McCoy: Minor hit hard in Reds debut

Reds fall to 18-33

Mike Minors’s Cincinnati Reds debut Friday night in Great American Ball Park turned into a minor affair.

The left-hander acquired from the Kansas City Royals this spring for Amir Garrett, spent the first two months of this season on the injured list, and his debut was a symphony of Washington Nationals bats whacking long balls during an 8-5 victory.

In four innings, Minor gave up three home runs while the Nationals scored five runs on six hits against him.

One of the home runs off Minor was hit by Lane Thomas, who came into the game 1-for-22. Thomas, though, didn’t stop there. He also homered off relief pitchers Vladimir Gutierrez and Jeff Hoffman — three home runs for the game.

The Nationals hit five home runs: three by Thomas; one by Nelson Cruz (his first since May 15); and one by Juan Soto.

The Nationals lost to the Reds 8-1 on Thursday, but they upended the table completely Friday behind the home runs and the pitching of Josiah Gray. He held the Reds to two runs, two hits, walked three and struck out nine in six innings.

Gray was the Reds No. 2 draft pick in 2018, but he was part of the trade that brought Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then he was traded to Washington as part of a deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers.

Gray could have pitched six scoreless innings, but the Reds scored two gift runs in the first inning. Shortstop Luis Carcia made a throwing error, and Tommy Pham hit one to deep center. Victor Robles leaped at the wall and the ball hit the pocket of his glove, then squirted out and over the wall for a home run.

Minor pitched a 1-2-3 first, then Cruz homered leading off the second, cutting the Reds lead to 2-1.

The Nats scored four in the third. Robles doubled and Kike Hernandez singled to tie it 2-2. Thomas pulled his first home run 349 feet just inside the left field foul pole into the first row of seats. Soto followed Thomas with his home run and gave a 5-2 Washington lead.

Thomas hit his second home run, this one to right field, with one out in the fifth off Gutierrez. Thomas homered again leading off the seventh against Hoffman and Maikel Franco added a run-scoring single to make it 8-2.

The three Thomas home runs were well-placed and traveled 349, 396 and 383 feet, an average of 363 feet in Great American Small Park.

After scoring two in the first, the Reds put their leadoff hitter on base in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings but didn’t score.

They finally broke through in the eighth against relief pitcher Victor Arano. He gave up an infield single to Nick Senzel and a single to Brandon Drury. With one out, Joey Votto lined a three-run home run to left field to draw within 8-5. It tied Votto with Johnny Bench for fourth on the Reds all-time hits list (2,048).

Luis Cessa struck out the first two Nationals in the ninth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to keep the Reds within three-run striking distance.

Washington manager Dave Martinez, a former Reds players, brought in former Reds pitcher Tanner Rainey to close it.

Alejo Lopez opened with a walk, another leadoff batter reaching base. And it didn’t score, either.

Matt Reynolds lined hard to left center, but Robles ran it down. Senzel line out hard to right field. Brandon Drury fouled out.

The Reds dropped to 18-33 and the Nationals climbed to 19-35 as the two teams battle each other to avoid owning MLB’s worst record.

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