Pittsburgh Pirates Split Double Header Against the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds played a double header at PNC Park on Friday night with the teams splitting the two games

Friday evening into the night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds played a double header at PNC Park. This double header had to be played because of two games between the teams in Cincinnati last month getting postponed after a COVID-19 outbreak on for the Reds. Due to this, the Reds were the home team in the second game of the twin bill.

In game one, the Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated by the Reds 4-2. Game two saw the Pirates rally to defeat the Reds 4-3. With the split of Friday’s double header, the Pirates are now 12-25 this season.

Poor Defense In Game One

While the offense failed to do their better, defense did not help the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one. A 2nd inning error by Josh Bell led to the Reds scoring an unearned run. Then in the 3rd inning, Erik Gonzalez made a terrific play to get to a ground ball that would have been the first out of the inning. However, Kevin Newman never covered second base.

Following Newman’s mistake, the Reds had two runners on base and no one out. Cincinnati then had a ground out and a sacrifice fly. The sacrifice fly was followed by a run-scoring single, a bloop single to center field that should have been caught, making the score 3-0 Reds. Had Newman covered the bag, the Pirates may have gotten out of the inning trailing just 1-0.

With better defense, the Pittsburgh Pirates very like could have found themselves in a tie game entering the bottom of the 3rd inning. Instead, due to poor defense, they were trailing 3-0.

Starting Pitchers Turn In Average Starts

While his defense did him no favors, Steven Brault allowed far too many base runners in game one. In his 4.2 innings of work, Brault allowed six hits, hit a batter and issued a pair of walks. He also allowed a home run.

Brault’s wound up allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, in 4.2 innings of work. This did include six strikeouts, though. As is often the case with Brault, struggling with glove side control got him in trouble on Friday evening.

Cody Ponce started game two and lasted 4 innings. In those 4 innings of work Ponce allowed 3 runs on three hits, two home runs, a walk, and four strikeouts.

Neither Brault nor Ponce necessarily pitched poorly, but neither pitched a strong game, either. If nothing else, you would have liked to have seen both go at least 5 full innings. Brault, as was covered above, was also hurt by some poor defense.

Hayes Continues Hot Start

Ke’Bryan Hayes should have been on the Pirate roster at least two weeks ago. Well, this past week he was finally promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thus far, the team’s top hitting prospects has not disappointed and that continued on Friday.

On Friday, Hayes was a combined 3-for-5 with a walk in the two games. He also hit his first career triple on Friday night. Hayes also hit the two hardest balls of his young MLB career, with a 108 MPH ground out and a 107.5 MPH single, both coming in game one.

He also continues to look smooth at third base. Through the first five games of his MLB career, Hayes has certainly shown why he was a two-time minor league Gold Glove Award winner at third base.

Speed Kills

As the old saying goes, ‘speed kills.’ This was on full display for new Pirate outfielder Anthony Alford on Friday.

Alford tripled in the top of the 4th inning, driving in a pair of runs. This triple was one that for most batters would have only been a double, but Alford put his elite speed to use to reach third base. This would not be the end of Alford’s flashing his speed.

Later in the 4th inning, Alford scored to give the Pirates their first lead of the game. He scored this run when he raced home on a wild pitch that did not get more than 15 or so feet away from Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Again, speed kills.

A Lights Out Bullpen

The Pirate bullpen was lights out on Friday. Game one saw Dovydas Neverauskas walk one and strikeout a batter in 1.1 scoreless innings of work. Tyler Bashlor then recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work.

Game two’s strong bullpen work started with Sam Howard who pitched a scoreless 5th inning. Chris Stratton retired two of the three batters he faced, and then Nik Turley got the final out of the 6th inning. Richard Rodriguez then fired a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th for the save.

In 5.2 innings of work on Friday, the Pirate bullpen did not allow a run. Across these 5.2 innings of work, Pirate relievers allowed just two hits, issued two walks and they struck out four. Quietly, the Pirate bullpen has been done good work of late.

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What’s Next

The two teams will do battle again at 7:05 on Saturday night at PNC Park. Trevor Williams (5.50 ERA, 6.24 DRA) is scheduled to start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the Cincinnati Reds plan to send struggling righty Anthony DeSclafani (7.71 ERA, 7.13 DRA) to the mound.