Pittsburgh Pirates Shutout Cincinnati Reds For Second Victory Of 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 04: Jordan Lyles #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 4, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 04: Jordan Lyles #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 4, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

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On Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds kicked off a four-game series at PNC Park

For the second time in the first three series of the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves battling the Cincinnati Reds. After splitting a rain shortened two-game series in Cincy to start the season, the Pirates welcomes the Reds to PNC Park for the game one of a four-game series on Thursday night.

Thursday started on a poor not for the Pirates as the team placed left fielder Corey Dickerson on the 10-day injured list. However, the team’s play on the field would brighten up the day. After the bullpen blew a lead in the 8th inning or later while getting swept in a two-game series against the Cardinals, the Pirate ‘pen tossed 4 shutout innings on Thursday night in a 2-0 victory over the Reds. With the win, the Bucs improve to 2-3 on the season.

Right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles made his Pirate debut on Thursday night and exceeded the expectations of many fans. In 5 innings of work, he allowed just three hits, he walked three, one of which was intentional, and he struck out a pair. Lyles held the Reds scoreless in these 5 innings of work.

In only two innings did the Reds get a runner in scoring position. Tucker Barnhart doubled in the 3rd inning, but Lyles intentionally walked Jose Iglesias before striking out his mound counterpart Tommy Mahle to end the inning. In the top of the 4th, the Reds had two runners on base before Barnhart hit into a 5-6-3 double play.

Lyles had good late movement on his fastball and it sat in the 92-93 miles per hour range. For the most part, he was able to put it where he wanted to. The fastball was paired with a change up and a quality curveball.

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While Lyles pitched well, Mahle matched zeroes with him. In 6 innings pitched, the Reds righty held the Pirates scoreless while allowing five hits, walking none, and striking out five.

The Pirates were only able to get a pair of runners in scoring position against Mahle. Adam Frazier was stranded at second base after singling in the 3rd inning and stealing second base and a one-out double by Starling Marte in the 6th inning was wasted as well.

After Lyles finished his outing, Nick Kingham took over on the mound for the Pirates. The much maligned Kingham turned in 2 shutout innings of work for manager Clint Hurdle and the Pirates. Kingham allowed just a pair of singles, struck out a pair, and did not walk a batter in his 2 scoreless innings of work.

Facing David Hernandez the Pirates had their best scoring opportunity of the game in the bottom of the 7th inning.

With one out, Melky Cabrera picked up his third hit of the game before being lifted for pinch runner Pablo Reyes. JB Shuck then hit a bouncing ball single through the infield that allowed Reyes to scoot over to third base, giving the Bucs runners on the corners with just one out.

Kevin Newman then hit a slow roller to first base that was hit too softly to turn a double play or nail Reyes at the plate. While Newman was retired at first, Reyes raced home to cross the plate and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

With the Pirates leading 1-0 and the heart of the Reds lineup due up, Felipe Vazquez 100% should have been called upon to pitch the 8th inning for the Pirates. But with Hurdle being a manager that is married to the save stat, that was never going to happen. With Keone Kela unavailable, Hurdle tabbed Richard Rodriguez who had struggled in his first two outings of the season. Rodriguez looked like his 2018 self for the first time in 2019 pitching a scoreless inning while generating consistent swings-and-missed for the first time in three outings.

In the bottom of the 8th inning the Pirates would add to their lead.

A jam shot single to right field by Marte was followed by Francisco Cervelli hitting a bouncing ball through the infield allowing Marte to race to third base. With runners on the corners and one out, Josh Bell, who played an excellent defensive game and saved at least two throwing errors, collected the team’s lone hit in seven at bats with runners in scoring position to make the score 2-0 Pirates.

With the Bucs ahead 2-0, it was Vazquez time in the top of the 9th inning. After Vazquez retired the first batter of the inning, the poor Pirate defense reared its ugly head again.

Pinch hitter Matt Kemp struck out, but strike three was a wild pitch allowing Kemp to reach first base. Even though it was ruled a wild pitch, Cervelli did not do enough to block the pitch. New Pirate killer Jose Iglesias then hit a double to put runners on second and third with just one out.

The only reason Iglesias got a double instead of a single was due to Reyes badly misplaying the ball. This was the second game in a row that Reyes misplayed a ball hit to right field, giving up an extra base to the hitter in the process. Vazquez then took matters into his own hands striking out the next two batters to slam the door shut on the Reds.

On Thursday night, the team’s early season struggles with RISP continued. Pirate hitters were just 1-for-7 with RISP, but it was enough to get the job done. A big reason it was enough was due to the bullpen bouncing back from their disastrous series against the Cards.

Next. Pirate Mailbag: April 3rd, 2019. dark

The second game of this series is scheduled for 7:05 on Friday night. Joe Musgrove, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief against the Reds last Sunday, will make his first start of the season for the Pirates. The Reds will counter with Sonny Gray who allowed five hits and four walks while lasting just 2 2/3 innings against the Pirates last Sunday.