CLEVELAND: The three-game weekend series between the Indians and Pirates at PNC Park won't resemble a matchup of titans.
Pittsburgh heads into tonight's game with the White Sox having lost 10 games in a row and 16 of the past 19. That does not mean the Bucs are assured of being helpless victims against the Tribe.
In fact, history demonstrates that on their home turf, the Pirates are a formidable opponent for Cleveland. Since 1997, the Tribe has played five three-game sets in Pittsburgh, with the Pirates holding a 10-5 advantage. And keep in mind that in none of these seasons did the Bucs bring to the table a powerhouse team.
What weapons will Pittsburgh bring to the battle? Foremost is Andrew McCutchen, who goes into tonight's game with a six-game hitting streak and is tied for fifth in hits (77) among National League batters. In his past 47 games, McCutchen is batting .331 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 17 RBI and 29 runs. Overall, he is batting .314 with seven homers nd 20 RBI and leads the club in runs with 39.
Garrett Jones doesn't present the kind of all-around threat that does McCutchen, but he can hit the ball out of the park. In addition to a .273 batting average, Jones has 10 home runs and 41 RBI.
the Pirates also will run. They rank fifth in the league with 42 stolen bases and are 14 for their last 17, dating to the beginning of the month. McCutchen leads the team with 17 steals and has been caught only five times.
Closer Octavio Dotel also is on a roll, having converted nine of his last 10 save situations.
Forever in a rubuilding mode, the Pirates called up their No. 1 prospect, Pedro Alvarez, on Wednesday, when he played third base and went 0-for-2. He was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft.