Analyzing Bucs by numbers in Reds series

April 7th, 2021

The Pirates headed home for the PNC Park opener still searching for a lot of improvements after ending a three-game series against the Reds with an 11-4 loss on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

The message from manager Derek Shelton ahead of the baseball holiday in Pittsburgh? “Flush these two games out.”

With a new series comes new opportunity, especially with a slight jolt of momentum provided in the ninth inning of the series finale in Cincinnati. But there are more concerns than reassurances as the Pirates make the short trek home.

What went wrong against the Reds, and what do the Bucs need to show in their next homestand? Here’s a look at Pittsburgh’s misfortunes by the numbers.


Over the three games, the Pirates allowed 30 runs to the red-hot Reds, who have scored 57 runs in their first six games (tied for the sixth-most in MLB history since 1901).

Bucs pitchers held Cincinnati at bay in the first game of the series, as returned to his home state and yielded just one run in four innings before the bullpen permitted four runs. But led by three homers from leadoff batter Tyler Naquin, the Reds routinely squared up Pirates pitchers in the final two games. They racked up 27 hits in that span, including 12 extra-base hits.

“The first night, we had an opportunity to do some things, and we didn’t put ourselves in [a good position],” Shelton said. “The next two days, they just banged against us and hit the ball out of the ballpark.”


The Pirates scored only eight runs in the three-game set -- four on one swing of the bat, as Erik González cranked a ninth-inning grand slam off Amir Garrett to mark the team’s only runs in the finale.

Some of the utility guys filling in for Ke’Bryan Hayes and starters with days off picked up the offense, including Phillip Evans (two homers in his four hits in the series) and Wilmer Difo (two doubles among his three hits on Wednesday). Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran hit solo home runs each as they continued to find some results early in the season. But the Bucs are still waiting for the hitting to become contagious.

“We just need to have more consistent at-bats throughout our lineup,” Shelton said. “We have some guys who are having really good at-bats, and we’ve got a group of guys that we just need to have more consistent at-bats.


None of the Pirates’ starting pitches reached five innings in the series, and only Tyler Anderson has hit that mark this season. Some of this is due to the build-up process out of Spring Training and the shortened 2020 season. But a large part of it is also due to ineffectiveness.

Take Chad Kuhl, for instance. He is still getting his pitch count up after his first season back from Tommy John surgery. However, Kuhl was able to go 72 pitches in four innings vs. the Reds. What kept him from getting deeper into the game? Five walks and a 45.8% strike rate (33 of 72), which he said was due less to being picky with the hot-hitting Reds and more to trying too hard to get the double-play ball in the first. Once he escaped that inning, he cruised.

“You have to respect everybody you're going against, but you can't hurt yourself like I did today,” Kuhl said. “It was just all the walks. There really weren't too many well-struck balls off of me. Just hurt myself today, and that's something you just can't do, especially when a team's going well.”


The Pirates left Cincinnati with only one win in tow: Their Opening Day victory over the Cubs, who entered Wednesday behind the Bucs in offensive production (.517 OPS). That win also came with the help of Hayes, who launched a two-run homer in the first inning of the game to provide the edge.

To grow that number, Pittsburgh is looking for a spark, which it hopes in part will be provided by the home crowd at PNC Park on Thursday.

“We’re ready to get home,” Shelton said. “We’re definitely ready to get out of Cincinnati.”