Pirates hope to rough up another Reds pitcher Friday

After the Pittsburgh Pirates roughed up one of the Cincinnati Reds’ top starting pitchers Thursday, they’ll take aim at another.

The visiting Pirates try again to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they continue their four-game set against Sonny Gray and the Reds on Friday night.

After their early-week series with St. Louis was postponed due to the Cardinals’ continued issues with COVID-19, Pittsburgh didn’t show much rust while doing all its scoring over the first two innings of Thursday’s 9-6 win at Cincinnati. Adam Frazier, Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco each homered among the first six batters of the game for the Pirates, who snapped a three-game skid by winning for just the fourth time in 2020.

“Things are going to change, starting this series,” first baseman Josh Bell told the Pirates’ official website. “All it takes is one good game from us to turn it around.”

Thursday marked Pittsburgh’s second-highest scoring game of the season, and just the fourth time it totaled more than five runs in a contest. All nine runs came off Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani, who lasted just two innings after not yielding a run in his first two outings of 2020.

Now, the Pirates face a potentially more daunting task versus Gray (3-1, 2.25 ERA), who allowed just two earned runs and struck out 28 over 18 2/3 innings while winning his first three starts of this unique season. However, the fun ended with Sunday’s 9-3 loss at Milwaukee. In that contest, Gray allowed four runs, six hits, four walks and fanned seven over 5 1/3 innings.

He went 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA against Pittsburgh last season. Moran is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against Gray. However, Moran has hit four of his six home runs on the season away from home. He’s also homered three times in his last five games at Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh will turn to Chad Kuhl (0-0, 2.00 ERA), who will make his second straight start after recording two relief appearances this season. The right-hander allowed just a solo homer and struck out seven over four innings of the Pirates’ wild 17-13, 11-inning loss to Detroit last Friday.

“I’ve always wanted to start,” Kuhl added to the Pirates’ official website. “I feel like I’ve always had starter stuff.”

Kuhl has done very well against the Reds, going 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts. However, he last faced them in June 2018. Even with that success, Cincinnati’s Joey Votto is 6 for 11 with two doubles and a home run against Kuhl, while Nick Castellanos is 3 for 9 against him.

He’s never faced Nick Senzel, who homered and had three hits with four RBIs in Thursday’s contest, where Cincinnati lost its second straight game and third in the last three. The Reds have also dropped 13 of the last 19 meetings with Pittsburgh.

“Our players are going about everything the right way and that’s all you can ask,” Reds manager David Bell said via Fox Sports Cincinnati. “And when that happens, things always turn around. Always.”

–Field Level Media

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