Jesse Winker is back in form for the Cincinnati Reds, who finally conclude the Ohio Cup series against the Indians with a makeup game on Monday in Cleveland.
The game was rescheduled following a postponement due to rain on May 9.
Winker was named to his first All-Star game following a brilliant first half (.301 average, 19 homers, 50 RBIs), but he hit just .241 with two homers and 11 RBIs in July.
The 27-year-old left fielder has put those struggles behind him. He matched his career high with six RBIs on Saturday in Cincinnati’s 11-3 win over Pittsburgh, then added two hits and a walk Sunday as the Reds beat the Pirates 3-2. He is batting .421 (24-for-57) with 15 RBIs in his past 15 games.
“It’s been incredible watching just the development, the progress,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He continues to get better. He’s accomplished a lot already this year, but if he can continue to find ways to get better, that’s going to carry him through and help him finish strong.”
Cincinnati completed a four-game sweep of the Pirates on Sunday to move a season-high 10 games over .500.
Before starting a three-game series at Atlanta, the Reds face a Cleveland team that took two of three from the visiting Detroit Tigers over the weekend.
Owen Miller and Bradley Zimmer homered Sunday as the Indians won 7-5 to improve to 9-13 since the All-Star break.
Miller was 5-for-46 (.109) during his first appearance in the majors earlier this year, but the rookie infielder has shown improvement in his latest stint with the club. He has hit safely in four of his past five games.
“I think he’s making some adjustments,” Indians acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “You get comfortable to the Major League Baseball game and you start to understand some things that you want to do. You slow your heartbeat down a little bit. He’s got a good swing.”
Miller figures to be in the lineup Monday against Reds starter Luis Castillo (6-10, 4.09 ERA), who has been one of the majors’ best pitchers since June 1.
The 28-year-old right-hander, who began the season with a 1-8 record and 7.22 ERA, has posted a 5-2 record and a 1.91 ERA in his past 12 starts.
Castillo turned in another strong outing Wednesday, allowing one run on six hits with seven strikeouts over six innings in a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Amed Rosario is 4-for-9 with a home run against Castillo, who is 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in three career starts versus Cleveland.
He faced the Indians earlier this season in Cleveland and allowed six runs (four earned) over four innings in a 9-2 loss on May 8.
The Indians are expected to have a bullpen game with left-hander Sam Hentges (1-4, 7.86 ERA) serving as the opener.
The 25-year-old rookie has shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen this season, and his two longest outings were both five innings.
Hentges has made two scoreless relief appearances this month after going 0-2 with a 12.86 ERA in two starts last month covering seven innings.
Cleveland first baseman Bobby Bradley has missed the past two games with a left knee injury, but he could return to action early this week.
The Reds have won three of their first five meetings with the Indians this year, including Wade Miley’s May 7 no-hitter.
–Field Level Media