PITTSBURGH — Coming off the boost of a series win against the Dodgers, the Pirates couldn’t continue the momentum against the Reds. And it came at the hands of a familiar face.
Pittsburgh was held scoreless by Reds starter Connor Overton over 6 1/3 innings, and the Bucs could never find a way to dig out of the hole they were in, falling, 4-0, on Thursday night at PNC Park.
Overton, who elected free agency in November after the Pirates outrighted him to Triple-A, came back to haunt his old club. The Bucs had their chances against the right-hander. In the first inning, they put runners on second and third with two outs, but Yoshi Tsutsugo grounded out.
They were set to be in the same second-and-third situation with one out in the second inning, but Michael Perez was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Rodolfo Castro, who was recalled on Thursday morning, struck out looking.
After that, there was barely anything doing against Overton outside of a Ke’Bryan Hayes walk in the third inning and Ben Gamel’s single in the sixth, when he was caught leaning too far off first base and picked off.
“I don’t see much that’s different [from last year],” Bucs manager Derek Shelton said. “He throws strikes. He mixes and matches. He uses his offspeed stuff effectively. He uses it in the zone, and I mean essentially what he does when he’s effective is keep you off the barrel, and he did that tonight.”
Overton, who also led the Reds to a victory over the Pirates on May 7, was one of the many pitchers Pittsburgh has cycled through at the Major League level as the Bucs try to give opportunities and see who could be here for the long term. But Overton said there were no hard feelings.
“It was nothing I haven’t experienced before,” said Overton, who owns a 1.59 ERA in three starts this season. “I didn’t really dwell on it. I kind of just put my head down and kept working, and said, ‘All right, now what?’ Just stuck to the game plan, stuck to the process, continued working hard and that was it.”
The process of looking for pitchers the Pirates can build on continued in the series opener, as left-hander Cam Alldred made his MLB debut, and he was one of the few silver linings in the team’s shutout loss.
After trying to get a hold of his family for hours on Tuesday night to tell them the news, Alldred took a 6 a.m. ET flight to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, only to be held out of action in the series finale vs. the Dodgers. That lined him up to face the Reds, the team he grew up rooting for in Batavia, Ohio, with his father, Curt, who he said was a huge fan of the team.
“I was kind of zoned in,” Alldred said of facing the Reds. “I really didn’t get a chance to look around and see what I was doing. I was kind of just blacked out, honestly.”
Alldred didn’t look like he had any nerves, though. He pitched a perfect seventh inning, including his first MLB strikeout on a 3-2 pitch that caught Tyler Stephenson — who hit the winning RBI single and added a homer in the fourth inning — looking. Alldred allowed a leadoff single in the seventh that led to his exit, but he had already made a good impression.
“[He’s a] funky left-hander, who people just do not take good swings at,” Shelton said. “You see that at first and you think, ‘OK, maybe he’s running into a situation where guys aren’t seeing the ball well.’ But when you do it over the course of two years, that shows you that the stuff does have the ability to play.”
The Pirates hope prospects like Alldred, who had a 2.04 ERA over his past two Minor League seasons, will pan out and reap benefits for the club. But it still stings to drop a third game this season to the eight-win Reds at the hands of a former Buc.
“It’s a tough one right there,” said Pirates starter JT Brubaker, who took the loss. “We just came up short, and that’s the way baseball’s played. Tip your cap, he pitched a good game on the other side. … We’re in a good spot.”