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Crowe, Tucker Carry Pirates to 9-2 Blowout Win Over Reds

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On Oct. 1, 2013, the Pirates and Reds faced each other in the National League Wild Card game at PNC Park. Fast forward eight years later, and the two teams met again at PNC Park, but this time under different circumstances with both team eliminated from the postseason.

Pirates’ starter Will Crowe blanked the Reds over six strong innings and capped by a Cole Tucker grand slam, the Pirates exploded for an eight-run eighth inning to defeat Cincinnati 9-2 on Friday night.

Crowe went six innings and didn’t allow a run – the first time he went six innings since July 30 vs. the Phillies. After walking two in the first inning, Crowe allowed just one base runner – a single off the bat of Reds’ pitcher Luis Castillo. Crowe picked up nine strikeouts on the night, tying his career-high (Also on 7/24 vs. San Francisco). He threw 79 pitches, 49 of them for strikes.

It was no doubt the best start of Crowe’s brief career. He had all his pitches working, especially his changeup which Reds’ hitters had major problems with. In total, Crowe recorded 19 empty swings.

Tucker led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple into the right-center gap and scored on a Yoshi Tsutsugo RBI groundout. Tucker did a little bit of it all in this one, including a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab that resulted in a double play to end the seventh inning.

The Reds tied the game at one when Chris Stratton left a breaking ball up in the zone to Max Schrock who drove in a run with a base hit to right field.

The Reds bullpen unraveled in the eight and the Pirates poured it on. With the bases loaded, Michael Lorenzen threw a pitch in the dirt that Tucker Barnhart couldn’t keep in front of him, and Tsutsugo scored on the wild pitch. The Pirates retook the lead, now in front 2-1. The Bucs added on two more in the inning from a Kevin Newman single up the middle. Hoy Park followed with his own run-scoring single giving the Pirates a two-run lead.

The Pirates loaded the bases again for Cole Tucker, who promptly launched a grand slam to right field, the first of his career. The Pirates scored eight times in the inning and jumped out to a 9-1 lead. Cincinnati used three pitchers in total in the inning.

Anthony Alford tied a season-high with three hits on the night, and Newman also recorded a three-hit game.

The Reds scored a run off David Bednar in the ninth, the first time he’s allowed a run since Aug. 12.

Game #161 is on Saturday with a 6:35 first pitch. Max Kranick (2-3, 6.23 ERA) is looking for back-to-back solid outings for the Bucs and the Reds will give the nod to Tyler Mahle (13-6, 3.54 ERA).

Stat of the Game:

  • In his last 14 games dating back to Sept. 17, Tucker has put together a nice stretch of offense. He’s batting .298 (14 for 47) with a double, two triples, two home runs and eight RBIs. Tucker has gotten an extended look for the first time in a long time in the final month-plus of the season and has been much better at the plate than he did in his first two stints with the Pirates earlier this season. The 25-year-old is fighting for a roster spot come Opening Day 2022, and he might be making it a tougher decision on the front office with how he’s looked of late.

Takeaways:

  • Needed That: Crowe’s best start of the year came at a great time as he now will end his season on the right foot. It was especially good for the right-hander because he really had his struggles lately. In his last six starts, Crowe had a 7.52 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched. He gave up 35 hits (seven home runs) and issues 13 free passes, but thanks to his outing on Friday will walk into the offseason on the right foot. It will be interesting to see what Crowe’s role will be to begin the 2022 season.
  • Have a Night Cole: Tucker’s performance was so good in this one he deserves a second note. Not only did he record a triple and a grand slam in this one but he dazzled in all facets of the game, getting it done with his bat, his glove and his legs – truly a career-night. Tucker flashed the potential the Pirates saw in the former first-rounder on both sides of the ball on Friday.
  • .300/.900 Update: Bryan Reynolds appeared as a pinch hitter in this one and drew a walk as his quest to become the first Pirate since Andrew McCutchen in 2014 to finish a season with a .300+ batting average and a .900+ OPS. He still carries a .298 batting average, but he added a tick to his OPS which now resides at .903 for the year. Reynolds has two more games to try and accomplish both feats.
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