The Cincinnati Reds are looking to continue their historic offensive run while the Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping to just stay close early when the two teams meet for the third straight night Saturday in Cincinnati.
The Reds scored seven runs in the first inning in Friday’s 10-0 win and have scored 16 runs in the first two innings of the first two games in the four-game series.
“It’s really the first two innings,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “(Pitchers have) gotten a little bit frustrated and missed with some fastballs in the middle of the plate. You cannot do that with that lineup in this ballpark.”
The Reds lineup added another big bat on Friday when Mike Moustakas (right heel) returned from a two-month stint on the injured list and doubled three times.
“To add Mike Moustakas to our lineup, it energized him; and anytime we get any of our players back it’s energizing,” Reds manager David Bell said. “The closer that we get back to having our full team back, it’s a step closer to where we want to be.”
The Reds have outscored the Pirates 68-21 in eight games this season, with the Reds winning seven. Cincinnati, which welcomed back Nick Castellanos (right wrist) back on Thursday, has won 10 straight at home against Pittsburgh, their longest such streak since they won 11 in a row between the 1961 and ’62 seasons.
“This is what you dream about as a little kid. Showing up every day with a chance to get to the postseason,” Moustakas said. “It’s so much fun to be back out there with these guys.”
The Pirates, meanwhile, added a player of their own on Friday when they activated first baseman Colin Moran (left hand) from the 10-day injured list. Moran had not played since June 28, when he was hit by a pitch in Colorado.
Moran took the place of outfielder Ben Gamel, who was placed on the IL Friday (retroactive to Aug. 5) with a right hamstring injury. Gamel was scratched from the series opener against the Reds after his leg tightened up.
The Reds look for their 11th win in 15 games Saturday night when they send right-handed rookie Vladimir Gutierrez (6-3, 4.39 ERA) to the mound in the third game of the four-game set against the Pirates.
The start will be his 13th big league appearance, and his first against the Pirates. Last Sunday in a 7-1 win over the Mets in New York, Gutierrez allowed only a solo homer to Jeff McNeil with one out in the sixth inning. Gutierrez didn’t allow a hit until Kevin Pillar singled with two outs in the fifth.
The Pirates counter with right-hander Mitch Keller (3-8, 7.05). The 25-year-old hurler is making 14th start of the season after allowing four runs in five innings in a 15-4 blowout loss to the Philadelphia Phillies last Sunday.
Keller was 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) with Triple-A Indianapolis after being optioned there on June 12. Keller has lost five of his last six decisions with the Pirates, with his lone win in that time coming on May 29 against the Colorado Rockies.
Keller is 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four career starts against Cincinnati, including 0-1 in one start this year. He allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 14-1 loss on May 10 in Pittsburgh. Keller made his major league debut in Cincinnati on May 27, 2019, allowing seven hits and six runs in the first inning in an 8-1 loss.
–Field Level Media