Suárez shows All-Star shades down stretch

September 29th, 2021

CHICAGO -- No hitter on the Reds is having a better September than third baseman Eugenio Suárez. Also, no hitter needed a month like this more than Suárez.

Suárez, who hit his 30th home run of the season during Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the White Sox, entered Wednesday with an eight-game hitting streak where he’s batting .438 with four homers. He also leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS during the month (min. 25 plate appearances), while slashing .373/.457/.831 with seven homers.

“He’s taking great swings right now,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I do think it’s important to reflect on a season. I know Geno has already done that and he’ll have another chance when the season is over. Beyond that, there is really no reason to go back. He’s had way more success than he’s had anything else throughout his career, so he has that to fall back on.

“Having the strong finish is the most important thing because he can take that into next season. That’s what he is going to remember. I think he’s been through the process of learning from the struggles earlier on this season.”

Suárez, 30, entered play Wednesday slashing .193/.280/.420 and has the lowest average in the Majors among qualified hitters. He will be trying to avoid some dubious history in the final slate of games.

Only Mark Reynolds with Arizona in 2010 has ever finished a Major League season with at least 30 homers and an average below .200. Reynolds hit 32 homers while batting .198.

“You know this has been tough for me, personally, talking about average,” Suárez said. “In this last month of the season, I've been playing well -- I feel so proud of myself. I know what I can do. I always believe in myself and hitting 30 homers in one season is a lot for me. That's all that matters right now, doing my best every time.”

Suárez has hit at least 30 homers three times over his career, including a career-high 49 in 2019.

“This month tells me I'm doing my best and I'm telling everyone what I can do and I tell myself, 'Yes, this is you. This is you, the player you are.' That comfort has helped me a lot,” Suárez said.

Sanmartin earns another start

Bell named Reiver Sanmartin as the Reds’ starting pitcher for the final game of the season Sunday at Pittsburgh. During Monday’s 13-1 win over the Pirates at Great American Ball Park, Sanmartin had a strong big league debut by allowing just one earned run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts.

The decision means that Vladimir Gutierrez will not get another 2021 start. Also a rookie, Gutierrez has struggled in his last few outings while showing he’s worn down.

“It will be great to see him pitch again, get another start,” Bell said of Sanmartin. “Also with Vladdy, I didn’t see any upside to having him start another game. He’s going to become available out of our bullpen starting Friday. We all talked and thought it was best for him to not start another game. He’s worked really hard, had a great year. At this point, there’s no need.”