The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Mike Leake provided yet another quietly excellent start. He went seven innings, giving up one run - a solo home run by Gaby Sanchez - on three hits and two walks. He even added a double and run scored to the cause. Leake didn't get a decision in this game, so he'll finish his 2014 campaign with a sub-.500 record, if that sort of thing matters to you, but with a career high in innings pitched at 214.1. He's had a solid, if somewhat under the radar, season, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in 2015. Whatever it is, I hope it's in a Reds uniform.
Honorable mentions for Brandon Phillips for his two hits, plus a couple of nice defensive plays, and for Tucker Barnhart for his two hits, plus a couple of nice throws to nail a pair of Pirates trying to steal second base. Kristopher Negron also contributed three hits and drove in the Reds only run, further solidifying his claim on a 2015 roster spot.
- For the first four innings, the game was a scoreless pitcher's duel. In the top of the fifth inning, Gaby Sanchez led off with a solo home run. Pirates lead 1-0.
- In the bottom of the inning, Zack Cozart led off with a hit, but was thrown out by about a mile and a half trying to stretch it to a double. After a Tucker Barnhart out, Mike Leake doubled and then scored on a Kristopher Negron hit. All tied up, 1-1.
- The pitcher's duel resumed until Leake was removed from the game for a pinch hitter, at which point Pedro Villarreal entered the game to pitch the top of the eighth. He got two quick outs, then game up a single to Josh Harrison and a double to Travis Snider, which Jay Bruce misplayed horribly. Andrew McCutchen then doubled, and the Pirates led 3-1 in the middle of the eighth inning.
- That was all she wrote.
- With this win, the Pirates move to a half game behind the Cardinals for the National League Central championship. As of this writing, the Cardinals are down 2-0 to the suddenly less gritty Arizona Diamondbacks, but it's early yet.
- With this win, the Pirates also move to a game and a half over the San Francisco Giants for home field in the Wild Card game. As of this writing, the Giants are just getting underway at home against the San Diego Padres.
- Billy Hamilton didn't play in this game because he's still suffering concussion symptoms. Devin Mesoraco didn't start because he has a rib problem. The end of this season will feel more like a relief than a letdown at this point.
- Not much left to say anymore. This team is what it is. Two more games to go.