Cincinnati’s Scott Feldman limited Cleveland to just one run over six innings of work on Monday night as the Reds opened their annual interleague series against the Indians with a 5-1 win.
The Indians (23-20), fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Majors’ winningest team in the Houston Astros, could not bring the same level of success against their intrastate rival in the opener of a four-game home-and-home series that will move from Great American Ball Park to Progressive Field later on this week.
Feldman matched up with Josh Tomlin, who kept the game close early for the Indians before a three-run seventh inning proved to be far too much to overcome on the night.
The Reds’ veteran right-hander was sharp in the early going, striking out each of the first five batters that he faced before a fly to center by Jose Ramirez ended the second frame. Meanwhile, the Reds got him single runs in each of the first two innings off of Tomlin, who was looking to bounce back after a rough outing his last time out on Wednesday against Tampa Bay.
A leadoff single would set the stage for the Reds in the first, as Billy Hamilton singled to center, moved to second on a one-out groundout by Joey Votto, and scored on a single to left by Adam Duvall to give Cincinnati the early lead. That lead grew another run in the second as Scott Schebler hit the first pitch of the inning into the seats in right to give the Reds a two-run advantage.
Tomlin would get things under control, retiring six straight batters between a leadoff single by Hamilton in the third and a leadoff double by Tucker Barnhart in the fifth.
The Indians got base runners against Feldman in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, but could not produce a run. The Reds starter struck out another batter in the third and two more in the fourth and worked around a leadoff double to right by Ramirez, who would be stranded at third with one out as Yan Gomes flied to right and Tomlin grounded out to short.
In the sixth, they finally struck through for a run and threatened for more. Jason Kipnis homered to start the inning, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Francisco Lindor followed with a double to left and a walk by Michael Brantley put two on with nobody out. But the ultimately rally killer would rear its head as Carlos Santana, starting in right field with no designated hitter used in the NL park, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a double play. With Lindor standing at third as the tying run with two outs, Edwin Encarnacion struck out looking to end the inning.
Tomlin was aided by a 9-6-4 double play in the sixth to get out of a potential jam. One pitch after a borderline call went in favor of Cincinnati, Votto doubled to deep center. After a strikeout by Duvall, Eugenio Suarez lined to Santana in right for the out. He fired back to second, where Votto had been off running on the contact thinking that the ball was going to drop. The double play was big at the time, but would become a moot point the following frame.
Tomlin returned to the mound for the bottom of the seventh and got a quick popup from Schbeler for the first out before Jose Peraza and Barnhart each singled to put runners on the corners with one down. Arismendy Alcantara dropped a bunt between the mound and the first base line that Tomlin fielded, but threw past the bag and down the line. Peraza scored as both runners moved into scoring position. Manager Terry Francona brought on Boone Logan in a double switch and he retired Hamilton swinging for the second out, but Dan Otero could not get the final out easily as Zack Cozart singled to center to drive in both base runners and put the game out of reach at 5-1.
The Indians would get two on in the eighth against Michael Lorenzen as Bradley Zimmer singled to start the inning and moved to second on a two-out single by Brantley, but Santana grounded to short to end the inning. In the ninth, Encarnacion doubled to lead off against reliever Raisel Iglesias, but he would be stranded there as the Reds closer struck out Ramirez and pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson before Gomes flied to center to end it.
As a team, the Indians were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
TOMLIN FINDS TROUBLE IN THE SEVENTH
Tomlin (2-6, 6.70 ERA) had limited the damage to just two runs through the first six innings and returned to start the seventh with an extremely low pitch count, but the decision would prove to be a mistake in the end for the Indians.
He retired one batter and compounded the back-to-back hits with one out in the inning by firing his throw on a bunt attempt down the right field line. He would leave with just 76 pitches thrown (57 for strikes) and was charged with five runs (four earned) on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
While the end results left something to be desired, Tomlin did extend his hitting streak against the Reds to three straight games after lining a single to right field off of Feldman in the third inning. He grounded out to short in his second and final at bat.
FELDMAN A NEW MAN
Making his first start since allowing seven runs in two and two-thirds innings against his former Chicago Cubs club, Feldman (3-4, 3.99) contained the Tribe and limited them to just the one run on the Kipnis blast. He worked six innings on the night and struck out a season-high nine batters in the ball game. He allowed four hits and walked a pair on 98 pitches.
His outing ended a long stretch of poor results from the Reds starting rotation. The starting staff, owners of the worst ERA in all of baseball coming into the night, had not posted a win since May 9 and had failed to make it through at least six innings in each of the last ten ball games. Not surprisingly, the club was just 2-8 in that span.
SCHEBLER SLUGGING AWAY
Schebler’s second inning homer was his third shot in as many games for Cincinnati. He now has 13 on the season, or one more than he had in 2015 and 2016 combined. The RBI was his 27th of the year.
KLUBER CLOSING IN ON REHAB ASSIGNMENT
Right-hander Corey Kluber successfully completed a bullpen session on Monday and appears to be nearing a potential rehab start, possibly a 65-70 pitch outing with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers on Thursday.
Kluber has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 3 after coming out of a start early against Detroit with a strained lower back.
ONE AND DONE
The Cincinnati leg of the Indians’ two-city road trip will come to a close Tuesday night as the Tribe takes on the Reds, looking to draw a split in the two-game road portion of the home-and-home series.
The Indians will send right-hander Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 2.60) to the mound to play the role of stopper. He is 2-0 in his four career outings against the Reds with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He has not pitched since May 15 when he left a bad start early with left pectoral issues. He was pushed back several days in the rotation to get extra rest without needing a trip to the disabled list.
The Reds will look to rookie left-hander Amir Garrett (3-3, 5.18), aiming to sweep the Great American Ball Park portion of the series and earn at least a spilt of the four-game series between the two clubs. Garrett was knocked around in his last start, allowing six runs on five hits with four walks in four innings last Thursday.
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