by Brian Goodman

Reds fall in suspended game against Diamondbacks 5-4

In a game where the Reds worked their way back from an early 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead on a Kyle Farmer bomb, they ultimately fell short when the Diamondbacks rallied back late. An extremely questionable decision to not call the game last night by the umpire crew led to the winning run for the Diamondbacks in the top of the eighth, with Lucas Sims struggling with his command in weather conditions not suited for playing baseball. This is a tough loss for the Reds to swallow after pitching most of their top arms, all likely to be unavailable for the second game today.


Offense

The Reds did very little the first time through the order, as leadoff hitter Jesse Winker was the only position player to reach base with a walk. Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen induced weak contact throughout the first two innings, consistent with an impressive 2020 campaign that saw him allow hard hit balls on only 32.6% of at-bats.

In the bottom of the third following a deep Kyle Farmer flyout to center, starting pitcher Luis Castillo helped his own cause, bouncing a double down the left field line. He advanced to third on a flare single to left by Jesse Winker, and eventually scored on a Tyler Naquin groundout, which closed the gap to 3-1 Diamondbacks. Naquin made the start in right field and batted 2nd, replacing Nick Castellanos who served the first of a two game suspension for… showing emotion while playing baseball.  Farmer played third base and batted eighth, replacing Mike Moustakas. Moose was a late scratch as he was placed on the 10 day IL retroactive to Saturday.

The Reds put together a bit of a small ball rally with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, beginning with a Jonathan India walk. Next up Tucker Barnhart perfectly executed a bunt into the shift toward the third base side, and the Reds had a runner in scoring position for Kyle Farmer. Farmer delivered by smoking a single to left and scoring India, bringing the Reds within one run at 3-2. Pinch hitter Max Schrock struck out to end the inning, but the Reds had to be feeling pretty good about their positioning as they would get the top of the order to the plate for the third time in the fifth.

Gallen dispatched these hopes in the fifth and 2/3 of the sixth, with just a sole walk issued in each. However after a two out walk to Barnhart, Zac Gallen’s night was done after 98 pitches. Kyle Farmer then stepped to the plate against righty reliever Yoan Lopez, and crushed a hanging slider (104.1 mph, 405 ft) over the left-center fence, giving the Reds a 4-3 lead.

In the Reds first two at bats on day two, Jonathan India and Tucker Barnhart both battled in long at bats but ultimately were struck out with fastballs by Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel. Kyler Farmer’s groundout on the next at bat meant the Reds would need a rally in the bottom of the ninth to get a chance at a W.

The bottom of the ninth began with an Alex Blandino flyout to center. Jesse Winker was up next and destroyed a single to right (110.6 mph exit velocity). After a Tyler Naquin infield pop up, Suarez stepped to the plate with the Reds down to their last out. He struck out on three pitches, thus ending the postponed bout in a 5-4 Diamondbacks win.

Pitching

Luis “La Piedra” Castillo got off to a rocky start. Pavin Smith opened the game with a well hit single to center, and then Kole Kalhoun rolled a could-be double play ball to second base, but  Jonathan India made an errant throw trying to nab the lead runner at second.  The next at bat featured Asdrubal Cabrera, who laced an RBI single to right (106.6 mph). David Peralta followed it up with a grounded RBI single to right of his own, but it appeared the ball was playable for Joey Votto (.170 xBA).

At that point, four straight Diamondbacks reached base with nobody out to begin the game. With disaster possibly looming, Castillo induced a clutch 6-4-3 double play to the following batter, and although he gave up a bases empty double to the 6-hitter Eduardo Escobar, he was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout of Nick Ahmed on a 97 mph fastball.

All in all, the damage was 3-0 Diamondbacks heading into the bottom of the first, the second straight start where Castillo was tagged for multiple runs in the first inning. Although La Piedra was certainly a victim of bad defense, he struggled to miss bats, getting swinging-strikes on only two out of 24 pitches. Reds fans hope this is not a trend that continues, as Castillo’s whiff rate is down from 35.5% in 2019 and 32.7% in a shortened 2020 to 24.1% so far in 2021.

Castillo settled in in the top of the second, effectively attacking the bottom of the zone with his changeup and sinker while striking out three out of the four batters he faced. He was unable to maintain that momentum in the third from a location and command standpoint, though. After a leadoff groundout to first on a nice backhand by Joey Votto, he allowed three straight runners aboard via two walks and a HBP, and missed the strike zone on nine consecutive pitches at one point.

After the India blunder in the first, Castillo got some well-deserved defensive karma when Eugenio Suarez channeled his inner Willie Mays. With the bases loaded and no one out, Suarez made an outstretched, overhead running catch on a soft pop-up to short left. With the runner at third expecting the ball to drop, no run crossed the plate. He then got a soft ground out to first, ending the inning and avoiding any further runs contributing to what was a three run deficit at the time.

Castillo flirted with disaster in the fourth , but once again pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam. After allowing a single to right by Pavin Smith and double to right by Escobar, he found himself in a second and third, one out situation. Castillo came up clutch forcing a pop-up in foul territory to third, and getting a soft fly-out to right with the bases loaded (clean up hitter David Peralta was intentionally walked).

It was clear Castillo didn’t have his best stuff on this night, but he displayed impressive poise consistently stranding Arizona runners after getting himself in trouble. David Bell made the decision to end Castillo’s night when his pitcher spot was due up to hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. His final line included three runs, four strikeouts and three walks on 89 pitches.

The Reds would need a solid run of bullpen innings if they wanted the win on this night, and they got a good start in the fifth from Jose De Leon. After walking the leadoff hitter, he made quick work of the bottom of the Diamondbacks order, striking out Nick Ahmed, Nick Heath, and Gallen with effective sinkers in the lower half of the strike zone. De Leon struggled in his last outing, a start against these same Diamondbacks, so it was nice to see his effectiveness out of the bullpen; a role he is likely to embrace the rest of the year assuming the starting rotation remains healthy.

Cionel Perez came in to pitch an important top sixth against the top of the Arizona lineup. He quickly retired the first two hitters, but then threw seven straight balls and found himself in a three balls no strikes hole against David Peralta with a man on. Perez bounced back to strikeout Peralta with three straight fastballs, the last a precisely placed, 95.3 mph four-seamer that painted the black at the bottom of the zone.

The Reds called upon their not-so-secret weapon in the seventh, the nearly unhittable Tejay Antone. Tejay was buckling hitters with his offspeed and overpowering them with fastballs, even velocity slightly down due to colder temperatures.

However in the top of the eighth, Antone allowed his first run of the season, a solo home run to center by Andrew Young. Antone missed with his fastball over the heart of the plate, and Young took advantage of the rare mistake. The Reds then turned to Amir Garrett to face lefties Smith and Kalhoun. At this point an intense rain was falling, and may have contributed to what happened next. Garrett gave up back to back hits on hanging sliders, and left after the three batter minimum with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. On came Lucas Sims, who has been very reliable for the Reds this season. The rain was now a torrential downpour, and it clearly affected Sims’ command. He hit the first batter he faced, then walked in a run to give the Diamondbacks a 5-4 lead. At 10:06 EST, crew chief Jerry Meals finally called for the tarp, a move that seemed more than a few minutes overdue.

The game resumed at 5:35 EST on April 21st after a brief 30 minute weather delay. Sims took the mound once again (David Bell clarified pregame that the three batter minimum was not required for these circumstances, so this was by choice) and got a pop-out to the third base side in foul territory for the second out of the inning from a red-hot Escobar. He then induced a routine flyout to right by Nick Ahmed, doing everything he could to keep the Reds in the game as they’d head to the bottom of the eighth down a run.

Sean Doolittle made quick work of the Diamondbacks in a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, including an impressive dose of fastballs to former Reds utility man Josh Van Meter. Overall Doolittle threw 13 pitches, with 10 of them being in play or strikes.

Stats

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Jesse Winker: 110.6 mph | Single in 9th inning
  • Joey Votto: 105.4 mph | Flyout in 5th inning
  • Kyle Farmer: 104.1 mph | Home run in 6th inning

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Jesse Winker: .870 xBA | Lineout in 5th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Luis Castillo: 97.8 mph
  • Jose de Leon: 94.3 mph
  • Cionel Perez: 95.8 mph
  • Tejay Antone: 96.7 mph
  • Amir Garrett: 95.6 mph
  • Lucas Sims: 94.9 mph
  • Lucas Sims (day 2): 95.0 mph
  • Sean Doolittle: 93.6 mph

Highest Pitch Spins

  • Lucas Sims: 3,307 rpm | Slider

Most Pitch Movement

  • Tejay Antone: 59 inches vertical movement | Curveball

Team Expected Batting Averages (xBA)

  • Diamondbacks: .284
  • Reds: .215
What’s Next?

The Reds will see a quick turnaround for game two of the series, coming no more than an hour and a half later from the conclusion of this one. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. EST as Tyler Mahle faces off against Merrill Kelly.

Featured Image: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1384691490753060864?s=20


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Brian began going to Reds games with his grandparents at a young age and instantly fell in love. He simultaneously was intrigued with the numbers within the game, never missing the next morning's box score in the paper. A proud graduate of Indiana University, Brian currently lives in Chicago, IL and works in data science. Follow him on twitter @bg00dies.

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