by Matt Wilkes

Jesse Winker’s 2-HR game helps Reds snap losing streak

Behind a two-homer game from Jesse Winker, the Reds snapped a four-game losing streak with a 6-1 win against the Brewers in game one of Thursday’s doubleheader.

Winker went 3-for-3 on the night, with a single in the first, solo homer in the third inning, and a two-run shot in the fifth. He drew a walk in the sixth inning to reach base for the fourth time. Nick Castellanos had a huge day in his own right, going 3-for-3 with a double, home run, and sacrifice fly.

Top shortstop prospect Jose Garcia did a bit of everything in his big-league debut. He went 1-for-2 with a walk at the plate and made a diving stop up the middle to keep a run from scoring on an infield single. Garcia wasted no time collecting his first hit, bouncing an infield single down the third-base line in the second inning.

The 22-year-old stole his first career base later in the second inning. Garcia struck out in the fourth but drew a walk after getting behind 0-2 in the sixth inning. He showed off his speed again when he tagged up and advanced to third on a flyout, which set him up to score his first career run on a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Sonny Gray turned in a solid outing on the mound with five shutout innings. He allowed four hits and two walks. It’s now been 40 starts since Gray allowed more than six hits in a start, extending a major-league record. It wasn’t Gray’s most dominant outing — he struck out only four and notched eight swings and misses on 85 pitches — but the Brewers couldn’t square much up against him. Milwaukee hitters managed only four hard-hit balls (95+ mph exit velocity) and an average exit velocity of just 83.1 mph on 15 batted balls.

Nate Jones retired the first two batters he faced in the sixth inning, but followed that up by allowing a home run to Omar Narvaez. Jones walked the next batter, prompting David Bell to pull him in favor of Jesse Biddle.

Biddle, a left-hander, was called up from the alternate site on Tuesday. His Reds debut went fairly smoothly. Following a walk to the first batter he faced, he struck out Ryan Braun to end the Brewers threat in the sixth. In the seventh, he allowed a tough-luck single on a ball that should’ve been fielded by third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Biddle bounced back to retire Christian Yelich on a weak ground ball. Also of note: Biddle hit 97 mph with his fastball.

Robert Stephenson got the last two outs of the seventh inning to secure the win. Per usual, his slider looked sharp, generating three whiffs.

Offensively, the Reds picked up 12 hits, tying a season high in only seven innings. Six hitters reached base multiple times (Castellanos, Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Galvis, Garcia, and Casali).

After a first inning threat was ended by a double play (the Reds grounded into four double plays in the game to prevent an even larger run output), they broke through in the second. Freddy Galvis drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on the first career hit by Garcia. Curt Casali followed with an RBI single to left field to score Galvis.

Cincinnati added on in the third inning with back-to-back solo home runs by Castellanos, his 10th of the season, and Winker, his 7th.

Winker added his second home run of the day and eighth of the season in the fifth inning, a two-run shot that followed a hustle double by Castellanos. It was his second home run of the season against a left-handed pitcher; he had two in his entire career prior to 2020.

(Note: Look for an article from Spenser Brown on Winker tomorrow.)

The Reds added on another run in the sixth. Garcia and Casali drew back-to-back walks, Shogo Akiyama hit a flyout that moved Garcia to third, and Castellanos plated the rookie with a sacrifice fly.

Most Valuable Reds

  • Sonny Gray: .261 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Jesse Winker: .175 WPA
  • Nick Castellanos: .169 WPA

Play of the Game

  • Curt Casali: .121 WPA | RBI single in 2nd inning

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Eugenio Suarez: 109.9 mph | Single in 3rd inning
  • Nick Castellanos: 105.6 mph | Home run in 3rd inning
  • Nick Castellanos: 101.7 mph | Single in 1st inning
  • Jesse Winker: 101.0 mph | Home run in 5th inning
  • Jesse Winker: 100.3 mph | Home run in 3rd inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Jesse Biddle: 97.0 mph
  • Nate Jones: 96.0 mph
  • Robert Stephenson: 94.7 mph
  • Sonny Gray: 94.0 mph

Luckiest Hit of the Day

  • Jose Garcia: 14% hit probability | Single in 2nd inning

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Shogo Akiyama: 32% hit probability | Groundout in 4th inning

What’s Next?

Game two of the doubleheader is coming up next. Wade Miley will take the mound as he looks to build on a decent start his last time out. We dove into why he’s struggling this year earlier today; you can check that out before game two starts. He’ll be opposed by Josh Lindblom, who returned to MLB this year after playing five seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization.

Photo Credit: R.J. Oriez

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

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4 months ago

Garcia’s AB where he drew the walk was impressive, considering he’s never played above high A. After he went 0-2 I thought he would chase, instead he took some close pitches. Hard to tell from one game, but he doesn’t seem overmatched by MLB pitching.

I don’t like foolish outs made on the bases, but it’s nice to see speed combined with smarts, he did well as a base runner today.

Thomas Green
Thomas Green
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Thanks. I missed game one while working. Fun to hear about an energetic debut of a high-potential prospect.

4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Above comment was by Pinson343.

While I’m here, I agree that Suarez should have handled the ground ball off Biddle. He seems sluggish this year.

Gray is amazing. He was far from having his best command and his best stuff. Yet not a lot of hard hit balls off him and made some very nice pitches when he had to.

Castellanos has been making one outstanding catch after another in RF.

Thomas Green
Thomas Green
4 months ago
Reply to  pinson343

Coming in with a lousy reputation in the field, Castelllanos has been impressively good out in right. And I love his hustle and energy.