Many expected the Cincinnati Reds to fall to the lower echelon of the National League Central this season while the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs competed for divisional supremacy. Or at least a playoff spot.

For the most part that’s been the case. The Reds are 34-37, 13 1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals and five games out of a playoff spot.

But in 28 games since Johnny Cueto dropped the ball, the Reds are 19-9 in 28 games against the Pirates. Last year, Pittsburgh went 7-12 against the Reds.

The only other team the Pirates lost 12 games to? The Brewers, who owned the Pirates in recent memory with 2013 as a lone exception leading into 2015.

While the Reds aren’t the contender they’ve been in years past, they still have the Pirates’ number on speed dial.

Pittsburgh fell to 2-7 against the Reds this season with Thursday’s 5-4 13-inning loss in which they led by two runs at the beginning of the seventh.

It was another uncharacteristic, inexplicable loss.

The Reds defeated Gerrit Cole Wednesday, the only team in the league that’s been able to consistently succeed against him. Cincinnati has beaten the Pirates in each of his three starts this year.

Like Cole, the Pirates bullpen has been dominant for most of the season. When leading after six innings, the Pirates were 35-3.

After Thursday, they were 35-4.

Arquimedes Caminero entered with a 4-2 lead and gave up two runs before he got an out. Joey Votto singled and advanced to third as Josh Harrison’s error allowed the ball to roll to the wall.

His position on the basepaths didn’t matter as Todd Frazier hammered a 99 MPH fastball Caminero left elevated over the heart of the plate for a game-tying home run.

“The guy was throwing heat and throwing hard,” Frazier said. “I get a fastball, I like to drive ‘em and I got a pitch to hit. I squared it up and that’s all I’m trying to do every at-bat.”

Frazier’s home run was his 24th of the season. He’s hit four home runs against three teams.

But he’s hit five home runs against only one team. Guess which one?

“He’s in the big leagues for a reason,” A.J. Burnett said. “They’re all good hitters. Don’t take anybody for granted.”

But some of them aren’t great hitters. Billy Hamilton is a weapon because of his legs and he’s stolen a league-high 36 bases this season, another coming Thursday.

Hamilton is a .245 hitter in his career. Against the Pirates, the light-hitting center fielder hits .324.

As the game proceeded to extra innings, the Pirates were primed to score in the 12th after Andrew McCutchen doubled and Neil Walker was intentionally walked. Jung Ho Kang ripped a ball directly at first baseman Joey Votto, who doubled Walker off at first.

Nothing the Pirates did Thursday would be enough.

“We went up there and swung the bats better later,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We couldn’t find grass.”

Against Aroldis Chapman in the 11th, the Pirates not only put the ball in play against the fireballing closer but made solid contact. But Josh Harrison was the only one to collect a hit with a single and the Pirates flew out three times to deep center field.

“We hit some balls hard,” Hurdle said. “Hit it to the deepest part of the park and it didn’t work out for us.”

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31 COMMENTS

  1. I hate to say this because I really expected this kind of inconsitency to be a thing of the past, at this point I do not see how the pirates can seriously be considered as legitimate contenders. They are either really good or really bad with no in between. Until they learn how to be more even keeled they are not a serious threat for a ws ring. Not just one or two guys the whole team is up and down at the same time.

  2. The problems isn’t the Pirates not figuring out the Reds; the problems is the Pirates can’t figure out the Pirates!

  3. They bunt early in game down 4-0 the other night and choose not to bunt with runner on 2nd in extra innings last night. This make absolutely no sense to me.

    • I understand this team is 0-25 after being behind after 7 innings! No comebacks means poor pinch hitting, inability of all hitters to get on base and if they get on……can’t get them home. Lack of power. What is the walk-off stat so far? Isn’t it something like 2 wins and 9 losses. The frustrating thing about this year so far is the number of games given away due to poor defense and poor fundamentals in the field, in the batters box, and on the base paths. Those three extra inning losses to the Cards may have doomed the Bucs to wild card at best. Really tough to take as a fan…….has to be killing the competitors on this team. We all saw and heard Cutch boil over last night. We need a stretch of “balls finding the grass.” If Marte plays last night and Polanco is in right we win. What has happened to Harrison’s defense? Pedro’s play at first hurts the defense AND everybody else’s confidence in team defense. RANT over…….feel better now. Pedro, Tabata and two prospects not named Bell, Taillon or Glasnow for a major league first baseman with pop and a glove.

  4. I just heard the Pirates may be talking to Phillies – and Phillies were scouting prospects in Altoona?

    Please tell me we are NOT considering Harang!! I’d rather stick with Morton and Locke than trade anything for Harang. He would not be an upgrade.

    • No, you saw that the Phillies had a scout at a AA game. Which happens a few times a month all season. That doesnt imply anyone is talking or that anything new is happening. Only time we hear this stuff is once teams think they gotta make trades.

  5. We have been dominated by the Reds and Cards this year – we were lucky to win the first game of this series.

    Caminero was major disappointment last night – you have to do more than just throw hard.

  6. I am just frustrated. Have to rant. Just too many guys playing key positions and not producing. Too many starters hitting under .240. Right now not going to complain too much about Burnett and top 3-4 starters having one bad outing.
    That just cannot continue.
    Also see some “hungry” players on the farm, just looking for their chance.
    Just frustrated…. Of course we could be rooting for the Brewers…
    Remember when we were them? Ugh….

    • But in all fairness to the starters, as well, we have played some sloppy baseball behind them (they have been a part of some of that too I know) which has lengthened innings and put them in some bad spots. We’ve really played some sloppy baseball lately.

  7. saw only a few late innings but they have to know frazier owns them, just like votto and byrd. Hamilton scares them to death, so they walk him which is a triple. What about the cincy catcher terrorizing them when he was on second base. He is as slow as a dripping faucet and they were worried he was going to steal second; making walker play out of position to mark him. What was that about? When this team is not hitting which seems to be the norm this year they waste allot of good starting pitching. One thing for sure, this team will never win with Pedro on it. He keeps practicing his uppercut swing and then uses it to pop up or strike out. Even if he hits 30 hrs, it is usually when they are way ahead or way behind. He is no Willie Stargell or Dave Parker for that matter. Lets trade him to the AL league and get something or nothing back for him.

  8. Like I have said many times, if you can’t beat your division you can’t win your division. Looks like the pirates are going to have some of that mlb ready talent to trade away for top flight players after all, if only to shake things up, these guys are way to stale against and the other teams in division are way to familiar with the current roster.

  9. The biggest issue the Bucs have with the Reds is Billy Hamilton inexplicably getting on base in what seems like every at-bat.

  10. This one goes on Hurdle. He made so many mistakes last night. First off he should have bunted or stole Mccutchen in the 8th. If hes at second he scores on Kangs hit. Its 5-4 and games over.
    In the 12th 1st and 2nd no one out and he doesn’t bunt. When your offense is struggling you have to make things happen. Hit/run, steal, bunt.
    Sitting there chewing Bubble Gum isn’t going get it cut. Rant over

    • Not bunting with Walker, who has been bad this year and shouldn’t be hitting cleanup anyway, when McCutchen was on first in the 8th was inexcusable. You only need one run to turn it over to one of the best closers in baseball.

      I get letting Kang hit, though, since he’s been among our best with runners in scoring position this year. He squared it up, but hit it right at Votto, and if Walker doesn’t get himself doubled off, Tabata’s walk loads the bases and maybe Cervelli’s approach is just to lift a ball to the outfield.

    • We haven’t really been very good at manufacturing runs. We haven’t run a lot, or hit and run, or bunted well. Our offense has struggled and when games are close it doesn’t seem like we’re doing enough of the small, fundamental parts of the game to manufacture more runs.

      • Exactly not stealing more with Marte and Polanco infuriates me. They should have 40 stolen bases a year at least. Mccutchen should be right there too but im not sure on his knee.
        Manufacturing runs is on Hurdle. He calls the bunts, steals, and hit/runs. He needs to do it more

        • I understand not running McCutchen because of the knee…but a hit and run? Oh yeah! The people hitting behind him aren’t reliable enough to hit and run…well, now, that would be a different problem wouldn’t it?

  11. We have been a very sloppy team at times this season (maybe even for much of the season) and sometimes we get away with it and sometimes we don’t. It is inexplicable how we pitch to Hamilton. Just go after the guy. He really isn’t a threat with the bat, only when he gets on base which we allow him to do way too often.

  12. The Pirates could easily figure out the Reds if they simply played sound fundamental baseball. No errors, don’t get doubled up on line drives, hit behind the runner, etc. etc.

    And Caminero needs to either get some movement on that heater or work it lower in the zone – which the ump was happy to call. The pitch on Frazier’s HR was simply flat.

    Possibly the worst day in the field I can remember for Harrison.

    • I think we all expected the offense to back up a bit from Harrison, but the fielding and base running really have as well.

  13. Gee Polanco went 0-6! He could of used AAA seasoning last year. Why wasn’t Marte in the line-up except for PH?

    • Polanco hit the ball hard a lot last night (the last two nights, really), but as Hurdle pointed out, it’s just not finding grass. If he keeps putting the bat on the ball like he has been, the hits, and the extra bases, are going to come.

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