Giants-Pirates Preview

Gerrit Cole

The Pirates open a three-game series with San Francisco on Tuesday night at PNC Park. Rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole makes his major league debut for the Bucs. The Giants will counter with right-hander Tim Lincecum.

Gerrit Cole's new teammates caught a glimpse of his potential during spring training and came away impressed.

They'll likely think even more highly of him if the former No. 1 overall pick shines consistently at the major league level.

Cole makes his much-anticipated debut Tuesday night as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game series.

Pittsburgh has believed the 22-year-old right-hander is the team's future ace since drafting him out of UCLA in 2011, and his performance during camp sure didn't quell those notions.

Catcher Russell Martin is ready to see what Cole can do at the major league level after he went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA this season in 12 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis.

"I caught him a couple of times in spring training, and I like his makeup and his attitude," Martin told the team's official website. "In my opinion, he's going to be a good pitcher for a long time, so this will be start No. 1 of a hopefully long and prosperous career."

The Pirates (37-26), who haven't finished .500 since winning their last division title in 1992, are hoping Cole can add another strong arm to their pitching staff. Pittsburgh already ranks third in the majors with a 3.24 ERA.

"We're trying to win, and we figure everyone here is to help us do that," outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. "We know what Gerrit Cole is capable of doing, we saw it throughout spring training."

Cole's first test will be against defending World Series champion San Francisco, which is starting to heat up offensively.

The Giants (33-29) averaged 2.3 runs while dropping seven of 10 before beating Arizona 10-5 on Saturday and 6-2 on Sunday.

"We're a better offensive team than what we've been doing the last couple of weeks,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "Every team goes through it. We went through a tough stretch here. It's good to see the bats come to life.''

Marco Scutaro homered in the finale and went 6 for 12 in the series.

"We played good defense with good pitching and we scored some runs,'' Scutaro said. "Hopefully we can keep doing that for the next series.''

The Pirates have had some offensive woes of their own, scoring two runs or fewer eight times over their last 12 contests after falling 4-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

They'll try to bounce back against Tim Lincecum, who has been prone to giving up plenty of runs.

Lincecum (4-5, 4.75 ERA) had lost three straight starts while posting an 8.27 ERA, but he's coming off possibly his best outing of the season. He allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of last Tuesday's 2-1 win over Toronto.

"That is more the Timmy that we know,'' Bochy said.

The right-hander has mixed in a few other solid starts this season, but he's given up at least four runs in seven of his 12 outings.

"I've said it before, I'm not jumping up and down right now (after last week's start)," Lincecum said. "Tomorrow's another day for work.''

Lincecum didn't fare very well the last time he faced Pittsburgh on July 8 at PNC Park, giving up six runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-2 loss.

The Giants lost three of the final four meetings of 2012 with the Pirates, scoring two runs or fewer in each defeat.

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