Two teams with serious bullpen issues -- one on the field, the other off the field -- meet for the third time in a four-game series on Wednesday night as the San Francisco Giants go for a second straight win against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates used a four-run ninth inning to overcome the Giants 6-4 in the series opener Monday before coming up a run short despite a four-run eighth in a 5-4 loss Tuesday.
The Giants didn't have All-Star closer Will Smith available on either night because of back tightness, whereas the Pirates got a save from their two-time All-Star, Felipe Vazquez, just hours after he'd gotten into a fight with teammate Kyle Crick on Monday.
Vazquez was fined, but not suspended, in the wake of the incident, during which Krick ruptured a tendon in his right index finger. Krick underwent season-ending surgery Tuesday.
"The behavior exhibited by these two players (Monday) night is unacceptable, inconsistent with the standards expected of a major league player," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington scripted in a release that was made available to the media Tuesday, "and will not be tolerated by the organization."
Even without Krick, the Pittsburgh bullpen has been near-perfect in the series. Four relievers, including Vazquez, combined for 3 1/3 innings of one-hit, no-run ball to aid in Monday's comeback. Vazquez threw a 1-2-3 ninth, featuring two strikeouts.
Two relievers made Tuesday's comeback bid possible with a combined three perfect innings.
The Giants, meanwhile, couldn't hold a two-run lead for Madison Bumgarner on Monday, then nearly lost all of a 5-0 advantage handed the bullpen by Johnny Cueto in the rematch.
San Francisco needed former starter Shaun Anderson to get the final four outs on Tuesday. He was successful, allowing just one baserunner, on a walk, en route to his first career save.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy hopes to have Smith back by the end of the series Thursday.
"I'd put him at day-to-day," the veteran skipper told reporters. "He's still pretty tight. He tried to throw (Tuesday), and he just couldn't go. We'll re-evaluate him (Wednesday). Meanwhile, we'll try to piece this thing together and see if we can get through it."
After Bumgarner and Cueto combined to give up just two runs and seven hits in 12 innings in the first two games of the series, the San Francisco bullpen has been bombed for 10 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in just six innings.
Giants rookie Logan Webb (1-1, 6.50 ERA) will be seeking his first home win in just his second home start Wednesday.
The 22-year-old pitched well in his only previous outing at Oracle Park, limiting the San Diego Padres to one run in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Aug. 31. The Giants lost the game 4-1.
Webb has never faced the Pirates.
Pittsburgh will counter with a rookie of its own, right-hander Dario Agrazal (4-4, 4.94 ERA).
He won two of his past three starts, including a road effort at Colorado in which he held the Rockies to three runs in five-plus innings in a 9-4 victory.
The 24-year-old will be pitching against the Giants for the first time in his career.
--Field Level Media
Bullpens in spotlight as Giants, Pirates meet
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