Reds hope Gray can change their fortunes against Indians

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Sonny Gray has been stellar during the early portion of the season. Whether he’s good enough to help the Cincinnati Reds end their recent home struggles against the Cleveland Indians remains to be seen.

The right-hander aims to go 3-0 while trying to keep the Reds from losing at home to the Indians for the seventh straight time on Monday night.

Gray (2-0, 0.71 ERA) has allowed one earned run, four hits and three walks while striking out 20 over 12 2/3 innings against Detroit and the Chicago Cubs. After yielding one hit and fanning 11 batters over 6 2/3 during a 12-7 win over the Cubs on Wednesday, Gray has made 35 straight starts while allowing six or fewer hits.

“I’m just trying to let it fly,” Gray told MLB Network. “Just let it rock. Just do it.

“I’ll just go on feel a lot of the time. … I feel comfortable with myself when I am out there.”

Gray is 4-3 with a 3.33 ERA in nine starts against the Indians (5-5), but has never faced them while with the Reds (4-5). That could actually be Cincinnati’s benefit after losing six in a row and 10 of the last 11 against Cleveland at home.

The Indians have averaged 7.1 runs and clubbed 23 home runs over that 11-game span. Cleveland star Francisco Lindor, hitting just .225 in 2020, is batting .364 with four homers in 12 games at Cincinnati. However, he’s 3 for 17 against Gray during his career.

Cleveland might be eager to get to Cincinnati after dropping the final three of a four-game set at Minnesota. With Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Twins, the Indians are hitting .146 while totaling four runs in losing four of the last five contests.

“Our offense is in a funk right now,” first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. told the Indians’ official website. “We have to have more quality at-bats.

“It’s still early, and guys need to just have better approaches.”

However, the Indians’ pitching has not been bad with a 2.79 ERA over those five games. That stretch began with a strong season debut from scheduled starter Zach Plesac (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who allowed three hits and struck out 11 without a walk over eight scoreless innings of a 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

The right-hander faced the Reds on June 12, 2019, and it did not go all that well. Joey Votto, Nick Senzel and Eugenio Suarez each hit solo homers as Plesac gave up four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings of that 7-2 loss in Cleveland.

It seems likely Plesac won’t have to worry about Votto, who was placed on the injured list Sunday by the Reds after self-reporting coronavirus symptoms. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Votto (0 for 9 in the last three games) did not test positive for COVID-19.

The move came hours before the Reds went on to sweep a doubleheader — featuring seven innings in each contest — at Detroit on Sunday. Hitting .387 with 11 RBIs this season, Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos homered twice in the 4-3 opening win. In the nightcap, Trevor Bauer tossed a seven-inning, complete-game two-hitter in a 4-0 victory.

It does not seem likely Cleveland manager Terry Francona will be in the dugout Monday, or for this series, after missing Sunday’s game due to gastrointestinal issues. The team said it does not believe this is related to COVID-19.

–Field Level Media

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