The Reds fell short in their bid to sweep the series on Sunday afternoon, but they still took two out of three to win the first series of the Ohio Cup.
Shane Bieber’s excellent performance led the Indians to a 6-3 victory to avoid the sweep as their bats hit three home runs to provide all of their scoring.
In some respects, Sunday’s game was a “house money” contest for Cincinnati. After clinching the series victory with Saturday’s exciting walk-off win, the Reds were set to face the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. Bieber struck out 13 batters and never really allowed the Reds to get anything going offensively outside of the three hits he allowed to Joey Votto.
The Redlegs, now sitting at 9-6 on the season and still in first place in the National League Central, will take a day off and then welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to Great American Ball Park for a three-game series starting Tuesday evening.
Game 1: Reds 10 Indians 3
The Reds sure did enjoy their return to Great American Ball Park. After being shut out in two of their last four games out on the west coast, the bats got hot once again by putting a seven spot on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning.
After giving up a home run to Amed Rosario in the second inning, pitcher Jeff Hoffman got the offense started with an RBI single in the third. Hoffman’s single would be the first of five consecutive hits for the Reds. Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, and Eugenio Suarez all drove in runs before Joey Votto really opened the flood gates with a two-run home run to left field.
Pop quiz: Fill in the blank section.
Votto still ______ pic.twitter.com/HnNKYNv9Z0
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 17, 2021
In the six-inning, Nick Castellanos delivered a long ball of his own to finish off Cincinnati’s scoring for the game. The opposite-field home run was an absolute rocket, 105.2 MPH off the bat.
Every Reds starter besides Nick Senzel contributed a hit, posting 11 as a team on their way to a 10-3 victory over the in-state rival Cleveland Indians.
On the mound, Jeff Hoffman put together a really solid outing scattering seven hits and just one run across six innings of work. Hoffman is now 2-1 on the season with a 2.93 ERA.
Game 2: Reds 3 Indians 2 (10 innings)
Sometimes baseball is a wild, wild game. A day after scoring 10 runs, the Cincinnati offense couldn’t get going on the scoreboard. After a second-inning home run from Tucker Barnhart, there just wasn’t much luck at the plate. However, a wild bottom of the ninth inning extended the game before the Reds came through for a walk-off win in the 10th inning.
A pair of baserunning blunders cost the Redlegs a couple of scoring opportunities along the way. In the fifth inning, Tyler Naquin sent one to deep right field but Joey Votto, who was on first base, ran through a stop sign and was easily thrown out at home. Then, after a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh, Jesse Winker was thrown out at third base trying to advance on a ball in the dirt.
Luckily for the Reds, they were able to survive the poor base running thanks to a costly error by the Indians’ first baseman Josh Naylor. Down to the final out with nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Max Schrock rolled one to first that appeared to be the final out of the game. However, Naylor missed the ball Bill Buckner style and Schrock was able to advance to second base on the error. Nick Senzel then was called upon as a pinch-runner and scored when Jesse Winker singled to left field to tie the game.
In the 10th, Sean Doolittle navigated the situation perfectly. With a runner placed on second base with no outs per the new Major League Baseball extra innings rule, Doolittle induced a ground ball to shortstop that kept the runner at second. Then, after an intentional walk, the Indians lined out to center and struck out to end the inning.
The Reds quickly executed in the bottom half of the 10th to win the game. Tyler Naquin flew out to centerfield, but Eugenio Suarez was able to tag up and advance to third base. Jonathan India was intentionally walked bringing fellow rookie Tyler Stephenson to the plate. Stephenson jumped on one and sent it to the fence in right-center field to score Suarez and clinch an Ohio Cup series victory in walk-off fashion.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 17, 2021
Not to be forgotten after the exciting walk-off victory is the triple play that the Reds turned in the top of the eighth inning in an absolutely critical spot. The Indians had runners on first and third with nobody out after a pair of singles to begin the inning. What ensued was a play you rarely get to see in baseball. Josh Naylor lined one down the first base line that appeared ready to give the Indians an insurance run. However, Joey Votto made a diving play and tagged the runner at first all in one motion to record two outs. The runner on third base had run home on the crack of the bat assuming the ball was headed down the right-field line. Since Votto made the diving play, he was able to deliver the ball over to third base to complete the 31st triple play in Cincinnati Reds franchise history.
That's how you mop up baserunners!
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 18, 2021
Sonny Gray made his first start of the season after returning from the Injured List. The Reds 2020 Opening Day starter was solid in four and one-third innings working up to 71 pitches. Gray allowed two runs on six hits while striking out six batters. Out of the bullpen, Tejay Antone, Jose De Leon, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, and Sean Doolittle combined to allow just two hits in five and two-thirds innings while striking out eight. It was a dominant performance from the Reds relievers.
Game 3: Indians 6 Reds 3
Wade Miley’s scoreless inning streak to begin the season ended at 11 2/3 innings. Jose Ramirez sent one over the left-field wall in the first inning to put the Indians on top 1-0. From there, the Indians went wire-to-wire for the win thanks to a typical outstanding pitching performance from reigning AL Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber.
Roberto Perez added a three-run home run in the fifth inning off of Wade Miley to grow the lead to 4-0. Miley would exit the game after five innings of work allowing four runs on five hits.
At the plate for Cincinnati, Joey Votto stayed hot by collecting three hits off of Shane Bieber including a two-RBI double down the right-field line in the bottom of the fifth to shrink the Cleveland lead to 4-2.
Sal Romano took over for Miley and pitched one and two-thirds shutout innings before giving up a two-run home run to Jordan Luplow off the batter’s eye in center field. The insurance runs just put the game further out of reach for the Reds against the Indians ace.
Tyler Naquin did hit an absolute bomb–109.6 mph exit velocity 428-foot home run in the eighth inning–but it didn’t change the outcome for the Reds as they would fall 6-3.
Bieber struck out 13 batters while allowing three runs on six hits in eight innings to move to 2-1 on the season with a 2.45 earned run average. Joey Votto accounted for half of the hits that Bieber allowed.
Upcoming: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Reds will take Monday off before beginning a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. Cincinnati just saw the DBacks out in Arizona last weekend when they dropped two out of three games to lose the series.
Arizona is just 6-10 on the season after splitting a four-game series against the Washington Nationals out in the nation’s capital. Their only series victory this season was against the Reds.
Here is how the pitching matchups will shape up for the Tuesday-Thursday series. Tuesday and Wednesday night’s contests will begin at 6:40 p.m. Eastern Time before the 12:35 p.m. Eastern Time getaway, day start on Thursday.
-Tuesday: RHP Luis Castillo (1-1, 7.04 ERA) vs. RHP Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25 ERA)
-Wednesday: RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. RHP Merrill Kelly (1-2, 8.44 ERA)
-Thursday: RHP Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 2.93 ERA) vs. RHP Taylor Widener (1-0, 1.59 ERA)