by Steve Mancuso

RC+ Recap: Sonny Gray, bullpen shut down Cardinals, Reds win 2-1

Reds pitching held the St. Louis Cardinals to two hits, winning the first game of the series, 2-1.

Sonny Gray threw 97 pitches over 5 innings. He drew 14 swinging strikes (14.4%). The Cardinals managed to put only 6 balls in play. They got one hit, a single. Gray struck out 10 batters.

At one point, four of Gray’s strikeouts were on called third strikes. On several of those, he threw a pitch described by Chris Welsh and Statcast as a two-seam fastball that started outside, just off the plate. Three RH batters — Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Yadi Molina — thinking the pitch was one of Gray’s famous 2-strike sliders, laid off of it. Then they watched the ball move back over the plate.

Gray has made three starts in a row without giving up a run, against the Braves, Cubs and now Cardinals. That’s 18 innings. We wrote in June the early returns on Gray were promising. Since then, Gray has been one of the top 15 pitchers in the major leagues. Tonight was more evidence the Reds made a wise decision to trade for Gray and sign him to an extension.

Robert Stephenson (6th) and Michael Lorenzen (7th) followed Gray with two immaculate innings of relief. Lorenzen came back for the 8th, walked the first batter, but retired the next two. Bell brought Raisel Iglesias in to face Goldschmidt and retired him on one pitch. Iglesias returned for the 9th and walked Marcel Ozuna. But then the Reds closer struck out DeJong, got Molina to ground out, gave up a run-scoring double (53 mph ground ball) to Wong, before getting Matt Wieters to fly out to end the game.

The win could knock the Cardinals out of 1st place in the NL Central if the Cubs win. #spoiler

Reds Most Valuable Players

  • Sonny Gray (.280 WPA) win probability added
  • Michael Lorenzen (.180 WPA)
  • Eugnio Suarez (.097 WPA)

Reds Least Valuable Players

  • Josh VanMeter (.080 WPA)

Play of the Game

  • Eugenio Suarez (.112 WPA) single, 5th inning

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Jose Iglesias (105.1 mph) single, 2nd inning
  • Josh VanMeter (104.0 mph) ground out, 1st inning
  • Eugenio Suarez (103.1) single, 1st inning
  • Phillip Ervin (102.9 mph) double, 8th inning

Luckiest Reds Hit of the Day

  • Jose Iglesias (23% hit probability) single, 83.5 mph

Unluckiest Reds Out of the Day

  • Aristides Aquino (50% hit probability) ground out, 94.4 mph

Highest Pitch Velocities by Pitcher

  • Michael Lorenzen (97.2 mph)
  • Robert Stephenson (96.3 mph)
  • Sonny Gray (94.5 mph)


Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.