After losing the opener of a six-game homestand to struggling Minnesota on a three-run, ninth-inning homer by Jorge Polanco, Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart said the Reds must quickly turn their focus to Wednesday afternoon’s series finale with the Twins.
“As tough as tonight is, the beauty about this thing is that we come play tomorrow and still have a long homestand ahead of us,” said Barnhart, who hit one of three homers for Cincinnati in the 7-5 loss.
“I think being in the (playoff) race is amazing. Obviously, losses like this hurt. But the thing we can’t do is kind of take it into tomorrow.”
Right-hander Luis Castillo (5-10, 4.22 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 16.20 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota, will try to help the Reds earn a split of the series. The Twins will turn to left-hander Charlie Barnes (0-1, 1.93 ERA), who will be making just his second major league appearance.
“We’ve got one of, if not our best guy, going tomorrow, and we like our chances,” Barnhart said. “As long as we get a split we’ll be where we want to be heading into the weekend” and a four-game series with Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati looked like it was in good shape to win Tuesday night after Jonathan India hit a two-run homer in the fifth to put the Reds ahead 5-4.
But reliever Heath Hembree walked pinch-hitter Jake Cave and Max Kepler to open the ninth before bouncing back to strike out Brent Rooker. That brought up Polanco, who hit the eighth pitch of the at-bat, a slider on the inside corner, just inside the right-field foul pole for his 17th homer of the season and a 7-5 lead.
It was the fourth go-ahead home run of the season and 22nd of his career for Polanco, who is batting .370 with six homers and 17 RBIs over his last 18 games.
“(Hembree) has good stuff,” Polanco said. “I was trying to get ready for the fastball, and I missed a couple fastballs. But then when I got to two strikes, I just tried to make it simple and see the ball up.”
Polanco fouled another slider off the inside of his right foot on the pitch preceding his game-winner and hopped away from the batter’s box to regroup.
“I was in pain after I hit the foul ball, so I took a little bit of time,” Polanco said. “But I guess the adrenaline (kicked in), and I didn’t feel it when I was running around the bases.”
“That showed true grit right there, and he was able to keep that next slider fair and hook it down the line for a homer,” said Twins catcher Mitch Garver, who earlier had also hit a three-run homer. “That was huge for us.”
It was just the fifth win in their last 17 road games for the Twins.
Barnes will be making just the second start of his career. Despite taking the loss, he pitched well in his major league debut in the first game of a doubleheader on July 17 at Detroit, allowing one run — a first-inning leadoff homer to Robbie Grossman — on four hits over 4 2/3 innings in a 1-0 loss.
–Field Level Media