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Reds try to shake off dreadful start as Pirates visit

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Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) walks back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning of the MLB baseball game between Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. San Diego Padres defeated Cincinnati Reds 9-6.San Diego Padres At Cincinnati Reds 131Syndication The Enquirer
Credit: Albert Cesare / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Reds hope a return home will result in a change of fortune as they open a four-game weekend series against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night.

The Reds are not just battling the opposition — they’re up against history as they try to awaken from the club’s worst-ever start.

Cincinnati enters the game against Pittsburgh having lost nine straight and 20 of 21 after a 2-2 beginning to the season. Their 3-22 record stands as the worst 25-game start in franchise history.

The Reds are coming off a three-game sweep in Milwaukee in which they were outscored, 34-12.

“We just have to keep getting better in every area, every one of us,” Reds manager David Bell said. “That’s what we’ll continue to do. We look for every little adjustment, every edge we can to improve.”

The Reds have been plagued by injuries and poor starting pitching. They currently have 15 players on the injured list, including regulars like Joey Votto, Jonathan India and Tyler Naquin.

Rookie starter Hunter Greene allowed another eight earned runs on five homers in just 2 2/3 innings Thursday in Milwaukee. In their first 25 games, Reds starters are 3-19 with a major league-worst 8.91 ERA, allowing 22 home runs and 99 earned runs in 100 innings.

“We want to win every game very badly, especially right now,” Bell said. “I’m impressed with every single guy in this clubhouse and the way they’re handling it. It’s not easy. It’s a huge challenge that we have in front of us. They’re handling it better than I would (as a player). It’s impressive to me.”

Right-hander Connor Overton (0-0, 1.69 ERA) has been the rare exception to the rule. In his Reds debut last Saturday in Colorado, he held the Rockies to one run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Overton is making his fifth career start and first against the Pirates, for whom he pitched in five games with three starts in September 2021. The right-hander is still looking for his first major league win.

The Pirates counter with right-hander JT Brubaker (0-2, 6.20), who will be making his sixth start of the season. Pittsburgh’s Opening Day starter is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in his three starting assignments on the road. The Pirates have won each of his last two starts.

Lifetime against Cincinnati, the 28-year-old is 1-2 with a 4.87 ERA in four career starts. He was 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts last season.

The Pirates are coming off a doubleheader split on Wednesday in Detroit, dropping the first game 3-2 before bouncing back for a 7-2 win in the nightcap. Dillon Peters started and went 3 1/3 innings in the loss but extended his scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings to start the season with just two hits allowed.

“He’s thrown the ball really well,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Peters. “He’s attacked, he’s done it with really good hitters at different parks, starting (at) getting the top of lineups. He continues to impress. He continues to execute.”

The win was just the second in eight games for Pittsburgh, which will play another road doubleheader on Saturday against the Reds.

“We pitched well enough to win two games, but we need to tighten up our defense. We made mistakes in both games, but it cost us runs in the first one,” added Shelton.

–Field Level Media