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!
|Pittsburgh Pirates (14-31)
|Cincinnati Reds (22-26)
|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.
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.
*extreme Squidward voice*
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 14, 2020
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
|Pittsburgh Pirates (14-32)
|Cincinnati Reds (23-26)
|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.
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.
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.
This is the first time the Reds have scored at least 9 runs on 5 or fewer hits in team history. #2020
— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) September 15, 2020
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)