Some much-needed resiliency has put the Cleveland Indians in position to beat the Cincinnati Reds and win a fourth straight series.
Two days removed from being no-hit for the second time this season, the Indians aim for a second consecutive victory over the visiting Reds on Sunday.
Needing to bounce back after Wade Miley silenced them in Friday night’s 3-0 series-opening loss, the Indians rapped 11 hits, received five walks and rolled to a 9-2 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday.
Jose Ramirez delivered a two-run double for one of his two hits, and Cesar Hernandez’s bases-clearing triple highlighted a four-run fourth as Cleveland rebounded to win for the 10th time in 13 games.
“Just showing up with energy. Not having the hangover effect. Our guys are really good about that,” Indians manager Terry Francona told Bally Sports Cleveland.
Perhaps Friday’s disheartening performance will end up being a speed bump amid a 13-game stretch where Cleveland has scored five or more runs nine times. The Indians had their way with Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, who allowed six runs, four earned, and five hits over four innings on Saturday.
“We’ve got a heck of a team over here,” Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges also told Bally Sports Cleveland. “Don’t sleep on the bats. We’ve got a deep lineup of guys that go out and grind every single day.”
Now, the Indians look to take this set and even the six-game season series against scheduled Reds starter Tyler Mahle (1-1, 3.23 ERA). The right-hander allowed five earned runs over his first five starts of 2021 before giving up six — and nine hits, including three homers — through five innings of an eventual 13-12, 10-inning win over the Chicago Cubs on May 2.
Mahle is 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in three starts against the Indians.
Hedges, meanwhile, is the only current Indian who has more than one hit against Mahle. Both of Hedges’ hits in four at-bats versus Mahle were home runs.
Ramirez is 1-for-6 all-time versus Mahle, with that hit also a homer, but he’s batting .313 with five RBIs over his last nine home games.
After getting a strong seven innings Saturday from Aaron Civale, whose fifth win this season was a career high, Cleveland rookie Sam Hentges (1-0, 5.00 ERA) will make his first major league start on Sunday.
The left-hander has made four career appearances this season out of the bullpen, yielding five earned runs and four homers over nine innings.
Hentges will face a Cincinnati club that’s 6-4 following a season-high seven-game losing streak. However, the Reds have totaled just six runs over their last four contests.
“It was obviously a great night (Friday). We talked a lot about that. Obviously, (Saturday) was a different story,” Reds manager David Bell said. “There’s not much more to say.”
While the Reds have had their recent struggles in plating runs, Jesse Winker continues to be perhaps the team’s most consistent hitter. Among the best in the majors with a batting average of .354, Winker has hit .375 on the road in 2021 and .355 while hitting safely in eight consecutive games versus Cleveland.
–Field Level Media