Imagine a tall ladder. It’s full of people trying to get to the top.
There’s a guy toward the middle, but he’s slipping down, rung by rung. This struggling guy, let’s call him Louis. Below Louis is another guy climbing up. We’ll name him Red. Imagine Red working his way relentlessly up the ladder. As Red reaches Louis, he puts his foot squarely on Louis’ face and pushes down, using Louis as leverage to pass over him. That concludes today’s metaphor.
The St. Louis Cardinals have lost 6 games in a row at home and are just one game over .500. Gosh, hope the Reds aren’t contributing to their demoralization. That would be downright rude.
The surging Cincinnati Reds are 5-3 on this brutal road trip. In the past few weeks, they’ve won series against the first place Chicago Cubs (4-game sweep), first place Atlanta Braves, first place Cleveland and now the St. Louis Cardinals. They split a 4-game series with the Brewers. The Reds go for the series sweep against Louis, er, St. Louis tomorrow afternoon, with Anthony DeSclafani starting.
Then the team gets a well deserved rest from climbing the ladder.
The Reds started the day 12.5 game behind the Brewers and Cubs. Milwaukee was swept in a double-header by the Pirates. If the Cubs lose tonight, the Reds will find themselves 11.5 games out of first place.
Cincinnati Reds 8 (43-52) • St. Louis Cardinals 2 (47-46)
Luis Castillo pitched around the first rain delay (50 minutes) and gave up two runs in five innings. He struck out two and didn’t allow a walk. He gave up a lead-off 357-foot homer to Matt Carpenter. It’s easy but wrong to freak out about Luis Castillo if you look at his ERA. Castillo’s ERA-predictors show he’s been about a half-run worse over 9 innings this year compare to last. His xFIP at the start of the day was 4.00 compared to 3.41 last year. His 2018 SEIRA was 4.13 compared to 3.63 in 2017. Castillo hasn’t pitched as well this year, but he hasn’t fallen off a cliff, either.
The bullpen shut the Cardinals down for four innings for the second night in a row. Kyle Crockett and Austin Brice worked the sixth. David Hernandez the seventh. Amir Garrett pitched a dominant eighth, with two strikeouts. Michael Lorenzen finished off the ninth with two Ks.
The Reds got out of big jam in the fifth inning on a great defensive play by Eugenio Suarez. With Cardinal runners at second and third and no outs, Suarez fielded a ground ball, forced the runner on third out of the baseline, then wheeled to first to get the runner and a double play. Scott Schebler saved a run with a smart play in the outfield in the 6th. With Matt Carpenter on second base, Schebler slammed into the right field wall catching the ball, crumpling to the ground. He managed to toss the ball to Billy Hamilton to stop Carpenter from scoring. Schebler left the game with an apparent right shoulder issue. Hopefully nothing serious.
The Reds got on the board right after the rain delay with back-to-back doubles by Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett, to make the score 2-1.
The good guys put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh. First, they MacGyvered a run off Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks. Dilson Herrera’s ribs got in the way of a 101 mph Hicks fastball. Billy Hamilton walked on four pitches and Adam Duvall hit a jam-shot single to right, loading the bases. Jose Peraza then slapped the ball back to Hicks who misplayed it. A run scored, bases remained loaded. Scooter Gennett shot a single to right to score a run, followed by an Eugenio Suarez single to left, knocking in two. The Reds were ahead 5-2.
The Reds scored two more in the eighth, with singles from Alex Blandino, Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza loading the bases. Joey Votto lined a single to CF, knocking in two runs. Jose Peraza knocked in Jesse Winker in the ninth.
Jose Peraza had a 5-hit day, the first of his career.
As Well As Can Be Expected xwOBA (how well batters are hitting the ball) standings from before today’s game, out of 121 National League hitters with at least 200 plate appearances: Joey Votto (#2) .434; Eugenio Suarez (#5) .417; Jesse Winker (#14) .391; Scott Schebler (#25) .370; Adam Duvall (#47) .355; Scooter Gennett (#56) .348; Tucker Barnhart (#62) .340; Jose Peraza (#99) .301; Billy Hamilton (#120) .253.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.