The Cincinnati Reds had several opportunities to knock off the reigning American League Champs, but the Kansas City Royals were able to hold on at Great American Ballpark Wednesday evening, 4-3.
The Royals (73-46) finished the season with a four game sweep of the Reds (51-67) including a win against current Kansas City pitcher, Johnny Cueto, back in May. Neither starter stuck around very long and were no help to the bullpens that were heavily used during Tuesday night’s 13 inning contest in which each team ushered out eight different pitchers. Keyvius Sampson (2-2) turned in the worst start of his young career lasting just 3.1 innings while being tagged for four runs and nine hits. Jeremy Guthrie was slightly better, but his 4.1 innings of three run baseball were not enough for him to earn his second win against the Reds this season.
Both offenses found their groove early starting with the Royals who got a lead-off walk by Alcides Escobar and then Ben Zobrist drove him home with an RBI double. Two batters later Zobrist scored on a single by Eric Hosmer to give Kansas City a quick 2-0 lead. That lead vanished in the bottom of the inning as Joey Votto easily cleared the center field wall, while Brandon Phillips hit a home run of his own that hit the top of the wall to tie the game.
The tie was broken quickly as Escobar singled and then Zobrist hit his second double of the game. Lorenzo Cain delivered the decisive blow with a two-run single that handed the Royals back their two-run lead. Jason Bourgeois starter the third inning with a lead-off walk and then got the Reds within one as he scored on a double by Eugenio Suarez. Suarez made a heads up tag on a deep fly ball out by Votto, but he would be stranded by Phillips and Jay Bruce to keep the Royals ahead by one.
Sampson’s day would end as Escobar and Zobrist reached for the third straight time. With runners at second and third, reliever Pedro Villarreal intentionally walked Hosmer, but he was able to strike out Mike Moustakas and then retired Alex Rios to end the threat. Cincinnati put together a similar threat against Guthrie in the fifth as they loaded the bases before Ned Yost went to his bullpen. Luke Hochevar (1-0) came on and escaped the jam thanks to a bizarre play. With one out Bruce hit a fly ball straight up in the air which put in play the infield fly rule which meant Bruce was automatically out despite the fact that the catch was dropped around the mound. Bourgeois attempted to score from third despite not having to leave the base by rule, and was tagged out for the inning ending double play.
The bullpens took over from there as Hochevar and Villarreal kept runners off the base paths before giving way in the seventh. Sam LeCure made his season debut after being recalled from Louisville as the Reds sent down Dylan Axelrod. LeCure turned in two innings of shutout baseball after not having pitched for the Reds since the end of the 2014 season. Also coming in during the seventh was second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr. and left fielder Brennan Boesch. De Jesus entered the game after Phillips exited with a biceps injury. Boesch was back with the Reds after being recalled from Louisville to take the roster spot of the injured Billy Hamilton.
Ryan Madson, who’s injury led to Aroldis Chapman taking over the Reds closer role in 2012, came on and pitched a scoreless frame. Prior to this season, Madson had not pitched since 2011 after dealing with injuries that began shortly after he signed with the Reds. Kelvin Herrera pitched the eighth and shut down a Reds uprising while Wade Davis struck out Votto in the ninth with two on to pick up his tenth save of the season.
The Reds have now lost five straight and will turn to John Lamb (0-1, 7.50 ERA) who makes his debut at Great American Ballpark. His MLB debut came in Los Angeles in which he struck out seven, but allowed five runs in six innings. Patrick Corbin (3-3, 3.43 ERA) takes the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks (58-61) who come to town having lost back-to-back games in Pittsburgh. Corbin made his season debut on July 4 after missing the entire 2014 season due to injury and has won his last two decisions. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.