Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton both shined in last year’s season series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins.
These superstars figure to do more damage Friday night when these teams open a three-game series in Miami.
The Pirates (32-34) took four of six meetings a season ago. McCutchen went 8 for 16 with an OPS of 1.454, turning in three multihit efforts.
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The center fielder is 14 for 30 with five homers and 12 RBIs during an eight-game hit streak that features five straight multihit performances. He tops the majors with 15 extra-base hits in June and will play his 800th game Friday.
McCutchen capped a torrid four-game set against the Chicago Cubs by doubling twice with two RBIs in Thursday’s 4-0 victory. He went 8 for 14 with nine RBIs in the series, homering in each of the first three games.
"I’m seeing the ball and I get a pitch to hit and I hit it and it’s finding the gaps and that’s basically what’s happening right now for me," he said. "Things are just working out right now and I want to continue to stay where I’m at."
Stanton went 10 for 23 last year against Pittsburgh, including 7 for 9 with two homers as the Marlins won two of three at home July 26-28.
He shares the NL lead with 17 homers entering a favorable matchup against Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke, who allowed one run in seven innings Sunday in a 1-0 defeat to Milwaukee in his second 2014 start.
Miami (34-31) is 11-4 against left-handed starters for baseball’s second-best mark. Stanton bats a team-high .354 against them, and he’s 3 for 5 with a homer against Locke.
Locke (0-1, 5.11 ERA) is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts versus the Marlins, allowing them to hit .338.
Pittsburgh will get its first look at Garrett Jones in a Miami uniform. Jones spent the previous five seasons with the Pirates before he signed a two-year deal with the Marlins in the offseason.
It’s unclear if the lefty-swinging Jones will be in the lineup since he’s batting .200 off left-handers this year and .194 in his career. Ed Lucas or Jeff Baker occasionally starts in his place at first base.
Miami’s hottest hitter in the last seven games is Casey McGehee, who is 13 for 30. He will face the Pirates for the first time since playing 92 games with them in 2012.
Second baseman Rafael Furcal will make his Miami debut after being out all season due to a strained left hamstring.
Marlins scheduled starter Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 3.27) is in a bind. His wife is expecting the couple’s first child, and he said he would exit with the game in progress if word comes that the baby is on the way.
"We’re not sure when we’re having the baby," Eovaldi told the Marlins’ official website. "If it doesn’t happen any day now, it will happen Sunday."
Eovaldi is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last four outings and 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA in seven this year at home.
The right-hander would have to travel to Texas if his wife goes into labor. That’s where the Marlins were when they split two games with the Rangers prior to Thursday’s off day.