by Matt Wilkes

Reds lock up No. 7 seed, end regular season with victory over Twins

With three runs in the 10th inning, the Reds wrapped up the abbreviated regular season with a 5-3 win over the Twins in extra innings.

Tucker Barnhart had the go-ahead hit with a single to score pinch-runner Michael Lorenzen. The Reds tacked on two more runs with a bases loaded walk from Joey Votto and an RBI single from Eugenio Suarez.

The result ultimately had no impact on playoff seeding. Because the Cardinals defeated the Brewers on Sunday, the Reds remained the No. 7 seed in the National League. They’ll face the No. 2-seeded Braves in the opening round of the postseason.

The Reds close out the regular season having won their last five series, building some valuable momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Pitching

Sonny Gray gave up just two hits in his final tuneup start before the postseason. While he wasn’t missing a ton of bats (4 strikeouts, 11 whiffs on 87 pitches), Gray prevented the Twins from elevating the ball. He coaxed nine ground balls against only one fly ball, one pop-up, and two line drives. But his four walks came back to bite him. Free passes played a direct role in both runs he gave up in 5.1 innings.

The Reds right-hander held the Twins scoreless through four-and-a-half innings, but the 0-0 tie was finally broken in the bottom of the fifth. Gray walked Jake Cave to lead off the inning, which was followed by a strikeout and a groundout that moved Cave to second. Gray fired a curveball into the dirt on the first pitch of the next at-bat, advancing Cave to third. In a 2-2 count against Marwin Gonzalez, Gray attemped a quick pitch that looked to be right down the middle for strike three — but he was called for a balk, allowing Cave to score.

In the sixth, Gray again issued a leadoff walk followed by a single. He struck out Nelson Cruz to end his day, but uncorked a wild pitch during the at-bat to move runners up to second and third. Tejay Antone came on in relief and allowed a sacrifice fly before striking out Cave to end the inning.

Antone fired a scoreless seventh inning as well, racking up three strikeouts in 1.2 innings.

Amir Garrett had a rough go of it in the eighth inning. He gave up a bloop single to Mitch Garver (73.7 mph exit velocity) to start the inning. After striking out Max Kepler, Garrett got Luis Arraez to hit a ground ball back to the mound. What could’ve been an inning-ending double play resulted in no outs, as Garrett airmailed the throw to second base.

Lucas Sims saved the day, though, getting Nelson Cruz to hit into the inning-ending double play that was botched one batter prior. Sims struck out the first two batters of the ninth inning before allowing a single. Raisel Iglesias recorded the final out of the inning by striking out Jorge Polanco. Iglesias gave up an RBI single (an unearned run, by the way) to begin the 10th, but retired the next three batters — two via strikeout — to end it.

The Hitting

The Reds offense couldn’t generate much against 40-year-old lefty Rich Hill, picking up two hits and three walks while holding the Reds scoreless through five innings. Cincinnati finally broke through the third time through the lineup. Joey Votto drew a two-out walk, forcing Hill from the game at 88 pitches. Eugenio Suarez greeted former Reds teammate Matt Wisler rudely by hitting an RBI double to right-center field to tie the game at one.

Once the Reds began to face the Twins’ right-handed relievers, David Bell used pinch-hitters for four of the five batters who came to the plate in the seventh inning, and it paid off. Jesse Winker (pinch-hitting for Kyle Farmer) doubled with one out and Freddy Galvis (pinch-hitting for Jose Garcia) followed with a single, tying the game at two.

In the 10th, the Reds took advantage of having pinch-runner Lorenzen start on second base. He advanced to third on a single by Curt Casali and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Barnhart. Two batters later, Votto drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home another run. Suarez followed with a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 5-2.

Reds Most Valuable Players

  • Lucas Sims: .255 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Freddy Galvis: .234 WPA
  • Eugenio Suarez: .125 WPA

Play of the Game

  • Lucas Sims: .175 WPA | GIDP vs. Cruz in 8th inning

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Mike Moustakas: 107.5 mph | Single in 2nd inning
  • Eugenio Suarez: 104.3 mph | Single in 10th inning
  • Jose Garcia: 102.9 mph | Flyout in 3rd inning
  • Joey Votto: 101.3 mph | Flyout in 4th inning
  • Jesse Winker: 99.7 mph | Double in 7th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Tejay Antone: 97.7 mph
  • Raisel Iglesias: 97.7 mph
  • Amir Garrett: 95.3 mph
  • Lucas Sims: 95.1 mph
  • Sonny Gray: 94.4 mph

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Jose Garcia: 75% hit probability | Flyout in 3rd inning

Expected Batting Averages

  • Reds: .251
  • Twins: .203

What’s Next?

The Reds will get the next two days off before starting the NL Wild Card series on Wednesday in Atlanta. The start time has not been announced yet, but we do know it’ll be a battle of aces.

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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Mike Adams
Mike Adams
22 days ago

Way to go Reds!
I said in a comment to Steve Mancuso’s article of Sept. 24 that the Reds need to play a little better in the last series.
The Reds TOOK two games from the Twins and TOOK their place in the playoffs.
Don’t know how they will fare in the playoffs but they CAN win and go beyond first round.
Go Reds!

22 days ago
Reply to  Mike Adams

I liked your comment about the Reds needing to play a little better in this weekend’s series, and like this one as well. Baseball is such an unpredictable game, we don’t have any idea of what will happen against the Braves, but we have the satisfaction of the Reds peaking at the right time for the playoffs.

22 days ago

Thank you Matt, Steve, Kyle and all the RC+ writers for all the post games summaries. Even after a defeat I enjoyed reading the game account. You guys put in a lot of hard work and it is appreciated.

Wednesday will be tough, Max Fried is a lefty.

22 days ago

I was happy to see Romo enter the game, I mentioned a couple of days ago how I felt he was a vulnerable closer. Great way to end the season, the Twins were playing all out – the White Sox had rallied in the 9th and the Twins did not clinch until after the Reds had scored 3 runs in the top of the 10th. Of course, they weren’t going to suddenly stop playing hard anyway.

Great job by Gray and Sims. And hey, the Reds scored all their runs by stringing together walks and hits, which is nice to see, although I have no issue whatsoever with hitting HRs.
(Pct. of runs scored by HRs, which has been made such a big deal of by the media, is a such a dumb stat – when you score 3 runs by a HR, you’re scoring 2 of the runs because of baserunners who didn’t hit HRs, obviously.)

22 days ago

When Votto cam back from his benching with a new stance and a different approach, I set goals for him of an .800 OPS with a .350 OBP and a .450 slugging pct. (Yes, I was that specific.) At the time that felt very optimistic. He ends up with exactly an .800 OPS based on a .354 OBP and .446 slugging. Not bad.

22 days ago

I want to echo KMartin’s words here, with a gesture of appreciation and round of applause for the RC+ writers. The analytical articles were based on strong research and writing, that’s a lot of work. Even more important, they were insightful and gave me a better understanding of what was going on with players and the team. I wasn’t as surprised by Mahle’s development, for example. I knew Votto’s early season approach was going to get him into trouble before it did, etc.

But most of all, I appreciate the thorough professionalism of the writers. After a devastating or embarrassing loss, I would come here for a voice of sanity. There was joy to a win and disappointment for a loss, but one game was always treated as it was – one game which could be discussed in a reasonable way. After the 16-2 beating at the hands of the Cardinals, I thought that approach would be dropped for one night, but it wasn’t, and it made me heal a little and look toward the next game.

One of the great broadcasters (maybe Vin Scully) said that an important way he would measure the professionalism of another broadcaster was whether he could tell if the home team was winning from the tone of his voice. The writers here reminded me of that, in a way. I could not usually tell from the the tone of the article whether the Reds had won or lost.

Steve Mancuso
22 days ago

Thanks for the generous words about the site. For many of our writers, spending time on these posts has been a welcome escape from the ongoing horror of the pandemic. I know this because we’ve talked about it. The interest you show reflected by your thoughtful comments is another important source of support and encouragement and we’re grateful.