NEW YORK — A lineup shakeup produced the desired results Monday night for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately for the New York Mets Mike Marjama Seattle Mariners Jersey , rookie manager Mickey Callaway already unsuccessfully pulled that out of his bag of tricks.
The Pirates will look to lock up a series win Tuesday over the free-falling Mets Tuesday night, when the two teams play the middle game of a three-game set at Citi Field.
Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (5-5, 4.56 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Mets left-hander Steven Matz (3-5, 3.68 ERA).
The Pirates ended a five-game losing streak Monday night, when a rejiggered top of the lineup scored five runs in a 6-4 victory.
The Pirates’ top three batters — Starling Marte, Josh Bell and Josh Harrison — were all occupying those spots for the first time this season. Marte scored three runs and stole two bases, Bell hit a two-run homer and Harrison delivered a sacrifice fly and scored a run.
The six runs were the most the Pirates (37-41) have scored since an 8-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 17. Pittsburgh scored nine runs in the subsequent six games.
“If it’s broken, you have to fix it, right?” Bell said Monday night. “Changing things up, giving us all a new view. Marte hasn’t led off in a while. ‘J-Hey’ is hitting third. Changing things up, it might have been the spark that we needed.”
The Mets (31-45) have been looking for a spark for weeks. New York has lost seven straight, 18 of 22 and 20 of 64 since an 11-1 start to fall dangerously close to the bottom of the National League. The only team with a worse record in the Senior Circuit is the Miami Marlins Chukwuma Okorafor Color Rush Jersey , who rank mere percentage points behind at 32-47.
Shuffling the lineup hasn’t worked for Callaway, who had three players (second-place batter Jose Bautista, cleanup batter Dominic Smith and sixth-place batter Jose Reyes) in unfamiliar spots Monday. Smith was batting cleanup for the first time this year while Bautista and Reyes were occupying their spots for the second and third time, respectively.
Against the New York Yankees on June 9, Callaway batted Amed Rosario leadoff for the first time as a major leaguer and Todd Frazier and Brandon Nimmo second and third, respectively, for the first time this season in a 4-3 loss.
With the Mets seeing no immediate payoff for Callaway’s mixing and matching, he is left to hope the lessons learned from the extended bleak times will yield results down the road.
“As hard as it’s been, we have to understand that this is something that we can benefit from in the long run,” Callaway said Monday afternoon. “No matter how many times you fall, you can learn from it. And I think our guys understand that and we talk about that type (of) stuff all the time.”
Kuhl and Matz will both be looking to bounce back from rough losses last Thursday.
Kuhl allowed eight runs over two innings as the Pirates fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-3. The eight runs were the second-most Kuhl’s allowed as a big leaguer while the two innings pitched marked his second-shortest start.
Matz gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings in the Mets’ 6-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies. The five earned runs were a season-high for Matz Tre'Quan Smith Color Rush Jersey , who allowed three runs or fewer in his seven of his previous eight starts.
Kuhl took the defeat in his only previous start against the Mets on May 26, 2017, when he gave up five runs over 4 1/3 innings as the Pirates lost, 8-1.
Matz also lost his lone start against the Pirates on June 7, 2016, when he allowed two runs over five innings as the Mets fell, 3-1.
Portland’s Damian Lillard says he likes the first-round matchup against the Pelicans, but in almost the same breath he lists the reasons why New Orleans is dangerous.
After splitting their four regular-season meetings, the third-seeded Blazers and sixth-seeded Pelicans open the playoffs Saturday night at the Moda Center.
”They stole one from us here, and we felt like that was a game that we should have had. We had a bad third quarter,” Lillard said. ”But they have Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday Authentic Lukas Dostal Jersey , Rondo, E’Twaun Moore, they’ve got a lot of guys that make them a dangerous team.”
The Blazers won the season’s first meeting with New Orleans, 103-93, back in October. But two months later the Pelicans beat the Blazers 123-116 in Portland without Davis. DeMarcus Cousins had 38 points and New Orleans extended its lead to as many as 18 points in the third quarter.
The Pelicans lost Cousins for the season because of an Achilles injury in January, and many thought the team’s playoff hopes were over. Instead, New Orleans rallied, going 21-13 the rest of the way and ending the season on a five-game winning streak.
”We were just starting to find our groove before he went out and when he got hurt it kind of pushed us back,” Davis said. ”We were trying to figure out how we wanted to play, and then we figured it out and were able to push through it.”
Davis stepped up in Cousins’ absence, averaging 30.4 points and 11.8 rebounds.
”When Cousins went down, everybody kind of wrote them off and they’ve done a great job of really competing since then Cheap Saquon Barkley Jersey ,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ”Anthony Davis has been an outstanding player. It’s been a tough matchup for us, games are close.”
Lillard, who goes into the game averaging 26.9 points, had 41 points in the final meeting of the season with the Pelicans, a 107-103 Blazers win in New Orleans.
”Dame had a hell of a game, but it’s playoffs and you can put everything behind what happened before,” Stotts said. ”The playoffs is a different animal.”
Other things to watch as the Blazers and Pelicans begin their playoff series:
GUESSING THE BEARD ISN’T COMING BACK: The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic in a trade after Cousins went out. He initially joined the squad as a sixth man and was inconsistent. But late this season, he shaved his beard, joined the starting lineup and he’s been thriving ever since, scoring no fewer than 21 points in a game during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game winning streak.
LUCKY THIRTEEN: The Blazers went on a 13-game winning streak, starting with a victory over Golden State just before the All-Star break that boosted their playoff position. And despite their late four-game losing streak, the Blazers still finished 49-33 and clinched the Northwest Division title. ”We would have liked to have a 50-win season but you can’t complain about a division championship or 49 wins Rashaad Penny Color Rush Jersey ,” Lillard said.
ROAD COURT ADVANTAGE: The Pelicans were just as good on the road (24-17) as they were at home (24-17). ”On the road we’ve been really, really good at just locking in and giving ourselves an opportunity to come up with wins … That’s what you have to do in order to be a playoff team,” coach Alvin Gentry said.
HIGH MILEAGE: CJ McCollum topped the NBA for the most miles on the court this season with 218. It was the third straight season he’s led the league in the stat. Jrue Holiday is No. 2 overall with 211.40 miles.
GOING FORWARD: Game 2 is set for Tuesday before swinging to New Orleans for games on Thursday and the following Saturday. The ”if necessary” games go like this: Tuesday, April 24, in Portland; Thursday, April 26, in New Orleans; and Saturday, April 28, back in Portland.
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