Hunter Greene struck out 14 batters and allowed one run through seven innings. Then the bullpen struck and not in a good way as three relievers combined to give up four runs in the final two innings as the Minnesota Twins came from behind to hand Cincinnati one of it’s biggest, and toughest losses of the year.
|Minnesota Twins (81-72)
|Cincinnati Reds (79-75)
|W: Duran (3-6) L: Diaz (9-5) SV: Jax (3)|
|Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread|
Hunter Greene struck out the first two batters of the game before picking up a groundout of former teammate Donovan Solano. That was a sign of things to come for Greene on Wednesday afternoon. He would do the same thing in the 2nd inning.
It was the third inning that Minnesota began to put some pressure on Greene. Andrew Stevenson led off with a double and moved up to third on a single by Christian Vazquez. A sacrifice bunt moved Vazquez up to second base to put two runners in scoring position with one out, but then Greene did what he had done in the previous two frames and struck out two batters and that got him out of the jam.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning the Reds got some help from the Twins when Will Benson walked to lead off the inning and then Jonathan India was hit by a pitch to put two men on with one out. TJ Friedl then came through with an RBI single to put the home team up 1-0. The next inning saw the Reds add to their lead when Christian Encarnacion-Strand hit his 9th homer of the year to lead things off.
Hunter Greene had nine strikeouts entering the 6th inning and then proceeded to strike out the side, giving him a career high 12 of them. He’d pick up a 13th strikeout to begin the 7th, but then Willi Castro broke up his shutout with a solo home run. Another strikeout followed to give the right-handed starter 14 of them on the day.
With the Twins having cut the lead to 2-1, Cincinnati got to it on offense in the bottom of the inning. Will Benson tripled to lead off the inning, and then something weird happened. Luke Maile squared up to bunt, and he got the ball down, but he was thrown out at first and Benson had to stay put. But then David Bell called for a challenge, citing the ball actually hit Maile in the hand as he attempted to bunt. He was correct and the call was overturned. Since Maile did attempt the bunt, though, and the ball went fair, it was ruled as a dead ball strike. He lined the next pitch into center for an RBI single and the Reds went back up by two runs.
Ian Gibaut took over for Greene in the top of the 8th inning, ending Greene’s day with 14 strikeouts and just one walk in his 1-run, 7.0 innings pitched. Christian Vazquez doubled to lead off the inning. After a fly out, Edouard Julien singled in a run to make it 3-2. Donovan Solano would loop a 2-out single into center to keep the inning alive and move Julien up to second, where he was then pinch run for. Gibaut was able to avoid any further damage, getting aground out to end the inning.
Alexis Diaz entered the game for the 9th to try and close out the game and the series. He couldn’t do it. Willi Castro laid down a bunt single to start the inning. Then he stole second base and the throw short-hopped India and ricocheted into center, allowing Castro to take third. Kyle Farmer then lined a single into right field to tie the game up. After a pop up, Diaz walked Christian Vazquez, and that led to a call to the bullpen to bring in Sam Moll. He’d give up a double steal before a strikeout for the second out of the inning. The Reds then intentionally walked Ryan Jeffers to face Jorge Polanco and he came through with a 2-run double to put the Twins up 5-3.
The bottom of the 9th inning began with a pinch-hit walk from Nick Martini that brought the tying run to the plate. Jonathan India struck out on three pitches before TJ Friedl flew out and then Spencer Steer grounded into a force out to end the game.
Key Moment of the Game
Jorge Polanco’s go-ahead 2-run single in the top of the 9th inning.
Notes worth noting
Hunter Greene’s 14 strikeouts are the most by a Red since Ron Villone struck out 16 in a complete game to end the 2000 season. Fun fact: Villone’s season high before that game was five. He had split time between the bullpen and rotation that season.
— MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2023
The loss drops the Reds to 1.5 games back of the Cubs for the final wild card spot, 2.0 games behind Arizona for the second wild card spot, and a game back of Miami who is in the 4th spot. All three of those teams play later today.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds
Friday September 22nd, 6:40pm ET
TBA vs. Andrew Abbott (8-5, 3.68 ERA)