|Pittsburgh Pirates (68-80)||2||7||0|
|Cincinnati Reds (64-84)||4||9||0|
|W: Homer Bailey (5-8) L: Chad Kuhl (7-11) SV: Raisel Iglesias (27)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast|
Look out, Indians; the Reds are coming for your winning streak record — only 21 games to go!
After another losing road trip, Cincinnati returned to the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park and crushed four home runs to get back in the win column with a 4-2 victory over the Pirates.
Here’s how tonight’s titanic struggle went down:
It’s going to be difficult to see Zack Cozart leave at the end of the season, assuming the Reds don’t re-sign him or extend a qualifying offer. His incredible season continued tonight, hitting two of the team’s four solo home runs. Cozart now has 22 home runs on the season, the most by a Cincinnati shortstop since Felipe Lopez (23) in 2005.
Joey Votto and Scott Schebler also got in on the action.
Votto started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, depositing the first pitch he saw from Pirates starter Chad Kuhl into the right-field bleachers. It was Votto’s 35th dinger of the season and his 11th on the first pitch of an at-bat. His ability to be simultaneously patient and aggressive is something few big-league hitters can do successfully, and it’s incredible to watch.
After the Pirates tied up the game in the third, Cozart promptly untied it in the bottom of the inning, smashing his 21st home run of the season to put the Reds back up 2-1. Cozart’s second dinger came in the fifth to make it 3-1. Schebler sent another solo blast into orbit three batters later, launching a ball 131 feet into the air before it finally landed in the front row of the right field seats.
The first batter of the game, Adam Frazier, battled Homer Bailey for 14 pitches before lining out to right field. That was indicative of the night to come for Bailey. He had to work hard for it, but ultimately had a nice bounce-back outing after a rough go of things on Saturday.
Although he lasted only 5.2 innings (101 pitches), he struck out seven and allowed just one run on five hits and two walks. The splitter and fastball were really working for Bailey tonight, which was good to see.
The right-hander dealt with a high pitch count early on. He threw 27 pitches in the third inning and allowed a single, double, and a walk, but escaped with only one run allowed. Bailey got through the fourth and fifth on 11 and 14 pitches, respectively, and looked as if he was going to get through the sixth, as well, but gave up a two-out single and a double before hitting a batter to load the bases.
Although Bailey was not happy about it, Bryan Price removed his starting pitcher in favor of Michael Lorenzen, who got out of the jam in one pitch.
Lorenzen came back out for the seventh and retired the Pirates in order, including two strikeouts. He ran into trouble in the eighth, however, recording only one out while giving up a walk and a single. He was lifted for Raisel Iglesias, who struck out David Freese and Gregory Polanco to end the inning. Iglesias gave up a walk and an RBI triple in the ninth before escaping with his 27th save.
— Votto also doubled in the third inning, the 340th of his career. That broke a tie with Tony Perez for sixth in Reds history. The underrated Vada Pinson is next up with 342, so Votto has a good shot of sitting in fifth by the time the season ends.
— Patrick Kivlehan has been a below-average hitter overall this year (82 wRC+), but there’s a lot to like about his game for a bench player. He’s not afraid to take a walk (10.5 BB%) and provides nice pop (8 HR in 182 PA). With a little better luck (.250 BABIP), his numbers would probably look better this year. He deserves a shot to be in the mix again in 2018.
— It was not a night to remember for Eugenio Suarez, as he wound up with a golden sombrero, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Even one of the top third basemen in baseball will have a bad game from time to time.
— With runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, Bryan Price asked Jesse Winker to bunt for some reason. The rookie got the bunt down successfully, but giving up the free out proved to be costly, as the Reds wound up scoring zero runs.
— The Indians’ 22-game winning streak came to an end tonight. It was one of the most incredible feats in baseball history, and it’ll be hard not to root for them the rest of the way. And, of course, it’s great to see Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion enjoying such success.
Coming off another solid — though inefficient — start, Sal Romano (4.54 ERA, 4.69 xFIP) takes the hill tomorrow afternoon for his 14th career big-league appearance. He’ll be opposed by Ivan Nova (4.25 ERA, 4.12 xFIP), who has really struggled in the second half for the Pirates. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. ET.