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Guardians visit Reds after promising splits to start season

Sportsnaut
Apr 11, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA;  Cleveland Guardians out fielders Steven Kwan (38), Myles Straw (7) and Oscar Mercado (35) celebrate after beating the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds will host the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday in their home opener.

The Reds and Guardians both split four-game series in Atlanta and Kansas City, respectively.

“We split the series,” Reds manager David Bell said on Sunday. “At the same time, even in the games we lost, I loved how we played.”

Cincinnati rode a five-run third inning Sunday to defeat the Braves, 6-3. The Reds were off on Monday.

Guardians ace Shane Bieber (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will oppose Tyler Mahle (1-0, 0.00) in the first game of the Ohio Cup series on Tuesday. Triston McKenzie will start for Cleveland on Wednesday. The Reds have yet to announce their starting pitcher.

Mahle was impressive in Cincinnati’s win over the Braves last Thursday. The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out seven in the season opener. The only run scored against him was unearned.

He had a breakthrough season last year when he went 13-6 with a 3.75 ERA. Mahle ranked among the National League pitching leaders in 2021 in starts (tied for first), wins (tied for 10th), ERA (16th), strikeouts (ninth) and strikeouts per nine innings (seventh, 10.50). His strikeouts-per-9 innings ratio of 10.50 was fifth-best in franchise history.

Bieber, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2020, is coming off an injury-plagued season last year. He finished the 2021 season with a 7-4 record, a 3.17 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings. Bieber was on the injured list for three months with a shoulder strain.

The Reds and Guardians will meet in a pair of two-game series this season. The other will be May 17 and 18 in Cleveland.

The teams split the series 3-3 last year. However, the Reds have lost 13 of the last 18 games against the Guardians.

Cleveland outfielder Steven Kwan, 5-for-5 in Sunday’s 17-3 win over Kansas City, was batting .692 after Monday’s game. He reached base nine consecutive times at one point and in 15 of 19 plate appearances to open the season.

“I’m afraid I’m going to wake up very soon,” Kwan said.

The rookie hasn’t woken up yet. He drilled a three-run triple Monday in the eighth inning that blew open the Guardians’ 10-7 victory. Kwan made up for a dropped a fly ball in the seventh inning, which led to a run by the Royals.

“It hit the heel of his glove,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

Kwan won a starting outfielder job coming out of spring training where he batted .469.

“A lot of player-development people have their chest out (because of Kwan’s development),” Francona said. “They are proud.”

The Guardians’ much-maligned offense scored 27 runs in the final two games of the Kansas City series. They were held to one run in the first two games.

“When you figure this out, explain it to me,” Francona said.

Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer is also off to a hot start. In his second season as the starting shortstop, he is batting .357 in the first four games (5-for-14) with four RBIs.

Farmer retired the final two batters of the sixth with over-the-shoulder catches in shallow left and center in Sunday’s game.

“Our team is continuing to get better and make adjustments,” Bell said.

–Field Level Media