Both teams have struggled, but just one game into their four-game series, the Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting Miami Marlins are on different trajectories.
Not only did the Pirates come back Thursday for a 5-3 win on Jacob Stallings’ three-run double in the eighth inning to snap a three-game losing streak, but they also enjoyed the return from injury of hotshot third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who had been out since the second game of the year.
Hayes was 2-for-4 with a triple and scored a run. He also ranged far to his left to get to a grounder by Miami’s Starling Marte and snagged a rocket line drive by Jesus Aguilar.
“The sliding play he made was unbelievable, and then the line drive that Aguilar hit down the line seemed like it was about 140 (mph) and he just snared it,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.
Miami, meanwhile, might have gotten a lift from starter Elieser Hernandez, who pitched five strong innings after being activated from the IL, but then Hernandez had to be helped off after he strained his right quadriceps running home to score his team’s second run.
Plus the further gut-check of a second straight come-from-ahead loss. Toronto walked off a win against the Marlins on Wednesday.
The Marlins have tried several things to bust out of what is now a season-worst six-game losing streak. Marte, a former Pirates standout outfielder, has been back from injury for five games. He has gone 6-for-18 with four doubles, one homer and three walks, but it hasn’t been enough to help his team win.
“Lineup’s changed a few times, and we’re trying to just get some consistency going, pass it back to the next guy,” said Miami outfielder Corey Dickerson, who was given the night off Thursday save for a pinch-hitting appearance when he lined out.
On Friday, Miami right-hander Cody Poteet (2-1, 2.95 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (3-6, 6.54).
Poteet will be making his fifth career start, first against the Pirates.
Last Friday at Boston, Poteet pitched 4 1/3 innings. He retired seven of the first eight batters before six of the next 12 reached. He ended up allowing five runs, including a deciding three-run homer by Alex Verdugo, in a rain-shortened loss.
During that game, a problem where his delivery on his slider rubs his right thumb knuckle raw flared, and there was visible bleeding.
He said the problem has no bearing on his effectiveness.
“Just lack of execution (that night), and I got punished by good hitters, and that’s what will happen in this league,” Poteet said. Of the bleeding, he said, “I’ve just been dealing with it for a little while. I just take care of it between (starts) and it’s been good.”
Keller has lost three of his past four starts but is coming off a win Saturday against Colorado when he pitched five scoreless innings, giving up two hits, walking two and striking out six.
“It was nice to see Mitch come out and attack the zone,” Shelton said.
In his only career start against the Marlins, on Sept. 3, 2019, Keller faced five batters, striking out three, before he left because of a right wrist contusion after a comebacker from Garrett Cooper.
–Field Level Media