|Cincinnati Reds (59-82)||8||15||1|
|Pittsburgh Pirates (69-71)||7||10||0|
|W: Josh Smith (3-1) L: Trevor Williams (1-1) SV: Tony Cingrani (17)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score|
In a high-scoring affair, the Reds were able to deal another blow to the Pirates’ wild card chances by taking an 8-7 win. The victory marked the second straight for the Redlegs, while the Pirates took their ninth loss in their last 11 games to drop to 5 1/2 games back for the second wild card spot in the National League.
The Reds certainly brought their bats, picking up 12 hits through the first five innings and 15 in total. They got on the board in the top of the fourth, rallying for four runs to tie the game. A potentially bigger inning was cut short, however, when Zack Cozart was thrown out at first after taking too wide of a turn after his RBI single. That came with Joey Votto standing in the on-deck circle.
The good guys took the lead in the fifth with three straight hits and a bases-loaded walk by Scott Schebler. Tucker Barnhart later made it a 7-4 game with a two-run double down the right-field line.
In a one-run game in the ninth inning, Votto came through with a solo home run, his 23rd of the year, to make it an 8-6 ballgame. That long ball would prove to be huge, as the Pirates would score a run in the bottom of the inning.
As the run and hit totals may indicate, there were a number of standout performances on an individual basis.
Joey Votto did Joey Votto things on his 33rd birthday, going 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, and two singles.
Brandon Phillips had three singles (one when he tried to give up an out via a sacrifice bunt — things are really not going well for the Pirates right now), was hit by a pitch, and scored two runs. Schebler reached base three times (one single, one HBP, one walk) and scored twice. Barnhart was 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Pinch hitter extraordinaire Hernan Iribarren had a single in the fourth. He’s now 5-for-6 coming off the bench.
This was the first really rough start in the major leagues for Robert Stephenson. He lasted just three innings, allowing four runs on five hits, striking out a pair and walking another pair.
The first inning was a long one for the heralded prospect. Poor defense costed him the first run of the game. He made a nice pitch to jam Josh Harrison and force a weak pop-up, but lack of communication between left fielder Adam Duvall and shortstop Cozart allowed the ball to fall. As TV broadcaster Jeff Brantley said, the outfielder needs to take control on that play. Naturally, next batter Josh Bell roped a pitch to the wall in left-center field to put the Pirates on top.
Stephenson’s well-documented control issues then went on full display. He walked Andrew McCutchen, gave up an RBI single to Jung-Ho Kang two batters later, and walked John Jaso on four straight pitches after being ahead 0-2 to load the bases. Fortunately, he was able to escape further damage by getting Francisco Cervelli to ground into a double play.
Stephenson threw a 1-2-3 second inning, but ran into trouble again in the third when he allowed a two-run homer to Kang.
Josh Smith was not good in relief, as he also struggled with control. In 2 1/3 innings, he gave up two runs on two hits, two walks, and a hit batter. He, of course, got the win.
Blake Wood cleaned up Smith’s mess in the sixth by getting the final two outs without allowing a run (though he did walk a batter). He hit a batter in the seventh, but induced a double play to get out of the inning.
The Reds turned to Michael Lorenzen in the eighth. Pitching for the second straight night, he looked solid, allowing only a two-out single.
As he often does, Tony Cingrani made things interesting in the ninth by allowing a leadoff walk and two singles to make it an 8-7 game, but was able to come away with his 17th save of the season.
It’s hard to believe Votto is already 33, but his play on the field sure hasn’t slowed down. There aren’t many 33-year-olds who can hit .318/.436/.530.
Jose Peraza has cooled off a bit in recent days. Before an eighth-inning double, he had been hitless in his previous 13 plate appearances. It’d be nice to see him be more selective at the plate. His walk rate is an abysmal 2.9 percent and, coming into Saturday’s game, he’s swinging at 53.3 percent of the pitches he’s seen — the league average is 46.5 percent.
Schebler got hit by a Drew Hutchison pitch that bounced in the grass. That was weird. And also one of the worst pitches I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.
Speaking of Schebler: since breaking his 0-for-28 slump with a homer on Aug. 15, he’s hitting .326/.396/.523. That’s decent.
Minor-League Playoff Update
The Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos were eliminated from the playoffs by the Mississippi Braves, dropping the final game 4-2 to lose the series in four games.
In Rookie League playoff action, the Billings Mustangs defeated the Great Falls Voyagers 5-1 to win the Pioneer League North and advance to the championship series.
The Reds will try to win the four-game series against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon in PNC Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, with southpaw Brandon Finnegan (4.17 ERA, 4.85 xFIP) facing off against veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (4.07 ERA, 4.78 xFIP).