Four Oneil Cruz hits, two Jack Suwinski doubles, and Miguel Andújar’s first RBI with the Pittsburgh Pirates highlight an 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds
Few things in baseball are less exciting than a series in the final week of the season between two of the worst teams in the league. Well, the baseball gods decided that fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds had not been punished enough already this season as they teamed up with Mother Nature to make sure Monday night’s series opener included a rain delay that extended the game.
When rain delay ended and the dust settled, the Pittsburgh Pirates rode a late inning offensive explosion to an 8-3 victory over the Reds. With the win, the Pirates are now 57-97 on the season which puts them 3.0 games behind the Reds for fourth place in the NL Central.
Roansy Contreras allows just two hits in 4 innings pitched
Roansy Contreras took the mound for what will likely be his penultimate start of the season. As he looks to start to put a bow on a strong first MLB season, Contreras had his start cut short due to the rain.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates watching the work load of Contreras down the stretch he was not going to be permitted to pitch super deep into the game regardless. The rain delay just solidified this for Contreras.
Contreras pitched 4 innings on Monday night, allowing 2 runs on two hits, no walks and he struck out a pair of Red batters. One of the two hits that Contreras allowed was a solo home run, the other was a double to Jonathan India who would score on a sacrifice fly. The sac fly, however, was set up by India taking third base on a wild pitch by Contreras.
On the night Contreras generated just six swings-and-misses which is a low total for him. He did a good job limited hard contact as the Reds put just three balls in play off of Contreras that had an exit velocity greater than 94 MPH.
There was one red flag during the start and that was his velocity. Contreras velocity was down slightly. That said, between poor weather and Contreras being at the end of a season in which he has set a new career high in innings pitched, there are plenty of reasons for his velocity to be down that would not cause long-term concern.
Pirate offense strikes in the 5th inning
Kevin Newman led the bottom of the 5th inning off with a single that extended his hitting streak to nine games. Cincinnati manager David Bell would then turn to lefty Reiver Sanmartin and this move would prove to backfire.
Sanmartin walked Zack Collins before striking out Jose Godoy. Oneil Cruz then blooped a single into shallow left field for his second hit of the night. On the hit, TJ Friedl attempted to throw Newman out at third base. Friedl’s throw would go array, leading to him being charged with an error, and allowing Newman to race home in front of the tag Cincinnati catcher Chuckie Robinson.
It was a great heads up play by Newman and alert base running. Newman trusted his speed and was able to capitalize, scoring the first Pirate run of the game.
Following another pitching change the defensive miscues of the Reds would continue.
Bryan Reynolds hit what looked like an inning ending double play ball, but India struggled to make a clean feed to shortstop Jose Barrero at second base. Barrero then made a low throw that first baseman Matt Reynolds failed to catch. The second error of the inning by the Reds allowed Collins to score and tied the game at 2.
The Pirates did waste the opportunity to at least take the lead, if not blow the game open in the 5th inning. After Reynolds reached on an error, Miguel Andújar and Jack Suwinski drew back-to-back walks. Ke’Bryan Hayes then hit the ball 100.4 MPH, but it resulted in a groundout to end the inning.
Pirate offense blows it open in late innings
Cruz hit a ground ball to left field for his third hit of the night to start the 7th inning. With one out in the inning, Andújar, who finished his Pirate debut 1-for-3 with a walk, singled to field and this was followed by Jack Suwinski’s second double of the night.
Suwinski’s doubled hit off the right-center field wall allowing both Cruz and Andújar to score, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates their first lead of the game at 4-2. After Hayes was hit by a pitch and Cal Mitchell walked to load the bases, Bell once again went to the Red bullpen.
The pitching change did not help the Reds. Newman singled off of Joel Kuhnel, his second hit of the night scored Suwinski and made the score 5-2. Collins then hit a sacrifice fly to give the Bucs a 6-2 lead.
To start the bottom of the 8th inning Cruz beat out a ground ball to second base for his fourth hit of the night and went to third base on a base hit by Reynolds. Andújar then picked up his first Pirate RBI with a sacrifice fly and a two-out single by Hayes scored Reynolds, making the score 8-2 Bucs.
Bullpen does their job
All season long the bullpen has been a major problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In recent weeks, the struggles of the bullpen have been magnified with an ERA well north of 6.00 since the start of September.
Monday night, however, the Pirate bullpen shut the Reds down.
Chase De Jong was the first man up out of the Pirate bullpen. De Jong pitched 2 scoreless innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced and striking out a pair. This continued what has been a breakout season for De Jong who now owns a 2.25 ERA in 68.0 innings pitched.
Yohan Ramirez followed with 2 scoreless innings of his own, allowing a pair of hits and striking out two batters. Robert Stephenson allowed a solo home run in the 9th inning, but retired the other three batters he faced to close the door shut on the Reds.
In game two of the series Mitch Keller (3.99 ERA, 3.82 FIP) is slated to start for the Pirates. Rookie Hunter Greene (4.91 ERA, 4.64 FIP) is set to start for the Reds. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.