In this afternoon’s matinee against the Brewers Chad Kuhl looked to get back on track after one his most disappointing appearances of the season against the Cubs this past Tuesday. Only lasting four innings Kuhl gave up three earned runs on six hits, while striking out three and walking two; throwing a total of 86 pitches. Opposing him for Cincinnati was rookie right hander Tejay Antone, who would be making only his third career start. The first two for Antone were a bit of a mixed bag, however one things for sure, he strikes out a lot of batters. In the first 20.1 innings of his career the Reds 24th ranked prospect has set down 27 batters thanks in part to a 96 mph fastball/sinker that he often pairs with a 84 mph slider and a complementary 80 mph curveball; the latter two having above average movement and spin, which makes them hard for batters to track.
Through his first two innings of work Kuhl struck out more batters (3) than he had in his two previous two outings combined, but found himself in a little trouble because he gave free passes to the same amount. Luckily for him these were the two most likely outcomes for the Reds hitters as they were unable reach base any other way. However, this luck would run out in the top of the third as a leadoff walk to Joey Votto was immediately follow by Nick Castellanos’ 12th home run of the season. This ended up being Kuhl’s last inning as he did not come out to take the mound in the bottom of the 4th. His final line in his shortest start of the season was two runs on 2 hits, with five strikeouts and four walks all on 64 pitches.
For Cincinnati, Antone gave up a leadoff double to Erik Gonzalez, but eventually settled down; striking out three before allowing a run in the bottom of the 3rd on a Bryan Reynolds single, which was proceeded by a wild pitch that gave Adam Frazier the opportunity to race to second base. With the Pirates trailing 2-1 to start the 4th inning Geoff Hartlieb struck out the final two batters, while Antone induced a double play to end his half of the inning. In the 5th inning both hurlers matched zeros again. This would be it for Antone as he pitched his longest outing of the year, striking out six Pirates along the way.
Over the next two innings the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati bullpens would duel as only one batter would reach base between the two teams via a Chris Stratton walk in the 7th. Pirates reliever Nik Turley would the walk the leadoff hitter to begin the 8th before striking out the next two and getting a fly out from the third. In the bottom frame a Pirates threat would be squashed and it was up to Richard Rodriguez to keep the Reds within striking distance, which is what he did on only 13 pitches.
As the Pirates last chance began, Josh Bell led off with a single, which was immediately followed Ke’Bryan Hayes second hit of the game; another base knock. Cole Tucker then hit a ball through the left side of the infield and Bell hustled around to tie the game. After a fielders choice by pinch hitter, Kevin Newman, Erik Gonzalez took the opportunity and hit a hard line drive to right field, which was just enough to score the speedy Tucker from third; giving the Pirates a 3-2 comeback victory and a split of the four game set with the Reds.
Pittsburgh has a much needed day off tomorrow after playing 15 games in 13 days. They will take on the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park on Tuesday at 7:05 EST, with Joe Mugrove (0-4, 6.62 ERA) schedule to take the mound against the young righty, Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.29 ERA).
News and Notes:
- Chad Kuhl has now allowed at least one homer run in his last 6 appearances, he raised his BB/9 to 4.03 and is sporting a FIP of 5.59, which contrasts his 3.10 ERA.
- Adam Frazier extends his hit streak to 10 game and yes, I was just as surprised as Gary.
- Geoff Hartlieb has only allowed 1 run in his last 11 innings of work.
- With 6 scores innings the Pirates Bullpen kept them in the game and allowed for the last inning rally.
- The Pirates are 13-26 on the season and remain 4 games back of the Reds for the last spot in the NL Central.