Monday night’s Astros vs. Reds game had a different feel to it than the previous 800-plus meetings between the two teams. After 51 years of competing as division rivals the charter members of the National League took on a familiar foe in a familiar setting — but with a bit of a twist. Although the game was played under American League rules the Reds continued their recent dominance of the series.
Johnny Cueto and Erik Bedard went head-to-head in a battle of trunk-twisting pitchers who like to show batters the number on the back of their jersey. Cueto, making his first start since going on the disabled list in June, came out on top in this one. The Reds’ starter threw five scoreless innings and turned the ball over to the bullpen with a 6-0 lead.
Zack Cozart (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Bedard, making his first start since being exiled to the bullpen last month, didn’t fare quite as well. The Astros lefty got off to a good start, striking out four of the first six Cincinnati hitters. Then, Zack Cozart lifted a fly ball into the Crawford Boxes to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. Cozart added a 2-run single off Bedard in the fourth and that was more than enough support for Cueto and the Cincinnati bullpen.
Bedard left the game after four innings, trailing 4-0 and having thrown only 70 pitches. Enter Lucas Harrell. After a rocky fifth inning that resulted in a pair of runs for the Reds, Harrell actually settled down and looked pretty good. Much to the surprise (and delight) of the hundreds of Astros fans on hand, Lucas was able to go the rest of the way without any more damage on the scoreboard. Although he walked four batters in his five innings of work, Harrell was able to bring his season ERA down below 6.
The Astros were able to avoid the shutout when Matt Dominguez brought Trevor Crowe home with a sixth inning groundout. Otherwise — not much on the positive side to report for the home team. Jose Altuve collected a pair of hits and made a beautiful diving catch in short centerfield. But he also struck out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning.