After failing to bolster their rotation at last month's trade deadline, the Cincinnati Reds are counting on right-hander Hunter Greene to play a key role in the team's playoff push.
The Reds could use a solid outing from Greene after losing the series opener 3-2 on Thursday. Cincinnati was held to three hits and struck out 16 times in the loss, which snapped a three-game winning streak.
Arizona, which has won five straight and 10 of 12, holds a half-game lead over Cincinnati and the San Francisco Giants for the third and final National League wild-card spot.
The Reds hope Greene pitches better than he did on Sunday, when he gave up career highs of nine runs and 10 hits — including five home runs — in a 10-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He lasted just three-plus innings.
"Everybody is playing extremely well. I want to be a part of that," Greene said of his teammates. "I'm trying to get back to that as much as I can. I felt like I was doing really well before I went on the IL. I am just trying to get back to that same groove, that same flow that I had and hopefully come back and do a lot better in Arizona."
Greene logged the only complete game and only shutout of his career the lone time he faced the Diamondbacks. He threw seven innings, yielding one hit and no walks while fanning eight, in a rain-shortened, 7-0 victory on June 6, 2022.
The Diamondbacks will counter on Friday with right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (0-6, 6.13 ERA), who turned in the best outing of his young career last Friday against the San Diego Padres. The rookie allowed one hit over seven shutout innings while throwing a career-high 107 pitches. He struck out five and walked three.
"He did an unbelievable job all night," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was still throwing 94 mph all the way through his final pitches. He was very ready for this challenge and kept us in this game, and he did his job."
After posting a 9.82 ERA in his first six starts and winding up in the minors, Pfaadt has a 3.50 mark in six outings since returning for his third major league stint. He will make his second career start vs. Cincinnati after giving up three runs over six innings in a 4-2 loss on July 22.
Arizona received a scare in Thursday's game when starting pitcher Merrill Kelly exited with a trainer after completing his warmup pitches in the eighth inning. Lovullo said postgame that Kelly experienced a right hamstring cramp and should be able to make his next start.
D-backs outfielder Tommy Pham is batting .293 (17-for-58) with three homers and 14 RBIs during a 14-game hitting streak, which is the longest active streak in the majors.
Lovullo is paying attention to every detail with his team in the midst of a close wild-card chase. On Thursday, he had his hitters spend extra time on bunting practice following several miscues in recent games.
"This season's coming down to one game," Lovullo said. "One hundred percent. Book it. And I want to know when I put the bunt sign on that that guy's got it."
The Reds put first baseman Joey Votto on the 10-day injured list on Thursday due to left shoulder discomfort and recalled utility man Nick Senzel from Triple-A Louisville. Senzel tied the game with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning.
"That was special for me for a lot of reasons," Senzel said. "I love the guys in the locker room, and we've been through a lot this year, and I want to play meaningful games and help them win games, and that was just what you saw tonight."
—Field Level Media