Reds waste bases-loaded chance in a loss to the Nationals

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) winds up to deliver in the first inning...
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) winds up to deliver in the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.(Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)
Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (ENQUIRER) - The Cincinnati Reds got the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday night against the Washington Nationals, and a batter who’s hitting .182 against right-handed pitching this year lined out to end the Reds’ best chance at a walk-off victory.

Before right fielder Nick Senzel hit a weak line drive to the second baseman to end the inning with the score tied, Reds manager David Bell had used most of his bench. Usually this season, Senzel gets pinch-hit for when he faces a right-handed pitcher. On Friday, he got a rare opportunity in that matchup, and he didn’t take advantage of it, according to our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Nationals took the lead in the 10th inning on an RBI double by Jake Alu and pulled ahead with a two-run homer by Lane Thomas, giving Washington a 6-3 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Senzel started on Friday because the Reds were facing a left-handed pitcher. He has been great against left-handers this season, but Will Benson, TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley have consistently pinch-hit for Senzel against right-handed pitchers.

Benson entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning when the Reds were looking for a critical add-on run. Friedl entered the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth. And Fraley wasn’t spotted on the bench.

Bell stuck with his right-handed platoon hitters against right-handed pitchers on Friday. Senzel and third baseman Kevin Newman both took at-bats in the eighth inning when the Reds had a chance to take the lead. And Senzel took the biggest at-bat of the game in the ninth inning.

Friedl, Fraley and Benson have all had stretches this year where they were some of the most productive hitters in baseball against right-handed pitching. The Reds didn’t get to see any of those hitters in those matchups on Friday.

Takeaways from Reds vs. Nationals

1. Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft was one strike away from delivering a momentum-changing start. All game, he was efficient and aggressive. The Reds led 3-1 with two outs in the eighth inning before Nationals’ designated hitter Joey Meneses blasted a game-tying home run to left field.

2. The Reds couldn’t take advantage of a strong start and an early 2-0 lead. Senzel and Matt McLain hit back-to-back homers in the first inning against left-handed Nationals starter Patrick Corbin, but an Elly De La Cruz homer in the third inning was the only other run that the Reds got.

3. Reds All-Star closer Alexis Díaz took his third loss of the season. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning to keep the game tied, but he allowed an RBI double and a homer in extra innings.

This story was written by our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.