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Jun 6, 2024 7:54 am

Rising Reds return home to oppose Cubs

cincinnati reds

The Cincinnati Reds will look to continue their offensive revival when they return home Thursday for the opener of a four-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

The National League Central rivals are playing for the second time in week, after the Reds took two of three last week in Chicago.

Down to their final out on Wednesday, the Reds rallied for six runs in the ninth inning to post a 12-7 win over the Colorado Rockies, capping their first series sweep in Denver since 2012.

The Cubs are coming off a second straight 7-6 win against the visiting Chicago White Sox, the latest victory occurring when Mike Tauchman belted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the ninth.

Cincinnati’s Wednesday rally was highlighted by two key homers. A two-run shot from Spencer Steer put the Reds on top 8-7, and then Jonathan India’s second grand slam in two weeks capped Cincinnati’s fourth straight win and the Reds’ ninth victory in 12 games.

“Sweeping a series like that and taking two from Chicago, the whole road trip was satisfying,” India said. “We needed that. We’re close to .500 again, and we’re going to make a push going home again now.”

The Reds were mired at the bottom of the majors in hitting for most of the month of May, ending the month with a .217 average on the year. Their weak offense was the biggest culprit in their 9-18 slump in the month, leading to a slide to the division basement.

However, the just-concluded trip helped awaken the bats, as Cincinnati scored 44 runs while going 5-1. During the three-game series in Denver, the Reds produced 22 two-out RBIs.

“We had a lot of meetings, a lot of hitter meetings,” India said. “You could tell we were pressing, everyone’s pressing, just because when you lose in baseball, it piles up on you. It weighs on your heart, your mentality.

“We always knew how good we were. We just kept fighting, and that’s what we did.”

The Cubs, opening a seven-game road trip, will try to handle Cincinnati’s aggressive running game for the next four games. The Reds rank second in the majors with 92 steals, including Elly De La Cruz’s major-league-high 32.

Last week, the Cubs did a respectable job holding them in check, allowing just three steals in the three games while picking off three Cincinnati runners.

The Cubs have 12 pickoffs this season, including four in the past five games.

“Teams are aggressive running, period, in the league,” Chicago manager Craig Counsell said. “If you have people that can run, they are running right now. That’s what’s going on in the league right now. So you have to exhaust every opportunity to try to prevent it or defend against it. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Reds will open the series by sending right-handed ace Hunter Greene (3-2, 3.44 ERA) to the mound for his second start against the Cubs in five days. On Saturday, Greene endured rain that delayed the game over three hours and served up a game-tying grand slam to Seiya Suzuki. He wound up yielding five runs in six innings during a no-decision as the Reds lost 7-5.

While Greene owns a winning record, the Reds have lost all seven of his no-decisions. He is 3-1 with a 4.33 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs.

Javier Assad (4-1, 2.27 ERA) will get the ball for Cubs on Thursday. He wasn’t involved in the decision against the Reds on Friday when he tossed 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball.

In six career outings (four starts) against the Reds, Assad is 0-1 with a 2.30 ERA. He has made two career starts in Cincinnati, a pair of no-decisions in which he threw a combined 13 1/3 shutout innings.

–Field Level Media

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