The Cincinnati Reds didn’t take advantage of a series against the rebuilding Chicago Cubs.
Fortunately for the Reds, the team they are chasing in the National League wild-card race, San Diego, is having an even more difficult time with the circuit’s non-contenders.
The Reds will look to move closer to the second wild-card spot on Thursday night when they host the Miami Marlins in the opener of a four-game series.
Luis Castillo (6-12, 4.51 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Reds against the Marlins’ Zach Thompson (2-5, 2.91) in a battle of right-handers.
Both teams took home defeats Wednesday. The Reds lost 7-1 to the Cubs hours before a furious ninth-inning comeback by the Marlins fell short in an 11-9 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Cincinnati lost the final two games of the three-game set against the Cubs, who won a series for just the third time in 18 tries since mid-June.
“We should have won this series, and it’s tough losing any series right now,” said Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle, who took the loss Wednesday after giving up five runs in five innings. “To kind of put ourselves in that spot really sucks. That’s all there is to it.”
Still, the defeats were not especially costly for the Reds, who stayed 1 1/2 games behind the skidding Padres in the race for the NL’s second wild card.
The Colorado Rockies, the fourth-place team in the NL West, completed a three-game sweep of San Diego on Wednesday with a 7-5 win in Denver. San Diego, which is idle Thursday, has lost seven of its past eight games despite the competition being the Rockies and two last place-teams, the Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Miami almost played spoiler Wednesday, when the NL East-leading Braves raced out to a 7-2 lead after six innings behind Freddie Freeman, who needed just four at-bats to complete his second career cycle.
The Marlins appeared to raise the white flag by using catcher Sandy Leon to pitch the top of the ninth, but after Leon threw a 1-2-3 inning, Miami scored six runs in the bottom half and sent Alex Jackson to the plate as the potential winning run. Will Smith struck out the rookie to end the game and strand two runners.
“It kind of goes back to the old (saying) — it’s never over until it’s over,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said in echoing the words of a fellow New York Yankees legend, Yogi Berra. “That thing just kept getting extended and next thing you know we’ve got the winning run at the plate, which was awesome.”
Castillo took a loss Saturday, when he allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings as the Reds fell 6-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies. Thompson didn’t factor into the decision the same day, when he gave up one run over six innings in the Marlins’ 5-4 win over the Cubs.
Castillo, who spent two seasons in the Marlins’ minor league system before being dealt to the Reds in exchange for Dan Straily in January 2017, is 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in four career starts against Miami. Thompson has yet to face the Reds in his rookie season.
–Field Level Media