Report of positive virus test clouds Reds-Pirates matchup

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Coming off their 8-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the host Cincinnati Reds are hopeful that Trevor Bauer can pitch them to a 2-1 lead in the four-game series.

However, it was uncertain early Saturday whether the game would even take place. Shortly after Friday night’s game concluded, reports surfaced that a Reds player tested positive for COVID-19, and that Saturday night’s game was likely to be postponed.

There was no word who the player is, nor the likelihood that the Reds could be the next team to have multiple games postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If the teams square off, Bauer is scheduled to duel with Pirates left-hander Steven Brault in what looks like a one-sided matchup on paper.

Bauer (2-0, 0.93 ERA) has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.

The outspoken and sometimes volatile right-hander ranks second among major league leaders in ERA and seventh in strikeouts (32). He has allowed just two runs and seven hits over 19 1/3 innings in three 2020 starts.

The right-hander gave up a solo homer and two other hits while fanning 12 over six innings of the Reds’ 8-3 win at Milwaukee on Aug. 7. The Reds gave Bauer some extra days between starts, though no reason was announced.

“He’s here with a purpose to win a game. To be the absolute best pitcher he can be,” manager David Bell told the Reds’ official website about Bauer. “We’re seeing what he’s capable of.

“Part of that is all the work he’s done and preparation during in between the two training camps and keeping himself ready and just being professional in every way. And, it’s paying off for him, which is great to see.”

While Bauer aims to remain one of the best currently in the business, he hopes to fare better against Pittsburgh than he had on Aug. 25 of last year. On that day, the Pirates roughed Bauer up for seven earned runs and eight hits over just three innings of a 9-8 loss.

In Cincinnati’s win on Friday, red-hot Jesse Winker homered twice and Nick Castellanos clubbed a three-run shot for his eighth home run of the season.

Winker has recorded at least two hits in five consecutive games, and hit all five of his home runs with seven RBIs over that span. He’s also batting .586 (17 of 29) over his last 10 contests.

Winker, though, often sits against left-handed starters and is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts against Brault (0-0, 5.14 ERA), who will make his fourth start of 2020.

Brault got the ball in an emergency start on Sunday and did the job, pitching two hitless and scoreless innings during a 2-1 loss to Detroit.

“Felt good,” Brault told the Pirates’ official website of his most recent outing. “I’m glad I was able to go out there so fast … It’s a good feeling.”

The left-hander has been relatively good as a starter against the Reds. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA. However, he has never completed more than 5 1/3 innings in any of those starts.

Cincinnati star Joey Votto is 3-for-10 vs. Brault, while Castellanos is just 1-for-6. That one hit was a home run, however.

Pittsburgh shortstop Kevin Newman is batting .360 (9 for 25) during a six-game hitting streak. He’s also batting .300 while hitting safety in his last seven contests at Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, teammate Josh Bell continues to struggle, batting .203 after going 0-for-3 on Friday night.

–Field Level Media

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