The Pittsburgh Pirates walked off the Cincinnati Reds in a 3-2 victory on Friday night
In their first series since the tension filled series that saw multiple players and coaches wind up with suspensions following a bases clearing brawl, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds kicked off their three-game series and MLB Player’s Weekend on Friday night. As has been the case throughout the current home stand, the Pirate offense struggled as they kicked off their series against the Reds.
While the team only mustered 3 runs, thanks to great work by the pitching staff it was enough to secure victory. Following a 3-2 victory over the Reds on Friday night, the Pirates are now 53-75 overall on the season. This was just their 9th victory since the All-Star Break.
Mitch Keller took the ball for the Pirates in his sixth career MLB start on Friday night.
Leading off the 2nd inning Aristides Aquino continued his historic August by blasting a solo home run. The 12th home run of the month by the Reds rookie gave the Red Legs a 1-0 lead.
The Pirates squared off against Anthony DeSclafani who was making his third start of the season against the Pirates. In his first two starts, he allowed 9 earned runs in 10 innings of work. Friday night, however, things went much differently.
Throughout the night DeSclafani was in control of a struggling Pirate offense. In the 4th inning the Pirates threatened when Bryan Reynolds doubled to start the inning and Colin Moran walked with two outs. However, DeSclafani was able to escape the jam unscathed.
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Reynolds walked to start the bottom of the 6th inning, Starling Marte reached on an infield hit, both moved up on a Josh Bell fly out, and the Bucs had two runners in scoring position with just one out. Colin Moran would then ground out to score Reynolds and tie the game at 1.
With the game tied Keller took the mound in the 7th inning. After allowing a double and a single, he was lifted.
Michael Feliz took over for Keller and inherited a runners on the corners with no one out jam. All Feliz would do is strikeout the three Cincy batters he faced on his way to keeping the game tied at 1, and stranding the runners. Quietly, Feliz has been excellent out of the Pirate bullpen this season.
In what was the best start yet of Keller’s young career he pitched 6+ innings, fired 20 of 24 first pitch strikes, allowed just 1 run, and struck out a career high nine batters. His slider looked unhittable and his curveball was a plus pitch as well. Hopefully this start will springboard Keller to a strong finish this season. Also, let’s hope it proves to the Pirates that he needs to be leaning on his two best pitches – the slider and curveball – not his fastball.
Robert Stephenson took over for the Reds in the 7th inning after DeSclafani fired 6 innings of 1 run ball.
Leading off the 7th inning Frazier reached on an error and stole second base. The Pirates, however, would fail to capitalize. Stephenson picked up his defense with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to end the scoring threat.
Keone Kela took the mound for the Pirates working on a stretch of 13 consecutive scoreless outings that dated back to April 21st. After allowing a double with one out to Freddy Galvis, he got a strikeout and got to two strikes on Aquino. However, Aquino then ripped a run-scoring double into the left field corner to score Galvis, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Pitching to Aquino, especially once the count got to 3-2, was a questionable move. He has been arguably the hottest hitter in baseball this month, and entered his 8th inning at bat 2-for-3 with a home run and a double on the night.
Facing Raisel Iglesias in the 9th inning the Pirates got back-to-back hits to start the inning from Moran and Jose Osuna. Despite breaking his bat, Adam Frazier blooped a single into shallow center field. This score pinch runner Erik Gonzalez to tie the game at 2.
Following the Frazier single, Jacob Stallings laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the winning run on third base with just one out. After the sac bunt, Pablo Reyes drove a ball over the head of Phillip Ervin in left field. The first career walk off hit for Reyes gave the Pirates a 3-2 victory.
The second game of this series is scheduled for 7:05 on Saturday night. Trevor Williams (5.65 ERA, 5.17 FIP) will start for the Pirates as he continues to look to turn around what has been a brutal stretch since coming off the injured list. Lefty Alex Wood (5.92 ERA, 6.25 FIP) will take the ball for the Reds.