Two teams hovering near the .500 mark will face off as each attempts to keep themselves in contention in their respective divisions when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians face off in the second test of a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field.
In the first game of the series the Indians came away with a 2-0 victory to snap a four game losing streak.
Justin Masterson looked sharp as he put up seven scoreless innings while striking out nine Pittsburgh batters to earn his first win since May 24th. Chris Perez nailed down the victory with his MLB-leading 21st save of the season.
Carlos Santana had an RBI double in the third inning and Michael Brantley extended his major league leading hitting streak to 22 games with an RBI single in the eighth.
James McDonald took the loss for the Pirates despite a strong outing. McDonald pitched six innings and allowed just one run on three hits while striking out five.
Neil Walker and Casey McGehee each went 2-for-4 in the game, but the rest of the Pirates lineup couldn't figure out Masterson and went a combined 1-for-22 with nine strikeouts.
Cleveland will be hoping for another strong pitching performance this afternoon, as its sends Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound.
When Cleveland traded four minor leaguers to Colorado for Jimenez a year ago it was hoping that a change of scenery would return the right-hander to his 2010 form when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. Thus far, though, Jimenez's time in Cleveland has been disappointing.
After going 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts last season for Cleveland, Jimenez has continued to struggle this season with a 4.91 ERA despite a winning record of 6-4.
The 28-year-old hurler has put together consecutive quality starts, though, and beat St. Louis his last time out, as he scattered five hits and a single run over seven innings while striking out a season-high seven batters.
He's also is 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts against Pittsburgh and 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 13 career interleague starts.
Unlike his counterpart, A.J. Burnett has excelled after being traded. When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Burnett from the New York Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers in the offseason they inherited a pitcher who had an ERA over five in each of the previous two seasons, but in Pittsburgh Burnett has returned closer to the form that earned him the five-year $82.5 million contract he signed with the Yankees after the 2008 season.
Other than a disastrous 12-run outing in early May, Burnett has been stellar for the Pirates with a team leading six wins and an ERA of 3.61 which is second for Pittsburgh. Burnett has eight quality starts in 10 total appearances and has gone at least seven innings in five of those outings.
Most recently Burnett pitched a solid 7 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out six to earn a win over Kansas City. The win extended Burnett's streak of consecutive starts with a win to five.
Burnett has not been very good in his career against the Cleveland Indians, going 3-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 10 career starts.
The Indians swept the Pirates in last year's series.