Things didn't go as planned for the Cincinnati Reds over the first month of the season.
However, the Reds might be turning around their fortunes, as they have won seven of their last 11 games. Unfortunately, their dreadful 3-22 start figures to leave them in the hole for most of the season.
Cincinnati will attempt to complete a sweep of the host Cleveland Guardians when the teams finish a two-game interleague series on Wednesday evening.
The Reds will hand the ball to right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-4, 5.89 ERA), hoping he can continue their run of solid starting pitching. Right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-2, 3.93) will start for the Guardians.
The past two games, Cincinnati got strong outings from rookies Hunter Greene and Connor Overton.
The flame-throwing Greene threw 7 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, yet Cincinnati lost 1-0.
It was a different story on Tuesday, as the Reds nipped the Guardians 5-4 in 10 innings. Overton, 28, was outstanding for his second consecutive outing. Last Thursday, he earned his first major-league victory in a 4-0 win over Pittsburgh, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
On Tuesday, he pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed three hits, two runs and one walk while striking out two. He retired 15 batters in a row at one point.
It was the longest start of the season by a Cincinnati pitcher.
"He attacked the strike zone," Guardians acting manager Carl Willis said. "He kept us off balance, especially with his split (fastball)."
Cleveland hitters didn't know much about Overton, who was making his seventh major-league start.
"There wasn't a lot of data on him," Guardians first baseman Owen Miller said.
Overton said, "Obviously I'm happy, but there's a lot I could have done better."
Miller cost Overton his second win of the season by hitting a towering two-run homer in the ninth inning off reliever Art Warren, tying the score at 4-4.
From the seventh inning on in games this season, Miller is hitting .382 with three home runs and six RBIs. He has been particularly hard on Cincinnati, going 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, three homers and four RBIs.
"We're never out of it," Miller said. "We feed off each other. It's good to see us battle like that."
Reliever Bryan Shaw pitched the seventh for Cleveland, his 475th appearance for the Guardians, tying Willis Hudlin for the third-most among pitchers in franchise history. Shaw trails only Mel Harder (582 appearances) and Bob Feller (570).
Mahle enters the Wednesday game 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA in four career starts against the Guardians. He probably would like to forget his lone start at Progressive Field, in 2018, when he allowed seven runs (five earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
Quantrill is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three career outings (one start) against the Reds.
The Reds could be getting a boost soon, as first baseman Joey Votto is close to returning to the lineup after a stint on the COVID-19 injured list. He has been on a minor-league rehab assignment.
The Guardians have a 2-1 edge in the Ohio Cup series with Cincinnati this season. Even if they lose in the Wednesday finale, they will retain the Cup. The teams split six games last year after Cleveland went 3-1 against Cincinnati in 2020.
--Field Level Media