This has been a week to forget for the Cincinnati Reds. The Redlegs have now lost seven straight games after back-to-back series sweeps at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals. The bats have officially gone cold now as Cincinnati only scored six runs all series long and mustered just eight hits combined in the final two games.
This is not exactly the time when you want to be heading to Los Angeles to face the best team in baseball, but that is how the schedule falls for the Reds. Now sitting in last place in the National League Central, the Reds will begin a three-game series with the Dodgers on Monday night at 10:10 p.m. Eastern Time.
Game 1: Cardinals 5 Reds 4
The Reds dropped their fifth straight game on Friday evening after failing to dig out of a 5-0 hole. Sonny Gray made his second start of the season but was only able to make it through three and two-thirds innings before exiting with 86 pitches. Gray allowed five runs on six hits while striking out six and walking three. At the end of his outing, it appeared that some of the lower back soreness that placed him on the injured list to begin the season flared up so that will be a situation to monitor.
If you are looking for a silver lining after a five-game losing streak, that would become seven by the end of the weekend, it would be the performance of the bullpen on Friday. A couple of new faces were added to the lineup as Cionel Perez and Max Schrock were optioned to the alternate site. In their first action with the Reds, Heath Hembree and Ryan Hendrix combined for two and one-third hitless innings. Jose De Leon and Amir Garrett finished the game off with two perfect innings. Most importantly, Cincinnati’s relief pitching allowed just one walk in their four and one-thirds innings on the mound.
It proved to be too little, too late, but the Reds offense never stopped putting together competitive at-bats and almost clawed all the way back.
Nick Castellanos got Cincy on the board with a solo home run in the sixth inning. It was Castellanos’ seventh home run of the season. The bats would remain quiet until the ninth inning, but it was good to see some fight from the lineup.
Jonathan India tripled to drive in Alex Blandino and would eventually score when Jesse Winker drew a bases loaded walk. Castellanos then struck out on a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first base, scored Tucker Barnhart, and moved the tying run within 90 feet. That was the end of the line for the Reds though as their comeback attempt fell short against the rival Cardinals.
Game 2: Cardinals 2 Reds 0
Cincinnati took one on the chin Saturday evening after an over two-hour rain delay to lose their sixth straight game and suffer their third shutout of the season. The Reds produced just three hits on the night despite only striking out six times.
Once again, the Reds got about as much as you can expect out of their fifth starter in the rotation. Wade Miley turned in six innings of work allowing two runs on five hits. Despite being saddled with the loss, Miley is now 2-2 with a 2.45 earned run average.
At the plate, the Redlegs only reached base one time in the final three innings and that was via a hit by pitch. One of the bright spots of the season to this point had been stringing together competitive at-bats and creating some comeback opportunities. However, that was not the case on Saturday night.
The Reds’ three through five spots in the lineup combined to go 0-11 at the plate with three strikeouts while the bottom three spots in the order went 0-8 on the night. Until the offense gets more from Eugenio Suarez and, yes, Joey Votto, they just won’t be able to consistently score enough to win.
Overall, this was the type of game that the Reds need to win. You have to win the games when the pitching staff–especially when your fifth starter is throwing–gives up only two runs. Unfortunately, the offense just wasn’t there, and it resulted in extending the losing streak to six games with a 2-0 loss to the Cardinals.
Game 3: Cardinals 5 Reds 2
After a promising start to the season that included a series win over the Cardinals and a six-game winning streak, things have gone off the rails a little bit for Cincinnati. The Reds suffered their second straight sweep, this time out in St. Louis, and have now lost seven consecutive games.
Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty was dominant on the mound, turning in seven innings of work while allowing just one run on three hits. Flaherty struck out six batters on his way to picking up the win. He is now 4-0 on the season with a 3.18 earned run average.
Jesse Winker was the only Red who brought his bat to work in this one. Winker continued his excellent season with a two-hit performance including a solo home run in the seventh inning.
In the eighth, Cincy would add another run via a Tyler Naquin pinch-hit single but that was all the offense they could muster Sunday afternoon.
For St. Louis, Tyler O’Neill hit solo home runs in the second and fifth innings off of Luis Castillo. O’Neill entered the game batting just .125 with one home run. Veteran first baseman Paul Goldschmidt added two RBI, as well, as the Cardinals swept their National League Central rival with a 5-2 win.
There isn’t much else left to say after a week like the Reds just had. Now sitting at 9-12 on the season you just have to turn the page and try to win the next one. Unfortunately, that won’t be easy as Cincinnati heads out to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Dodgers.
Upcoming: Los Angeles Dodgers
Things don’t get any easier for the Reds going forward. After suffering their second straight series sweep and seventh consecutive loss, Cincinnati will travel out west to take on the best team in baseball. The Dodgers will finish up a four-game series with the San Diego Padres on Sunday night after losing two of the first three games.
Here is how the pitching matchups will look for the Monday-Wednesday series.
Monday (10:10 p.m. Eastern Time): LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 2.81 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 1.74 ERA)
Tuesday (10:10 p.m. Eastern Time): RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 2.16 ERA) vs. RHP Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 2.66 ERA)
Wednesday (4:10 p.m. Eastern Time): LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 2.56 ERA) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (0-1, 7.88 ERA)