Reds Use Four Homers to Beat Pirates 4-1

Francisco Liriano Pitching

Francisco Liriano was strong again with six strikeouts in six innings, but allowed his first two HR of the year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Let’s not dwell too much on this one. The Cincinnati Reds hit four solo home runs, three of which would have flown out even in larger ballparks, plus Mike Leake and Co. frustrated the Pirates again by keeping them hitless with runners in scoring position. There are three games to go and all are very important if the Bucs do not want to fall further behind in the NL Central stampede.

Homer No. 1 — Russell Martin gives Francisco Liriano a spot low and inside with a 2-2 count. Instead, Liriano hangs a slider down the middle for Zack Cosart to demolish into the upper deck, the first home run allowed by the left-hander this year.

Homer No. 2 — Liriano leaves a sinker middle-middle to Todd Frazier for another deep home run to left field, Frazier’s 9th of the year.

Homer No. 3 — Reliever Bryan Morris doesn’t throw a bad slider, but it catches enough of the plate for Joey Votto to hit it opposite field, where it drops over the fence for a pretty cheap home run. The Pirates will probably get a cheap home run themselves before the series is over.

Homer No. 4 — Two batters later, fellow power-hitting lefty Jay Bruce unloads on a slider Morris left, say it with me, right down the middle.

Four home runs on three mistakes. The Pirates had opportunities against Leake and then hard-throwing young lefty Tony Cingrani, but struggled to an 0-for-8 total with runners in scoring position. Russell Martin drove in Pittsburgh’s lone run by smacking a double into the right-center-field gap, giving speedy Andrew McCutchen enough time to floor it and score.

There were other moments in this game of note. In what might have been the best catch of the Pirates season, Starling Marte sprinted, tracked down and dove to rob Brandon Phillips of an RBI early. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called for Jordy Mercer to hit a sacrifice bunt in the 7th inning with the Bucs down one run. Despite “working,” it lowered their win expectancy by more than three percentage points. Old habits die hard, and Hurdle should have let his new starting shortstop swing the bat like he has done so well in the last week.

Leake hit Andrew McCutchen to start the 4th inning, but it seemed rather innocuous. It didn’t hit McCutchen in the head [I originally said high] and the game was still scoreless at that point. However, with a three-run lead in the 9th, Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman buzzed back Neil Walker with a fastball. If the Pirates wanted to respond in kind, they had no chance to Monday evening. McCutchen and Martin were the only Pirates with multiple hits.

There are more important tasks to accomplish this series than try to “prove a point” with a violent pitch, but damned if Chapman’s tight fastball didn’t tick off many Pirates fans. The Reds continue to beat and embarrass the Bucs in Cincinnati, and you can bet the Pittsburgh side wants to put an end to both.

James Santelli

Author: James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.graham.773 Bryan Graham

    It didn’t hit McCutchen high? Really, I consider the top of the collarbone fairly high. Leake hit him in the neck a couple years ago and he didn’t miss that by much this time. I know the Bucco’s have hit Phillips a couple times in retaliation, but for the most part they just sit back and take it. The umpire gave no warnings so the opportunity was there to retaliate, but nothing. Then Walker about gets a 98mph fastball right in the mouth. I’m sick of the Pirates allowing this to go on against the Reds. The Reds don’t throw at a guys rearend, they go after the head area and the Pirates need to see to it that either Votto or Phillips catch one in the ear hole tomorrow night before another Pirate catches one there.

    • James Santelli

      Call off your dogs! I misspoke by saying it wasn’t high, but it wasn’t at his head either. And if you consider the context, the placement of Mesoraco’s glove, it did not appear to be intentional. We saw plenty of such hit-by-pitches between these two clubs in Pittsburgh. None looked intentional. Sometimes hit-by-pitches happen, as with all teams. Are the Reds intentionally throwing at the Pirates? Only they and God know.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.graham.773 Bryan Graham

        At this point intention doesn’t matter. Cutch has been hit way to many times by the Reds with at least a couple being close to head level. There is very little difference in release point to hit a guy high on the back or hit him in the head. I feel confident that tonight a Pirate will get hit high again, both benches will be warned and the Pirates will be left with no options for retaliation. I don’t care who hits after Votto or Phillips, one of them needs earholed early tonight before it happens to the Pirates again. It’s too bad Cutch has so little hitting behind him, maybe it would make teams think twice. I know it would never happen, but a guy like Adrian Gonzalez would sure look nice in the 4 hole.

  • kidic56

    Sometimes, more often than not, the RISP stat means nothing. The past 2 game for the Reds, they have gone a combined 1 – 16 w/ RISP, yet they have scored a total of 9 runs, a 5 – 1 win Sunday, and a 4 – 1 win Monday. The Pirates were 2 – 9 Sunday, and scored 6 runs, the Dodgers were 3 – 8, but scored 3. I think Runs Scored is way more accurate.

  • kidic56

    And why is McCutchen keep getting plunked by Reds pitching? Smart thinking on their part. Who is the best Pirates player? Andrew. Who is the power hitter behind Andrew? Uh, NO ONE! Votto got Phillips behind him. You plunk Votto, you’re setting the table for Phillips. You plunk McCutchen? You’re cleaning the table off. Get a power bat after McCutchen, and then you won’t have to worry about him getting hit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      then what’s wrong with plunking Phillips?

      :)

      • kidic56

        Jay Bruce follows w/ his.502 slg. and his .323 June BA. NO Pirate regular is slugging.500 Only part-time SS Jordy M. is over .500

  • leadoff

    The problem with the Pirate hitters is they are basically whimps, when someone low bridges you, you get up off the deck and put a charge into the next pitch or the same at bat, not this team, low bridge them and they just want out of the box.
    The Reds know this and until the Pirates start making the Reds pay with their bats, they are going to keep getting hit.
    In Hockey a player committing a penalty is made to pay by scoring on the power play, even a punch in the mouth is not near the payment as scoring a goal is.
    They are the worst team in baseball with runners in scoring position, that shows they can’t handle pressure, back to my whimp theory.

    • James Santelli

      I won’t address the rest, but careful using RISP to prove, well, anything at this point. Even 556 plate appearances is volatile for an offensive stat like that. If RISP numbers are indicative of ANYTHING at this point, it’s bad luck in sequencing for the Pirates. Look again at those numbers at the end of the year. The Pirates’ will be higher. The Cardinals’ will be lower. But maybe it will indicate at least something in October.