Pittsburgh Pirates Defeat Reds For Seventh Consecutive Victory

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 20: Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 20: Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

On Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates began their post-All Star Break play by beginning a three-game series at Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds

Final. 1. 61. 12. 4

After a rain delay that lasted exactly 3 hours, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds finally got underway on Friday night. The rain delay was not enough to cool off the red hot Pirates. Following a 12-1 victory on Friday night, the Bucs have now won seven games in a row.

This run by the Pirates has gotten the team back to .500 on the season at 49-49. They also continue to exercise their demons of recent years against the Reds by improving to 7-4 against the Red Legs this season.

Despite the victory, it was a bit of a rocky start for the Pirates. As in the top of the 2nd inning the Pirates had an excellent opportunity to get an early lead but failed to capitalize.

Elias Diaz and Colin Moran hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Cincinnati starting pitcher Tyler Mahle committed a one-out throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second base. Mahle’s error gave the Pirates runners on second and third with just one out.

In his return from the disabled list the much-maligned Sean Rodriguez would get snake bitten. He ripped a ball down the third base line and was robbed of a run-scoring hit by Eugenio Suarez which led to the Reds intentionally walked Jordy Mercer to load the bases with two outs for Jameson Taillon – *cough* #FreeTheDH *cough* *cough* – who would groundout to end the inning.

Later in the night, Rodriguez would more than make up for his tough luck in the 2nd inning.

In the bottom half of the inning it was Taillon’s turn to pitch out of a jam. The Reds got consecutive singles to start the inning and a weakly hit groundout to third gave them runners on second and third with one out. Taillon would then crackdown getting Phillip Ervin and Mahle to both bounce back to the mound, keeping the game scoreless through two innings of play.

Taillon got in another jam in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Albeit, this one was aided by Josh Bell failing to cover first base on a groundout. To Taillon’s credit, he struck out Scooter Gennett and got Suarez to fly out to right field to escape the jam unscathed.

Moran led off the top of the 4th inning with his second hit of the game, Bell walked, and the Bucs had two on with no one out. Rodriguez then hit a dribbler that snuck through the left side of the infield and died in the outfield allowing Moran to race home giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

After Mercer reached on a fielder’s choice, Taillon stepped to the plate looking to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Not only was Taillon successful in bunting Mercer to second base, he also scored Bell on the bunt.

This gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead heading to the bottom of the 4th inning.

Moran singled to start the top of the 6th inning, Bell drew his second walk of the game, and this was the start of the Pirates busting the game opening. After these two reached base Rodriguez crushed his 4th home run of the season 407-feet to left field. The three-run blast made the score 5-0 Pirates.

Foolishly, Reds’ manager Jim Riggleman left Mahle in the game after Rodriguez’s home run. This move would bite the Reds as two batters later Mahle allowed a solo home run to Corey Dickerson that made the score 6-0 Pirates.

After allowing the Dickerson home run Mahle was finally lifted by Riggleman. Mahle was roughed up by the Pirates to the tune of six runs on eight hits, three walks, and two home runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.

Cincinnati finally broke through against Taillon in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Gennett drew a walk to start the inning and came around to score on a one-out double by Jesse Winker. Winker’s double came on Taillon’s 100th pitch of the night, bringing his night to an end.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle called upon Richard Rodriguez to clean up the rest of the 6th inning. Rich Rod got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning with the Pirates leading 6-1. By stranding Winker, Rodriguez has now stranded 15 consecutive inherited batters.

In 5 1/3 innings pitched Taillon allowed a run on six hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Taillon had great stuff on Friday night and was done in by a high pitch count that can largely be blamed on a 20 pitch opening frame. He is continuing to evolve into a top of the rotation starter with each start.

Facing new Cincinnati pitcher Austin Brice, Gregory Polanco crushed a ball to center field that went in and out of the glove of Billy Hamilton. Graciously, Polanco was awarded a triple on the play and then scored on a base hit by Diaz that made the score 7-1 Pirates.

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Michael Feliz pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 7th inning for the Pirates, and then the Pirate offense got back to work. After singles by Rodriguez, Mercer, and Dickerson loaded the bases against new Reds’ pitcher Jackson Stephens, Marte crushed a Stephens’ pitch 421 feet.

This was Marte’s 14th home run of the season and second career grand slam. His other grand slam also came at Great American Ballpark against the Reds back in April of 2016. Marte’s blast made the score 11-1 Pirates.

Steven Brault pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning for the Pirates. Then in the top of the 9th, Rodriguez and Max Moroff drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. With two outs, Dickerson reached on an error that scored Rodriguez to extend the Pirate lead to 12-1.

Brault took the mound again in the bottom of the 9th inning. After tossing a scoreless bottom of the 9th inning, Brault finished off the 12-1 Pirate victory.

An argument can be made that the Pirates are currently playing the best baseball that they have all season. The Bucs are currently the hottest team in baseball, have won seven in a row for the first time since late June/early July 2016, and are making a strong push to get back into the National League Wild Card race before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

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Game two of this series is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Nick Kingham (4.26 ERA, 4.59 FIP) will get the start for the Pirates as he looks to build off of consecutive strong starts prior to the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the Reds plan to counter with struggling righty Anthony DeSclafani (5.32 ERA, 6.05 FIP). The Bucs will be looking to win eight consecutive games for the first time since the 98 win 2015 team accomplished the feat.