The Pittsburgh Pirates have been here before. Ten times. Perhaps Wednesday against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks they finally will prevail when in position to sweep a series.
They are the only team in the major leagues that has not recorded a sweep. Seven times they won the first two in a three-game series, one time they had a chance to sweep a four-game set, and they lost two other times when trying to sweep two-gamers.
Pittsburgh has won the first two games in this series of also-rans. The Pirates also won their first two games last weekend at St. Louis before dropping the third game.
Against the Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh staged a comeback from a four-run deficit Monday, then got home runs Tuesday from a couple relatively unexpected sources — Anthony Alford a day after he came off the injured list, and Michael Chavis in his second game with the Pirates.
The Diamondbacks and Pirates are looking for help for the future.
Chavis is a recent example for Pittsburgh, having arrived in a July 30 trade with the Boston Red Sox.
“You come over to a new club or you get called up and you’re trying to immerse yourself into the culture in numerous ways, but to have success right off the bat is extremely important,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “It makes guys breathe a little bit easier.”
For Arizona, that initiative could include current regulars Josh Rojas and Daulton Varsho. Rojas hit two doubles Tuesday and is batting .283. Varsho had a quiet night Tuesday but was coming off three straight games with a homer.
“For me, with young players, it’s a series of graduations,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “You start out in kindergarten when you first get called up. I don’t think you’re ever totally done learning. I think the best players in this game are always making adjustments in every year of their career.
“I think we’re watching our young players graduate to that next level. Wherever it is and wherever that may be, they’re in a very good spot. They’re comfortable with who they are. They’re comfortable in the roles they’re in, and they’re going out there and executing at a high level. It’s fun to watch. It gives a lot of hope for the future.”
Meanwhile, Arizona left-hander Caleb Smith remains with the team. He was suspended for 10 games and fined an undisclosed amount for possessing a foreign substance on his glove during the Aug. 18 game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The suspension, which was scheduled to begin with Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh, has been put on hold while Smith appeals the disciplinary measures.
Pirates veteran right fielder Gregory Polanco cleared outright waivers Tuesday with no immediate other move. He did not start but did pinch-hit and came up with an eighth-inning single.
In the series finale, Arizona left-hander Tyler Gilbert (1-1, 2.04 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh, but the Pirates had not named a probable starter.
Possibilities for the Pirates include right-hander Bryse Wilson, who is eligible to come off the IL, or right-hander Mitch Keller.
Gilbert, who has never faced the Pirates, will be making the third start and sixth appearance of his rookie season. After throwing a no-hitter in his first start, Aug. 14 against the San Diego Padres, he did not get a decision Friday at Colorado, when he gave up four runs in five innings.
–Field Level Media