Two teams in need of a winning streak but instead engulfed in bad news go at it again Saturday afternoon when the Philadelphia Phillies and the host San Francisco Giants continue their four-game series.
The Phillies (60-56) and Giants (57-60) both find themselves outside of National League wild-card position after splitting the first two games of the series, with headliners Madison Bumgarner and Bryce Harper each having a difference-making performance.
Despite Philadelphia's 9-6 win Friday that snapped a three-game losing streak, the Phillies have gone just 2-3 to start their seven-game trip, and now they have lost slugger Jay Bruce to an elbow injury.
Bruce returned from an oblique strain for Thursday's series opener, but he experienced pain in his left elbow when making a throw from the outfield. He landed back on the injured list Friday.
"(He) felt a little something in the elbow," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told the media before Friday's game. "At that point, he had some concerns."
Coincidentally, Bruce's loss came on the same night the Phillies got maximum production from their outfielders, with Harper, Corey Dickerson and Adam Haseley combining for six hits, five runs and seven RBIs.
The Giants countered with home runs from outfielders Kevin Pillar and Joey Rickard, and from Stephen Vogt, who started in left field in the series opener before moving behind the plate on Friday.
San Francisco also lost an outfielder in the past few days, as Steven Duggar re-injured his surgically repaired left shoulder while making a catch on Wednesday. He was placed on the injured list Thursday.
An MRI revealed no further damage to his labrum, but a sprained shoulder was enough to get him pondering another season-ending surgery.
"I feel awful for Duggy," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. "It's tough enough to go through it one time and have the surgery. He was excited about being back on the field. And then to go through it a second time, that can be disheartening.
"But he's a tough kid. He's got a great attitude right now. He seems to be handling it as well as he can."
Veteran right-handers Vince Velasquez (4-6, 4.23 ERA) of the Phillies and Jeff Samardzija (8-9, 3.70) of the Giants will attempt to take advantage of their opponents' undermanned outfield.
They went head-to-head in a pitchers' duel on July 31 in Philadelphia, with Samardzija prevailing 5-1. He threw six shutout innings, allowing three hits.
It improved his career record to just 3-5 with a 7.33 ERA in 13 games, including seven starts, against the Phillies. But he has dominated Harper (3-for-19, all singles) in their head-to-head matchups.
Velasquez matched Samardzija pitch for pitch last week before the Giants ended a scoreless duel with a five-run sixth inning. Buster Posey smacked a two-run homer off Velasquez in the inning.
Velasquez has started four games in his career against the Giants, going 1-2 with a 3.22 ERA. He was on the losing end of a 2-0 defeat in June 2018 in his only previous appearance in San Francisco, though he gave up just one run and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings.
--Field Level Media