McCoy: DeSclafani struggles as Reds fall to last-place Pirates

It appeared the Pittsburgh Pirates are clearly what the doctor ordered for the underachieving Cincinnati Reds.

The Pirates arrived in Great American Ball Park late Thursday afternoon with a 3-and-13 record, by far the worst in the major leagues. The Pirates had lost 10 of their last 11.

And the Reds were facing Trevor Williams, 0-and-3 and the Pirates had scored one run total in his three starts.

On the other side, the Reds sent Anthony DeSclafani to the mound, a guy who had not given up a run in his two starts over 11 innings.

Well, if a doctor said the Pirates were the remedy, that doctor is operating with fake diplomas.

The Pirates obliterated DeSclafani, nine runs and nine hits in two innings, including seven runs in the second inning.

Pittsburgh used that flashpoint in the first two innings to slap a 9-6 dismantling on DeSclafani and the Reds.

The second pitch of the game was all the hint anybody needed. Adam Frazier crash landed one into the right-field seats.

Then with two outs Colin Moran cleared the center-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

That was nothing.

The Pirates sent 12 batters to the plate in the second and ripped seven hits, including another home run, Gregor Polance leading off the inning, and a stretch of five straight singles and it was 9-0.

At that point, radio broadcaster Jeff Brantley said succinctly, “The might as well put the ball on a tee.”

Indeed, the Pirates were teeing off.

For his two innings, DeSclafani gave up nine runs, nine hits, two walks, struck out one and gave up three home runs.

He stared down 15 batters and 11 reached base. In two innings his earned run average went from 0.00 to 5.00.

The Reds bullpen of Cody Reed, Michael Lorenzen pitched seven scoreless innings and the Reds spliced six runs together, but the mountain was too steep to climb.

DeSclafani’s problem was throwing pitches down the center of Main Street and the Pirates hacked away with the confidence of the 1960 World Series champion Pirates.

Asked about DeSclafani’s beatdown and why it happened, manager David Bell said, “It’s tough to tell. We’re used to seeing Disco so good. You wait for him to turn around, but they were right on everything. You hate to keep him out there, but he is such a good pitcher,”

Bell was more eager to talk about the bullpen’s work.

“The job that Reed and Lorenzen did, to give us an opportunity to almost get the tying run to the plate after we were down nine runs in the second inning was outstanding,” he said. “You never expect Cody and Michael to do what they did (multiple innings), go longer than they have this season. It challenged them a bit, but they made it look pretty easy.”

Pittsburgh’s Williams, blessed with a nine-run lead, wasn’t sharp. He gave up a run-scoring single to Nick Senzel in the second and a two-run home run to Senzel in the fourth.

Pirates relief pitcher Sam Howard pitched a 1-2-3 sixth with a pair of strikeouts, then Freddy Galvis led the seventh with a home run to left field, cutting it to 9-4.

The Reds kept pecking away with an uprising in the eighth. Senzel doubled home a run, his fourth RBI of the game.

And that put runners on second and third with one out. Relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez struck out Josh VanMeter on a 3-and-2 pitch way out of the strike zone and Galvis grounded to second, leaving it at 9-5.

Pirates closer, Keone Kela, fresh off the injured list before the game, pitched the ninth and Tucker Barnart greeted him with a 2-and-2 home run down the line, breaking a 0-for-22 slide and it was 9-6.

Phillip Ervin lined a 2-and-2 pitch into left field for a single. But Nick Castellanos tapped out, Joey Votto flied out into the left-field corner and Eugenio Suarez struck out on  3-and-2 pitch in the dirt.

Jesse Winker had two more hits, lifting his batting average to .347. But he perpetrated an unthinkable faux pas in the second inning that cost the Reds a run.

Winker was on third and Senzel was on first with one out. Galvis hit a hard grounder to first and Morgan stepped on first for the second out.

That eliminated a force at second and if Winker crossed home plate before an out at second, his run would count. Moran fired to second and shortstop Kevin Newman slapped the tag on Senzel for the third out. Winker quit running hard, trotting on his last three steps and did not touch home before the out at second so the run did not count.

Cody Reed pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, with left fielder Shogo Akiyama saving Reed and Michael Lorenzen.

Reed put two on with two outs in the fifth. Bell did not permit left hander Reed to face left handed Adam Frazier. Strangely, he brought in right hander Lorenzen.

Frazier blasted one to deep left, a cinch two-run double. But Akiyama hurled himself against the wire fencing in front of a scoreboard and snagged it.

Akiyama aided Lorenzen again in the seventh when Brian Reynolds roped one to deep left. After a long gallop, Akiyama backhanded it while running full throttle.

That helped Lorenzen to complete 3 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout baseball.

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