Before being slowed down by Francisco Liriano on Wednesday, Pittsburgh scored 25 runs in its previous three games. The improved production hasn't surprised manager Clint Hurdle.
"I've stayed firm in my beliefs, and my optimism," Hurdle said. "We've had to deal with some challenges along the way. We've had to reset some mindsets, and continue to work on the things you need to work on to become a better offensive club. It doesn't surprise me by any means."
The Bucs have also tallied 10 or more hits in five of their last eight games. They're 16-2 this season when registering double-digit hits.
"Where we'll rank, we'll find out at the end of the season," Hurdle said. "Again, you're taking a snapshot. We've had a very good June, so cosmetically it's picking the numbers up. And I do think the numbers are going to continue to pick up. Guys are finding their rhythm, they're finding their comfort zones."
Hendriks will try to disrupt those comfort zones, though he's struggled to find his own zone in five big league starts this year. He went 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts at the beginning of the season before being sent back to Triple-A.
The 23-year-old went 5-0 in seven starts for Rochester before making his return on Saturday against Milwaukee. But he sputtered again, allowing three home runs over five innings.
More first-pitch strikes could be the key to a better outing. Hendriks went ahead on the first pitch against only 10 of the 25 Brewers batters he faced.
"I come away frustrated knowing I was doing so well at Rochester, and I come up here and get another chance and don't put forward my best foot," Hendriks said afterward. "I was glad with the last few innings and how I finished. But it's just one of those things where there are some things I still need to work on."
Twins: Capps could be back Thursday
Minnesota closer and former Pirate Matt Capps will likely be available Thursday or Friday. Suffering from right shoulder inflammation, Capps threw a bullpen session prior to Wednesday's game. He hasn't pitched since facing Milwaukee on June 15.
"He went out and threw some in the 'pen and felt a lot better," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So probably give him another day. That's our preference. It could change as we go along."
Infielder Jamey Carroll is hitting .388 (19-for-49) over his last 13 games with 12 runs scored. His next run scored will be the 500th of his career.
Pirates: McDonald goes for win No. 6
Pittsburgh will send one of its most reliable options to the mound in James McDonald to oppose Hendriks. The right-hander has been particularly stingy of late, posting a 1.87 ERA in his last four starts (24 innings). Still, McDonald sits at just 5-3 on the season, with the Bucs being shut out in all three losses, including his last start. McDonald allowed only one run on three hits in six innings against Cleveland on June 15, but the Pirates lost, 2-0.
"It happens," McDonald said. "They're playing hard behind me, and that's all I can ask. Sometimes I'll give up six runs and get a win."
Gerrit Cole, last year's No. 1 overall pick, claimed a victory in his first Double-A start on Wednesday. The left-hander limited New Britain to two runs on five hits in five innings.
Minnesota's win on Wednesday was only the fourth victory by an American League team against the Pirates at PNC Park in their last 14 tries.
Pittsburgh's loss was its second of the season in games started by opposing left-handers at PNC Park. The Pirates are 9-2 at home against lefties.