Reds notes: Suarez comes through in clutch in season of struggles

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Eugenio Suarez has hit 157 home runs in his Cincinnati Reds career — none bigger than the one he hit in the sixth inning Monday.

In a season of struggles, Suarez came through with the biggest hit of his career. His two-run home run gave the Reds a 2-1 lead and propelled them to a 6-3 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Geno’s been battling all year, been fighting all year,” Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas said. “He comes to the field ready to play, ready to work every single day. He works hard in the cage. He’s just trying to figure things out. For him to hit a huge homer in that situation means a lot, not just to us but to him. He’s swinging the bat well right now. We’ve just got to keep it rolling.”

Suarez went 2-for-3 in the series opener at Great American Ball Park, raising his average from .195 to .203. That’s still far below his career average of .262. He was 0-for-13 in his five previous appearances.

Suarez said he was expecting a fastball from Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, who shut out the Reds in the first five innings, and got one. The victory pushed the Reds closer to the playoffs, and like many of his teammates, contending in the final week is a new experience for Suarez.

“The last few games, we’ve played like this is our year,” Suarez said. “We’ve got a chance to make the playoffs. We’ve got to take it day by day and keep the energy we have right now and see what happens tomorrow.”

Roster move: The Reds designated reliever Nate Jones for assignment on Tuesday when they reinstated Sonny Gray from the injured list to start the second game of the series against the Brewers.

Jones gave up a two-run home run in the ninth inning Monday. He’s 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA in 21 games.

“He pretty much took the ball in any situation,” manager David Bell said. “I wasn’t afraid to put him in any situation. He pitched in a lot of close games. He was able to do a lot for us and contribute in a lot of ways. We’re hoping it turns out he stays with us and remains in our bubble.”

ExploreWhere Reds stand in playoff picture

Looking ahead: As of Tuesday afternoon, the Reds had not announced their rotation for the weekend series on the road against the Minnesota Twins. However, on the current schedule, Luis Castillo would start Saturday. Castillo (4-5, 2.86 ERA) continued his September dominance on Monday, allowing one earned run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Castillo leads baseball in September victories (4-0), ranks fifth in ERA (1.26) and is tied for seventh in strikeouts (33).

“He’s really fun to catch,” catcher Curt Casali said in a postgame interview on Zoom on Monday. “Me and him, we’re great friends obviously. I feel like every time I’m up here, I’m talking about Luis, but I’m very happy to do that because he’s just an awesome person. He’s an awesome pitcher, an awesome teammate. I think we’re on a little bit of a roll here.”

ExploreNotes: Gray ready to roll as he returns to mound

Improving odds: Through Monday, according to FanGraphs.com, the Reds had a 77.0 percent chance of making the playoffs. Those were their best odds this season. They had a 27.6 percent chance of finishing second and a 49.4 percent chance of winning a wild card.

According to BetOnline.ag, the Reds had an 18-1 chance of winning the National League championship. A week earlier, their odds were 33-1. As for winning the World Series, the Reds' odds were 40-1 compared to 66-1 on Sept. 15.

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