A nearly three-hour rain delay was an inauspicious start to Friday night’s series-opening tilt between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Once the skies cleared, however, the Pirates had little trouble extending their winning streak to seven games, steadily putting the game further and further out of reach after the first few competitive innings.
The Reds threatened briefly in the first, as Scooter Gennett hit a fly ball to the warning track in right field. It might have had just enough to sneak over the fence, or it might have been just shy of the required distance, but either way it ended up in the glove of a leaping Gregory Polanco. From there, starter Jameson Taillon largely cruised, with six strikeouts in five-and-a-third innings and only one earned run allowed, on a double by the hot-hitting Jesse Winker in the sixth.
The Pirates’ offense, in contrast, drew much of its early inspiration from the work of the just-returned Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez drove in the game’s first run on a soft single in the fourth inning, and Taillon brought home a second run later that inning, helping his cause with a beautiful squeeze bunt that brought home Josh Bell from third. Rodriguez also drove in three additional runs in the sixth inning, turning on a meatball of a slider and driving it into the second deck in left field with Colin Moran and Bell on base. Corey Dickerson hit a solo homer of his own later in the inning, which put the Pirates up 6-0 and ended starter Tyler Mahle’s night.
The Bucs added insult to injury against the Reds’ bullpen, scoring an additional six times across the final three innings, with an eighth-inning grand slam by Starling Marte doing most of the damage. They also added injury to insult, as a takeout slide by Max Moroff to try and break up a double play in the ninth ended with Reds infielder Alex Blandino on the ground after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury to his knee. It looked more like an unfortunate accident than a dirty play, but the result is the same for Blandino, who is reportedly scheduled for a MRI later today.
In the end, every member of the Pirates’ starting lineup reached base at least once, and all but Bell (who walked twice) had at least one hit. The sparse and soggy Cincinnati crowd had to content itself with the antics of a cat that ran onto the field and the memory of the day’s scheduled fireworks display, which the Reds had shot off during the rain delay.
Both teams will reset and try to fit in another game at 7:10 this afternoon, weather permitting - Nick Kingham is scheduled to take the hill against Anthony DeSclafani. If you’re going, don’t forget to pack a poncho.