Friday, September 28, 2012

Reds looking to ensure another losing season for the Pirates

There's really not a lot on the line this weekend besides pride when the Reds (94-62) visit the fourth-place Pittsburgh Pirates (76-80) at PNC Park. Cincinnati has already clinched a spot in the postseason while the Pirates' chances at earning a playoff berth (pardon the pun) set sail many moons ago.

But for the sole purpose of stirring up some excitement for this 3-game set, I'm going to throw out a series storyline anyway. In fact, there is one remaining goal that the Buccos are undoubtedly trying to achieve, and that goal is to finish with a winning record for the first time since 1991.

That's right. Pittsburgh fans have endured 19 consecutive losing seasons from their club dating back to '91. For those of you keeping score at home, that's the longest such streak in North American professional sports history. The Pirates will need to win five of their last six games on the schedule to prevent that streak from reaching 20, and that will obviously include at least two wins over the Reds.

The Redlegs, on the other hand, have a chance to seal yet another year of futility for the Bucs with a series victory.

With all of this in mind, here are 10 facts regarding the series:

1) Friday and Saturday's games will both commence at approximately 7:05pm ET. Sunday's contest will begin at or around 1:35pm ET.

2) Here are the pitching probables:

Fri - CIN Homer Bailey (12-10, 3.92) vs PIT A.J. Burnett (16-8, 3.53)
Sat - CIN Mike Leake (8-9, 4.73) vs PIT Kyle McPherson (0-2, 3.54)
Sun - CIN Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.83) vs PIT Wandy Rodriguez (12-13,3.79)

3) Cincinnati leads the season series, 9-6, but they are only 3-3 at PNC Park.

4) When Leake takes the mound Saturday, the Reds will become the eighth team in MLB history to have five pitchers with at least 30 starts in a season. The last to do so were the 2006 Chicago White Sox.

5) The Pirates are an MLB-worst 9-25 since August 20th. They went from being 12 games over .500 to four games under in a little over a month.

6) On Sunday, Cueto looks to join Gio Gonzalez (WSH) and R.A. Dickey (NYM) as the only NL pitchers to win 20 games this season.

7) Bailey is a perfect 4-0 with a tidy 1.75 ERA in five career starts at PNC Park.

8) Andrew McCutchen is tied with Ryan Braun for the league-lead in Wins Above Replacement (6.9), according to ESPN. He also ranks second behind suspended Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera in batting average (.332).

9) The Reds are tied for the best fielding percentage in the NL with ATL at .986. By comparison, Pittsburgh ranks 14th at .981.

10) Pittsburgh holds the advantage in the all-time series by a tally of 1,006-1,042.

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