Reds continue furious pursuit of playoffs against Pirates

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds will look to win their four-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh when the teams meet Sunday.

But it’s more than that for the Reds (18-22), who hit the two-thirds mark of their season Saturday with a 6-2 win that was their second in the three games so far in the series. They have won three of their past four games overall and realize they’ll need to keep winning at a similar clip to make the playoffs.

“There are no speeches,” Cincinnati’s Mike Moustakas told reporters. “We know what we have to do, as does everybody in Major League Baseball. We know we have to go out and win ballgames if we want to get to the postseason.

“We just have to go out and do it now. We can talk about it all we want, but once you get out there, you have to go do it.”

The Pirates (12-26), meanwhile, are trying to set a good path under manager Derek Shelton and general manager Ben Cherington, both in their first season in Pittsburgh. That includes taking a look at some new and young players.

Injuries have been a bane, and that continued Saturday. Anthony Alford, picked up last month from Toronto on waivers, fractured his right elbow slamming into the outfield wall trying to make a catch.

“Honestly, it makes me a little sick to my stomach, just because of the opportunity he has right now, and even more so knowing the person and just to see the anguish in his eyes,” Shelton said of Alford’s injury and most likely losing him for the rest of the season.

“When we have injuries, we have to build on the opportunity. We’re seeing guys who are stepping up and doing things. … When we do get back to full strength, it’s going to make for good competition and interesting conversations.”

Cincinnati right-hander Tejay Antone (0-1, 2.66 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl (1-1, 3.10) on Sunday.

Antone will be making his third start and eighth overall appearance. The rookie has never faced the Pirates.

His start was announced after Saturday’s game. The Reds’ original plan was for Sonny Gray to start Sunday, but he will wait at least two games to pitch again, manager David Bell said, adding that the decision was not based on an injury.

It apparently is related to Gray’s most recent start. He was pulled in the first inning for the first time in his career after he yielded six runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday against St. Louis.

“His arm didn’t hurt, but nothing was coming out the way he’s used to,” Bell said. “We just want to make sure … he has enough time to get rejuvenated for his next start and not rush that.”

Gray agreed that rest was in order.

“I could just feel … my body was getting a little worn down,” he said. “Physically, I feel okay. Just (need) a breather, get on the mound, then finish the strongest possible.”

Kuhl has given up one run or fewer in five of his seven appearances. His last time out, a start Tuesday against the Cubs, he did not get a decision after giving up four runs, one unearned, and six hits in four innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Kuhl is 2-2 with a 2.94 ERA in six career starts against Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media

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