If it’s truly not about how you start but how you finish, it might be time to buckle up if you’re riding with the Cincinnati Reds.
Because Team Adversity is about to clear its worst injury/illness stretch in years – somehow, impossibly, still in the thick of a playoff hunt – with significant reinforcements expected in the next few days.
Since a series of COVID-IL moves between games of a doubleheader Friday against the Cubs, the Reds have played with a group of starting pitchers made up entirely of guys who were in the minors on June 4 – including Connor Phillips, who pitched 4 2/3 innings in the Reds’ 16th big-league debut of the season.
Reds beat the odds, win Mariners series
And they proceeded to win four of the next five games against two of the hottest teams since the All-Star break, with three ninth-inning walk-offs among the four – the most improbable coming Tuesday night against the torrid Seattle Mariners when Nick Martini hit a tying three-run homer in the eighth and Christian Encarnacion-Strand singled home Elly De La Cruz in the ninth.
Improbable? All of those guys were in the minors on July 16. Five of the seven runs were scored Tuesday by players who were in the minors on June 5.
“Guys on this team always believe something special can happen,” Martini said.
That 7-6 win clinched another series win for the Reds, and was their MLB-leading 44th come-from-behind win and 10th walk-off win.
“It just says everything you need to know about our team,” manager David Bell said. “It hasn’t been easy. Just getting through this, having a chance to make our way through this and not only survive but [we’ve been] able to play well and thrive through it.”
Reinforcements are coming to the roster
Barring more COVID positives or injuries, they got through it with their playoff hopes at least as strong as they were before the flurry of roster moves that put nearly their entire rotation on the 7-day COVID IL.
And with reinforcements imminent.
That includes Opening Day starter Hunter Greene, who finally flew back Tuesday from San Francisco, where he’s been since testing positive after pitching on getaway day against the Giants last week.
Bell said Greene is feeling better and, assuming he’s cleared to return to the team Wednesday, “he could be on track to pitch this weekend.”
That likely means Sunday in the final game of the homestand before a six-game trip to Detroit and New York.
The Reds also could be close to getting key reliever Fernando Cruz back from the COVID IL, possibly as soon as that same weekend home series against the Cardinals.
And second baseman Jonathan India, the middle-of-the order hitter who has been on the IL since the end of July dealing with plantar fasciitis, could start a three-game minor-league rehab assignment as soon as Friday, Bell said. That could put him back in the Reds’ lineup by Tuesday’s opener in Detroit — with 17 games left at that point.
Starter Graham Ashcraft (toe) and infielder Matt McLain (oblique) both are holding out hope for returns in the final week of the season.
“It’s not going to get any easier — no chance,” Bell said. “But it is good to know what it takes to get through [the recent adversity]. It has to give you a lot of confidence that you can handle a lot.
“As we’ve gone through different challenges throughout the year, it’s just the confidence to get through any situation that comes at us,” he said.
“You just keep playing.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t hurt NL standings
Source: Yahoo Sports