The Cincinnati Reds are gaining some reinforcements as they continue their quest for a National League wild-card berth.
The Reds (73-71) will get starting pitcher Hunter Greene back from the COVID-19 list Sunday as they try to avoid getting swept by the visiting St. Louis Cardinals (63-79) in the finale of a three-game series.
The Cardinals won the first two games of the series 9-4 and 4-3. They enter play Sunday 2 1/2 games out of the third NL wild-card spot.
“I’m so proud of our players, how we continue to play,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We have never, not from the very beginning, did we ever ask for it to be easy. Ever. We’re going to continue to play hard. We have a long, long way to go and we have an opportunity in front of us.”
Greene (3-6, 4.75 ERA) last pitched on Aug. 30 at San Francisco. He earned a 4-1 victory over the Giants by allowing one unearned run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one.
In his prior two games, Greene allowed 14 runs (13 earned) on 15 hits and eight walks in just 6 2/3 innings after missing two months of action due to a hip injury.
“Hunter missed a lot of the season,” Bell said. “He expects himself to pitch well right out of the gate. But he had to work through some things his first two starts.”
Greene is 0-2 with a 4.01 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals.
The Reds could also get slugger Joey Votto back to active duty. He has been sidelined by shoulder discomfort, but he returned to action with a brief rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Louisville.
“He wanted to use these two days to go get some at-bats,” Bell said before Votto joined Louisville. “He will likely be back on Sunday and be in the lineup that day. He is feeling better.”
Votto’s return would be welcomed by an offense also missing Matt McLain (oblique strain), Kevin Newman (oblique strain) and Jonathan India (plantar fasciitis). Noelvi Marte (facial contusion) also could miss time after getting hit in the face with an errant throw before Saturday’s game.
The Cardinals will counter Greene with Miles Mikolas (7-10, 4.63 ERA), who is coming off a 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves. He allowed three runs, all on solo homers, in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed eight hits overall and walked two to record his first victory since July 17.
“Trying to keep them off the bases, so if they hit one it’s a solo homer, I guess,” Mikolas said afterward. “But I think the important thing is to stay in the zone. Cowards die a thousand deaths. So, the good thing to be there is aggressive, be in the zone, and take the fight right to them.”
The Cardinals have won five of six games with an energized offense. Willson Contreras has homers in his past three games and nine RBIs during that span.
“He’s feeling really good, swinging the bat extremely well,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He’s doing a really nice job offensively.”
—Field Level Media
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