A handful of pitches into the bottom of the 5th inning, Reds radio broadcaster Jeff Brantley said: “Sonny Gray is at the end of his gas tank.”
Brantley, the former major league pitcher, was basing that not only on what he saw but what the speed gun was reporting. Gray’s fastball velocity had dropped from 93 to 89 mph. In the 5th, Gray worked around a walk to Christian Yelich by striking out Logan Morrison and Avasail Garcia. That put the Reds starter at 92 pitches and raised the question of whether he would return to pitch the 6th.
Bell had said before the game that he had the full bullpen available. He’d used Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias for an inning yesterday, but each could give another one today. Nate Jones, who the Reds coaching staff seems to have confidence in, was available, too. But even penciling those guys in for one inning each it raised the dilemma of how the Reds would get through the 6th.
Bell, and presumably his pitching coach Derek Johnson, who has worked with Sonny Gray since his college days, decided to stick with their Opening Day starter. Gray recorded an out after a leadoff double and then the dam broke. He gave up two more singles before Bell replaced him with Michael Lorenzen. The Reds reliever provided the opposite of relief. He faced four Brewers and gave up a sharp single and three walks, the latter two forcing in runs. For those not keeping score, that’s no outs recorded. Cody Reed pitched next and he got the final two outs but not before allowing a sixth run to score. The Brewers had turned a 2-1 deficit into a 7-2 lead.
After that, it was hurry up and get the series over.
Prior to that debacle, the Reds had played a good game. They had worked on Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff for two runs and running up his pitch count to force his exit in the 5th. Jesse Winker drove in both Reds runs with a solo homer to right-center and a single shot to left field. Winker turned around a Woodruff changeup for his first home run of the season. He doubled later in the game. Gray had struck out 7 and walked 3. He allowed 6 hits, keeping that streak alive. For the record, his fastball velocity was back up to 93 in the 6th.
Shogo Akiyama struck out three times in five at bats, raising his whiff rate to 32%. That’s too high for a player with no power. It’s time for Bell to find someone else for the leadoff role. Nick Senzel for LH and Winker for RH perhaps.
The Reds did take two out of three from the Brewers and are 7-9
- Jesse Winker 108.2 mph | home run
- Jesse Winker 102. 7 mph | double
- Joey Votto 102.0 mph | fly out
- Jesse Winker 101.9 | single
Highest Velocities by Pitcher
- Joel Kuhnel 99.6 mph
- Michael Lorenzen 96.6 mph
- Nate Jones 95.8 mph
- Cody Reed 95.4 mph
- Sonny Gray 94.2 mph
The Reds return home for a 6-game home stand. They’ll play two against the Kansas City Royals then a long 4-game weekend series with the Pirates. First, they have an off day on Monday. David Bell says he’s hopeful Nick Senzel will be ready to start Tuesday. The Reds have announced the starting rotation for next week’s games:
- Tuesday – Luis Castillo
- Wednesday – Wade Miley
- Thursday – Anthony DeSclafani
- Friday – Sonny Gray
- Saturday – Trevor Bauer
First pitch Tuesday night at GABP is 6:40 p.m. The Royals were 6-10 coming into today.