The Reds won two out of three this series and stand at 14-14 overall. They’ve beaten the Pirates 5 out of 6 games. These are the Pirates (13-15) that experts in the preseason said would leave the Reds in the dust. Accomplishing all that they have without Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey is commendable. The team’s glaring weak spot reared up in the form of Kevin Gregg tonight to smite the Reds chances of coming back to win. Someday, managers will realize that it’s more important to use good pitchers when the team is behind by one run than when they are ahead by three or four. Regrettably, that day is not today. You can’t win ’em all.

Pirates 7, Reds 2 | Fay | Sheldon

J.J. Hoover pitched a clean inning.

Marlon Byrd had two hits and a walk (!). He’s hitting .221/.257/.432 and Byrd’s wRC+ is 86. Todd Frazier had two hits, including his tenth home run of the year. He leads the NL in homers. Kris Negron and Brayan Peña had two hits apiece.

That’s about it for the good stuff.

Anthony DeSclafani struggled with his control again. He walked 4 and struck out 1 in 5 innings. It’s his second poor start in a row, after four good ones. Jeff Brantley seemed to pick up on a problem with his delivery, rushing through the equilibrium point, so hopefully the coaching staff can straighten him out. It’s unreasonable to expect DeSclafani to be more than a #5 pitcher, despite his excellent start.

Kevin Gregg was a disaster coming out of the bullpen. His ERA is back in double digits and his FIP is 5.57. He’s made 11 appearances and given up more than one run in four of them. Anyone who expected anything other than this outcome from him can’t read a player page at FanGraphs. At this point it’s hard to know what is more remarkable, that Kevin Gregg still has a role in close games or that he still has a roster spot. And how much longer will Reds fans have to put up with the inept and stubborn decision making that results in him on the mound with a game on the line?

The Reds outfield arms were particularly suspect tonight. Billy Hamilton and Marlon Byrd combined for three Little League throws to home plate (that may be unfair to Little Leaguers). Two of them didn’t reach the pitchers mound. All three of them would have resulted in outs with good throws. On another occasion, Byrd threw to the wrong base on a fly out. The Pirates showed no respect for two-thirds of the Reds outfield.

With the Reds just a run behind in the top of the 7th, Bryan Price sent Skip Schumaker to the plate to pinch hit for the pitcher. Kris Negron was on third base. Schumaker struck out on three pitches. He’s hitting .160/.192/.200. Despite hardly playing, he has amassed a fWAR of -.4 to go with his -1.2 fWAR last year. Quite a signing there.Saw somewhere in the Twitterverse tonight where it was suggested that the Reds might have been better off if Price had sent Schumaker to pitch and Gregg out to pinch hit. Our own Wes Jenkins tweeted this:

https://twitter.com/wesjenks17/status/596480470902132736

See, that’s not quite right, unless the bag opened up and the balls rolled onto the field tripping up Reds players at important parts of the game. But I think Wes has the sentiment nailed. (And by the way, a shout out to the tremendous job Greg Dafler and Wes are doing on our new and improved Game Threads!)

Interesting choice by Price to pinch hit, with Devin Mesoraco on the bench. We know Mesoraco was available because Price sent him up to hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth down by five runs. I’m going out on a limb and stating that Devin Mesoraco is a better hitter even against right-handed pitchers than Skip Schumaker. Price playing lefty-on-righty match-up in the seventh with Schumaker over Mesoraco is simply mind-boggling.

Up next: The Reds head to the South Side tomorrow for a three game series against the White Sox. They lost tonight and are 10-15.