Reds take 2nd in a row from Division leading Brewers
CINCINNATI – July 3, 2019 – Brendon D. Miller – Bluegrass Sports Nation
We have needed this!! After years of bad starting pitching, the Reds staff has put in a great month of June, and beginning to July, giving excellent start after excellent start. Last night at GABP, Sonny Gray took the ball for the Reds, and delivered a sterling performance. Gray had 22,685 fans rocking, even doing the wave, as he weaved eight shutout innings.
As Lance McCalister spotlighted after the game on WLW, the crowd helped manager David Bell make up his mind on a mound visit in the eighth inning after a two-out walk. The fans showed their support for Gray and then roared when Bell turned and walked back to the dugout leaving the ball with Gray. “I just said ‘can I please finish this?’ It was a good moment,” Gray said. “I don’t know how much fans realize, but it can get you that little burst that you need to get through a seventh and eighth or a ninth inning.”
The crowd again roared when Gray got Lorenzo Cain to fly out to right, to finish the eighth. It capped the best start so far during his first season in Cincinnati as he tied a career high with 12 strikeouts and got the shutout 3-0 win. Gray came to the Reds in a January trade from the Yankees, and signed a three-year, $30.5 million contract.
Gray, who threw 111 pitches with 76 strikes, principally dealt his curveball. Statcast shows Gray threw 49 times and had 10 swings and misses, 12 called strikes , six fouls and six balls in play. The curve earned Gray six of his 12 strikeouts. Gray has great confidence in the pitch, “It’s been my best pitch my whole life, not just in the big leagues. It was good tonight and I used it for sure,” said Gray.
Gray and Reds catcher, Curt Casali were teammates at Vanderbilt, and Casali, who has seen many performances from Gray, termed Wednesday’s outing “magical.” The two were definitely on the same page as Casali revealed after the game that Gray only shook him off (did not change the pitch called) one time in 8 innings.
The win moved Gay’s record to 5-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 17 starts. Gray has beated both the Cubs and Brewers in the last week, each while in the NL Central lead at the time.
Gray was great on the mound, and Yasiel Puig put on a show otherwise. Puig paced the Reds offense with two hits (1 HR), two runs scored and two RBI’s, on the night. Puig opened the scoring with a second inning blast off of Brewer’s starter Jhoulys Chacin into the left-field seats for his 19th homer of the season. Puig has now posted a total of eight home runs and 15 RBIs over his last 17 games. Puig, who has also been playing a stellar right field, made a nice catch in the 8th against the wall on a drive from Manny Pina.
Puig led off the Red’s seventh with a liner to center, which Derek Dietrich followed with a single to right field and then Jose Iglesias drove in Puig with an RBI single (33rd season) through the middle to make it a two-run game. Iglesias was 2 for 4 on the night padding his team leading .289 average for regulars on the season. Puig added a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Joey Votto in the bottom of the eighth inning.
No doubt though, Gray was the star of the evening, with his four hit allowed and the lone walk performance. The Reds five man rotation of Gray, All-Star, Luis Castillo, Tanner Roark, Tyler Mahle, and Anthony DeSclafani now has a 3.64 ERA.
Reds pitching is hot and is a great sign for this team in the tightly bunched NL Central, where the Brewers are still in first and the Reds in the cellar, but only 4.5 games separate the entire division. A good (or bad) couple of games can change the entire division in a weekend.
Reds take on the Brewers in the final game of the series on the 4th, with first pitch scheduled for 2:10. The Reds send out Castillo (7-3) for his final performance before the All-Star game, to try to take the series!!