(Photo credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cincinnati Reds will look to keep their flickering postseason aspirations alive on Wednesday when they conclude their abbreviated two-game interleague series against the host Cleveland Guardians.
Rookie Elly De La Cruz went deep twice for his first career multi-homer performance in Cincinnati's 11-7 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. De La Cruz added an RBI single in the fifth inning for the Reds (81-77), who have won two in a row to reside 1 1/2 games out of the third and final wild-card spot in the National League with four contests remaining on their schedule.
"He really looked good at the plate. He's been working really hard at it," Cincinnati manager David Bell said of De La Cruz. "The defense was good too. He had a really good game. Obviously that could really help our team and be important (for the stretch run)."
Luke Maile homered and ripped a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning to highlight his three-hit performance against the Guardians (74-84).
"The way our offense played tonight, it felt free and felt like we were on the attack, and we need that right now," Maile said. "We're playing with nothing to lose. That's what got us here, and that's what is gonna keep us moving forward."
Cincinnati rookie left-hander Andrew Abbott (8-5, 3.70 ERA) will get the start on Wednesday against Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber (5-6, 3.91).
Abbott, 24, saw his winless stretch extend to six starts on Friday after allowing two runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Abbott's last win came at the expense of the Guardians on Aug. 16. He permitted two runs on six hits in five innings in a 7-2 triumph.
Abbott would be wise to pitch carefully to Andres Gimenez, provided the latter is in the lineup on Wednesday. Gimenez is batting .356 (31-for-87) with 13 RBIs and 15 runs in September. He exited Tuesday's game in the seventh inning after fouling a pitch off his right knee.
Bieber, 28, returned from a two-month-plus absence to record a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner yielded five runs (four earned) and struck out five in five innings.
"I want to be a lot better than I was (on Friday), but my arm felt great," Bieber said, per Cleveland.com. "There's a lot of work to be done, a lot left to be desired, and I'm confident that I'll be able to do all that. So it was another step in the right direction and we go forward."
Bieber is 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA in five career starts against the Reds.
Wednesday's game will serve as the final home game for Guardians manager Terry Francona. The 64-year-old Francona has yet to publicly announce his retirement, however he openly has joked about it.
In 11 seasons in Cleveland, Francona has a 919-755 record and the 2016 American League pennant to his credit.
The Guardians are honoring Francona by distributing "Thank you Tito" T-shirts to fans entering Progressive Field on Wednesday.
"Once you give out T-shirts, man, you can't be going back. That's not good," Francona said.
--Field Level Media