Joey Votto, Reds welcome Diamondbacks for three-game series

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds look to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they begin a three-game series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cincinnati saw its seven-game home winning streak come to an end with Sunday’s 6-3 loss despite another strong performance from Joey Votto. The 37-year-old first baseman is hitting .267 after recording seven hits in 11 at-bats over the weekend.

“He’s hitting in the middle of our order, obviously a very important part of our lineup,” Reds manager David Bell said. “This has been a process for him, even from Opening Day, where he’s been hitting the ball hard. I think now he’s seeing the ball even better, getting into deep counts, getting ahead in the count, walking a little bit and continuing to hit the ball hard.”

Arizona took two of three against Cincinnati earlier this month but sits at 6-10 after splitting a four-game series against Washington over the weekend.

Right-hander Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25 ERA) makes the start for the Diamondbacks following a promising season debut last Tuesday. The 25-year-old received a no-decision against Oakland after giving up one run with eight strikeouts over four innings.

Gallen, who missed the first two weeks of the season with a right forearm injury, made his only previous start against the Reds on Sept. 15, 2019 and gave up three runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 3-1 loss.

Cincinnati will turn to right-hander Luis Castillo (1-1, 7.04), who allowed four runs on seven hits over five frames against San Francisco in a no-decision last Tuesday.

Nick Ahmed is hitless in nine at-bats against Castillo, who owns a 2-4 mark and 4.25 ERA in six career starts against the Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old has struggled early in his first three outings this season with a 27.00 ERA in the first inning.

The Reds are hoping to have Mike Moustakas available Tuesday after the third baseman missed the last three games with a non-COVID illness. Moustakas is batting .289 with two home runs and five RBIs in his first 12 games.

Cincinnati’s Tyler Naquin was expected to serve as a fourth outfielder this season, but the 29-year-old continues to make a case for regular playing time. Naquin belted his team-leading sixth homer in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Cleveland and is batting .262 with a team-high 15 RBIs.

Arizona is without outfielder Tim Locastro (dislocated left pinkie finger), center fielder Ketel Marte (right hamstring strain) and reliever Joakim Soria (strained left calf), but catcher Carson Kelly has provided a welcome power boost.

Kelly has homered in three of his last four games and has hit safely in nine of his 11 games this season.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is also encouraged by the play of second baseman Josh Rojas, who was 2-for-31 before recording two hits from the leadoff spot with a homer and three runs scored in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Washington.

“I knew that he was in a good enough spot fundamentally to make some subtle, key tweaks or an adjustment that was gonna have him have some success,” Lovullo said. “He sees the ball, he surveys the strike zone and that’s why he was leading off.”

The Diamondbacks figure to exercise patience with the 26-year-old Rojas, who hit .347 with four homers in spring training.

–Field Level Media

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