After losing 16 of their previous 19 games in Cincinnati, the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates will attempt the rarest of feats when they try to complete a four-game series sweep on Wednesday.
After a 6-3 win on Monday night, Pirates pitchers held the Reds to one run on six hits in a doubleheader sweep Tuesday, winning 6-1 in Game 1 and 1-0 in the second contest.
The Pirates send Roansy Contreras (5-4, 3.29 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. The 22-year-old right-hander will be making his 15th start of the season for the Pirates, and second this year against Cincinnati.
On July 7, in the first game of a doubleheader in Cincinnati, Contreras held the Reds to one run on four hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking one in a 4-2 Pirates win.
Contreras was impressive in his last start against another NL Central rival, holding St. Louis to one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings on Friday, earning his fifth win in an 8-2 decision over the Cardinals in Pittsburgh.
The Reds will counter with rookie Nick Lodolo (4-5, 3.78 ERA). The left-hander has been the most consistent pitcher in the Cincinnati rotation since fellow rookies Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft went on the injured list in August.
Lodolo had the best outing of his rookie season in his last start when he struck out a season-high 11 and walked none on Friday in Milwaukee. Lodolo allowed just two runs on five hits over eight innings, earning his fourth win in Cincinnati’s 8-2 victory.
Lodolo will be making his first career start against Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati outfielder Jake Fraley escaped serious injury and passed concussion protocols Tuesday after getting hit in the bill of his batting helmet by a 93 mph fastball from Pirates reliever Manny Banuelos in the eighth inning of the doubleheader’s opener.
After spending a few moments on the ground, Fraley was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power.
“Everything’s good so far. Thank the Lord. It could’ve been a lot worse,” said Fraley, who did not play in Game 2. “Hit me straight in between the C-flap and the bill, so right in the temple.”
Reds manager David Bell said, “A little bit sore but probably the best news you can possibly get after something like that. So far, so good. They’re going to keep monitoring Jake.”
Pirates rookie outfielder Cal Mitchell continues to make a statement after the organization left him off the 40-man roster in the offseason and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis in June.
With a two-run homer in the first game of the doubleheader, Mitchell now has hits in eight of 10 games since he was last recalled, batting .367 during that stretch.
“I do feel like I’m showing what I want to,” Mitchell said. “Regardless of what I do (individually), I want to help the team as much as I can win baseball games. I’m happy that I’ve been able to do that so far.”
Mitchell, 23, is trying to use the remainder of the season to force the Pirates’ personnel executives to give him serious consideration for 2023.
“Battling some of the front-office decisions is new,” Mitchell said. “It’s something that I’ve had to adjust to. Getting settled into whatever team or location that I’m in, I’ve gotten better with that. Not letting that affect performance as much.
“All anybody ever needs is time. I’m thankful that the Pirates have given me that and I can show what I’ve done this year.”
–Field Level Media