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Reds blow lead in 9th inning, fall to Twins 5-3

A heartbreaker at the worst of times.

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Aaron Doster/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds have, for all intents and purposes, been riding a one-man starting rotation of late. Injuries to the likes of Graham Ashcraft, Nick Lodolo, and Ben Lively began the downfall, while Brandon Williamson has struggled for both quality and depth since a bout on the COVID injured list. Connor Phillips and Lyon Richardson, for all their youthful talent, have been shuttling back and forth from Louisville to the active roster to fill in where they can, but there’s been perilously little stability anywhere else on that part of the roster outside of Hunter Greene.

Greene threw perhaps his single most dominant game of the year on Wednesday afternoon, and despite every single game being make or break at this juncture, the Reds couldn’t manage to make that hold up.

Hunter blistered the Twins through 7.0 IP, striking out 14 in an outing that featured pure dominance on display in almost every PA. He allowed just 3 H, a lone walk, and a solo homer to Willi Castro on his day, once again flashing the kind of developing breaking pitch arsenal that, when paired with his 100 mph heater, becomes completely unhittable when he’s on one.

He was on one today no doubt. Unfortunately, the bullpen was not.

After Ian Gibaut gave up a trio of hits and an earned run in the Top of the 8th, All Star closer Alexis Diaz ran into trouble early and often in the game’s final frame, ultimately exiting after having allowed a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. Sam Moll was summoned to hopefully put out the fire, but a walk and a two-run single off the bat of Jorge Polanco on the first pitch he saw put the Reds in a 5-3 hole out of which they would not emerge again.

They now sit at 79-75 on the season, and are 3 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the loss column - the Cubs being the club in possession of the final Wild Card spot in the National League playoff chase right now. They’ll begin to wrap up their final homestand of the season on Friday when the Pittsburgh Pirates come to town, a 3-game set that will, in all likelihood, be the final time we see Joey Votto in a Reds uniform at GABP.