D-backs look to pull off road sweep of Reds

MLB

The Arizona Diamondbacks just might miss playing the Cincinnati Reds the rest of the season.

Concluding the teams’ 2021 series, the visiting Diamondbacks look to complete a three-game sweep with a fifth straight win over the Reds on Thursday.

After falling 6-5 in 10 innings to Cincinnati on April 9, Arizona has outscored the Reds 28-12 while winning the past four meetings. After concluding Tuesday’s suspended series opener with a 5-4 victory late Wednesday afternoon, the Diamondbacks rallied for an 8-5, 10-inning win in the evening’s regularly scheduled contest.

With Arizona trailing 3-0 in the ninth, ex-Red Josh VanMeter hit a tying three-run homer. The Diamondbacks then scored five times in the 10th to improve to 4-2 on a 10-game trip.

Now they are in position to sweep a road series from the Reds for the first time since August 2015. And they should feel confident with Taylor Widener (1-0, 1.59 ERA) taking the mound Thursday.

Widener allowed four runs, three earned, including a homer to Tyler Naquin, and six other hits over five innings during that loss earlier this month to Cincinnati, his only career meeting with the Reds. The right-hander, who has been one of the NL’s early surprises in 2021, followed that outing with a four-hit, six-inning effort in a pitchers’ duel with Washington’s Max Scherzer as the Diamondbacks lost 1-0 on Friday.

“I feel like I’ve worked really hard, and I just keep building off of everything that feels good and keep getting more and more confidence,” Widener said.

Cincinnati star Nick Castellanos went 1-for-3 against Widener earlier this month and will return Thursday after serving a two-game suspension for his role in inciting a bench-clearing incident against St. Louis on April 3.

The veteran outfielder is batting .371 at home this season, where he has socked all five of his home runs. Castellanos should provide a boost to a Cincinnati club that has totaled 12 runs while batting .220 during a three-game losing streak at Great American Ballpark.

It also hasn’t helped that fellow veteran Mike Moustakas has not started since April 14 due to a non-COVID-19-related illness.

“You have little things that come up during the course of the year, whether it be an injury or (suspension),” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “You’re always picking each other up.”

The Reds hope that one of their own early surprises to the season, Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 2.93 ERA), will be a little more efficient than he was during an 8-3 loss at Arizona on April 10. The right-hander was charged with three runs, highlighted by an Asdrubal Cabrera solo homer, six hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. Hoffman, though, managed to go six innings and overcome seven hits plus three walks in six innings Friday during the Reds’ 10-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.

For his career, Hoffman is 1-4 with a 9.29 ERA in 11 career meetings (six starts) with the Diamondbacks.

Two of Cabrera’s three hits in eight career at-bats against Hoffman have been home runs. Cabrera also has a hit in each of his last three games versus Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media

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