The Pittsburgh Pirates will have a different look about them after the trade deadline, according to general manager Dave Littlefield.
That’s too bad considering they’ve finally got their act together.
Winners of seven straight, the Pirates will try for their longest winning streak in nearly four years when they continue their four-game series with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Despite their recent surge, it appears even an epic winning streak will not prevent Littlefield from breaking up the Pirates by the July 31 deadline.
“We’re a seller,” said Littlefield, whose team is enjoying its longest win streak since taking eight in a row from Sept. 1-8, 2000. “There is no doubt about that. We want to continue to improve our present-day product on the field, but we obviously realize the long-term goal is to win a championship and we need some more players to do that.”
The Pirates have gotten it done during their streak with pitching. Pittsburgh’s starters have a 2.32 ERA over 66 innings in the last 10 games.
Arguably the Pirates’ best starter will go on Saturday as Kris Benson will try to pick up where he left off in his last start. Benson went just 1-3 in June, but posted a solid 3.31 ERA in the five starts.
The 29-year-old right-hander allowed just one run and six hits over eight innings against St. Louis on Monday, but did not get a decision in the Pirates’ 2-1 win.
Benson is unsigned after this season and mentioned in trade talks. He is almost certainly showcasing his skills to potential suitors.
“The primary thing is we want (Benson) to do well for us,” Littlefield said. “As far as the future, it’s something we’ll have to make some hard decisions on as time goes on.”
Despite being swept Friday, the Brewers are above .500 three months into a season for the first time since 1992, when they finished 92-70.
Geoff Jenkins went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in Friday’s second loss. The Brewers had won five straight before the sweep.
STANDINGS (through July 1): Brewers - 3rd place (tied), 4 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 6th place, 12 GB, NL Central.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Wes Obermueller (3-3, 6.79 ERA). Obermueller is 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA over is last four starts. The 27-year-old right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings in a 6-3 loss at Minnesota on June 25. He has no record and an 8.00 ERA in two career starts, spanning nine innings, against the Pirates.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Benson (5-7, 4.78 ERA). Benson, who has pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 15 starts, is 3-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Lyle Overbay, .333 avg. and 58 RBIs; Geoff Jenkins, 11 HRs; Scott Podsednik, 50 runs and 31 SBs. Pirates - Jack Wilson, .338 avg.; Craig Wilson, 15 HRs, 44 RBIs and 50 runs; Rob Mackowiak, 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 6-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - The Brewers played the first two of 29 consecutive games against NL Central opponents, 11 against Chicago. They began the stretch with a 13-14 division record. … Saturday could be a key start for No. 5 starter Obermueller, especially with RHP Ben Hendrickson excelling at Triple-A Indianapolis. Hendrickson is 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA through 15 starts. … The Brewers reinstated RHP Ben Ford (right shoulder tendinitis) from the 15-day disabled list and sent him outright to Indianapolis. He was 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA in 16 games with Milwaukee. Pirates - It was May 3, 1973, at San Francisco when the Pirates last had a grand slam (Al Oliver) and an inside-the-park homer (Milt May) in the same game. … LHP Oliver Perez, who won Game 1 on Friday, has 348 strikeouts in 309 career innings. … The Pirates played their fifth of at least seven doubleheaders, with twinbills remaining Aug. 21 at St. Louis and Sept. 9 against Houston. They haven’t had this many in a season since playing eight in 1984.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 20-19 on the road; Pirates - 16-22 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - RHP Ford (shoulder), 15-day DL. Pirates - C Humberto Cota (oblique), 15-day DL; INF Freddy Sanchez (ankle), 15-day DL; INF Daryle Ward (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Boehringer (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Mike Johnston (elbow), 15-day DL.