Graham Ashcraft didn’t get the win in his major league debut, but his start certainly helped the Cincinnati Reds get the win on Sunday. The game was tight the whole way, but Joey Votto’s solo home run – his 1st of the season – in the top of the 8th inning was the difference maker as the Reds avoided being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (12-28) 3 6 2
Toronto Blue Jays (22-19) 2 4 0
W: Diaz (2-0) L: Garcia (0-3) SV: Warren (2)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The Offense

Cincinnati got some help in the 1st inning as Yusei Kikuchi struggled to throw strikes and loaded the bases with one out by walking three of the first four hitters he faced. After Kyle Farmer flew out it left things up to Aristides Aquino and the Punisher didn’t miss the 1-0 pitch and lined a ground rule double down the left field line to put the Reds up 2-0. Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but Taylor Motter struck out to end the inning.

Cincinnati didn’t get much going over the next handful of innings as the Blue Jays chipped away to tie the game, but a 2-out single by Aristides Aquino in the 6th was followed up by a stolen base where he was picked off at first but a poor throw to second base allowed him to slide around the tag. Tyler Naquin would strike out to end the threat and the game remained all tied up at 2-2.

The next inning saw the Reds threaten again. Colin Moran walked to lead off the inning and with two outs Tyler Stephenson singled up the middle. Alejo Lopez came off the bench to pinch run for Moran at second base and Tommy Pham came to the plate, but Tyler Stephenson was picked off at first base by catcher Danny Jansen to end the inning.

With one out in the top of the 8th inning Joey Votto got ahead 2-0 against Yimi Garcia. A curveball followed on the inner third of the plate and Votto hit the ball 346 feet into the stands to put Cincinnati up 3-2.

The Pitching

Graham Ashcraft gave up a leadoff single to George Springer, but induced three straight ground outs to get out of the inning without any damage. It wasn’t as easy in the second inning as Santiago Espinal doubled and Matt Chapman singled to start the inning and cut the Reds lead to 2-1. Ashcraft would strike out the next three batters to avoid further damage.

In the 3rd inning it was once again George Springer getting things started, but this time it was after Ashcraft hit him with a pitch. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch, and then took third on a fly out. Bo Bichette would drive him in on a ground out to tie the game up.

After a 5-pitch 4th inning, Graham Ashcraft ran into some trouble to begin the 5th inning. George Springer reached to lead off the inning after Taylor Motter bobbled a grounder at third base and then Ashcraft walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette popped up to Matt Reynolds who made a nice over the shoulder catch, but that would be the final pitch thrown for Ashcraft in his debut, exiting with one out and two on in the 5th inning of a 2-2 game. Tony Santillan entered and he got a ground ball, but Taylor Motter once again couldn’t come up with it clean and his throw to second base to try and get a force out was late and the bases were now loaded. Santillan got a shallow fly out to center and then struck out Matt Chapman to keep the score tied up. He would work around a walk for a shutout 6th inning as well.

Alexis Diaz took over for Cincinnati in the 7th inning and he made easy work of the top of the Blue Jays lineup, retiring them on just nine pitches while picking up a strikeout. Diaz needed 12 pitches to do the same thing in the 8th inning, but he recorded two strikeouts this time around. Holding a 3-2 lead thanks to a Joey Votto home run, Art Warren came out for the 9th to try and pick up the save, and he made quick and easy work, throwing just nine pitches as Cincinnati won and avoided a sweep.

Key Moment of the Game

Joey Votto’s 8th inning solo home run that broke a 2-2 tie.

Notes Worth Noting

Graham Ashcraft’s first pitch of his career was 99.7 MPH.

Alexis Diaz lowered his ERA to 0.92 with his two shutout innings.

Following the game the Reds announced that Vladimir Gutierrez would make the start against the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs vs Cincinnati Reds

Monday May 23rd, 6:40pm ET

Drew Smyly (1-5, 3.97 ERA) vs Vladimir Gutierrez (0-5, 8.65 ERA)

70 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    Ashcraft will be back. Diaz had a great outing today. AA ripped that GR2B at a timely moment. And Joey banged. We’ll take it and head back to GABP for the Stupid Cubs.

    • Doc4uk

      Replace Motto ASAP with Santana who is now batting .344 and showing some power at the AAA level. I agree with leaving Senzel and Barrero at Louisville until they show they can maintain a decent batting average. Almora offers more than Senzel defensively anyway.

      Friedl also needs to be sent down and Lopez kept in Cincinnati until India returns.

      Also Ashcraft offers more than Guiterrez. Find a place on the forty man for him possibly by DFA ing Motto.

      • Tomn

        I’d bring barrero up now. He’s the Reds best defensive infielder. Put him at SS, move Farmer to 2b. Send Motter to aaa or dfa him. Reynolds or Drury play 3b/of til India returns and dfa Moran unless he can go to aaa. Aquino looks like he just might be able to contribute now. Hate to send friedl to aaa, but he needs to get his hitting back. No hurry on Senzel. Give him another week at aaa.

      • Michael

        Barrero has already destroyed AAA pitching for an extended period of time. Once he has his legs under him you bring him up.

  2. Roger Garrett

    Pitch and play the young uns

    • Tomn

      Love green, ashcraft, Overton in the rotation. Lodolo, if he ever gets healthy fits in there too. Turning out to be an interesting year.

  3. Melvin

    When Votto heats up he usually doesn’t stop for the rest of the year. If that happens this season will be a lot more fun to watch. I’ve always been an Aquino fan. If he somehow reads this I have some great advice for him, KEEP HITTING THE BALL. 🙂 I agree with what someone else said earlier. He was basically the player of the game with his hitting, range, arm, and base running.

  4. SteveO

    Would like to see Diaz get more closing opportunities. Confidence builder for Ashcraft. Go back to Louisville and continue to dominate. Up to the Reds again later in the season. Watching the Louisville game and Senzel doesn’t look ready to join the Reds. Should keep both he and Barrero there for a couple of weeks and bring them back up together. Covid replacements will go back to Louisville tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if the Reds go 14-12 or 13-13 on the active roster. Gutierrez hasn’t pitched in over a week and I expect that he makes the start tomorrow if Overton can’t go.

    • Redsvol

      @steveo – its been 3 years since Senzel looked ready to join the Reds.

  5. JB

    This team desperately needs some hitting. They need some guys to step up and produce and get guys back like India.

  6. Jim t

    Would love to get our guys healthy in the next couple of weeks and have a line up of

    India 2b
    Pham. LF
    Votto. 1B
    Stephenson. C
    Moose. DH
    Senzel. CF
    Naquin. RF
    Farmer. 3B
    Barrera. SS

    Starting rotation.


    Would like to shop Mahle and Castillo to see if we could fill some offensive holes

    • RandyBush

      I would make Sensel the DH bc he can’t stay healthy in CF.

    • Tomn

      Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d put naquin/senzel in cf, aquino in RF. Pham in lf. Never thought I’d want to see aquino again but he’s starting to be productive and he’s a GREAT defensive OF. Can’t wait for India to return. Want Barrera at SS. This team is starting to look fun again.

      • Tomn2

        @greenmtred – you might be right about Aquino. If he stays hot a month or so, could we get something for him? I think he K’d on another slider late in the game so he’s still a sucker for a slider off the outside corner, 2but that seems to be common. Can he hit enough to make it worthwhile to keep him in Cincy. The eternal question with him. But at the very least, he is a very good2 defensive OF with a strong arm that keeps runners from taking an extra base.

      • greenmtred

        He is a good fielder and his arm makes a difference. I hope he will finally start hitting for an extended period of time, but I, too, noticed the swing on that slider. As you say, quite a few hitters give that pitch a try if it’s good and not over-used. His raw talent makes it hard to give up on him. Wily Mo Pena anyone?

    • JayTheRed

      You forgot Castillo How dare you lol…

    • Gonzo Reds

      Well we know who isn’t going to trade for the unvaccinated Mahle… he can’t play for Toronto and why would the Yankees want him if he can’t play at a key defensive rival’s ball park? Really limits his market.

  7. Indy Red Man

    Can they leave Billy Ray Cyrus and his achey-breakey glove in Canada? He’s so bad at 3b that Moose would be an improvement. Moose and Votto on the infield and they said our OF was the worst on mlb in defensive runs saved. Plus the way we hit. This team is overachieving

    • Redsvol

      I don’t think either play 3B once drury gets reinstated from Canada trip. I do wonder why alejo Lopez doesn’t play very single game where they need a middle infielder, third baseman or left fielder. He’s young and he needs at bats. We will never know what we have if at the end of the year he has 100 at bats. Get that kid some playing time!

      • greenmtred

        They see a lot more of Lopez than we do. Maybe he doesn’t profile as a starter. Maybe he’s better suited to pinch hit/utility. I dunno.

  8. Doc4uk

    Replace Motto ASAP with Santana who is now batting .344 and showing some power at the AAA level. I agree with leaving Senzel and Barrero at Louisville until they show they can maintain a decent batting average. Almora offers more than Senzel defensively anyway.

    Friedl also needs to be sent down and Lopez kept in Cincinnati until India returns.

    • MBS

      Motto is going to be replaced by Drury when the Reds get back to the right side of the border. Friedl is a AAA player, not even a AAAA player. I like what I saw from Ashcraft, he was a bit wild, but that could be 1st game jitters. More than likely he’ll be up when the Reds trade Mahle or Castillo. Until then I’m good with LC, TM, HG, and CO. It seems as if Minor is ready to make his Reds debut. He threw 79 pitches on his last (3rd) rehab appearance.

  9. Redlegs4Life

    Honestly we could shop Overton too, a la Dan Straily (who got us Castillo). See which 2 give us the best return. Maybe package 1 with Minor and keep the other 2?

  10. MBS

    Maybe let Diaz grow into the back of a bullpen role. His stuff is awesome, he just needs to know that when he throws strikes he’ll get MLB batters out. We pushed Santillan and Warren to the backend too quick, but what choice did Bell have? If we do get any FA in the offseason, I hope it would be a closer.

  11. Indy Red Man

    2B India
    RF Naquin
    C Stephenson
    1B Votto
    LF Pham
    DH Moose
    3B Drury
    SS Barrero
    CF Almora

    Farmer would be my top sub if I couldn’t trade him and also play vs lefties. Maybe Farmer or Drury in LF and/or DH vs lhp. They could also roll with Senzel in CF til he ILs around Fathers Day.

    • Indy Red Man

      Votto down to 6th/7th vs lefties too. The Reds don’t agree with my view of reality, but thats how I’d roll.

    • MBS

      Leave Barrero in AAA, until he’s batting .300+ With 50+ AB’s. Barrero had no spring training, so no need to rush him back.

      • TR

        If Barrero, with his outstanding defensive ability, can hit in the vicinity of .250, he will be more than adequate at shortstop.

      • Indy Red Man

        Yeah with India in my lineup, I wasn’t exactly pointing towards this week or anything. I agree on Barrero. Let him play in Louisville for 3-4 weeks atleast. The problem is Bell won’t move Farmer. Thats now how the Reds do things.

      • Jim Walker

        IRM> Reynolds starting ahead of Farmer Monday vs a LH pitcher tells me Farmer is likely next up for the IL. This unspecified (that I have seen) “soreness” doesn’t seem to be getting any better; and, at times KF seems to be moving very oddly on the field.

        Bottom line, Barrero may get the job by default unless Reynolds gets and stays hot enough to pull a Farmer on Barrero all over again.

  12. Roger Garrett

    Joey Moose and Pham play because of the money but I am all for anybody else playing that is under 30.This year is to find out about next year and beyond.The terrible start could be a blessing if we indeed spend the rest of the year sorting out and don’t forget we are fighting for 4th in our own division and are multiple players away from being any better.I would for sure play Drury and Barrero along with Senzel every game barring injury the rest of the way.I think both will surprise.Reds also should be able to get a major league ready outfielder for Castillo at the deadline and should listen to all offers for him.

    • Indy Red Man

      Ashcraft…! He might have the kind of stuff where less is more. Just throw the heavy sinker and save your pitch count with groundballs. Like a Lance Lynn, but hopefully in better shape

    • JB

      Or get a major league ready first baseman because right now they don’t have one to take Vottos place.

      • TR

        Tyler Stephenson, with his height and hitting ability, seems a natural to take over first base from Votto.

    • Greenfield Red




      Major League ready means chronic injury (who did we get for Bruce?) or not as good as everyone thinks.

      This and poor trade timing dooming the last rebuild.

      Sorry for the rant, but this comes up time and again.

      • Greenfield Red

        Who did we get for Cueto? 3 major league ready left handed pitchers.

        Who did we get for Chapman? 4 major league ready players.

        None of them amounted to anything.

        I could name more, but don’t want to do the research.

  13. Eddie

    Ashcraft was very impressive on debut. We drafted him 2019 and looks very good. Offense was patient allowed the oppent throw a lot of pitches in first inning love to see more of that. We are 4 games to tie pirates and cubs for 3rd place rn and 10 games for wild card as of right now. With bad start the team finally clicking. I’m looking forward to go Cincinnati Thursday see hunter Greene pitch in person. I hope the rain hold off that day. AA don’t look bad today but first game back give a few he be back to normal strikeout self

    • TR

      We can hope the hitting coach at Louisville has helped AA just meet the ball.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Once again Eddie, we lose yesterday without Aquino. I am not all in on him, but he is possibly the best defensive outfielder on the team and can run. That is way better than some other options we have right now.

      • Jim Walker

        Agree. When the pitcher ceiling drops to 13 in a week or so, either Aquino or Almora need to be in that additional position player spot. As long as the team has Votto, Moose and Moran, there isn’t really a use for a LH hitting OF aside from Naquin once Senzel is (presumably) back.

  14. JohnnyTV

    The desperate urge to move Castillo and / or Mahle is scary. “Major league ready outfielder” could mean another Pham, a Senzel, am Almora, none of whom would be a good return on such good quality pitchers.

    • TR

      Competing and pitching go together. Be careful in getting rid of good pitchers in the mid-point of their careers. Prospects for the other eight positions often turnout to be prospects. Good consistent pitching takes time.

    • Joey Red

      The Reds will definitely be sellers at the deadline but it will be for prospects. The fill in retreads will come during the off-season.

    • MBS

      We’re not the GM or the owner. We are only assuming that Castillo and Mahle will not be extended. I think If you asked everyone would you prefer to keep them around for another 3 to 5 years, everyone would say yes. Bob has made it pretty clear, he’s not comfortable spending as much money as it requires to be buyers every year.

      Long story short, if they are going to move them it’s better today, than next trade deadline. We are not competitive this year, and the return will be greater.

  15. CFD3000

    Pretty positive debut for Ashcraft. The trio of Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft could be really good for the next six years. That’s exciting. I have a funny feeling Gutierrez is about to cede his spot to Ashcraft tomorrow.

    Encouraging three days for Votto. Three extra base hits and a couple other hard hit balls after a long layoff after an awful start. If he rounds into Votto form that would be a huge boost for the offense and so much fun to watch. Add India, Drury (no way Motter plays for the Reds in the US of A), and hopefully a productive Senzel and Barrero, plus maybe even a more comfortable Aquino (not getting my hopes up there though) and there are some significant upgrades for the offense coming soon to a field near you.

    I know 16 games under is an awful record at this point. But between injuries, roster construction and sorting, and a rough early and road heavy schedule and I’m confident the worst of 2022 is in the rear view mirror. For the first time since the first series of the year I’m excited and optimistic for Reds baseball.

    • Jim Walker

      There does seem to be something different about Aquino to me too. I noticed the difference in his overall presentation watching him at AAA via MiLBTV these past 2 weeks. Then at least for 1 game, he brought it to MLB on Sunday. For Aquino personally, I hope this new persona continues to emerge and grow.

      Could the change come from knowing he now controls his own destiny since he will be eligible for minor league free agency at season’s end as things stand now?

      • Jimbo44CN

        What I noticed is he is back to his old stance. Take that hitting coach and duck tape him to the bench. Maybe that’s all it takes.

  16. Rednat

    i hope Joey sticks around with the reds even after his contract is up. May be some very dim years ahead for the reds and baseball for that matter and having Joey around at least makes the game tolerable. i enjoy his post game interviews the best. I think he be a little too cerebral to be a coach but just having him in the dugout, maybe just as a dh for as a long as he could would at least give reason for people to come out to the ballpark and help the younger players

    • JB WV

      Joey could be the old, great vet on Reds media for a long time, He’s cerebral, funny, witty, and goofy enough to be a crowd favorite without being sappy.

      • Daytonnati

        If Joey decides on a post-baseball media career, it will be with a major network I would guess

  17. Votto4life

    In the MLBtraderumor chat tonight someone asked what the Reds could expect as a return from the Mets for Castillo. This was the host’s response

    “The Reds will probably want something akin to the Jose Berrios trade package, so for the Mets, that translates to one of Alvarez/Baty, and one of Mauricio/Vientos.”

    I don’t know much about these players but Alvarez behind the plate seems pretty promising

  18. ci3j

    The amazing thing is, the Reds somehow are only 1 game back of the Washington Nationals for NOT having the worst record in baseball, and only 2 games back from having the 27th best record.

    Pretty amazing, in a few different ways.

    • Rednat

      I just think it is a reflection of the league. Many bad teams. Not enough good position players to go around. And the top teams have cornered the market with the top players. I think this year you will have multiple teams with win totals in the 50s. Then next year with the nba style scheduling look out! I believe you may have teams with 20 and 30 win totals. Not sure it is good for the league

      • Indy Red Man

        It won’t be that bad, but it is ridiculous. Friday I posted that the Reds, O’s, Pirates, and Tigers were all scoreless and the games were in the 6th-7th inning.

  19. Steven Ross

    For once, Warren closed out a game but I’d much rather see Diaz. Dude was dealin’.

    Offense has struggled but the pitching has been stellar. I think Motter was the best player on the Blue Jays yesterday. Sheesh.

    • Jim t

      Diaz did close out the game. Bell used him perfectly. In his two innings he sat down the heart of the order. Warren pitched to 7,8 and 9. The fact that he didn’t pitch the ninth means very little to me in this case.

  20. redsfan4040

    4 games with the Cubs, and 4 games back! A sweep would move the Reds to 4th in the division!

  21. SultanofSwaff

    Boy, there was a lot to like from Ashcraft—the fastball velo, the sweep on the slider, the groundball tendancies. While I’m all for giving him a dozen ML starts to find out if he can cut it as a starter, my eye test tells me he’s better suited to the bullpen. At worst we have the makings of an elite back end reliever. The high effort delivery and him being gassed by the 5th inning (caveat–it was his first start and the adrenaline probably wore off) left me unconvinced. Still, he’s one more piece of the puzzle, we just need to figure out where he fits best.

    • Jim Walker

      Looks like he has some work to do on his general conditioning which might help with his gas mileage. 🙂

  22. west larry

    i was a little surprised that the reds didn’t find a way to keep Aquino om the 40 man roster instead of sending him back down.

    • JohnnyTV

      With Fraley going on a rehab assignment, Reds seem committed to working him back in to the outfield mix. Maybe some more time in Louisville will continue to be tonic for Aquino. But Fraley is another one who hasn’t learned to translate AAA success to MLB.

      • Jim Walker

        And Friedl who looked like he might be on the verge of breaking out at the end of last season has not grabbed the brass ring in this current opportunity.

  23. Jim t

    While I was happy AA hit the 2 run double let’s keep things in perspective. While the stat sheet says 2 for 4, he did strike out once, he was picked off and was very lucky he made it to second, he was routinely out on another at bat and the second hit he was credited with was really a generous scoring decision as well as being a check swing excuse me hit. His throw to the plate was a key moment but a play a lot of right fielders will make in my opinion. He does have a very good arm. While he has been playing much better in Louisville I would caution fans that we have seen him play well for short stretches before. Historically he is a guy who will hit for power but strike out a bunch but is a good fielder with a strong arm.

    • Jim Walker

      In just short of 400 career PAs at AAA, Aquino’s OPS is hovering right at 1.000 with OBP in the vicinity of .350. To my eye that’s more than playing well for short stretches.

      His K rate this year made him a disaster at MLB; but his power, defensive skills and ability to go 1st to 3rd on many singles and score from 1st on many doubles give him value if he can hold the K rate to around 30% and walk pushing 10% of the time. This is what I will be watching as he continues at AAA.

      • Jim t

        @Jim walker, would love to see AA put it together. He has some tools we could sure use. His K rate is just very hard to get beyond.

  24. William

    I like the way Ashcraft throws is fastball. It has good cutting movement. He can get away with not having as much control. These MLB hitters wonder if they are getting slider and the pitch comes in so fast it slows their reaction time.