Major League Baseball
Nationals-Reds Preview
Major League Baseball

Nationals-Reds Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 11:03 a.m. ET

The Cincinnati Reds struggled mightily to win games in April and May, but they've been unbeatable thus far in June.

They can improve to 5-0 this month with a second consecutive three-game home series sweep of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals on Sunday.

Cincinnati (21-35) remains stuck at the bottom of the Central Division, but has shown life while outscoring Colorado and Washington 31-11 in June. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto each homered off Stephen Strasburg and Adam Duvall belted a tiebreaking three-run shot in Saturday's 6-3 victory.

"Just a lot of things going right with the offense, and that's a great thing," said Reds manager Bryan Price, whose club has totaled 22 home runs while going deep in nine straight contests.


The Reds have won seven of eight against the Nationals (33-23), who had won four in a row prior to this series. Cincinnati's last series sweep came against Philadelphia to open the season.

Bruce is batting .382 with four home runs and eight RBIs in eight games while Votto is hitting .348 with three homers and seven RBIs in the last six.

"Joey (Votto)'s taking better swings," Price said. "Jay (Bruce) has been driving the ball well."

Duvall has homered in three straight games, and gone deep nine times in his last 13.

Perhaps more importantly, a Cincinnati pitching staff that posted a major league-worst 5.83 ERA in April and May, has a 2.50 ERA this month.

Jon Moscot (0-3, 7.13 ERA) hopes for a better outing than he put forth Tuesday, when he allowed seven runs and four homers in two innings of a 17-4 loss at Colorado after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.

''Every mistake I made got hit,'' said Moscot, who also was clipped in the ear by a pitch while batting. ''I would say there were a couple of pitches, a couple of balls that were hit that I was a little bit surprised by the result.

''I've got to be better than that. Two innings is just not good. It's frustrating.''

This will be the right-hander's first appearance against the Nationals, who will try to get back on track while hoping for the best after Strasburg left because of a calf cramp with one out in the sixth inning Saturday. Washington had won 15 straight games started by Strasburg, who claimed to be fine after the contest.

Since giving up seven runs and hits in five innings during a 7-1 loss to Miami on May 14, Washington's Tanner Roark (4-4, 2.70) has yielded four earned and 15 hits over 20 2/3 to win two of the next three. Two of those runs were surrendered over seven innings of Monday's 4-3 victory at Philadelphia.

The right-hander has thrived while going 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA against Cincinnati.

Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendón homered for two of Washington's three hits Saturday. Five of Espinosa's six hits in 30 at-bats over his last nine games have left the park.

Bryce Harper is 1 for 7 in the series, and 5 for 35 in his last 11 games. He's a lifetime .160 hitter in 13 games at Great American Ballpark.


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