Reds slugger Jay Bruce was 0-for-11 against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano entering this National League Wild Card Game and struck out on three straight sliders in his first meeting Tuesday night against the left-hander, but Bruce got Cincinnati its first run of the night with an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning after Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a Liriano pitch and Ryan Ludwick slapped a single.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto was lifted by manger Dusty Baker in the bottom of the fourth following a one-out double by Starling Marte and left-handed reliever Sean Marshall could not erase that threat, yielding an RBI double to the Steel City’s hometown hero, Neil Walker. Marshall then issued an intentional walk to Andrew McCutchen and a base-on-balls to Justin Morneau. Cincy turned next to right-hander JJ Hoover, who surrendered the Pirates’ fifth run of the game when Brandon Phillips botched what should have been an inning-ending doubleplay.
Pittsburgh is on top 5-1 as this NL Wild Card Game moves to the top of the fifth.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.