Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds: Simulating 2020 NLDS

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 02: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds is called out as he slides across home plate against Tyler Flowers #25 of the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning at SunTrust Park on August 02, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Reds challenged the call on the field and it was overturned and Peraza was called safe. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 02: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds is called out as he slides across home plate against Tyler Flowers #25 of the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning at SunTrust Park on August 02, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Reds challenged the call on the field and it was overturned and Peraza was called safe. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Austin Riley of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Austin Riley of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Game 1 of the 2020 NLDS: Cincinnati Reds vs Atlanta Braves

In Atlanta, the Reds sent their ace, Luis Castillo (11-8, 3.15) against Atlanta’s 20-game winner Sean Newcomb (20-11, 3.43). A regular-season revelation, Newcomb had beaten Castillo and the Reds 2-1 April 28. He lasted six innings that day, allowing just two hits; Castillo completed eight innings and allowed four hits.

In July, Newcomb got a no-decision in a 6-5 Braves victory in which he pitched into the sixth inning. One day prior to that, Castillo took a 3-2 loss to the Braves in a game in which he completed seven innings, scattering nine hits and permitting just one earned run.

The Reds seized the early momentum and appeared to have the game under control midway through. Joey Votto’s first-inning home run provided a quick energy boost, then Mike Moustakas opened the fourth inning with a home run of his own and Freddy Galvis followed with a double, scoring on Castillo’s base hit.

Castillo looked rock solid atop that 3-0 advantage. He survived a brief second inning dustup when the first two batters reached, but at one point set down nine Braves in succession and nursed that lead into the sixth.

The Reds, meanwhile, teased their margin with threats that died fruitlessly. They left two runners on base in the first inning, two more in the fourth, two more in the seventh, and 12 for the game.

Then, suddenly, heck broke loose. After Castillo retired Ronald Acuna Jr. on an easy grounder to Eugenio Suarez at third, Freddie Freeman lined a base hit to right and Marcell Ozuna followed with a hit of his own to left.

It was the kind of budding threat Castillo had stifled before, and he did fan Austin Riley to put himself one pitch away from a clean escape. Instead, Dansby Swanson rifled a single to left scoring Freeman and knocking Castillo from the mound. Michael Lorenzen came on seeking the third out, but all he found was Johan Camargo, who drove a double down the left-field line to send Ozuna and Swanson home. Suddenly the game was tied.

It didn’t stay tied for long. The next hitter, Tyler Flowers, blooped a single over second base, and with two out Camargo scored easily from second.

In the seventh, the Braves kept up their assault on Lorenzen. After Ozzie Albies went down on strikes, Acuna sent a base hit into right. Freeman took a called third strike he thought missed the plate wide, but Lorenzen walked Ozuna to set the stage for Riley. The outfielder-third baseman tied into a Lorenzen offering and sent it hurtling into the delighted left field partisans, increasing the Braves lead to 7-3.

That was more than enough for Braves relievers Will Smith and Shane Greene. Suarez managed a harmless ninth-inning home run that set the final margin at 7-4. The combined five RBII by Camargo and Riley – coming on just two swings – were the difference. Those and the dozen stranded Reds runners.

Related Story. Atlanta Braves fill right field gap with Yasiel Puig. light

Cincinnati            100         200         001 – 4  12  1

Atlanta                 000         004         30    –7  13 1

W: Smith. L. Lorenzen. S. Greene.