|Cincinnati Reds (52-71)||5||9||0|
|Atlanta Braves (54-66)||3||8||0|
|W: Sal Romano (3-5) L: R.A. Dickey (8-8) SV: Raisel Iglesias (23)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast|
While no young starting pitcher aside from Luis Castillo has locked themselves into the Reds’ 2018 plans, Sal Romano showed he wants to be a part of that discussion tonight. The right-hander turned in his longest outing as a big-leaguer, firing seven innings of one-run baseball to guide the Reds to a 5-3 victory over the Braves in their first trip to SunTrust Park.
Here’s how tonight’s game went down:
Sal Romano looked in command tonight and turned in his best outing as a big leaguer. He allowed only one run on five hits in a season-high seven innings pitched, striking out three and walking two. The only damage against him was a solo home run by Matt Adams in the second inning.
Rather than overthrowing like he has in past starts, he had good control of his fastball and challenged Braves hitters with all three of his pitches — including, yes, his changeup, which he used 16 times tonight. He didn’t get a lot of swings and misses (4) but forced batters to put the ball in play, picking up nine ground outs. Romano still dialed it up when he needed to, though. His final pitch of the night: a 96-mph fastball to strike out Micah Johnson looking.
Romano handed a 5-1 lead to the bullpen in the eighth. Kevin Shackelford had a rough time of things, though. He allowed back-to-back singles to Ender Inciarte and Brandon Phillips to start the inning. He got a pair of ground outs and was one out away from escaping the inning with only one run allowed, but gave up an RBI double to Tyler Flowers and walked Adams before being lifted for Blake Wood.
Wood need only one pitch to escape the jam, however, inducing a line out to left field to preserve the lead at 5-3.
Raisel Iglesias gave up a walk in the ninth but was otherwise dominant, striking out two and catching a line drive back at him from Phillips to end the game and earn his 23rd save of the season.
R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball was darting all over the place tonight, and the Reds had no answer to it through five innings, picking up only three hits and striking out seven times. But the Cincinnati offense got to him for three home runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
After striking out twice against Dickey to start his day, Joey Votto singled to begin the inning. Adam Duvall followed with a 410-foot homer to left-center field. Two batters later, Eugenio Suarez joined the action with an opposite-field solo shot to right-center, tying his career high of 21 home runs. Jesse Winker made it back-to-back jacks by sneaking a homer around the right-field foul pole.
The Reds missed a chance at a huge inning in the seventh. Billy Hamilton doubled to lead it off, Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch, and Votto — get this — walked to load the bases. Only one run scored, though, as Duvall grounded into a double play and Scooter Gennett struck out. Fortunately, it wouldn’t come back to bite them.
— The Tomahawk Chop song is pretty annoying.
— Cozart was hit in the shin with a pitch in the seventh inning and took a very long time to shake it off and get to first base. He left the game in the bottom of the inning and was replaced by Jose Peraza at shortstop.
— Scott Schebler returned from the disabled list today and appeared as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. He worked a full count and reached first when he took a pitch off the right leg.
— It’s hard to say enough about Suarez’s plate approach this season. He drew two more walks tonight and now has 69 on the season, including 22 in his last 23 games. Coming into tonight, he ranked 14th among all qualified hitters in walk rate (13.8%) and 10th in walks. His ability to use the whole field is also impressive; he now has seven opposite-field home runs this season.
— Hamilton had one of the strangest base hits you’ll ever see tonight. The ball was nothing more than a weak pop-up with an exit velocity of 50.6 mph and a hit probability of four percent, but he managed to sneak it over Brandon Phillips’ head as it barely landed in the outfield grass behind third base.
— Winker already has more home runs through 81 plate appearances in the big leagues (3) than he did in 347 trips to the plate in the minor leagues (2).
— Votto struck out three times in a game for the first time since July 8, 2016. He only has 10 multi-strikeout games this season, a career low. His previous low (in a full season of play) was 20 in 2008, his rookie season.
After a tuneup appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday, Robert Stephenson (6.64 ERA, 5.43 xFIP) will make his first start since August 2. That outing was his best since returning to the Reds rotation in late July, as he tossed 5 ⅔ innings of one-run, two-hit baseball against the Pirates and walked only two. He’ll face Julio Teheran (4.98 ERA, 5.04 xFIP), who is in the midst of a disappointing season one year after leading the Braves pitching staff with a 3.2 fWAR.
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.