|Pirates looking to keep Giants on the ropes|
Fresh from a five-game suspension, Pittsburgh Pirates starter Chris Archer will look to continue his strong opening to the 2019 season Sunday when the right-hander faces the visiting San Francisco Giants.
Archer was disciplined after throwing a pitch behind the Cincinnati Reds' Derek Dietrich in a game on April 7.
The incident, which cleared the benches for both teams, came on Dietrich's next at-bat after he launched a home run into Pittsburgh's Allegheny River, with the Reds' utility man remaining at home plate an extra beat to watch his handiwork.
Archer initially said he would appeal his suspension, but after facing the Washington Nationals last Sunday, giving up just one run over seven innings, he dropped the appeal.
After three starts, Archer is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA, although the Pirates lost his season debut on April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals when he gave up no runs over five innings, and then fell again when he dominated against the Nationals. He was not involved in the decision in either of those games.
Archer did not face the Giants last season and he is 0-2 in two career starts against them with a 4.85 ERA over 13 innings. He last faced San Francisco in 2016 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
On Saturday, Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker and outfielder Bryan Reynolds made their major league debuts. They were called up after shortstop Erik Gonzalez and center fielder Starling Marte collided in shallow center field in Friday's game, forcing both to the injured list.
Tucker won the game with his first career home run just before the contest was delayed and ultimately called because of rain.
Reynolds also had a hit, a single in the fourth inning. Reynolds came to the Pirates from the Giants in the trade for Andrew McCutchen in advance of the 2018 season.
The victory is the fifth consecutive for the National League Central-leading Pirates.
"This is everything you dream about," Tucker told reporters hours before his debut. "This has been my lifelong goal and dream, and to be this close and to be here and ultimately help this team win and add value to this club, it's a blessing. I'm so stoked. I'm so thrilled to be here."
The Giants will send right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (2-2, 3.63) to the mound as San Francisco looks to end its four-game losing streak.
Like Archer, Rodriguez also faced the Nationals in his most recent outing, giving up one run on five hits over five innings against them Tuesday as San Francisco won a 7-3 decision. It was the last time the Giants won a game.
Rodriguez gave up one run over seven innings in a victory over the Pirates last season, the only time he has faced Pittsburgh.
The Giants' biggest issue has been with their offense. San Francisco has just 64 runs in 22 games (2.9 per game), second worst in the National League, ahead of just the Miami Marlins.
"We've got to get these bats going," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Not scoring early again, that's making every game an uphill climb for us."
In a quirky stat that is still representative of the Giants' offensive issues, they have not scored in the first inning in any of their 22 games this season. It is a club record for first-inning futility at the start of the year, according to Stats LLC.
The Giants, whose previous record for scoreless first innings to start a season was 17 games in 1954, are 6-for-69 (.087) in the opening inning this year.
--Field Level Media