The ball was flying out of Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon with each team hitting five home runs in the Reds 13-12 slugfest win. Nick Castellanos delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning scoring Jesse Winker to finish off a five-hit, four RBI day at the plate.
The series began with an exciting 8-6 victory Friday night where the Reds bullpen just about let an 8-2 advantage slip away. However, Tejay Antone came in to record the final out and earned his first save of the season. Wade Miley took the win after turning in five innings of work allowing two runs on five hits. Miley is now 3-2 on the season with a spectacular 2.67 earned run average.
On Saturday, the on-field beef between Amir Garrett and the entire Chicago Cubs team stole the show. The Redlegs pushed across two runs in the first inning but then proceeded to leave nine runners on base and went just 1-8 with runners in scoring position. The Cubbies took the lead in the sixth inning via a Nico Hoerner single and held on the rest of the way for a 3-2 win.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 2, 2021
In the rubber match on Sunday, the Reds and Cubs combined for 25 runs and 30 hits in a game that turned into an absolute slugfest. Nick Castellanos hit two home runs as part of his five-hit day and Eugenio Suarez had three hits including his second home run of the series. Mike Moustakas and Tucker Barnhart also hit long balls on Sunday afternoon.
The game was back-and-forth the whole way as the teams traded game-tying and go-ahead home runs. In extra innings, Amir Garrett came in and stuck out two batters before turning the ball over to Ryan Hendrix, who also recorded a strikeout to strand runners at second and third. That great tag-team performance set up the Castellanos walk-off single in the bottom of the frame.
Cincinnati has now won back-t0-back series and is 13-14 overall on the season. The Reds will take Monday off before welcoming the Chicago White Sox to Great American Ball Park for a quick two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Around the Horn
– Joey Votto hit his 300th career home run on Friday night in the Reds’ series-opening 8-6 victory. Votto earned a curtain call after the milestone long ball, but most importantly it gave the Reds the lead that they would hold on to the rest of the way. The veteran first baseman also doubled twice in the game.
Dare ya to say ‘bang’ 300 times fast. pic.twitter.com/jUOhHnRd2K
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 1, 2021
– Reliever Heath Hembree has been lights out in the bullpen since joining the big league squad. The 32-year-old right-hander has thrown five and two-thirds innings of no-hit baseball with seven strikeouts and just two walks.
– Eugenio Suarez has a long way to go at the plate before his statistics start to reflect his normal production, but baby steps are being made. Suarez went deep on Friday night and then again Sunday afternoon for his 800th career hit. In the series rubber match on Sunday, Suarez had the two hardest-hit balls of the game by Reds batters with a 106.3 MPH exit velocity home run and a 106.9 MPH rocket of a single. Just keep hitting the ball hard and good things will happen.
– Tyler Naquin has come back down to Earth a little bit since his insanely hot start to the season. Naquin had six home runs by April 18th but is still stuck at six more than two weeks later. However, the 30-year-old outfielder remains one of the most valuable members of the Reds lineup due to his ability to just get on base. In this series alone against the Cubs, Naquin reached base six times in 11 plate appearances.
– Amir Garrett has been known to try and fight entire teams by himself in the past. He did again on Saturday when the lefty ran his mouth after striking out Anthony Rizzo. Benches cleared, players were held back, but it was mostly just a shouting match between Garrett and the Cubs dugout. On an unrelated note, Garrett entered the game with an Earned Run Average over 12. The lefty did earn some redemption by recording the first two outs of the 10th inning via strikeout in Sunday’s series-clinching victory.
–Luis Castillo continues to uncharacteristically struggle on the mound for the Reds. Castillo was saddled with the loss on Saturday after allowing three runs on eight hits in five and one-third innings. The biggest issue has been his inability to make batters miss. Just look at how his whiff rate has dropped from 2020 to 2021 on each of his four pitches. Fastball: 37.2 to 21.5. Changeup: 40.1 to 28.9. Slider: 42.3 to 23.3. Sinker: 13.1 to 8.5. His strikeout rate of 17.9% is far and away the lowest of his career. Castillo is currently sporting an ugly 1-3 record and 6.07 ERA.
Below is the pitch chart from Nick Castellanos’ five-hit game on Sunday afternoon. The two pitches that you see in the middle of the zone, both sinkers, were his two home runs. It was Castellanos’ eighth career multi-homer game. His nine long balls on the season tie him for the most in Major League Baseball.
The home runs were 103.3 MPH and 105 MPH off the bat while his singles had exit velocities of 97.8 MPH and 101.4 MPH.
On the season, average exit velocity is sitting at 91.1 miles per hour which is the best of his career. Additionally, Castellanos’ 51.2% hard-hit rate is the best of his career as well. When you consistently hit the ball hard, good things generally happen and that is what Castellanos is experiencing this season. The outfielder ranks in the top five percentile in baseball of xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG.
Eugenio Suarez: Went 3-5 at the plate with a home run and 3 RBI on Sunday. It was just his second 3-hit game of the season.
Amir Garrett: 1 1/3 innings with 3 strikeouts in a pair of appearances on Saturday and Sunday.
Lucas Sims: Two-thirds of an inning with three walks on Friday, one-third of an inning allowing two hits and two runs via a Javier Baez home run on Sunday.
Tejay Antone: Allowed four runs and walked two batters in 1 1/3 innings on Sunday.
The Cubs: Losers of 7 of their last 9 games and sitting in last place in the National League Central divison.