The Cincinnati Reds (23-26) swept the Pittsburgh Pirates (14-32) in a double header on Monday evening, but it wasn’t easy. Game one ended on a walk-off 2-run homer by rookie Tyler Stephenson. Game two wound up being a blowout, but was a game the Reds were losing entering the bottom of the 5th inning and required a huge out by Sal Romano with the bases loaded in his 2020 season debut to set up the offensive explosion started by a 3-run homer from Mike Moustakas half an inning later.

Game 1 Recap: Tyler Stephenson walks it off!

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (14-31)
1 4 0
Cincinnati Reds (22-26)
3 5 1
W: Iglesias (3-3) L: Howard (2-2)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The game was tight, but Trevor Bauer kept the Reds in front 1-0 until the top of the 7th inning. Pittsburgh got a leadoff home run that tied the game up, and after the Pirates put two more runners on base Raisel Iglesias came in to strand both of them and give the Reds a chance to walk if off. They did just that as rookie catcher Tyler Stephenson came off of the bench to pinch hit for Shogo Akiyama and clobbered a walk-off 2-run homer.

The Offense

There wasn’t much of it. The Reds had three hits through six innings. Their lone run came on a solo home run in the 4th inning by Joey Votto that landed  about 8 inches beyond the left field fence. Distance doesn’t matter as long as it gets over the fence, though, and that gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

They would threaten in the bottom of the 5th inning, loading the bases with two outs for Nick Castellanos. The Reds right fielder got a 3-2 fastball in the middle of the plate and crushed it – hitting a line drive at 103.1 MPH and he hit it 383 feet, but it was to dead center field and caught just before the warning track to strand three runners. That would prove to be big because the Pirates got a run in the top of the 7th to tie the game up on a solo home run to lead off the inning, tying the game up.

That set up a fun ending if you were rooting for the Reds. Jose Garcia got things started with two outs, lining a single just over the shortstop. That would have brought Shogo Akiyama to the plate, but manager David Bell opted to pinch hit for him, bringing Tyler Stephenson up to the plate. After taking ball one, he got a slider in the middle of the plate and didn’t miss it – hitting a walk-off home run into the left field seats.

The Pitching

Trevor Bauer allowed a hit to leadoff the game. He then didn’t give up another hit until the top of the 7th inning. But that’s where the wheels began to fall off. Colin Moran led off the inning with a game tying solo home run. Josh Bell followed up with a single before Bryan Reynolds struck out. Kevin Newman followed up with a single to put the go-ahead run at second base.

That situation led to manager David Bell going to the bullpen to bring in Raisel Iglesias. He proceeded to strikeout the next two hitters and strand the runners on the bases. That worked out well as the offense got the job done in the bottom of the inning to walk it off.

Game 2 Recap: Romano and Moustakas make it happen

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (14-32)
4 8 1
Cincinnati Reds (23-26)
9 5 0
W: Romano (1-0) L: Turley (0-2)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Sal Romano came through in the biggest of ways in his 2020 season debut, stranding the bases loaded in a game the Reds were losing by a run in the 5th inning. That set up the next two innings for the Reds offense, which exploded for six runs behind a Mike Moustakas go-ahead 3-run homer.

The Offense

Brian Goodwin got the scoring started when he hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 2nd inning, plating Eugenio Suárez in the process, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. They would add on another run in the 3rd with a Joey Votto solo homer. After the Pirates grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top of the 5th inning, the offense really got things going.

Shogo Akiyama singled to lead off the 5th inning. Eugenio Suárez walked to put two runners on for Mike Moustakas who took a 2-0 pitch and crushed it into the seats for a go-ahead 3-run homer, putting the Reds up 6-4. The next inning went hit batter, walk, walk, walk, error, walk and before the Reds recorded an out or a hit, they had scored three runs and extended their lead to 9-5. That was all they needed – and thankfully so, because it was also all they would get.

The Pitching

Anthony DeSclafani was cruising along fairly well until the 5th inning, but a 2-run homer by Ke’Bryan Hayes with two outs put the Pirates ahead 4-3. DeScalfani followed with a walk to Colin Moran and that spelled the end of his outing. That brought José De León to the mound, and he followed up by walking the first two hitters that he faced before being replaced due to an unspecified injury. Sal Romano came out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and two outs in a 1-run game to make his 2020 season debut. No pressure, Sal. No pressure, indeed, as the big right-hander got Gregory Polanco to pop up to third base to end the inning and strand all three runners on the bases. That proved pivotal as the Reds offense took over from there and gave the bullpen some breathing room.

Archie Bradley entered the game for the 6th inning and picked up two strikeouts to keep the Reds up 6-4. After scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning, Nate Jones took over with a 9-4 lead for the 7th inning and tossed a perfect frame with two strikeouts of his own to seal the Cincinnati sweep on the day.

Notes worth noting

Trevor Bauer’s ERA sits at 1.71 on the year after his start today. That’s second best in the National League, trailing Jacob deGrom’s 1.67. After his 11 strikeout performance, Bauer now leads the National Leauge with 83 strikeouts. His WHIP of 0.81 is the best in the National League. The Cy Young chase continues.

Odd scoring

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday September 15th, 6:40pm ET

Joe Musgrove (0-4, 5.40 ERA) vs. Michael Lorenzen (1-1, 5.23 ERA)

33 Responses

  1. Tom Mitsoff

    Clutch performances at key moments — the defining difference between now and about a month ago.

    When Bell brought in DeLeon in that spot, I was thinking some not-so-friendly thoughts. You HAVE to win this game, and you bring in the guy with the ERA near infinity in a moment that could decide things? If Romano doesn’t get out of that bases-loaded jam, things could have been totally different.

    • JB WV

      I wasn’t happy either, to say the least. Especially with three lefties coming up, seemed like a no brainer to bring in Garrett. Guess he’s saving him for a few innings today, but in a must win situation…

  2. Indy Red Man

    I’m happy for them! 7-4 to finish at .500 which should be good enough. They’re actually only a game behind SF now for 8th I think?

    Pirates 2 more
    White Sox 3 at home
    Milw 3 at home
    @ Minn for 3

    White Sox and Twins can really rake!! This team cannot rake. That means they’d need to go atleast 4-1 vs Pitt/Milw and 3-3 vs the other two. We’ll see?

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Correct about one game behind SF. If the Brewers’ lead over St. Louis holds up, Reds will be one-half game behind the Cardinals for second place (and a playoff seed between four and six). You absolutely don’t want to eighth seed if you can avoid it, because the eighth seed is the appetizer for the Dodgers.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I don’t think .500 will do it. Too many variables. I think they need to go 8-3 over the final 11 to make it. A very, very, very tough task.

      • Indy Red Man

        Why? 1 game under is good enough as of today?

      • Tom Mitsoff

        The top four NL teams are all but in. Then you have eight teams with between 21 and 24 wins going for the final four spots. I’m going to guess that at least four of those eight teams will finish up at .500 or above.

      • JayTheRed

        Kansas City as of tonight has a 8 game winning streak why can’t the Reds do that?

      • Stock

        I disagree. In fact I think 28 or 29 wins will be enough. 31 wins may mean a 5 seed.

        Current 5 seed is Miami 3 games up on the Reds. But the had 2 double Headers last week and 2 more this week. final week is 7 games vs. the Braves and Yankees. Their last 6 games the pitcher they face with the highest current ERA is Garret Cole at 3.20.

        6th Seed Philadelphia (1.5 Games back). Philly had 3 double headers last week, one this week and one next week. Currently playing the Mets and get stuck with DeGrom and Lugo. They show how weak their SP is vs. Toronto when they throw out Eflin, Rosso, Velasquez and Arrieta, all of which have an ERA over 5. Then they follow this up with another 4 games of weak pitchers.

        6th Seed St. Louis. 16 games the next 12 days. and 4 double headers the last 10 days. They may be gassed.

        7th seed San Francisco. Half of their remaining games are vs. San Diego or Oakland.

        I would take the under on SF, MIA and PHI winning 50% of their remaining games. I also think PHI and SF finish with 28 or fewer wins.

  3. CFD3000

    Good day for the Reds. That 9 runs on 5 hits detail is weird, and it’s one of the reasons I love baseball. Keep watching and you’ll seen see something you’ve never seen before. In this case something no one has ever seen before. Good day for Bauer, Romano, and Tyler Stephenson, obviously. But also a good day for Shogo who I think had two hits end eleventy-three walks on the day. He’s starting to look a lot more comfortable at the plate. Good day for Joey Votto with an opposite field home run, a bomb, and two more walks that suggest he’s seeing the ball really well. Good day for Moustakas with a bomb off a lefty. Good day for Senzel just to be back. And if I’m being fair (because I’m certainly not sold on Iglesias as a reliable closer) a good day for Raisel. And lastly a good day for David Bell. He had no choice but to pull Bauer and DeSclafani when he did, but the move to hit with the third catcher in game 1 was huge. Congratulations Tyler. The Reds are back in the playoff hunt with 4 wins in 5 games. Time to finish off the Pirates starting with Lorenzen tomorrow. Go Reds!

    • Tom Reeves

      I love that Joel Luckhaupt looks up all this data and his name is literally Joel Lookup!

  4. RedNat

    I have never given up on big Sal Romano. I still think he and Mahle will eventually solid number 4-5 starters for years to come

    • Corey D

      I bet Sal appreciates that you never gave up on him.

    • JayTheRed

      Geez Romano pitches 1/3 of an inning and didn’t even get a strikeout and your cheering him on like we just won the world series.

      I am really curious how Lorenzen is going to pitch tomorrow as the Starting Pitcher more than how Romano did in a 3rd of an inning. Shouldn’t be allowed to get a W unless you pitch to the 3 batter minimum rule.

      • Still a Red

        Kinda agree re: Romano…but geez, given our relievers unreliability he could have just walked in another one or two runs.

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    The Brewers and Cardinals are meeting for the first time this season tonight in the doubleheader! They still have seven games to play against each other after tonight. Wow.

    • Still a Red

      Maybe KC’s 6 game win streak will continue. Of course the 6 game win streak was preceded by a 6 game losing streak. But hey, maybe…

  6. GreatRedLegsFan

    Great come back by Big Sally, I really hope he’ll turn things around this time and stick in the bullpen for the time being. As noted above, the next series against White Sox and Twins will be very tough ones, let’s hope the offensive can continue rolling and the rotation, other than Bauer and Castillo, can keep it up.

    • Still a Red

      Sox will definitely be tough. Have to hope Twins poor road record gives Reds a chance.

  7. SteveO

    I’d really rather see Kuhnel than DeLeon. Hopefully, that transaction happens tomorrow.

  8. GreatRedLegsFan

    Looking at the current pitching staffs, the White Sox have Keuchel (L), Cease (R) and Giolito (R) as their front starters. If the schedule leads to skip any of them it’d be an advantage, specially Keuchel. As for the Twins, they show Maeda (R), Berrios (R) and Dobnak (R); being Maeda the one to avoid. On the other hand, the White Sox’s offensive lineup is a major threat.

  9. GreatRedLegsFan

    On a separate note, Reds FO picked $5.5MM Freddy Galvis’ option for 2020, bearing a .678 OPS up to date. Baltimore, on the other hand, signed Jose Iglesias for $2.5MM for 2020 (plus $3.5MM 2021 team option or $500K buyout), bearing a .828 OPS up to date plus outstanding defense.

    • Randy in Chatt

      Yeah, I never understood that one. I guess the FO puts a premium on home run hitters and FG had over 20 one year if I remember right.

      I think that’s a bad hitting philosophy to buy into.

      • TR

        Since GABP opened in 2003, the word has been that the park is a homerun hitters paradise due to the relatively short fence in right field. In actuality four other ML stadiums have less fair territory than GABP. Those are Houston, Cleveland, Phillies, Wrigley and Fenway.

    • Jefferson Green

      Galvis and Iglesias were ranked almost dead even both at the plate and in the field, even though how they produced their results was different. Galvis had a reputation as a good team mate and as a mentor to younger players, which may have swayed the decision in his favor.

  10. ItalianRed

    And we live to see another day. Lorenzen start will be telling. This has always been his main desire.

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      Still not clear why they chose Lorenzen over Sims for that spot start.

      • Doug Gray

        My guess: They want Sims to be available for multiple games moving forward and if he’s starting then he’s not going to pitch for several days.

  11. Don

    The Games behind in the division are really misleading with the Cards having 16 games and the Reds 11 games.

    For the Reds to be 2nd in the division vs the Cards.

    Cards only have 58 games scheduled and that could end up being huge.
    There are tie breaking rules for 2020, no play in games.
    The 1st tiebreaker for tied teams is head to head.
    Cards won the season session 6-4 over the Reds so the one tie possibility goes to the Cards the winning percentage

    Reds vs Cards Win % for one game under to one game over 500

    Reds (29-31) = 0.4833; Cards (28-30) = 0.4827 – Reds 2nd place
    Reds (30-30) = 500; Cards (29-29) = 0.500 – Cards 2nd Place
    Reds (31-29) = 0.5167; Cards 30-28=0.5172 – Cards 2nd Place

    The most reasonable way for the Reds to take 2nd place is for the Cards to only win 28 games.
    If the Cards get to 29 Wins then the Reds must get to 31 wins (8-3) to get to second place.

    Reds must have the Cards go 7-9 in their last 16 so root for the Brewers to win more than they lose vs the Cards as we need the Cards to finish no better than 28-30.
    Reds need the Cards to finish the year (2-6 vs Brewers, 3-2 vs Pirates, 2-1 vs Royals) which is a 28-30 record.

    Compared to the Brewers
    Brewers have 60 game schedule so ties with the Reds are more possible.
    Reds currently hold the series lead 4-3 with 3 left.

    Assuming the Cards only win 28 games.
    If the Reds go 7-4 (2-0 Pirates, 3-0 vs Brewers & 2-4 vs AL)
    Brewers go 8-6 (6-2 vs Cards, 0-3 Reds, 2-1 Royals)
    Both end up 29-31 and the Reds are in 2nd place

    Everything has to fall the Reds way but the Reds can get 2nd in the division with going 7-4.

    It all starts with the Reds keep on winning and getting help.

  12. Don

    For the Wild Card
    Reds are currently 9th in the NL, passed Brewers and Mets yesterday.

    Reds are
    5 losses behind the Marlins so the Reds most likely cannot catch them.
    3 losses behind the Philles for 7th
    2 losses behind the Giants for 8th.
    Even in Losses with the Mets
    Phillies and Mets have 60 games scheduled, Giants have 59.

    Tie Breaker is INTRADIVISION record as there is no head to head.
    Reds Division record is 17-18
    Phillies division record 19-14
    Giants division record 15-17
    Mets division record 13-15
    Phillies schedule 3 Mets, 4 Blue Jays, 4@ Nationals, 3 @ Rays
    Giants schedule 2 Mariners, 3 A’s, 4 Rockies, 3 Padres
    Mets schedule 3 Phillies, 3 Braves, 3 Rays, 4 Nationals

    Phillies are 4-9 vs the AL so we need to hope that trend continues and they go 2-5 vs the AL and go 4-3 in the NL to finish 6-8 for overall 29-31

    Giants are 6-6 vs AL (0-3 vs A’s and 2-0 vs Mariners), and 2-4 vs Rockies and 1-5 vs Padres.

    Mets are 8-9 vs the AL and 2-5 vs the Brace, Reds need the Mets win the series vs the Phillies and then lose to the Braves and Rays with a finish no better than 8-5 (29-31 overall)

    For the Reds to take #7 in the NL, I agree with Tom in that the Reds must go 8-3 to get to 31 wins and hope the Phillies do not get to 31 wins (8-6 finish for them) as the Reds will most likely lose the tiebreaker to the Phillies.

    For the Reds to take #8 the Giants, we need the Giants to go 6-6 (for a 29-30 record) and the Reds go 7-4 for a 30-30 record.

    Any more than 4 losses by the Reds probably dooms any wild card hopes.