Reds win for fifth time in seven tries, 4-0 over Pittsburgh

Reds win for fifth time in seven tries, 4-0 over Pittsburgh
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Connor Overton and two relievers combined to record the Cincinnati Reds’ first shutout of the season, a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Final R H AND
Cincinnati Reds (8-24) 4 9 0
Pittsburgh Pirates (13-18)
0 4 0
W: Overton (1-0) L: Brubaker (0-3)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Hey now! We’re beginning to have a little bit of fun, huh? Tonight, the Cincinnati Reds:

  • snapped a 13-game road losing streak
  • registered their fifth win in seven games
  • held a team to zero runs for the first time all season

Somehow, the vibe / energy / aura / focus of this team has changed tremendously in the past week — a welcome turn of events for all of us here in Redleg Nation. What’s happened? The bats have come alive, as will be revealed in the section of this article covering the offense. This team is getting hits, making quality pitches and making defensive plays at times when the result is still in question.

This is supposition only, but this author believes after the Reds were thrashed in Los Angeles and San Diego in early April, in the wake of:

  • the roster being gutted by the front office
  • Phil Castellini’s suggestion to the fans to be careful what they wish for
  • injuries galore

this team may have collectively believed they were indeed the drugs of baseball. The results certainly validated that mindset.

We’re now seeing a combination of factors leading to this recent change:

  • playing non-elite teams
  • underperforming players beginning to perform like their baseball card says they should
  • Mike Moustakas and Tyler Stephenson showing flashes of being the difference-making hitters they have been expected to be

I’m certainly not trying to say a long-term dramatic turnaround is in store. There are still too many injuries and question marks. Let’s see how things go next week in Cleveland and Toronto. But hey, now! We’re having fun and enjoying our Reds again.

The Offense

Leading off the top of the second inning, Moustakas lifted one to deep right that would certainly have been a home run at Great American Ball Park, but bounced back into the field of play for a double in PNC Park. It didn’t matter, because Tyler Stephenson followed with a hit to center scoring Moose to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, Stephenson continued his current trend of mashing everything he’s hitting:

That came against Pirates starter JT Brubaker who pitched at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle (between Dayton and Springfield).

Cincinnati added two in the eighth on a single by Colin Moran and a double by Tyler Naquin to account for the final 4-0 score. Stephenson’s three hits and Naquin’s two led the hit parade.

So here’s what’s been happening for Reds hitters in the past seven days:

Six hitters have OPS marks over .800:

  • Brandon Drury, 1,362
  • Moran, 1,172
  • Stephenson, 1,145
  • Mustakas, .867
  • Naquin, .851
  • Albert Almora, .833

As a team over the past seven days, the Reds rank first in OPS (.839), RBI (52), doubles (19), hits (64) and runs (53). Small sample size, yes. But what a difference from April!

The Pitching

Connor Overton continues to be the “stopper” that we never expected:

The righthander became the first Reds starter with a “quality” start, defined as 6 or more innings while surrendering 3 or fewer runs. He also became the first Reds starter to qualify for a quality start because he became the first Reds starter to pitch at least six innings.

He allowed three hits and walked four in 6.1 innings, while striking out only one. He consistently fell behind Pittsburgh hitters, but more often than not, he recovered to induce them to hit the ball at somebody for an out. That’s the way those of us who have been watching the game for a long time remember games being played.

AND, Overton registered his first major league victory. I have dropped his ERA to 1.59. He’s been effective every time he’s been given the ball. From my perspective, despite the fact there will be several pitchers coming off the injured list, he deserves to stay in the big leagues until he proves otherwise.

Luis Cessa pitched 1.2 innings in the seventh and eighth, allowing nothing. Art Warren finished the combined shutout, blanking the Bucs in the bottom of the ninth.

We’re beginning to see who David Bell can truly count on in the bullpen, it seems. I’m anxious to see Alexis Diaz be given a shot at the closer role.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, May 13, 6:35 p.m. ET

Tyler Mahle (1-4, 6.46 ERA) vs. Mitch Keller (0-4, 6.11 ERA)

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