Reds Bullpen Dominates Pirates in Win

Reds Pirates
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Reds 6, Pirates 2

CINCINNATI (Apr 1) — Saturday afternoon gave us game two of the Major League Baseball season for the Cincinnati Reds. On a cold, blustery day in the Queen City, the Reds bullpen thoroughly dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates. Coupled with timely hitting and a strong outing for Nick Lodolo, the Reds improved to 1–1 on the season.

Early On

Nick Lodolo took the mound for the first time this season for the Reds. He would be facing 43-year old Rich Hill for the Pirates. Lodolo labored through the first inning though. After battling Ke’Bryan Hayes for eight pitches, he got a strikeout. Bryan Reynolds followed with a hard lineout to right field, and Lodolo quickly had two outs. Cue the laborious portion of the inning. Andrew McCutchen drew a five pitch walk, and was immediately moved to third on a single by Carlos Santana. Aided by a fielding error in right field, the Bucs had runners on the corner. Connor Joe followed up with a chopper through the infield to give Pittsburgh an early 1-0 lead.

After an O’Neil Cruz swinging bunt single, the Pirates had the bases loaded. Rodolfo Castro then struck out to finish up a 28-pitch inning for Lodolo. The lead for Pittsburgh would be short lived though, as leadoff hitter Jonathan India tied the game with a home run to left field. Hill then retired both Spencer Steer and Wil Myers via the punch-out and it looked as if the Reds were done scoring. Tyler Stephenson restarted the rally with a double down the left field line. Kevin Newman, the former Pirate, followed the double with a two-run homer to give Cincinnati a 3–1 lead. That’s where we stood after one inning of play.

Trying to be Efficient

As was the case with Hunter Greene on Opening Day, it looked as if Lodolo struggled with his command at times, but he gave a really gutsy performance. He surrendered a double in the second, but got out of the inning clean to preserve the lead. The Reds would fail to score in the bottom half of the inning. With Lodolo at 51 pitches through two innings, it looked as if he was on a short leash. That leash got shorter after a leadoff single from Santana, then a subsequent walk to Joe. Cruz once again answered the call for Pittsburgh as he singled to make it a 3-2 ballgame. From there though, that would be the last bit of noise the Buccos made all day.

Lodolo ended up gutting out five complete innings for the Reds, and had nine strikeouts on the day. He only surrendered two runs, but also gave up seven hits. Although the Pirates had their chances, that’s not too shabby for the first outing of the season. Lodolo’s final line was five innings pitched, seven hits, two earned runs, and two walks to go along with his nine punch-outs.

Timely Hitting and a Dominant Bullpen

After Lodolo’s day was done, he turned the ball over to the bullpen. Four pitchers combined to pitch the final four innings, and retired all 16 batters they faced. Not once did any pitcher face any trouble, as they surrendered no walks, and struck out three batters. This is the kind of performance the Reds will need going forward if they want to continue winning ballgames. As for the offense, the Reds only had one runner get into scoring position until the sixth inning after plating three runs in the first. The rally for them though, came to life in the home half of the sixth.

Wil Myers lead off the inning with a four pitch walk courtesy of Pittsburgh reliever Chase De Jong. Stephenson then followed up with a sharp single to center to put runners at the corners. After a Newman strikeout, Manager David Bell went to his bench, calling upon left-handed hitter Jake Fraley. Fraley would reward Bell’s decision with a three-run shot to break open the game, giving the Reds a 6–2 lead. That ended up being all they needed to sew this one shut. The Pirates didn’t make a peep on offense and closer Alexis Diaz shut them down in the ninth, wrapping up a 6–2 victory for the Reds.


The Reds got some timely hitting and some great pitching out of their bullpen on Saturday. Safe to say, if they do this all the time they’ll be serious contenders. While that may not happen, this is the type of performance to give a young squad some positive momentum going forward. The Reds wrap up their first series of the year on Sunday, and Graham Ashcroft will take the ball. The rubber match will be an important one towards starting the season off on the right foot. You can tune in on Sunday at 1:10 pm Eastern to watch it unfold.


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