs and 10 hits Saturday, manager Gabe Kapler expects more from his offense.
“I still think we’re right there, pushing right against the line but not able to kind of make the dam break right now,” Kapler said. “That’s going to come.”
After being blanked Friday, the Pirates got homers Saturday from Diego Castillo and Daniel Vogelbach and held a 4-2 lead through three innings, but their bullpen couldn’t hold it.
In particular, Wil Crowe came on with one out and no one on in the sixth and gave up a tying and go-ahead run to take the loss after he had been strong in relief most of the season.
“Just looked like he couldn’t find the (strike) zone,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Crowe. “He’s been really good for us, and he just didn’t command the ball.”
In the series finale, San Francisco right-hander Alex Cobb (3-2 5.73 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.07 ERA).
Cobb is expected to come off the IL Sunday to start after dealing with a neck strain and missing the minimum 15 days. He did not have a rehab assignment but apparently had no problems Tuesday when he threw three simulated innings.
Kapler said things “went well. … Velocity was right where it needs to be.”
Cobb is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.
Keller has seemingly made strides recently in his bid to establish himself as a big-league starter.
Since a stint coming out of the bullpen that included two appearances, Keller has posted a 2.76 ERA in three starts back in the rotation.
That includes his most recent outing, when he was in line for a win Monday at St. Louis before getting a no-decision. He gave up two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two strikeouts and a walk.
Adjusting on the fly was the theme of that night for Keller, something he hasn’t always been successful doing. With his slider not up to snuff that game, he threw a career-high 23 curveballs.
“It’s huge just to be able to lean on something like that,” Keller said. “If I didn’t have my curveballs, who knows. I’m probably out in the third just because I’m working off the sinker and a fastball and a changeup.”
Against San Francisco, Keller is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two career starts.
–Field Level Media