|Atlanta Braves (12-10)||7||11||1|
|Cincinnati Reds (5-18)||9||12||0|
|W: Jared Hughes (1-2) L: Max Fried (0-1)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast|
Tyler Mahle flirted with a no-hitter. The Reds now have a winning streak for the first time in 2018. But what happened in between those two things sure was an adventure.
After the Reds built a 7-3 lead against the Braves on Tuesday night, the bullpen blew it in the ninth inning, soiling what had been a brilliant pitching performance to that point. It had all the makings of another devastating loss until Scooter Gennett saved the day, launching a walk-off, two-run homer — his second of the day — in the 12th inning.
Let’s relive the roller coaster of a game.
Not much can erase the taste of a 4-18 start to a season. But Tyler Mahle sure tried his best tonight. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit through the first six innings and set career-highs in strikeouts at any professional level with 11, including six of the first nine hitters he faced. Naturally, he also set a personal best in swings and misses (20), as well, becoming just the 18th pitcher to top that mark this season. His previous career-bests in strikeouts and whiffs? Seven and 13.
The fastball was dancing all over the place for Mahle tonight, and the Braves couldn’t do anything with it. Aside from two walks to Nick Markakis, Mahle’s location was impeccable. He pounded left-handed hitters inside and elevated his fastball to get swings and misses all night, while dropping in an occasional slider to keep Braves batters off balance. In what looked similar to Homer Bailey’s no-hitters, Mahle’s velocity also ticked up and up as the game went on, reaching 97.5 mph in the sixth inning.
It was one of the most exciting performances by a Reds pitcher in quite some time — enough so that the crowd of about 10 people in GABP was getting louder and louder with each pitch. The no-hit ride ultimately came to an end for Mahle in the top of the seventh inning when Freddie Freeman led off with a solo home run, and his night was over after a two-run blast by Kurt Suzuki two batters later. But that doesn’t diminish what Mahle, still just 23 years old, accomplished on Tuesday night in only his ninth big-league start.
Amir Garrett took over for Mahle with no outs in the seventh inning and pitched the next two frames without trouble.
Then, it all fell apart.
Jim Riggleman let the southpaw go back to the mound for the ninth to pick up a save with a 7-3 lead, but Garrett ran out of steam. The southpaw finally allowed his first run of the season — another solo home run to Freeman — followed by a single and a double before he was pulled for Raisel Iglesias with the tying run coming to the plate and one out
Iglesias walked the first hitter he faced to load the bases and struck out the next batter. He got to 2-2 on Johan Camargo but lost him, walking in a run to make it 7-5. Ender Inciarte then lined a ball that Gennett couldn’t knock down at second base, and two runs came around to score to tie the game.
Wandy Peralta gave up a hit in one-third of an inning in the 10th. He gave way to Jared Hughes, who threw 42 pitches over 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball and allowed two hits, a hit batter, and two strikeouts to pick up the win.
In what had to be a welcome sight for Mahle, who had only one run scored for him this year coming into tonight, the offense has (hopefully) woken up from its season-long slumber.
The Reds got on the board early in this one, scoring three runs in the second inning thanks to some shoddy defense from the Braves. That gave Mahle a nice cushion and probably played a big role in him staying so aggressive throughout the game. The Reds also got the first home runs of the year from both Joey Votto and Gennett, who combined for 63 dingers last year, to make it 5-0.
Gennett also had a suicide squeeze bunt in a two-run seventh inning, which is always fun! Sure, it was with the bases loaded and one out and he’s the cleanup hitter — but hey, it was exciting!
Alex Blandino had a nice night, scorching a pair of singles up the middle — one at 104 mph and the other hitting 102 — and walking once. He’s showing why he should’ve been playing every day since Eugenio Suarez went down.
Jose Peraza also picked up three singles for his second consecutive multi-hit game. Jesse Winker added a sacrifice fly and a double, his third of the year.
Let’s do this more often, huh, Reds?
- You can argue Riggleman should’ve pulled Garrett after Freeman’s home run. Totally fair point. But there’s a silver lining to what unfolded in the ninth inning: at least the Reds got burned with their best two relievers on the mound tonight. That’s better than watching Yovani Gallardo or Kevin Quackenbush blow a game.
- More fun Mahle notes!
- Mahle’s previous career-high in strikeouts at the professional was nine, which he did on seven different occasions.
- The four-seam fastball is typically not a big swing-and-miss pitch. Coming into tonight, only 15 pitchers had more than 10 whiffs in a single game with the offering this season. Add Mahle to that list. He got Braves hitters to swing through the pitch 13 times on the night, a number surpassed by only two other pitchers this year: J.A. Happ (15) and Jacob deGrom (14).
- His 20 whiffs were the most in a game by a Reds pitcher this season, topping the 19 by Luis Castillo on March 31. Mahle wasn’t that far off the best single-game mark in baseball either. Shohei Ohtani and Noah Syndergaard are currently tied at 25.
- Suarez played in a rehab game for Triple-A Louisville tonight and went 1-for-2 with a run and two walks.
- Hopefully, this was the night the Reds begin stretching out Garrett to transition back to starting. Riggleman was fully planning on getting him through three innings before he ran out of gas.
- Thom Brennaman noted it during the game, and it’s hard to disagree: Peraza is looking better and better each day at shortstop. He made a very impressive sliding stop capped with a strong throw to retire the speedy Peter Bourjos in the eighth inning.
Brandon Finnegan (11.05 ERA, 6.48 xFIP) will look to erase his ugly start to 2018 when he toes the rubber for the third time tomorrow evening. He’ll be opposed by Matt Wisler (1.29 ERA, 3.08 xFIP), a highly regarded prospect at one time. First pitch is again set for 6:40 p.m. ET.
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.