The Philadelphia Phillies go for a second straight win when they face the host Pittsburgh Pirates in the first of a three-game weekend series on Friday night. The series opener is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia split a doubleheader with the Washington Nationals on Thursday after the two teams had to postpone Wednesday’s game due to COVID-19 issues. The Phillies are 51-51 and in second place in the National League East, 3½ games behind the first-place New York Mets and a half-game ahead of the third-place Atlanta Braves.
Pittsburgh is on a four-game losing streak, getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series. The Pirates are 38-64 and in last place in the NL Central, 11 games behind the fourth-place Chicago Cubs.
The MLB odds for this contest have the Phillies with a moneyline of -130, while the Pirates are listed at +120. The over/under for the series opener is set at nine runs.
The Phillies were on the verge of being swept by the Nationals on Thursday, but a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh of the nightcap set the stage for Brad Miller’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth. Philadelphia trailed 7-4 entering the bottom of the seventh but outscored the Phillies 7-1 the rest of the way to pull out the crazy victory.
“Baseball kicks you all the time,” Miller said after the doubleheader split. “It was a long day at the park, but we needed that. Just looking over to the bench and seeing the guys going crazy — that’s what I loved.”
Miller went 2-for-4 after replacing Bryce Harper in the lineup in the third inning. Harper reached down to pick up a single in the outfield in the third and came up limping, leaving the game with what was termed as back soreness.
Harper is hitting .297 with 21 doubles, 16 home runs, 37 RBIs and 54 runs scored. His status going into Friday’s game is uncertain.
Philadelphia also had Rhys Hoskins leave the second game on Thursday after he was injured on the same play as Harper. Hoskins dove for the ground ball that got past him and went to Harper in the outfield. He stayed in the game and hit a home run in his next at-bat but left later with a groin injury.
The All-Star first baseman leads the Phillies with 27 doubles, 23 home runs, 63 RBIs and 58 runs scored. He’s batting .240 after going a combined 4-for-5 in Thursday’s doubleheader.
Right-hander Vince Velasquez will get the start for the Phillies in the opener. Velasquez is 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA, striking out 84 and walking 44 over 79.2 innings.
The 29-year-old has dropped his last three decisions, going 0-3 with a 10.91 ERA in four starts in July. His last start came Saturday against Atlanta, as he lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up six runs on five hits, including two home runs, while striking out three and walking two.
The Pirates are coming off a 12-0 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday that ended a three-game stretch by the Brewers in which Pittsburgh was outscored 28-3. Pittsburgh has been dealing players away this week, including All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier, so the team has been in flux all week.
Taking the mound for Friday’s opener will be right-hander Wil Crowe, making his 15th start and 16th overall appearance. Crowe is 2-5 with a 5.89 ERA, striking out 62 and walking 31 over 65.2 innings.
The 26-year-old picked up a win in his last start, going 5.1 innings against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday and giving up two runs on four hits, including a home run, while striking out nine and walking one. In each of his last 13 starts, Crowe has allowed at least two earned runs.
The Pirates could move outfielder Bryan Reynolds at Friday’s trade deadline. Reynolds leads Pittsburgh with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs, adding 24 doubles and 57 runs scored while batting .309, which ranks eighth in the majors.
Outfielder Gregory Polanco is the only other Pirates player to hit 10 or more home runs, currently sitting at 11. He went a combined 0-for-8 in the Milwaukee series to lower his batting average to .202.
These two teams will square off in one more series, a four-game set in Philadelphia in late September. The Phillies are 20-30 as the visiting team while Pittsburgh is 21-29 at home.
Philadelphia will send Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.37 ERA) to the mound for the second game of the series, followed by Spencer Howard (0-2, 5.72) in the series finale. Pittsburgh will counter with JT Brubaker (4-10, 4.67) on Saturday but has yet to name a starter for Sunday’s contest.
The MLB series prices for this matchup have the Phillies at -160, while the Pirates are listed at +130.
Phillies Take Opener
Philadelphia is coming in with some momentum after Thursday’s come-from-behind victory, while the Pirates’ offense is really struggling. Look for a big game from Velasquez as he shuts down Pittsburgh in the opener.
When making your MLB picks, take Philadelphia to win on the road.
Pick: Philadelphia Phillies -130