The past week has been equal parts doom and gloom for the Cincinnati Reds in their quest for a playoff berth.
Cincinnati lost for the fifth time five in six games on Friday, a 15-5 thumping by the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers clobbered five home runs, including two by backup catcher Dustin Garneau.
As the teams get set to play the second game of the three-game series on Saturday, the Reds attempt to regain their footing in a tightening National League wild-card race.
One of the few bright spots for the Reds on Friday was Eugenio Suarez’s 25th homer. He began his career with Detroit and renewed acquaintances with Tigers veteran slugger Miguel Cabrera, who hit his 502nd career homer this week.
Suarez said he learned a lot about hitting while watching Cabrera.
“He always told me you have to be ready to hit the fastball middle-away,” Suárez said. “And you have to see the ball to hit the ball every time. When we’re talking about Miggy and I think about my time in Detroit with him, I feel so proud that I spent a little bit with him. I learned so much, how to respect the game, how to play the game the right way.”
Tyler Mahle, scheduled to start for the Reds on Saturday, was an unlucky loser in his last start. He gave up just two runs on four hits in seven innings against Miami on Sunday but Cincinnati only scored one run.
Mahle gave up a two-run homer to Jesus Sanchez in the first inning, then settled in.
“He continues to pitch well,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Take the first inning away, one pitch to Sanchez, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Mahle has racked up a career-high 174 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings. He struck out 41, compared to just six walks, in six August starts.
Mahle (10-5, 3.64 ERA) posted a victory in his only career start against the Tigers.
Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (3-7, 3.50) made his first start on Sunday since coming off the 60-day injured list. He faced Toronto and gave up two solo home runs among four Blue Jays’ hits in four innings. He threw 71 pitches, which led to his early departure.
“The first three innings I lacked rhythm and tempo within my delivery and I was erratic with all my pitches,” Boyd said. “I made pitches when I needed to, I changed speeds well, but whether you attribute it to being back on a big-league mound for the first time in two months or not, (finally) in the fourth I started to sync up the right way. Unfortunately, I wasted my pitch count over the first three.”
Boyd was considered the team’s ace coming out of spring training. Manager A.J. Hinch is glad to have him back in the rotation.
“It’s just great to see him back on the mound and back with us,” Hinch said. “He was our Opening Day starter and he’s a real presence in our clubhouse. That means something. When he’s on the mound, we feel like we have a chance to win the game.”
Boyd is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati.
–Field Level Media