Pirates poised for possible sweep against Braves


The Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday will be going for a sweep of their three-game series against the visiting Atlanta Braves, but what flavor the game might be is anyone’s guess.

The Pirates’ wins in the first two games have been very different — an 11-1 smackdown Monday, followed by a 2-1 ulcer-maker Tuesday.

Those two games and a win Sunday against Milwaukee for a three-game winning streak have come after a frustrating six-game losing skid during which Pittsburgh scored just eight runs.

“I think it speaks a lot to who we are as players and who we are as people,” Pittsburgh center fielder Bryan Reynolds, who had both RBIs Tuesday with a sacrifice fly and a walk-off, bases-loaded walk, told AT&T Sportsnet.

“Things hadn’t been going great, but we’re going to come out here every day and give it our all.”

The one common denominator in the first two games of this series has been Atlanta’s ineffective offense.

Take away a comeback 8-7, 10-inning win Sunday against Miami, and the Braves have scored five runs in four games. They have 11 hits over the first two games of this series but have not been able to stack things together to produce runs.

“Haven’t been able to string anything together,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.

“We’ve been through this before. We’ve got to fight through it. Hopefully, (we can) come out (Wednesday) and string some hits together.”

In the series finale Wednesday, Atlanta left-hander Drew Smyly (6-3, 4.42 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (1-5, 6.26 ERA).

His last time out, Smyly picked up his fourth straight win Friday against Miami with a strong showing, going 5 2/3 scoreless innings, with three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in what became a combined 1-0 shutout.

This is his first time in his career he has won four starts in a row.

“The mechanics have been pretty good lately,” Smyly said. “Just trying to repeat it and stay as consistent as possible.”

His manager endorsed that evaluation and outlook.

“It’s really good. The stuff is live. It’s just good,” Snitker said. “I just want him to stay on that roll, because it’s been really sharp and crisp and he’s driving his fastball. Curveball was really good (Friday), too. Hopefully, he keeps it up.”

Smyly is 0-1 with a 4.56 ERA in five career games, four of them starts, against the Pirates. That includes a start May 20 when he did not get a decision after pitching six innings, giving up three runs and six hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Crowe was not overly efficient his last time out. He gave up two runs and four hits, with three walks and six strikeouts Thursday against Milwaukee, but that came in just 4 2/3 innings as he piled up 95 pitches.

Crowe has faced the Braves twice, one time as a starter, without a decision. The start came this season, May 20, when he gave up four runs in five-plus innings of what became a 10-inning Pirates win.

–Field Level Media

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