Sonny Gray to make season debut for Reds vs. Indians

MLB Baseball
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When right-hander Sonny Gray makes his 2021 debut on Saturday, the Reds will try to extend their dominance at home, and Gray will look to continue his own solid history against the Cleveland Indians.

A strained back muscle delayed Gray’s first start, but that didn’t deter his eagerness to take the mound. Gray, who won his first three starts last season before finishing 5-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 11 starts, pitched at the club’s alternate site in Louisville and threw 84 pitches in a simulated outing last weekend.

According to the Reds, he won’t be on a pitch or inning limitation Saturday.

“When you come back, you hit the ground running — let’s go,” Gray told the Reds’ official website. “That’s kind of where we’re at with that.

“It was a really good thing to build up to get to your first outing.”

Against the Indians in his career, Gray has gone 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 10 regular-season starts. In his only effort versus Cleveland last season, Gray allowed one earned run, four hits, struck out eight and walked two over six innings of a 3-2 home victory.

He should be even more eager to take ball Saturday at home, where the Reds have won six in a row … are averaging 9.6 runs and batting .321 with 16 homers while off to a 6-1 start. Cincinnati, which last won seven straight at home in 2018, used a seven-run third inning to open this series with a 10-3 rout of Cleveland on Friday. It was the fourth time the Reds, who are 2-4 on the road, have scored at least 10 in a home contest.

Joey Votto’s two-run homer highlighted the breakout third. Votto is batting .208, but all three of his home runs have come over the last four games. Teammate Nick Castellanos went deep for the fifth time Friday. All of Castellanos’ homers have come at home, where he’s 12-for-27 with nine RBIs.

Looking to beat the Indians in back-to-back games for the first time since July 9-10, 2018, the Reds will get their first look at promising Cleveland 23-year-old Triston McKenzie (0-0, 4.70 ERA).

Beginning his first full major league season, the right-hander made his first 2021 appearance in relief, then yielded a three-run homer and one other hit while striking out six with two walks over four innings of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox during his first start of the season Monday. McKenzie would also like some offensive support as the Indians have totaled 10 runs for their starting pitchers while the club has split its last six games.

Cleveland got homers from Amed Rosario and Jordan Luplow on Friday. However, outfielder Eddie Rosario is 1-for-9 in the last three games and 2-for-13 against Gray.

Cleveland star Jose Ramirez has three RBIs in the last two games, but is 4-for-23 during the regular and postseason versus Gray.

“The one thing you try to talk to guys about is, when they do hit the ball hard and they don’t get rewarded for it, and their batting average isn’t very good, that’s when guys have a tendency to do more.” manager Terry Francona told the Indians’ official website.

“I try to pat them on the back. … If you do continue to hit the ball hard, you will get your hits.”

–Field Level Media

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