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Game Thread, July 27: Brewers at Pirates

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Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Here is this evening’s lineup. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. EST, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

With the specter of COVID-19 hanging over MLB, the Pirates make their 2020 home debut at PNC Park tonight. They’ll look to even their record on the season at 2-2 after dropping two out of three to St. Louis over the weekend in the season’s first series. Although no fans will be at PNC, the club did hang the traditional bunting at various locations.

Even without fans, the atmosphere at PNC has to be much more festive than it was across the state as the Philadelphia Phillies had their scheduled date with the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park postponed along with the Marlins-Orioles game in Miami while MLB does additional testing for the coronavirus.

The league said that members of the Marlins’ traveling group are self-quarantining while awaiting additional virus test results. Various reports say a number of Marlins players and coaches – as many as 12 players – have tested positive for COVID-19.

The game will go on in Pittsburgh, however, and the Pirates will welcome back outfielder Gregory Polanco, who missed the season’s first series after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Polanco will be in the lineup tonight, occupying the designated hitter spot and hitting seventh.

The Brewers’ lineup will feature a couple of familiar faces, mostly notably left fielder Christian Yelich, who is off to a slow start, and everyone’s favorite boo magnet, designated hitter Ryan Braun. Yelich has just one hit in his first 13 at-bats – a home run.

Milwaukee also has a couple of newcomers that Pirates pitchers need to be careful with in Jedd Gyorko and Avisail Garcia. Gyorko, the Morgantown and West Virginia University product, doesn’t have eye-popping numbers against the Pirates, but he has had his share of clutch hits against them.

In 68 games against Pittsburgh, Gyorko has compiled a .237 batting average and a .714 OPS with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 215 at-bats. I must have seen all 10 home runs and witnessed all 36 RBIs because he seems to hit like Babe Ruth when I watch him.

Gyorko is coming off a rough year in 2019, as he hit just .174 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 62 games with the Cardinals and Dodgers.

Garcia has batted just 22 times against the Pirates, and they’ve handled him well, holding him to a .091 batting average. But at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he’s capable of doing damage. Last year with Tampa Bay, he batted .282 with 20 home runs, 72 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 125 games.

Yelich has beaten up on the Pirates just like he’s done everyone else, amassing a .332 career batting average and a .998 OPS in 238 at-bats. He has homered 14 times and driven in 36 runs.

Braun, meanwhile, has played 185 games against Pittsburgh and has 31 home runs and 119 RBIs to go with a .290 batting average and an .861 OPS.

Another Brewer bat to keep an eye out for belongs to Keston Hiura. The young second baseman made his big league debut last year and hit .303 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs in 84 games. Some scouts have compared the Pirates’ recent No. 1 draft pick, Nick Gonzales, to Hiura in terms of his hit tool and readiness for big league action.

Hiura, like Yelich, had trouble in the opening series in Chicago, going just 1-for-12 in three games.

The lineups:

BREWERS

1 – Lorenzo Cain, CF

2 – Keston Hiura, 2B

3 – Christian Yelich, LF

4 – Ryan Braun, DH

5 – Jedd Gyorko, 3B

6 – Avisail Garcia, RF

7 – Justin Smoak, 1B

8 – Manny Pina, C

9 – Orlando Arcia, SS

PIRATES

1 – Adam Frazier, 2B

2 – Kevin Newman, SS

3 – Josh Bell, 1B

4 – Colin Moran, 3B

5 – Bryan Reynolds, LF

6 – Jose Osuna, RF

7 – Gregory Polanco, DH

8 – Jacob Stallings, C

9 – Jarrod Dyson, CF

PITCHERS: Adrian Houser (0-0) vs. Steven Brault (0-0).