WASHINGTON -- On a night when the Nationals unveiled their top pitching prospect, Reds starter Mike Minor responded with his best outing of the season.
Minor allowed two runs over a season-long seven innings to lead the Reds to a 7-2 win at Nationals Park, helping erase the taste of a four-game sweep at Philadelphia.
The left-hander didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven, one below his season high, on 105 pitches. It was the first time he went at least six innings while allowing two or fewer runs since a July 1 loss to the Braves.
“It was a great start,” manager David Bell said. “He threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of soft contact, didn’t walk guys. Pitched up in the zone but also had a good changeup, good breaking ball and went deep into the game.”
After going 10 starts between wins -- and losing eight of them -- Minor has won two straight.
“It’s been too long,” Minor said. “Every outing’s been frustrating.”
Minor attributed his success against the Nationals to increased curveball usage.
“The curveball [previously] was just kind of like a throw-in pitch to get them off other stuff, to slow them down. It was just something going up and down, to get them off east and west,” he said. “I thought tonight it was a little bit better, more of a quality pitch, and we threw it with two strikes, in the middle of the count, so something they had to respect.”
Minor allowed hits in every inning except the first and seventh but prevented the Nationals from bunching them together.
He gave up a leadoff double to Ildemaro Vargas in the third. Luis Garcia drove him home with a single and stole second, but Minor struck out Joey Meneses with a curveball to end the inning.
Luke Voit homered to left-center field with one out in the sixth, but Minor rallied to retire the final five batters he faced, striking out Victor Robles to end the seventh.
“I thought we had a good game plan. I thought [catcher] Chuckie [Robinson] executed it,” Minor said. “First time throwing to him. He doesn’t really know me, so I thought he did a really good job of going over it before the game and then executing it. I thought the stuff was better tonight than it has been all year.”
It was the first time Minor completed seven innings since July 31, 2021, when he did so for the Rangers in a 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays. He began this season on the injured list with a left shoulder strain and didn’t make his first start until June 3.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle from the beginning of the year with the injury and all that and it’s taken him a while to get in midseason form and that’s what we’re seeing now and what he’s used to doing,” Bell said.
Jonathan India returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with left leg soreness and reached base four times via two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch, extending his hitting streak to a career-long nine games. During the streak, India has hit .294 (10-for-34) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, three RBIs, three walks and eight runs scored -- including three on Friday.
“We’ve talked about how important he is at the top of our order, whether he’s leading off, hitting second,” Bell said. “It’s great having him up there because he has the ability to drive the ball, but a big part of his game … is just getting on base.”