Paolo Espino tossed three scoreless to start tonight’s game, as the Washington Nationals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second of four in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
The Reds rallied in the bottom of the third, however, with Max Schrock battling and hitting a two-run shot off the Nats’ starter to get the Reds on the board, down 4-2, then a solo homer by Delino DeShields off Espino in the fifth, a solo home run by Nick Castellanos off Alberto Baldonado, and a two-run blast by Eugenio Suárez off Andres Machado in the bottom of the sixth put the home team on top, 6-4.
It was 7-5 in the Reds’ favor in the ninth, but the Nats loaded them up with two out and Luis García came through with a two-run single to left that tied it up, 7-7.
They went to extras in Cincy, and the Reds won it on a single in the eleventh that scored their free runner, 8-7 final.
Espino vs the Reds: Going up against the Colorado Rockies last time out before tonight, right-hander Paolo Espino tossed 5 2⁄3 scoreless, giving up three hits and three walks and striking out seven batters, which tied his season-high, in a 3-0 win.
“I think today everything was working pretty good,” Espino said after the outing.
“Being able to spot my fastball when I need it, and the offspeed also works really good, every time I’m locating my fastball, I think everything else works even better.”
Espino finished his 33rd appearance and 17th start with a 3.94 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, 24 walks, and 90 Ks in 102 2⁄3 IP, over which he’d held opposing hitters to a combined .252/.295/.443 line.
Tonight in Cincinnati, Espino tossed two scoreless on 34 pitches, with a run in each of the first two innings for the Nationals, and two in the third, so he came out for the bottom of third inning with a four-run lead, 4-0, and gave up a leadoff single by TJ Friedl and two-out, two-run home run to right by one-time Nats’ prospect Max Schrock, who fouled off five-straight fastballs after getting up 3-1, then hit the seventh consecutive fastball he saw out, 4-2.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Espino at 69 total pitches on the night, but he gave up another home run on a 2-1 fastball to pinch hitter Delino DeShields with two down in the Reds’ half of the fifth, 4-3 Nats.
Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HRs, 86 P, 54 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
Gray vs the Nationals: Reds’ starter Sonny Gray put together an eight-start unbeaten streak between July 30th and September 6th, over which he had a 2.89 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 13 walks, 46 Ks, and a .175/.250/.299 line against in 43 2⁄3 IP, but heading into tonight’s start, the righty was coming off back-to-back losses, first to the Cardinals, and then to the Dodgers, during which he gave up just five earned runs in 13 IP (3.46 ERA, 3.16 FIP).
“I felt really good. I felt as good as I’ve felt,” Gray said, as quoted on MLB.com after the start against Los Angeles, in which he retired the first 11 batters he faced before giving up a total of four hits, two walks, and four runs, three earned, in six innings.
“They just kind of strung some stuff together there in one inning and that was the game.”
Gray walked the first batter of the game tonight, putting Lane Thomas on, but got a liner to third by Alcides Escobar in the next at-bat that started a 5-3 DP, for the first two outs of the first. A two-out walk to Juan Soto and double by Josh Bell led to the visiting Nationals going ahead 1-0 in the opening frame.
Keibert Ruiz added to the Nats’ lead with a leadoff home run on a 92 MPH 1-1 fastball in the first at-bat of the second, hitting it 375 feet to right-center for his second of the season but his first with the Nationals since he was acquired in late July and called up late in August, 2-0.
Alcides Escobar hit the second home run of the game off Gray on a 2-0 fastball that went out 410 feet to center for his third of the season and a 3-0 lead, and Juan Soto walked for the second time in two PAs, reaching base in the 12th consecutive PA, and Soto scored two outs later on a bloop single to right by Keibert Ruiz, 4-0.
Gray worked around a two-out walk in a 19-pitch fourth which left him at 88 pitches, and that was it for the starter...
Sonny Gray’s Line: 4.0 IP 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 88 P, 52 S, 5/0 GO/FO.
SotOBP: When he stepped up for the first time tonight, Juan Soto was trying to extend an on-base streak, having, “reached base safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances, matching Nick Johnson (June 18-20, 2009) for the longest streak in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.),” as the Nationals noted in their pregame notes before the 2nd of 4 with the Reds. Soto walked in his first two plate appearances, setting a new mark for the Nationals (‘05-present), but a swinging K in his third PA ended the streak there. But reaching base in 12-straight PAs is still pretty good, right?
Bullpen Action: Amir Garrett struck Juan Soto out to end his on-base streak at 12-straight PAs, and retired the Nationals in order in a 16-pitch top of the fifth.
Reds’ righty Tony Santillan worked around a two-out walk to Andrew Stevenson in the top of the sixth, and Nick Castellanos hit a one-out solo shot off Nats’ lefty Alberto Baldonado to tie it up at 4-4 in the bottom of the inning on his 30th of 2021 and the Reds’ third home run tonight.
Andres Machado took over in the Reds’ sixth, after Baldonado walked Joey Votto, and got an out at second on a Kyle Farmer fly to short-center that Lane Thomas charged but could not reach, leaving Votto waiting to see if he caught it long enough that the center fielder could throw in to second to get a force for out No. 2, but Eugenio Suárez smoked a 95 MPH heater from Machado and hit a go-ahead, two-run home run out to left-center on a line, 6-4. No. 28 for Suárez this season.
The fireworks show before the other fireworks show. pic.twitter.com/SYLuLQ5ovz— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 25, 2021
With the Reds up by two, Michael Lorenzen came on and retired the Nationals in order in the top of the seventh.
Patrick Murphy gave up a single and a walk to the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh, but got an out before he was replaced by Sean Nolin, who surrendered a single by Nick Castellanos before he got out of the inning with the Reds up, 7-4.
Lucas Sims got the eighth for the Reds, and in his MLB debut, the 26-year-old right-hander retired the Reds in order.
Jhon Romero, in his MLB debut, retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Mychal Givens came on for the save in the top of the ninth, and retired the first two batters he faced, but Lane Thomas kept hope alive with a two-out double, and Alcides Escobar hit the second straight double to make it a 7-5 game, and get Juan Soto to the plate. Soto got up 3-1, and walked to put two on in front of Josh Bell, who got to a full count and walked to load the bases in front of Luis García, who shot a two-run single through the left side to tie it up, 7-7. That was it for Givens...
Justin Wilson took over and got out No. 3 to keep it tied at 7-7.
Kyle Finnegan came on in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a tie game, and gave up a one-out single by Aristides Aquino, who stole second base in the next at-bat, then got thrown out at third base on a grounder to short. Ooof. Finnegan hit pinch hitter Jose Barreros in the left forearm to put two on in front Nick Castellanos, who K’d swinging to send it to extras.
Luis Cessa stranded the free runner in a scoreless top of the tenth.
Austin Voth came on in the bottom of the tenth and walked Joey Votto intentionally to put two runners on in front Kyle Farmer, who fell behind 0-2 trying to bunt, and K’d swinging.
Eugenio Suárez stepped in next and singled to center to load them up for Tucker Barnhart, who popped up to the infield for out No. 2. TJ Friedl fell behind 0-2, and grounded out to second. Still 7-7.
Art Warren got the ball in the eleventh, and struck out Lane Thomas and Alcides Escobar before an intentional walk to Juan Soto, and an unintentional walk to Riley Adams, which loaded the bases up in front of Luis García, who grounded out to first base to end the threat.
Mason Thompson came on for the Nationals in the bottom of the inning and a sharp ground ball to second off Aristides Aquino’s bat got by Luis García, 8-7 Reds.
Final Score: 8-7 Reds
Nationals now 64-90