The Cincinnati Reds are finding different ways to win as they push for the postseason, while the Miami Marlins can’t seem to find a way to win on the road.
The two teams conclude their four-game series Sunday in Cincinnati as the Reds aim for the four-game sweep in the finale of their seven-game homestand.
The Marlins are looking to snap their six-game skid and improve upon their 21-43 record away from home.
Saturday’s 7-4 Cincinnati win was a microcosm of the season for the two teams. The Reds have been getting clutch hitting from rookies and turning double plays at key times. They turned five twin-killings Saturday, including one to end the game.
Rookie Jose Barrero came into the game in the eighth inning at second base for Jonathan India and was the pivot man at second base for double plays that ended the eighth inning and the game.
“Obviously, the good thing is we were getting out there (on base) and giving people chances, and the bad thing is we ended a few innings like that,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s one of those situations where you know your guys aren’t trying to do it. The positive you’re getting people (on base), but unfortunately we gave them that 2-for-1 five times.”
The Reds have relied heavily on rookies all season, and Tyler Stephenson came through with a big rookie moment of his own Saturday. He was called upon to pinch-hit against right-hander Anthony Bender. With the bases loaded in the sixth inning of a 3-2 game, Stephenson stayed back on a Bender pitch and drove it down the right field line for a double to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 5-2.
Stephenson now leads the majors in pinch-hit RBIs with 12.
“Another day at the office,” Stephenson said. “Every day, there’s an opportunity. Stayed locked in and ready to go.”
Shogo Akiyama came through off the bench as well. Inserted in a double switch in the fifth, Akiyama made a sliding catch of a Lewis Brinson fly ball to center to end the inning with the bases loaded and keep the game tied, 2-2.
“It says a lot about any team,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s something we know already about our team. It’s not the same guy everything night. It can’t be and shouldn’t be. It’s how you start gaining confidence. That’s a great feeling.”
The Reds will send another rookie to the mound Sunday as Vladimir Gutierrez (8-4, 3.87 ERA) starts for Cincinnati. He had his personal five-game win streak snapped last Tuesday against the Cubs in a 2-1 loss. He allowed just two runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. This will be his first career appearance against Miami.
The Marlins counter with right-hander Sandy Alcantara (7-11, 3.39). Alcantara will be making his fifth start in August, with three of his previous four standing out as excellent.
He allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on Aug. 1, striking out 10. On Aug. 11 against San Diego, he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. Last Tuesday, in eight innings, he allowed one run and five hits against the Braves. The only anomaly came on Aug. 6 at Colorado, when he allowed 10 hits and 10 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies.
This will be Alcantara’s fourth career appearance against Cincinnati, his second start. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his previous three appearances, allowing six hits and four runs over eight innings.
–Field Level Media