The Pittsburgh Pirates will see the San Diego Padres’ Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, and will raise them Bryan Reynolds.
Reynolds, the Pirates’ All-Star center fielder and arguably their best player, had been struggling at the plate before he was one of the keys to Saturday’s 10-inning, 7-6 win over the Padres.
The rubber game of the series in Pittsburgh is set for Sunday.
Reynolds was 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI and reached on an error as the winning run scored Saturday. He raised his batting average to .194, far below his career mark of .285 and last year’s .302.
“Just trying to get more and more comfortable in there, and things will turn,” Reynolds told AT&T Sportsnet.
“The way he’s taking pitches, I think it’s the best he’s looked at the plate. … That’s the Bryan Reynolds we saw last year,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.
The Pirates had lost four straight before Saturday and San Diego had won four straight.
“We’ve been playing good baseball; we just haven’t gotten the timely hits to drop,” Reynolds said. “To come back and get it done (Saturday), it can start some good momentum.”
Not if the Padres have something to say about it, particularly Hosmer and Machado. They each homered Saturday, accounting for five runs, as they continue to be among the best hitters in the major leagues. Hosmer’s average dropped to .389 after he entered Saturday leading the big leagues. Machado isn’t far behind at .386.
“That’s five runs, and usually we win those games,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. “Those two guys continue to show up big for us. But we have some (other) guys who can hit it out of the ballpark, who just haven’t heated up yet.”
In the series finale, San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove (3-0, 2.16 ERA) is slated to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (0-3, 6.62 ERA).
Musgrove is in his second season with his hometown Padres after three seasons with the Pirates.
His time in Pittsburgh helped him mature into the solid starter he has been for San Diego — 14-9, 3.05 ERA, 1.057 WHIP and a no-hitter since he was traded by Pittsburgh — even though he began his career with World Series champion Houston.
“The three years I spent here was the best thing that could happen for my career,” Musgrove told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this weekend. “It was a chance to leave some of the big names, where I was just another number on the roster, and get the chance to stand out a little more and take more of a leadership role, even though I felt like I wasn’t ready at the time.
“But everyone here encouraged me and pushed me. I loved it.”
Musgrove is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates.
Keller, 26, remains a work in progress. He has lost each of his starts so far and has not won at PNC Park since last May 29.
His most recent start was a no-decision Tuesday against Milwaukee, when he allowed four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and one strikeout.
Against San Diego, Keller is 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two career starts.
–Field Level Media