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MLB: Reds look to continue dominance against Pirates

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If familiarity breeds contempt, then at least there might be some emotion when the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates close the season with a weekend series at PNC Park.

This is the teams’ sixth meeting since Sept. 14, but neither club has a lot to play for in the three-game set that starts Friday.

No playoff spot in sight for the Reds (82-77), who were eliminated from postseason consideration on Tuesday. No spoiler role for the Pirates (59-100). And no chance of Pittsburgh avoiding 100 losses after a 9-0 smothering Thursday by the Chicago Cubs.

Cincinnati’s sails went flat over the past month. On Aug. 27, the Reds were a season-best 12 games over .500 at 71-59 and sat in a wild-card spot, but they have gone 11-18 since. That includes 3-3 against Pittsburgh.

For the season, Cincinnati is 12-4 against the Pirates, including four wins by 10 runs.

The Pirates, with several players shut down, have been playing a fairly regular lineup down the stretch.

It’s unclear which direction the Reds will go. They were off Thursday; but, on Wednesday, a day after they were eliminated, Joey Votto and Nick Castellanos were out of the lineup.

In the series opener Friday, Cincinnati right-hander Luis Castillo (8-16, 4.05 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (4-8, 5.77).

Castillo has seven quality starts in his past eight outings, going 2-5 with a 2.81 ERA.

Thursday was one of those quality starts, to no avail. Castillo took the loss against Washington when he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, with three walks and six strikeouts. That included Juan Soto’s 28th homer.

“I always enjoy matchups with hitters like Soto,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “It is part of the game. I always enjoy it.”

Run support has been an issue for Castillo. Cincinnati has scored one run in four of his past five losses.

In 11 career starts against the Pirates, Castillo is 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA. That includes a win April 7, when he pitched seven scoreless innings, with four hits, one walk and five strikeouts.

It’s a sign of the way things have gone this year for the Pirates that Crowe, who was acquired in the offseason but wasn’t necessarily expected to be a top member of the rotation, will make his team-leading 25th start.

As much as anything, the rookie has been available when others have not.

In his most recent outing, Crowe took the loss Saturday against Philadelphia when he gave up three runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, with four walks and two strikeouts.

In that game, Crowe gave up two solo homers and a run on two infield hits and a chopper.

“That’s just how it goes some days,” Crowe said. “Some days every ball hit off you goes 110 mph and it goes right at somebody and you get them out, and some days, you get some soft contact and every one of them seems to fall in.”

Crowe has faced Cincinnati once, a loss Aug. 5 on the road. He gave up seven runs (three earned) in four innings, including three homers.

–Field Level Media

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