After somewhat containing star outfielder Julio Rodriguez on Monday, the Cincinnati Reds will try to record a second straight win over the visiting Seattle Mariners when the two teams continue their three-game series on Tuesday.
Both Seattle (77-60) and Cincinnati are fighting desperately for playoff position. The Reds (72-68) are hanging on in a four-way race for the third and final National League wild card, while the Mariners are battling with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers for the American League West lead.
Cincinnati reliever Lucas Sims struck out Rodriguez with the bases loaded to end the seventh on Monday, and Rodriguez also fanned with two men on in the ninth to end the game, giving Ian Gibaut his second save of the season in the Reds' 6-3 win.
However, earlier in the contest, Rodriguez added to his remarkable resume when he put Seattle on the board with a 411-foot solo shot off Daniel Duarte in the fourth inning. It was Rodriguez's 25th homer of the season, making him the first player in major league history to have 25 home runs and 25 steals in each of his first two seasons.
Rodriguez was named AL Player of the Month in August after leading the AL in batting average (.429), hits (45), RBIs (30), doubles (10) and stolen bases (11). He also clubbed seven homers and had 19 runs.
The Mariners rode Rodriguez's incredible August to the top of the AL West standings, passing Texas and Houston before the Astros drew even with Seattle on Monday thanks to a 13-6 victory over the Rangers.
"It's definitely been a lot of work, but a lot of team effort, too, that we were all in together," Rodriguez said. "It was pretty cool. It was a pretty cool month, and I'm just looking forward to keep building on to it."
The Reds are contending with Arizona, San Francisco and Miami for the third and final wild-card spot in the NL. Cincinnati is currently in a virtual tie with the Diamondbacks for that position, while the Marlins sit a half-game back and the Giants sit a full game back.
The Reds find themselves in a precarious position, though, as four pitchers are on the seven-day COVID-19 injured list, while another — right-hander Graham Ashcraft — is on the 15-day IL with a stress reaction in his right big toe.
Due to its ailing pitching staff, Cincinnati turned to right-hander Tejay Antone on Monday. Antone made his first start since Sept. 12, 2020, and the Reds will send another unproven arm to the mound on Tuesday when they hand the ball to right-hander Connor Phillips.
Phillips will be making his major league debut. He went 4-5 with a 3.86 ERA between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville this season.
"I feel like this was an organizational win," Reds manager David Bell said after Monday's win. "It's all hands on deck trying to help us get through this. Everyone is contributing helping us get through this."
Right-hander Bryce Miller (8-4, 3.93 ERA) will start for the Mariners. He has never faced Cincinnati.
In his most recent outing, Miller took a no-decision after allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings against the Oakland Athletics last Wednesday.
—Field Level Media