Ohio Cup Battle Returns as Tribe and Reds Play Home and Home Set

With rains falling heavily in northeast Ohio and scattered thunderstorms forecast for the Cincinnati area throughout the day on Monday, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds will be hoping to avoid any doubleheader silliness to open their four-game series split between the two cities this week.

The Indians (5-5) will be the road team first, heading to the Queen City for Monday and Tuesday games at Great American Ball Park. The club has not had the best of weeks and is struggling mightily at the plate, squandering some consistent quality start pitching unlike anything seen in quite some time. Through ten games, the Indians starting rotation has fired nine quality starts, but the offense has mustered just 26 total runs of offense in those games, leading to the subpar overall record through the first sixth of the shortened season schedule.

The Reds (4-5) got back on track some over the weekend, taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers while working around a postponement on Saturday. After dropping the series opener at Comerica Park on Friday, the Reds rebounded with a pair of victories to sweep the Sunday twin bill, bringing the club back to a respectable 4-5 record after nine games.


Plesac – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Monday, August 3, 6:40 PM ET at Great American Ball Park
RHP Zach Plesac (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.71 ERA)

The only thing more that could have been asked of Plesac in his first outing was to have gone back out for the ninth. His eight shutout innings and career-high eleven strikeouts were wasted when the bullpen allowed four runs in the ninth inning while the bats were unable to scratch across a run against the Chicago White Sox in an unfortunate turn of events in the season debut of the second-year right-hander. After allowing just three hits and issuing no walks in his first start, Plesac will return to the mound on Monday night in search of his first win while making his fourth interleague start and second against the Reds in his career. Last season, he worked five and one-third innings in Cleveland against them, allowing four runs on three home runs.

The 30-year-old Gray rediscovered himself in Cincinnati a season ago, going 11-8 in 31 starts with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP while being named to his second career All-Star squad and his first since 2015. The eighth-year pro has dominated on the mound early on, allowing a run on three hits with nine strikeouts in six innings in a win over Detroit to open the season before striking out eleven and allowing two unearned runs on just one hit in six and two-thirds innings in his second win over the Chicago Cubs on July 29. Gray last faced the Indians while with the New York Yankees in 2018, earning the win in a quality start to improve to 4-3 in nine career outings against them with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

Tuesday, August 4, 6:10 PM ET at Great American Ball Park
RHP Shane Bieber (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Mahle (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

Bieber followed up his season-opening gem (six innings, no runs, four hits, one walk, 14 strikeouts against Kansas City on July 24) with another impressive performance on July 30. In that start, he worked eight shutout three-hit innings, striking out 13 batters to match the MLB live ball era record for strikeouts by a pitcher in his first two outings. He has faced the Reds once in each of the last two seasons. Last time out against them, he worked eight innings, striking out eight while allowing two runs on four hits.

Mahle will make his second start of the season in game two of the series for the Reds. In his first outing, he allowed two runs on six hits in four innings of work, striking out four and walking one on 69 pitches. The 25-year-old has faced the Indians in each of the last two seasons with generally poor results, taking the loss in both games while giving up ten runs (eight earned) on 12 hits with eight strikeouts and five walks in just six and one-third innings.

Wednesday, August 5, 7:10 PM ET at Progressive Field
RHP Mike Clevinger (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Castillo (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

Clevinger will look to get back on track after some command issues and problems with the long ball have led to some discouraging results from the right-hander. After giving up a pair of first inning solo home runs in his first start of the season, Clevinger settled down with six shutout innings afterwards. In his second start, he settled down again to give the Indians four innings, but only after allowing four runs on six hits with five walks. He allowed three homers against the Reds last year in a pair of starts, going 1-1 against them.

Castillo will make his third start of the season for the Reds as the series shifts to Cleveland on Wednesday. The schedule lined him up to pitch against Detroit in each of his first two games and he did so with varying results, striking out eleven over six innings of one-run baseball in his debut before being tagged for five runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over six innings in his start against them on Friday. He made a quality start against the Indians a year ago, working six innings and allowing a run (via solo home run) on four hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts.

Thursday, August 6, 6:10 PM ET at Progressive Field
RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. TBD

Carrasco has been steady and consistent on the mound for the Indians to open the 2020 season. He has earned a win and a loss despite quality starts in both outings. He struck out ten in his debut, allowing two runs on five hits while walking one. He was stung by three solo homers his last time out on Saturday against the Twins, accounting for all the damage in a 3-0 loss. Carrasco is 3-0 in six games (five starts) against the Reds in his career with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

The Reds had not formally announced a starting pitcher for Thursday’s series finale in Cleveland at the time of this story.


TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio, Fox Sports Ohio (out-of-market), MLB.tv
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLW 700


The Indians took three of four from the Reds a season ago to claim the Ohio Cup while outscoring their cross-state rivals, 22-11, in the season series.

The June dates with the Reds ended in a series split from Progressive Field, with the Indians walking off with a 2-1 win on June 11 on an Oscar Mercado game-winning single in ten innings before falling 7-2 the next day. Cleveland claimed both games in Cincinnati in July, winning 7-2 and 11-1 in the final games before the All-Star break.


Delino DeShields (OF) – 10-day injured list (7/12); recovery from coronavirus
James Hoyt (RP) – traded to Miami for cash (8/1)
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day injured list (7/21); right big toe fracture
Roberto Perez (C) – 10-day injured list (7/29) – right shoulder strain

Aristides Aquino (OF) – optioned to Reds’ alternate training site (8/3)
Matt Bowman (P) – transferred to 45-day injured list (7/31) – right elbow strain
Matt Davidson (1B) – activated from 10-day injured list (7/31)
Anthony DeSclafani (SP) – activated from 10-day injured list (8/2)
Wade Miley (SP) – 10-day injured list (7/28) –
Robert Stephenson (P) – 10-day injured list (7/28) – mid-back strain
Joey Votto (1B) – activated from 10-day injured list (8/3)

Castellanos – Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Additions: Shogo Akiyama (OF), Nicholas Castellanos (OF), Matt Davidson (1B), Jose De Leon (P), Nate Jones (RP), Wade Miley (P), Mike Moustakas (IF)

Subtractions: Derek Dietrich (UTL), Jose Peraza (UTL), Scott Schebler (OF)

Castellanos has already proven to be a solid get for the Reds under second-year manager David Bell. The veteran slugger thrived during his brief stint in the National League with the Chicago Cubs in the second half of last season and was named the NL Player of the Week on Monday. He has hit in all nine of his games with the Reds thus far and in the six games that the club played last week, he was 9-for-21 (.429) with two doubles, four homers, and ten RBI. He is hitting .387 for the season.

Moustakas missed a handful of games at the end of July with his own coronavirus concerns, but he never tested positive and was back into the lineup as soon as possible and contributing as he has over the years. The three-time All-Star, coming off of a season and a half in Milwaukee, joined the Reds in December after a strong season at the plate and has picked up where he left off with the Brewers. In five games with Cincy, Moustakas has hit .313 with a .421 on-base percentage with two homers and six runs batted in. He did miss Sunday’s second game after a hit by pitch in the first game of the doubleheader.

Eugenio Suarez may not welcome the sight of the Indians across the diamond from him this week. After hitting 49 homers a season ago, he is homerless and in a slump to start the 2020 season, hitting just .094 (3-for-32) with two doubles and two RBI in nine games. He has had little luck with the Indians over the course of his career, posting a .197/.260/.333 slash in 33 career games. He hit .133 against them last year (2-for-15) with a solo homer.

Votto, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with symptoms of the coronavirus, was activated on Monday after negative tests. He had self-reported having symptoms and was isolated from the club for both games of the doubleheader in Detroit on Sunday. He was unable to travel home with the team as he was still working through the steps of the COVID-19 protocols. Since he was placed on the COVID-19 injured list, he was eligible for activation after his negative test results due to the exception in place for this season.


The Indians are expected to be without the services of manager Terry Francona, who missed the series finale in Minnesota on Sunday with gastrointestinal issues, for both games of the road portion of the series. The ongoing ailment is expected to be accessed at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday.

Sandy Alomar Jr. is expected to assume interim manager duties again in Cincinnati, as he did for the series finale of the club’s four-game set in Minnesota over the weekend.


After the completion of the home-and-home series with the Reds, the Indians will head back out on the road in a curious portion of the schedule, playing three games with the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field before returning home for two games against the Chicago Cubs after their first scheduled off day of the season on August 10.

The Reds will get back out on the road to start a three-game weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers before returning to Cincinnati for a six-game homestand.

Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images

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