Pirates to embrace comforts of home vs. Reds (Aug 01, 2017)

PITTSBURGH — Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went Monday with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds failing to make any blockbuster moves.

So those clubs, who were off Monday, will pick up pretty much where they left off when they open a three-game series Tuesday at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh (51-54) is coming off a 7-1 win Sunday at San Diego that wasn’t enough to keep its road trip from being a miserable experience. The Pirates went 3-6 on the trek.

Before that trip, it looked as if the Pirates might be making something of a move in the who-wants-it National League Central. The hill now looks steep again as the defending champion Chicago Cubs seem to be taking charge of the division.

Cincinnati (42-63) ended a six-game losing streak Sunday with a 6-4 win at Miami. The Reds looked competitive at one game below .500 on June 8, but now they are 21 games under.

“It’s definitely tough. Nobody expects to go out there and go through a stretch like this,” catcher Devin Mesoraco told mlb.com. “A lot of it is the effort is definitely there. Guys are working hard. This is definitely one of the best clubhouses I’ve been in. Guys get along.

“I think that sometimes as a player, you put too much pressure on yourself to go out there and produce, go out there and get hits. I think, collectively, we have to relax a little bit and just show up with a good attitude and try to start over the next day.”

Not that it has been easy.

“I don’t think anybody is happy losing. I know I’m not,” Reds left fielder Adam Duvall told mlb.com. “It’s not fun to lose game after game.”

Still, Cincinnati was hardly a “seller” Monday. The Reds traded reliever Tony Cingrani to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers, outfielder Scott Van Slyke and catcher/first baseman Hendrik Clementina.

Pittsburgh traded reliever Tony Watson, who lost his closer role this season, to the Dodgers for two minor-leaguers, infielder Oneil Cruz and right-handed pitcher Angel German.

The Pirates also acquired right-handed pitcher Joaquin Benoit and cash considerations from Philadelphia for minor league right-handed pitcher Seth McGarry. Benoit, 40, was 1-4 with two saves, a 4.07 ERA, 43 strikeouts and a .206 batting average against in 44 relief appearances this year for the Phillies.

Not exactly overwhelming moves.

“We had other expiring contracts that if we wanted to we could have moved other players,” Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said. “The (offered) returns were not compelling.”

One thing the Pirates did not do before the deadline is trade franchise outfielder Andrew McCutchen or starter Gerrit Cole. Each was a big contributor to Sunday’s win.

Pittsburgh’s record reflects an inability to feast off the bottom-feeders. The Pirates are 7-15 against the four worst teams in the National League, including 1-6 against the Reds.

In Tuesday’s series opener, Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon (6-4, 4.03 ERA) will look to bounce back from one of his roughest outings. In an 11-3 loss last Tuesday at San Francisco, Taillon gave up 10 runs (nine earned) and nine hits in three innings.

He also had a tough time against Cincinnati on May 3 when he allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings. That was just before Taillon was diagnosed with, and subsequently treated for, testicular cancer.

In four career starts against the Reds, Taillon is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.

Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey (2-5, 8.37 ERA) is 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA in nine career starts at PNC Park, including a no-hitter on Sept. 28, 2012.

Bailey has struggled, though, since he came back from elbow surgery Feb. 18. On Wednesday, he gave up seven runs ( five earned) and 10 hits in six-plus innings in a 9-5 loss to the New York Yankees.