CINCINNATI – Two first-place teams – the Braves and the Reds – played three thrilling games in a weekend series at Great American Ball Park in front of three rowdy crowds. Everything was decided by one run.
It felt like baseball in October, and maybe fans would love to watch these teams again in the postseason. But if the Reds don’t solve their problems initially, their playoff chances will diminish.
“We were in every game. We lost the series, but it was a good atmosphere to play,” McLean said. “That’s where you want to be at the end of the season – games like that.”
A thrilling comeback with solid offensive support and solid hitting efforts helped cover the rotation in many of the Reds’ 41 wins, especially during their 12-game winning streak. But what happens when the comeback falls short and the bulls can’t come? It only underscores the seriousness of the situation.
The three starters—Luke Weaver, Graham Ashcraft, and Levi Stoudt—combined for 14 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings pitched (12.91 ERA) this series. Overall, the rotation was ranked 28th in the MLB with a 5.91 ERA and 24 innings pitched while missing Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo to injuries.
Stoudt gave up three runs and four hits over three innings pitched, with three walks and two strikeouts. The organization’s 13th prospect was called up by MLB Pipeline from Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, but not for his 5.00 ERA in 10 at bats starts.
Sunday was Stoudt’s turn to play for Louisville, and the Reds were in need of a starter after Ben Lively went on the injured list with a right pectoral muscle strain.
Stoudt was coming off an injury and had lost again at Louisville, with 3 2/3 innings pitched over his previous two games.
By the third inning on Sunday, fatigue appeared to be setting in, as Stoudt gave up three runs to put the Reds up to a 3-0 deficit.
He was still in progress at Triple-A to recover health. [Stoudt] find out yesterday [he’s getting called up]Reds coach David Bell said, “He came up against this lineup.” Levi is a good player. will be here. He will do a good job here. Given the circumstances, this was a really good effort, and [he] He gave us a chance.”
Another Louisville player called in to pitch several innings, 30-year-old rookie Randy Wein, made his major league debut with one run allowed in 2 1/3 innings pitched. But the bulls were reduced. Ian Gibbot gave up a three-pointer to Matt Olson in the sixth inning that cut the tie 3-3. Closer Alexis Díaz came on to replace Buck Farmer in the eighth inning to close out a rally, but he walked two batters—one of which loaded the bases.
Once again, the Reds’ offense caused the shooters to clash. McLain, who doubled and scored on Spencer Steer’s RBI double in the third, had five RBIs. He hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to make it 3-3 and added a leadoff homer in the seventh.
“We want that to be part of who we are, to play the right way no matter the outcome,” McClain said. “When you do that, things like that happen. We just want that to be a part of us the rest of the year.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning with Cincinnati trailing, 7–4, McClain hit his fourth extra base hit of the game with a two-run double. But in the ninth, with runners on the corners and one out, the Reds couldn’t push the go-ahead.
“It’s important to have an attitude and expectation to win in those close matches,” said Joey Votto. “I was frustrated that we lost the series. I thought these were winnable games. You know, every game is its own thing. Streak or not, I thought, ‘Let’s keep winning all the games out there.'” “
The Reds have a half-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central race. General manager Nick Krall said last week that the club is looking for rookie pitchers, but that the market will be slow to move with many clubs still battling it out before the August 1 trade deadline.
The Reds’ rotation solution will have to come from within, meanwhile. Major league veteran Alec Mills signed with Louisville on May 17 and appeared in two games. No. 10 prospect Connor Phillips pitched well for Double-A Chattanooga and is close to being promoted to Triple-A.
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