|Cincinnati Reds (67-78)
|Seattle Mariners (59-86)
|W: Altavilla (1-0) L: Garrett (4-3) SV: Bass (3)|
|Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread|
When the Reds bet the farm (get it?) and traded for Trevor Bauer, the team surely hoped for results similar to his 24 starts with Cleveland earlier this year, in which he consistently pitched deep into games and won more than he lost.
Although his seven games with the Reds going into Tuesday night’s battle with Seattle are obviously a small sample size, Bauer has proven to be something of a Jekyll and Hyde-like starter in that time, in that when he’s good, he’s great – but when he’s bad, he’s awful. In just two of those games did he pitch past the fifth inning – a stark contrast to his stats with Cleveland, when he averaged nearly 6 2/3 innings a start and threw an average of 112 pitches – and since he joined the Reds, his ERA for the season has climbed by nearly a full run. (See Matt Wilkes’ excellent post at RedsContentPlus for a deeper dive into Bauer’s struggles as a Red.)
To make matters worse, the Reds typically play terribly on the West Coast – something to which I can personally attest – and going into Tuesday’s matchup, the team had dropped 13 of its 15 games against Seattle. (Interestingly, the Reds scored more runs in their two victories over the Mariners – 29 – than they did in the 13 losses combined .)
That said, things looked fairly bleak on paper going into the kickoff of just the Reds’ third-ever series in Seattle, but on the bright side, Bauer was no stranger to pitching at the city’s T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field). In fact, in his fourth start of 2019, he beat the Mariners there on the strength of 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He also pitched a combined 12 effective innings there during no-decisions in 2017 and 2018 and struck out 10 during a 2016 win in which he pitched into the eighth.
A somewhat curious Reds lineup took the field Tuesday night, with Freddy Galvis – mired in an ugly 2-for-44 slump – once again starting at second and Jose Peraza getting a start in LF against a left-handed Seattle pitcher. Admittedly, Peraza has hit LHP fairly well (.292/.328./395) over his career, but Brian O’Grady performed even better against southpaws in the minors this year (.314/.360/.606), and a mid-September game with the Reds well out of contention seemed like an ample time to give O’Grady a chance to prove himself.
After the Reds quickly went down in order to start the game, Bauer struggled in the bottom half of the first, going deep into the count repeatedly and needing 25 pitches to record three outs. He settled down in the second, however, throwing 10 fewer pitches and striking out two while retiring the side in order. Two more 1-2-3 innings followed in the third and fourth.
The Reds got on the board in the second, when Phillip Ervin tripled to right and Galvis hit a sharp grounder that Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager deflected into left field. The team threatened to play add-on in the following inning as, after back-to-back one-out walks to birthday boy Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez, Aristides Aquino singled to right to load the bases. On an 0-1 pitch that was well inside, though, Jose Iglesias – who had grounded into a double play prior to Ervin’s triple – then hit into his second DP in as many innings to neutralize the threat. Galvis and Votto joined the double-play party in the fourth and fifth, respectively.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bauer finally yielded his first hit – and with it, his first run – as Seattle’s Kyle Lewis, making his major league debut, crushed an up-and-in 94 MPH 2-0 fastball to left-center to tie the game. The following inning, leadoff hitter Dylan Moore took Bauer deep to give the Mariners the lead.
With two outs and a man on in the bottom of the sixth, O’Grady – pinch hitting for Blandino – got his chance and made the most of it, collecting his first major league home run on a 96 mph fastball that he crushed 426 feet into the second deck to give the Reds a 3-2 lead.
Bauer returned to the mound in the seventh despite having thrown 106 pitches through six. He struck out Lewis to start the inning but walked former Reds farmhand Shed Long after initially getting ahead 0-2. His final line: 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 8 K. He threw 116 pitches overall – more than he’d thrown in his any of his previous starts with the Reds – and first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 25 Seattle batters he faced.
Michael Lorenzen returned to the mound for Cincinnati in the bottom of the eighth after collecting the final two outs in the seventh. He then retired the first two Mariners he faced before walking the third, leading David Bell to bring in Amir Garrett to protect the Reds’ meager lead. Things did not go according to plan, as Seager hit a full-count, 85 MPH slider over the right field fence to put the Mariners ahead once and for all.
The two teams resume their three-game series tomorrow night at 10:10 p.m. EST. Sonny Gray will take the mound for the Redlegs.