Preview: Brewers at Reds
CINCINNATI — Less than a week ago, the Milwaukee Brewers envisioned right-hander Matt Harvey on the mound during a pennant race game in which they were playing.
That will happen Wednesday night, only Harvey won’t be in their uniform.
The Brewers, in the race for a National League postseason berth, claimed Harvey on waivers from the Cincinnati Reds last week, according to multiple reports. However, they couldn’t work out a deal with the Reds, and Harvey stayed in Cincinnati — out of the race but still with the team that’s helped him revive his career.
Now, the Brewers will learn what they were missing out on when Harvey (6-7, 4.77) opposes Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta (6-4, 4.02) in the second game of the three-game NL Central series at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won the opener 9-7 on Tuesday as Jose Peraza hit a two-run homer in the first while going 4-for-5.
Harvey once was an All-Star pitcher for the New York Mets, but they effectively gave up on him early in the season and dealt him to the Reds on May 8. Harvey was struggling at the time but, despite a few bumps, has put together a consistent season for a team that has only periodically received reliable starting pitching.
The out-of-contention Reds were expected to flip Harvey at the July 31 deadline for trading without waivers but couldn’t work out a deal. Now, it’s expected that ownership will attempt to re-sign him during the offseason.
“I’ve said it all along, I’ve really enjoyed playing here (in Cincinnati) with these guys, they’ve been awesome ever since I got moved over here,” Harvey said. “For them to give me that opportunity in May and to stick with me, that means a lot. It’s been fun and I’m glad I’ll stay here for the rest of the season.”
Harvey has permitted only three runs in 18 2/3 innings over his last three starts and only one run in 11 2/3 innings over his last two. He held the Chicago Cubs to one run and five hits over 5 1/3 innings Friday, hours after learning he wouldn’t be leaving the Reds.
“I just think he’s really good,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “You want something good, you’ve got to give up something. Obviously, nobody wanted to give up enough. In their eyes, they probably felt like it was enough. We certainly didn’t think it was enough.”
The Brewers received a reminder of the value of strong starting pitching down the stretch on Tuesday as right-hander Junior Guerra (6-9) struggled badly, falling behind 6-0 before being lifted after retiring only five batters. Milwaukee lost despite getting two homers from Christian Yelich, a solo drive in the sixth and a three-run shot in the seventh.
Peraza got the Reds going in a four-run first with his homer following Billy Hamilton’s lead-off single, then scored on Scott Schebler’s bases-loaded walk during a two-run second. Scooter Gennett had a key two-run triple in the seventh, after the Brewers got back to within 7-6 on Yelich’s second homer and 25th of the season.
The top four hitters in the Reds lineup (Hamilton, Peraza, Gennett and Eugenio Suarez) were a combined 11-for-17 with eight runs scored and four driven in.
“It was a rough night,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He (Guerra) didn’t have a good night. The first four guys jumped on him … and you’re down four (runs) right away. And the second (inning) wasn’t much better.”
The Brewers had won nine of their first 13 games against the Reds this season. By losing they fell 1 1/2 games behind NL wild-card leader St. Louis, which beat Pittsburgh 5-2. The Brewers still hold the second wild-card spot.
Harvey is 2-2 in four career starts against Milwaukee, two this season. He took the loss in a 5-1 Brewers win over the Mets on April 4, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings. But he got the win as the Reds beat the Brewers 8-2 on July 1, shutting them out on two hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Peralta had lost consecutive starts before beating the Reds 4-0 last Wednesday at Miller Park, limiting them to three hits over seven innings while striking out seven and walking two. He took the loss in that July 1 game while opposing Harvey, giving up three runs and five hits in five innings.