Twins will try to humble the upstart Pirates
By KATE HEDLIN,
Pedro Alvarez has been a very streaky hitter. The Pittsburgh Pirates hope his latest outburst can continue for a while.
He'll look to stay hot Tuesday night as Pittsburgh opens a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins. Alvarez is coming off a big weekend, homering twice in back-to-back wins over Cleveland. Despite his inconsistency this year, Alvarez leads Pittsburgh with 12 homers and is second behind Andrew McCutchen with 34 RBIs.
The Pirates (34-31) will go for a season-high fifth straight home win when they face the Twins, who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-4, 15-inning win over Milwaukee on Sunday.
Trevor Plouffe went 2 for 5 but didn't homer for a second straight game after going deep in each of the previous four. Plouffe is hitting .371 with 10 homers over the last 16 games.
Minnesota (26-39) could be without Joe Mauer after he left Sunday with a bruised right quadriceps. Mauer is hitting .406 with nine RBIs in his last nine games.
The Twins will hand the ball to Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13 ERA).
The rookie left-hander allowed four runs on a pair of homers in six innings of a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday. He hadn't allowed an earned run over his previous two starts, which had lowered his ERA to 1.61.
Diamond, making his first appearance against the Pirates, is aware of his role to help ease the pressure on a bullpen which pitched 32 innings in six games last week. Minnesota's relievers threw nine scoreless innings Sunday.
"Our bullpen has been worked a little big lately," he told the Twins' official website. "I'm trying to go as deep into ballgames as much as I can myself."
He'll be opposed by Kevin Correia (2-6, 4.43), who is 0-6 with a 7.82 ERA in his last nine games at PNC Park.
Three of his four starts there this season have been quality outings, but he's winless there since beating Baltimore on June 22, 2011.
The right-hander struggled against the Orioles on Wednesday, giving up five runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss.
Pittsburgh has lost five of six against Minnesota, last facing the Twins in 2009.