The Pittsburgh Pirates are firmly looking toward the future as they sit last in the National League Central and did not bring in any high-impact players before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
For there to be more nights like Tuesday, the Pirates will need a lot more performances like the one they got from rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz.
Cruz hit a three-run homer in the sixth to help Pittsburgh break a seven-game losing streak and hand the first-place Brewers their second straight loss, 5-3in the opener of a three-game series.
The teams will continue their set on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
“To be honest, when I was in the dugout before my at-bat, (teammate Jake) Marisnick was like, ‘Hey, are you ready for a double?’ and I was like, ‘No, I’m going to crush this one,'” Cruz told AT&T Sportsnet through a translator.
“Always coming out and giving the best that I have — that’s what gives me that confidence.”
The Brewers opened the series about 24 hours after trading accomplished closer Josh Hader to San Diego, and while they didn’t get into a save situation in the series opener, Hader’s loss could be felt.
“I’m very confident we’ll be able to close out games,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said, indicating that at least initially the team will use some late flexibility rather than deciding on a replacement closer despite acquiring Taylor Rogers.
Not that the move didn’t hurt in other ways.
“We’ve all learned the lesson, the game doesn’t stop for any of us,” Counsell said. “It goes on, and we have a job to deal with when it’s game (time).
“So I don’t think we should shy away from those (sad) feelings that were kind of expected, and then we should feel like we’ve got a job to do.”
A better job than the one they did Tuesday.
Wednesday, Milwaukee right-hander Freddy Peralta (3-2, 4.42 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Tyler Beede (1-1, 3.12).
Peralta is expected to return from the 60-day IL because of a right-lat strain. He made two rehab starts with Triple-A Nashville, where he had a 1.69 ERA in 5 1/3 innings, with eight strikeouts and no walks.
He hasn’t pitched for the Brewers since May 23.
“Freddy’s rehab has gone really well,” Counsell said. “He’s been pushing and pushing and pushing, and feeling great for a long time now. … We’re excited to get him back.”
Against Pittsburgh, Peralta is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 career games, six of them starts. On April 28 he did not have a decision when he pitched six scoreless, three-hit innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Beede is 1-0 in two lifetime appearances (one start) against the Brewers, with a 3.12 ERA over 8 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media