When you are trying to dig out of a 3-22 hole you have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat. To the extent that the Cincinnati Reds are better than anyone, they needed to take advantage of four games at home against the Washington Nationals. However, things did not go their way as they dropped three straight over the weekend to lose the series.
Despite scoring at least two first inning runs in all four games, the Reds came out victorious just one time. Whether it was poor relief pitching, lackluster defense, or bad decisions on the base paths Cincinnati just didn’t have enough on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
The Reds will stay at Great American Ball Park for four more games coming up against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hunter Greene is scheduled to take the ball at 6:40 p.m. EST on Monday evening. The Diamondbacks are now 26-29 after dropping a three-game series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cincinnati is now 18-35, just one game better than the Kansas City Roylas for the worst record in baseball.
Graham Ashcraft Continues to Roll
Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo caught all of the preseason hype from Cincinnati Reds fans. Both rookies began the season in the rotation and have shown flashes of their potential. However, through three big league starts, Graham Ashcraft has been the best young arm in the Reds organization.
The 24-year-old right-hander went seven innings on Thursday night allowing just one run on four hits. He is now 2-0, with the Reds having won all three starts, and a 1.53 earned run average. Ashcraft’s willingness to challenge opposing batters has been extremely successful to begin his career.
At the plate, the Reds got three runs in the bottom of the first thanks to a Joey Votto home run to the right-field seats. Matt Reynolds and Kyle Farmer also went deep as Cincinnati cruised to an 8-1 victory to begin the series against the Washington Nationals.
Mike Minor’s Reds Debut Falls Flat
Mike Minor, a 34-year-old left-hander, made his Cincinnati Reds debut on Friday night at Great American Ball Park. Unfortunately, the veteran was shelled for five runs on six hits, including three home runs, in just four innings of work. The Nationals led 6-2 when he exited before recording an out in the fifth and would go on to win 8-5.
For the second straight night, the Reds jumped out on top thanks to a first-inning long ball. This time it was Tommy Pham who blasted one 405 feet to centerfield to take a 2-0 advantage. However, it was down hill from there as the Nationals bats got going against Minor.
Joey Votto hit a three-run home run, his second in as many days, in the bottom of the eighth inning but it wasn’t enough for the Reds. The Nationals held on to win 8-5 and even up the series.
Reds Blow 7-3 Lead With Poor Bullpen Performance
For the third straight game against the Washington Nationals, the Reds scored in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. This time, it was a two-run single by Kyle Farmer that put Cincinnati on top 2-0. However, the Nationals answered with three runs off of Tyler Mahle in the fourth inning to get on top 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cincinnati put up a crooked number with a RBI walk by Mike Moustakas followed by a grand slam off the bat off Albert Almora Jr. The big inning gave the Reds a 7-3 lead. That is when the bullpen blew up. Alexis Diaz gave up three in the seventh, the Nationals tied it up off of Tony Santillan in the eighth, and then Hunter Strickland was saddled for three runs in the ninth. Seven runs on nine hits in just three innings for the Reds bullpen.
Brandon Drury went deep in the bottom half of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for the Cincinnati Reds, which fell 10-8.
Late Inning Comeback Attempt Falls Short
Another day, another first inning lead for the Cincinnati Reds. This one came a little tougher though. The Nationals struck first with a two-out, two-RBI double by Josh Bell to take a 2-0 advantage. Then, in the bottom half of the frame, three consecutive hits by Tommy Pham, Joey Votto, and Tyler Stephenson all scored runs to get the Reds back on top 3-2.
Poor defense in the fourth inning allowed two runs to score and then a sixth inning blast by Maikel Franco made it 5-3 in favor of the Nationals. That score would hold until the eighth when Stephenson knocked a two-out single into right centerfield to cut it to a 5-4. However, that is as close as it would get. The Reds threatened some in the bottom of the ninth, but Nick Senzel was ultimately picked off of first base to end the game. The Washington Nationals took the game, and the series, as Cincinnati fell to 18-35 on the season.