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Reds lose to the Pirates despite a combined no-hitter with Hunter Greene

Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Reds.(MGN)
Published: May. 15, 2022 at 4:22 PM EDT
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PITTSBURGH (Cincinnati Enquirer) - When Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene learned that he made the Opening Day roster and would be the youngest active starting pitcher in MLB, he called his parents, and he cried.

Ever since Greene developed a fastball that could hit 105 mph, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was deemed one of the future stars in baseball, Greene’s dream was always being on the biggest stage at the highest level and showing that he had the demeanor to be one of the faces of baseball.

The dream as a young baseball player growing up in California was that one day, there would be moments like this.

On Sunday at PNC Park, Greene pitched 7 ⅓ no-hit innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Reds lost 1-0. For all of the hype that Greene had entering his big league career, he still exceeded expectations with the way he pitched on Sunday.

The Reds threw a combined no-hitter on Sunday, but they still lost the game due to a fielder’s choice in the eighth inning that scored a run.

In the eighth inning, even as his pitch count reached 118, Greene showed a unique skill set. His fastball was still reaching 98 miles per hour. His slider was still keeping batters off-balanced.

Greene walked consecutive batters in the eighth inning and stretched his arm after the second walk. At that point, Reds manager David Bell pulled him from the game and brought Art Warren out of the bullpen.

Warren threw a double-play ball that nearly ended the inning. But second baseman Alejo Lopez bobbled it and couldn’t turn two. The runner from third base scored, and the Pirates took a 1-0 lead.

The Reds didn’t score in the top of the ninth inning, and they lost the game without allowing a hit.

It was still a showcase and the milestone moment for Greene. For his entire life, Greene has been working toward a moment like this.

Greene has already had to overcome a career’s worth of obstacles. He missed some of the 2018 season and all of 2019 after having Tommy John surgery. The 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2021, Greene pitched with an innings limit.

In 2022, Greene had to compete for a starting spot in the Reds rotation throughout all of spring training. His goal was that his intense preparation in the offseason could get him on the Reds roster.

Greene made the team, and on Saturday, he showed the exact strengths that made him the most exciting pitching prospect in baseball.

Against the Pirates, Greene’s fastball was 100 mph from the jump. He moved the pitch around the strike zone, just like he had studied Mahle do, and commanded it as well as he has all season.

Greene’s slider was even better. He had seven strikeouts in the first five innings, and six of them were with his slider. Greene had the ability to manipulate the pitch to get it to dive into the dirt or keep it in the strike zone for a called strike.

When Greene struggled during the first month of the 2022 season, he struggled because he wasn’t able to control his slider. In a few games, opposing teams weren’t swinging at the pitch because they weren’t expecting Greene to land it for strikes. Hitters were sitting on Greene’s fastball, and they crushed the pitch consistently for home runs and extra-base hits.

Greene entered Sunday’s game with a 7.62 ERA and a 1-5 record in six career starts, and he was coming off a start where his slider was as good as it has been all season. Against the Pirates, Greene showed the most complete skill set he has shown all season.

Greene was rolling from the first inning when he struck out Pirates leadoff hitter Ben Gamel with a fastball at the top of the zone. Greene used his fastball all game to set up his slider as his strikeout pitch. The Pirates were late on his fastball and lunging at his slider. He ended the seventh by framing a slider on the outside corner of the plate.

Pitching in a 0-0 game for most of the way, Greene barely ran into trouble. In the seventh inning, Reds center fielder Albert Almora Jr. made an incredible running catch in the gap as he collided with Tommy Pham, but that was the only defensive highlight of the game.

Just two weeks ago, Greene allowed five home runs in a disappointing start versus the Milwaukee Brewers. Afterward, Greene vowed that he’d learn from the experience, make the necessary adjustments and use the game as a learning experience.

Greene, the youngest starting pitcher in MLB, did exactly that. And in his stellar outing against the Pirates, the 22-year-old looked like a future star. The Reds still lost the game due to the error in the eighth inning, but the most important part for the last-place Reds was how Greene proved how dominant he can be pitching in MLB.

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