The 2021 Battle of Ohio ends in a draw, but the Ohio Cup belongs to Cleveland. The Guardians unloaded on the Cincinnati Reds, 9-3, in Monday night’s make-up game to split the season series and retain the Ohio Cup for the seventh consecutive season.
Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo came into the game with a 1.91 ERA since June 4. His 3.70 BB/9, .261 BABIP, and 3.22 FIP over that stretch suggested he had a fair amount of help, but the bottom fell out against Cleveland. His final line: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
Spotted a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Castillo allowed the Guardians to even the score, giving up back-to-back hits to Myles Straw and Amed Rosario. Straw was able to score from third on a groundball from Franmil Reyes which should have been an inning-ending double play but ended up a fielder’s choice after Rosario got tangled up with Jonathan India at second base.
Cleveland took the lead in the second inning thanks to a two-run homer courtesy of Wilson Ramos, who has now homered in each of his two starts for the Guardians. But it was in the third inning that the wheels really started to come off the wagon for Castillo.
First, Rosario reached on an infield single that glanced off the glove of India. José Ramírez brought him home with an RBI triple to the wall in center field, where center fielder Aristides Aquino nearly caught it but couldn’t complete the catch as he collided with the wall. Harold Ramirez drew a one-out walk before Bradley Zimmer grounded out to first base on what should have been another inning-ending double play for the Reds. Instead, Tyler Stephenson snagged the ball, touched first, and then made a poor throw to second, allowing Harold to retreat safely back to first while José crossed home plate to make it 5-1.
In the fourth inning, Straw walked and then ran the rest of the way home, scoring on a Rosario RBI triple to the gap in left-center. It was Rosario’s fifth triple of the season, tied for most in the American League. Fortunately, José Ramírez was kind enough to make the trip to home plate easy for Rosario, depositing a two-run shot into the right field seats.
Bradley Zimmer smoked a solo moonshot in the seventh inning that cleared the trees in straightaway center field. That ball traveled 471 feet and boasted an exit velocity of 111.6 mph. It is the longest home run by a Cleveland batter in the Statcast era, besting Edwin Encarnacion’s previous record of 466 feet. See for yourself:
The offense certainly came to play, but the Guardians’ bullpen also did their part to keep the Ohio Cup in Cleveland. Sam Hentges served as the opener and managed to limit the Reds to a single run in two innings of work, giving up an RBI single to Joey Votto in the first inning. Justin Garza took over after him and lasted two innings. He walked two, struck out three, and was charged with an earned run after surrendering a leadoff double to India in the fifth inning. India came around to score against Blake Parker, who also accounted for two innings of work.
In the seventh inning, Nick Wittgren worked around a leadoff double to contribute a scoreless frame. He gave up a one-out double to Votto in the eighth but also managed to escape that inning unscathed. Nick Sandlin ran into some choppy waters in the ninth inning, allowing a third run after Eugenio Suárez reached on an error and then scored on a Tucker Barnhart RBI double.