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The Cincinnati Reds are much better now than they were a month into the season Authentic D.J. Fluker Jersey , and it’s partly because Anthony DeSclafani is much better than they anticipated.
Not only DeSclafani, the pitcher. DeSclafani, the hitter, too.
The Reds return to Great American Ball Park on Thursday to take on the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, but that’s nothing new of late for interim manager Jim Riggleman’s resurgent team.
The Reds have played their last seven games against teams that were in first place or within percentage points of the top spot. They swept the Cubs in four games and won two of three in Atlanta.
“It says a lot for our club that we can play first-place clubs and win these series,” Riggleman said Wednesday following a come-from-behind 6-5 win at Atlanta, the Reds’ ninth victory in 10 games and 12th victory in 15 games.
“(We want to) keep rolling into Cincinnati,” Adam Duvall said after his two-run single keyed a three-run seventh inning that included a Scooter Gennett RBI single.
DeSclafani (3-1, 4.09 ERA) is a big presence during the surge, and not just because he’s won his last three starts — this after missing all of last season and the first two months of this season with multiple injuries. After missing so much time, the Reds simply weren’t sure what they would get from him this season.
His last time out, the right-handed DeSclafani limited the Cubs to two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, and he contributed the game’s biggest hit Saturday with a grand slam — the first slam by a Cincinnati pitcher in 59 years.
DeSclafani will be yet another bat in the Reds’ order that Milwaukee right-hander Junior Guerra (3-5, 2.82) must be concerned about in the opener of the four-game NL Central series.
The Brewers continue to occupy first place in the division, but even a three-run ninth inning wasn’t enough Wednesday as they lost 5-4 at home to the last-place Kansas City Royals, whose .313 winning percentage is the second-worst in the majors.
“Even in our losses, we’re making the other team work a lot,” starting pitcher Brent Suter told reporters. “From that respect, I love how we’re playing. (But) it would be nice to win some of these series.”
The Brewers have lost six of their last 10 games, and now they must take on a Reds team that doesn’t look anything now like the team Milwaukee swept in a three-game series April 30-May 2 at Great American Ball Park — losses that dropped the Reds to 7-24. The Brewers have won five of six overall from the Reds this season.
“We just want to keep winning. If we take series after series we’re going to be just fine,” said Reds reliever Jackson Stephens (2-0), who got the win Wednesday with 1 2/3 scoreless relief innings.
The Brewers, conversely, led 1-0 Wednesday, only to have Suter and reliever Josh Hader give up five runs in the seventh inning. Hader allowed a two-run single to Adalberto Mondesi, Lucas Duda’s sacrifice fly and Whit Merrifield’s RBI single — the first time in 27 games this season Hader has given up more than one hit in an inning.
“Josh’s velocity was good. Everything was good,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “He threw the ball well. They jumped on the first pitch Authentic Dontae Johnson Jersey , and we’ve seen that a lot lately, but he’s been so effective that obviously multiple hits in an inning is something we haven’t seen. They got him today.”
The Reds certainly didn’t get to Guerra when they faced him on April 17.
Guerra didn’t get the decision in a 2-0 Brewers win, but he shut out the Reds on one hit over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three. In his career, he is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA against Cincinnati in five games, including four starts.
Most of the current Reds hitters have only a minimal number of at-bats against Guerra, with Eugenio Suarez going 2-for-3 with a homer.
DeSclafani is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five games against the Brewers, starting four of them, but hasn’t faced them since 2016. Ryan Braun is 2-for-10 (.200) against him.Aaron Slegers and Jake Cave have been called up from Triple-A by the Minnesota Twins three times apiece this season, and the All-Star break is still more than one week away.
Their contributions to this struggling team on Thursday night were sure worthy of a longer stay.
Slegers picked up his first major league win with six smooth innings, Cave reached base all four times he batted, and the Twins stopped their six-game losing streak by hanging on for a 5-2 victory over the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
”I know that I think, and I know Slegers thinks the same thing, that we can play big league baseball,” Cave said. ”We’re ready to go anytime the team needs us, and that’s just kind of how you’ve got to think of it.”
Logan Morrison homered and Cave drove in an eighth-inning insurance run with one of his two doubles for the Twins, who turned to Fernando Rodney in the ninth for his 18th save following two consecutive blown chances. Slegers (1-0) gave up only one run, on the first of two homers by Jonathan Schoop.
”It’s fun to have that in the stat column, to be a major league winner,” Slegers said. ”I can say that for the rest of my life.”
With eight right-handers in the Orioles lineup, except for Chris Davis, Slegers put his sinker to good use against the second-lowest scoring team in MLB. The Orioles managed just three hits against the 6-foot-10 Slegers, who was the latest to fill the recently revolving fifth spot in the rotation. Manager Paul Molitor stopped short of a commitment, but he indicated Slegers earned another turn after needing only 72 pitches to complete those six innings in his first major league start this season.
”Sometimes you make tough decisions to protect those young guys when they’ve had good outings and make sure they feel good when they come out of the game,” Molitor said.
The Orioles squandered another quality start by Andrew Cashner (2-9) and lost for the 10th time in 11 games. They have the worst record in the major leagues at 24-62, just the team the Twins needed to face to start a season-long 11-game homestand after a pivotal 1-8 road trip.
Trailing AL Central-leading Cleveland by 11 1/2 games, Minnesota has become a probable seller before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 with several accomplished players on expiring contracts. Baltimore has essentially been in that boat since April Authentic Ryan Jensen Jersey , with slugging shortstop Manny Machado widely considered the best asset on the market this summer.
CASHED OUT
Cashner, one of the offseason acquisitions by the Orioles that suggested their commitment to contending in the daunting AL East, has had more than three runs scored for him in only one of his 17 starts this year. He gave up three runs, two earned, and six hits.
”It’s not like we didn’t want to score for him,” Schoop said. ”I hope things start changing.”
Orioles starters have received the least amount of run support in the major leagues this season.
”I probably had the worst stuff I’ve had this season, but I thought I just grinded throughout the game,” Cashner said. ”When you’re not scoring runs, I feel like I keep my mind sharp on what I want to do out there and thinking pitch to pitch.”
WHOOPS
Cashner was charged with an error in the third, when he was covering first base on a chopper hit by Bobby Wilson to Davis and fumbled the relay toss to let Cave score from second. Wilson eventually scored on a single by Eddie Rosario.
WHIFFS
Rodney struck out Davis to start a perfect ninth, pushing the sputtering slugger into a first-place tie on the Orioles list for strikeouts with 1,305. He is tied with Cal Ripken Jr., who played 3,001 games for Baltimore. Davis has appeared in 972 contests.
MAN, CAVE
Cave, who was recalled from Rochester last week, made a fully extended catch at the wall in right-center to take a potential extra-base hit away from Davis in the fourth inning. Cave doubled twice, driving in one run, to go with a single and an intentional walk.
”He can really flash it out there,” Slegers said.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Orioles: RHP Darren O’Day (strained left hamstring) has been scheduled for his season-ending surgery on July 12. He’ll need six months to recover.
DOZIER’S DAY
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who has started 80 of 84 games and appeared in all but one this season, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He’s batting .218.
UP NEXT
Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75 ERA) will come off the DL to start Friday night. Bundy has been sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (5-7, 5.49 ERA) will take the mound in the second game of the series, coming off his worst turn of the season. He gave up seven runs in Chicago to the Cubs in just 1 2/3 innings.