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Series Preview: White Sox at Pirates

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pirates will get a chance to extract a bit of revenge on one of the better teams in the American League this week when they host the Chicago White Sox in a brief two-game set that starts at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at PNC Park.

The Pale Hose enter the series with a 26-15 mark and are battling the Cleveland Indians for supremacy in the AL Central Division. The two enter play Tuesday tied for the top spot, and both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

The Bucs (13-26) are well aware of what the South Siders are capable of, having been swept in a two-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field on Aug. 24-25.

The first game of that series certainly was a memorable one, as Lucas Giolito no-hit the Pirates in a 4-0 victory. The big right-hander was dominant, allowing only a four-pitch walk to Erik Gonzalez in the fourth inning. That was the only blemish on his 101-pitch night as he struck out 13 hitters in an overpowering performance.

The next day, it was the White Sox bats that supplied the power, as they put 10 runs on the scoreboard and collected 12 hits in a 10-3 victory. Chicago clubbed three home runs off Pirates starter Trevor Williams, as Danny Mendick, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez all went deep. Jose Abreu also homered in the game off reliever Tyler Bashlor.

Dylan Cease will get the start for Chicago in tonight’s series opener, and he’ll oppose Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove, making his second start since returning from the injured list. Musgrove is 0-4 with an unsightly 6.62 ERA.

Cease, a 24-year-old right-hander, is 5-2 with a 3.29 ERA in eight starts. In his most recent outing, which came on Sept. 3 at Kansas City, Cease worked five innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs. He struck out one and walked two.

Musgrove worked three-plus innings in his return to active duty against the Cubs on Sept. 2, giving up three hits and two earned runs while striking out four in 46 pitches.

Musgrove, the subject of trade rumors leading up to last Monday’s trade deadline, will have his work cut out for him as the White Sox present a formidable lineup.

Shortstop Tim Anderson leads the way with a .351 average and a .986 OPS. First baseman Jose Abreu packs the most power, as he’s hit 13 home runs to go with 40 RBIs, and he’s also maintained a .315 batting average for an OPS of .980. Rookie Luis Robert has enjoyed a fine MLB debut, hitting .266 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs, and young left fielder Eloy Jimenez has 11 home runs and 30 RBIs.

For the Pirates, Gonzalez has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise overall, playing solid defense at shortstop and supplying more offensive punch than expected with a .289 average, a .791 OPS and a team-leading 18 RBIs. Just for comparison, the White Sox have at least five players with 18 RBIs.

Colin Moran also is having a solid season for the Bucs with an .856 OPS while newcomer Ke’Bryan Hayes has collected seven hits in his first 18 at-bats over five games.

Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. series finale will find rookie right-hander JT Brubaker starting for the Pirates. The White Sox have yet to designate a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game.

Both games will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.