With his first win of the season finally out of the way, Sonny Gray will look to notch his second straight victory when he takes the mound for the Cincinnati Reds against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night in the second game of a three-game series.
Gray (1-3, 3.40) is coming off his best performance of the season. On Thursday, he outdueled Stephen Strasburg in a seven-inning 3-0 win over the Nationals in Washington. Gray allowed just two hits in six shutout innings, striking out five and walking one in earning the win.
In his last 35 regular-season starts beginning June 28, 2019, Gray is 14-9 and a 2.78 ERA, with 21 quality starts. In his last 19 starts at Great American Ball Park dating to June 16, 2019, Gray is 11-3 with a 2.72 ERA.
The Phillies counter with another projected ace who has had trouble gaining momentum in 2021. Right-hander Aaron Nola (3-4, 3.72) will try to snap a personal three-game losing streak after opening the season with three wins in his first four decisions.
Nola allowed just two hits and one run in six strong innings Wednesday in Miami and left with a 2-1 lead. But the Phillies’ vulnerable bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth in a 4-2 loss, with Nola getting a no-decision.
“A loss is a loss in my book,” Nola said after the loss. “One-run games are tough when you lose them, man. You’re right there at the edge late in the game, the last inning or two. They’re also sweet when you pull them out.”
The Phillies are in the midst of a major slump, with three straight losses and 11 in their last 15 games. The Phillies’ loss on Monday dropped them to 10-19 on the road this season, the third worst (Colorado, Arizona) road record in National League.
“We’re positive all the time,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi added. “We’re optimistic that it’s going to get better. This is a hard game.”
The Reds will be looking for their third consecutive victory, something they haven’t accomplished since their season-high six-game winning streak that began with the second game of the season.
In Monday’s 11-1 win, Jesse Winker received a day off and backups responded. Kyle Farmer drove in a career-high five runs, including a two-run homer. Max Schrock drove in three and also added a two-run homer.
“That’s what a team is all about,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Tough to take Wink out of the lineup. We thought it was best for our lineup. It was a great day. Max Schrock and Kyle Farmer both had great days and couldn’t have come at a better time.”
But there was some unfortunate news as Schrock stretched out his left leg as he left the game following his seventh-inning double Monday. Schrock dealt with a left calf issue during spring training.
“Obviously unfortunate. It is the left calf,” Bell added. “Could go on the injured list as early as (Tuesday). Came back from it really quick last time. We’re hoping for the best there.”
With his single to left to start a two-run fifth Monday, Nick Castellanos, the National League batting leader (.356) by eight points over Winker, extended his hitting streak to 17 games, matching his career best (2017). The streak is the longest active streak in the majors, matches Jose Altuve’s for longest in baseball this year and is the longest hitting streak by a Reds batter since Joey Votto’s 17-game streak in 2017.
–Field Level Media