Pirates look to end skid against road-averse Rockies

MLB Baseball

The Colorado Rockies could be welcome visitors for the Pittsburgh Pirates when the teams open a three-game series Friday.

The Pirates have lost six games in a row but have had success against Colorado — five straight wins and a 22-11 record dating to 2015. In addition, the Rockies are 3-20 on the road this year.

While Pirates starters have struggled, manager Derek Shelton is satisfied with his relievers. He just would like to see his team’s offense take advantage of that.

“The big hit’s been a little elusive for us for the past couple weeks,” Shelton said. “Because of the way the bullpen has pitched, we’ve given ourselves a chance to win. We’ve just got to figure out how to take it to that next level.”

Pittsburgh gave it a shot Thursday, getting all three runs in a 5-3 loss to the Cubs off homers from Bryan Reynolds, Gregory Polanco and Michael Perez to cut into a four-run deficit.

However, with 33 team homers (last in the majors), Shelton isn’t counting on the long ball so much as “good swings. I’m pretty sure we’re not going to hit homers (on a matching pace) with other people. It’s more just the hard contact.”

The Rockies’ scheduled getaway day game Thursday got thwarted when their contest Wednesday against the Mets in New York got rained out. That led to a doubleheader Thursday and a later arrival in Pittsburgh.

Colorado was held to three hits in the opener, a 1-0 loss, and then fell 4-2 in the second game. The Rockies lost the final three of their four games in New York, and Colorado managed just six runs total in the series.

In addition, All-Star shortstop Trevor Story left the second game Thursday because of tightness around his right elbow. Manager Bud Black said Story is day-to-day but that throwing could be a concern.

In the series opener Friday, Colorado right-hander Jon Gray (4-4, 3.43 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (2-6, 7.41 ERA).

While Coors Field can be a pitcher’s nightmare, Gray has bucked that notion. He will be stepping out of his comfort zone.

Gray is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA at home this year, 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA on the road.

In his most recent game, the Rockies came back Sunday for a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gray, 29, had a no-hitter through four innings and a shutout through five before giving up three runs in the sixth.

Against the Pirates, Gray is 1-1 with a 7.78 ERA in four career starts.

Keller, 25, will be making his 10th start of the season, and he has yet to reward the Pirates for the faith they are showing in him. In fact, things might be getting worse.

Keller has lost his past three starts. His last time out, Saturday in Atlanta, he gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

He said he “felt really good with all my pitches,” but the two home runs Keller allowed paced the Braves to a 6-1 win.

“I think it just comes down to two or three pitches that I missed, locations,” Keller said, “and they took advantage of it.”

Keller has never faced the Rockies.

–Field Level Media

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