The Arizona Diamondbacks have won nine games this season and five of them have come against the Cincinnati Reds. This time, the DBacks completed a three-game sweep at Great American Ball Park including back-to-back extra-inning victories.
The series sweep dropped the Reds to .500 on the season at 9-9. They have now lost four straight games as they head to St. Louis to play the division-rival Cardinals.
When you get swept in a series there are plenty of directions you can point the finger. However, in this one, a lot of the “blame” goes to the bullpen. Coming into this season it was expected that the bullpen would be hit-or-miss, especially after losing Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley, but it has been even worse than expected. Outside of Tejay Antone and, until Thursday, Lucas Sims, there isn’t anyone that the Reds can count on. The most frustrating aspect is that they can’t just simply throw strikes.
Cincinnati will be back at it Friday night at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time in St. Louis.
Game 1: Diamondbacks 5 Reds 4
Shortly after upholding the two-game suspension of Nick Castellanos in large part due to close contact with other players and inciting a bench-clearing incident which supposedly jeopardized the health of those involved, Major League Baseball didn’t see any health or safety concerns with playing through a monsoon.
Tuesday evening saw some of the worst weather you will ever see in Cincinnati on April 19th. By the eighth inning, there was a torrential downpour coming from the sky as the rain turned to sleet with snow on the way. The baseball was becoming soaking wet just from traveling between catcher and pitcher.
By the time Lucas Sims entered the game, it was abundantly clear that gripping the baseball was an issue. Sims hit a right-handed batter with a slider, something that would rarely ever happen under normal conditions, and then walked in the go-ahead run. What followed was an all-time great exchange between Sims and the home plate umpire that finally resulted in the game being suspended due to the inclement weather.
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) April 21, 2021
When the game picked back up Wednesday evening the Reds were able to navigate out of the one-out, based loaded jam without any more damage. However, they couldn’t get anything going in their two remaining trips to the plate and suffered a 5-4 loss to begin the series.
In terms of highlights, Kyle Farmer drove in three of the Reds four runs. Farmer had an RBI single in the fourth inning and then hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.
Tejay Antone gave up the game-tying home run in the eighth inning, the first hit he had allowed in six and one-third innings, to Andrew Young. We all know what happened from there.
Amir Garrett would get saddled with the loss in relief. Luis Castillo struggled once again in his fourth start of the season surrendering three runs (only one earned) on seven hits and walking three batters in his four innings of work. The Reds ace is now 1-1 with an ugly 6.05 earned run average to begin the season.
Game 2: Diamondbacks 8 Reds 5 (10 innings)
A day after feeling like a potential win was taken away due to being forced to play through a downpour, the Reds gave away another game. This time, it was all because of a bad bullpen and questionable decisions from manager David Bell.
Tyler Mahle turned in a great performance on the mound throwing six and two-thirds shutout innings. Mahle allowed just two hits and struck out nine batters. He exited the game in line to earn the win as Cincinnati held on to a 3-0 lead.
The Reds did a great job of manufacturing runs to build their lead. In the fourth inning, a pair of singles from Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel surrounded a Joey Votto walk to load the bases. Jonathan India came through with a sacrifice fly to put Cincy on top.
In the fifth inning, Tyler Mahle laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Tyler Stephenson, who reached on an infield single, to second base. Jesse Winker then tripled down the right-field line to score Stephenson and was eventually driven in thanks to a Tyler Naquin sacrifice fly. The Reds have done a much better job this season of creating productive outs.
The score was still 3-0 with one out in the ninth inning before things went south. After Tejay Antone pitched a scoreless one and one-third innings of relief while recording four strikeouts, David Bell turned to Amir Garrett in the closer role. Garrett proceeded to allow a leadoff walk, got a flyout to right field, and then walked another batter to put runners at first and second base. The 28-year-old left-hander threw just 10 strikes in 25 pitches.
Former Red Josh VanMeter came to the plate as the potential tying run after Garrett had walked two batters. David Bell decided to stick with the closer and VanMeter hit a bomb into the right-field seats to tie the score at 3-3.
The wheels totally fell off in the 10th inning as Arizona scored five runs off of Cionel Perez and Jose De Leon to secure what ended up being an 8-5 victory. After being just two outs away from a shutout victory, Cincinnati successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to lose their second series of the season to the Diamondbacks.
Game 3: Diamondbacks 14 Reds 11 (10 innings)
Jesse Winker got things started with a leadoff home run to spot the Reds a 1-0 lead. The 403-foot opposite-field home run was 109.6 MPH coming off the bat. Cincinnati couldn’t take advantage of the early lead and wound up getting swept by the Diamondbacks, but they wouldn’t go down without a fight coming back from a pair of sizable deficits.
After the leadoff blast, the Redlegs offense went cold until the sixth inning. In the interim, Jeff Hoffman allowed two runs in the third inning, one of which was unearned due to his own throwing error. David Peralta would open things up in the sixth inning with a two-run home run off of Carson Fulmer that gave Arizona a 4-1 lead. Fulmer surrendered three walks in his one inning of work.
Nick Castellanos hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth and then Eugenio Suarez finally connected with a ball and sent it over the centerfield fence for a two-run shot to tie the game. Unfortunately, the walk parade would pick right back up for the pitching staff in the next inning.
Lefty Sean Doolittle entered the game and proceeded to walk three batters (see above graphic) and allowed two hits as the Diamondbacks put a four spot on the board to recapture an 8-4 advantage. The Reds relievers allowed 17 walks in 13 1/3 innings this series.
Cincinnati would not go down without a fight though. In the bottom of the seventh inning Jesse Winker would hit his second home run of the day, this time a two-run bomb to center. Then, Joey Votto hit an opposite-field home run to bring the score to 8-7.
Rookie Jonathan India kept the long balls coming in the eighth when he sent his first career home run over the fence in right-center field to tie the game once again.
Game-tying dinger for his first MLB homer?
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 22, 2021
After the back-and-forth battle that saw the Reds overcome separate three- and four-run deficits, Lucas Sims came in and shut things down in the top of the ninth inning. Sal Romano got the first out of the inning after also pitching a scoreless eighth, but then David Bell turned to Sims who got the final two outs to give the Reds a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth.
The Reds would be retired in order and the game would head to extra innings for the second consecutive day. Also for the second consecutive day, things completely derailed in the 10th inning. The Diamondbacks singled twice to begin the inning to take the lead and then blew the game open by putting six runs on the board before Cincy could get out of the inning. David Peralta hit a three-run triple off of Cionel Perez to put it out of reach and cap off his five-hit, seven RBI day.
There was another comeback attempt in the bottom of the 10th as Tucker Barnhart drove in a run and Nick Castellanos plated two, but Joey Votto struck out as the potential game-tying run and the Reds lost 14-11.
Upcoming: St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis has only won one series this season, a three-game sweep of the Marlins, and are coming off of losing two out of three in the nation’s capital to the Nationals. The Reds took two out of three from the Cardinals after losing on Opening Day and the perennial National League Central favorite hasn’t found their footing since.
The starting pitching has been feast or famine for the Cards. Staff ace Jack Flaherty is 3-0, but Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright are a combined 0-6 with earned run averages of 6.00 and 5.03 respectively.
At the plate, free-agent signee Nolan Arenado has been his typical All-Star self, hitting .268 with four home runs and 10 runs batted in. Yadier Molina has proven to be an ageless wonder as well with a .322 batting average, four home runs, and a team-leading 12 RBI.
Here is how the pitching rotations will shape up for the three-game series between division rivals at Busch Stadium:
Friday (8:15 p.m. Eastern Time): RHP Sonny Gray (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (0-0, 9.00 ERA)
Saturday (2:15 p.m. Eastern Time): LHP Wade Miley (2-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. RHP John Gant (0-2, 3.21 ERA)
Sunday (2:15 p.m. Eastern Time): RHP Luis Castillo (1-1, 6.05 ERA) vs. RHP Jack Flaherty (3-0, 3.80 ERA)