Reds look to ride momentum of late heroics in clash vs. Jays

Reds look to ride momentum of late heroics in clash vs. Jays

Two teams getting key pieces back from injury will meet in the second contest of a three-game series Saturday evening when the Toronto Blue Jays visit the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds enter the game with momentum after Friday night’s 1-0 win thanks to rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s first career walk-off home run.

“The whole clubhouse is a blast,” Encarnacion-Strand said after his homer helped Cincinnati maintain the final wild-card position in the National League. “No matter what happens, we’re ready. We’re pumped and we’re ready to go. Every day. No matter the outcome. Just play ball hard, old-school baseball. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy. Just old school and hard-nosed baseball.”

After getting starting center fielder Kevin Kiermaier back from a right elbow injury on Friday, the Blue Jays are expected to see the return of star shortstop Bo Bichette for Saturday’s game.

Bichette went on the injured list on Aug. 1 with right knee tendinitis and has missed 16 games, with Toronto going 8-8 in his absence.

“That’s the hope, if all goes well,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of Bichette’s return to the club. “Fortunately, there was nothing significant structurally and it was the best possible outcome.”

Kiermaier, who went 0-for-3 in his Friday return, required eight stitches after cutting his elbow on the center-field fence at Boston’s Fenway Park on July 31. The three-time Gold Glove center fielder, who didn’t participate in a minor league rehab assignment, is hitting .271 with five homers and 27 RBIs in 96 games this season.

Also returning from the injured list Friday was reliever Trevor Richards from neck inflammation. To make room for Kiermaier and Richards, the Blue Jays optioned outfielder Nathan Lukes and right-hander Jay Jackson to Triple-A Buffalo.

The Reds will get a boost back in their rotation this weekend when right-hander Hunter Greene (right hip) will return from the 60-day injured list and start Sunday’s series finale.

Greene pitched 5 2/3 innings in his final rehab start for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday, throwing 83 pitches and averaging 97.4 mph on his fastball.

“The goal of his rehab was to get him back to where he’s fully built up, fully available,” said Reds manager David Bell, who added there will be no innings limits on Greene beyond “common sense.”

Greene, who signed a six-year, $53 million extension in April, was 2-4 with a 3.93 ERA in 14 starts prior to landing on the injured list on June 19. Greene posted a 2.97 ERA and pitched at least six innings four times in his final five starts before landing on the list.

The Blue Jays will send Chris Bassitt (11-6, 3.95 ERA) to make his team-leading 26th start of the year. The right-hander has faced Cincinnati twice in his career, giving up four runs (three earned) over 15 2/3 innings.

Bassitt allowed four runs on four hits over six innings in his most recent start, striking out six and walking two in Toronto’s 5-4 home loss to the Chicago Cubs last Saturday. He has double-digit wins in four of his last five seasons, with the only exception coming in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season of 2020.

The Reds will counter with rookie left-hander Brandon Williamson (4-2, 4.33), who will make his 17th start of the season.

Williamson is coming off back-to-back strong starts, allowing one run in each outing. Last Sunday in Pittsburgh, he left with a 2-0 lead after allowing just one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and the Reds dropped a 4-2 decision.

—Field Level Media

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.