The Cincinnati Reds offense didn’t get much done, but the one run they scored was more than the Pirates did on Thursday afternoon as Cincinnati avoided the sweep by shutting out Pittsburgh 1-0 behind another strong road start from Tyler Mahle.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (76-71)
1 5 1
Pittsburgh Pirates (54-92)
0 6 0
W: Mahle (12-5) L: Ponce (0-4) SV: Givens (8)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The Offense

Cincinnati had a few baserunners through the first six innings of the game, but just like the Pirates, came up empty. But in the 7th inning the Reds finally pushed a run across the plate. Tyler Stephenson doubled off of the right field wall and was pinch-run for by Delino DeShields. Kyle Farmer followed up with a walk. Shogo Akiyama appeared to get some help as his sacrifice bunt appeared to be rolling foul but was picked up in fair territory and moved both runners up a base. With Tyler Mahle due up, the Reds went to Asdrúbal Cabrera and while he’s still searching for his 1st hit as a Red, he did pick up the RBI on a sacrifice fly and give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

In the 8th inning Joey Votto smacked a 2-out double. With a lefty on the mound and Mike Moustakas coming up, David Bell opted to let Moustakas hit for himself instead of go to Eugenio Suárez – who has been hitting better of late – or Jose Barrero to get a better match up and possibly better defense at third for the rest of the game. Moustakas grounded out to end the inning. Cincinnati then went 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th, clinging to a 1-0 lead and hoping the bullpen could get three more outs.

The Pitching

Tyler Mahle made a road start and if you’ve been following along this season you know what that means: Dominance. While Mahle did have to work around a few baserunners in the game, none of them came across the plate as he fired off 6.0 shutout innings while allowing five hits and a walk. He also struck out six batters while throwing 95 pitches.

After Mahle was pinch-hit for in the top of the 7th inning and the Reds grabbed a 1-0 lead, Lucas Sims entered the game and threw a shutout frame with two strikeouts to hold the lead. Michael Lorenzen tossed a perfect 8th inning with two strikeouts to keep a 1-0 Reds lead.

That brought on Mychal Givens for the save attempt in the bottom of the 9th. He struck out Colin Moran to get things started, but walked Ben Gamel to put the tying run on base. Givens then walked Kevin Newman, too, and pitching coach Derek Johnson made a trip to the mound to discuss things. One pitch later a fly out to center moved Gamel to third base, but also made for the second out of the inning. Hoy Park came to the plate and jumped ahead 3-0 on Givens before back-to-back strikes made it a full count – but on that 5th pitch Kevin Newman stole 2nd base to put the winning run in scoring position. Tucker Barnhart headed to the mound for a quick chat. After a foul ball, Givens fired a 98 MPH fastball by Park to end the game.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Cincinnati Reds

Friday September 17th, 7:10pm ET

Walker Buehler (14-3, 2.32 ERA) vs Luis Castillo (7-15, 4.24 ERA)

47 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    Wow that was fast. Guess when you get a 1-0 uneventful game you can pre-write 98% of the summary lol?

  2. Optimist

    So if they make the WC by 1 game, on a Cabrera GWRBI, do we all agree on what a masterful acquisition it was? It’s a funny game with a long season.

    • Jim Walker

      And hopefully he puts in the contract that as long as Tyler Stephenson is available, he will be Mahle’s personal catcher.

    • Optimist

      Is Mahle now their most valuable trading chip? Was Senzel for the past few years, but wonder if Mahle is it now.

    • AllTheHype

      Disagree. Mahle will not age well imo. He has a limited arsenal with his secondary pitches, slider does not grade well, nibbles, refuses to pitch to contact for good reason (see slider grade). And while he has made progress with his split, he relies on chase because he doesn’t throw it for strikes all that often (again, nibbles).

      His FB is his best pitch, and he throws it more than league average. What happens if he loses any velo at all? He’s in trouble, that’s what.

      Get out of him what you can now, or if there is a good trade market for him this winter, explore it while his value is high. I’m not opposed to keeping him in the middle of the rotation til he is free agent eligible. However, he approaches 30, he’ll be a below average starting pitcher.

      So…no extension for Mahle, no way, no how.

      • Joe P.

        That’s a good analysis. If Mahle could command his breaking ball he’s a keeper, but until then only if the deal is right (Essentially you would have a version of Sonny Gray but with a better fastball).

        It never hurts to see what you can get back in a trade. Mahle could be a nice addition to a package deal.

      • AllTheHype

        Sonny Gray has much better command and weapons with his off speed than does Mahle.

      • Votto4life

        I agree. I definitely think the Reds should entertain offers for Mahle this winter. I also think Miley should be someone they extend and trade as well. Both pitchers are at peak value in terms of trading chips. Might as well cash in on them. I think they may have waited a bit too long to deal Sonny Gray.

        Still a rotation of Gray, Castillo, and Guiti would be a decent start. The other two spots could be made up of Greene, Lodolo and/or a cheap veteran FA or two.

        Too bad TeJay is hurt, he would have fit nicely in the 2022 rotation.

        Still the Reds should be able to land a nice package of players for Mahle and/or Miley.

        They will probably try to replace Cast’s offense with one of those deals. I would probably just try to get as many good young players as possible.

        The Reds won’t be challenging for a World Series title next year anyway. Start preparing for 2024-25 when they will have some payroll flexibility. It’s not that far away.

      • SultanofSwaff

        His WAR right now is over 4. That’s borderline All Star.

      • Redsvol

        Mahle has gotten better each year. I hate how he nibbles and always has high pitch counts but he’s young and I believe he will develop better command and off speed stuff. I also hope we sign him.

        On the flip side, I’m not a believer in Castillo. When he needs to be nails he is far from it. He has had stretches where he has been pummeled. I think he will be hard to sign to reasonable contact and has high trade value so he is who I would trade this off-season. This is what the Rays would do. Don’t wait until he is in last year of control or blows his arm out.

      • Gary

        I think you’re exactly right about all of that. Most pitchers are fragile and injury prone. Unless the pitcher is a REAL STUD with a proven track record…… no universe should they get the mega-contracts or even semi-mega contracts.

    • DaveCT

      Absolutely. Competent, durable starters don’t grow on trees.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    David Bell in a nutshell—he pinch runs for Tyler Stephenson in the 7th then proceeds to use Shogo to sac bunt DeShields to third. So in essence, Bell used a pinch runner for a tag up from third situation and in doing so he’s forced to bat DeShields instead of Tyler in the 9th inning. Awesome tradeoff. *facepalm*

    All is not lost. We’ve got our starters lined up for the Dodgers and Jesse coming back. At least it’s meaningful September baseball!

    • Old-school

      I disagree. What they needed in the 7th inning was a run and they got it. Bell managed with a sense of urgency and utilized the skill set of his marginal players to do jobs they could do.
      Deshields baserunning.
      Shogo bunting
      Cabrera hitting a fly ball

      They won with that run in the 7th inning.

      • Luke J

        The way they got that run would and could have been done with Stephenson as well. Taking him out of the game was a bad call.

      • Old-school

        Tyler Stephenson hit a lead off double. Shogo executed a good bunt. Deshields ran the bases well. Cabrera hit a sac fly. Everyone including bell in the 7th inning did their job to perfection and the Reds won. Each person recognized the situation was urgent to score a run to win a crucial game and they did it.

        Sims, Lorenzen and Givens did their job.
        Result is a win

        Dont know what exactly there is to disagree about.

      • Redsvol

        couldn’t agree more. In a tight ball game that we needed, we manufactured a run. That is playoff baseball. Home runs aren’t nearly as plentiful in the playoffs. Scouting takes over and pitchers know how to pitch.

      • 2020ball

        I agree with Old-school, but I do see sultan’s point and I don’t think it invalid. All I have to say about that is I think Bell was thinking about subbing TS anyway for defensive purposes, and the same thinking was why he put DD in the game. We can break down that DD batted as the only thing that matters and ignore that he was a better choice for CF in a one run game if we want, but I guess I value D more than most so I think it’s just looking for sour grapes at that point.

      • greenmtred

        In the event, Stephenson could have scored the run. But crystal balls don’t work in ball parks, and there are other ways of scoring (wild pitch that doesn’t roll very far, infield single, dropped throw to first) that would have required more than Stephenson’s speed.

  4. Mark A Verticchio

    That is correct meaningful baseball in September, but I cant help thinking where this team could be if not for the poor play lately. I have no idea what to expect this weekend but the pitchers better be ready because the Reds wont score much, if at all. Sadly theses games are very important to the Dodgers. Hopefully the Padres can cool off the Cardinals.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    Reds reached 76 wins. One more than 2019. It is the best of last 8 years officially. I think the series against LAD depends so much to the starting pitching could do if the offense wake up to the mid-season level. They could win smallball games if starting pitchers go very deep in them…

    • Daytonnati

      And think of the blown saves earlier this year …

  6. Joe P.

    Hopefully, the Reds just go out and play baseball against the Dodgers. Don’t worry about trying to match the Dodgers pitch-for-pitch. That’s not going to work. Just go out and play loose.

    If you give up a couple of runs, don’t panic. Keep your eye on the ball and try to lay off bad pitches. Don’t swing for the fences. Put the bat on the ball. Sometimes I think they try to do too much and that just makes it worse.

  7. TR

    Not exactly a breakout win for the offense but the W looks real good thanks to superb pitching.

  8. Old-school

    I give Bell credit for managing today with urgency. He understood the critical importance of winning this game and not getting swept against a 100 loss team.

    When Stephenson hit the lead off double, Bell understood the critical importance of getting that run home in a 0-0 game in the 7th inning.
    Watching Wilmer Difo sprint home from 2nd for the winning run last night on an infield ground ball was a painful optic on the importance of having speed on the bases in crucial late inning baseball situations.

    Pinch running Deshields for Stephenson was the right move and giving Deshields a role hes very good at- pinch running- was a good way to optimize talent. Bell then gave Shogo a job he could do. Bunt and move the speed to 3b with less than 2 out. Job accomplished. He then gave Cabrera a job he could execute. Hit a ball to the OF and get the winning run home.

    Very strong baseball execution in the 7th inning and an example of how in certain situations with certain personnel a bunt is a very sound baseball play.

    Stephenson has slightly below avg sprint speed at 26.8 ft/sec
    Deshields was once elite but still 84 percentile in MLB in sprint speed at 28.4 ft/sec. if you are running 90 feet, thats a 5 foot difference between player A and player B. If its second to home, its 10 feet. That’s a big deal. That was a good move and Deshields scored the only run. Cant go backwards and assume Stephenson gets to 3b on a bunt or not bunt and assume Shogo moves the runners by swinging away. A fly ball to the OF by Cabrera does nothing if Deshields or Stephenson is still at 2b. Good situational baseball.

    • RedsMonk65

      Nice analysis of that inning’s scenario. I was glad (obviously) to see them scratch that run out. Today, it was enough.

      Hoping Wink is back tomorrow and that the Reds are somehow able to take 2 of 3 from the Dodgers. Tough mission.

    • Luke J

      I disagree with pretty much all of that. If your plan is sac bunt, you have no need for speed. So trading speed on a tag up from third for Stephenson’s bat the rest of the game is a poor choice.

      • Old-school

        No need for speed on a sac bunt with a force out at 3b? It’s situational baseball in perhaps the most critical need for a win all year. Getting the runner to 3b with less than 2 outs is imperative to win the game. 1.6 feet/sec difference matters a ton over 90 feet. The season is literally on the line.

        Disagreement is fine.

      • Luke J

        You greatly overestimate the speed difference on a sac bunt. Even really slow runners are never thrown out in that scenario, especially with a lefty drag bunting down the first baseline. It’s like you are grasping at straws to justify the pinch runner. If you are resorting to numbers that amount to a fraction of a second total over 90 feet, you’ve missed the boat. All that proves is the move wasn’t necessary, nor even remotely worth the tradeoff of losing his bat in the 9th. So what, based on your assessment, Stephenson gets thrown out when Deshields is safe on what, 1 play in 50? Probably about that. So taking his bat away is simply not wise. That’s not urgency, that’s foolish.

      • Old-school

        Glad you are passionate reds fan
        Reds won.
        I disagree with you that a pinch runner who runs at 28.4 ft/sec in a tie game with the winning run at second in the 7th inning is not a better option than a runner who runs 26.8 ft/sec . Wilmer Difo proved that last night but thats ok.

      • Jim Walker

        I disagreed strategically because it meant they were essentially playing for one run unless Cabrera got really lucky. If I recall the stat correctly, the odds of scoring 1 run from 1st and 2nd with no outs are about the same whether the team bunts or swings away but the odds of scoring 0 runs is higher than the odds of scoring 2 runs if a team bunts.

        I simply did not have faith the Reds pen could make the run stand up and doubted they would have another better chance of adding on later.

        This said, tactically everybody did their job and got the run home which I am very happy about.

      • 2020ball

        As I already said above, he also is trading plus defense for average defense, something that I often see ignored.

      • greenmtred

        And, Luke: your argument seems to assume a well-executed bunt. That beast is a scarce commodity in modern baseball.

    • DataDumpster

      Good analysis (as usual), Old-School. I’ll give credit to Bell for using what he has and with a sense of urgency. It always bothered me that with guys like Shogo and Deshields of limited talent, they never seem to be used in situations where they can excel. This was done today.

    • Redsvol

      @oldSchool, absolutely correct. Shogo laid down a perfect bunt but most bunts aren’t perfect so the speed of Deshields was a nice factor in case it wasn’t perfect. And then Cabrera with the sac fly – how many times do we see major league players incapable of executing this play – they often roll over their wrist because they are so pull-happy and send a grounder harmlessly to the infielder for the easy 3rd out. Must get that runner on 3rd base home to play October baseball.

  9. Bet on Red

    Padres look like they are splitting with the Cardnals. Compresses the race a little, and makes it nessasary for the Reds to take two of three and SD/STL to split

  10. Still a Red

    Interested to see if Bell keeps playing small ball, against the odds, to scratch out some wins in these last few games. Looking at Reds NL relative stats pre- and post-Allstar: hitting about the same average but dropped from 2nd to 8th (so others doing better). Guess who jumped from 13th to 3rd (St. Louis). While Reds’ slugging and OPS improved in post-, they’re striking more, from 9th to 4th, flying out more 1.14 to .94 GO/AO, BAIP from .300 2nd to .289 11th…guess who’s leading post All star BIBP, St. Louis at .308, from last to 1st). Cursory look, Reds are still hitting with some power, but hitting fewer ground balls and not finding the holes, more fly-outs and strike-outs…hence fewer runs. Does this go with getting tired??

    • John D Moteff

      Actually Reds strike out rate (K/PA) has remained pretty constant, so other teams (e.g. the Brewers) must be improving.