Votto Clutches Up as Cincinnati Reds Beat Cleveland Indians

Reds Indians

Reds 3, Indians 2

Joey Votto missed Sunday’s finale against the Detroit Tigers due to COVID-19 symptoms. He tested negative twice and was inserted into the lineup on Monday afternoon. After that, it’s just another day at the office for Joey. He drove in the deciding run for the Reds in their 3-2 win over the Indians Monday night. Oh, and the bullpen was nasty, too.

Ace on the Hill

Sonny Gray took the ball for his third start in this shortened season and delivered again. He has been virtually untouchable, even dating back to June of 2019. Monday night saw Gray toss six more innings of three-hit baseball while only surrendering two runs. That marks the 36th straight start for Gray in which he hasn’t surrendered more than six hits, a major league record.

In the first he looked a tad shaky, giving up a bomb to all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor. After that, he settled in, only allowing one run in his next five frames. He also got some help from right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, who homered again. Castellanos is coming off a week where he was awarded NL Player of the Week honors and continued his assault on pitchers around the league. He is now batting .382 with five homers and an absurd .472 OBP.

Joey Votto Breaks up the Duel

Gray and Indians starter Zach Plesac dueled it out Monday in a game where both pitchers came in scalding hot. Plesac, minus the home run to Castellanos, was stellar through five innings. In the sixth, center fielder Shogo Akiyama lead the inning off with a base hit, setting up the Reds’ middle part of the lineup for success. The next batter was Votto, who gave Plesac a wonderful welcome to Cincinnati by planting a 3-2 fastball into the moon deck in right field to give the Reds the lead.

That home run proved to be the deciding blow. The Reds went to the bullpen in the seventh, spelling the end of Gray’s night. He went six innings, giving up four hits and one earned run while striking out eight. Michael Lorenzen came in to pitch the seventh, and he was wonderful, striking out two of the three batters in the inning.

That Man has a Gold Glove

Nate Jones was brought on to work the eighth inning for the Reds. Facing the top of the lineup, Jones put two runners on almost immediately. As Reds fans collectively held their breath, he struck out third baseman Jose Ramirez for the first out. Then, while facing Lindor, he bounced a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Catcher Tucker Barnhart exploded out of his stance to pick up the loose ball and throw a strike to second base, nailing the trailing Cesar Hernandez for the second out, saving the Reds from certain dread. Jones struck out Lindor to end the threat in the eighth.

Barnhart, who won a Gold Glove award in 2017, has been great behind the plate for the Reds. Defense is his calling card, as he’s never been a great hitter but has elite defense. His heroics cannot go unseen as he made a fantastic play to help the bullpen out of a jam.

Best Foot Forward

Raisel Iglesias came on to close out the ninth, doing so with ease. He struck out two of the three batters he faced. This has to feel good for Iglesias, who has seemed to get knocked around for the better part of the last year and a half. He has excelled in save situations, converting 37 of his last 41 saves. Compare that to non-save situations, where he is 1-13 with a 5.34 ERA.

The bullpen only surrendered one hit over three innings for the Reds Monday, and that is a great sign. Coming into this season, the Reds have been looked at as one of the most complete teams in the league. The bullpen has been shaky so far, but shutting down a great offense like Cleveland’s can be a huge morale boost moving forward for this group.

After taking Game One, the Reds will face the Indians three more times this week. Tuesday’s game will feature Tyler Mahle for the Reds, while the Indians will send ace Shane Bieber to the hill for Game Two. That game is slated to start at 6:10 pm EDT.

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