Tigers in Town
For the Reds’ midweek series, they played host to the Detroit Tigers. It was the Reds third interleague series of the season, and they brought out the brooms. It was their fourth sweep of the season, however, three of those four have come from two-game series, including a strange sweep of the Cubs, where the games were separated by over a month.
The Reds have been trending upward after a disastrous 8-27 start to the season, going 20-18 since June 21. The hitting has remained consistent throughout the season, but the late spark in the win category can be accredited to an improvement with the rotation. While it is still not close to where the Reds would like their staff to be, it is slowly approaching a respectable level.
The series with Detroit showcased the improved pitching, with quality starts from Sal Romano and rookie Tyler Mahle. The offense continued to produce respectable numbers, scoring at least five runs in both games. So how exactly did the Reds reach these results this week?
Romano took the hill, seeking his fourth win in 15 starts. He did everything the team could have asked for, going seven innings for just the second time all season. The other time was in his previous start when he tossed eight innings of one-run baseball in a win against the Kansas City Royals, however, he did not record the win, as the Reds rallied in extra innings for the victory.
The Reds broke open the scoring early on with four runs in the third inning. Joey Votto sent a long ball just over the glove of an outstretched Nick Castellanos for his seventh home run of the season and third grand slam of his career.
Cincinnati kept their foot on the gas in the following innings. With one out and Tucker Barnhart at the dish, he hit a double down the third base line, allowing Jose Peraza to use his speed to score from first to extend the lead to four. They took a five-run lead with a home run from an unlikely source in Billy Hamilton. After loading the bases, Adam Duvall doubled on a line drive to right. In the seventh inning, the Reds scored their ninth and final run of the night, after Eugenio Suarez took a pitch off his thigh to score Peraza.
After seven scoreless innings from Romano, David Hernandez shut the Tigers down in the eighth, while recording two strikeouts in the process. Wandy Peralta started the ninth inning for Cincinnati and had an outing he would like to forget. He did not record a single out, allowing five runs on four runs and one walk, before Dylan Floro relieved him of his misery, closing the game out as the fireworks lit up the Cincinnati sky.
Game two of the series required some extra work for the Reds to come out on top with a comeback win. Mahle has been brilliant as of late, lowering his ERA to 3.89, while registering his sixth win of the season. During the month of June, Mahle is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.61. His improvement is something Reds fans should be excited about. He is showing signs of a future number one or two pitcher in this rotation, something the Reds have missed since trading Johnny Cueto in 2015.
After falling behind 2-0 on a series of solo home runs from Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum, the Reds answered with back to back home runs in the sixth. Scooter Gennett tied the game with a two-run shot, followed by a home run from Suarez after the Reds challenged the original call on the field. The Reds tacked on another run in the seventh before the Tigers answered to make it a 4-3 game. In the bottom half of the eighth inning, Duvall pushed the lead back to two with a solo shot of his own. Raisel Iglesias continued his outstanding season with a near-perfect inning, allowing just one hit while recording the save.
What Does This Mean?
The Reds have now won five of their last seven games, including the two sweeps against AL Central opponents. The series win proved that the Reds recent improvement is not a fluke. Yes, they had a nine-run lead in game one, so holding onto that win despite the late rally may not seem impressive, but with how unlucky Cincinnati has been lately, it is a reassuring win. Some may focus on the late meltdown, but that would be foolish and ignore the fact the club put up nine runs to continue their success at the plate this season.
Game two was an encouraging sight to see due to the comeback win. Often times at the beginning of the season, as soon as the Reds fell behind, the game was all but over. Although it was just two runs, the Reds showed the fight they have in them that Reds country has been hoping to see all season.
The best takeaway from this series without a doubt is the two stellar pitching performances from Romano and Mahle. The Reds have held their own offensively, but have been one of the worst in the Majors when it comes to pitching. The rotation is one of the youngest in the leagues as well, so it is understandable if they are not dominating opposing lineups, but everyone expected to see a little more potential. The last two weeks, the potential appears to be revealing itself.
The Reds will look to continue their solid play with the Chicago Cubs visiting Great American Ballpark this weekend for a four-game set. The Cubs have had the Reds number for the last few years, and the Reds will look to right the ship against their division rivals. Regardless of the results this weekend, the key for the club is that the pitching continues to pitch successfully. The Cubs have one of the most dangerous lineups in the league and should help measure the improvement of the pitching staff.
“From Our Haus to Yours”