Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Cincinnati Reds 1: Stars And Stiffs

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates won their fifth straight game by defeating the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 4-1 on Friday night.

On Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates started their six game homestand off on a great foot by defeating the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 4-1. The Pirates have now won five games in a row, and seven of eight, and now find themselves a season best five games over .500 at 14-9. Here are last night’s three stars and three stiffs from the Pirate victory.

Three Stars

Pitcher Juan Nicasio – This is an obvious one, right? Juan Nicasio was brilliant Friday night pitching seven innings of three hit shut out ball. Nicasio also allowed just one walk, while striking out eight Reds. After  his stellar outing last night Nicasio has lowed his ERA on the season to 3.33 and he is starting to settle in as one of the most reliable Pirate starters. Nicasio also had a solid 1.25 FIP and 2.12 xFIP to support his strong start on Friday night. Tonight Nicasio looked a lot like the pitcher Pirate fans watched blow people away in Spring Training, and if he can continue to pitch half this well he’ll be a huge shot in the arm for the Pirate rotation.

Second Baseman Josh Harrison – Pirate second baseman Josh Harrison went one-for-three with his first home run of the season in the Pirate victory. With the Bucs leading 1-0 in the fourth inning, Harrison hit a Dan Straily pitch over the Clemente Wall to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead, and those two runs would prove to be enough. Harrison also played dazzling defense, yet again, at second base.

It was highlight by a fantastic diving stop by Harrison on a ball hit by Jay Bruce in the fourth inning. Harrison ranged far to his right, made a diving stop, and while laying on the ground threw the ball to Jordy Mercer to retire the lead runner. If not for this play the Reds would have had runners on the corners with just one out and trailing by just one, but Josh Harrison’s always stellar defense prevented this.

Outfielder Matt Joyce – Pirate fourth outfielder Matt Joyce had just one at bat on Friday night, but it was a huge one. Joyce came to the plate in the seventh inning with Jordy Mercer on first base with two outs, and he drove a J.J. Hoover fastball over the left field wall for a pinch hit two run home run to extend the Pirate lead to 4-0. This was Joyce’s second pinch hit home run of the season, third overall, and proved to be the nail in the Cincinnati Red coffin on Friday night.

Next: Pirates Look To Stay 'Red' Hot vs Cincinnati

Three Stiffs

Outfielder Andrew McCutchen – After having a great series in Colorado against the Rockies, Andrew McCutchen did not have the best of games on Friday night. At the plate McCutchen went 0-4 with a pair of strike outs, and he also had a very poor defensive play that led to the lone Cincinnati run. With two outs in the ninth inning and Brandon Phillips on first base Red catcher Tucker Barnhart drove a ball to centerfield that should have been caught for the game’s final out. However, Cutch gravely miss played the ball and it clanked off his glove for a RBI double that led to the lone Cincinnati run of the game.

Pitcher Arquimedes Caminero – In the ninth inning with the Pirates leading 4-0 manager Clint Hurdle handed the ball over to right-handed reliever Arquimedes Caminero. Even though it was not totally his fault, he got burnt by some bad defense from Andrew McCutchen, Caminero failed to close the game out and caused Hurdle to go to closer Mark Melancon.

Caminero pitched two-third of an inning allowed two hits, a run, and zero strike outs. On the season Caminero’s ERA is now 5.40, and he continues to struggle with his control. I still believe it is very possible that Caminero gets designated for assignment, or put on the disabled list with some sort of ‘injury’, when Jared Hughes and Jung-Ho Kang return.

Actually, there were only two stiffs for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. Friday night was one of the best all-around games the Pirates have played through the season’s first month, and I feel like I am stretching it a bit by even including Caminero in that category. Time to win the series on Saturday.