Wil Crowe made his career-best start and Cole Tucker starred on offense and defense as the Pirates beat the Reds, 9-2. The game was actually a nail-biter . . . well, by late-September also-ran standards . . . until the Pirates broke it open with eight runs in the eighth inning.
Crowe’s only trouble came in the first, when he walked two of the game’s first three batters. He got out of that by getting Joey Votto on a popup and Eugenio Suarez on a fly ball.
After that, all the Reds managed against Crowe was a single. He tied his career high with nine strikeouts. Having thrown 79 pitches through six innings, he seemed headed beyond six for the first time in his career. The Pirates have a dozen men in their bullpen, though, and Derek Shelton is damn well gonna use them.
Crowe left with a 1-0 lead. That came when Tucker led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on a grounder. After that, the Pirates stuck with their usual specialties of leaving runners in scoring position and TOOTBLANing — Anthony Alford, who had three hits in the game, got thrown out stealing for the sixth time in 11 tries. (Believe it or not, Alford is now batting .240, just two points off the league average. Among current Pirates, he trails only Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran in OPS, unless you ignore stats compiled with other teams.)
Anthony Banda threw a scoreless seventh, but Chris Stratton unfortunately gave up a run on a two-out single in the top of the eighth. It was set up when Kevin Newman went for a force at second rather than a sure out at first, and got nobody. And it cost Crowe a chance at a win.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Pirates untied the game in a big way. They loaded the bases with one out and, ultimately, got one run on a wild pitch, two on a single by Kevin Newman and one more on a single by Hoy Park. Tucker capped off the inning with a grand slam, his second longball of the season.
Tucker’s contributions weren’t just on offense. He made two circus catches. One came on a foul popup down the right field line. The play had a comical look, as Tucker had at least twice as far to go for the ball as Moran. In the seventh, Tucker went straight back to make a diving catch on a bloop in shallow right, then got up and threw to first to double off a runner.
With the Pirates up 9-1, Shelton for some reason put David Bednar in to pitch the ninth. He gave up a run to finish the game out.