For weeks, the Cincinnati Reds have been vocal about being on a concerted mission to get into the postseason. Right now, they are approaching that threshold by showing no mercy to the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Reds (23-26) have won three straight after sweeping a doubleheader Monday against the visiting Pirates 3-1 and 9-4. They can clinch a win in the four-game series with a win Tuesday.
It would be their second straight series win.
Cincinnati homered five times in the doubleheader, with Joey Votto hitting one in each game and Mike Moustakas hitting a go-ahead three-run shot in the second game.
“We’ve been playing some great baseball these last couple weeks,” Moustakas told Fox Sports Cincinnati. “Took some tough losses here and there, but overall been playing great. Obviously, momentum’s huge going into these last couple weeks of the season.”
Pittsburgh (14-32) has lost six in a row and has been outscored 23-5 over the past three games.
The Pirates hit three homers in the doubleheader but hurt themselves with mistakes on the field and on the mound — in the nightcap, Cincinnati piled up its nine runs on five hits, as the Reds drew nine walks. On the Pirates’ offensive end, they struck out 25 times over the two games.
To Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton, that presents a couple specific things to improve on for Tuesday.
“The things that bothered me the most were the strikeouts, No. 1 … and we can’t walk nine guys in a seven-inning game,” Shelton said. “We have to execute better than that.”
In the third game of the series, Cincinnati right-hander Michael Lorenzen (1-1, 5.23 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove (0-4, 5.40 ERA).
The Reds pegged Lorenzen after they put Sonny Gray (right mid-back strain) on the 10-day IL.
Lorenzen has not started since his final three appearances of 2018, having made 88 subsequent relief appearances, but he’s ready to give an extended performance.
“I have whatever we need,” he said. “When we’re in win-now mode, you’ve got to just give whatever you can. I think I’ve gone up to 60 pitches this season. I should be (able to give) more than that.”
Lorenzen is 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 35 appearances, three of them starts, against Pittsburgh.
Musgrove will be making his third start since coming off the IL, and could be allowed to go five innings and perhaps qualify for his first win.
His last time out, he pitched four scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out five, Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
Musgrove seems more interested in the bigger picture — in Pittsburgh finishing strong overall with the playoffs out of their sights.
“It’s a perfect chance for us, with no pressure, to go out there and perform and put to work some of these things that we’re working on every day before games,” he said. “Although it might seem to some people like this season’s come and gone, we can really … prove ourselves for next year.”
Against Cincinnati, Musgrove is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA in five career games, four of them starts.
–Field Level Media