Greene dealing after pointers from Montas

Reds stall in series opener vs. Mets despite strong start, Steer's early HR

April 6th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- The effect didn't give -- or the Reds -- a victory on Friday against the Mets. But it did help Greene see what can happen when he pumps strikes and goes after hitters.

Greene paid close attention to Montas' first two starts this season -- both wins -- and wanted to do likewise. Greene came away with a no-decision but still had a quality start on an otherwise lackluster night for the Reds during a 3-2 loss to the Mets at Great American Ball Park.

"Obviously watching Frankie in his last two starts and listening to him speak when we have been on the bench, the conversations that we’ve had, a lot of his success has been getting ahead and competing in the zone and putting guys away when he needs to," Greene said.

Over six innings, Greene gave up one run and three hits -- all singles -- with one walk and six strikeouts. Of his 99 pitches, 71 were for strikes. Over his first two innings, the right-hander had just six balls out of 36 pitches.

Greene touched 100 mph with his fastball, including on strikeouts to Francisco Alvarez in the first inning and DJ Stewart in the third. Overall, he generated 16 whiffs from Mets hitters.

"It doesn’t get much better than that," Reds manager David Bell said. "The fastball and slider, really good life on the fastball. Mainly did it with those two pitches.”

But Greene didn't get much help. The Reds’ lineup was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.

“We just didn’t get the hit in the big spot, and that’s how the game goes," said left fielder Spencer Steer, who hit a first-inning solo home run. "They did a good job with runners on base, and we didn’t come up with that big hit. I thought Hunter did an outstanding job on the mound. … As an offense, we’d like that one back, for sure.”

After Brett Baty's first-inning squib single near third base with Santiago Espinal playing away from the line, Greene retired 10 batters in a row. In the fifth inning, he walked leadoff batter Tyrone Taylor before Harrison Bader hit a one-out single.

On a 1-2 count against Stewart, Greene hit him on the elbow with a fastball to load the bases. It led to a game-tying run scoring on Francisco Lindor's sacrifice fly to center field.

“It was a great pitch, a fastball right on the corner inside," Greene said of the pitch that hit Stewart. "It just happened to get him, but I thought it was a fantastic pitch and I was very happy with my execution. Once the ball leaves my hand, I can’t really control it.”

The game turned against the Reds’ bullpen in the later innings. Fernando Cruz walked the bases loaded in the top of the seventh with one out. Pete Alonso followed with a grounder to the middle for a potential double play. Shortstop Elly De La Cruz struggled to get the ball out of his glove before making a bad flip to Jonathan India at second base as Lindor slid in safely.

Bader scored the go-ahead run on the error. With two outs in the eighth inning, Jeff McNeil hit a solo homer off Emilio Pagán for an insurance run.

While Montas is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA, Greene remains winless in his two starts with a 2.53 ERA.

"I thought Greene really was good, elite fastball up to 100, but then he was also getting ahead of hitters with the breaking ball, the slider first pitch," Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. "I thought he threw a lot of good ones, and I thought we battled. Even on a night where that guy was on, I thought our at-bats overall were better."

Besides Montas, Greene also watched another strike-thrower earlier in the day on television, when Marcus Stroman pitched six scoreless innings with three hits allowed for the Yankees against the Blue Jays.

Greene wants to use what he's learning to go deeper into games than he traditionally has over his two-plus big league seasons.

“That’s the only way I’m going to be able to do that," Greene said. "Is by throwing strikes and trying to put guys away as early as possible."