by Steffen Taudal

Gray struggles, offense lacks big hits in 10-6 loss to Cardinals

On a day when Sonny Gray went just 3.1 innings and gave up three homers and a total of eight runs, the Reds somehow remained in the game until the final couple of outs. The offense, however, could not find the big hits when they needed them, as they left thirteen runners on base. The most egregious of these came in the 8th when the offense, down by three runs, loaded the bases with nobody out. No runners would score, and the Cardinals would ultimately win 10-6. The Reds keep their series victory, but with the loss they move to 51-48, still in second place in the NL Central.

Offense

Facing an early 2-0 deficit, the offense looked ready to answer immediately. After a Jonathan India strikeout, Jesse Winker hit a groundball against the shift for a single, before Tyler Stephenson came back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk. Next, Joey Votto clobbered a fastball into the center field stands for a 3-run home run (104 mph EV, 406 ft). In 166 plate appearances since coming back from injury on June 8, Votto is slugging .521 and has a wRC+ of 145.

The offense was threatening again in the 2nd inning. With a Kyle Farmer infield single and a Mike Freeman groundout Farmer found himself at second. Another groundout would advance Farmer to third, but India would ground out to end the inning.

In the 3rd inning, the heart of the order once again gave the Reds a chance to score. After a Winker flyout, Stephenson hit a line drive single into left field and Votto drew a walk to give the Reds runners on first and second with just the one out. But Tyler Naquin hit into a double play to end the inning. Still 3-2 Reds.

Suddenly down by six runs, the offense needed some magic from a lineup that had looked rather good so far. Two walks in the 4th inning put Aristides Aquino at second base, but with two outs India struck out to strand the runners. In the 5th, the offense once again made some noise as Winker hit a lead-off double into right field. Next, Stephenson walked for the second time today, giving Votto another RBI opportunity. Instead, Votto struck out. Up to bat next was Naquin who walked to load the bases for Aquino and chase Oviedo from the game.

Now facing flame-thrower Ryan Helsley, Aquino struck out and Farmer popped out.

In the bottom of the 6th, the offense once again got a man in scoring position. Singles from Freeman and pinch hitter Alejo Lopez gave the Reds runners at first and second. Stephenson then continued his big day with a two-out RBI single into left field, making the score 9-4 Cardinals. Next, Votto was struck out with this 3-2 “strike”:

Frustration continued, as the Reds had now left nine runners on base.

In the 7th inning the offense decided to make things interesting. An Aquino walk and Farmer HBP put runners on first and second, before a wild pitch advanced them both. And after a Freeman strikeout, Max Schrock, who had taken over at second base, hit a ground ball fair down the right field line for a double, scoring both runners.

Next, though, pinch hitter Eugenio Suárez struck out to end the inning. But the deficit was now a manageable 9-6 Cardinals.

In the 8th inning, the offense showed that they were not done. After Winker drew a lead-off walk, Stephenson reached base for the fifth time with a single into right field. With runners on first and second, Votto drew his second walk of the game to load the bases with nobody out. Naquin struck out, Aquino and Farmer both popped out. I mean… Come on.

Three batters, three outs in the 9th. Game over.

Pitching

On the mound for the Reds was Sonny Gray who was coming off a somewhat rocky start against the Brewers a week ago. In the loss, Gray lasted 4.2 innings, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits while walking 4 batters and hitting 2 others.

The first inning got off to a good start for Gray. First, Dylan Carlson grounded out on two pitches, and then Paul Goldschmidt flied out to right field. After this, though, Nolan Arenado singled into left field before Tyler O’Neill launched an 1-0 Sinker into the center field stands for a home run. With the score now 2-0 Cardinals, Paul DeJong flied out to end the inning.

Gray fared much better in the 2nd inning, only giving up a swinging bunt single to Harrison Bader and striking out his first batter.

After another clean inning, Gray found himself in some trouble in the 4th. After walking O’Neill, DeJong hit a ground ball up the middle that India almost made a great play on. The flip to Farmer at second was a little late, though, giving the Cardinals runners on first and second with nobody out. Next, Tommy Edman hit a double off the center field wall that scored O’Neill from second. This was just the beginning, however, as Bader then hit a ball over the left field wall giving the Cardinals a 6-3 lead, still with nobody out.

The Cardinals were not done as Andrew Knizner hit a double into right center field, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Derek Johnson. Gray was able to strike out opposing pitcher Johan Oviedo, but then gave up his second home run of the inning to Carlson giving the Cardinals an 8-3 lead, and chasing Gray from the game.

It is not hard to pin-point the reason for Gray’s lack of success today as he gave up a season-high three home runs on these pitches:

Gray’s sinker, 4-seamer and slider all had an avg EV over 90 mph, with his sinker, unsurprisingly, being especially bad at 102.7 mph avg EV. This made for a disappointing afternoon for Gray, but there doesn’t seem to be great cause for concern. This season Gray ranks in the top 10 percentile in both avg EV and Hard Hit%. Furthermore, Gray’s HR/9 of 1.1 ranks 48th out of 128 pitchers with at least 65 innings pitched.

Taking over for Gray was right-hander Edgar García. García got off to a good start striking out Goldschmidt, but then gave up a triple to Arenado immediately afterwards. A wild pitch brought home Arenado making the score 9-3 Cardinals. O’Neill flied out to end the inning.

Making his first appearance out of the bullpen this season, Jeff Hoffman took over in the 5th inning. After back-to-back groundouts, Bader got his third hit of the day with a single up the middle. Next, Hoffman walked Knizner, but then struck out Oviedo after falling behind 2-0.

Hoffman came out for the 6th inning as well and fared pretty well, striking out Carlson on a 4-seamer up and in and Goldschmidt on a changeup just below the strikezone. As Hoffman hopes to stay on the club as a reliever, he will no doubt look to strike out more batters. Before this game, Hoffman found himself in the 15th percentile in K%.

Next to emerge from the bullpen was left-hander Josh Osich. Osich walked his first batter O’Neill, but then induced a groundball for an easy 4-3 double play. Edman would ground out to end the inning.

Tony Santillan was asked to get three outs in the 8th inning. After struggling a bit in his four starts, Santillan came into this game with a 3.64 xFIP in 4 innings in relief. And today the rookie looked pretty good, if a little erratic. He struck out two batters, but walked one and hit another. It was a clean inning, though, and the score remained 9-6 in favor of St. Louis.

In the 9th it would be Ryan Hendrix‘ turn to get three outs. It was an eventful inning for the right-hander, first giving up a home run and a single. Then he got a flyout and a lineout, but immediately afterwards loaded the bases with back-to-back walks. With his 27th pitch of the inning, he struck out Edmundo Sosa to end the inning.

Stats

Most Valuable Players

  • Joey Votto: .331 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Tyler Stephenson: .198 WPA

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Shogo Akiyama: 104.3 mph | Groundout in 9th Inning
  • Joey Votto: 104 mph | Home Run in 1st Inning
  • Jesse Winker: 101.4 mph | Single in 1st Inning

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Shogo Akiyama: .590 xBA | Groundout in 9th Inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Sonny Gray: 93.9 mph
  • Edgar García: 95.4 mph
  • Jeff Hoffman: 96.1 mph
  • Josh Osich: 96.4 mph
  • Tony Santillan: 97.7 mph
  • Ryan Hendrix: 97.5 mph

Highest Pitch Spins

  • Sonny Gray: 3007 rpm | Curveball

Most Pitch Movement

  • Sonny Gray: 59 Inches Vertical Break | Curveball
  • Josh Osich: 17 Inches Horizontal Break | Sinker

Team Expected Batting Averages (xBA)

  • Cardinals: .258
  • Reds: .150
What’s Next?

The Reds travel to Wrigley Field in Chicago tomorrow to begin a 4-game series against the Cubs. Taking the mound for the Reds will be Wade Miley, while the Cubs have yet to name a starter. First pitch will be at 8:05 PM EDT.

[Featured Image: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1116408275656949761/photo/1]

Steffen has been a huge Reds fan since watching his very first baseball game during the 2018 season. Despite the Reds finishing 5th in the NL Central for the fourth season in a row, he found himself drawn to the team's storied past and infinitely likable players such as Eugenio Suárez and Joey Votto. Since then, his love of baseball has led to a deep interest in the game's analytics and advanced statistics. Steffen is from Denmark and recently graduated from Aarhus University. You can follow him on twitter @TaudalSteffen

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pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

It seems like Santillan can help in the bullpen and that’s also the right place for Hoffman.

pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

I had some comments on Saturday’s win that I’ll post now:

When the Reds bullpen takes over late, Akiyama should be put in CF if he’s not already there. 

It isn’t Brach’s fault that he had to pitch for the 6th time in 8 days, and that even though he had nothing, he had to face 6 batters. Not Bell’s fault either. I don’t know if Brach intentionally pitched around Knizner to load the bases, but it was fortunate he did that rather than throw another meatball. Let’s give Doolittle some credit for throwing a quality strike, a high fastball, on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded to get out of the jam. I was glad the Cards pinch hit for Carpenter, who would have managed a walk or getting hit by a pitch or catcher’s interference or something. Cardinal fans were upset abut that decision.

Winker getting hot just in time. After all those line drive doubles, it felt like a HR was on the way. 

pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

My only concern with Gray is whether he’s truly healthy. I didn’t see the part of the game where he pitched, but from what I saw on video, he just had a bad day.