Winning at home and beating the team's your supposed to beat is a great combination for success and the Arizona Diamondbacks are doing both this weekend.
After losing the series finale to the Tigers Wednesday, the Diamondbacks have rebounded with two wins against a reeling Pirates team. Clint Hurdle's club cannot score runs and had lost four straight coming into the series.
If the Diamondbacks are going to contend, they have to beat teams like the Pirates. So far so good but field manager Torey Lovullo's club would still like to win the series. A win either Saturday or Sunday would get the job done. Entering Saturday's game, the Diamondbacks own the best home record in the National League at 15-6 (.714) and the second-best mark in the majors behind the Baltimore Orioles who are 13-3 (.813).
Scoring more runs than the other team usually translates to wins and the Diamondbacks have overwhelmed opposing pitching in Phoenix. At home, the Diamondbacks rank first in the majors in runs scored (116), doubles (53), total bases (338), average (.301) and slugging percentage (.501). Only the Washington Nationals have a higher OPS at home than the Diamondbacks (.861).
Speaking of offense, the Diamondbacks matched their season high with 16 hits (also accomplished on April 25, 2016. Brandon Drury, who fell a triple short of the cycle, Jake Lamb and David Peralta all had three hits.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks pitching staff has set another NL record. Arizona pitchers have recorded 10-plus strikeouts in 18 games, the most ever by a senior circuit team in the first 37 games of the season. The Nationals recorded 10-plus strikeouts in 17 of the first 37 games in 2016.
The offense will try to keep rolling along in game three and Taijuan Walker will try and punch more Bucco hitters out.
What: Pirates at Diamondbacks
Game No. 38 Home Game No. 22 (15-6)
When: 6:40 p.m. MST
Where: Chase Field
Pitching Matchup: RHP Trevor Williams (1-2, 7.98 ERA) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (3-2, 3.83 ERA)
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Arizona/FSAZ + (Spanish) /98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station/KHOV 105.1 FM (Spanish)
Weather: First pitch temperature of 94 degrees (Roof Open)
Umpires: HP: Chris Conroy 1B: Jerry Meals 2B: Tom Woodring 3B: Ed
Last time out at the Rockies, Walker went five and two-thirds innings and allowed 3 runs (1 ER) on 4 hits on May 7. Walker has never faced the Pirates or a team from the NL Central. Walker, like Greinke and Corbin before him, has pitched really well at home this season. At Chase Field, he is 2-0 with 24 strikeouts against just 2 walks in 19.2 IP. Right-handed batters are hitting just .171 off Walker in Phoenix. Look for Walker to key on a rising four-seam fastball and a splitter low or in the dirt.
Former ASU Sun Devil right-hander Trevor Williams is on the mound tonight. That is undoubtedly the top story surrounding tonight's contest. Williams pitched three seasons for the Sun Devils from 2011-2013. The San Diego, California native posted a 12-2 record and tied for first in all of
Williams has never faced the Diamondbacks. The righty has pitched primarily out of the Pirates bullpen (6 appearances) and will make just his second start. The 25-year-old made his first start at Dodger Stadium on May 8 and gave up 8 runs (6 ER) in 3 innings. For now, Williams is replacing Jamison Tallion in the Pirates rotation but it remains to be seen whether he will stay there. Williams will feature a four-seam fastball in the mid-90's, a slider, sinker, changeup and an occasional curveball.
Freese has faced Walker seven times and has four hits (.571) including two doubles and two RBIs.
Blanco gets the start in place of A.J. Pollock in center field who has the night off. Chris Owings also gets the night off with Ahmed starting at shortstop. In his last six starts, Ahmed is