Small ball was on full display last night in Cincinnati. The Reds defeated the Pirates 2-1 and the magic number to clinch the NL Central now sits at eight.
The Pirates had no answer for Homer Bailey who went seven innings, struckout four, and gave up just six hits and the one Bucco run. While the Reds produced both of their runs off A.J. Burnett by productive outs, the Bucs didn’t have such luck.
The Reds are now thirty games over .500 while the Pirates are now two games over .500 with twenty games to go. Pedro Alvarez is a mystery and ElToro missed the game after showing up at the ballpark and telling Clint Hurdle he had discomfort in his wrist.
The Reds had to go to a makeshift bullpen and Pirates killer Sam LeCure was up to the task. LeCure has been a pitcher the Bucs just don’t have an answer for and after his flawless eighth inning, Pittsburgh’s own J.J. Hoover whiffed Jose Tabata to grab his first Major League save..
Reds killer A.J. Burnett gave up five hits and two runs while striking out eight and walking two Redlegs.
The Bucs version of smallball didn’t include much trickery as Nick Leyva was busy whispering to Alex Presley that a squeeze play was on, apparently even Dusty Baker figured it out. Clint Barmes was at the plate, and Presley standing at third after his triple. The Reds saw it coming and had a modified pitch out on that Barmes was unable to put in play. Presley was a dead duck, although the Reds catcher did bobble the modified pitchout to get Presley at the plate.
Bailey fell when he threw the pitch out too. Now that makes you feel a lot better huh?
Funny SSS trivia tonight: Barmes had two hits in four at-bats this year with a runner on third base. #AlwaysSmooth also has driven in three runs in those situations.
In a case of perfect poetic justice, the Reds Ryan Ludwick had a leadoff double in the sixth. Ludwick tagged and went to third when Jay Bruce flied out. Ludwick scored when Scott Rolen didn’t bunt, just hit a sacrifice fly to Presley in left field.
The Reds first run was a heart ripper. Ryan Hanigan ripped a single to center, and got into scoring position on a Brandon Phillips bouncer past Burnett and a diving Brock Holt into center. Both runners moved up when Burnett uncorked a wild pitch. Hanigan would score when Wilson Valdez hit a chopper to Holt at second. Two runs was enough the Big Red Machine was rolling.
The Pirates struggled with their power numbers a bit lately, and it showed when they got singles from Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez in the fourth inning. But the Bucs left em drunk when A.J. Burnett struck out to end the inning.
Neil Walker has now been out 15 straight games.
Gaby Sanchez missed a three-run bomb before he drove in McCutchen in the fourth inning.