The Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers are set to play baseball Friday at Miller Park, but that doesn't mean they are overlooking the civil unrest and Black Lives Matter protests that have spread across the country.
The latest incident to raise voices about social injustice occurred when Wisconsin man Jacob Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back by police in Kenosha last Sunday and reportedly left paralyzed from the waist down. Several sports teams and leagues have postponed games this week.
The Brewers, in the same state as the unrest in Kenosha, are back on the field after postponing their home game Wednesday against Cincinnati as a show of solidarity. Those teams played a doubleheader Thursday, with the Brewers getting swept.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said the Brewers are taking their lead in social matters from reliever Devin Williams, the only Black player on the club.
"Devin has been a voice," Counsell said. "Maybe not publicly, but I know for me he's been a very important voice. THE most important voice."
Pittsburgh, which played a day game Wednesday before other sporting events were postponed, has not missed any games because of the unrest, but the team is remaining aware.
"The dialog is ongoing," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "It has always been ongoing. We talk about events that happen. The one thing that our group and the Pirates organization wants to make sure we do is continue to learn and to grow and be very thoughtful about what's going on in the world."
For the Pirates, the opener of this four-game series is their fourth game in three days in three cities against a third opponent. They lost to the White Sox in Chicago Wednesday, swept a makeup doubleheader Thursday in St. Louis and now will be in Milwaukee.
Pittsburgh might not be the most welcome club for the Brewers, who last weekend got swept by the Pirates by a combined 24-11 in the final three games of a road trip.
The Pirates had won just four games before that sweep, and coming out of that series had four of their seven wins against Milwaukee. Since that series, they lost twice to the White Sox in Chicago before the two games in St. Louis.
In the opener Friday, Pittsburgh left-hander Derek Holland (1-1, 6.17 ERA) is scheduled to face right-hander Corbin Burnes (0-0, 3.42 ERA). Both starters last pitched in the teams' series last weekend.
Holland was the winner Saturday when he gave up one run and four hits in five innings, with three walks and five strikeouts. Overall, he is 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 13 career appearances against Milwaukee, four of them starts.
Burnes was the starter Sunday in Pittsburgh. He got a no-decision, allowing three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
"Early on, I just didn't have my best stuff going," Burnes said. "Made a few too many mistakes early in the count and they capitalized. ... Just left a few too many pitches in the middle of the zone they got to. After those first two, I kind of settled in there and threw the ball all right."
In his career against the Pirates, Burnes is 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 13 appearances, with last weekend being his only start against Pittsburgh.
--Field Level Media