The Olympics are just around the corner, but the Pittsburgh Pirates might steal the spotlight deep into summer if they continue to play this well.
The Bucs improved to 10 games over .500 at 46-36 with Thursday’s 2-0 blanking of the Houston Astros. The win, which capped off a four-game sweep, was Pittsburgh’s eighth in its past nine games.
The Pirates have their best record through 82 games since 1992 and are in first place in the NL Central.
The Pirates’ surge can be linked to the team’s steady pitching combined with the recent upswing in timely hitting and overall improvement at the plate.
Since June 12, the Pirates have raised their team batting average 18 points from .225 to .243, tied for 24th in the majors. They were rated 29th of 30 teams June 12. Since that time, Pittsburgh’s batters also have cut down on the Ks, drawn more walks and beefed up their extra-base hit totals.
Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo continues to impress from the leadoff spot. In 48 games at the top of the lineup, Choo is batting .327 (64-of-196) with eight home runs, 20 RBIs and 42 runs. In that span, his batting average has climbed to .295 from .235.
Choo hit a solo home run to lead off Thursday in the Indians’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Indians Hall of Famer Larry Doby will be honored Friday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Doby breaking the AL’s color barrier.
Cleveland will have an on-field ceremony at Progressive Field and re-name a street in honor of Doby.
The team will display street signs on Larry Doby Way — formerly Eagle Ave. — which runs adjacent to Progressive Field. Get more details here.