The Pittsburgh Pirates may be enduring their worst April since 1957, but they’re doing what they can to salvage what’s left of it.
The Pirates look to close the month on a high note when they go for a three-game series sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
They’ve won two straight since a players only meeting was called before Friday’s opener to discuss Pittsburgh’s then seven-game losing streak.
“We didn’t really bash heads,” Pirates left fielder Jason Bay said. “It was just to get everybody on the same page and say, ‘Look there’s no reason to panic, but we do need to go out there and actively do something about (losing) instead of passively watching.”
Pittsburgh (7-18) had lost 10 of 11 and 11 of 13 before rookie starter Ian Snell’s five-hit, seven-strikeout 3-1 win over Philadelphia Friday.
The Pirates snatched another game from the Phillies (9-13) on Saturday, winning 3-2 when relief pitcher Roberto Hernandez got pinch-hitter Alex Gonzalez to ground into a double play with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to save Pittsburgh’s win.
Pirates manager Jim Tracy brought on Hernandez to replace closer Mike Gonzalez in the middle of the ninth after walking two of three batters.
Gonzalez had converted all three of his prior save opportunities.
“If we get in the same situation (Sunday), he’s going out there,” Tracy said of Gonzalez.
The victory clinched Pittsburgh’s first series win this season and also raised its record at home to 6-6. The Pirates are an NL-worst 1-12 on the road.
The Pirates have hit 31 home runs this season, and need two more to tie the club record for most homers in April of 33, set in 1996.
Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz broke out of a batting slump to hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game, highlighting his 2-for-3 hitting effort.
Burnitz has five home runs, 14 RBIs and is batting .225 this season.
“I’ve been battling up there lately, swinging around the ball and generally not doing a very good job,” said Burnitz, who had just two singles in his last 22 at-bats before Saturday. “So when you come out and hit two balls on the sweet spot, it’s definitely rewarding.”
Perez lost for the third time in four starts on Monday at St. Louis, giving up seven runs—five earned—and 10 hits in five innings. Opponents are batting .320 against Perez this season, and he has also issued 18 walks in just 25 innings of work.
He’s 1-0 with a 2.61 career ERA in three career starts versus the Phillies.
Floyd has been knocked out of the game in the fourth inning or earlier in two of his four starts this season. He gave up seven runs—six earned—in 3 1-3 innings of a loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
This is Floyd’s first time facing the Pirates.