Yet Another Series Win
The surprising first place Phillies made their way to the Queen City for a four-game set. In the finale of a 10-game homestand, the Reds hoped to continue to their upward trend. After a tough start to the second half where they were swept by the Pirates, the Reds saw their luck change against the other team from Pennsylvania.
The Reds ended their homestand in quality fashion taking three of four from the Phillies, and two of three in their previous series against the Cardinals. At the end of the day, the Reds went a respectable 6-4 against two teams above .500, while dropping three against, at the time, the hottest team in baseball.
Game One: The Long Ball
The series opened in a forgettable fashion. From the second batter of the game, balls were flying. Rhys Hoskins opened up the scoring with a solo home run, followed by a Carlos Santana shot of his own, scoring two. After tallying on a third run in the first, the scoring never stopped and the balls kept leaving the yard.
Tyler Mahle has looked like the future ace of the staff. This was not the case Thursday. Mahle lasted just one inning, allowing seven baserunners as well. Michael Lorenzen, one of the better relievers on the club, followed Mahle’s night with a poor performance of his own. Austin Brice and Kyle Crockett had similar performances in two fewer innings pitched. Each reliever allowed two runs of their own, nearly all off the long ball.
While the Reds were able to put up four runs of their own, it was nowhere near enough to match the Phillies nine runs. Philadelphia also tied the record for the most home runs by a team in a single game at Great American BallPark with seven, with only one run scoring in another fashion.
Game Two: Welcome Mason
Friday night followed a similar case, but with fewer balls in the stands. The start made by Anthony DeSclafani, while not terrible, was nothing to write home about. For the second straight game, the Reds’ starter was unable to produce a quality start. While he did not have a terrible outing, he once again caused the bullpen to put in more work than desired. Luckily for Cincinnati, the bullpen was able to handle the weight on Friday.
The scoring was highlighted by the unlikely Mason Williams, making his first start as a Red. In a tie ballgame in the fourth inning, Williams launched a three-run shot to right field for the second home run of his career, and first since 2015. The Phillies would not quit though. Down three runs in the ninth, Cesar Hernandez drove in a run to put the tying run to the plate. In a series that had seen 12 home runs in 17 innings, the pressure was on. Fortunately, Raisel Iglesias continued his outstanding season and was able to shut the rally down.
Jim Riggleman has not been shy in his use of Iglesias for more than one inning. A trend that will hopefully continue, Iglesias came in with two outs in the eighth and finished the ninth for his 20th save of 2018.
Game Three: Harvey’s Farewell?
In game three, the Matt Harvey era may have come to an end. The rise of the Dark Knight was a wonderful story, but he was ultimately brought in to eventually trade away. His previous start was less than ideal, not boosting his trade value in the slightest. Saturday night, this was not the case. Harvey lasted five innings, which has been on par with his starts in Cincinnati. In 14 starts since the trade, Harvey has only lasted six innings four times. This will not bring back a great return, but it should be enough for a team who needs a fourth or fifth starter.
In Saturday’s game, Harvey made the most of his five innings. He struck out five, one shy of his season high, while only allowing four baserunners, in the form of two walks and two hits, one that left the yard to provide the Phillies with their only offense of the night. If this is Harvey’s last start in a Reds’ uniform, he made the most of a career that was on its last limb.
On the offensive side, the Reds provided yet another impressive output. It is not often that a last-place team boasts the fourth highest run total in their league, but that is the case in Cincinnati. Tucker Barnhart opened the scoring for the home club with a double, but the lead did not last long. Rhys Hoskins gave Philadelphia the lead in what would be their only two runs of the game with a big fly in the fourth inning. Billy Hamilton continued his hot streak and tied the game up with a two-out single. After that, the Reds did not look back.
The next four runs came at the hands of the three players you would expect them from. Joey Votto drove in a run in both the sixth and eighth inning. Immediately following Votto’s RBI, fellow all-star Eugenio Suarez delivered another run with a groundout. Who else but Scooter Gennett provided the Reds with the fifth run on his 23rd double of the season in the eighth.
The bullpen remained a strong point in the Reds’ 6-2 victory. Wandy Peralta picked up the win throwing 1 1/3 innings. Sal Romano made his first relief appearance of the season and threw 2/3 of scoreless ball. Amir Garrett faced two batters, striking out one in a scoreless appearance. Jared Hughes followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings to garner the save. After securing a homestand with a record that could not dip below .500, the Reds aimed to leave Cincinnati with a winning record post-All-Star break.
Game Four: Castillo Coming Out
Sunday was easily the most encouraging games of the season. The offense has been there all year, the pitching has been on and off, however. Mahle has looked like a potential ace, DeSclafani is rediscovering himself after injury, Romano appears to be starter material, but Luis Castillo showed that he was back. The man the Reds stole from Miami provided the Reds with one of their best starts all season.
Castillo has started 22 games as a Redleg this season. He has allowed a run in his first 21 starts. This was not the case Sunday. Castillo was electric. Seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts to his name while only allowing five baserunners. Castillo owns a 2.25 earned run average in five July starts with a WHIP barely over one. Castillo was believed to be the ace at one point, this is the pitcher the Reds traded for.
To secure the win, the Reds added four runs with their bats. Curt Casali remained a pleasant surprise as the backup catcher started the scoring with a double in the third. All-Star Gennett drove Casali in with a two-out two run home run scoring Casali. The Reds added one run off a Phillip Ervin sacrifice fly in the sixth, but it did not matter, the pitching made sure it would not.
David Hernandez threw a scoreless inning allowing just one hit. He also recorded three strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.79 and giving the Cincinnati faithful free pizza (given every game 11 strikeouts are made). Peralta faced three batters recording one out and allowing two hits before Iglesias finished the job. Iglesias recorded his 21st save, a surprising number for a team in last place.
Beating a first place team in a four-game series is always a positive note. What makes this series win even better is how they responded to being swept out of the break. With two series wins against potential playoff teams resulting in a 5-2 record, this team continues to show they are not your ordinary last place team. The Reds have made it known their rebuild is basically complete. Teams get swept, responding in the manner the Reds did showed what this team is made of.
The Reds have the day off Monday, their first off day since the break. Following the break, the Reds will head to Detroit for a quick two-game set with the Tigers. The Reds have played well in interleague games, with a 10-3 record in those games. Homer Bailey will hope to prove he can pitch at a major league level when he takes the mound Tuesday.