The Pittsburgh Pirates may have finally found a team they can dominate.
They look for their first series sweep since April when they conclude a three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Thursday night at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh (28-37), which has not swept a series since taking three games from Houston from April 24-26, has won the first two games of this set against Texas (23-42), which owns the worst record in baseball.
The Pirates are 8-0 this season versus the two teams from the state of Texas, and 20-37 against all other opponents.
Starter Ian Snell gave the Pirates one of their best pitching performances of the season Wednesday, throwing a seven-hitter in the 8-1 victory. His complete game helped relieve a Pittsburgh bullpen which is 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA and two blown saves this month.
On offense, the Pirates have plated 15 runs in the first two games of this series and 21 in the last three contests, including a 13-6 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday. In Wednesday’s victory Jose Bautista had three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice, while Freddy Sanchez added two RBIs.
“I think were all putting it together at the same time, and that definitely helps,” said Bautista, who has driven in seven runs the last three games. “We’re scoring runs in bunches and I think that’s been translating into the two wins we’ve had the last two nights.”
The Rangers, meanwhile, has lost three straight games, five of seven and are 5-15 since May 22. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and committed a pair of errors.
“We didn’t play a good game at all; there’s no way around that,” shortstop Michael Young said. “We could’ve done better in every facet of the game.”
Young, who went 1-for-4, has been a bright spot recently. He is batting .457 (16-for-35) over his last eight games, a span which includes five multihit efforts.
The Pirates will hand the ball to Tom Gorzelanny (6-3, 2.76 ERA), who has lasted at least six innings in 11 of his 13 starts this season. The left-hander pitched 6 1-3 innings Friday against the New York Yankees, but allowed four runs in a game Pittsburgh lost 5-4 in 10 innings.
Gorzelanny has never faced the Rangers.
The Rangers will counter with Kameron Loe (1-6, 7.40), who was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday but will be recalled to replace Brandon McCarthy, who has a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
Loe, who has never faced the Pirates, has struggled mightily at the major league level this season, going 0-6 with an 8.57 ERA in his last nine starts.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander lasted just 2 2-3 innings against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, allowing nine runs and nine hits in an 11-4 loss.