A pair of NL Central opponents kick off a weekend series on the diamond in the Buckeye State. The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the road as they open up a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night. Pittsburgh played the rubber game of a three-game set with the Brewers on the road Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates rallied to win Tuesday night’s contest 8-5 in 10 innings. Cincinnati capped a two-game interleague set with the Twins Wednesday afternoon hoping for a split. The Reds fell 7-5 on Tuesday night in the opener of that series. This article was published before the conclusion of both teams’ contests Wednesday afternoon.
Pittsburgh Pirates Looking to Earn Road Victory in OpenerPittsburgh rallied to win the middle game of their three-game set with the Brewers Tuesday night to set up the rubber game of the series Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates entered Wednesday last in the NL Central, 22.5 games behind the Brewers for the division lead. In the NL wild-card race, the team stood 20 games behind the Padres for the second wild-card spot. On Tuesday, the Pirates were no-hit for the first 6.1 innings before getting their bats going. Gregory Polanco (two runs, RBI) and Kevin Newman (two runs, RBI) each had two hits to lead the team in the victory. Max Kranick didn’t factor in the decision as he threw four innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. David Bednar (3-1) earned the win as he threw two scoreless innings, allowing no hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
Reynolds rakes! pic.twitter.com/bl77jJaKLC— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) August 4, 2021
Wil Crowe is expected to take the mound for his 17th appearance, 16th start, of the year for the Pirates in this contest. He comes in 3-5 with a 5.40 ERA, a 1.507 WHIP, 35 walks and 66 strikeouts over 71.2 innings of work this season. Crowe earned the win in his last start, which came Friday at home against the Phillies. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing one hit with four walks and four strikeouts in a game the Pirates won 7-0. Pitching on the road this season, Crowe is 2-1 despite a 6.17 ERA, a 1.486 WHIP, 14 walks and 39 strikeouts over 35 innings in eight appearances, seven starts. In his 20th career appearance and 19th start, he pitches against the Reds for the first time here. That makes this Crowe’s first career outing at the Great American Ball Park as well.
Cincinnati Reds Hoping to Hang in NL Wild Card PictureCincinnati had won five of their previous six games before getting stunned by a late homer that sunk them against the Twins Tuesday night. The Reds entered Wednesday second in the NL Central, 7.5 games behind the Brewers for the top spot in the division. In the NL wild-card picture, the team stood five games behind the Padres for the second wild-card spot. On Tuesday night, Cincinnati got two hits each from Jonathan India (two runs, two RBI) and Jesse Winker (RBI) in the contest. Tucker Barnhart (his fifth), Eugenio Suarez (his 21st) and India (his 11th) each homered in the loss. Tyler Mahle didn’t factor in the decision as he threw five innings, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Heath Hembree (2-6) took the loss as he allowed three runs on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts over two-thirds of an inning.
This double play was HUGE, Givens the circumstances. pic.twitter.com/1ABmQfgAIo— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 4, 2021
Sonny Gray is on the bump for his 16th start of the year for the Reds in this contest to open the series. He comes in 3-6 with a 4.26 ERA, a 1.382 WHIP, 29 walks and 96 strikeouts over 76 innings of action this year. Gray earned the win in his last start, which came on the road against the Mets Friday. He threw six innings, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in a game the Reds won 6-2. At home this season, Gray is 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA, a 1.442 WHIP, 17 walks and 55 strikeouts over 43 innings in nine starts. Gray makes his ninth career appearance and eighth start against the Pirates in this contest. He is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, 11 walks and 39 strikeouts over 40 innings of work against them. Gray is 12-9 with a 3.55 ERA, a 1.129 WHIP, 54 walks and 210 strikeouts over 167.1 innings in 32 career starts at the Great American Ball Park.
The top trends for this contest are:
- Pirates are 25-65 in their last 90 road games
- Pirates are 15-43 in their last 58 road games vs. a team with a winning record
- Reds are 5-0 in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Pirates are a weak offensive team without much to work with when it comes to power or depth in their lineup. That doesn’t work well most of the time. It could be especially problematic against a Reds team that has plenty of power in their lineup that can do damage in a hurry. Gray hasn’t been great this season as his record would indicate though his K/9 rate (11.4) is the second-highest of his career, behind only last season’s 11.6 mark over 56 innings of work. He has pitched to a 3.82 FIP ERA this season so he’s due to bounce back a little bit. That, plus the ability of the Reds’ lineup to generate offensive production, gives them the nod in the opener.
Full-Game Total Pick
Crowe has pitched well since the All-Star break, going 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, eight walks and 16 strikeouts over 16.2 innings in three starts. With that said though, he’s been brutal on the road as opposing hitters have a .277/.351/.482 slash line and a .337 average on balls in play against him in those outings. Facing a Reds team that entered Wednesday seventh in the majors with 4.92 runs per game and third in runs per game at home (5.38) is going to be a daunting task for Crowe. Cincinnati entered Wednesday averaging six runs a game in their previous 10 contests so it would be no surprise to see them score at least that many, if not more. Gray has sputtered at home this season and the dimensions of the Great American Ball Park could help the Pirates put up a few runs of their own. Look for this one to wind up going over the total.