(Photo credit: The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cincinnati Reds will close their 2023 home schedule on Sunday trying to salvage their playoff hopes in a game against their National League Central counterpart Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pittsburgh (74-81) rallied from a 9-0 deficit on Saturday, putting up 13 consecutive runs from the fourth into the eighth inning in a wild, 13-12 final.
The comeback was the largest in franchise history. Pittsburgh teams were 0-819 all-time previously when facing a deficit of at least nine runs.
"We're playing really good baseball," Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds, who hit a three-run homer on Saturday, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We're gonna keep going and keep getting better, setting it up well for whatever the future holds."
The Pirates have won four straight and eight of their last 11.
Saturday's win gives the Pirates an opportunity to sweep the three-game series on Sunday with right-hander Quinn Priester (3-2, 8.61 ERA) on the mound -- and a chance to deliver another blow to Cincinnati's postseason outlook.
The Reds (79-77) lost ground to both the Chicago Cubs -- currently positioned in the last National League wild-card spot -- and the first team on the outside, Miami.
Chicago beat Colorado on Saturday, and Miami topped Milwaukee. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is on a four-game slide after Saturday's collapse, which leaves it 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs and 1 1/2 behind the Marlins heading into Sunday.
"There's really no sugar-coated way to put it," said Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson, who hit a solo home run and drove in three runs Saturday. "It's meaningful baseball, and we all know that. Everybody's going out there and giving it their all. ... We have to control the things we can control as a team, wherever we're at with the (standings)."
Cincinnati has little margin for error with just six games remaining. After Sunday, the Reds will close the season with a two-game series at Cleveland and three games in St. Louis.
Brandon Williamson (4-5, 4.56 ERA) will start Sunday with the opportunity to turn the tide for the Reds. The rookie left-hander has not posted a win since striking out nine over 6 2/3 innings against Miami on Aug. 7.
In his last appearance, a road game against the New York Mets last Sunday, he took the loss after giving up three runs on six hits over four innings.
Williamson had a no-decision in his lone career appearance opposite Pittsburgh, a start on Aug. 13. However, he was strong in 5 2/3 innings with just one earned run on two hits and six strikeouts.
Priester, a late-announced choice to make the start, will face Cincinnati for the first time in his career. The rookie pitched six relief innings his last time out, Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, and gave up four earned runs on five hits.
The six innings set a career high for Priester.
Priester earned a win in his outing before that one, striking out four over four innings against Washington on Sept. 13. In 38 2/3 innings this season, Priester has 29 strikeouts with 21 walks and has given up 46 hits and 37 runs -- all earned.
--Field Level Media