CINCINNATI — The Pirates’ pitching staff has allowed the fourth-most home runs in the National League, at 194. On Monday, they were playing in Great American Ball Park, the second-most home-run friendly ballpark in baseball, according to ESPN’s park factor metric.
Even though the Pirates took a 5-0 lead against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning, it did not end well.
Starting left-hander Dillon Peters gave up a two-run homer in the third, right-handed reliever Cody Ponce gave up back-to-back dingers in the fifth and right-hander Kyle Keller gave up another one in the seventh. Those four bombs gave the Reds 21 against the Pirates in eight games at Great American Ball Park. They also handed the Pirates a 9-5 loss.
As can be assumed by the blown five-run lead, things spiraled extremely quickly on the Pirates. Their offense came out of the gates hot with back-to-back first inning homers from right fielder Yoshi Tsutsugo and center fielder Bryan Reynolds. The pair had RBIs in the third inning, too, to make it a four-run lead, before a Kevin Newman groundout extended that to five.
All the while, left-hander Dillon Peters went 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit. That has become somewhat typical for Peters in his first few starts since joining the Pirates. Not short-lived no-hit bids, necessarily, but he entered Monday’s start with a 2.66 ERA in his first five starts with Pittsburgh. That’s as good as could be expected. The only warning sign, at that point, was that Peters’ pitch count was ticking up quickly.
But it all changed in a flash. Peters walked Reds lead-off hitter Jonathan India with two outs in the third. Then Kyle Farmer singled to put two on with two outs. Nick Castellanos hit an absolute laser off the top of the wall in center for a two-run double, then Joey Votto took Peters deep to right to make it a four-run inning. Another single preceded a groundout, as Peters finally got out of the frame. That, however, was the end of his night.
A three-inning start is not a winning recipe for most teams, but especially not the Pirates right now. They used four other pitchers to cover the rest of the game. One of them was right-hander Connor Overton, who pitched a 1-2-3 frame in the sixth and still has not allowed an earned run in his 11 2/3 innings in the majors.
The other three pitchers? Ponce, Keller and Enyel De Los Santos. All three have an ERA over 6.00. As mentioned, the two homers allowed by Ponce, back-to-back in the fifth inning, ripped the lead away from the Pirates. Keller’s outing was worse, as he gave up a homer, a single and two walks to load the bases.
Then De Los Santos came in and walked in a run. That wasn’t even the lowlight for the newly-acquired De Los Santos. He stayed in for the eighth, and after hitting India with a pitch, appeared to get out of the inning without any harm after forcing a groundout from Castellanos. But De Los Santos had balked, keeping the inning alive and allowing India to advance to second. Then, of course, Castellanos singled him home to put the final nail in the coffin.
It’s a familiar refrain for a team that has the third-highest team ERA in baseball. It’s a familiar refrain for a team that is now 0-8 at Great American Ball Park this season.©2021 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.