DODGERS (33-18) AT PIRATES (25-23)
7:15 p.m. ET; FOX, MLB.TV
There are two games left in the series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park for the teams’ attention-getting sluggers to put on a show.
Los Angeles right fielder Cody Bellinger and Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell are perched in the upper stratosphere in several offensive categories in the major leagues, including batting average (Bellinger .389, Bell .337), homers (Bellinger 18, Bell 16) and RBIs (Bell 47, Bellinger 46).
Bellinger homered Friday and Bell smacked a double, but given their penchant for fireworks and difference-making performances this year, that was fairly tame in a 10-2 Los Angeles win.
“I’ve been seeing (Bell’s numbers) through Twitter and Instagram,” Bellinger said. “It looks like he’s found something in his swing that’s been consistent, and he’s been confident in it. It’s fun to watch. He’s got a beautiful swing.”
While Pittsburgh might enjoy the Bell-Bellinger watch, it probably behooves the Pirates to worry more about their own pitching. Los Angeles has won 15 of 17 between the teams over the past three seasons by a combined 119-56.
With two starters on the injured list, the Pirates have used an opener three times in the past week, including Friday when Michael Feliz gave up five runs, four on a grand slam by David Freese, in one-third of an inning.
The Pirates have a chance to get back to a little bit of normalcy the remainder of this series, with established members of the rotation starting.
On Saturday, Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove (3-4, 3.67 ERA) is scheduled to face Los Angeles left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-1, 1.52 ERA).
Musgrove seems to have emerged from a short slump. He gave up a total of 15 runs over 5 2/3 innings in a two-start stretch but since has won two straight starts. At San Diego on Sunday, Musgrove went 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) with four strikeouts and one walk in a 6-4 win.
“I felt really good,” Musgrove said. “It’s probably the best I’ve felt in terms of pitch-sequencing and execution, mentality. Everything was there.”
Musgrove is 0-2 with a 3.09 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers, including a strong outing April 27 when he gave up three runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings but lost 3-1 to ace Clayton Kershaw.
The Pirates won’t have to face Kershaw in this series.
Ryu isn’t exactly a slouch. He leads the National League in ERA and has 59 strikeouts vs. four walks, a 14.75 ratio, in 59 1/3 innings. Opposing hitters have a .190 average against him.
And there’s that 31-inning scoreless streak he brings to PNC Park.
Ryu pitched seven scoreless, five-hit innings Sunday to beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 in what was his first road victory of the season.
“He likes pitching at home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But if he commands the fastball, he can pitch anywhere, even on the moon.
“He’s locked in right now with everything, his entire pitch mix. It’s fun to watch a player in a zone like that.”
Ryu feels a responsibility to pitch as well in road games as he does at home.
“It’s been awhile since I pitched this well on the road,” Ryu, through an interpreter, said of the Cincinnati game. “As a starting pitcher, you need to put up a good performance whether you are at home or on the road. My workout routine is the same.”
Ryu’s career numbers against the Pirates are stellar: 5-0 with a 2.51 ERA in five outings, all quality starts. The Pirates have batted .238 against him.
–Field Level Media