The Pittsburgh Pirates earned a hell of a win on Wednesday night
After cruising through the first 7 innings of the game, the Pittsburgh Pirates appeared to be on their way to an easy victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. However, an 8th inning implosion made things murky and brought on extra innings.
Despite continuing to leave too many men on base – the Bucs stranded 16 base runners on Wednesday night – the Pirates were able to pick up a hard fought 5-4 victory over the Reds in 12 innings. With the win, the Pirates are now 27-21 on the season and 11-3 against the National League Central Division.
Just as they did on Tuesday night, the Pirates were able to get runners on base in the top of the 1st inning. Unlike Tuesday night though, the Bucs were able to capitalize. Facing long time foe Homer Bailey the Pirate offense was able to jump on Bailey early and often on Wednesday night.
As he did on Tuesday Gregory Polanco reached base with one out. Polanco’s walk was followed by a 2-run home run from Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli’s 7th home run of the season – which already ties his previous career high – gave the Bucs an early 2-0 lead.
After wasting some scoring opportunities, the Pirates struck again in the top of the 5th inning when Corey Dickerson delivered a run-scoring hit with two outs. Dickerson’s hit scored Josh Harrison and made the score 3-0 Pirates.
The Pirates would chase Bailey from the game in the top of the 6th inning.
Austin Meadows reached on an infield hit to start the inning and this was followed by a broken bat bloop hit for Jordy Mercer. Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl then stepped to the plate looking to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Kuhl got the bunt down and Cincinnati third baseman Eugenio Suarez over ran the ball. This not only allowed Kuhl to reach on a bunt single, but also scored Meadows.
With the Pirates now leading 4-0, Bailey was lifted for Tanner Rainey who inherited a pair of base runners with no one out. Rainey would promptly walk Harrison and the Pirates looked primed to bust the game wide open.
Unfortunately, as they have done a lot of lately, the Bucs would proceed to waste this opportunity. Rainey would get back-to-back strikeouts of Polanco and Cervelli before getting Josh Bell to bounce back to the mound to end the inning.
Bailey wound up allowing 4 runs in 5+ innings pitched on Wednesday night. He and the Reds were luckily that he surrendered just 4 runs though, as he allowed 10 hits, walked 3, and struck out just 3 in his 5+ innings of work.
Despite leading 4-0 entering the bottom of the 6th inning, the Pirates had yet again left too many men on base and wasted other scoring opportunities. As it did over the weekend against the Padres and on Tuesday night against the Reds, this would come back to bite the Pirates.
Chad Kuhl made the start on Wednesday night for the Bucse. Kuhl has been a maddeningly inconsistent pitcher throughout his Major League career and that was on display again on Wednesday night.
After struggling in his last outing, Kuhl was electric on Wednesday night. Entering the bottom of the 6th inning Kuhl had kept the Reds off the scoreboard, he had allowed just a trio of base runners, and no Cincinnati base runner had reached scoring position.
With two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning Scooter Gennett hit a solo home run to right field off of Kuhl. However, this was a home run that at most ballparks would have been a routine out. But nothing is routine at Great American Smallpark in Cincinnati.
After allowing a single to Scott Schebler to start the bottom of the 7th inning, Kuhl’s night came to an end. Edgar Santana replaced Kuhl and retired each batter he faced, including striking out Billy Hamilton, to clean up the 7th inning.
Wednesday night was one of Kuhl’s best starts of the season. Pitching into the 7th inning he allowed just the Gennett solo home run, 5 base runners, and he struck out 6.
Michael Feliz took over in the bottom of the 8th inning and immediately ran into trouble that was nothing short of bad luck. Jesse Winker hit a ground ball just out of the reach of Harrison for a base hit to start the inning and then Tucker Barnhart ripped a ball off of Feliz that went for a single.
This bad luck would be the beginning of an 8th inning implosion for the Pirates.
After getting Votto to fly out, Feliz walked Gennett to load the bases with just one out. After allowing a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 4-2, Feliz was lifted for Felipe Vazquez with the left-handed hitting Schebler on deck.
Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman would elect to go with pinch hitter Alex Blandino over Schebler. Vazquez would jam Blandino, but he blooped the ball into shallow left field to score Barnhart and cut the lead to 4-3. Jose Peraza then lined a single into center field that scored Gennett, tying the game at 4.
Vazquez then got a strikeout to end the inning.
After ex-Pirate Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless top of the 9th inning, Vazquez threw one of his own in the bottom half of the inning sending the Bucs and Red Legs into extra innings.
Michael Lorenzen returned from injury to make his 2018 debut in the top of the 10th inning. With two outs, he walked Sean Rodriguez and allowed a bloop single to Harrison. He then got pinch hitter David Freese to ground out to end the inning. Freese’s ground out ran the team’s left of base total for the night to 13.
After pitching a scoreless bottom of the 10th inning, Steven Brault got into some hot water in the bottom of the 11th. He issued a leadoff walk to Peraza and hit Winker with two outs. However, thanks to a runner’s interference call, on a play Cervelli deserves a lot of credit for, and strikeout Brault posted another zero to send the game to the 12th inning.
Meadows continued to impress by doubling to start the top of the 12th inning. Mercer would then hit a ball back to Cincinnati pitcher Dylan Floro, leading to Meadows being thrown out on the bases. With two outs, Harrison hit a line drive triple to the right field corner. While there was a play at the plate, Mercer had a good slide and made a great play to tag home plate with his hand giving the Bucs a 5-4 lead.
With the Pirates back in front Clint Hurdle turned to Kyle Crick in the bottom of the 12th inning. The Reds three best hitters were due up in the bottom of the 12th inning, so Crick had his work cut out for him.
To start the inning, Votto doubled down the left field line. Gennett then singled to put runners on the corners with no one out. At this point it seemed like the Pirates would be lucky to get the game to 13 innings. However, Crick and the Pirates had other ideas.
Crick got Suarez to fly out to left field and the Reds and Votto decided to not test Dickerson’s arm. The Reds were out of position players on the bench forcing Floro to bat and Crick struck him out for the second out of the inning. Crick then got a ground out to end the inning, sealing the 504 Pirate victory.
Wednesday night’s victory was one of the most satisfying ones of the season for the Pirates. The team never quit fighting despite appearing to allow the game to slip away in the 8th inning and being in a few bad spots in extra innings. But in the end the Pirates do what good teams do and found a way to win.
Now, the Bucs can go for a series victory on Wednesday afternoon.
The final game of this series will be played at Great American Ballpark on Thursday afternoon. Ivan Nova is scheduled to start for the Pirates while the Reds plan to send Luis Castillo to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 p.m.