One quick glance at the box score from Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays is enough to know it was frustrating. The Reds lost 10-3, lost the home series against the Jays, wrapped up a second consecutive losing homestand, fell to 14-20 since the All Star break, and have now won just 3 of their last 11 games in Great American Ball Park.
They are 5-12 in the month of August, all of which came after the club opted against making significant additions at the trade deadline. They’ve fallen to 64-61, sit 4.0 games out of 1st place in the National League Central, occupy 3rd place in this mostly dismal division, and are now a game out of a Wild Card spot, too.
A deeper dive into the contest on Sunday revealed much more about who the Reds are, and where they are as a club. Much of the abstinence at the trade deadline came from banking on the returns of several key players from injuries and the depth they had created in the minors, and both were on display in Sunday’s beatdown. Hunter Greene, the lone extended young Red on the roster, made his return from a hip issue that sent him to the 60-day injured list, and he had perhaps the worst single start of his big league career. He served up 5 homers and 9 ER to a Toronto lineup boosted by the return of Bo Bichette, all enough to leave one wanting to forget this game entirely, but it’s hard not to point out that the stumble came in precisely the game the Reds front office had pointed to when opting against making additions three weeks ago.
They waited for this, and this is what returned.
Hunter Greene is going to be just fine, I’m convinced. One start does not a pitcher make. One key start in the latter stages of August when your club is reeling and banking on you much more than they should be, however, perhaps can a season make. Those were the bad juju vibes that permeated things yesterday, a day in which the Reds also turned to Noelvi Marte to start at 3B and form the youngest infield in the big leagues in at least the last five seasons.
The good juju vibes on the flip side of watching Greene struggle, of course, were the vibes that very much suggested these guys are going to be good. Not good yet, but they’re going to get there, and hopefully get there soon. For now, though, they’re wearing the badge of a 3rd place team with a -27 run differential who is heading west for a 10-game road trip, one that begins with Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels this evening.
The Reds need a spark in the worst of ways, and perhaps getting Marte worked into the everyday lineup will be just that. After Greene’s stumble yesterday, they’re running out of sparky options with the crux of the season right in front of them.