The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds arrived in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening after different types of days going into their three-game series that starts Monday.
The Pirates nearly blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning Sunday but held on for a 6-5 win against the Cubs in Chicago. That left Pittsburgh 2-4 on its six-game road trip and 2-8 since reaching one game over .500.
The Reds bused to Pittsburgh from Cleveland, where their series finale against the Indians on Sunday was rained out.
The Reds split the two games that were played in the series, a 9-2 loss Saturday following a no-hitter Friday by Cincinnati’s Wade Miley. Those were the first two games of what was originally scheduled to be a 10-game road trip.
Having one of those turn into a day off Sunday was OK with Cincinnati manager David Bell, even though it was the team’s third day off in a seven-day span.
Bell planned to make the most of the postponement despite an all-day rain.
“I think is different than a scheduled off-day. I think you’re kind of geared up for a game,” said Bell, who planned to hold meetings and perhaps indoor workouts before boarding the buses.
“I think we can make it a really productive day. There’s just nothing we can do about it. It can be productive and somewhat relaxing. … There’s nothing you can really do outside.”
Pittsburgh is expecting a new face in the lineup Monday. Outfielder Ben Gamel was claimed Sunday off waivers from the Indians because the Pirates are a little shorthanded — right fielder Gregory Polanco and first baseman Colin Moran are on the IL, and center fielder Bryan Reynolds has missed the past couple games because of soreness.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton is hoping to see his team bear down because of the absences, something he noted from Sunday’s win.
“We had some guys that stepped up,” he said. “It was nice to see our lineup, up and down, contribute.”
In the series opener Monday, Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (1-1, 3.23 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (2-3, 6.29 ERA).
Mahle was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but Bell opted to simply push everyone back a day.
At 12.03 strikeouts per nine innings, Mahle is among the best in the National League. But that hasn’t helped the Reds after he has left games.
In his past three outings, Mahle turned the game over to the bullpen only for there to be a blown save. Of Cincinnati’s six extra-inning games, he has started four.
That latter stat worked to the Reds’ advantage in Mahle’s most recent start May 2 against the Cubs. He gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings, including three homers, but Cincinnati came back for a 13-12, 10-inning win.
Against Pittsburgh, Mahle is 1-3 with a 3.90 ERA in six career starts.
Keller will be facing the Reds for the fourth time (0-1, 6.92 ERA) in his career and the first this year.
His last time out, Keller picked up a win Tuesday at San Diego. He pitched 5 2/3 scoreless, two-hit innings, with five strikeouts and two walks.
He also delivered a new attitude.
“The whole mentality was just, ‘Screw it. Next pitch,’ ” Keller said. “I think I did pretty well with that. When someone got a hit or something like that, I flushed it and went right after the next guy.”
–Field Level Media