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Reds in position to sweep Tigers

Sep 8, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Reese Olson (45) throws in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have improved their postseason chances in Detroit this week.

They won the first two games of the three-game series and will go for a sweep of the Tigers on Thursday afternoon.

Overall, the Reds (76-71) have a three-game winning streak. Both of the victories over the Tigers were decided by one run, allowing Cincinnati to pull level with the Arizona Diamondbacks (76-71) in the race for the final National League wild-card spot.

Cincinnati used eight pitchers to get through a 4-3 win on Wednesday.

“We’ll take wins any way we can get them,” Reds manager David Bell said postgame. “There’s no perfect way, but guys step up. Our bullpen did an incredible job tonight.”

Bell may not have a lot of fresh arms available, but he might have to go deep into his bullpen again in the series finale.

Derek Law (4-5, 3.83 ERA) will get the nod as the opener. It will be his 49th appearance of the season but only his third start. It will also be his first career start (third appearance) against the Tigers, with the latest meeting coming back in July 2021 when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins. He has a 1.93 ERA in 4 2/3 innings against Detroit.

“We need to kind of take it one step at a time just because of the roster and who it involves in all that,” Bell said of his rotation down the stretch. “I have a sense for what it’s going to be, but I think we’ve got to let it play out a little bit.”

Following the contest, the Reds will continue their six-game road trip in New York with a weekend series against the Mets.

Rookie right-hander Reese Olson (3-7, 4.50 ERA), who will start the series finale for Detroit, appears to be getting stronger as the season winds down.

In his last August start, he struck out a career-high 10 in 4 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees. In his first September start, he tossed seven scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox. He faced the White Sox again in his most recent outing and limited them to two runs and two hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Olson carried a no-hitter into the seventh on Friday. Luis Robert Jr. ended his bid for history with a one-out double, and Yoan Moncada socked a two-out, two-run homered to end his night. He threw a career-high 104 pitches.

Olson, who will face Cincinnati for the first time, took the loss as the Tigers fell 6-0.

“I told him when I took him out that I felt awful about it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He was dominant until Robert got the hit, and then he ends up giving up the home run and leaves the game with a bad feeling. Obviously, we didn’t leave him any room for error.”

The Tigers will hope their offense improves on Thursday. Detroit left 13 runners on base in the Wednesday loss.

“We gave ourselves so many opportunities, every inning but the third, and obviously we didn’t do much with those opportunities,” Hinch said. “Man, we couldn’t come up with the big hit.”

Detroit has two wins on a six-game homestand that concludes on Thursday. The Tigers will head west after the contest for their final road trip. The 10-game California journey begins with a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels.

–Field Level Media