MLB: Gritty Guardians visit rising Reds in Ohio rivalry

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While the Cleveland Guardians continue to lead the American League Central, the Cincinnati Reds have played well this month.

Both look to maintain that success in the season’s first installment of their Ohio rivalry Tuesday night at Cincinnati.

Sitting 20 games over .500, the Guardians currently control the AL Central and eye a third straight victory after taking the final two of a three-game weekend set at Miami.

“We want it,” Guardians outfielder Tyler Freeman said of remaining successful and reaching the playoffs.

“We didn’t make the playoffs (while going 76-86 in 2023), and it was a tough season. We made a promise to ourselves that it wouldn’t happen again … I think it has a little extra grit to it this year.”

Cincinnati, meanwhile, is two games under .500, but amid a 12-4 stretch. The Reds’ seven-game winning streak ended with Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to the Chicago Cubs.

“We’ve all experienced how things pay off when you handle them the right way and the way that you believe in,” Reds manager David Bell said, according to The Athletic.

“It creates a confidence and belief that this group can do that.”

Cincinnati, however, is 6-15 against the in-state rival Guardians at home since the start of the 2015 season.

Cleveland star Jose Ramirez, who had two hits in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Marlins, is batting .328 with 37 RBIs in the last 31 games. He’s hitting .385 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in his last 16 versus Cincinnati.

Teammate Steven Kwan is batting .370 this season and is 10-for-21 in six games since missing 23 with a strained hamstring. However, he’s just 4-for-29 in eight career contests against the Reds.

Cincinnati’s Jeimer Candelario went 0-for-4 on Sunday against the Cubs but is batting .308 with three homers and six RBIs in those nine June games. Candelario, though, is 2-for-13, but with a homer, against scheduled Guardians starter Triston McKenzie (2-3, 4.16 ERA), who has yielded just one run in nine innings spanning two career starts against the Reds.

The right-hander went 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts from April 19-May 17. However, McKenzie owns a 7.04 ERA over his three starts since, with all 12 runs allowed coming on eight homers. The Guardians, though, won all three games, while totaling 27 runs in the process.

He yielded five of those runs on three homers, plus six other hits, in 5 1/3 against Kansas City on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Bell announced that Hunter Greene, who was lined up to start for Cincinnati on Tuesday, will be pushed back to later in the week. As of early Monday, the Reds had not named an official starter for this contest, but Bell noted “we’re gonna use our bullpen for the most part.”

Bell also stated that Nick Martinez, who opened the season as a starter before being moved to the bullpen, could be part of the mix Tuesday. The right-hander has allowed one run, three hits and struck out seven without a walk in 9 1/3 innings over his last four outings — all in relief.

–Field Level Media

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