By HAL McCOY
As the Cincinnati Reds continue to win more games than they lose and with the non-waivers trade deadline 27 days away, member of the front office have to be scratching their scalps and asking, “What to do, what to do?”
By beating the Chicago White Sox, 7-4, on the Fourth of July the Reds have won 16 of their last 22, tied for the best record in baseball.
And they’ve gone four series without losing one. They took four straight from the Chicago Cubs, two of three from the Atlanta Braves, split four games with the Milwaukee Brewers and took two of three from the White Sox, the only scruffy team in the bunch.
So what to do? Do the Reds become buyers and look for an established starting pitcher. Do they stay the course in their rebuild mode and deal established players like Scooter Gennett or Adam Duvall or a veteran relief pitcher for some more prospects/suspects. Or do they stand pat and stay the course.
It would seem the best path might be to stand pat and play this season out with what they have, see who can and who can’t. Then in the off-season they get make moves to patch holes.
They have nearly four weeks and 21 games to make their decision(s).
They continued to play like contenders Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park. They spotted the White Sox a 3-0 early lead, then used a six-spot in the fourth inning to put this one away.
Reds starter Sal Romano gave up three runs in the first four innings on a two-run home run in the third by Yoan Moncado and a down-range 432-foot missile blast in the fourth by Daniel Palka.
White Sox starter Dylan Covey began the season 3-and-0 with a 1.53 earned run average. But he was 0-and-3 with a 12.71 ERA in his last three starts.
For the first three innings, he was the early-season Covey, nine up and nine down, a perfect three innings.
Then came the fourth and he reverted to the recent vintage Covey. The Reds put together a walk, five singles and a hit batter for six runs.
It began with a professional at bat from Scott Schebler and he drew a 3-and-2 walk. With one out, Joey Votto, 0 for 9 and 4 for 28, punched a single to left. Scooter Gennett singles for a run.
Eugenio Suarez singled to fill the bases. Jesse Winker poked an opposite field single to left for two runs and a 3-3 tie. But the Reds weren’t finished.
Adam Duvall was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and Jose Peraza singled for two runs and a 5-3 lead. Then came the capper. Pitcher Sal Romano put down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score the sixth run of the inning and a 6-3 lead.
Romano was one baserunner away from losing his chance for a victory in the fifth inning, a victory that gave him his fifth win against eight losses.
He gave up a single to Cincinnati native Adam Engel to open the fifth and after striking out two Yolmer Sanchez doubled for a run to make it 6-4. Romano needed one more out to qualify for a win and he got it when Jose Abreu grounded out.
From there the bullpen took care of matters — no runs, no hits over the last four innings. Amir Garrett contributed an inning, Michael Lorenzen added 1 1/3 and Jared Hughes finished it with 1 2//3 innings for his sixth save.
Romano’s line was five innings, four runs, six hits, no walks and six strikeouts.
After making four errors Tuesday, two in the 12th inning that led to a 12-8 defeat, the Reds were flawless Wednesday. And they made three defensive gems in the last three innings.
—In the seventh, Adam Engel led with a single. When he tried to steal second, Gold Glove and golden-armed catcher Tucker Barnhart made a perfect peg to get him.
—In the eighth, after two walks the ChiSox had runners on second and first with two outs. Pinch-hitter Leury Garcia singled to center. Jose Abreu tried to score from second. Billy Hamilton, who entered the game as part of a double switch, made a strong, accurate throw and wiped out Abreu.
—In the ninth, Engel shot one down the third base line, a sure-fire double. Not so fast. Eugenio Suarez, who made a throwing error in the 12th inning Tuesday, backhanded the ball and righted himself in foul territory and made a bullet throw to first base to retire the fleet-footed Engel.
Before the game, the Reds made a minor trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They sent pitcher Dylan Floro and minor league pitcher Zach Neal and received two Class A right handed pitchers, James Marinan and Aneurys Zabala, who reportedly throws 100 miles an hour.
In addition, they optioned infielder Brandon Dixon back to Class AAA Louisville and called up pitchers Cody Reed and Tanner Rainey.