Teams with postseason aspirations are expected to defeat lesser foes and hold their own against other competitors.
The Cincinnati Reds, who hold second place in the National League Central, are entering the second contest of a three-game road series against the Kansas City Royals, who sit in last place in the American League Central.
The Reds won the opener 6-2 on Monday, their fifth victory in a row and the Royals’ 11th defeat in 13 games. Even so, Cincinnati manager David Bell is not taking anything for granted against Kansas City.
Luis Castillo (3-10, 5.08 ERA) will start for the Reds on Tuesday against the Royals’ Kris Bubic (2-4, 4.99).
The Reds earned their 23rd come-from-behind victory of the season Monday. They couldn’t mount much of an attack against Royals starter Mike Minor in the first six innings, but a leadoff home run by Nick Castellanos tied the game in the seventh, and Eugenio Suarez’s three-run blast gave the Reds a big cushion.
Following the series against the Royals, Cincinnati will conclude the pre-All-Star break schedule with four road games against the Milwaukee Brewers, who lead the NL Central. Coming out of the break, the Reds will host a three-game set vs. the Brewers.
Bell wasn’t looking past Kansas City, though.
“Especially with the All-Star break, it starts with today,” he said pregame Monday. “This is a big series, just like it was a big series against the Cubs. We’re coming in to play a good team. We (want to) come in and play well, and the wins will take care of themselves. I think each and every game is equally important. It’s important not to look past (Kansas City).”
Castillo has split his past four decisions after losing seven straight starts to drop to 1-8. He’s gone at least six innings in five of his past six starts, with the outlier a 5 2/3-innings outing. Over that six-game stretch, he produced a 2.13 ERA.
Two of his past four starts were scoreless seven-inning outings, against the Brewers on June 15 and the Atlanta Braves on June 26. Castillo is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in two career starts against the Royals, both occurring in 2020.
Bubic started the season almost unhittable, logging a 1.52 ERA over his first seven appearances (three starts). Things have gone south since early June, though. In his past seven outings (four starts), Bubic has a 9.53 ERA.
On Thursday at Boston, Bubic gave up a long ball to the first batter he faced, Red Sox outfielder Enrique Hernandez, and wound up yielding five runs on four hits in four innings.
“Obviously he got hit right away with a home run,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. “That never is the best start for us, but he did a nice job. I mean, he’s heading into the fourth inning there with only one hit — a home run — and then it just kind of stockpiled on him.”
Bubic isn’t expected to go deep in the game, as he has not lasted more than 4 2/3 innings since the end of May.
In his lone career appearance against Cincinnati, a start on Aug. 11, 2020, Bubic surrendered five runs on seven hits in five innings. He wasn’t involved in the decision as the Reds won 6-5 in 10 innings.
–Field Level Media