Series Preview: Cleveland Indians hope to beat up on woeful Pirates

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The Cleveland Indians are riding high as they head to Pittsburgh to face off with the Pirates riding a three-game winning streak.

After a series sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians will travel to Steel City to take on the woeful 4-14 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh rank near the bottom of the league in terms of batting average. The Pirates are hitting .211 as a team while the Indians are hitting a league-worst .203. However, the Cleveland bats have been heating up of late.

The Indians erupted for 21 runs over the weekend, culminating with a five home run outburst in Detroit Sunday.

Cleveland now will look to continue their offensive surge against the Pirates who have had their past two games postponed due to the Cincinnati Reds COVID tests results while the team was scheduled to finish a four-game set in the Queen City.

The Indians find themselves in second place in the AL Central standings and just a game and a half behind the Minnesota Twins for first place. While the Indians pitching has cooled slightly, the offense has heated up with the power of Franmil Reyes leading the way.

Reyes is the Indians team leader in hits (24), average (.316), home runs (tied with Jose Ramirez), slugging (.553), and OPS (.918). He capped off a stellar week with two home runs on Sunday. However, it will be important to watch if Terry Francona holds him out of any games this week, as he was hit in the hand during his last at-bat on Sunday.

X-rays returned negative, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Indians to give him additional time off if needed.

On the other hand, the Pirates have been struggling across the board and find themselves with the worst record in baseball.

After trading away star outfielder Starling Marte this past offseason, the Pirates are using 2020 as a rebuild with a new general manager in Ben Cherington and manager in Derek Shelton both in their first years with the team.

Part of their early struggles have come at the plate. Their offense relies on former All-Star Josh Bell, who has cooled off considerably since mid-2019 when he was in batting title contention. This year, he’s hitting just .203 and leading the Pirates with 24 strikeouts.

One name to keep an eye for Pittsburgh is second baseman Colin Moran who has six home runs, and leads the Pirates in runs, slugging and OPS.

Now, here’s a game-by-game preview and a look at the pitching matchups for this week’s series in Pittsburgh.

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