MLB: Surging Pirates look to complete sweep vs. tumbling Twins

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After turning boos into cheers with a single at-bat, Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Rowdy Tellez is hoping to carry the momentum into the rest of the season.

Tellez and the Pirates aim for a three-game sweep of the visiting Minnesota Twins on Sunday after recording consecutive shutouts.

Tellez homered and drove in three runs in Saturday’s 4-0 victory to help Pittsburgh win for the fifth time in its past seven games.

Minnesota has lost five straight and will carry a 22-inning scoreless streak into the series finale. The Twins were held to six singles in Saturday’s loss.

“We’re going to have to pull our way out of this,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We have good hitters. We have a lot of guys that can do more than what they’re doing right now … we have different guys that have to make different adjustments because what’s going on right now team-wide as a whole is clearly not where we need to be.”

Tellez’s season-long slump has drawn the ire of Pirates fans, but he won them over with a solo home run in the seventh inning on Saturday. Fans chanted his name when he returned to the dugout after the homer, his first since March 31.

“That was awesome,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I give our fans a ton of credit. I know it’s challenging when guys aren’t performing. This guy’s been working his butt off, he’s been a good teammate, he’s done everything we’ve asked, gone in to play defense late, but even before the homer, they could feel it and they got into it, which was cool.”

Pittsburgh will send rookie right-hander Jared Jones (4-5, 3.25 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. He struck out six over six shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last Tuesday.

“That’s no easy lineup to go through and that’s an understatement,” Shelton said. “To go through it the way he did and continue to execute pitches was really impressive to see.”

Jones, 22, has thrown at least five innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 12 starts. This will be his first career outing against Minnesota.

The Twins will counter with right-hander Bailey Ober (5-4, 4.94), who allowed three runs with a career-high four walks over five innings in a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees last Tuesday.

Ober, 28, has lost three of his past four outings and given up a total of 16 runs in 19 innings during that stretch.

Ober is making his first career appearance against Pittsburgh. Four current Pirates hitters — Yasmani Grandal, Edward Olivares, Michael A. Taylor and Tellez — have faced Ober and combined to go 5-for-24 with seven strikeouts.

One bright spot from Minnesota’s struggling offense has been the play of infielder Jose Miranda, who is hitting .294 (37-for-126) with five home runs and 17 RBIs over his past 36 games.

“He’s definitely come on strong,” Baldelli said. “He looks very comfortable. He’s settled in well. I’m trying to find ways to get him in the lineup on a pretty regular basis right now because he’s earning the at-bats, and he’s producing and hitting balls hard.”

–Field Level Media

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