Graham Ashcraft did not get the win in his major league debut, but his start certainly helped the Cincinnati Reds get the win on Sunday. The game was tight the whole way, but Joey Votto’s solo home run – his 1st of the season – in the top of the 8th inning was the difference maker as the Reds avoided being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays.
|Cincinnati Reds (12-28)||3||6||2|
|Toronto Blue Jays (22-19)||2||4||0|
|W: Diaz (2-0) L: Garcia (0-3) SV: Warren (2)
|Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread|
Cincinnati got some help in the 1st inning as Yusei Kikuchi struggled to throw strikes and loaded the bases with one out by walking three of the first four hitters he faced. After Kyle Farmer flew out it left things up to Aristides Aquino and the Punisher did not miss the 1-0 pitch and lined a ground rule double down the left field line to put the Reds up 2-0. Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but Taylor Motter struck out to end the inning.
Cincinnati did not get much going over the next handful of innings as the Blue Jays chipped away to tie the game, but a 2-out single by Aristides Aquino in the 6th was followed up by a stolen base where he was picked off at first but a poor throw to second base allowed him to slide around the tag. Tyler Naquin would strike out to end the threat and the game remained all tied up at 2-2.
The next inning saw the Reds threaten again. Colin Moran walked to lead off the inning and with two outs Tyler Stephenson singled up the middle. Alejo Lopez came off the bench to pinch run for Moran at second base and Tommy Pham came to the plate, but Tyler Stephenson was picked off at first base by catcher Danny Jansen to end the inning.
With one out in the top of the 8th inning Joey Votto got ahead 2-0 against Yimi Garcia. A curveball followed on the inner third of the plate and Votto hit the ball 346 feet into the stands to put Cincinnati up 3-2.
Graham Ashcraft gave up a leadoff single to George Springer, but induced three straight ground outs to get out of the inning without any damage. It was not as easy in the second inning as Santiago Espinal doubled and Matt Chapman singled to start the inning and cut the Reds lead to 2-1. Ashcraft would strike out the next three batters to avoid further damage.
In the 3rd inning it was once again George Springer getting things started, but this time it was after Ashcraft hit him with a pitch. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch, and then took third on a fly out. Bo Bichette would drive him in on a ground out to tie the game up.
After a 5-pitch 4th inning, Graham Ashcraft ran into some trouble to start the 5th inning. George Springer reached to lead off the inning after Taylor Motter bobbled a grounder at third base and then Ashcraft walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette popped up to Matt Reynolds who made a nice over the shoulder catch, but that would be the final pitch thrown for Ashcraft in his debut, exiting with one out and two on in the 5th inning of a 2-2 game. Tony Santillan entered and he got a ground ball, but Taylor Motter once again could not come up with it clean and his throw to second base to try and get a force out was late and the bases were now loaded. Santillan got a shallow fly out to center and then struck out Matt Chapman to keep the score tied up. He would work around a walk for a shutout 6th inning as well.
Alexis Diaz took over for Cincinnati in the 7th inning and he made easy work of the top of the Blue Jays lineup, retiring them on just nine pitches while picking up a strikeout. Diaz needed 12 pitches to do the same thing in the 8th inning, but he recorded two strikeouts this time around. Holding a 3-2 lead thanks to a Joey Votto home run, Art Warren came out for the 9th to try and pick up the save, and he made quick and easy work, throwing just nine pitches as Cincinnati won and avoided a sweep.
Key Moment of the Game
Joey Votto’s 8th inning solo home run that broke a 2-2 tie.
Notes Worth Noting
Graham Ashcraft’s first pitch of his career was 99.7 MPH.
Alexis Diaz lowered his ERA to 0.92 with his two shutout innings.
Following the game the Reds announced that Vladimir Gutierrez would make the start against the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds
Monday May 23rd, 6:40 pm ET
Drew Smyly (1-5, 3.97 ERA) vs Vladimir Gutierrez (0-5, 8.65 ERA)