Giants’ Blake Snell to return from IL to face Pirates

The San Francisco Giants hope better days are ahead for starting pitcher Blake Snell, whose first two months with the team have been marked by injury and a trio of underwhelming performances.

The two-time Cy Young award winner will look for a restart on Wednesday evening when he takes the mound against the host Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh opened the three-game series with a 7-6 victory in 10 innings on Tuesday. The Pirates rallied to tie the game with four runs in the ninth inning before winning on Nick Gonzales’ run-scoring single in the 10th.

Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 in extra-inning games, while Giants closer Camilo Doval suffered his first blown save in nine opportunities.

“You bring (Doval) in with the score 6-2 and you feel pretty good about your chances,” San Francisco manager Bob Melvin said. “They got some hits off him, and that rarely happens.”

The left-handed Snell (0-3, 11.57 ERA) is expected to be activated from the injured list before Wednesday’s game. He has been out since April 19 due to a left adductor strain.

Snell struggled in three outings with the Giants prior to his injury, but he was impressive in two rehab starts last week. He tossed nine hitless innings with 17 strikeouts in outings for Single-A San Jose and Triple-A Sacramento.

“He came into (the season) really excited. It didn’t go as he planned,” Giants pitcher Logan Webb said. “I think he’s more (ticked) off about it than anybody. You can see with him coming back, the way he’s throwing in the minor leagues, he’s ready to go. I’m excited for it. He’s excited for it.”

Snell is 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh, including 0-2 with an 8.49 mark in three outings at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh will counter Wednesday with right-hander Jared Jones (3-4, 2.89 ERA), who has pitched at least five innings and allowed three runs or less in each of his first nine career starts.

The 22-year-old Jones impressed Pirates catcher Yasmani Grandal after yielding three runs and striking out seven over six innings in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs last Thursday.

“His slider, when it’s going, it bottoms out,” Grandal said. “It kind of looks like a fastball. It’s pretty hard to hit. When it stays up, it kind of acts like a cutter. It’s pick your poison to see which one you want to hit.”

Jones will make his second start against San Francisco this season after allowing three runs over five innings in a 3-2 loss on April 28.

The Pirates’ offense could receive a boost from utilityman Ji Hwan Bae, who started in center field Tuesday after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day.

Bae was leading the International League in hitting with a .367 average and had four home runs and 15 RBIs while stealing seven bases in 27 games with Triple-A Indianapolis.

“There’s been adjustments made to the setup, load, things that we talked about in spring training but just weren’t able to do because he didn’t play very much,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Then he went down to Triple-A, I mean, he’s leading the International League in hitting, and proving that he deserved an opportunity to be up here.”

–Field Level Media