|9:35 AM PT10:35 AM MT11:35 AM CT12:35 PM ET12:35 ET16:35 GMT0:35 9:35 AM MST11:35 AM EST12:05 PM VEN20:35 UAE11:35 AM CT, April 18, 2018
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 8,970
Pirates look to avoid sweep by Rockies
Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates
- With wins in four of their last five games, the Rockies have edged a game over .500 at 9-8. Although Colorado's .217 batting average is its lowest ever through 17 games, opponents are also batting just .241, the team's second-best mark ever at this point (.240 in 2017).
- After taking two of three games at Miami, the Pirates are 11-4 and have won or tied each of their first five series, their longest such streak to begin a season since 1992 (seven straight series).
- These teams split six games in 2017, with each going 2-1 at its home park. The Pirates had gone 15-5 in the series over the previous three seasons combined (2014-16), and are 13-5 when facing the Rockies at home since 2012.
- German Marquez is making his first start since getting ejected following three scoreless innings for his role in last Wednesday's brawl with San Diego. Marquez has won both starts in his career versus Pittsburgh while compiling a 2.25 ERA and a .171 opponent batting average. He is 6-0 all-time over eight starts versus the NL Central.
- Over his first two starts this season, Steven Brault's ERA is 22.50 in the second inning (5/2.0), but 0.00 over the rest of those outings (0/8.0). And for the season overall, Brault's opponent batting average is .310 (9/29) through his first 45 pitches, compared to .150 (3/20) thereafter.
- Starling Marte had a huge day on Sunday, going 5-for-5 with four runs scored. He's the first Pirate to combine five hits with four runs since Neil Walker in 2012. With the outburst, Marte pushed his batting average over .300 (.305) and is now tied for the National League lead with 15 runs this season (with three others).
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For the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are assured of losing a series. In fact, they will be trying to avoid a sweep by the Colorado Rockies when the teams play Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Colorado (11-8) won its third game in a row and second of this series 2-0 Tuesday night. In what has become a rarity for the Rockies, they didn't need the long ball to win. They have 26 homers in 19 games.
Since losing their first two road games of the season, the Rockies are 9-2 away from home.
Pittsburgh (11-6) had won or split each of its first five series. The Pirates have lost two straight games for the first time but remain the surprising leader of the National League Central.
In the series finale, Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland (0-2, 4.50 ERA) will square off against Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (1-1, 5.74 ERA).
It might not be a coincidence that the Pirates' two losses in a row coincide with the first two games missed by second baseman, leadoff man and energy generator Josh Harrison, who has a broken left hand after getting hit by a pitch Sunday.
"I've got to find a silver lining in it somehow," Harrison said. "I've got to keep bringing my energy."
Adam Frazier replaced Harrison in the field and at the top of the order Monday, and Sean Rodriguez did the same Tuesday. Each was 0-for-4.
This is also a series in which the Pirates' top two starters, Jameson Taillon and Ivan Nova, are not scheduled to pitch. Pittsburgh's other effective starter, Trevor Williams, had a strong outing Tuesday but got no run support.
Kuhl has been inconsistent. In a 7-2 loss at Miami his last time out, he gave up a career-high 11 hits, although only one of them was for extra bases and he was victimized by some fielding mistakes behind him.
"Flares and bloops, and the balls that were hit hard didn't have the launch angle," Kuhl said. "Kind of unfortunate, kind of singled to death. Didn't have too many balls that were lifted."
Kuhl is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts against the Rockies, both last season and both against top Colorado starter German Marquez.
Freeland got a no-decision in his most recent start, a 2-1 win at Washington. He allowed one run and four hits, with three walks and four strikeouts but pressed the Rockies bullpen into early activation when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings.
"It was a battle out there; they kept fouling stuff off," Freeland told the Denver Post. "But were able to come out of it with a win. ... Where (the Nationals) had a lot of runners on in certain innings, me and (catcher Chris) Iannetta were able to minimize damage or have no damage at all. That came with good sequencing and executing pitches."
Freeland faced Pittsburgh twice as a rookie last season, going 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA, four walks and six strikeouts.
In 14 starts in his career on the road, he is 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA.
Updated April 17, 2018