The Cincinnati Reds may be on to something if Thursday afternoon’s 5-0 win over the New York Mets in Great American Ball Park is evidence.
The team’s starting pitchers own MLB’s worst earned run average at 6.38. And when they designated Luis Cessa for assignment early this week, they had no starter to face the Mets.
So they ripped a page from the Tampa Bay Rays playbook and used Thursday as a Bullpen Day.
And it was a howling success as four Reds relief pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout, only the second Reds shutout this season.
The parade of success was the opener, Derek Law, followed by Ben Lively, Lucas Sims and Kevin Herget. Lively and Herget were called up from Triple-A Louisvillle earlier this week.
—Law, The Opener, was given a 4-0 lead in the first inning and gave the Reds 20 pitches to go 1 1/3 innings of no-hit pitching, with a walk and a strikeout.
—Lively, Cincinnati’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year nine years ago, hadn’t pitched in a major league game in since 2019 when he replaced Law. He spent two years pitching in South Korea before the Reds signed him to a minor-league contract this spring.
He pitched three innings and gave up no runs and four hits.
—Lucas Sims followed Lively and pitched 1 2/3 innings — no runs, two walks, three strikeouts. Since coming off the injured list, Sims has pitched 10 innings and given up no runs, two hits and struck out 13.
—Herget, no relation to former Reds pitcher Jimmy Herget, now pitching for the California Angels, pitched the final three innings and gave up no runs and two hits while striking out four.
Lively was credited with the win and because he pitched the last three innings Herget earned his first major league save.
Veteran catcher Curt Casali guided those pitchers and was impressed with what he saw.
“They made quality pitches and the key to a game with an opener is getting a good start and that’s what Derek Law did for us,” Casali said during a post-game interview with Bally Sports Ohio. “That’s important in my experience.
“And those two (Lively, Herget) coming up from Triple-A and setting the tone was big. Those guys did more than a good job at the end,” he added. “It is easy to call pitches when they are executing and they all really executed today.”
Herget wore a permanent smile as he addressed the media during a post-game interview and said, “It was one of those days where there really wasn’t a set plan. For me it was one of those things where you have to stay ready.”
After the eighth inning, his second, Herget thought his day might be done, “But nobody said anything when I came off the field so I figured I was going back out. Going into a game like that is just a fun thing. I hadn’t pitched in about a week or so, so it was good to get back on the mound in that scenario.”
Of his save, Herget said, “The way the game was going you didn’t know how it would go. I thought maybe one inning, or maybe two. I wasn’t really thinking about the save, so to speak. . .just put up a zero. But actually getting a save is a pretty cool deal.”
By taking two of three, the Reds won their first series against the Mets in five year .. and timing is everything. It was a good time to play the moribund Mets, a team with the highest payroll in baseball but, to put it mildly, grossly underperforming.
They’ve lost 13 of their last 17. In nine of those games, they’ve scored two runs or less and have been shut out three times. Even in their Wednesday win over the Reds, they scored only two runs in a 2-1 victory. They stranded 10 runners.
On Thursday they stranded nine and were 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
Offensively, the Reds won this one in the first inning when they scored four runs off Mets starter Kodai Senga, who came in with a 4-1 record.
Jonathan India, The Rally Rebel, opened the first with a double on a full count. The next two Reds made outs.
Then five straight Reds reached base. Jake Fraley singled to score India. Tyler Stephenson singled, sending Fraley to third. Nick Senzel singled to score Fraley. Henry Ramos walked and Kevin Newman singled to left for two runs and a 4-0 Reds lead.
And that was about it for the Reds. From the second through the seventh they had only two hits. One was a 427-foot launch by Spencer Steer in the fifth, his team-leading fifth home run.
The Reds poked a couple of hits in the eighth but didn’t score when Stephenson hit into an inning-ending double play.
Right fielder Ramos and Casali combined to save the shutout in the seventh inning. With Francisco Alvarez on the second and two outs, Francisco Lindor singled to right field. Ramos charged the ball and threw home. Casali caught the ball on a difficult short hop and made a lunging tag on Alvarez.
“I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play and I haven’t seen a throw from Ramos,” said Casali. “He could have given me more of a long hop, but in that situation you try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. I do a lot of pick work with J.R. (coach J.R. House) in my off time. It was just one of those plays and I’m happy it worked out.”
And the entire Reds team is happy with the way everything worked out.
Reds at Marlins, 6:40 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410
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