|Pirates brace for familiar face in Phillies' Arrieta|
The Pittsburgh Pirates will see a familiar face Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Jake Arrieta, making his third start with the Phillies, will be on the mound against the Pirates, the team he's faced the most during his major league career.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon will start for Pittsburgh as the cross-state foes start a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
In Arrieta's 20 starts against the Pirates -- most of which came when he was with the Chicago Cubs -- he is 10-6 with a 3.18 ERA. His most notable outing against the Pirates came in the 2015 National League Wild Card game when he struck out 11 in a shutout that ended Pittsburgh's season. The 32-year-old righty was 1-3 with a 4.07 ERA against the Pirates in 2017.
With his new team, Arrieta (1-0, 3.38 ERA) fared better in his second start than his debut. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks with one strikeout against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
"He was an absolute animal out there today," Gabe Kapler told MLB.com of Arrieta after his last start. "Awesome job."
Taillon (2-0, 0.89 ERA), meanwhile, has been one of the best pitchers in baseball through the season's first three weeks. He has given up two earned runs this season, and they both came in his 2018 debut when he struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 innings against the Twins.
Taillon, 26, threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout against the Cincinnati Reds in his second start. He followed that up with six scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
"I felt good and I grinded through six. It took everything tonight to get through it," Taillon told MLB.com after his last start in which he allowed four hits and three walks. "That definitely wasn't my best stuff or my best executed game, but (catcher Francisco Cervelli) stuck with me throughout the night."
Two of Taillon's 46 career major league starts have come against the Phillies. He's 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in those outings.
The Pirates went 5-2 against the Phillies in 2017. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in their divisions last season, but have gotten off to better starts in 2018.
At 12-6, the Pirates enter the series as the first-place team in the NL Central. The Pirates were 10-2 winners over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday and their 5.5 runs per-game average is the best mark in the National League.
The Phillies, despite losing a series against the Braves this week, are 10-7. And they're returning for a 10-game homestand at Citizens Bank Park, where they are 5-1 this season.
"We're going home stronger than when we left on this road trip," Kapler told reporters Wednesday after the Phillies capped a 4-2 swing through Tampa and Atlanta. "It's not an easy thing to do in baseball, and I'm proud of our guys for doing that."
Pittsburgh's Starling Marte went 0-for-4 on Wednesday, snapping a five-game hitting streak in which he went 9-for-18.