The Pittsburgh Pirates have proven so far that this season that they are more than capable of winning within their division.
But as they prepare for a brief interleague two-game series against the Chicago White Sox beginning Tuesday, the Pirates have also shown that they have what it takes to win, period.
Pittsburgh has registered 19 victories this season and has notched series victories over each of their National League Central Division neighbors, including taking two out of three games over the weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In doing so, they've outscored their opponents 93-47 while also relying on a stable of starting pitching to remain in the thick of the division race. The Pirates have done so after getting rid of popular mainstays like Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole in the offseason.
"There are no rules on how to win," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said over the weekend, according to the team's official website. "A lot of people devise different ways on how to win -- whether it be developing your own talent, whether it be the free-agent market, whether it be payroll and salary ... a lot of different things work. But good baseball works as well."
Now, Hurdle and his team will attempt to carry over their success in their division against the struggling White Sox.
Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.01 ERA) will begin the brief series for the Pirates and will attempt to bounce back from a rough outing in his last start. Nova allowed eight runs (five earned) in just 4 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals. Nova surrendered a pair of home runs and struck out five in the loss. Nova is 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox.
The Pirates are also expected to recall outfielder/infielder Jose Osuna in time for Tuesday's game. Osuna has spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was named the International League's player of the month in April after hitting .361 with 16 RBIs. To make room, the Pirates have optioned right-handed pitcher Nick Kingham to Triple-A.
The White Sox have lost three straight games and seven of their past eight entering Tuesday's game. Chicago's latest setback -- a 5-3 loss on Sunday to the Minnesota Twins -- came after starter James Shields took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Twins bounced back and scored five runs to complete the weekend sweep.
"It was a good effort, but we came up short," Shields told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune. "...We didn't get the job done."
Lucas Giolito (1-4, 7.03) will take the mound for the White Sox and has struggled throughout the season. Giolito struck out seven in his last outing against the St. Louis Cardinals when he allowed three runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Giolito has shown marked improvement in his previous two starts after allowing nine runs on April 21 against the Houston Astros. Giolito will make his first career start against the Pirates on Tuesday.
"I just have to do a better job of staying within myself and continuing to have conviction behind every single pitch and execute," Giolito told the Chicago Tribune after his last start.
The White Sox are 0-2 in interleague play this season.