Cincinnati Reds beat Twins, clinch first postseason berth since 2013
Reds manager David Bell discusses Trevor Bauer’s performance in the team’s 6-1 victory vs. Milwaukee on Wednesday.
After Wade Miley fielded a ground ball and threw to first baseman Joey Votto for the final out on Friday, Cincinnati Reds players jumped over the dugout railing and mobbed each other at the mound.
The Reds are headed to the postseason for the first time in seven years after they won, 7-2, against the Minnesota Twins on Friday at Target Field. Players hugged afterward and put on red T-shirts that read, “Respect Cincinnati.” Then they posed for a team photo.
The Reds needed three things to clinch a playoff spot Friday: a win, a Philadelphia Phillies loss and a Milwaukee Brewers loss. The Phillies lost, 6-4, to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Brewers lost 9-1 in the second game of their doubleheader at the St. Louis Cardinals.
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The stars aligned and any Reds player who enjoyed scoreboard watching knew they were in position to clinch around the sixth inning when they had a 4-2 lead.
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Reds Manager David Bell called upon closer Raisel Iglesias for a six-out save and Minnesota had two runners in scoring position with one out in the eighth inning after Jorge Polanco hit a bloop double in shallow left field. The Reds have been playing must-win games for two weeks, what’s another pressure situation?
Iglesias struck out Mitch Garver in a seven-pitch, firing a 96-mph fastball for strike three. Next up was Marwin Gonzalez. Iglesias challenged him with a full-count fastball and Gonzalez flew out to center field. Disaster averted.
The Reds have won 10 of their last 12 games, guaranteeing they will complete their first season with a .500 record or better since 2013.
Mike Moustakas opened the top of the ninth inning with a solo homer to right field, his second homer of the night. The Reds had their first six batters reach base to score three important add-on runs against hard-throwing reliever Edwar Colina, who was making his big-league debut.
Lefty Wade Miley recorded the final three outs in the ninth inning.
The Reds pulled ahead in the fourth inning when Moustakas drilled a fastball from José Berríos to center field. Everybody froze as Twins center fielder Byron Buxton gave chase and prepared his jump at the wall.
Buxton leapt – hearts stopped among Reds fans – and the ball dropped a couple of feet past Buxton’s glove for a go-ahead, two-run homer. Moustakas pumped his right fist as he rounded first base. There were shouts from the Reds dugout. The Reds led the rest of the night.
Freddy Galvis crushed a solo homer to open the fifth inning, his seventh home run of the season. Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos hit back-to-back doubles later in the inning, the first time the Reds scored a run without hitting a homer since Sunday.
There was nothing easy for Reds pitchers against a tough Twins lineup. Starter Tyler Mahle lasted 2⅓ innings, needing 62 pitches to record seven outs in his shortest appearance of the season. The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the first inning with two walks and a single to center. Mahle responded by striking out Buxton and Miguel Sano.
Mahle gave up a leadoff single to Max Kepler in the third inning and an RBI double off the right-field wall to Ehire Adrianza. With Michael Lorenzen warming up in the bullpen, Mahle struck out slugger Nelson Cruz in a nine-pitch at-bat for the final batter in his outing. His last pitch was a 95-mph fastball for a called third strike.
Lorenzen, who made two spot starts when Sonny Gray was injured, stranded Adrianza at second base with a flyout and strikeout. Then he pitched out of his own jam in the fourth inning after giving up back-to-back hits to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Lorenzen struck out Marwin Gonzalez on four pitches and induced Kepler to foul out. Lorenzen was pumped his arm before the pop-up was caught in excitement.
Sixty-four days after the Reds opened their season with a dominant Opening Day win – there were a lot of lows before an impressive hot streak in the last two weeks – the Reds completed their goal of ending their playoff drought.
The Reds’ front office, tired of rebuilding, signaled their intention to push their chips forward in 2020 when they traded their top-rated prospect, Taylor Trammell, for Trevor Bauer at the trade deadline last summer. Bauer had 1 ½ seasons remaining on their contract, so they knew they were on the clock.
During the winter, the Reds committed $165 million to sign free agents Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos. They spent more money last offseason than they did in the last 10 years combined. Moustakas and Castellanos signed the largest free-agent contracts in club history.
Without a clear top team in the National League Central, the Reds’ front office believed they were opening their window of contention. The team was built, of course, for a 162-game season before the novel coronavirus pandemic turned the schedule into a 60-game sprint. After all their moves, it was still viewed as a postseason-or-bust year.