Improving Pirates have shot to take series against Padres

MLB Baseball

Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates have had to dig under some rocks or visit a mystic. Somehow, they have found some offense — and have done it the past two games against one of the better teams in baseball, the San Diego Padres.

The Pirates have topped the visiting Padres in two straight games, 8-4 and, Wednesday, 5-1. They can clinch the four-game series with a win Thursday.

The Pirates, overall, have won four of their past five games, amassing 30 runs in those five games. Contrast that with their first seven games, when they totaled 19 runs.

“We’re just fighting every at-bat, concentrating on every pitch and trying to make contact,” right fielder Gregory Polanco told AT&T Sportsnet.

Polanco on Wednesday went 2 for 2 with a solo homer, a single and two walks. That came after he was given two days off from the starting lineup because he was struggling offensively — to the extent that Wednesday’s performance raised his batting average to .194.

The Padres will be trying for a series split Thursday and will be trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak.

San Diego right fielder Wil Myers could be back in the starting lineup. After matching a career high with five RBIs Monday, he left Tuesday’s game in the fourth because of knee inflammation. Myers didn’t start Wednesday but pinch-hit, grounding into a double play in the seventh.

In the series finale, San Diego right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1, 5.63 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (1-1, 4.50 ERA).

His last time out, Saturday at Texas, Paddack had the assignment of following teammate Joe Musgrove’s no-hitter. He allowed three earned runs and four hits in four innings, with one walk and three strikeouts, and did not get a decision.

In his two starts this season, Paddack hasn’t gotten past the fourth inning.

Saturday, after he gave up three runs in the second, including yielding three Rangers extra-base hits, Paddack gave himself a pep talk that got him through the next two innings and, perhaps will help moving forward.

“I put my head down on the bench there in the end of the second inning, and I kept reflecting, (telling myself), ‘Three runs is all they’re getting,'” Paddack said. “I’ve got to make sure that I go out there and don’t show any lack of confidence, any frustration. That’s what I’m very pleased with myself for. When you get hit in the mouth a little bit, it’s hard to get back up. I thought we did a heck of a job.”

Paddack has faced Pittsburgh once, a start on June 22, 2019. He gave up two runs and five hits in five innings, with three walks and one strikeout in a no-decision.

Keller has never faced the Padres, and it might be welcome to face someone different.

Both of his starts this season have come against not only the same team, the Chicago Cubs, but also the same opposing starter, Zach Davies.

In his most recent start, Saturday, he picked up the win as he gave up one run and five hits in five innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts, but it didn’t begin so well.

He walked the first batter and gave up a quick run in the first, then settled down and made it to 80 pitches.

“I mean, I had a rough spring, rough first outing, so it felt really good to just kind of have a good one,” Keller said. “Just all the hard work I put in just kind of finally paid off and really excited to keep going.”

–Field Level Media

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