With few games remaining in the season the Cincinnati Reds need to win as many as they can, and on Friday night they had ample opportunity to do just that…. but the bullpen and defense came back to bite them over and over as the Pittsburgh Pirates took a late lead and held on for a 7-5 win.
|Pittsburgh Pirates (73-81)
|Cincinnati Reds (79-76)
|W: Stratton (1-0) L: Gibaut (8-4) SV: Bednar (37)|
|Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread|
The Reds threatened early on, loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning thanks to walks to TJ Friedl and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and then a hit batter (Joey Votto). Noelvi Marte hit the ball hard twice, but both times the ball was foul. All three runners would be stranded when Marte grounded into a force out.
Pittsburgh put some pressure on Andrew Abbott in the top of the 2nd after a leadoff double from Miguel Andujar and a single – one that didn’t advance Andujar who had to hold up to see if the ball was caught – from Jared Triolo to start the inning. The Reds young left-handed starter then took things into his own hands and he struck out the next three batters to strand both runners.
Elly De La Cruz led off the bottom of the 2nd with a single. He would then steal second. Later in the inning he stole third. That helped make Jonathan India’s fly out a productive one as De La Cruz tagged up and scored on the sacrifice fly that put Cincinnati up 1-0.
Ke’Bryan Hayes would tie the game up two innings later, cracking a solo homer to lead off the top of the 4th inning. The next inning it was the same thing, but it was Henry Davis with a leadoff homer this time around and it put the Pirates up 2-1.
Cincinnati got to work in the bottom of the inning with a 1-out single, a fielders choice that recorded no outs, and a single by to load the bases. Joey Votto grounded out, but tied the game up when TJ Friedl scored on the play. Noelvi Marte then picked up an infield single that drove in Spencer Steer to put the Reds up 3-2.
The lead didn’t last very long. Pittsburgh got two solo home runs off of Buck Farmer in the top of the 6th to tie things up and then take the 4-3 lead. Luke Maile picked up a 1-out single into shallow center and that set up a go-ahead, 2-run home run from TJ Friedl with two outs that put Cincinnati back in front 5-4, and Friedl let his dugout know about it, too.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 23, 2023
Ian Gibaut took over for Cincinnati in the top of the 7th and saw Ji Hwan Bae reached first on a single that was initially ruled an error on Jonathan India but changed to a single two innings later to lead off the inning. Gibaut would strike out Connor Joe, but Bae stole second base in the process to put the tying run into scoring position. Three pitches later he’d come in to score on a flare into shallow left by Bryan Reynolds and the game was tied up once again. Pittsburgh executed a perfect hit-and-run as Ke’Bryan Hayes slapped the ball to the vacated spot as India moved to cover the bag to put runners on the corners. Miguel Andujar then grounded one to India, who flipped to the bag for a force out, but Elly De La Cruz threw low over to first and it got by Votto to keep the inning alive and allow the go-ahead run to score.
A walk followed and that ended the night for Gibaut as the Reds called on Fernando Cruz from the bullpen. He’d get a strikeout to end the inning. Cruz returned for the top of the 8th and he struck out all three batters he faced. The bottom of the 8th began with a walk from Jake Fraley, who was then pinch run for by Stuart Fairchild. Tyler Stephenson followed up with a strikeout before Jonathan India grounded into a double play to end the frame.
Daniel Duarte took over for Cincinnati in the 9th inning and things did not go well as he walked the first batter he faced, hit the second one, then walked the third one before Derek Johnson made the walk to the mound to talk to him. The first pitch he threw after the visit nearly hit Jack Suwinski. Five pitches later Suwinski hit a sacrifice fly to extend the Pirates lead to 7-5. Another walk followed and David Bell, finally, decided to try another pitcher. He called on Derek Law and he got out of the inning without allowing any further damage.
The Reds got a leadoff walk from TJ Friedl on four pitches in the bottom of the 9th. Spencer Steer hit a grounder to third and Ke’Bryan Hayes came up with it and fired to second, but Friedl beat the throw to the bag and everyone was safe. Christian Encarnacion-Strand grounded into a double play to follow, moving Friedl over to third and leaving the game in the hands of Joey Votto. He would do his part, walking and keeping the game alive. Noelvi Marte came up next, but he struck out to end the game.
Key Moment of the Game
Take your pick: Jonathan India not coming up with the grounder in the 7th that led to two runs scoring that wound up giving the Pirates a lead, Daniel Duarte allowing four of the five batters he faced in the 9th to reach and have Pittsburgh pad their lead, the two home runs Buck Farmer gave up in the 6th that erased a Reds lead they had just gotten back in the previous half-inning.
Notes worth noting
According to the Reds television broadcast, Elly De La Cruz is the first player in their debut season to have 30 steals for Cincinnati since Chris Sabo in 1988. He’s only the 4th to ever do it for the Reds. The wording of “debut season” is a bit strange, because some guys would be called up in September the year before their “full season” as a rookie. Guys like Billy Hamilton, who stole 56 bases as a rookie don’t get counted because he had been called up the previous September. Still cool, but he’s the 14th Reds rookie to get 30 steals in a single season.
The loss, combined with a Cubs win earlier, puts Cincinnati 1.5 games back of the final wild card spot with just seven games remaining.
TJ Friedl went 2-2 with 3 walks, his 25th steal of the year, 2 runs, and 2 RBI. He did his part.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds
Saturday September 23rd, 6:40pm ET
TBA vs. Connor Phillips (1-0, 5.74 ERA)