The Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins are last in their respective divisions, yet they seem to be in very different places going into the finale of their four-game series Sunday.
The Pirates are basking, while the visiting Marlins are blanching.
Pittsburgh will be going for a sweep after coming from behind Saturday for a 12-inning, 8-7 win.
Catcher Jacob Stallings has been just one thorn for Miami. He hit a walk-off single Saturday, his second game-winning hit of the series.
“You just try and get something in the air,” Stallings said.
The Pirates bullpen also has been stellar, allowing two runs in 17 2/3 innings through the three games so far this series.
“I can’t sing those guys’ praises enough. Those guys are animals,” Pittsburgh’s Chase De Jong, who started Saturday, said of his team’s relievers.
Meanwhile, it has been quite a tailspin for the Marlins, who have lost a season-worst eight straight games, have lost two starters to injury this series and are 0-7 on their current road trip.
Miami manager Don Mattingly said it felt like “self-inflicted wounds” led to Saturday’s loss, and the road trip has been difficult.
“It seems like a few days ago we were a game out of the Mets and had a shot to get back to .500,” Mattingly said. “Lost that last game at home, and this trip has been a nightmare for us. It happened with the injuries, but it’s also happened with losses. … At this point we haven’t weathered it. We’ve just got to know that there’s sun out there. Keep fighting for it, and keep looking for it, and keep believing that it’s there.”
Mattingly has reached the point of being philosophical.
“You can’t let four, five, six bad games affect the next 20. You’ve got to be able to separate that out, push it behind you, and go forward. That sounds simple. It’s not that easy.”
In the series finale, Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara (2-5, 3.68 ERA) is scheduled to face Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (0-2, 6.41 ERA).
This will be Kuhl’s second start since coming off the IL. He took a loss Monday in Kansas City, giving up three runs and six hits in four innings, with no walks and five strikeouts.
“It’s just fastball command,” Kuhl said of what he wanted to work on coming out of that game, when despite walking none he hit a batter. “I feel like it was a lot better in my two (Triple-A) rehab outings.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton was encouraged in Kuhl’s first start after his shoulder injury.
“I thought as the game went on, he got better,” Shelton said. “I thought the slider was good. That was a really encouraging sign for him.”
Kuhl could be in line to go longer into the game Sunday, which could be a good thing given his track record — of the 17 runs he has yielded this year, 11 have come in the first inning.
Kuhl is 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in three career starts against Miami, none since 2018.
For Alcantara, this will be his team-leading 13th start. He is coming off a loss Tuesday at Toronto when he gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.
He is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three career games, two starts, against Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media