The Pittsburgh Pirates had to wait several weeks into the season to see just what they got with right-hander Joe Musgrove in an offseason trade with Houston.
It has been about a month since he came off the disabled list after a shoulder injury delayed his season debut Youth Tarvarius Moore Jersey , and Musgrove has proved fiercely competitive and fiercely loyal.
Musgrove is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA for Pittsburgh (35-35) going into his sixth start Sunday, against right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40) and the Cincinnati Reds (25-45) in a series finale at PNC Park.
With a 6-2 victory Saturday, the Pirates won their third straight, climbed back to .500 and ensured themselves of winning a series after dropping eight in a row.
The Reds have lost two straight after a three-game winning streak.
Not only is Musgrove averaging more than six innings per start, with 23 strikeouts in 25 innings and a 1.12 WHIP, but also has played with an edge.
“He’s a tough guy,” Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said last month. “When he’s on the mound, he’s mean. He’s the kind of guy that you want to have on the mound all the time.”
In his most recent outing, a no-decision Monday in Arizona’s comeback 9-5 win, Musgrove was cruising with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning when he hit Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Owings in acknowledged retaliation.
An inning earlier, Diamondbacks right-hander Braden Shipley hit Pirates infielder Josh Harrison — who got plunked 23 times last year and spent time on the DL this season and last because of a broken hand after being hit by pitches — and Pittsburgh rookie Austin Meadows got knocked down by a pitch earlier.
“It’s nothing more than just protecting your teammates,” Musgrove said. “It’s baseball. That’s how the game is played. That’s how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates Da'Norris Searcy Jersey , especially when a guy gets hit high up and in.”
The Pirates appreciated Musgrove’s loyalty, despite the fact that his retaliatory move might have sparked Arizona’s winning rally.
“That wasn’t the turning point of the game in my eyes,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “You can’t control what other people are going to think.
“The importance of teammates taking a stand for one another, I think that is part of the game. Everybody can construct their own narrative afterward. But I know (Harrison) has been hit a ton, been hit a lot. … Just plunking our guys, whether it’s accidental or not, is just not OK.”
Harrison said “it felt good” to have his new teammate stand up for him.
Musgrove has never faced the Reds.
DeSclafani has made six career starts against Pittsburgh, going 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA, but not since Sept. 17, 2016.
DeSclafani missed all of 2017 because of an elbow injury and, like Musgrove, opened this season on the DL because of an oblique strain.
Last Sunday, in his second start this season Donte Jackson Jersey , DeSclafani picked up his first win since Sept. 28, 2016, 6-3 over St. Louis. He gave up two runs and 10 hits in five innings, with six strikeouts and two walks.
“I don’t think I was as good as I wanted to be,” DeSclafani said. “There’s definitely a lot of work from here on out. I was falling behind some guys and giving up too many hits.
“But it’s definitely something to build on.”
He has yet to get his setup pitch, his curveball, back to where it once was.
“Definitely still getting a feel for it. I only threw a few of them,” he said. “It’s definitely got to be incorporated. I need some kind of equalizer to (go along with) my fastball and slider. Once that comes around, it should make things a little bit easier.”
The nerves weren’t quite so bad this time. The jitters, a touch less.
The stuff? Well, that didn’t change a bit for Milwaukee rookie pitcher Freddy Peralta. The 22-year-old handcuffed the Pittsburgh Pirates over six shutout innings and the Brewers held on for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Peralta (2-0) struck out seven without issuing a walk in his third career start, looking very much like the kid who tied a franchise record by striking out 13 in his major league debut last month. The Brewers sent him down to the minors after his second start to work on his control and he appeared to be firmly in command against the Pirates.
”It was normal, you know DJ Moore Jersey ,” Peralta said. ”It’s always, work, you know? I was comfortable today with everything: my pitches, the guys behind me, everything.”
Jesus Aguilar finished 2 for 3 and drove in all three runs off Jameson Taillon (4-6). Aguilar hit a two-run shot to the seats in right-center in the first and doubled down the line in left field in the third.
”It was important, especially for Peralta, to just give him a lead right away. That way he feels confident,” Aguilar said.
Corey Knebel worked around a two-out walk in the ninth for his seventh save for the first-place Brewers, who ended a three-game losing streak.
Starling Marte hit his ninth home run of the season in the eighth off Milwaukee reliever Jeremy Jeffress to pull Pittsburgh with one. Jordy Mercer had an RBI double in the seventh but Pittsburgh’s offense mustered little with Peralta on the mound.
The 22-year-old attacked the Pirates high in the strike zone and threw 62 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Only Marte seemed able to generate solid contact. He reached second in the first when Milwaukee right fielder Eric Thames couldn’t handle a drive that bounced off his glove near the wall.
Peralta retired Moran on a lineout and settled in.
”He made pitches,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”Kept us off balance with the curveball. Attacked. Very aggressive. Good downhill angle from a guy who’s not tall in stature. He pitched a lot taller than he was height-wise, and got after it.”
Taillon, coming off a solid outing in a win in Arizona last week, had plenty of swing-and-miss stuff – he recorded seven strikeouts in five innings – but had no answer for Aguilar. Lorenzo Cain led off the game with an infield single and two batters later Aguilar put one in the seats to put Milwaukee up 2-0.
”Jesus is a good hitter Youth Harrison Phillips Jersey ,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. ”He’s been a good hitter since the day we got him. I think he’s improving. He’s a hitter that understands pitching. He understands what they’re trying to do to him. He’s got experience now against the league a little bit. The league’s kind of adjusted to him and he’s been able to adjust back.”
A nearly identical sequence happened in the third. Cain reached on an infield hit and Aguilar laced the ball to left with Cain easily beating the throw home.
”Both times hanging breaking balls to Aguilar after an infield hit, he did what he should have done with them,” Taillon said.
OH SAY CAN YOU SEE
Pirates reliever Steven Brault moonlights as the front man in a rock band called The Street Gypsies. He found himself in front of a microphone on Tuesday night, only this time the audience wasn’t a night club but PNC Park. The 26-year-old belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” before first pitch, delivering on a promise he made to his grandmother.
”I think it went pretty well,” Brault said. ”I was a little more nervous than I thought I would be leading into it. I was fine, and then when I started singing, I was like `Oh, this is pretty cool.”’
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (right rotator cuff inflammation) was scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday night.
Pirates: OF Austin Meadows was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game while dealing with a right foot injury suffered when he fouled a ball off it on Sunday. Meadows entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and struck out to end the inning with runners on second and third.
Brewers: Brent Suter will make his first career start against the Pirates in the series finale on Wednesday. Suter is 5-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his last six starts and 7-4 with a 4.30 ERA overall.
Pirates: Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.76) is unbeaten against Milwaukee, going 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA. The Pirates are 6-0 overall in games Kuhl has started against the Brewers.
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