CINCINNATI — With the bullpen winded after a Sunday night marathon, the New York Yankees will hope for a long outing from right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener of a three-game series Monday night at Great American Ball Park.
The Yankees arrived in Ohio after a 5-4, 18-inning win over the Chicago Cubs that ended early Monday morning at Wrigley Field.
Six New York relievers tossed a combined 11 innings. Aroldis Chapman relinquished a three-run lead in the ninth, but the four relievers who followed him to the mound threw a total of 9 1/3 scoreless innings en route to the win.
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Tanaka (4-1, 4.46 ERA) will aim to save the bullpen in his first career appearance against the Reds. He is looking to win his fifth consecutive start. He has posted a 2.51 ERA with eight earned runs in 28 2/3 innings over his past four starts. In that stretch, Tanaka has walked four and fanned 18.
His mound opponent will see some familiar faces in the batter’s box.
Reds first-year right-hander Rookie Davis (1-1, 7.36 ERA) was a 14th-round draft choice by the Yankees in 2011 and was considered to be among their most promising prospects before being traded to Cincinnati.
During his four seasons in the New York organization, Davis was a teammate in the minor leagues with Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge, top catching prospect Gary Sanchez and others.
“It’s just another start, that’s how I’ll approach it,” Davis said. “I’ve got to get nine guys out and see how many times I can do it.”
Davis, 24, never reached the majors with the Yankees. He was dealt to the Reds on December 28, 2015, in exchange for Chapman, and he went 10-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A Pensacola in his first season in the Cincinnati organization.
Judge has taken the baseball world by storm with a major-league-leading 13 home runs in 28 games, including 10 in April.
After one of Judge’s two multi-homer games, Davis texted him, “You can stop now, we all get it.”
The Yankees got Sanchez back Friday from a biceps injury.
“It’s another big bat,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s another guy that hits the ball out of the ballpark, so it could mean a lot. He didn’t get off to quite the start that he got off to last year, but he’ll get going and he’ll be a big part of our offense.”
Davis is making his third start since being hit on the right forearm by a pitch from the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon on April 11, which resulted in a two-week disabled-list stint. He has never opposed the Yankees.
William Theron Davis III is Rookie’s given name. He was nicknamed “Rookie” at birth by his father.
“I’ve never answered to any other name,” said Davis, who will be pitching against the Yankees for the first time in his fifth major league game and start.
Cincinnati (17-14) enters the week with a five-game winning streak. The Reds outscored the San Francisco Giants 31-5 during a three-game weekend series at Great American Ball Park.
The Yankees (20-9) took three straight from the defending World Series-champion Cubs to extend their winning streak to five.
Cincinnati has an 8-7 all-time record against the Yankees in interleague play, including a 3-3 mark at Great American Ball Park. New York swept a three-game series from the Reds during the last meeting in 2014 at Yankee Stadium.
The Reds and Yankees have met in three World Series, resulting in New York wins in 1939 (4-0) and 1961 (4-1) and the Big Red Machine’s four-game sweep in 1976.
“There’s excitement because it’s two storied franchises,” Reds manager Bryan Price. “It will be fun. They’re playing great baseball. They have some young studs like we do.”