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Reds’ longballs, helpless Pirates’ offense lead to 4-2 loss

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Kuhl had gopheritis and the Pirates’ offense once again couldn’t handle one of baseball’s worst pitchers, and the Reds won, 4-2.

Coming into the game, out of 176 major league pitchers who’d thrown at least 70 innings on the season, Bailey ranked 173rd in ERA. You wouldn’t know it from watching him dominate the Pirates, though. They set the tone early. After Adam Frazier lined out following a 14-pitch at-bat, it took Bailey just 19 more pitches to blow through the next five hitters, helped when Andrew McCutchen got cut down trying to take second on a wild throw following an infield single.

In the third, Elias Diaz, who’s been lurching toward Chris Stewart, vapor bat territory, led off with a book rule double. The Pirates eventually loaded the bases with one out, helped when Kuhl singled, but a Jordan Luplow sacrifice fly was all they could get. (The Pirates came into the game with a pitiful .592 team OPS with the bases loaded, so a sacrifice fly is close to a best-case outcome.)

The Pirates only threatened Bailey again in the sixth when they loaded the bases with two out. Clint Hurdle let Diaz bat against mediocre reliever Michael Lorenzen because he only had two more catchers on the bench. Diaz continued the team’s futility with the bases loaded, grounding out. (Lorenzen has a career opponents’ OPS of .775, but the Pirates have managed only .523 against him. Lorenzen himself has a career OPS as a hitter of .630.)

Kuhl meanwhile had another of the strange starts he’s had during his strong second-half run, except not as good. He didn’t throw a lot of strikes, with just 60 in 101 pitches, and he walked three while striking out six. The walks weren’t damaging, but Kuhl fell victim to the post-steroids power spike that the Pirates have neglected to join. He gave up two gopher balls to Zack Cozart and one each to Joey Votto and Scott Schebler. He left after four and two-thirds.

The Pirates did nothing in the seventh, then managed to get two on against Lorenzen with one out in the eighth. The Reds brought on Raisel Iglesias, who’s actually good, and he blew away David Freese and Gregory Polanco.

A two-out triple by Frazier in the ninth brought in Max Moroff, who’d walked. Luplow, though, lined out to end it.