Pirates look to get to .500 with win over Marlins
The Pirates (70-71), who won their fourth straight, 5-3, in the opener Friday, need to win what would seem to be an attainable but hardly simple 12 of their final 21 games to finish over .500.
Things are bleaker for the Marlins (56-85), who have lost three of five. They need to win seven of their last 21 games just to avoid losing 100 games for the third time in team history.
“No one wants to be part of a 100-loss team,” starter Dan Straily said going into what was a no-decision Friday. “Everyone in this room should want to avoid 100 losses. There’s only way not to do that.”
The Marlins hit triple digits in losses in 1998 (54-108) and 2013 (62-100).
Straily left in the fifth Friday with a strained left oblique but is considered day to day, the club said.
Pittsburgh might have hit a setback Friday when right fielder Gregory Polanco left the field with some assistance in the sixth after an awkward leaping slide into second on a double. The Pirates reported he had pain in his left knee and left shoulder.
Chen has thrown more than 100 pitches in three of his past four starts. He is coming off a 6-3 win last Saturday against Toronto when he held the Blue Jays to one run and three hits, tied a career high with eight innings pitched and at one point retired 14 batters in a row.
“He’s been really good for a while now,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s good to see that confidence in him. We’re seeing a guy that we thought we had a couple of years back before all this elbow stuff went down.”
Chen has no lingering issues from elbow and shoulder problems that plagued him in recent years.
“I probably feel the best over the last two or three years,” he said, adding that he’s also putting a big effort into preparation.
“I’ve been trying to study hitters, watch videos, and talk to (catcher J.T. Realmuto) a lot. I do the homework day in and day out, and I think that helps me execute the pitch during the game.”
Saturday’s game will be a test of whether he can do that on the road. He has a 1.77 ERA in 12 home starts, but a 9.35 ERA in 10 road starts.
Nova’s last start was supposed to be Sunday, but instead he was granted a leave from the team for personal reasons.
He has not pitched since Aug. 28, when he gave up four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 5-2 loss to St. Louis. The Cardinals had 11 runners against him, five of them reaching on doubles.
“It was on and off, on and off. I didn’t put it together, and it wasn’t my best effort,” Nova said.
He is 5-5 with a 3.87 ERA over his past 14 starts.
The Marlins might be a timely opponent. Nova is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three career starts against Miami, including a 7-3 win April 15 when he struck out nine.