Surging Reds take aim at Oakland
The Cincinnati Reds take their powerful bats into a stadium not known for being friendly to the long ball and up against a strong home-field pitcher when they open a three-game interleague series against the host Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
While the A's enjoyed a day off to collect themselves after a 1-8 trip, the Reds were pounding three more home runs Monday in a 12-4 win over the San Francisco Giants that capped a four-game home series in which Cincinnati hit 15 homers and scored 37 runs.
In Oakland, they will run into right-hander Mike Fiers (2-3, 6.81), whose up-and-down season has included contributing 12 innings to a pair of combined shutouts among his three home outings.
Fiers has faced the Reds 10 times in his career, eight times as a starter, and is 3-4 with a 2.60 ERA. He's 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 20 interleague appearances.
The Reds are making their first trip to Oakland since getting swept in a two-game set in 2013. The club last squared off in Cincinnati in 2016, with the Reds taking two of three.
Among the hot hitters Fiers will have to deal with are Reds rookie Nick Senzel, who led off both the first and second innings Monday with home runs, and Derek Dietrich, who belted four homers in the first three games of the San Francisco series before getting a day off.
"(We're) not trying to hit home runs, (but) we'll take them when they happen," Reds manager David Bell insisted to reporters amid the impressive display. "More than anything, our offense is getting going and we are scoring more runs. We've seen that over the past week to 10 days."
Dietrich did more than just hit homers in the series. He adding a unique personal touch to Sunday's 1911 retro look with an old-school mustache painted on with eye black.
Then Monday, while he saw no action in the game, he took the field in white coveralls before the start to help scatter a swarm of bees that delayed the contest 18 minutes.
The Reds are starting to figure out how to win on the road, going 3-4 on a California swing through Los Angeles and San Diego last month before winning three more games in seven tries on their last trip to St. Louis and New York to face the Mets in late April and early May.
Cincinnati right-hander Tyler Mahle (0-4, 4.09) did not pitch in the just-completed home series, which continued an odd sequence in which he's made five of his six starts on the road this season. Tuesday's outing in Oakland will make it six of seven, and 21 in 34 starts in his career.
He's never faced the A's but is 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four interleague starts, three of which have been on the road.
The Reds appear to catch the A's at a good time. Not only has Oakland lost eight of nine, but arguably their two most valuable players -- Khris Davis and Blake Treinen -- were both injured on the last road trip.
Davis bruised his hip crashing into the railing down the left field line while chasing a fly ball in a rare outfield appearance on Sunday. He's hoping to return as a designated hitter Tuesday, but remains questionable.
Treinen, meanwhile, woke up with a sore elbow on Saturday morning and was given the weekend off. Like Davis, the A's hope he shows up at the ballpark Tuesday feeling better.
"It's just kind of fluke soreness. It just popped up," the pitcher told reporters in Pittsburgh. "I'm not a doctor, so I don't know a ton about it."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 7, 2019