Ailing Musgrove may be ready as Pirates face Giants

Field Level Media

On a night when Major League Baseball set a single-season home run record, the Pittsburgh Pirates and host San Francisco Giants didn't hit any.

It's been the story of their four-game series, which ends Thursday afternoon when the Pirates hope right-hander Joe Musgrove (9-12, 4.67 ERA) is healthy enough to face Giants righty Jeff Samardzija (10-11, 3.64).

The clubs have combined for just three home runs in the first three games of the series, with the Pirates holding a 2-1 edge in both homers and wins.

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The Giants (70-76) didn't even have an extra-base hit Wednesday in a 6-3 loss, a game in which the Pirates (64-82) had three doubles. Neither team has recorded a triple in the three games, either.

The homers in the series have been hit by the Pirates' Jacob Stallings and Josh Bell and the Giants' Stephen Vogt.

A switch to the daylight could change things Thursday, as could the fact that Musgrove has already allowed 21 homers this season while Samardzija has been bombed for 26.

Then again, there's no guarantee Musgrove, seeking to become Pittsburgh's first 10-game winner this season, is going to make the start. He's been bothered by a sore right foot, one that forced him to miss a scheduled start last week against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Musgrove threw on the side Wednesday, and if he arrives at the ballpark Thursday without experiencing a setback, he's expected to face the Giants for just the second time in his career. He took a loss last year at San Francisco, allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits in six innings.

If the 26-year-old can't make the start, right-hander Alex McRae (0-3, 8.41 ERA) likely would get the call.

For the second time in three nights, the Pirates outfinished the Giants on Wednesday, outscoring them 2-0 over the final four innings to close out a close win.

All three games in the series have been tightly contested, with the Pirates winning 6-4 on Monday and the Giants 5-4 on Tuesday.

Considering the two teams have losing records, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has been impressed with the competitiveness of the games.

"I like the continued fight," he said during the series, "the continued belief that there's a game to finish and you play until the last out is made."

Samardzija demonstrated that type of determination in beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start in the wake of one of his worst outings of the season in a blowout loss to the San Diego Padres.

"I pride myself on September," the veteran said after the Dodgers game. "I didn't like how it started and just really need to get back to the drawing board."

A former pitcher in the National League Central, where he often faced Pittsburgh multiple times in the same season, Samardzija is scheduled to go head-to-head with the Pirates for the 27th time in his career, the 16th time as a starter. He's gone 6-4 with a 3.06 ERA in those games.

On Friday, in a 5-4 win at Dodger Stadium, Samardzija allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.

--Field Level Media

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