Beating the Cardinals is fun. Sweeping the Cardinals is more fun. Sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis is the absolute best.
With Saturday’s win the Reds clinched their first four game series victory in St. Louis since 1990. On Sunday, well, Reds fans were treated to an all-time roller coaster of a game.
Early on it appeared that the Redlegs were going to blow the Cardinals out to earn the four game sweep. Jesse Winker hit a two-run home run in the first inning followed by a three-run shot in the second to build an early advantage. After two more runs in the third inning, Cincy was up 7-0.
However, in typical Cincinnati Reds fashion, things would get bumpy when David Bell turned to the bullpen. More on that wild ride below.
Cincinnati is now 28-29 on the season after the sweep in St. Louis and made up some serious ground in the National League Central standings. After a day off on Monday, the Reds will return to Great American Ball Park for a week long home stand beginning with a three game set against the Milwaukee Brewers. Sonny Gray will take the ball at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday evening.
Vladimir Gutierrez Earns First MLB Win
Vladimir Gutierrez, making his second big league start, gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning but settled in to earn his first victory.
Gutierrez would go five innings on the mound allowing just the two runs on three hits while striking out three batters. He has now had back-to-back solid five inning outings filling in for the injured Wade Miley and now Jeff Hoffman. The 25 year old Cuban just might be earning a spot in the rotation for the duration of the 2021 season.
At the plate for Cincinnati, Jesse Winker had a three hit night including a two run home run that recaptured the lead in the second inning.
good 4 u, Jesse.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 4, 2021
Nick Castellanos and Jonathan India each added multi-hit performances of their own while Tucker Barnhart provided an eighth inning insurance run with a double to right field. that scored Mike Freeman.
The Reds turned to the big guns out of the bullpen to cover the final four innings of the game at Busch Stadium. Tejay Antone handled the sixth and seventh striking out three while allowing just one hit. Then, Lucas Sims earned a two-inning save to secure a 4-2 victory to begin the series.
Luis Castillo Throws Well, Earns Win
The struggles of Luis Castillo have been well documented this season. The Reds Opening Day starter had been one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball through his first 11 starts, but his luck turned on Friday night to lead his team to another win in St. Louis.
Castillo turned in his best outing since his second start of the season to lead the Reds to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals. Castillo allowed just one run on three hits over six innings while striking out five. His whiff rate returned to 32% and his fastball was living in the 97-98 mile per range which was making batters miss. For probably only the second time this season Luis Castillo looked like his normal self on the mound.
The game got close late due to some shaky bullpen work from Heath Hembree and Sean Doolittle, but the Cincinnati offense did their part by building a comfortable lead with plenty of cushion.
The Reds pair of rookies, Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India got the scoring started in the second inning when they each went deep. Stephenson led off the inning with a solo shot on the first pitch while India’s home run also drove in Kyle Farmer to put Cincy on top 3-0.
Rookies who rake. ?? pic.twitter.com/nDAf1DsTxs
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 5, 2021
Luis Castillo would help his own cause in the sixth with a double off of the base of the center field wall to drive in a run. Stephenson and Shogo Akiyama added insurance runs with RBI in the top of the ninth which proved important in the bottom of the inning.
Doubles from Matt Carpenter and Tommy Edman drove in a total of three runs to cut the Cardinals deficit to two runs, but Michael Feliz entered the game and earned his first save by striking out Paul Goldschmidt and stranding runners and first and third base.
Reds Clinch Series Win
For the first time since 1990, also the Reds last World Series, Cincinnati won a four game series in St. Louis. It was a back-and-forth affair until Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the Reds the lead. They would tack on an insurance run in the seventh inning and close out the game with a 5-2 win at Busch Stadium.
Tyler Mahle was absolutely excellent on the mound for the Redlegs turning in a seven inning performance allowing two runs on five hits while striking out eight. The Reds most consistently good pitcher this season, Mahle is now sporting a 5-2 record with a 3.32 earned run average.
At the plate, Jonathan India stayed hot with a multi-hit game including a solo home run in the second inning. Nick Castellanos turned in a multi-hit game as well, his 15th such performance during his Major League leading 21-game hitting streak.
Once again, it was Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims who slammed the door shut out of the Reds bullpen. Antone threw a perfect frame in the eighth before turning the ball over to Sims in the save situation. Sims allowed two hits, but also struck out two batters to earn his second save of the series and fifth of the season.
Roller Coaster For the Ages
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the game Sunday afternoon this recap simply can’t do the game justice so let’s just keep it simple.
In the first inning, Jonathan India stayed hot with a leadoff single followed by a two-run long ball off the bat of Jesse Winker. Winker would follow up the first inning blast with a three-run home run in the second inning to propel the Reds to an early 5-0 lead.
Jesse Winker is currently on pace to hit 9 dingers this game. pic.twitter.com/psj0oKQUOP
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 6, 2021
Eugenio Suarez blew the doors wide open in the third inning with a two RBI double down the left field line scoring both Tyler Stephenson and Shogo Akiyama to extend the lead to 7-0.
That 7-0 lead held through five innings and everything appeared to be pointed to a relaxing Sunday afternoon sweep of the rival Cardinals. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Michael Feliz, who stepped in to earn the save Friday night, allowed four hits and a walk to the five batters he faced in the top of the sixth inning. He would exit the game without recording an out and all five of his runners would end up scoring. Tejay Antone stopped the bleeding by turning a double play on his second pitch after taking over for Brad Brach who also failed to record an out. Antone did allow the game tying two-run single, but the runs were attributed to Brach who allowed the runners to reach base.
The Cardinals ended up putting a seven spot up on the scoreboard in the sixth inning to completely erase their deficit and tie the game.
Neither team could get anything going over the course of the next two innings until Jesse Winker came to the plate once again with one out in the top of the ninth. Facing an 0-2 count, Winker lifted one in the air that just barely cleared the right field fence for his third home run of the game. Most importantly, it recaptured an 8-7 advantage for the Reds.
Running out of words to describe how good this guy is?? pic.twitter.com/NXaL77MM8u
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 6, 2021
It was Winker’s second three home run game of the season and moved him into a tie for second place in all of Major League Baseball with 17 home runs.
Playing with fire for the third time this series, Lucas Sims allowed two hits to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. After a Paul Goldschmidt single, Nolan Arenado hit an unlucky ground rule double that would have scored the tying run had it not bounced over the fence.
Sims took full advantage of the lucky bounce by inducing an infield pop for the first out followed by back-to-back punch outs to record his third save over the course of the four game series.
After all of the drama, the Reds escaped Busch Stadium with an 8-7 victory and a four game sweep of their National League Central rival St. Louis Cardinals.