Pirates hope Lyles can turn tide vs. Rockies

The Colorado Rockies have found a panacea, at least temporarily, in facing the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Rockies go into the third and final game of a series on Thursday at PNC Park having won the first two by a combined 14-3, seemingly solving their pitching problems while getting a ton of offense.

Colorado received eight shutout innings from German Marquez and a quality start from Jon Gray in the first two games. Entering the series, the Rockies starters ranked poorly in several categories in the National League.

The two performances helped offset news Wednesday that left-handed starter Tyler Anderson has a left knee injury that will necessitate surgery.

The Rockies also placed closer Wade Davis on the 10-day injured list because of a left oblique strain, but they haven't needed a closer so far this series.

"Every pitcher, regardless of the game, knows what's at stake," Colorado manager Bud Black said. "Our guys are aware, because we talk about it. We talk about the importance and the responsibility that they have every night, what they mean to the team. And their -- for lack of a better word -- 'performance' sort of dictates how the game is going to go."

In the series finale, Colorado right-hander Antonio Senzatela (3-3, 4.89 ERA) and Pittsburgh righty Jordan Lyles (4-1, 1.97 ERA) are scheduled to start.

Senzatela piled up 101 pitches in five innings his last time out, giving up two runs and five hits in a 2-1 loss Saturday at Philadelphia, but one of those runs was aided by a fielding error and a wild pitch, and he got little support on offense as his teammates struck out 13 times.

"I didn't knock them out on any pitch, but the changeup was working really good in the jams," Senzatela said.

His only previous career appearance against Pittsburgh came in a scoreless inning of relief on April 18, 2018.

Lyles might be considered something of a good-luck charm if he wasn't just plain good this season. He might be just what Pittsburgh needs Thursday.

The Pirates are 7-1 in his eight starts, and he hasn't given up more than one earned run in six of those starts.

Over his past three starts, totaling 19 2/3 innings, he has been tagged for three earned runs collectively.

Most recently, Lyles gave up one run and struck out a career-high 12 on Friday in a 5-3 win at San Diego that stood out as a gem even in amid his strong start to the season.

"Complete command from the start to the end," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Efficient, power. The curveball played big time. He threw some sliders. He used his changeup. He moved his fastball around. He elevated it. It was just a really well-pitched game."

Lyles, 28, has made at least one adjustment this season.

"I've definitely been pitching up in the zone a little bit more," he said, according to MLB.com. "Pitching up in the zone, I think, makes my other pitches a little bit better. It offsets guys looking out over (the plate). That's the main thing I can point my finger at."

Against the Rockies, Lyles is 1-3 with a 4.86 ERA in 11 career appearances, five of them starts.

--Field Level Media


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