Sooner or later [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-nyheim-hines-jersey]Nyheim Hines Jersey[/url] , the Cincinnati Reds will get the message: Be careful pitching to Eric Thames.
Reds right-hander Sal Romano, who opposes Thames and the first-place Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night at Great American Ball Park, already knows the dangers of making a mistake to the power hitter who torments Cincinnati like no other.
Thames beat Romano and the Brewers 2-0 with a two-run home run on April 17. Not satisfied with that, Thames beat the Reds — and this time, Tyler Mahle — with yet another two-run home run in a 2-0 decision the very next day on April 18.
Flash forward to Thursday night, and the Reds — the NL’s hottest team coming in with nine wins in 10 games — are leading 4-2 with two out and two on in the seventh inning. Amir Garrett, especially tough on left-handed hitters, is on the mound. Yet Garrett gave Thames a too-good pitch to hit, and the result was a decisive three-run home run, and the Brewers went on to win 6-4.
“That was a huge hit,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We were down two (runs) there and Garrett’s been really good. It was a good win. We had a lot of guys do a lot. We had big at-bats in big situations.”
Jesus Aguilar added a tying two-run homer, his 19th, off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani in the third inning after Cincinnati had gone ahead 2-0 in the first.
For Thames, it was his third consecutive game against Cincinnati with a game-winning homer and it also was his 13th homer, to go with 24 RBIs, in only 20 career games against the NL Central rival Reds. The three homers represent his only three hits against the Reds this season; overall, he’s hit only .234.
Thames hadn’t homered off a left-hander all season [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jacoby-brissett-jersey]Jacoby Brissett Jersey[/url] , although he had only 13 prior at-bats against lefties. However, he has handled Garrett, homering off him the last three times he’s faced him.
His numbers against the Reds the last two seasons are remarkable: 13 homers, including 10 homers and 17 RBIs in 17 games last season.
“Thames has really done damage against us, last year and this year,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We don’t have an answer for him. He’s really hurt us.”
As have the Brewers. They came in with six losses in their previous 10 games, but they’re off to a good start in the four-game series, especially given that the Reds had won 12 of their previous 15 despite being in last place. Milwaukee has won six of seven from Cincinnati this season.
The Reds not only haven’t solved how to beat the Brewers, neither has Romano (4-7). He’s pitched well in two of his last three starts overall, but he’s 0-4 with a 6.27 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers. Ryan Braun gives him trouble, going 5-of-10 (.500) with one homer against him.
The Brewers, who lead the Chicago Cubs by 2 1-2 games in the NL Central, will send out right-hander Chase Anderson (5-6), who has had success against the Reds. He’s 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA against them in eight starts, beating them 7-6 on May 1 despite giving up four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
One reason for that success is Anderson’s ability to shut down some of the Reds’ top hitters. Eugenio Suarez, who leads the NL with 59 RBIs, is only 2-for-13 (.154) against him [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-rigoberto-sanchez-jersey]Rigoberto Sanchez Jersey[/url] , and Scooter Gennett, who leads the league with a .331 average, is 2-for-7 (.286).
The Brewers lost center fielder Christian Yelich to lower back tightness in the first inning Thursday, and it’s been a problem he’s had in the past. His status for Friday and the rest of the series is uncertain.
“It looks like this one is not as bad,” said Yelich, who is hitting .289. “It’s frustrating. We’ll know more in a day or so. Hopefully, we can take care of it.”
Asked how the Atlanta Braves have surprised many experts by establishing a three-game lead in the National League East at the season’s halfway point, catcher Kurt Suzuki didn’t hesitate.
“This team has no fear,” he said Saturday night after an 11-4 victory in St. Louis. “We have a lot of young guys but we also have some veterans. We approach every game the same way.”
Atlanta’s consistency has been too much for the Cardinals this weekend. Behind solid starting pitching and an explosive offense, the Braves (47-34) have outscored St. Louis 16-5 in winning the series’ first two games. They go for a sweep on Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.14 ERA) will try to match what Julio Teheran and Max Fried have done in the series. Neither allowed a run in a combined 12 2/3 innings, with Fried enjoying the best outing of his short big league career Saturday night.
The former first-round pick of the San Diego Padres allowed only four hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings, recording 11 strikeouts against the whiff-prone Cardinals. The hard-throwing Foltynewicz made his return from the 10-day disabled list Monday night, allowing one hit and one run in five innings while walking four and fanning four against Cincinnati in a no-decision.
“The arm was just kind of heavy,” he said to mlb.com. “You can’t really practice these situations when you’re out there with your adrenaline running, but just a couple of times I just couldn’t really extend too far. But adrenaline pushed me through.”
Foltynewicz has faced St. Louis three times in his career, going 1-2 with a 9.95 ERA and yielding a whopping 22 hits over 12 2/3 innings.
In an attempt to avoid a fourth straight loss [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/deshone-kizer-jersey-cheap]DeShone Kizer Jersey[/url] , the Cardinals (42-39) will turn to former Atlanta prospect John Gant (2-2, 3.48). Gant, replacing the disabled Michael Wacha in the rotation, pitched the best game of his career Monday night, limiting Cleveland to an infield single by Yan Gomes over seven innings in a 5-0 victory.
Gant walked five and fanned four, but his off-speed pitches kept the Indians off-balance all game and enabled him to post his first win as a starter.
“We’re lucky the third base bag got in the way of Gomes’ (grounder) or we wouldn’t have had anything,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said to mlb.com of Gant’s performance.
Before plating four runs in the ninth inning Saturday night, St. Louis managed two runs in its previous 26 innings. Its offense has been primarily singles and homers, as it’s on pace for the fewest doubles and triples in the majors.
Help may be on the way when the Cardinals start a nine-game road trip Monday night against Arizona. Shortstop Paul DeJong may be activated off the disabled list after a weekend rehab stint for Triple-A Memphis.
That could result in the move of first baseman Jose Martinez, who’s on a 100-RBI pace but has been poor afield, to his natural outfield position. In fact, Martinez played the last three innings Saturday night in right field.
“Jose Martinez has earned a spot in the lineup every day, so we have to figure out a spot to play him,” general manager Michael Girsch said to mlb.com.
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