Yet another series win over the Cubs

Winning the series over the Cubs was very impressive. Especially as Chicago is pushing for the postseason, and really, the Reds have little to play for. 

Scoring a total of just nine runs over the course of the three-game series was less impressive. However, eight different players crossed home plate. I can’t decide if this is good or bad.

Both teams were missing their first basemen on Monday. Anthony Rizzo suffered a horrific twist in Sunday’s game which looked so bad that we may not see him again this season. Joey Votto was scratched just before first pitch but he only missed one game.

Cubs won comfortably despite not wanting to pitch to Eugenio Suarez, who walked three times. Aristides Aquino went 0-for-5 while stranding eight base runners.

Kevin Gausman, in his first start in Reds’ colours, only lasted two innings after giving up three runs, but if anything, that was a better appearance than Amir Garrett who gave up two runs without recording an out.

To be honest, I know the Reds didn’t have Votto or Nick Senzel or Jesse Winker, but the Cubs were without Rizzo and Javier Baez, yet they made us look second rate. How did we beat them earlier in the season?

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Tuesday was a much better game with Sonny Gray tossing another gem. He passed Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan in the record books with 32 consecutive starts of allowing six runs or fewer. Being mentioned in the same sentence as the pitching great is pretty cool.

Gray will reach the 200 strikeout mark for the first time in his career with his first K in his next start. And to think that the Yankees gave up on him. Full marks to the Reds Front Office for pulling off that deal.

Aquino hit a first-inning homer to take his tally to 16 for the season, but that was one of the very few mistakes made by Yu Darvish. The Japanese phenom set a franchise record with eight consecutive strikeouts. The Reds batter at he could not strike out at either end of that streak was … Jose Peraza. Who would have guessed?

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Suarez was the man of the moment in the series finale. With his 48th home run of the season, not only has he taken the MLB lead, but he also took the title for the most homers by a Venezuelan in one season. Venezuela has gifted the game some sensational players like Andres Galarraga, Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera.

So that was the fifth series victory over the Cubs in 2019. Fifth!

It is a rest day on Thursday ahead of the weekend series against the Mets. Reds are nine games below .500 with nine to play.

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We needed that win

2-1 series vs. Diamondbacks

Reds hadn’t won a series since the end of August. And that was against the Marlins (no offence), and no offense was the trouble in this series.

On Saturday, Reds became the first team in the modern era (that’s around 100 years) to have lost while only allowing one base runner.

To be fair, Reds had five base runners but were shutout for the 11th time this season.

The series started on a bad note with news that Nick Senzel is out for the season with a torn labrum. The rookie has been a sensational addition to the roster, giving the Reds a genuine centre fielder with an offensive threat.

His tally is 55 runs, 42 RBI, 20 doubles and 12 home runs. Ignore the 89 OPS+ and instead focus on the fact that this was his first season in the majors, and he was playing a position he hadn’t manned since school. The kid is a potential stud.

I can’t remember the last time Reds won the first game of the series, so the 4-3 victory on Friday was a little surprising. The two JVs went yard (Joey Votto & Josh VanMeter).

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There is not a stat I dislike more than “pitcher wins”, but Luis Castillo picked up his 15th W, so some times I dislike it less than others.

Game 2 was the shutout. Any remaining Anthony DeSclafani doubters were silenced with seven innings of one hit ball against a contender. He will be a key member of the rotation again in 2020.

The finale on Sunday saw Trevor Bauer look like the guy we love. Nine strikeouts over eight innings, while allowing just one run. Presumably that felt sweet against the team that drafted (and then bailed on) him.

VanMeter hit another homer, taking him to eight in this rookie campaign, but the story of the game was Eugenio Suarez hitting numbers 46 & 47 to draw level with current home run leader, Pete Alonso.

The ball in the crucial ninth inning was given to closer Raisel Iglesias, who duly secured his career-best 31st save of the season. It hasn’t always been easy watching Iglesias, but you have to admit that the guy has balls.

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Next up is the Cubs. 10 games below .500 with 12 play.

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Lost the first two games of the series again

Who knew that the Reds hadn’t won a game in Seattle since 2007? I didn’t.

I’m indebted to the Twitter account @HeyGingersaurus who advised that the Reds went 1-2 in 2007 and 0-3 in 2010. The 2013 and 2016 series were played in Cincinnati.

Despite this, the Reds salvaged one game of the series, with an 11-5 win over the Mariners. They like getaway day games. I like 3:00am west coast games which are still going on over breakfast.

The highlight of the win was the go-ahead grand slam from Freddy Galvis. He needed that. The 30-year-old is hitting .236 with a mere .274 OBP since the All-Star break.

The game also saw the 45th home run of the season for Eugenio Suarez to draw level with Mike Trout in second place behind the Mets rookie sensation Pete Alonso.

As a baseball fan, I was really pleased to see Mariners’ debutant Kyle Lewis hit a home run. My enthusiasm dwindled when he repeated the feat in Game 2 to break up Sonny Gray‘s no-no attempt. And then he hit his third of the series in the finale.

Trevor Bauer took the loss but struck out eight for only two runs in his start. Sonny Gray was brilliant allowing just two hits on 6 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts.

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Next up are the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pushing for a playoff spot, they made us look very ordinary in the series at the start of September.

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The world starts to take Suarez seriously

Third baseman Eugenio Suarez hit three home runs during the weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks to move level with Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger on 44 home runs. The trio is just a single home run behind joint leaders Mike Trout and Pete Alonso.

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Suarez’s continued domination of opposing pitchers was one of the very few highlights in the series. The Reds lost 7-5 in Game one and were then shut out 2-0 in the second game.

From a Reds perspective, the finale produced the most excitement.

Firstly, Suarez tied the score 3-3 with a home run (his second of the game) in the eighth inning.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Jose Peraza and Phil Ervin singled. David Bell introduced Michael Lorenzen to pinch-hit for Josh VanMeter, and the pitcher doubled to drive in the winning runs.

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With all the usual caveats about small sample size, it is still difficult not to be enthused by Lorenzen’s two-way play. The 27-year-old has a 3.13 ERA over 74 innings while slashing .333/.417/.571 with six runs and five RBI in 24 plate appearances.

The single by Ervin was his only hit of the series. The quartet of Ervin, VanMeter, Aristides Aquino and Freddy Galvis went 3-for-37 (0.081 AVG) over the three-game series. The Diamondbacks pitching was good … but not that good.

With only one series win in the last five, Reds will be hoping to make the most of the matchup against the struggling Mariners when they travel to the west coast on Tuesday.

The opening game sees Trevor Bauer on the mound against Justus Sheffield. Unfortunately the first pitch is 3:10am, but a rain delay will mean that we might see a couple of innings over breakfast.

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Walk-off win makes everything seem better

It was dark. I was running with a headtorch across the fields with only the moon and Marty Brennaman’s exquisite commentary for company.

J.T Realmuto had tied the game, forcing it into extra-innings. We were already 2-1 down in the series, and I cannot begin to think of how many one-run games the Reds have lost this season.

Suddenly running seemed harder; my legs heavier.

What seemed like an hour later, in the top of the 11th inning, Bryce Harper walked, stole second base and moved to third on a sacrifice-fly. Matt Bowman kept his nerve a struck out Scott Kingery for the third out.

Left fielder Phil Ervin wasted no time, sending the second pitch from Nick Vincent into the stands. The win helps mask recent disappointments, and also made the last couple of miles home a bit easier to tackle.

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In reality, the Phillies outplayed and outscored us (21-15) over the four game series. We have Eugenio Suarez enjoying a career-year. They Harper, Realmuto, Kingery, Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura.

Phillies have a great lineup, but it’s still probably not good enough to reach the playoffs. This just emphasises how much the Reds need to improve to become contenders.

Apart from Ervin’s walk-off, the other highlight of the series was Michael Lorenzen taking the win and also hitting a home run. We don’t need to mention that he blew the save in the same game.

Jose Iglesias hit two homers over the series, increasing the likelihood of the Reds trying to bring him back. Double-digit home runs with a career-best slash line of .293/.321/.420 makes Iglesias a threat with the bat and the glove.

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Rookie sensation Aristides Aquino continued his record-breaking pace. He’s now up to 15 home runs in 35 games. He has to be careful not to become too predictable. He struck out six times with no walks in 17 plate appearances against the Phillies. Pitchers will exploit holes as the league gets to know him.

Cy Young contender Sonny Gray pitched another beauty, allowing one run over six innings while striking out seven.

Unfortunately, last season’s Cy Young contender, Trevor Bauer, had another forgettable outing. The 28-year-old gave up six hits and two walks over five innings. He was pulled after allowing four earned runs which took his ERA to 8.23 since the trade.

The next series is against the underrated Diamondbacks. I would love to see them sneak into a playoff spot despite trading Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke.

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Tough weekend in Missouri

Four games in two days, and it wasn’t pretty to watch. The Cardinals showed a level of tenacity that is missing from Cincinnati at the moment.

Now that the dust has settled, I can look at it with more discerningly. We won one, lost one and blew two ninth inning leads. That’s a whisper away from winning the series 3-1.

Eugenio Suarez continues to destroy pitchers. The only hitters with more home runs this season are Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso and Cody Bellinger. Talk about a low-profile 40-homer campaign.

Unfortunately, he took a ball to the wrist which puts the four-game series against the Phillies starting on Monday in jeopardy. I know there isn’t much to play for, but the lineup is weak without him.

Talismanic Joey Votto looks back to full health. He scored four times over the weekend, including a two-out homer off Michael Wacha.

Stud starter Luis Castillo picked up the win. He is now 14-5 on the season. In the NL, only Stephen Strasburg and Max Fried have won more games, but both have a higher ERA. He won’t win the Cy Young award, but he’s in the conversation.

Having blown his last two save attempts, it was impressive to watch Raisel Iglesias take the ball in the ninth inning of Game 4 and strike out the side. Part of me expected a phantom IL stint to be on the horizon, but no, he stepped up and delivered.

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It’s difficult to know what to make about Trevor Bauer. Although he has two 11-strikeout appearances in Reds’ colours, he has only completed five innings twice in six starts. That’s not like him, nor is the 8.40 ERA.

With three hits, Phil Ervin flirted with a cycle in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. The cycle is one of the most pointless aspects of baseball. I’m sure it’s exciting if you’re in the crowd, but so is a Mexican wave. Nevertheless, it was great to see the 27-year-old make the most of his opportunity.

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Fish battered

Oh come on! That is a magnificent title for the first post on this new site for the Cincinnati Reds in the UK.

I’m not going to say it was “only” the Marlins, but it was certainly relieving to get a series win. 3-1 in Miami (and the one was courtesy of a walkoff homer in the 12th inning).

Let’s start there. Poor Raisel Iglesias. He is responsible for 10 losses and four blown saves this season. In reality, his underlying stats (FIP, BB/9, HR/FB) suggest he is the same pitcher as last season. If anything, his strikeout rate is up slightly. Many fans, however, will only see the 4.31 ERA and the game-losing appearances.

On the whole it was a great series for Reds’ pitchers, with Sonny Gray, Anthony DeSclafani & Luis Castillo all picking up the W.

We know that Gray and Castillo are enjoying career-seasons, but seven shutout, two-hit innings with eight strikeouts was Disco’s best outing of the season.

The often-leaky bullpen was secured by Rob Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims and Kevin Gausman who did not allow a run. They will all likely be heavily worked as the Reds face the Cardinals four times over the weekend.

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Venezuelan superstar Eugenio Suárez continues to excel. With players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon, Jose Ramirez and Nolan Arenado, third base is crammed with elite sluggers, but none of them have hit more homers than Suarez. The three long balls during the Marlins series takes him up to 38 for the season.

1Eugenio Suarez39CINNL134561492761288554.260.883
2Nolan Arenado34COLNL1345715129015910447.311.938
3Josh Donaldson33ATLNL133566474821237784.259.908
4Eduardo Escobar32ARINL1335895338414410943.270.857
5Anthony Rendon31WSNNL12053145710015310955.3351.047
6Matt Chapman30OAKAL132561492871287557.260.872
7Rafael Devers28BOSAL13259154411217410441.320.947
8Miguel Sano26MINAL8535330760735843.238.888
9Kris Bryant26CHCNL129560483951366464.282.896
10Justin Turner26LADNL126517452781346548.296.897
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/1/2019.

Everyone’s favourite rookie, Aristides Aquino, pounded his 13th and 14th home runs of the season. His ability to reach seemingly good pitches and then power them into the stands is a joy to watch. Next season, it will be fascinating to see whether pitchers’ adjustments extinguish his threat, or if he continues to develop into a Vlad Guerrero (senior) hitter.

Outfielder Jesse Winker is likely to remain on the IL until mid-September with a cervical strain, but our favourite player, Joey Votto, returned to the lineup and notched three runs.

It’s difficult to believe that Freddy Galvis has only played 16 games in Reds colours. His swagger and slick defending belong in Cincinnati. Although he hit a three-run homer in the opening game of the Marlins series off Pablo Lopez, it wasn’t the greatest few days with the bat for the 29-year-old. He went 3-for-19 with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Talking about walks, in the four game series, Michael Lorenzen walked more times (one) than Galvis, Curt Casali, Kyle Farmer and Phil Ervin did in their combined 37 plate appearances.

The Marlins are not as poor as they looked in the series and 2020 will be a far better season for them. Their pitchers could be the key to a quick return to NL East contention. The most disappointing feature of the four-game series was that fewer than 25,000 spectators attended. That’s just over 6,000 per game. I dream of the day 60,000 people are watching the Manchester Marlins.

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