The Reds snapped a 4-game losing streak to get their first win after the all star break as they beat the Mets 4-3 Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
The Mets were forced to go to spot starter Robert Stock after Jacob deGrom was placed on the IL this past weekend, and when Stock left in the 2nd inning due to injury, the Reds quickly jumped on an overused Mets bullpen (sound familiar, Reds fans?). The Reds hadn’t homered since Friday night and caught up by hitting 3 long balls in the first 3 innings.
They hope to carry the momentum into a series win tomorrow as Jeff Hoffman will start for the first time since 5/26.
The Mets haven’t had the best luck with their starting pitching health this season, having started 15 different pitchers thus far. Tonight’s starter, Robert Stock, was called upon to spot start for the fourth time this season but left with a hamstring injury after running out a ground ball in the top of the 2nd inning. Before he exited however, Jonathan India continued his tear from the leadoff spot. On the 2nd pitch he saw, he blasted a 432-foot bomb off the batter’s eye in dead center field to tie the game 1-1 bottom 1.
🗣️ National. League. Rookie. Of. The. Year. pic.twitter.com/3WEiudtJbu
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 20, 2021
The Reds put on two more baserunners after 7-time NL OBP leader Joey Votto drew a walk and Aristides Aquino chopped a single through the right side, but Eugenio Suarez grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. That groundout put Suarez at 1 for his previous 20, as the franchise 3B is still in a season-long slump. With reinforcements coming in the infield as soon as the next 2 weeks, some tough decisions will have to be made about if Suarez, the ultimate teammate and positive force in the clubhouse, can remain in the everyday lineup with his 66 wRC+.
After pitching 7+ innings in last night’s wild contest, the Mets bullpen would need to pitch at least 7 more innings tonight when their starter exited via injury, and the Reds lineup had to take advantage. First in for New York was Stephen Nogosek, who hadn’t appeared in the major leagues since 2019 and posted a 5.76 ERA in AAA Syracuse. He got the best of the bottom of the Reds lineup in the 2nd, as none of Kyle Farmer, Tucker Barnhart, or Miley was able to reach base.
It would be different story bottom 3rd with the top of the lineup coming to the plate. After India and Winker both struck out looking on borderline pitches, Votto was leaving nothing to chance. Votto turned on a high fastball and smacked it 428 feet to right-center field for a solo home run, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. On the very next pitch, the Punisher smoked a hanging slider 402 feet (107.6 mph exit velo) just over the left center fence, and the Reds back-to-back jacks gave them a 3-1 lead.
Back-to-back pitches, back-to-back bangs. pic.twitter.com/i3pHaQO8Ju
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 21, 2021
At 19 degrees off the bat, Aristides Aquino's dinger ties Tyler Naquin for the lowest launch angle on a home run by a Reds hitter this season.
— Matt Wilkes (@_MattWilkes) July 21, 2021
Of Aquino’s 13 hits this season, 10 are for extra bases, pushing his OPS up to .997 in 63 plate appearances. With all-stars Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos playing nearly every day, it’s been tough for Aquino to find at-bats this year. But his ability to mash might force David Bell to look for more ways to get Aquino to the plate.
The Reds threatened again in the 6th inning, when the bottom of the lineup started a 2-out rally. Barnhart began by looping a single to right, then Farmer followed with a groundball through the middle. Barnhart advanced to 3rd, and Farmer stretched his single into a double with heads-up baserunning as he noticed the Mets outfielder slow to retrieve the ball. Miley was unable to hit either man home, and the Reds headed to the 7th maintaining their 3-1 lead.
The Reds’ seventh inning started the way many have this season — with an impressive at-bat by India leading to him reaching base via a walk. Winker then grounded out as India advanced to 2nd, and Votto laced a sharp line drive single to center against Mets lefty specialist Aaron Loup. India was held up at 3rd due to how hard the ball was hit with one out in the inning.
Aquino was up next and drew a walk on 4 pitches. With the lefty required to remain in the game to face the three-batter minimum, David Bell decided to to pinch hit the right-handed Tyler Stephenson for left handed Tyler Naquin. The move paid off when Stephenson hit the first pitch he saw deep enough to right field to get India home, and the Reds led 4-2. Aquino was caught in between 1st and 2nd during the sac fly for the last out of the inning, but the Reds provided their bullpen an insurance run with 6 outs to go.
In the bottom of the 8th, Suarez was thrown out trying to stretch a double to a triple on a ball he crushed off the wall in center. It was nice to see him put the barrel on the ball, but it was another baserunning mistake in consecutive innings for the Reds. They ultimately didn’t score, and would turn the 9th over to Amir Garrett with a one-run lead.
The quick-working Wade Miley made his first start since the all-star break, looking to build off of an excellent first half of the season where his 2.80 ERA and 3.24 FIP were best among Reds starting pitchers. Miley’s strategy of pinpoint command and pitching to contact is not one you see much of in the modern swing-and-miss game anymore, but it is one that has been extremely effective in 2021. Miley’s precise pitch locations have forced opponents’ contact to come off the bat at an average exit velocity of 85 mph, good for the 96th percentile in the MLB, and well below what is considered a hard-hit ball (95 mph).
In the first two innings, Miley saw a mixed bag of results. He gave up a home run to derby champ Pete Alonso in the first, but overall was in control of at bats with his slider and cutter. In the 2nd, he gave up 2-out hits to Pillar and Villar on hard-hit balls, but was able to retire starting pitcher Robert Stock on a groundout to get out of the inning.
From the 3rd inning on, Miley really settled in. He continued painting the outside of the zone with his cutter and buckled lefties with his slider. In the top of the 4th inning, the defense behind Miley gave him a lift when Aquino made a web gem in right field on a sharply hit fly ball with one runner aboard 1st. While leaping against the wall, he gloved a loud 363-foot flyout (.690 xBA), likely saving a run.
Through 5 innings, Miley had 7 strikeouts including 3 straight across the 4th and 5th innings. There is data to back how Miley tends to really find his groove as he goes deep into games. In the 5th inning or later of starts, his ERA is 1.62, 3rd best in the major leagues. It appeared things would only get harder for the Mets as long as Miley remained in the game.
In the 6th inning, the Mets ended up tagging the ball pretty well against Miley, ironically this time for his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Mets flyouts had xBAs of .520, .560, and .570 respectively, but after 6 innings Miley still had the Reds ahead 3-1. He again got help from his outfield when Winker made a nice running overhead catch to make the 2nd out of the inning.
Miley began the 7th inning battling against Mets hitters to the tune of 3 straight full counts, the first 2 ending in walks and the last ending in a strikeout looking on a tailing cutter up and in the zone. David Bell came out to pull Miley likely because of the 104 pitches, but the uncharacteristic walks could have been the tiebreaking factor vs. leaving him in to face Alonso again.
Hulk Smash❗️ pic.twitter.com/v6Qlf7C3MH
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 21, 2021
Brad Brach was called upon to face the Mets’ slugger with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. He calmly fielded a weak rollover by Alonso and threw to 1st for what should have been the 2nd out of the inning; however, Votto dropped the ball at 1st and one run scored when the ball bounced to the side. It seemed like deja vu from the last 4 games, where the Reds seemingly found all kinds of ways to lose close games in the latter stages of the game. However, this time, Brach came up clutch, inducing another weak ground ball back to him. He spun around and fired to 2nd, and Farmer quickly turned onto 1st for an inning-saving double play. The Reds bullpen would live to see another inning as they headed to the bottom of the 7th clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Heath Hembree came on in the 8th with a 2-run lead and 6 outs from a W. He began with a strikeout of J.D. Davis, only throwing him hard 4-seam fastballs. After McCann singled to left, Hembree came back to strike out Michael Conforto on a nasty backdoor slider, the latest #Spincinnati success story. With 2 outs, Hembree threw a high slider that Luis Guillorme flailed his bat at. Unfortunately for the Reds, he shot the pitch to left field, and Winker was unable to cut it off before it got to the wall. A run scored and it was now once again a 1-run lead. Hembree got out of the inning after getting a groundout by Villar to 1st base. Although he gave up a run, Hembree is one of the few reliable options in the Reds’ bullpen due to his elite fastball/slider combo leading to a K% of 40.3%, which is 99th percentile in the MLB.
Amir Garrett was called upon to get the final 3 outs for the Reds, and the outing got off to a rocky start. He missed badly with his first 4 pitches to backup outfielder Dominic Smith, issuing a free pass to start. He bounced back nicely against Nimmo to strike him out on a sweeping slider with 37 inches of vertical drop. He doubled down and struck out Alonso on another backdoor slider, after setting him up with 97.1 mph gas the pitch before. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it: Garrett threw 4 more nasty sliders to Jeff McNeil, ultimately getting him to pop out in foul territory to secure a Reds victory.
Most Valuable Players
- Dominic Smith (Mets): .205 WPA (Win Probability Added)
- Joey Votto: .178 WPA
- Amir Garrett: .158 WPA
- Pete Alons0 (Mets): 110.7 mph | Home run in 1st inning
- Eugenio Suarez: 109. mph | Double in 8th inning
- Aristides Aquino: 107.6 mph | Home run in 3rd inning
- Joey Votto: 106.7 mph | Home run in 3rd inning
- Jonathan India: 105.5 mph | Home run in 1st inning
Unluckiest Out of the Day
- Michael Conforto (Mets): .690 xBA | Flyout in 4th inning
Highest Velocities By Pitcher
- Wade Miley: 96.4 mph
- Brad Brach: 93.9 mph
- Heath Hembree: 96.6 mph
- Amir Garrett: 97.1 mph
Highest Pitch Spins
- Heath Hembree: 2,940 rpm | Slider
Most Pitch Movement
- Wade Miley: 49 inches vertical movement | Curveball
- Brad Brach: 18 inches horizontal movement | Changeup
Team Expected Batting Averages (xBA)
- Reds: .274
- Mets: .256
The Reds conclude the Mets series with an afternoon game at Great American Ball Park. First pitch is at 12:35 p.m. EST as Jeff Hoffman faces off against Marcus Stroman.
Featured Image: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
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