Reds, Tigers set for opening rubber match

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers meet six times within the first 10 games of this shortened 2020 season. Thus far, their opening series has been relatively entertaining.

After splitting the first two of this set, the Reds and Tigers play the rubber game on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati (1-1) used a three-hit, four-RBI game from newcomer Mike Moustakas to win the season opener 7-1 on Friday. However, Detroit (1-1) got homers from Austin Romine, Miguel Cabrera and a tiebreaking, two-run shot from JaCoby Jones in the top of the ninth off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias to overcome a 3-1 deficit and win 6-4 on Saturday.

These teams will also play a three-game series at Detroit next weekend.

“Every (game) is so important,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said of the impact of playing a 60-game schedule.

After starters Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo combined to yield two runs and strike out 20 in the first two games, the Reds hand the ball to Trevor Bauer, who reportedly wants to pitch every fourth day this season. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the outspoken right-hander is eager to make his 2020 debut in the finale of this weekend set.

Bauer, who spent the extended offseason amid an intense training regime, went 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA in 34 starts while splitting 2019 between Cleveland and Cincinnati. With the Reds, Bauer was 2-5 with a hefty 6.39 ERA in 10 starts.

However, after putting in the work during the offseason, and with the Reds optimistic for a special 2020 season, Bauer wants to contribute as much as he can during this uniquely shortened campaign.

“I love that importance, the higher stakes,” he told the Reds’ official website. “I thrive in that environment.

“I want to pitch. That’s what I care about, going out there and performing to the best of my ability and helping us win.”

With his AL Central experience, Bauer has seen plenty of the Tigers, going 10-6 with a 5.32 ERA over 20 career appearances (19 starts) against them. Cabrera has hit .324 (12-for-37) with a pair of doubles versus Bauer. Meanwhile, teammate Niko Goodrum (2-for-9 in the series) is 6-for-16 with two home runs against him.

Detroit will send Spencer Turnbull to the mound looking to bounce back from a rather rough first full season in the majors. Though the right-hander went 3-17 with a 4.61 ERA in 30 starts last year, he received an average of just 3.03 runs of support. The Tigers are also encouraged after Turnbull enjoyed a solid spring straining and summer camp.

“I definitely wanted to have a different mound presence (this season),” Turnbull told the Tigers’ official website.

“I did work on a lot of things mentally, emotionally and physically. This offseason put me in a better place going forward.”

This will be Turnbull’s first appearance versus Cincinnati and the likes of Joey Votto, who is 4-for-8 with two homers in the series. Votto last homered over three consecutive contests in April 2018.

The Reds announced Saturday that infielder Matt Davidson tested positive for COVID-19, and was placed on the 10-day injured list. Davidson went 0-for-4 as Cincinnati’s designated hitter on Friday.

–Field Level Media

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