CLEVELAND -- History indicated Anthony DeSclafani could have been headed for a rough night against the Indians on Monday. But the Reds' right-hander found a way to string together his best start of the season to tame his team's in-state foes at Progressive Field.There wasn't much rhyme or reason to
CLEVELAND -- History indicated Anthony DeSclafani could have been headed for a rough night against the Indians on Monday. But the Reds' right-hander found a way to string together his best start of the season to tame his team's in-state foes at Progressive Field.
There wasn't much rhyme or reason to it. It was just one of those nights.
"I was throwing a lot of fastballs, honestly," DeSclafani said. "I honestly didn't think my offspeed stuff was too effective. I got a lot of outs with just four-seamers away and kind of throwing some four-seamers in."
DeSclafani limited the American League Central-leading Indians to one run on five hits over seven innings to lead the Reds to a 7-5 win. The Reds' 28-year-old starter pitched mainly to contact, walked two and struck out three to improve to 4-1.
With the win, the Reds ended a brief two-game skid after dropping two of three to the Cubs over the weekend. Cincinnati also improved to 9-2 in Interleague Play this season.
The outing was also an impressive rebound for DeSclafani, who gave up three home runs and was taxed for five runs against the White Sox last Tuesday. The win marked his first since June 23. The Indians also had his number in the past -- he was 0-2 with with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the Tribe for his career.
DeSclafani's only trouble came on a home run to Yonder Alonso in the fourth. He left a 93-mph fastball at the top of the zone in a 3-2 count. Even after that, he was able to retire eight of the next nine.
"He was getting his fastball past our barrel enough where he could throw the breaking ball," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's what I saw. We just weren't squaring up a lot of his fastballs."
DeSclafani's start may be another step in the right direction for the Reds under interim manager Jim Riggleman, who improved to 37-36 since taking the helm after the team's 3-19 start. DeSclafani missed all of 2017 due to various injuries and didn't make his first start this year until June 5. It's the first time he's pitched through the seventh since Sept. 2, 2016, when he went seven innings against the Cardinals.
"He stretched himself out. We react to what they do, and he was really doing well," Riggleman said. "Really something good to build on there."
Though the box score won't show it, DeSclafani said he's felt better with every start this season. Even as of late he said he's felt he's had better command until a couple of mistakes takes the game in a different direction.
"I feel like I've felt like that in the last couple of starts," DeSclafani said. "I just kind of made some dumb pitches that skewed the line a little bit. I feel like I've been working ahead of guys and getting quick outs and having some stress-free innings.
"But just some bad pitches, they've been squaring them up and putting them over the fence instead of me, just locating a tad bit better and keeping the line looking a little bit better. Today was good. I had a great defense behind me."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Reds were able to make hard contact off Indians starter Mike Clevinger (7-4) early and often. In the second, Tucker Barnhart doubled home Eugenio Suarez, who led off the frame with a walk and got into scoring position on a fielder's choice.
Joey Votto sent his ninth homer of the season to the bleachers in left-center field in the fifth off 3-2 fastball from Clevinger. Clevinger's night was done after Billy Hamilton singled to lead off the seventh. Hamilton stole second for his team-leading 22nd stolen base and advanced to third after Indians catcher Yan Gomes' throw to second sailed into center field. Hamilton scored on a Scott Schebler single, and the run was charged to Clevinger.
"It was kind of just baseball being baseball with a good hitter at the plate," Clevinger said. "That one was kind of different because of the way the game was playing out at that point, we didn't want to have a two out walk right there … It was just giving away outs, and that's not how you win baseball games."
Schebler capped off a 4-for-5 game in the ninth, sending a no-doubt, two-run homer to right off Josh Tomlin for his 12th of the season.
Iglesias halts Tribe's rally: The Indians sent eight men to the plate and put up four runs in the bottom of the ninth, forcing the Reds to use three relievers to stop the threat. Raisel Iglesias inherited runners at the corners with one out in a 7-3 game, but was able to get the final two outs.
"We were hoping we wouldn't have to use him and we could give him another day off," Riggleman said, "but the game called for him to be in there, and he responded in there with really good stuff against that part of the lineup."
Votto's home run marked his 14th against the Indians, which ties him for the fourth-most homers against an Interleague opponent in National League history. The only players with more Interleague home runs against a single club are Paul Konerko, who hit 20 against the Cubs, Barry Bonds (18 vs. the A's) and Jose Pujols (16 vs. the Royals). Votto tied Aramis Ramirez, who hit 14 against the White Sox.
HE SAID IT
"When I'm catching, he's a very ho-hum outing. I didn't think he had -- and I think he'd say the same -- I didn't think he had very good stuff today, but he was able to manage the lineup, get early contact when he needed it, pitched deep into the game. His last two innings were his best two innings he threw all night." -- Barnhart, on DeSclafani's performance
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With a runner on and two outs in the third inning, Jose Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to Joey Votto that deflected off the All-Star first baseman's glove. Second baseman Scooter Gennett, who was ranging left to back up Votto, barehanded the ball and threw to first to get Ramirez. The Indians called for replay and the call stood, ending the frame.
"That was huge," DeSclafani said. "Real big play, because I think we had [Edwin] Encarnacion coming up with first and second. That would've been a tough at-bat, for sure. Huge play."
Sal Romano (5-8, 5.49 ERA) will get the start for the Reds on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Romano gave up four runs on six hits through five innings in the team's 7-4 win against the White Sox last Wednesday. In five starts against AL teams this season, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA. The Tribe will counter with Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.45 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.