Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless of records, the Pittsburgh Pirates have shown they can beat the visiting Cincinnati Reds, and now they have a chance to earn a split in their four-game weekend series with a win Sunday.
After dropping the first two games 4-0 and 8-2, and after dropping two of three last weekend in Cincinnati, the Pirates downed the Reds 3-1 Saturday.
“It’s awesome,” Pittsburgh’s Daniel Vogelbach, who hit a solo homer Saturday, told AT&T Sportsnet of bouncing back after two fairly lopsided games.
“Wins are fun. I feel like we’ve been playing good baseball. We could have a lot more wins than we do.”
The Reds had won a season-high three straight, five of six and six of eight before Saturday. That’s quite a contrast to their 3-22 start.
A win Sunday could further boost the Reds’ confidence with a third straight series win — one against Milwaukee since the first set with the Pirates. That was after Cincinnati went 0-7-1 in its first eight series.
Cincinnati got a scare Saturday when catcher Tyler Stephenson, who is batting .324, left in the third inning after taking a hard foul tip to the chin area of his mask.
Stephenson has a history of concussion, but manager David Bell said the team is relieved that initial reports are encouraging.
In the series finale, Cincinnati right-hander Hunter Greene (1-5, 7.62 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh left-hander Jose Quintana (1-1, 2.70 ERA).
Quintana, set for his seventh start, is coming off one of the more impressive starts by a Pirates pitcher this season. He picked up his first win on Monday when he shut out the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers for six innings, allowing two hits, five strikeouts and four walks, in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win.
That might be considered a reward since Quintana had received poor run support in three of his first five starts, masking the fact that he has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his first six starts.
It was not only Quintana’s first win this season, but also his first since Sept. 5, 2019. Injuries and ineffectiveness plagued him in the interim.
His win on Monday also marked the Pirates’ first win by a starter in their 28th game, a dubious major league record at a season’s start.
“Huge,” Quintana said. “It’s tough to get hurt. I kept working hard. I knew (it) would come one day. I’m really happy to get a win against a team like that. It’s good. Just keep rolling.”
Against Cincinnati, Quintana is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 career games, nine of them starts.
Greene’s rookie season, which includes six starts, has had its bumps, but there also have been positives.
On Tuesday against Milwaukee, the 22-year-old did not allow hit through three innings, then gave up a homer to Luis Urias in the fourth and left with the game tied 1-1 but was charged with another run after he left with a runner on.
In 5 1/3 innings, he gave up four hits and four walks, with six strikeouts.
“Big step forward,” Bell said of Greene. “He can take that into next time and even go deeper into the game. Really a lot of good things.”
Greene will be facing Pittsburgh for the first time.
-Field Level Media