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Games 16-18: Reds at Cubs

The series at Chicago will be carrying on without me. I will be in Pittsburgh on Monday for the rest of the road trip.

Please check out the coverage on Reds.com/MLB.com and feel free to chat amongst yourselves (politely) here.

Hamilton creates runs for Cueto

I will have everything on Johnny Cueto’s fantastic three-hit shutout for a 4-0 Reds win over the Pirates on MLB.com. Please check it out by clicking here.

There were some other things that helped key the win, including in the first inning and the seventh. Both involved Billy Hamilton. After he drew a leadoff walk, Hamilton was halfway to second base as Francisco Liriano pitched to Joey Votto. Before you knew it, Liriano had two walks and two wild pitches, the latter to Brandon Phillips scoring Hamilton for a 1-0 lead.

In the seventh, Hamilton reached on a fielder’s choice. With two outs and Votto batting, Liriano was forced to slide-step on the mound to hold Hamilton. He missed with a 0-1 pitch over the plate and Votto hit a two-run homer that effectively put the game away.

“We put some pressure on Liriano in front of Votto and Joey was able to take advantage of a pitch up in the zone and hit it out. That was a big cushion there,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Other items of note:

*Price was pretty pleased with the win, especially the Reds’ first series win.

“All the way around, it was a great game,” he said. “I don’t know how many different ways to say it. It set a tone for us to play a good team at home and win a series, especially after losing that tough first game. To come back and win the next two was big. We need to string wins together. We need to start to win series. It’s important. Treading water and being 5-10 after five series just doesn’t show the signs we want of turning things around. This series did.”

*Cueto was called out for interference, not once but twice, while bunting. The first time in the second inning, Cueto tried to sacrifice but ran out of the box too quickly and touched the ball. In the fifth, he stayed in the box as he bounced one in front of the plate but was in the catcher’s way. Both times, he putout is credited as “2 unassisted.”

*In the seventh, Cueto swung away and hit a clean one-out single to center field.

*Pirates LF Jose Tabata suffered “concussion-like symptoms” from colliding with the left field wall to make a great catch against Brayan Pena for the first out in the Reds’ fifth inning. Tabata needed to be looked at by the trainer for several moments before being walked off of the field.

*Funny moment ended the top of the sixth inning. After Andrew McCutchen swung and struck out on a Cueto pitch in the dirt, he did not run to first base. When catcher Brayan Pena picked up the ball, McCutchen put out a fist bump to the ball for the tag and third out.

*Hamilton had two stolen bases on the afternoon. It was his second two-steal game of the season and fourth of his brief career.

Game 15: Reds vs. Pirates

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Game 14: Reds vs. Pirates

Heisey 7
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Frazier 5
Bernadina 8
Mesoraco 2
Cozart 6
Leake 1

Finishing Game 1?

There are still at least three innings to play to complete Monday’s suspended game that is currently locked up at 7-7 between the Reds and Pirates.

Neither side has revealed who will be pitching when the game resumes at 5:33 p.m. ET. At the moment, the Reds’ J.J. Hoover is the pitcher for the Reds from last night and he was due to face Travis Snider to begin the top of the seventh inning.

Of course, there is a full second game to come about 30-40 minutes following the conclusion of the resumed game. How that might affect the Reds’ bullpen remains to be seen. Would manager Bryan Price avoid using relievers in both Game 1 and Game 2?

“I wouldn’t say that,” Price said “I’d rather not talk strategy in front of this game. But we are aware were going to play two games and it’s going to be a bullpen game. Homer is out of the game. We know Wandy isn’t going to pitch. You know it’s a bullpen game in the first one. The second game, you’re going to want to fortify your starter with a solid bullpen. It may affect how you matchup. It’s different if one of the two teams is up, 10-7, instead of it being 7-7. Maybe you do more situational pitching because you really go after that game where you have the lead. We’ll see. Right now it’s a tie game. As many guys as you use in game 1, based on what guys are capable of doing and what the managers are comfortable doing with their relief pitchers, will dictate who is available in game 2.”

Items of note:

*According to STATS Inc, the game that’s still in progress featured three sets of back-to-back homers by the same team for only the third time in MLB history. The 2014 Pirates are joined by the Reds on 8/18/56 when Ted Kulszewski and Wally Post, Bob Thurman and Kluszewski and Frank Robinson and Thurman did it vs. the Braves. It was also done by the Red Sox on 6/17/77 vs. the Yankees.

*The is the first suspended game for the Reds since almost one year ago exactly — on April 16-17, 2013, when the Reds nabbed a 1-0 win over the Phillies following a suspension after 8 1/2 innings. It took only nine minutes for that game to be completed when Jay Bruce hit a walk-off RBI single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Chapman throws in bullpen

Aroldis Chapman took another step towards returning on Monday when he had his first side bullpen session. Chapman threw 25 pitches without issue.

“He threw the ball outstanding,” Reds manager Bryan Price. “He threw all of his pitches, including his slider. He was sharp, extremely enthusiastic and happy to be out there as we all were. It was exciting.”

It was Chapman’s first time on a mound since being struck in the face by a line drive on March 19. He suffered fractures above the left eye and nose.

“I feel really good. Everything went well,” Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. “My fastball was good. My command was good. The breaking pitch worked good.”

More to come later on MLB.com, including the plan ahead for Chapman.

Game 13: Reds vs. Pirates

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Lots to like in a 12-4 win

The Reds scored, and kept scoring. That was likely a big relief for many fans that watched Sunday’s 12-4 Reds win that avoided a three-game series sweep to the Rays. I will have more on how the offense’s perking up on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Items of note:

*Tony Cingrani pitched 6 1/3 innings with 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. His streak of not allowing five hits in a game in start to begin his career is at 21.

“You guys are keeping the stats. I’m just doing it,” Cingrani said.

*The third inning featured five runs and six hits — season highs for one inning. It was the first time the Reds batted around this season as 10 men batted. The game’s 13 hits and 12 runs were also season highs.

*The Reds’ eighth run of the game shouldn’t go unnoticed because it came on a heads-up play by Jay Bruce after his fifth inning double. On a Ryan Ludwick fly out to right field, Bruce tagged up and drew a threw to second base. It bounced off of the SS Yunel Escobar’s glove and 2B Logan Forsythe’s leg and trickle into the outfield. Bruce alertly took third base and scored on a Devin Mesoraco sacrifice fly.

*Speaking of Bruce, this was the first four-walk game of his career.

*PH Chris Heisey’s grand slam in the eighth was the first pinch-hit grand slam for the Reds since Xavier Paul on 4/15/13 vs. the Nationals. It was also the first grand slam of Heisey’s career. Somehow, the Reds retrieved the ball for him.

“It’s my first one in over four years in the big leagues. It’s nice to get that one off my back,” Heisey said.

*Ben Zobrist hit a pair of two-run homers in the game for Tampa Bay. He became first opponent to homer from each side of the plate against the Reds since the Giants’ Randy Winn did 8/30/08 at Great American Ball Park off Ramon Ramirez and Bill Bray.

*It was the third straight series where the Reds won on the getaway day to avoid the sweep.

Flexor mass strain for Latos

The Reds got good news/bad news on the MRI results for pitcher Mat Latos.

The good news is Latos does not need surgery. The bad news is he has a flexor mass strain in his right forearm. There was nothing wrong with the ulnar collateral ligament.

“I have some swelling in the flexor mass. It’s not ideal but it’s not the worst thing in the world,” Latos said. “Everything is fine with the UCL. The exact words from Kremchek were ‘the UCL looks strong,’ from the MRI. But there is inflammation and fluid.”

This injury is not similar to the flexor mass tear that Jonathan Broxton suffered in August and required season-ending surgery.

“It’s a setback in his recovery,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s more time off to let it recover, let it simmer down, get the inflammation out and start back up. We’ll keep working hard on staying in shape and doing all the other things that he’s capable of doing. His timetable will be pushed back fairly significantly.

“We’re very optimistic he will be back throwing in the next 10-14 days and by that time, he should not have any further issues but time will tell.”

Game 12: Reds vs. Rays

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