|Cincinnati Reds (44-64)||0||4||1|
|Pittsburgh Pirates (52-56)||6||13||0|
|W: Chad Kuhl (4-7) L: Sal Romano (2-3)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast|
For only the second time in 10 games against the Pirates this season, the Reds lost tonight. It wasn’t a particularly entertaining game, as Pittsburgh dominated in all facets from the first inning onward. The Redlegs end the road trip with a 3-7 record.
Here’s how the game went down:
It was a quiet night from the Reds offense after scoring 14 runs the previous two games. They scattered four hits and three walks but never mounted a serious scoring threat. Pirates starter Chad Kuhl silenced the Reds’ bats (7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K), minus Joey Votto, who went 1-for-2 with two walks. The first baseman’s mini-slump to start the second half is well in the rearview mirror at this point. His single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to eight games, and he added two walks for good measure. Votto has reached base in 20 of his last 35 plate appearances.
Although he allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings, Sal Romano threw the ball much better tonight than in his last outing. The right-hander did a much better job pounding the strike zone, walking no Pirates batters on the night and striking out three. He dominated the bottom half of the Pittsburgh lineup, but ran into trouble against the top of the order the first two times he faced them.
Romano’s defense didn’t do him any favors in the first inning. He gave up back-to-back singles to Starling Marte and Adam Frazier to start his night. Left fielder Adam Duvall airmailed a throw to third base on Frazier’s single to allow Marte to score. Andrew McCutchen then brought Frazier home on a ground-out. After a 1-2-3 second, Romano again had trouble with the top of the Pirates lineup in the third, giving up two more runs on four hits. But he rebounded nicely, retiring nine of 10 hitters he faced in his final three frames.
Romano continued to show hesitance in throwing a third pitch early, but used his changeup more and more as the night went on. Inducing a pop-up from Gregory Polanco on the pitch in the third inning seemed to give him some confidence. After throwing the change only 12 times coming into tonight, he used it 13 times in his 102 pitches (12.7 percent) tonight.
It wasn’t the greatest of nights for Reds’ relievers. Kevin Shackelford was the first man out of the bullpen and allowed singles to the first three hitters he faced. He struck out the next batter and was lifted for Wandy Peralta, who allowed two inherited runners to score on a sacrifice fly and a single.
Blake Wood gave up a leadoff double in the eighth but retired the next three batters.
— Billy Hamilton was ejected in the top of the fifth inning after arguing a called third strike. He had a legitimate beef, too; all three strikes were pretty poor calls:
He has a bit of a point. All three pitches were called strikes, and strike one is particularly egregious. pic.twitter.com/mLO4dWI2gD
— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) August 4, 2017
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) August 4, 2017
— Hamilton was replaced in center field by Patrick Kivlehan, who has 98 innings of experience there in his entire professional career. Phil Ervin, meanwhile, has 260 innings at the position this season alone in Triple-A Louisville. The former first-round pick has not seen the field since being called up on Tuesday. (In fairness to Kivlehan, he had no issues in center field tonight.)
— Some bad news out of Dayton tonight. Anthony DeSclafani, making his second rehab appearance, recorded only one out and gave up eight runs, including three home runs. Results are obviously not the important thing here; his health is the real concern. He was visited by trainers and taken out of the game with what the Reds are calling right forearm discomfort. He’s set to be re-evaluated tomorrow. Hold your breath.
— In better injury news, Devin Mesoraco appeared in a game for the first time since Saturday as he recovers from a knee injury. He grounded into a fielder’s choice as a pinch hitter to end the seventh inning.
After a 10-game road trip, the Reds will finally return home to Great American Ball Park for a seven-game homestand. They’ll kick off the weekend series against the Cardinals on Friday evening at 7:10 p.m ET. Asher Wojciechowski (4.50 ERA, 4.53 xFIP) is returning to the rotation after a solid stint in the bullpen. The Reds would probably be better off giving this start to a young pitcher, but they’re clearly trying to make Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, and Jackson Stephens earn their way back to the big leagues and aren’t ready to start the service clock on Tyler Mahle. Wojo will be opposed by former Red Mike Leake (3.29 ERA, 3.98 xFIP).
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.