Pittsburgh Pirates 5, Cincinnati Reds 1: Stars and Stiffs

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On Saturday night the Pittsburgh Pirates won their third consecutive series via a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Pittsburgh Pirates earned a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night at PNC Park. It was one of the best all around games played by the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, and here are the stars and stiffs from the game.

Three Stars

Pitcher Francisco Liriano – On Saturday night Francisco Liriano was flat out dominant for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Liriano pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run, on five hits, and all while striking out six batters. The most encouraging sign from Liriano was that he did not walk a single batter after averaging 7.17 BB/9 through his first four starts of the season. Liriano also only had three three ball counts all night long, again showing how much better his control was on Saturday night. Saturday night was easily Liriano’s best start since he threw six shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day. If Liriano can build off this start, the Pirate rotation will be in very good shape.

First Baseman John Jaso – John Jaso, aka god, went 1-3 with a walk on Saturday night. Jaso’s lone hit came on the very first pitch he saw on Saturday night, as he drove an Alfredo Simon fastball over the right-centerfield wall for his first home run as a Pittsburgh Pirate. After hitting a solo home run and drawing a walk in four plate appearances on Saturday night Jaso now has a .316/.389/.456/.845 slash line on the season as he continues his great work as a Pittsburgh Pirate.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli – Francisco Cervelli finished the game on Saturday night 2-4 with a walk and a RBI. Cervelli also played a very strong defensive game for the Pirates making multiple picks on pitches in the dirt to prevent Red runners from moving up. Last year Cervelli was one of the best players on the Pirates, and he is doing that once again here in 2016.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Two 2015 Draft Picks Dazzle

Three Stiffs

Outfielder Andrew McCutchen – The early season offensive struggles for Andrew McCutchen continued on Saturday night. Cutch went 0-4 with a walk at the plate, and this included grounding out to shortstop with two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning. Even though McCutchen struggled offensively on Saturday night, he still played a strong defensive game making a great diving catch on the warning track to rob Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart of a double and a RBI in the seventh inning. It is scary to thing how good this Pirate lineup will be once McCutchen starts to hit more consistently.

Outfielder Gregory Polanco – Gregory Polanco joined Andrew McCutchen as the lone Pirate to not collect a hit on Saturday night going 0-4 with a strikeout. That said, Polanco still has a very strong .302/.404/.500/.904 slash line a month into what has been a breakout season for him. Also, like McCutchen, Polanco also played strong defense on Saturday night highlighted by a sliding catch in the seventh inning. 

Second Baseman Josh Harrison – Even though Josh Harrison drove in a run via a sacrifice fly on Saturday night, he still makes the list due to uncharacteristically poor defensive play.  Harrison committed an error on a ground ball hit by Joey Votto in the first inning that cost Francisco Liriano a 1-2-3 first inning. The Reds also got another hit via a ground ball that hopped over Harrison’s glove. Harrison is usually very sure handed defensively, so it was strange to see him struggle in the field on Saturday.

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