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Series Preview: Pirates at White Sox

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The recently reborn Pittsburgh Pirates, who rose from, well, a deep slumber to sweep the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, will face a team that’s even hotter when they open a two-game series Tuesday with the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City.

The Pale Hose won seven straight games before losing Sunday to the crosstown rival Cubs and now sit at 17-12 heading into Tuesday’s 8:10 p.m. start at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Sox feature a potent lineup that includes several young stars in left fielder Eloy Jimenez, center fielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoan Moncada. But topping the list this season are shortstop Tim Anderson, who is hitting .350 with a 1.063 OPS and slugging first baseman Jose Abreu, who has walloped 11 home runs – including four in four straight at-bats Saturday and Sunday – and driven in 28 runs. Abreu is hitting .322 with a 1.035 OPS.

Jimenez, obtained from the rival Cubs in 2017 as part of the Jose Quintana trade, is batting .298 with a .917 OPS, as he has homered nine times and driven in 20.

Robert has stepped from the prospect limelight right into a major league lineup and has not looked overmatched. He’s batting .265 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs, although he has struck out 39 times in 98 at-bats.

On the mound, the Sox have received a major shot in the arm from veteran Dallas Keuchel, who has put together a 4-2 record and a 2.65 ERA in six starts. Young Dylan Cease also has excelled, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in six starts.

Lucas Giolito, the one-time highly regarded prospect who was reportedly coveted by the Pirates several years ago while in the Washington Nationals organization, is 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in six starts. Giolito, who opens the series Tuesday night against the Pirates’ Steven Brault (0-0, 3.00 ERA) leads the staff with 45 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.

The Pirates (7-17) are coming off a surprising and much-needed sweep of the Brewers, pulling out Sunday’s final game on a two-run eighth-inning homer off the bat of everybody’s favorite target, Gregory Polanco.

Polanco, who was hitting just .070 before the start of the Milwaukee series, showed signs of life over the weekend as he went 5 for 10 with two home runs and five RBIs. He’s now still hitting a microscopic .151 but his production over the weekend is cause for optimism.

Wednesday’s 2:10 p.m. matchup will have the Bucs’ Trevor Williams (1-4, 3.70 ERA) facing Keuchel.

The Pirates will veer off to St. Louis Thursday for a makeup double-header with the Cardinals starting at 3:15 p.m. No pitching matchups have been set for either of those games, which originally were to be played on Aug. 10-11 but were postponed due to the Cardinals’ COVID-19 woes. The road trip will conclude with a four-game wraparound series with the Brewers in Milwaukee.