Phillies at Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin held a team meeting before the start of a three-game series at Pittsburgh in an effort to jolt his team out of a funk that saw them drop 15 of 18. The meeting seemed to work for at least one night, and the Phillies are in position to post back-to-back victories for the first time since a six-game winning streak came to an end on April 27 when they visit the Pirates on Saturday.
"We just want to stick together as a team," Mackanin told reporters. "I don't expect anybody to be happy when you're going through what we're going through. Nobody should be happy or careless about it. If they are, then they're not the right people. We just have to fight through it." Philadelphia finally got some length out of a starting pitcher on Friday with six quality innings from Jeremy Hellickson, who also doubled in a run, and recorded a 7-2 win in the opener. The Phillies will try to coax a similar effort out of young Vince Velasquez, who goes up against Ivan Nova on Saturday. Pittsburgh had a string of six straight games with at least four runs scored come to an end with Friday's setback and dropped to 2-2 on its six-game homestand.
TV: 4: 05 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, ROOT (Pittsburgh)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.63 ERA) vs. Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48)
Velasquez was lit up for six runs and seven hits in seven innings of a home loss to Washington on May 6 but was a bit better in his next outing, when he allowed three runs - two earned - and five hits in five frames against the Nationals on the road. The seven-inning stint was a rarity for the 24-year-old, who is averaging just over five per turn this season. Velasquez made one previous start against Pittsburgh, allowing four runs in six frames without factoring in the decision.
Nova has not won since tossing a three-hit shutout at Miami on April 29 and is making his first home start following four in a row on the road. The Dominican surrendered three runs and nine hits in six frames at Arizona on Sunday but did not factor in the decision. Nova allowed a total of one earned run over 12 2/3 innings in two previous career starts against Philadelphia.
1. The Pirates claimed RHP Jhan Marinez off waivers from Milwaukee on Friday.
2. Philadelphia RF Michael Saunders (groin) was held out of the starting lineup on Friday but entered the game as a defensive replacement.
3. Pittsburgh 1B Josh Bell has homered in four of his last seven games and doubled in a run on Friday.