The Ohio Cup: Part Two
The battle for the Ohio Cup is back, for one team at least. The Reds hosted their state rivals for a three game set, but apparently, no one informed Cincinnati that the series had started. The Indians have led the American League Central all season, and showed why they are a first place team this week.
Despite the recent skid, the Reds are still playing great baseball. Being swept is never fun, but the three consecutive losses at the hand of Cleveland should not be concerning.
The Indians have a phenomenal lineup, with players like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, that is hard to match. With two of the better hitters on the disabled list, Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler, the Reds starting eight stand no chance. Add in Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and rookie stud Shane Bieber, the Reds looked like David facing Goliath. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, David didn’t win this time, in any game.
Homer Bailey went toe to toe with Mike Clevinger in game one. Bailey actually lasted longer than Clevinger, and for the most part, pitched a decent game. The box score will tell a different story, but until the sixth inning, Bailey made one mistake, resulting in two runs courtesy of Ramirez.
If it were possible to erase the sixth inning from the game, the Reds would be looking to extra innings. Erasing an inning from a game has still not been discovered, so instead, the Reds lost 10-3.
Bailey is not off the hook for his tenth loss though. Out of the whopping 18 hits the Indians produced, 10 were from the arm of Bailey. The box score does not exactly tell the story in Monday’s game. As one of Bailey’s biggest critics, saying that his poor performance is not the cause of the loss is quite the statement.
Bailey was able to manage to get himself out of every inning almost with ease, outside of the home run and sixth inning disaster. The five earned runs were not necessarily his doing. Amir Garrett looked lost on the mound, allowing both his inherited runners to cross the plate, as well as another four of his own.
Position Player Pitching! And Some Home Runs Too
The only pitching performances worth mentioning came from the hands of two unlikely players. Cody Reed, looking to prove to the world he can pitch at a major league level, put a zero on the board, surrendering just one hit. The other scoreless inning from the “bullpen” was from none other than utility man Brandon Dixon.
Offensively, there was not much to write home about. While the Reds produced 10 hits, only three resulted in actual production. Tucker Barnhart hit a solo shot that was confirmed after an umpire review. Scooter Gennett tied the game before the sixth inning madness with his 18th long ball this season. The final run came from a meaningless solo shot from the wood of Curt Casali.
Game Two: One To Forget
In game two, the Reds hoped Sal Romano’s up and down season would be on the upside. It was not. Romano was tagged with four runs in the first inning, escaping with a Kluber strikeout. Trailing four runs while facing Kluber, the writing was on the wall.
Romano lasted just 1 2/3 innings in a losing effort, allowing six runs total. Michael Lorenzen provided a decent effort. When asking a reliever to throw more than four innings, giving up two runs on three hits is not the worst thing in the world.
Following Lorenzen’s effort, the three-headed bullpen monster of Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, and Raised Iglesias did their thing, tossing three scoreless innings. Due to the record, this may come off as an insult, because wins create positivity, but the Reds have something special in the bullpen they have not seen since “The Nasty Boys”.
Iglesias has the highest earned run average of the three, but he his tasked with the role containing the highest pressure. Iglesias ERA is also at a mere 2.42 at the time of Tuesday’s bout, following his perfect three-strikeout night.
The offense in game two mirrored the offense in game one, nearly non-existent. Trailing eight runs, Preston Tucker drove in his second run in a Reds’ uniform in the seventh inning. Following Tucker’s RBI, the action was over for the night, as there was not another baserunner for the remainder of the game.
Game Three: The Game The Reds Were Actually In
The only real contest in the Ohio Cup came courtesy of game three. With two young guns with high hopes taking the hill, it was bound to be a fun game. Neither was able to produce the starts that each had hoped for, but a quality game was on the horizon.
The 23-year old rookie Bieber is considered a key piece in the Indians’ future. His season to this point has not looked great, but he is a rookie, and his performance should be measured by his location and deception, not his stats. His counterpart Wednesday, Robert Stephenson, is in a different situation. Stephenson has pitched at the major league level for parts of the last two seasons and two starts in 2018. He has shined in the minors, but his stuff has not transferred to the major leagues. The two young and eager pitchers lasted just six innings. That number is a combined number, with Bieber going 4 1/3 and Stephenson just 1 2/3, albeit, on a very short leash.
The scoring came early in Wednesday’s duel. Gennett drove in the first run of the game on a single to right. Tucker continued to impress in his stint in Cincinnati with a two-run shot, his first as a Red, that was crushed to right. A rarity when a home run only reaches the third row is considered a no-doubt home run, but Tucker’s was clearly out the moment it left the bat.
Stephenson Struggles, Bullpen Remains Solid
Stephenson surrendered two of his own in the Indians next at-bat, causing Jim Riggleman to remove him for Cody Reed. Reed, trying to prove to himself and the club that the Johnny Cueto trade was not a complete bust, had a decent outing. In 3 2/3 innings, Reed allowed just three hits and one walk. One of those hits, unfortunately, was a Melky Cabrera home run, which in the end were the two runs that propelled Cleveland to their fourth straight win over their state rivals.
Following Reed’s outing, none other than the big three in the ‘pen finished the game in a scoreless fashion, as they usually do. Hughes, Hernandez and Iglesias reached pitched scoreless innings, with Hughes throwing an additional two outs. While the three provided another stellar performance, they did not get any run support to make their efforts valid. The brooms came out Wednesday night, but the good guys did not bring them.
The Reds will look to end their poor play as of late when the San Francisco Giants come to town Friday night. The Reds only won game three when they visited the bay in May. Anthony DeSclafani hopes to continue his upward trend when he takes the hill to start the series.
Following DeSclafani, Matt Harvey and Luis Castillo will look to impress the Reds faithful. With two of the three starters this weekend as part of the Reds’ future plans, it will be an interesting series to watch against a team that is hoping to find its footing over the last month and a half.
“From Our Haus to Yours”