The visiting Washington Nationals look for their first series win on the road in over a month, while the Cincinnati Reds hope to rebound from a bullpen meltdown in Sunday’s finale of the four-game series.
Behind two long home runs from Juan Soto, the Nationals erased a 7-3 hole on Saturday and rallied for a 10-8 win against a tired Reds bullpen, giving Washington two wins in its first three games in Cincinnati.
The Reds send ace Luis Castillo (2-2, 3.38 ERA) to the mound on Sunday. Castillo, who will be making his sixth start of the season, appears to be rounding into form. In his last three starts, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA, striking out 21 and walking just four in 17 innings and holding opponents to a .194 batting average.
In Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Boston, Castillo struck out 10, walked three and allowed just one hit in six innings.
Castillo will try to break through in his sixth career start against the Nationals. He is 0-4 with a 4.94 ERA in five starts covering 27 1/3 innings.
The Nationals counter with left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-8, 6.96), who is trying to put a rough May behind him. He was 1-4 with a 5.97 ERA in that span, and in his last start, he was tagged for seven runs on 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings of a 10-0 road loss to the New York Mets.
Corbin is making his 11th career start and 12th appearance against the Reds, with a 3-4 record and a 4.04 ERA. Corbin last faced the Reds on Sept. 23, 2021, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings and earning the win in a 3-2 Washington victory in Cincinnati.
With a two-out single to right-center in the bottom of the third inning on Saturday afternoon, Joey Votto collected hit No. 2,049 and broke a tie with Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for fourth place on the Reds’ all-time hit list. Only Pete Rose (3,358), Barry Larkin (2,340) and Dave Concepcion (2,326) have more.
Since returning from the COVID injured list on May 20, Votto began Saturday with an OPS of 1.150 and a slugging mark of .738, and he has connected for all four of his home runs on the season.
“I have, like, a month to make up for,” said Votto, who entered Saturday hitting .181. “I’m still hitting sub .200. But it’s coming. I feel good. It’ll come fast, very fast.”
“I always say that Joey is like a sink-or-swim guy, adapt or die,” teammate Kyle Farmer said. “He works his butt off in the cage. He comes in every day and works his butt off. And it’s showing right now. When he’s hitting, our team is doing well.”
Tyler Stephenson snapped out of a career-worst 0-for-15 slump Saturday when he singled in the third inning. He added another single in Cincinnati’s five-run fifth and a walk in his first plate appearance.
Lane Thomas went 2-for-4 with a walk on Saturday, a day after the best game of his four-year career. He homered three times and drove in four runs in Washington’s 8-5 win over Cincinnati on Friday night.
“He was very aggressive, which we like,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s a fastball hitter. When he gets the ball in the zone with fastballs and sliders, he hits the ball hard.”
Reds manager David Bell said Jonathan India is scheduled to have another MRI on his strained right hamstring on Monday. If the scan comes back clean, India will be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment.
–Field Level Media