Joe Musgrove Dominates As Pittsburgh Pirates Defeat The Reds 2-0

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05: Josh Bell #55 celebrates with JB Shuck #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after scoring during the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05: Josh Bell #55 celebrates with JB Shuck #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after scoring during the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates played game two of their four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at PNC Park

Friday afternoon started with more bad news for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to Friday’s first pitch, the team placed reliever Kyle Crick on the injured list. This put 20% of the team’s projected Opening Day 25-man roster on the injured list.

Everything that happened after Friday’s first pitch, however, turned the day around for the Pirates and their fans. Following the victory, the Pirates got back to .500 on the early season at 3-3.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle made the decision to start Colin Moran in left field on Friday night. In his professional career, Moran had just three games in left field with all three coming in 2017 at the AAA level. Combine this with PNC Park’s left field being the toughest in baseball and Moran being, well, slow, starting him in left field was a ridiculous decision.

It did not take long for Moran to begin to stick out like a sore thumb in left field. With one out in the top of the 1st inning Joey Votto hit a ball that should have been caught by Starling Marte for an out. However, Marte was shaded toward left field to help out Moran. This led to Marte being unable to get to the ball and it going for a double.

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To his credit, Pirate starter Joe Musgrove was able to work around the one-out double to post a zero.

Eugenio Suarez led off the top of the 2nd inning with a double of his own. His double came due to Moran poorly miss playing a ball in left field. On top of taking a looping slow route to the ball, he took too long getting the ball back into the infield. All of this allowed Suarez to get to second base.

Again, to Musgrove’s credit, he put a foot down. He got a fly out and two strikeouts to clean up the mess. Keeping the game scoreless.

Pitching out of these two mini jams would prove to be a sign of things to come from Musgrove.

In his first start of the season Musgrove was excellent. Using primarily a slider/change up combo, Musgrove stifled the Reds over the course of 7 shutout innings of work. Big Joe issued just one walk, he struck out eight Cincinnati batters, and he held them to just three base hits.

PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 05: Joe Musgrove #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 05: Joe Musgrove #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

During the 2018 season Musgrove threw a higher percentage of his pitches for strikes than any other starting pitcher in the National League. Friday night he picked up where he left off firing 17 of 24 first pitch strikes, while throwing 63 of his 88 pitches (72%) for strikes.

Opposing Musgrove was righty Sonny Gray. In Gray’s first start as a Red he allowed four runs and nine base runners in 2 2/3 innings pitched against the Pirates last Sunday. On Friday night, however, Gray was much better.

Unlike his previous start against the Pirates in which control was an issue, Gray was hitting his spots and painting corners. Entering the bottom of the 7th inning Gray had allowed just one base runner and retired 16 consecutive batters.

But in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Pirates would finally breakthrough against Gray.

Leading off the  inning Starling Marte singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With Marte on third and one out, Josh Bell hit a ground ball at second baseman Jose Peraza as part of a drawn in infield.

Due to the Pirates using the contact play Marte broke for the plate. While he looked dead to rights, Peraza’s throw was off line opening the door for Marte. However, Marte stopped running which gave Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart time to recover and tag Marte.

At this point, things looked bleak for the Bucs but birthday boy Jung Ho Kang had other ideas. Kang ripped a double to left filed off of Gray scoring Bell from first base. This gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead and ending Gray’s night.

Keone Kela took over for Musgrove in the top of the 8th inning. Looking for a bounce back outing after blowing a two-run lead against the Cardinals in the 8th inning on Wednesday night, Kela found just that. With the help of a top notch play by Erik Gonzalez, Kela retired the Reds in order to keep the score 1-0 Pirates.

Just as they did in Thursday night’s victory, the Pirates added to their lead in the bottom of the 8th inning on Friday night.

JB Shuck reached on a bunt hit to start the inning. Gonzalez then attempted to sacrifice him to second base, but Jose Iglesias came off the bag at second base and then Gonzalez beat the throw to first putting two men on base. Adam Frazier then flared a ball down the left field line that Reds left fielder Matt Kemp could not get to, this gave Frazier a run-scoring double with one out and the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the 9th inning, it was Felipe Vazquez time. Felipe would put together a dominant performance retiring the Reds in order, including a pair of strikeouts.

Following Friday night’s game the Pirates have shutout the Reds in the last three games between the two teams. It has now been 28 innings since the Reds have scored last against the Pirates, as well as 28 innings since they last scored a run way back in the 8th inning against the Brewers on Tuesday night.

Also, with the win, the Pirates remain undefeated this season when their opponent does not score. Shutting out the opponent appears to be the key to victory for the Pirates this season.

Next. Altoona, Bradenton Win Season Openers. dark

The third game of the series is scheduled for 1:35 on Saturday afternoon. Trevor Williams will look to continue his masterful work when he takes the hill for the Pirates. The Reds will look to stop the hottest pitcher in baseball by countering with veteran Tanner Roark.

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