Reds eye playoff berth as winning streak continues
Published 2:35 am Saturday, September 19, 2020
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds hitter in the deepest slump kept their winning streak going.
Jesse Winker hit a three-run homer — one of four off White Sox starter Jonathan Stiever — and Cincinnati extended its surge into playoff contention with a 7-1 win Friday night for its season-high sixth victory in a row.
The Reds moved to .500 (26-26) for the first time since Aug. 3. They’ve had a winning record only once, after their season-opening victory over the Tigers. Their winning streak has them in playoff position, in second place in the NL Central behind the Cubs.
“When things weren’t going well, we continued to take care of each other and kept competing,” manager David Bell said. “That has put us in this position. Sometimes it is hard to do when you’re not getting good results.”
The Reds are coming off six losing seasons and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013.
“We’ve been playing really clean baseball,” said Winker, who ended an 0-for-23 slump. “This has been the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Chicago arrived in town a few hours after a long-awaited breakthrough.
The AL Central-leading White Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 with a win over the Twins on Thursday night. They have the AL’s best record and much bigger goal of a division title.
“The (Reds) kind of struck early, so that puts a little damper on everything right out of the chute,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Their momentum hit a snag as Stiever (0-1) got hit hard in his first major league road appearance. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed Winker’s shot and solo homers by Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos and Tucker Barnhart.
Winker’s homer in the third made it 6-0 and ended his career-high slump.
Stiever made his debut against Detroit on Sept. 13 — making the jump from Class A — and allowed one run and two hits over 3 2/3 innings. The Reds piled up five hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings.
“They got good swings on really pretty much anything I was throwing,” Stiever said.
Tyler Mahle (2-2) got his first win since Aug. 28, allowing four hits and fanning eight in 5 2/3 innings. Chicago managed only one run out of a bases-loaded, none-out opportunity in the sixth.
Chicago left-hander Garrett Crochet, the 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft, was added to the roster pregame. He made his debut in the sixth and retired the side in order, fanning two with a fastball that topped out at 101 mph.
With pandemic precautions shutting down baseball for months, Crochet wound up making the jump from the University of Tennessee to the majors. The White Sox are giving him a chance to pitch out of the bullpen as they close in on the playoffs.
“It means the world,” Crochet said. “I definitely didn’t expect it to go this way. Being out of competitive baseball that long and being able to jump back in at the major leagues was awesome.”
Despite the loss, the White Sox lead the series 17-7, including an 11-5 mark at Great American Ball Park.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It was a very bright moment, certainly not the brightest moment we anticipate for this club or hope to see for this club over the next several months or next several years, but it was a momentous event and something that needs to be celebrated, especially in these times right now.” — White Sox GM Rick Hahn, on clinching a playoff spot.
White Sox: RHP Evan Marshall went on the 10-day injured list with a sore right shoulder. RHP Ian Hamilton was designated for assignment.
Reds: 3B Eugenio Suárez returned from the three-day paternity list. RH R.J. Alaniz was optioned. OF Nick Williams cleared waivers and was outrighted to the alternate training site.
White Sox: LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-2) hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts. He’s 0-0 in two career starts against the Reds and will be making his first appearance at Great American Ball Park.
Reds: Trevor Bauer (4-3) has allowed two earned runs in three September starts. He’s 8-5 career against the White Sox in 20 games.