Bullpen backs injured Montas as Reds sweep Angels

April 21st, 2024

CINCINNATI -- Already with a three-game series victory in hand after two wins over the Angels, the Reds didn't concede anything on Sunday when a near-disaster happened to starting pitcher .

Montas was only 16 pitches into his start in the first inning when he was struck below his right elbow by a line drive and had to leave the game. Cincinnati's bullpen -- beginning with -- picked up Montas with 8 1/3 innings of strong work during a 3-0 victory for the series sweep at Great American Ball Park.

"There is no complacency," Suter said. "We want to do our job today and make sure we do our best and do everything we can to get the win today. It’s not like you’ll be looking at the standings and be like, ‘Oh well, we won the series back in April against these guys.’ There’s none of that. Every game, we give our best effort because we know how much every game matters.”

Later diagnosed with a right forearm contusion as X-rays were negative for a fracture, Montas was hit by Taylor Ward's 101.3 mph comebacker but was able to finish the play by throwing out Ward at first base.

“I was going to make the play, regardless. I told myself, ‘Get him out and worry about your arm after that,'" Montas said.

Montas -- who signed to a one-year, $16 million contract in January -- could be seen flexing his elbow as he was looked over by athletic trainer Tomas Vera and manager David Bell before walking off the field.

After the game, Montas removed an arm wrap and revealed a golf ball-sized swollen lump on his lower arm. The stitches from the baseball that struck him were visible amid his many tattoos.

Before the X-rays revealed no broken bones, there was concern that it could be a serious injury for Montas. He had missed most of the 2023 season with the Yankees because of a right shoulder injury that required surgery.

“I couldn’t feel my hand. It swelled up right away. It just really hurt at the time," Montas said. "Any time you get hit in the arm -- especially your pitching arm -- you’re a little concerned. A lot of thoughts go through your head."

Suter took over and pitched 3 1/3 innings -- the second-longest relief outing of his career -- with four singles and a walk but no runs allowed.

“I didn’t quite get my activation stuff done in the bullpen today. But it’s part of my job," Suter said. "It’s part of what I feel I can bring to the team. It’s not the first time I’ve come in in the first inning, probably won’t be the last.

“Obviously your heart is with Frankie taking one right off his favorite arm there, which is a bummer. It’s like, 'You’ve got to step up. You’ve got to try to keep the score where it is and go as long as you can.'"

In the top of the fourth inning after a one-out single, Suter induced a grounder to first base for an inning-ending double play. Then he gave way to Emilio Pagán, who followed with two innings to get credit for the victory.

Angels starter José Soriano took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of a scoreless game before the Reds lineup finally broke through with all three runs. Following a two-out fielding error, Christian Encarnacion-Strand hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center field and Jeimer Candelario added an RBI triple to right-center field.

Fernando Cruz, Lucas Sims and Alexis Díaz worked an inning each to complete the combined six-hit shutout. Díaz notched his fourth save of the season.

"From Suter to Díaz, I’m just glad they went out there and picked me up," Montas said. "It’s always tough on the bullpen when your starter goes down -- especially in the first inning.”

The Reds’ bullpen provided 15 scoreless innings overall in the series sweep.

Because of the swelling in his arm, Montas estimated he would miss at least one start. His next rotation turn could likely go to swingman Nick Martinez, who pitched three innings behind starter Graham Ashcraft during Saturday's win.

“If he misses one, we’re very grateful," Bell said of Montas. "It could have been a lot worse because he was in a lot of pain. It got him in a bad spot. Thankfully, maybe it was in a good spot in the end if it didn’t get to the bone.”