The Pittsburgh Pirates won yet another series on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and they will go for their first sweep of the season on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. The Pirates have had eight opportunities to sweep a team but they have failed each time.
The Phillies will start former Pirates ace AJ Burnett, formerly known as “batman” to Pirates fans. Burnett will face off against his “student” Jeff Locke, formerly know as the “Robin” to Burnett’s “batman.” The pitching match-up promises to be one that should produce yet another packed PNC Park crowd. Burnett is 5-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 18 starts for the Phillies this season while his former student, Locke, is 1-1 with a 3.46 in just six starts this season. Other than his terrible May 5 start, his ERA has decreased significantly since being recalled from AAA Indianopolis to start on June 8.
Expect Locke to pitch phenomenally on Sunday and give the Pirates a chance to earn the sweep.
In the Pirates victory on Saturday, starter Edinson Volquez provided the Pirates with another terrific start, allowing one earned run in seven innings. The Pirates offense was powered by a first inning, two-run home run by Andrew McCutchen who continues his hot summer.
Speaking of hot summers, shortstop Jordy Mercer continued his stellar offensive display with a 2-2 performance on Saturday. His batting average is up to .249, almost .60 up from where it was a month ago.
This is an important game for the Pirates as they acsend the National League Central and Wildcard standings. The Pirates find themselves 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central. With their current stretch of wins the team has pulled ahead of the Cincinatti Reds by 1.5 games which is the same margin that they are behind the Cardinals for a wild card spot.
Following the Phillies series the Pirates have a crucial four game series in St. Louis and an equally important three game series with the Cincinnati Reds before the all-star break. This next stretch of games should prove to be important and a good barometer on how the Pirates hold up against two playoff caliber teams.
In unrelated news, Gerritt Cole threw today and is expected to make his next schedule start which would be Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals.