The Toronto Blue Jays make their second stop of an eight-game road swing tonight when they pay a visit to PNC Park to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a weekend interleague series.
Toronto has lost six of its last eight games but is coming off Thursday's 7-3 victory at Kansas City. Juan Francisco and Colby Rasmus both went deep for the Blue Jays, who are second in the American League with 34 home runs on the season. Starter Mark Buehrle went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is back home to kick off a nine-game homestand. It has been a rough start to the season for a Pirates team that was coming off their first trip to the playoffs in 21 years. Things have been much different through the first month in 2014, as the Pirates have dropped seven of their last eight games and sit at 10-18 overall.
They lost both games of a doubleheader at Baltimore on Thursday. In the first game, the bats were held in check for a 5-1 setback. The offense showed a bit of life in the nightcap, but Baltimore's Matt Wieters sealed the outcome near 1 a.m. ET with a walkoff home run in the 10th inning.
"It's been rough," first baseman Ike Davis said. "(Friday) is a new day. Hopefully, we can get some sleep and come out swinging and regroup a little bit. As long we can give ourselves opportunities the whole season, we're going to score runs."
So far this season, the offense has largely failed to deliver in such opportunities. Pittsburgh stranded 28 runners during Thursday's doubleheader.
"We keep fighting and fighting and putting ourselves in scoring position, but we haven't been able to cash in the way we need to," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We keep showing up. The bats were better throughout the series. We had men on base throughout the game. We're still looking for that big hit."
The Pirates hope to get another quality start from Gerrit Cole on Friday night. Over his last two starts, the right-hander has given up a total of only two earned runs in a span of 15 innings. He took the loss at St. Louis his last time out despite yielding just one run in seven frames. This will be Cole's first-ever time facing the Blue Jays.
His counterpart, Brandon Morrow, will try to forget his last outing against Boston, in which he issued a career-high eight walks and allowed four earned runs despite not giving up a hit. He was pulled after just 2 2/3 innings.
After five times through the rotation, Morrow's ERA sits at 6.04.