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Two struggling Pennsylvania teams meet in Friday series opener

Statue of Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who led the Pirates during their 1970’s rivalry heyday with the Phillies, stands outside of PNC Park. (David Brossard)

The Pennsylvania in-state rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates has lost much of its luster since the Bucs were moved to the NL Central Division for the 1994 season.

Prior to that time it was one of baseball’s best and most intense. The Pirates joined the National League out in the western part of Pennsylvania for the 1887 season, four years after the Phillies own birth in the southeast corner of the Commonwealth.

In 1969, Major League Baseball split both the National and American Leagues into two divisions each for the first time. The Phillies and Pirates were placed into the NL East Division, and the rivalry really began to heat up when the Phillies emerged as a contender in the mid-1970’s.

During the 70’s, the Pirates captured the NL East crown six times with the Phillies winning the division in three of the other four years. Led by the legendary Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh won the 1971 World Series. Then in 1979 their “We Are Family” squad led by Willie Stargell won the 1979 World Series. The Phillies would take their first Fall Classic a year later.

This year, the Pirates (45-50) and Phillies (50-47) are both on the outside looking in at the National League Wildcard playoff race. The Phillies are just a half-game out, while the Bucs 4.5 back with a half-dozen clubs ahead of them.

Meeting for three games on what promises to be a steaming hot weather weekend in Pittsburgh, both teams are desperate to put as many games into the win column as possible.

Phillies series opposition preview: Pittsburgh Pirates



  1. Scott Kingery CF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  7. Maikel Franco 3B
  8. Adam Haseley LF
  9. Jake Arrieta P


  1. Adam Frazier 2B
  2. Bryan Reynolds RF
  3. Starling Marte CF
  4. Josh Bell 1B
  5. Colin Moran 3B
  6. Corey Dickerson LF
  7. Kevin Newman SS
  8. Elias Diaz C
  9. Jordan Lyles P


PHILLIES: Jake Arrieta (33/RH) – 8-7, 4.54 ERA, 122 hits over 113 IP across 19 starts with an 87/42 K:BB

PIRATES: Jordan Lyles (28/RH) – 5-6, 5.16 ERA, 74 hits over 75 IP across 15 starts with an 80/31 K:BB



  • Tomorrow the Pirates will celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the 1979 World Series team. In addition to the Pirates and Phillies wearing throwback uniforms on Saturday, members of the 1979 team will be honored during an on-field ceremony.
  • In their last nine games played at PNC Park, the Pirates are hitting .345 (114-for-330) with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 73 runs scored (8.1 per game average). Dating back to 5/23, the Bucs are batting .317 with 156 runs scored in their last 23 home games
  • Frazier has gone 20-for-33 (.606) with eight doubles, a home run and seven RBI in his last eight games at PNC Park. He went 18-for-30 (.600) with seven doubles and a home run during Pittsburgh’s last homestand from July 1-7 that led him to taking home National League Player-of-the-Week honors for the first time in his career.
  • Marte has homered four times since the All-Star break, which is tied with nine other players for the most in the Majors
  • Reynolds has gone 7-for-16 (.438) over his last four gamea and leads all Major League rookies in batting average (.340) and on-base percentage (.413)
  • Since the start of play on May 1, Newman ranks third among National League players with a .333 batting average, trailing only Arizona’s Ketel Marte (.344) and Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (.339). Newman enters tonight’s action with a five-game hitting streak (9-for-21, .429) and is hitting .441 (15-for-345) over his last eight contests.
  • Pirates reliever Richard Rodriguez enters today with a scoreless streak of 19.0 innings. It is the longest active scoreless
    streak in all of Major League Baseball and the longest scoreless streak by a Pirates pitcher this season.
  • The Pirates franchise has won five World Series (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 1979) and four more National League pennants (1901-03, 1927). They have captured seven division championships, and been an NL Wildcard team three times.




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