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.
|Milwaukee Brewers (31-27)||10||11||0|
|Cincinnati Reds (26-32)
|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.
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.
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.
Graham Ashcraft admits that he was struggling to find the zone today against the Brewers. pic.twitter.com/2O4TqVWCN5
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) June 3, 2023
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.
T.J. Hopkins will wear number 26:
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 3, 2023
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)