Despite six straight series losses, the Cincinnati Reds arrive in Pittsburgh for a three-game set against the Pirates that opens Tuesday with everything on the line.
Cincinnati (75-69) is in hot contention for a wild card spot.
After losing two games in a row, and thereby dropping the series to staunch wild card competition St. Louis, the Reds desperately need to do well against a team well below them in the standings such as Pittsburgh.
“We’re not down on ourselves at all,” Cincinnati second baseman Jonathan India said. “It’s tough, for sure. We’re going to come through. I know we are. I know we’re going to make that playoff spot. At the end of this, we’re going to laugh at it. We’re going to laugh at these losses.”
The Reds are 2-4 so far on their longest road trip of the season, which ends with these three games in Pittsburgh — the first of three remaining series between the clubs. The teams also will meet Sept. 20-22 in Cincinnati and Oct. 1-3 in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates (52-91) have won the first two series of what, in contrast to the Reds, is their longest homestand of the season. They beat the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals two games out of three each.
Pittsburgh had a chance to sweep both series but lost the third game both times, leaving the Pirates as the only team that has not swept a series this year. They are 0-for-13 when they have a chance to sweep.
“Obviously, you want to get those wins against any team that you can,” Pittsburgh shortstop Kevin Newman said. “But we look at the positives and say that’s a series win. And, really, stringing those together is kind of the goal.”
In the series opener, Cincinnati left-hander Wade Miley (12-5, 2.89 ERA) is scheduled to start opposite Pittsburgh left-hander Dillon Peters (0-2, 3.38).
Miley is coming off a road win last Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, a gem in which he gave up one run on five hits in seven innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
It was a game that might have gotten Miley tuned up for the final stretch run of the regular season and beyond.
“My command had been getting a little squirrelly, and I feel like I was really strong out there, and it was fun. It was definitely fun,” Miley said of that start. “Probably the best cutter I’ve had in a while, and you have to give a lot of credit to Tucker (Barnhart, the catcher) for putting the right fingers down and believing in me and just sticking with me throughout that process.”
Miley is 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 12 career starts against Pittsburgh. He’s been lights out this year, with wins April 6 (six scoreless innings) and Aug. 6 (seven scoreless innings) when facing the Pirates.
Peters will be making his fifth start of the season for Pittsburgh. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Los Angeles Angels on July 19 and has spent the majority of the season in Triple-A.
His last time out, Tuesday against Detroit, he watched the Pirates come back to win after he gave up two runs and three hits in four innings, with three walks and five strikeouts.
Peters has not faced Cincinnati.
–Field Level Media