CINCINNATI — Besides a fierce National League Central rivalry that boiled over several times in 2019, the Reds and Pirates have often been foes in the postseason. The two clubs have met in postseason series six times since 1970.
This week, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh renewed the battle in virtual form during the second round of the MLB Dream Bracket, a project created by Major League Baseball and Out of the Park Baseball.
• Full bracket and schedule | Dream Bracket rosters
The MLB Dream Bracket is a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current Major League franchises, as well as teams consisting of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each of the teams, compiled by the MLB.com beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons on a single team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.
In their first-round matchup vs. the Nationals, the Reds won a best-of-seven series, 4-3.
The second-round series against Pittsburgh lasted six games, with Cincinnati advancing again with a 4-2 win. Barry Larkin led the Reds by batting .409 with a 1.071 OPS and one homer. Like in Round 1, Joey Votto had a strong performance, batting .308 with a 1.026 OPS, three homers and nine RBIs.
Among the starting pitchers, José Rijo led the way by going 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 10 strikeouts in two starts spanning 12 2/3 innings.
But it wasn’t a smooth series as the Reds had to rally back from an 0-2 deficit. Here is a breakdown of how it was all played.
• Box scores
Game 1: Pirates 9, Reds 1
Not much went well for Cincinnati as ace Tom Seaver was clobbered for five earned runs and eight hits over 2 1/3 innings and the team committed two errors. Four runs crossed in the bottom of the third inning to put Cincinnati in a 5-0 hole. Ted Kluszewski led the offense with a 3-for-4 game, including a double and a sixth-inning RBI single that accounted for the Reds’ lone run. Bob Friend allowed one run over eight innings for the Pirates.
Game 2: Pirates 7, Reds 0
Pittsburgh opened an early lead on Paul Waner’s two-run homer off Rijo in the bottom of the second inning. Bill Mazeroski added an RBI single in the third, and three more runs crossed in the eighth. Frank Robinson accounted for two of the Reds’ four hits as Pirates pitcher Vern Law rolled during his seven innings.
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Game 3: Reds 4, Pirates 2
Votto helped save the series for the Reds with a three-run homer during a four-run bottom of the sixth inning against Babe Adams after they had trailed, 2-0. Pete Rose added an RBI single that scored Eric Davis in the rally. Starting pitcher Jim Maloney got the win, allowing two earned runs, five hits and three walks over six innings while striking out seven. Randy Myers, Aroldis Chapman and Rob Dibble combined for three scoreless innings of relief.
Game 4: Reds 18, Pirates 4
It was a rout for the Reds, who took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Johnny Bench’s three-run double. They didn’t look back as they tallied five runs in the sixth and seven more in the seventh. Cincinnati swatted four home runs, coming from Kluszewski, Robinson, Bench and Davis. Mario Soto allowed four earned runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings for the victory as Cincinnati evened the series.
Game 5: Reds 13, Pirates 2
It was another Reds slugfest as they hit four more home runs, delivered by George Foster, Rose, Larkin and Votto. Foster was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Morgan hit a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning to blow the game open. Seaver recovered from his tough Game 1 performance and gave up two earned runs and seven hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Game 6: Reds 7, Pirates 2
The Reds closed out the series with Votto leading the club by going 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead vs. Rijo when Willie Stargell hit an RBI double in the first inning. But Kluszewski’s two-run homer in the second put Cincinnati ahead for good. Votto hit an RBI double in the sixth and a three-run homer in the eighth to put the game, and the series, away. Rijo allowed one earned run, five hits and one walk over seven innings with five strikeouts.
In the quarterfinals, the Reds will face another NL Central rival in the Cardinals, who advanced from the Round of 16 by beating the Phillies in six games.