Reds sweep Dodgers: 'Hopefully, this is the shift we needed'

May 26th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- By no means did the Reds ace their month-plus gauntlet of a schedule that featured several of baseball's best teams, both 2023 World Series teams, two West Coast road trips and some key players getting injured.

But they sure did finish it well. A 4-1 win over the Dodgers gave Cincinnati a three-game series sweep and the club's first three-game win streak since April 19-21, when it swept the Angels. It also meant a season-series win over the Dodgers.

“Baseball is hard. People are going to go through stretches," said designated hitter Nick Martini, who had two hits, including a two-run single in the third inning. "But I think this team is super close. We knew at some point that good things were eventually going to come.”

Since April 24, when they were at their highest mark of the season at four games above .500 (14-10), the Reds went 9-20 in their next 29 games that included the Phillies, Rangers, Padres, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Giants and Dodgers. Now, they are seven games under .500 at 23-30 while at the bottom of the National League Central.

“It shows what we’re capable of doing when we play well," manager David Bell said. "We know that about ourselves. We believe that we absolutely have to go out and show it. It’s nice to see for our team and our players, just fighting to shift the energy around. That’s been going on for a long time. Sometimes to get the ball moving in the right direction, you really have to dig deep. That’s been happening. Hopefully, this is the shift we needed, but it doesn’t get easier.”

Up next is no breather but a chance to dig out of their hole and move back up in the standings. Ten of the Reds’ next 13 games will be against NL Central rivals -- the Cardinals and Cubs. Wedged in there are also three games at Colorado against another last-place team, the Rockies.

The last and only time the Reds played in the division this season was April 8-10 vs. the Brewers. If nothing else, they are going into the next phase of the schedule on a bit of a roll.

“I think it’s huge," said swingman pitcher . "Things hadn’t been going for us. We’ve had some bad breaks. Big sweep right there. Big season-series win against a team like that. Just the momentum we need as we get into more division games.”

With it being a bullpen day for their pitchers, the Reds had the perfect weapon in Martinez for the series finale.

After opener Brent Suter gave up a leadoff single to Mookie Betts and got the first two outs of the first inning, Martinez delivered 4 1/3 scoreless with one hit for the win.

Martinez, who also pitched five scoreless innings of relief at Los Angeles on May 16, has a 1.46 ERA in 11 career games vs. the Dodgers.

“A team like that, a lineup like that, not a lot of room for errors," Martinez said. "We have to make sure we’re executing our pitches. [The catchers] did an excellent job of guiding me through that. It shows we can play some really good baseball against those guys.”

Facing Dodgers starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Reds did all of their offensive damage in the third inning with two outs. Jake Fraley hit a grounder that was stopped by diving second baseman Gavin Lux and notched an infield single to load the bases.

On a 2-1 sinker from Yamamoto, Jonathan India bounced a two-run single into right field that scored Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer. In a nice piece of hitting, Martini fouled off a 3-2 curveball before lifting a 96 mph fastball in on the hands for a soft two-run single to center field.

The game was delayed for one hour and nine minutes following the fifth inning because of showers. Carson Spiers took over when play resumed and pitched 3 1/3 innings. The shutout ended in the ninth inning on back-to-back hits, with Freddie Freeman's RBI double scoring Shohei Ohtani.

Alexis Díaz struck out the last two batters for his 10th save.

“I know the narrative changes because you win against a really good team," catcher Luke Maile said. "But we’re doing the same stuff. We didn’t change anything, aside from our home run celebration. Other than that, we’re just playing baseball as hard as we can.

"We happened to catch some really timely hits. We were able to hit the ball out of the ballpark early over the course of the series. I think that gave us a nudge in the right direction.”