The Cincinnati Reds swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in their three-game, weekend series at Great American Ballpark. En route to the sweep, the Reds stretched their current winning streak to five games. They also improved their record to 55-46 and moved just half of a game behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
The Reds have won five of their last seven games against two of the top teams in the National League. With a four-game series split against the San Francisco Giants and the sweep over Arizona, Cincinnati has jumped over both teams to occupy the National League’s top Wild Card spot.
Cincinnati outscored Arizona 20-11 total and never trailed by more than a run.
The series opener brought another solid, if unspectacular, start from Ben Lively. Lively went 4 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs. Aside from a three-run inning off of Fernando Cruz, the bullpen was in lockdown and held the Diamondbacks to just two baserunners via walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Offensively, the Reds were highlighted by Matt McLain’s opposite-field grand slam in the six-run, fifth inning. McLain, Spencer Steer and Jonathan India each collected two hits as well.
The Reds made a statement in the opener, winning 9-6.
Saturday brought a little less offense and a lot more excellent pitching to the table. Brandon Williamson continued his stretch of solid starts, going six innings and giving up just one run on three hits. The bullpen finished the game off without much trouble other than a Corbin Carroll solo home run in the ninth off of Alexis Diaz.
Cincinnati lived by the long ball again as they clubbed three home runs. However, these were not just any home runs sprinkled throughout the game. These were back-to-back-to-back home runs from TJ Friedl, Matt McLain and Jake Fraley in the sixth inning. Fraley would add another run batted in during the eighth inning to cap off the run production for the night.
The Reds would take the game, and the series, 4-2.
To finish off the series, the Reds brought in their secret weapon: Luke Weaver. Although Weaver was unspectacular, giving up three runs in four innings of work, Cincinnati was able to get it done, as they always seem to do when Weaver is on the mound.
The bullpen was forced to work hard once again and they did so admirably. Collectively, the bullpen threw five innings of scoreless baseball while giving up just two hits and three walks and striking out seven Diamondbacks. The workload is not ideal ahead of a pivotal series against the Brewers, but they have largely answered the bell all season.
Elly De La Cruz kicked off the scoring with a home run in the bottom of the first inning and the Reds never looked back. They collected 13 hits from eight different players and sent Arizona home with poor taste in their mouths.
Cincinnati earned the sweep on Sunday, 7-3.
Who is next?
The Reds will head to Milwaukee on Monday to begin a 10-game road trip against the Brewers, Dodgers and Cubs. This series against the Brewers will be enormous in deciding the winner of the NL Central this season.
Normally, a three-game series in July would not hold such importance, however, the Reds will not play the Brewers again in the 2023 regular season. Winning this series would give Cincinnati the lead in the division and allow the Reds to beat up on the rest of the National League, as they have been over the past two months.
Since June 2, the Reds are 2-8 against the Brewers. Against the rest of the National League in that same span, the Reds are 19-7. The teams they have played in that span are the Dodgers, Cardinals, Rockies, Braves, Padres, Nationals, Giants and Diamondbacks. A .731 winning percentage may not be sustainable, but something close to that should make the division race interesting down the stretch.
Step one will be winning a series against Milwaukee for the first time all season.
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Featured image courtesy of Reds.com
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