Pirates Carry Nine-Game Win Streak into July, Cubs Ready for Historic A’s Series

The Pittsburgh Pirates  (51-30) sit at the top of the NL Central and entered July with a nine-game win streak and a league-best for wins.

But there’s more. The Pirates were the first team in the league to hit 50 wins. So one of the first questions everyone seems to be asking is how long will they be able to hold onto this dominance?  They’ll begin when they open a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies (39-44).

Jeff Locke

Jeff Locke

Pitching has a been a strength for this team especially with lefty Jeff Locke (7-1). He has had three straight games with a minimum of seven innings. In two of them, he didn’t give up a run and this season, he has four zero-run games, according to Sports Illustrated.

From his great play, Locke is No. 3 in the league with his ERA. Add in his pitching brethren of Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton and you’ll get a combined 18 starts with a 2.71 cumulative ERA.

There’s pitching depth on this team and with Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 3.60), Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.76 ERA), and Phil Irwin also taking the mound, the Pirates are 10-1. This broad talent has the Pirates at the top of the majors with their ERA (3.11), in the top three for their rotation (3.30) and from the bullpen (2.84).

Also contributing to the team’s streak has been Pedro Alvarez, who’s had a home run in four consecutive games and now has 10 for the season–tying a NL best. He is also batting .309.

How can the Phillies compete against this team? Good luck!

Back in late April when they last met in a four-game series, Pittsburgh took three of four games and after that, the Phillies went 9-14. They’re at a low this season after losing three of four games (the one win was 16-1) against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend and now sit 9 1/2 games out of the NL East’s top spot. They’re not faring much better for the race in the wild card but they have come back before when sitting seven games behind (see 2007 and 2010 seasons).

Phillies veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn’t given up yet on his team after the Dodgers series and said via the team’s website, “We’ve been in much tougher positions with much less time. … Last I checked, we haven’t made it to the All-Star break yet.”

On Tuesday, they’ll put rookie righty Jonathan Pettibone (3-3) on the mound against ace Locke. He hasn’t won a game since May 14.

Should the Pirates get win No. 10, it will end a nine-year drought of achieving this. Mission accomplished on Tuesday (-162, 7.5 o/u).

Cubs Ready for Historic A’s Series 

In a first for the Oakland A’s (48-35), they’ll host the lowly Chicago Cubs (35-45) on their home field in a three-game series beginning Tuesday.

For the Cubs, this couldn’t come at a worst time as the A’s will look to win another home game after doing so in their last 17 of 20 opportunities. They have the best AL home record at 26-13.

The A’s are also coming off a 7-5 Sunday win over the St. Louis Cardinals (49-32) and will look to keep the momentum going.

Scott Feldman

Scott Feldman

Fortunately for them, they’ll go up against the Cubs righty Scott Feldman (7-6). He’s looking for two straight wins on the mound–something that hasn’t been accomplished since early May.

The pitcher is familiar with the A’s from his Texas Rangers days but he may want to leave those experiences behind as he’s gone 1-5 (10.24 ERA) from his six career starts when playing in Oakland.

On the mound for the A’s on Tuesday will be righty A.J. Griffin (6-6). This will be his first time facing the Cubs but is 1-1 from his starts in four NL games.

The Cubs’ offense has been improving but the A’s will get the win for Game 1 (-180, 7.5 o/u).



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