The Reds beat themselves in a devastating loss to the Twins
CINCINNATI (ENQUIRER) - If the Cincinnati Reds don’t make the playoffs this year, then the top of the ninth inning will be remembered as the one where the Reds got in their own way and let a win slip away.
The ninth inning lined up perfectly for Reds closer Alexis Díaz. With a one-run lead, the Reds’ All-Star closer faced the bottom half of a Minnesota Twins lineup that was filled with bench players. But in a 5-3 win for the Twins at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, the Reds beat themselves.
Entering Wednesday, the Reds were a game back of the third NL wild card spot. As they lost the series to the Twins, the Reds fell even further back in the race.
Twins third baseman Willi Castro led off the ninth inning with a bunt single. Then he stole second base. When Reds catcher Luke Maile’s throw bounced into center field, Castro took third. Then, he scored on a game-tying flare single to shallow right field by former Red Kyle Farmer.
After Díaz allowed a walk to the Twins’ backup catcher, his day was over. Even though he only threw 15 pitches, Reds manager David Bell pulled Díaz from the game with one out and two runners on base. The Twins had left-handed hitters due up, so Bell turned to left-handed reliever Sam Moll.
Moll entered the game with a 0.90 ERA with the Reds. The team’s lone trade deadline addition has quietly been one of the most effective left-handed relievers over the last few months, so Bell had confidence replacing Díaz with the left-hander.
It was Moll’s biggest appearance of the season, and he allowed a two-run single to Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco.
Before that hit, the Twins ran again on Maile. Farmer, who had 12 career stolen bases, swiped third base and beat the throw on a double steal. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Polanco put the Twins up by two runs.
And the Reds wasted their most impressive start of the year.
Hunter Greene allowed just one run in seven innings with 14 strikeouts on Wednesday. The Reds had a 3-1 lead when he left the game, and Greene delivered what should have been the Reds’ biggest start of the season.
Right away, Greene showed that he was going to meet the moment. He opened the game with a 99 mph fastball. Twins leadoff hitter Edouard Julien was so far off with his swing that his bat slipped out of his hands and flew into the Reds’ dugout.
Greene had four strikeouts through the first two innings. The first strikeout made Julien spin off of his back foot. Greene’s next strikeout made Polanco’s knees buckle. His third strikeout made Max Kepler twirl in a circle. His fourth strikeout made Willi Castro nearly fall down.
Greene has already proven that when he’s at his best, he can get the best of any lineup in baseball. The Reds believe that if Greene is rolling, he can go stride-for-stride with any team in baseball and carry the Reds to a playoff win.
Greene was exceptional, but the best pitchers in the typically reliable Reds’ bullpen let the game slip away.
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