Posted June 18, 2012 on AP on Fox
Pedro Alvarez has been a very streaky hitter. The Pittsburgh Pirates hope his latest outburst can continue for a while. He'll look to stay hot Tuesday night as Pittsburgh opens a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins. Alvarez is coming off a big weekend, homering twice in back-to-back wins over Cleveland. After driving in three runs Saturday, Alvarez had a career-high six RBIs in a 9-5 victory Sunday with three-run homers in the fourth and fifth innings. The third baseman went 5 for 8 in those two games after his average had dipped to .189 following a hitless series opener. "He's worked hard to get to a better place," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He had a very good day at the plate." However, it's not the first time Alvarez has seemed poised to turn things around. After opening the season in a 2-for-30 slump, he batted .395 with five homers and 13 RBIs over the next 12 games. He would hit .106 without a homer in his next 15. Alvarez also had consecutive two-homer games in July 2010 during his rookie season but followed with a 4-for-39 slump without a home run. Despite his inconsistency this year, Alvarez leads Pittsburgh with 12 homers and is second behind Andrew McCutchen with 34 RBIs. If Alvarez can be a more reliable hitter alongside McCutchen, it could help the Pirates contend for a playoff spot after they faded in the second half of 2011. "We believe it's more sustainable (this year)," Hurdle told the team's official website. "But our actions will speak louder than our words. Four months from now, it will be a much more meaningful conversation." The Pirates (34-31) will go for a season-high fifth straight home win when they face the Twins, who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-4, 15-inning win over Milwaukee on Sunday. Trevor Plouffe went 2 for 5 but didn't homer for a second straight game after going deep in each of the previous four. Plouffe is hitting .371 with 10 homers over the last 16 games. Minnesota (26-39) could be without Joe Mauer after he left Sunday with a bruised right quadriceps. Mauer is hitting .406 with nine RBIs in his last nine games. The Twins will hand the ball to Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13 ERA). The rookie left-hander allowed four runs on a pair of homers in six innings of a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday. He hadn't allowed an earned run over his previous two starts, which had lowered his ERA to 1.61. Diamond, making his first appearance against the Pirates, is aware of his role to help ease the pressure on a bullpen which pitched 32 innings in six games last week. Minnesota's relievers threw nine scoreless innings Sunday. "Our bullpen has been worked a little big lately," he told the Twins' official website. "I'm trying to go as deep into ballgames as much as I can myself." He'll be opposed by Kevin Correia (2-6, 4.43), who is 0-6 with a 7.82 ERA in his last nine games at PNC Park. Three of his four starts there this season have been quality outings, but he's winless there since beating Baltimore on June 22, 2011. The right-hander struggled against the Orioles on Wednesday, giving up five runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss. Pittsburgh has lost five of six against Minnesota, last facing the Twins in 2009.

Pirates' Alvarez ends slump with homer binge

Pedro Alvarez had been in yet another offensive free fall for the Pittsburgh Pirates, this one a 4-for-42 slump that dropped his average to .197 and raised anew questions as to whether he should be in the majors. And then, boom, boom, boom, boom, Alvarez reminded all concerned why he remains perhaps Major League Baseball's most confounding player. He homered twice Saturday...

Twins will try to humble the upstart Pirates

Pedro Alvarez has been a very streaky hitter. The Pittsburgh Pirates hope his latest outburst can continue for a while. He'll look to stay hot Tuesday night as Pittsburgh opens a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins. Alvarez is coming off a big weekend, homering twice in back-to-back wins over Cleveland. Despite his inconsistency this year, Alvarez leads Pittsburgh...

Pedro's big weekend

At the high point of his ridiculous tear earlier in 2012 (May 3rd, through his first 21 games), Pedro Alvarez was hitting .257/.297/.614. That's some prodigious power coupled with a terrible on-base percentage, but given Alvarez's struggles last year, pretty much all Pirate fans were willing to accept that as progress. Alvarez responded with a brutal stretch after that, hitting...

Pedro Alvarez homers twice (again) in 9-5 win over Tribe

Final: Pirates 9, Indians 5 WP: Tony Watson (4-0, 3.74 ERA) LP: Jeanmar Gomez (4-6, 4.95 ERA) Starter Brad Lincoln didn’t have his best stuff, yet again, as he gave up four runs over just 3 1/3 innings. Thankfully, Asdrubal Cabrera made not one, not two, but three errors that led to the Pirates scoring way more than the four unearned runs in the box score. Down 2-0 in the 4th inning...

Errors costly as Pirates get pounded by Pirates

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Pedro Alvarez drove in a career-high six runs with his second two-homer game in two days, powering the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Cleveland Indians 9-5 Sunday. Alvarez hit three-run homers in the fourth and fifth innings for his fourth career multihomer game. He also doubled, for his first game of three extra-base hits. Tony Watson (4-0), the second of five Pirates...

Game 65: Pirates 9 Indians 5

Every Major League player starts out as a dream. This sounds overly sentimental, but it's the truth; scouts watch amateur players and they try to project what those players will look like as big leaguers. They sell the general managers on those dreams and that's how GMs build their drafts. Each fan looks at the prospects and projects his or her own dream on top of the prospect...

An opportunity presents itself

There's no denying that even after Pedro Alvarez's explosion in Cleveland over the weekend, that the Pirates had a rough week. They lost four of six games and they lost Charlie Morton for the season. Still, they came through it with a 34-31 record and now they get to return to the friendly confines of PNC Park, and on top of it all, the Twins are waiting for them. The Twins...

Toro time

For the second straight day, the Bucs broke out for a 9-run offensive explosion in Cleveland, carrying them to a rare road interleague series win. The star was Pedro Alvarez, who homered twice for the second straight day. It’s amazing how good he looks at the plate when he’s hot, and after this weekend I’m pretty sure we can officially declare him hot. Both homers were lasers...

Pittsburgh Pirates' Time Will Come, But Numbers Indicate Regression Coming This Year

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been the toast of baseball lately, finding themselves with a winning record at 34-31 a whole 65 games into the season. For a franchise which hasn't had a winning season since 1992, this is not insignificant. For a franchise which has had so much trouble evaluating and developing young talent, and made some incredibly mind-bloggling trades (hello, Matt...

Box Score: Pirates 9, Indians 5

This one was rough. Jason Kipnis hit another home run, Sin-Shoo Choo had a two-run double, but the Jenmar Gomez couldn’t keep the Pirates in the yard (not that the Indians’ defense helped them out). The the Tribe trailing 5-4, Asdrubal Cabrera’s fifth inning fielding/throwing error gave the Pirates two runs and extended the inning for Pirates’ 3B Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez proceeded...

Pirates 9, Indians 2

A.J. Burnett became the first Pittsburgh pitcher since 1990 to win six straight starts and Pedro Alvarez homered twice as the Pirates beat the Cleveland Indians 9-2 Saturday. Burnett (7-2) gave up two runs over 6 2-3 innings. He extended the best stretch by a Pirates pitcher since Doug Drabek won six in a row during his NL Cy Young Award-winning season. Casey McGehee homered and...
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