The Cincinnati Reds are hoping to keep building after putting a few wins together. Doing so could prove difficult without their slugging right fielder.
After losing Jay Bruce to injury, the Reds open a two-game road set against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
While Bruce was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with what was believed to be a sore left knee, further tests revealed a partially torn meniscus. The two-time All-Star, hitting .216 with three homers, had surgery Monday and is expected to miss up to a month.
With Bruce on the sidelines, Chris Heisey could see more playing time. He drew a two-out walk and scored from first on Todd Frazier’s double as the Reds beat Milwaukee 4-3 in 10 innings Sunday.
"I’m not known for my eagle eye at the plate. The key is not to get caught up in the moment and swing at bad pitches," Heisey said. "Any time the ball is down the line or in the gap, I’m thinking of scoring."
The Reds (15-16) have won four of six after getting swept at Atlanta.
"We need to send a message that we’re in this thing and we have to prove it to ourselves," manager Bryan Price said. "Being around .500 isn’t what we’re all about."
Cincinnati now turns its attention to Boston as these teams meet for just the third time since 1975, when the Reds beat the Red Sox in the World Series. Boston swept the Reds at home in 2005 before winning two of three in Cincinnati in 2008.
"They are the defending world champions, which is a big enough problem to overcome by itself," Price told MLB’s official website. "They are off to the same kind of start we’ve gotten off to. … I love that stadium, the vibe there."
The Red Sox (15-17) earned back-to-back wins over Oakland before falling 3-2 in 10 innings in Sunday’s finale. A.J. Pierzynski tied the score with a solo homer in the seventh inning, but Boston went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"I’ll take two out of three the rest of the year," outfielder Shane Victorino said. "We’ve just got to execute. That’s it. Collectively, we haven’t been able to do it. Sometimes that’s part of the game."
Boston will try to bounce back against Reds starter Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.50 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his last three outings. The right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits over a season-high innings to beat Milwaukee 8-3 on Thursday.
"They’ve picked me up all year so far. I’m just glad I was able to do something for them," said Bailey, who leads the NL with an average of 8.91 runs of support.
While Bailey is starting to find his form, he is 2-6 with a 6.26 ERA in 10 interleague outings since 2010. His only appearance against the Red Sox came as a rookie in 2008, when he yielded five runs over 2 1-3 innings in a 9-0 loss.
Boston counters with Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.70), who is winless over a five-start stretch since beating Baltimore 4-3 in his season debut April 3. He yielded four runs over six innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay on Thursday but didn’t factor in the decision of a 6-5 loss.
Unlike Bailey, Doubront has thrived in interleague play. The left-hander has compiled a 2.25 ERA while receiving an average of 12.54 runs of support during a four-start winning streak against the NL.
It’s unclear if Doubront will have to face Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, who is dealing with sprained knuckles. Hamilton sat out Friday and Saturday before pinch running Sunday.