A determined comeback fell just short for the Cincinnati Reds, who lost 10-8 to the Milwaukee Brewers before 25,485 at Great American Ball Park.

Final R H E
Milwaukee Brewers (31-27) 10 11 0
Cincinnati Reds (26-32)
8 11 0
W: Rea (3-3) L: Ashcraft (3-4)  SV: Williams (10)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Trailing 9-1 after 2 1/2 innings, Cincinnati mounted several rallies throughout the course of the game but was unable to come up with the big hit at the big time to turn the tide.

Cincinnati drops into a virtual tie for third place, two percentage points ahead of the Chicago Cubs at the time this story post went live. Milwaukee remains in the NL Central Division lead, with a one-game lead on Pittsburgh, pending the outcome of their game against St. Louis. As this post went live, the Cardinals stood one full game behind Cincinnati and six full games behind Milwaukee in fifth place.

As Cincinnati has pushed its way into a competitive position in the standings, it’s been a real thrill for this long-time fan to see flashes of future excellence. Clearly, this team has many flaws, and I’ve wondered whether or not they would try to make the moves needed to shore up the bench, the back end of the bullpen and starting outfield. From the perspective of a fan of 50 years, I want this team to try to compete. But I also realize that the team’s actual strategic plan is the “rebuild” in an attempt to compete over the course of several years in the near future. I don’t want anything to disrupt that plan, and it seems that is the route that the team is taking. Allowing a pitcher to get hammered as Graham Ashcraft did today is a clear sign that long-term progress remains the priority over winning in 2023.

The Offense

Trailing 1-0 coming to bat in the bottom of the first, Matt McLain walked with one out, advanced to third on a single to right by Jake Fraley, and then scored on a missile off the bat of Spencer Steer that shortstop Andruw Monasterio knocked down, but could not recover in time to record an out.

In the third, trailing 9-1, McLain tripled to center, scored on a groundout by Jonathan India, followed by a solo shot to right by Fraley to make it 9-3 after three.

In the sixth inning, Brewers reliever Trevor Megill walked the first three batters he faced, and all three scored: one on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Newman, and two on a run-scoring single by India to narrow the margin to 10-6. India stole second and third base, and appeared to score as the ball got by catcher William Contreras. But the umpires sent India back to third, ruling that the pitch that eluded by Contreras became lodged in a gap in the backstop. That call was key, as Fraley followed with a 107.1 mph shot that was gloved by second baseman Owen Miller for the third out.

In the eighth inning against righty Bryse Wilson, Newman and McLain singled with two outs, but India popped up to end the inning.

Fraley opened the ninth with a walk, followed by singles by Steer and Nick Senzel, bringing the Reds within 10-7. That meant the tying run would come to the plate with nobody out, and the Brewers went to closer Devin Williams. Pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson struck out swinging, but Will Benson walked to load the bases. T.J. Hopkins was then called upon to pinch-hit for Curt Casali in his major-league debut. Hopkins walked to force in a run and leave the tying runs in scoring position with one out for Kevin Newman, who struck out swinging. That left it up to McLain, who struck out with the final two swings on pitches clearly out of the strike zone.

Fraley’s three hits and McLain and Steer with two each paced the 10-hit attack.

Cincinnati ran wild on the basepaths, and that’s like saying the Ohio River is a puddle. The Reds stole nine total bases, including three by Fraley and two each by India and Steer — the most by a Reds team in a game since 1976. Many of the steals came with the Reds facing large deficits, which certainly flies in the face of traditional baseball strategy. Bell and the Reds clearly felt the Brewers were not going to be able to throw runners out, and that proved to be the case. Watch out for the rest of this series.

The nine were the most by any big league team in 13 years.

Brewers pitching was able to survive 10 walks thanks to the early eight-run lead margin.

The Pitching

Ashcraft got off to a slow start, going to full counts on the first three Milwaukee hitters. That was a preview of coming attractions, unfortunately. To say that the righthander got shelled would be like calling the Grand Canyon a pothole. In four innings, Ashcraft allowed nine hits, four walks, two homers and 10 runs, all earned.

Since May 7, Ashcraft has started six games, with these scary numbers:

  • 26. 1 innings
  • 46 hits
  • 12 walks
  • 38 earned runs
  • 12.98 ERA
  • 1-4 won-loss record

Manager David Bell made an atypical trip to the mound in the third inning, which television analyst Barry Larkin characterized as a message to Ashcraft that he is still considered someone the manager and the team relies upon. That’s good from a self-confidence standpoint, but from a winning-games-in-2023 perspective, Ashcraft has some work to do. Whatever is wrong with Ashcraft is clearly not physical, because Bell wouldn’t keep running him out there if that was true.


Hunter Greene had moments similar to this early in 2022, which was attributed to learning what is required to pitch effectively in the major leagues. It will be interesting to see if the Reds send Ashcraft down to work out his issues in the minors or keep sending him out there on major-league mounds.

Eduardo Salazar rebounded from his bad outing against Boston Tuesday with three scoreless innings. Kevin Herget wrapped things up with two scoreless innings.

What’s News

T.J. Hopkins will wear number 26:

He drew a pinch-hit walk and an RBI in his major league debut.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds

Sunday, June 4, 1:40 p.m. ET

Adrian Houser (1-1, 4.07 ERA) vs. Ben Lively (3-2, 1.99 ERA)

53 Responses

  1. Eddiek957

    Usually I would stop watching games like this but not today. Nice relief pitching just on hit short

  2. Votto4life

    Ashcraft was visibly annoyed with the delay to start the game. Not to excuse the outing but it was 90 degrees and probably 110 on the mound. Regardless, David Bell stuck with him too long.

    Despite the pitching woes, I think the team’s weakness continues to be having so many outs in the line up. You’re just not going to win a lot of games with Fairchild, Benson and Casali making up a 1/3 of your line up.

    • Votto4life

      Not to mention Nick Senzel. Way too many outs in the line up.

      It just makes me appreciates Spencer Steer and Jonathon India even more.

      • Jim Walker

        And this season Stephenson. We are too far into this season just to act like this isn’t true. Either his shoulder isn’t nearly back to where it was prior to the injury and surgery in 2022 or something else serious is wrong.

      • MBS

        @Jim, exactly. I was shaking my head when I Stephenson come in to pinch hit. I’m pretty confident it’s a physical issue with him, and I hope it resolves itself with time.

        This is 1 reason why I don’t think we need 3 C’s. A big part of the 3 C plan was to allow Stephenson to DH, but with his poor hitting, it seems like a mistake to give him more AB’s. Let him split the catching duties with one of the 2 back ups, and trade/DFA the other.

    • Kevin H

      Of course blame David Bell. We don’t know who was or wasn’t available out of pen. Also you can’t take a pitcher out ever time he doesn’t have it. Then people would blame Bell for burning his bullpen. Bell can’t win with some on here. Its like darn if u do and darn if u dont.

      • Harry Stoner

        You’re right.

        Most managers leave in their pitchers until the hammering is complete no matter how many runs they give up.
        Bell played that perfectly so as to keep Ashcraft from giving up 11 runs.
        That would be unacceptable to Bell.

        Having Salazar and Herget ready to mop up was an uncertainty.

        Bell must have really agonized over bringing them in before the game was out of reach.

        It’s not a matter of whether Bell can’t win with RLN.

        He can’t win with the Reds.

      • LDS

        You nailed it Harry. Bell isn’t an effective manager

      • greenmtred

        Two things, well, more: Bullpen is clearly pretty taxed, so how wise would it be to pull the starter in the 2nd inning? The team has to balance winning games now with player development, and letting young pitchers try to work their way through trouble would be part of it. Not so different in philosophy from bringing up EDLC and letting him work on his stuff in MLB. Three, Ashcraft, as all of us note, is having trouble: Pitches up in the zone, poor control, not as much movement on the sinker as before.

    • Bdh

      Benson was on 3x today. He’s 5-14 + 3 walks since his last call up. Hope he won’t always be judged on his first 10 games with the team

    • Doc4uk

      David Bell made a really bad decision to allow Ashcraft to give up 10 runs before making a change. He gave up on the game way too early . Clearly he was hoping Ashcraft would show him something but he never did. His pitches have very little movement and all waist high . A 97 mile per hour fastball is routine now even in some college games. Indiana had a Freshman pitch against UK today who came into the game throwing 97 mph fastballs!

      Clearly Ashcraft must be sent down to get right and Abbott should be brought up. The Reds are amazingly in a pennant hunt.

      Time also to send Benson and Fairchild and down as well and DFA Casali or Maille . Then bring up CES and EDLC and try to win the division. There is no reason to leave them in Louisville. They can learn everything they need in Cincinnati.

      On a sad note Votto 0-4 tonight. I am just not sure that he can beat out Steer or CES at 1B at this point and whichever is not on 1B should be DH’ing. Roll with EDLC at 3B , McClain at SS, India at 2B, and Steer/CES at 1B. Stephenson should catch 2 of every 3 games. Senzel will be a utility player . That is a line up that will win a division title in 2024 and Marte may replace a pricey India at 3B in 2024.

      The OF should be Hopkins, Friedl, and Fraley. Barrero and Senzel become back ups or platoon with Fraley.

      • Melvin

        Votto 0-4 tonight but with no Ks. All things considered not a bad start.

        Both EDLC and CES with a hit and a walk a piece.

      • bug

        >>>David Bell made a really bad decision to allow Ashcraft to give up 10 runs before making a change.

        Yes!!! But that’s typical Bell. I don’t understand it, except to say that Bell is a poor manager.

  3. VaRedsFan

    Ashcraft seems to be following the path of several Reds pitchers that come up and have early success, then seems to regress under DJ.

    Not putting this all on DJ, as the league figures out a way to hit you, but it’s the pitcher and the coaches job to figure out a solution. There’s too much arm talent with these young pitchers, for them not to find a way to succeed

    • greenmtred

      Is it that the league has figured him out, or is it that he’s lost what made him effective before? I think it’s the latter because he’s obviously not getting the ball down with control anymore. Probably mechanics, and I’d be really shocked if they aren’t working on it.

  4. RedlegScott

    As Doug alluded to, what’s up with Ashcraft? Send him down to work out his issues? Who could they bring up? A guy named Abbott, or is that all part of that slow rebuild strategy?
    I agree with the post above about too much dead lumber in the line-up. Bring up the youngsters, or again, let it unfold as part of a multi-season rebuild? I know what the fans would like to see. Take a crack at winning now.

      • Red fan 74

        Yes* Yes* Yes* The Cincinnati Red’s are in a great place to make a pennant run this is something I haven’t seen nor spoken about since the 80’s and believe it or not Rose put the 1990 Team together for the most part which egualed a Cincinnati Red’s World Series and sweep of Oakland, I was 16 and it’s been a very long time since I would even get excited thinking about a pennant but I agree ? with you fellow fan’s get the youth from Louisville and send these other youth down to get their mojo back or not either way it’s time to make this happen NOW ? allow a pitcher to get smoked for 9-10 runs at the beginning of the game???????? The 2023 Red’s could actually be a contender with some moves mentioned in the comments but to have your team face a 10-0 start is exactly how you don’t win games and you never will so what does Bell do the next time? I understand rebuild I’ve been hearing about it for the last 33 years………………….

  5. Mark Moore

    Frustrating loss. Great to see Hopkins patiently accept his first RBI that way. But then the chasing stuff off the plate continued.

    Ashcraft’s situation is puzzling to say the least. Not sure what can be done aside from sending him down. That’s a double-edged sword IMO for a number of reasons. But I’m still thinking it needs to be done.

    • David

      Yeah, I think it is time Ashcraft goes back to AAA and brink up Andrew Abbott.

      Take Joel Kuhnel or Ricky Karcher off the 40 man, and bring up Abbott.

      Ashcraft just looks lost out there. His location has abandoned him. He may be throwing strikes, but he is putting them in the hitting zone. And no, I don’t think this is because of the coaching of Derek Johnson.

      Pitching wins games. The Reds scored 8 runs today…AND LOST. Their best hope for winning one game from the Brewers is likely tomorrow, with Ben Lively on the mound.

  6. Jason Franklin

    Just throwing out a name here, but would/could the Reds trade for someone like JP Sears off the A’s? Would they be willing to trade for a surplus minor league infielder? I think the team could be fun to watch this year but they need someone else in that starting pitching staff.

    • Greenfield Red

      The Reds don’t have any surplus minor league infielders.

      I know that sounds kind of flippant. But really, I would hate to see them mortgage any of the bright bright future they’ve worked so hard to accumulate in the past year or so to sneak into the playoffs via a lousy divistion… only to be pummeled in LA or Atlanta.

      Starting next year, they can beat those teams.

      They will have lots of money to spend this winter. They can shop for needs then.

      • CI3J

        Finally, someone understands the long-view.

        The Reds are not in position to compete this year. And even if they are, it’s not the time to throw in the towel on the rebuild and start trading away prospects only to make the team slightly better with a player who will sign with another team as soon as his contract is up.

        What the Reds need now is patience.

        What they also need is to DFA Myers and trade Newman for more prospects so Bell has no choice but to play the young players. He SHOULD be doing that, but with him being David Bell, once you give him a gritty vet who is supposed to be a bench player, you can bet they are going to become a regular starter.

      • Greenfield Red

        Thanks CI3J. You said it as well as I could.

        Good players will sign here. Sure they want the money. They want to win. They can get both here.

  7. Indy Red Man

    Ashcraft is a thrower. 80% is at 95-97 mph and then a floating slider that’s average on his best day. Rushed up too fast. He’s not a pitcher

    • greenmtred

      He was better until recently, Indy, pitching with better control, keeping the sinker low, generating grounders and showing good pitch efficiency.

  8. Erik the Red

    Ashcraft needs to get sent down to AAA. No need to keep this going any longer. While this division is available with a little more activity from the front office during the offseason. We need another veteran bat, 2 left handed relievers, and of course 2 decent veteran starting pitchers just to be division contenders. However in my opinion that does not even get us close to being World Series contenders. I like what I have seen from the youngsters but 2 or 3 of them need to be perennial all stars before I get too excited yet.

    • Rob

      Agree totally. But I also believe we can contend for this Division this year with a couple Louisville stars and a couple of free agent additions. What is the logic for waiting until next year before calling up 2-3 Louisville studs? Or spending $30M now on a power hitting OF and a solid inning eater starting pitcher? Just don’t understand what the wait is for? And while I believe the Division is attainable, I share your thoughts that a World Series is a far off fantasy. I want to attend games again but no thanks if ownership doesn’t want to spend to add the necessary pieces.

  9. MBS

    Hopkins had a nice 1st plate appearance. I’d like to see him get some starts in before Friedl gets activated. McLain continues to be in the middle of the action 2 hits, 1 BB, and 3 R. It would be neat if there were some other young talented players in AAA who could come up here and contribute as well.

    BTW Benson is looking more like the player the Reds traded for. Since being recalled from AAA, 5 for 14, 3 BB, 4 R, 3 K’s, 3 SB. This production is a continuation of what he was doing in AAA, and I hope he can continue to get it done for the Reds.

    • TR

      Benson’s big positive so far is that he has speed. A good late inning replacement when a run is needed and outfield defense should not be overlooked.

  10. Melvin

    “McLain continues to be in the middle of the action 2 hits, 1 BB, and 3 R. It would be neat if there were some other young talented players in AAA who could come up here and contribute as well.”

    Hmmm Are trying to say you know of one or two players? 🙂

  11. Redsvol

    Was at the game today. I’ve seen Ashcraft pitch before and he seemed to let little things get to him way too much today. Casali, DJ and bell were all frustrated by him. I think they wanted him to learn some perseverance today. Unfortunately he didn’t. He was squeezed by the home plate umpire some but it’s no excuse – he was too erratic to get any help.

    The brewers lineup is horrible. Ashcraft treated .209 hitters like they were Barry bonds. He wouldn’t challenge anyone. Fell behind the count almost every hitter. He needs to go to Louisville and work on some things. Reds shouldn’t be afraid of demoting a very young pitcher.

    This loss really is on the starting pitcher. The offense battled back to score 8 runs against a good brewers pitching staff. Sure Fairchild, senzel and Stephenson don’t battle enough but lots of teams have holes.

    McLain and Steer and Fraley are really good hitters. Senzel, Fairchild swing at pitches below their knees every time. Stephenson looks lost. Swings at balls and let’s strikes go right past. Won’t show in box score but Newman competes on every at bat. 8 runs scoredshould win 99% of the time.

    • bug

      Agree with most of what you say,..especially about sending Ashcroft down to try to figure it out. And yes,..the loss is on the starting pitcher. But I contend it’s also on Bell for leaving him in to give up 10 runs, when he obviously didn’t have it. He should have been out of the game a batter or three before the grand slam. By the time Bell finally yanked him, the game was over. Typical Bell. He’ll leave a broke arm pitcher in to give up 7 extra runs, just in order to get through one more inning with the starter before he has to go to the pen. He has always done that. When a pitcher is struggling that badly, get him out of there. What is so complicated about that? Looks to me like that’s common baseball sense,..a department in which Bell is sadly lacking.

    • Hanawi

      Weird how many want Fairchild sent down and talk about him being a hole in the lineup when he was basically the same hitter as Fraley until a few games ago. Yet people think he is a good or even really good hitter.

      • Redsvol

        If you watch the game and not the box score, Fraley is a much better hitter then Fairchild. I’ll not saying Fairchild is bad but he has several at bats that are not competitive. Same with senzel.

        This team really misses Tj Friedl.

      • TR

        Friedl is a good #2 hitter with his ability to lay down a bunt to advance a runner to scoring position. The team scoring first in the game, often sets the momentum.

  12. Redman

    Time to keep Stephenson behind the plate for awhile. Seeing pitches on defense will help him on offense.

  13. Rednat

    both Ashcraft and Stephenson just have bad energy right now. i think with Ashcraft it is between the ears. He hasn’t been the same since his grandmother died earlier last month. Stephenson is physical for sure.

    I’m not sure what the best move for both of them is? maybe the IL. not sure sending them down to AAA WOULD help at this point.

    I would rather see Lopez up here than running Fairchild out there. Not only is he not hitting but he made some bad throws today.

    • Jim Walker

      Only an Aquino class arm had a legitimate shot at getting Yelich at home in the 1st inning. In that situation is hitting the cutoff spot at the mound a bad throw versus airmailing the ball to home and giving up an additional base to put the hitter into scoring position?

      BTW, neither Steer (1B) nor Senzel (3B) initially moved into the cutoff spot. Steer broke over eventually but was late getting to the spot; and, the ball beat him there on the fly. If he had been in position, they might have had a shot at the plate on the short relay and either way would have still held the hitter at 1B.

      Also, the fact neither corner IF guy set up for a possible throw toward home would indicate they didn’t anticipate a throw toward home on the plate from the get go.

  14. Rednat

    the brewers have been a pain in our side ever since the last series in the 1999 season where they took 2of 3 from us. I think more than even the cardinals and the cubs, the brewers have handed us some demoralizing losses over the past couple of decades. every time we get any momentum they come into town and sweep us .

  15. Laura

    Waiting to see if Ashcraft comes out now and claims he has an injury to avoid being sent down.
    Why is the FO so concerned about CES & EDLC striking out a lot when they are perfectly okay with Myers, Barrero, Fairchild and Benson striking 1-2 times every game?
    BTW, Fraley has 39 more ABs than Fairchild but has 10 less strikeouts than Fairchild.

  16. GreatRedLegsFan

    Even with players like Fairchild, Barrero and Benson in the lineup, the team has managed to score a lot of runs, 6th best in NL. Lively, Weaver, Williamson and Greene have all been great lately. Half of the bullpen has been very good, the other half not so much, too many arms in the shelf now. With Hopkins now in the middle of the lineup more runs will be scored. Big question is what will they do with Ashcraft.

  17. Indy Red Man

    Walked 10 times and stole 9 bases and lost. Insane?

    Fraley has the hardest .750ish ops of anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s one of the cornerstones of this team since they don’t have a ton of lefties. Steer is a keeper. It’s all about sorting. I said about 6 weeks ago that they should drop India to #3 and see if he can be an rbi man. It was pretty predictable that McLain might get dropped into the 2 hole. When EDLC makes his debut in August 2025 then we’ll see where he fits in? It’s a process and it’s an abnormally long & stupid process with this team most of the time

    • Jim Walker

      Keep an eye on Benson. He is 3-4 years younger than Fraley (and Friedl). He can match or exceed both of them on the bases and I am guessing on defense too. If Benson hits, Fraley or Friedl are expendable. And the guy who struggles to get his OPS up to and over .800 because he can’t post a .400 OPS vs LH pitching is the most vulnerable of the two, especially if Bell would be out and his successor didn’t worship at the altar of the platoon system.

  18. Old-school

    I still think the the Reds win 70-74 games and easily beat the 65.5 in Vegas prediction. But as everyone said they dont have the SP or pitching depth. Injuries and underperformance were going to end this teams hopes of winning due to lack of said depth and Lodolo is injured and Ashcraft is under-performing. That said, I still enjoy watching them play.

    Tyler Mahle sophomore season he was 3-12 with an ERA of 5.14. Adjusting to the adjustments is part of the deal.

    30000 foot view though is INdia is playing great, Steer and McLain look like credible ROY candidates, Friedl and Fraley have been solid and this team plays with energy,effort, and speed. They have taken advantage of the new rules and are scoring a lot playing an exciting brand of baseball.

    They need a mid rotation FA SP in the off-season at 3/60 and a few bullpen arms. Also need to draft a top college SP at #7 in the draft next month

    • greenmtred

      Excellent post, Old-school. And I think they are probably greatly missing Friedl right now.

  19. GreatRedLegsFan

    Abbott has been added to the taxi squad, I guess he’ll take Ashcraft’s spot.

  20. Indy Red Man

    It would greatly help the Reds cause if Lively was a starter version of Sam LeCure and gave them 2-3 solid years. He’s an interesting guy

  21. CFD3000

    The big takeaway from this game is of course the continuation, and deepening, of Ashcraft’s struggles. He has the physical tools, but they’re not working the past few weeks. Is it injury, mechanics, or mental approach? Or a combination of all three? I’m hoping there’s a mechanical fix, or a minor injury. The Reds are going to need a healthy, effective Graham Ashcraft.

  22. DataDumpster

    Ashcraft’s line with the bases loaded and no outs in the 3rd inning;
    2+ innings, 4 ER, 7 hits and 2 BB. Clearly had no control and seemed irritated. Anybody watching this on TV could see that as a continuation of his last several starts. Don’t see how leaving him in would turn things around. Time for the typical strategy of pointing to a vague “injury” to go to the IL and clear his head. Give Abbott the 3 starts to get a taste and don’t demote Ashcraft. He clearly is still one of the “Big 3” (although there’s a potential for a “Little 3” to form that should be pursued at this time.)
    I think David Bell is more concerned about his bullpen tomorrow than the game today. With a little luck and a 5-1 score, the game would be well within reach…9-1 not so much. Sorry Graham for having to take another unnecessary beating and for the rest of the team for making another great come back (albeit on a hill that had only about a 4% chance of reaching the peak).
    Can Lively do it again? He has done very well in each of his 5 appearances with only one “nick” when he was replaced with a man on first with 1 out and Sims then allowed 2 runs in the previously tied game. The Law of Averages could rule today although Lively has found success by throwing to contact and keeping the ball low, something Ashcraft used to do with great success.

  23. Indy Red Man

    Great value today imo with same game parlay:

    Steer 1+ rbi
    Lively 4+ Ks
    Both teams over 1.5 runs
    (+540) w 50% boost on DraftKings

    $60 brings back $384

  24. Eddiek957

    Ashcraft hasn’t been good since he made an error at first base a couple of games ago. Young pitcher sucking in the majors option him Graham should be on I-71