Two veteran pitchers very familiar with the opponent are scheduled to go head-to-head Monday when the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the San Francisco Giants for the start of a three-game series between teams with nearly identical records.
Both teams traveled into town Sunday night coming off narrow defeats. The Pirates took a 6-3, 10-inning walk-off loss at Seattle after the Giants saw a rally fall short in a 7-5 setback during their series finale at Milwaukee.
The Pirates (26-26) have lost four of five to drop to the .500 mark for the first time since they were 2-2, while the Giants have won 10 of 13 to stick their head above break-even at 27-26.
The opener's pitching matchup will feature Pirates left-hander Rich Hill (4-4, 4.27 ERA) and Giants righty Anthony DeSclafani (3-4, 3.43) in what will be Hill's 19th career start against San Francisco and DeSclafani's 18th against the Pittsburgh.
The 43-year-old Hill (231 starts) and 33-year-old DeSclafani (161 starts) have combined for 392 career starts, only one of which has been against each other. That occurred on May 17, 2019, when Hill, pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, threw six shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds, who got just four ineffective innings (four runs) from DeSclafani that day.
Hill, who has pitched for 12 different teams, has gone 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA in his career against the Giants. It's his best ERA against any opponent.
This time around, he will be seeing a hot Giants team that put up 28 runs while taking three of four from the Brewers in their just completed meeting. Mike Yastrzemski and Blake Sabol homered in Sunday's getaway day loss.
The seven runs allowed by the Giants on Sunday came after they pitched to a 2.27 ERA in their previous 13 games.
"I knew we were pitching well. I knew we were just playing good baseball. It's what makes this game tough," Giants starter Alex Cobb said after the loss. "You just hope this doesn't put too much of a damper on the momentum we've created."
Hill has experienced a roller coaster of a season, compiling a 1.16 ERA in his four wins and a 5.82 ERA in his four losses.
His past two starts have demonstrated those extremes. After shutting out the Detroit Tigers on one hit over six innings in an 8-0 win on May 17, he allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings during a 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
When it was noted that he had a season-high nine strikeouts against the Rangers, Hill had a message for the younger pitchers on the Pittsburgh staff that he is mentoring.
"You can look at strikeouts or whatever, but at the end of the day, it's the score," he said. "Coming out of that game at a 4-1 deficit, that's not putting us in a position to win. If you want to look at it as a good outing, fair outing or whatever, in my mind, that's not a championship mindset. You've got to hold yourself to a higher standard."
DeSclafani is winless in his last four starts, during which he's gone 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA. He is coming off a 7-1 loss on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins in which he allowed all seven runs (four earned) in five-plus innings.
DeSclafani has gone just 3-7 with a 5.13 ERA against the Pirates.
--Field Level Media