When you are still below .500, and battling to get back on track following a seven-game losing streak, you don’t want to take any games for granted. However, after already clinching the series with a pair of wins and having to face a three-time Cy Young award winner, the Reds were playing with a little bit of house money on Wednesday out in Los Angeles.
Cincinnati will take Thursday off while heading back to Great American Ball Park where they will host five straight games against the Chicago teams. First, the National League Central rival Cubs will come to town for a three-game series this weekend before the White Sox make the trip from the South Side for a two-game set on Monday and Tuesday.
Game 1: Reds 5 Dodgers 3 (10 innings)
There is no better way to end a losing streak than with an exciting extra-inning victory against the best team in baseball. That is what the Reds did Monday night on the back of Jesse Winker’s two-run home run in the 10th inning that propelled Cincinnati to a 5-3 win.
Love a late-night oppo taco. ???
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 27, 2021
Tyler Mahle was on the mound for the Reds and was very good once again. After a leadoff double by Mookie Betts, followed by a passed ball, the Dodgers were threatening in the first inning, but Mahle navigated out of the jam with no damage done. A shallow pop-up to right field and an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play kept the game scoreless.
Mahle’s pitch count quickly rose, the lone issue he has had this season, and had to exit after five innings having thrown 97 pitches. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five and is now sporting a 1.75 earned run average. It is obviously a small sample size, but Tyler Mahle has been one of the best pitchers in the National League so far this season.
Despite the strong start, Mahle did not earn the win because Amir Garrett gave up the Reds lead once again. The left-hander simply hasn’t thrown the ball well at all this season. This time Garrett didn’t walk anybody but did give up a two-run home run to Corey Seager that tied the game at three in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Garrett threw back-to-back sliders to the left-handed-hitting Seager but left the second one hanging over the plate which resulted in an exit velocity of 105.4 MPH home run that traveled 412 feet. Garrett has a 14.21 ERA this season and four home runs in just six and one-third innings. For the Reds bullpen to have sustained success this season Garrett will need to figure it out, but throwing him in high-leverage situations simply has to stop.
After Garrett blew the lead, Tejay Antone finished the game by throwing three no-hit innings to earn the win. Antone has been nothing short of spectacular this season.
Along with Jesse Winker’s go-ahead home run in the 10th inning, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Senzel, and Nick Castellanos drove in runs to account for the Reds scoring.
Game 2: Reds 6 Dodgers 5
Cincinnati got back up off of the mat a couple of times out in Los Angeles Tuesday night to clinch the series victory with a 6-5 win over the Dodgers. The Reds struck first but had to come from behind two different times before holding on to their lead to escape with the win.
Jesse Winker stayed hot by hitting the very first pitch of the game over the right-center field fence for a leadoff home run. Winker’s sixth long ball of the year was 102.3 MPH off the bat and traveled 402 feet to give the Redlegs a 1-0 advantage.
On the mound, Jeff Hoffman played with fire by allowing five walks and was only able to make it through four innings due to his increasing pitch count. He began the bottom of the fourth inning by walking the first two batters before allowing an absolute bomb off the bat of Will Smith. Smith’s home run on a fastball left over the middle of the plate and above the belt (see below) was the hardest and furthest hit ball of the night at 106.7 MPH and went 425 feet.
It wasn’t Hoffman’s best performance of the season by any means, but the Reds quickly fought back from the 3-1 deficit with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. Tucker Barnhart was hit by a pitch and Kyle Farmer doubled to deep right-center field to place runners at second and third with nobody out. The offense came through with an RBI ground out from Tyler Stephenson followed by an RBI single from Jesse Winker to tie the game.
The Dodgers plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth off of reliever Jose De Leon to retake a 5-3 lead, but from that point on the Cincinnati bullpen would be nearly perfect. Ryan Hendrix, Carson Fulmer, Hunter Hembree, and Sean Doolittle combined to throw the final three and one-third innings without allowing a hit. Hendrix would earn his first win in a Reds uniform while it was also Doolittle’s first save.
After the Dodgers regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth, the Reds once again wasted no time climbing back on top. Tucker Barnhart led off the inning with a double down the right-field line and scored on a Kyle Farmer single to cut the deficit to one run. Then, with two outs, Nick Castellanos extended the inning with a single to move Jesse Winker to second base.
With runners at first and second with nobody out, Joey Votto came to plate fresh off of a day off and in the thick of an 0-15 slump, and hit an RBI double to the right-field wall scoring both Winker and Castellanos to give Cincinnati a 6-5 lead that would hold for the final score.
Also of note on Tuesday, a special shoutout goes to former Red Trevor Bauer who was presented with the Cy Young award prior to the game. It was really cool that the Los Angeles Dodgers allowed the presentation to happen when all of his former teammates were in town.
Game 3: Dodgers 8 Reds 0
The final score is not at all indicative of what this game was like.
As you would expect with Sonny Gray and Clayton Kershaw on the mound, game three of this series was a pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately, the Dodgers were able to push across a couple of runs while the Reds had no such luck against the three-time Cy Young award winner. For as good as Gray was on Wednesday, Kershaw was just a little bit better.
A leadoff walk in the second inning turned into a run and then a mistake pitch to Justin Turner in the third inning accounted for the damage against Sonny Gray. The pitch to Turner was left out over the plate and right at the belt which resulted in a 106.2 MPH exit velocity long ball.
In his third start of the season, Gray threw five and two-thirds innings allowing two runs on four hits while striking out 11 batters. It was definitely his sharpest outing since coming off of the injured list with his fastball increasing in velocity and his curveball as nasty as ever. Of his 95 pitches, Gray threw 30 curveballs and the Dodgers swung at 15 of them. On 12 of those 15 swings they whiffed, two were fouled off, and the other was a ground ball double play.
Kershaw saw Gray’s performance and just raised him one. He recorded 22 swings-and-misses on his breaking ball, tied for the most in his career. The veteran lefty threw seven shutout innings allowing just four hits and struck out eight.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Reds would threaten a bit against the Dodgers bullpen but to no avail. Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Nick Senzel’s fourth hit of the game. However, with runners at the corners with one out, both Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos would strike out swinging to end the inning.
The game got away from Cincy late in the game as the Dodgers would end up tacking on six additional runs off of Sal Romano in the eighth inning to set the final score of 8-0 and avoid the series sweep.
Upcoming: Chicago Cubs
The Cubbies are currently on a four-game losing skid with two games left against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday and Thursday night. Cincinnati will take the day off on Thursday while traveling back home to Great American Ball Park before meeting up with the Cubs for a three-game weekend series.
At the time of this post, the Chicago Cubs are 10-13 on the season and in last place in the National League Central. The offense ranks dead last in all of baseball with a .206 batting average and the pitching staff checks in at just 28th in earned run average at 4.61. Bad pitching and bad hitting is a really tough recipe for success.
Here are the pitching matchups for this weekend.
Friday (7:10 p.m. Eastern Time): LHP Wade Miley (2-2, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.57 ERA)
Saturday (4:10 p.m. Eastern Time): RHP Luis Castillo (1-2, 6.29 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Davies (1-2, 9.47 ERA)
Sunday (1:10 p.m. Eastern Time): RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 1.75 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 4.44 ERA)