Here’s a look at the series.
Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. Cincinnati RHP Luis Castillo (0-1, 5.59 ERA)
Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET / 12:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (4-1, 1.71 ERA) vs. Cincinnati RHP Hunter Greene (1-6, 6.21 ERA)
Sunday, 1:37 p.m. ET / 10:37 a.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (2-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Cincinnati RHP Connor Overton (1-0, 1.82 ERA)
LATEST ON THE BLUE JAYS
With a chance for their first sweep of the season, the Blue Jays’ old bugaboo returned – a misfiring offence. Toronto (20-18) wasted a solid outing from starter Kevin Gausman in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Seattle Mariners on Wednesday to wrap up a three-game series. A bases-loaded walk from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was all the offence the Blue Jays could muster. Toronto’s depleted bullpen (minus Tim Mayza and Jordan Romano) couldn’t hold Seattle down after Gausman exited with the Blue Jays trailing 2-1 after five. Meanwhile, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. left the game with left hamstring tightness. The good news is Toronto’s starting rotation has been strong recently, including bounce-backs from Ryu and Kikuchi. After this series, the Blue Jays travel to St. Louis and Los Angeles to face the Cardinals and Angels, respectively, next week.
LATEST ON THE REDS
After a sell-off in the off-season, a 3-21 start and controversial comments from their president about fans having no choice but to support a gutted roster (he later apologized), the Reds appeared to hit rock bottom. Lately, however, things haven’t been as bad. While they still have the worst record in the majors, the Reds (11-26) completed a two-game sweep of their Ohio rival Cleveland Guardians on Thursday and have won eight of their past 13 games. The Reds are set to welcome first baseman Joey Votto back for his Toronto homecoming after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis on May 3. The 2010 NL MVP has been struggling this year, hitting just .122.
The Manoah-Greene pitching matchup is a beauty. The Reds’ top prospect, Greene didn’t allow a hit while throwing an MLB season-high 118 pitches during 7 1/3 no-hit innings last week versus Pittsburgh – the Reds lost 1-0 despite the Pirates not getting a hit. The fireballer threw a record 39 pitches at 100 mph or above in his second start.
Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin is batting .424 in his past nine games – his season average was .197 before this stretch. Naquin hit a solo home run and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth after a single in Cincinnati’s 4-2 win over Cleveland on Thursday.
This is Toronto’s first series against a National League team this season. The Blue Jays were 14-6 in interleague play with all games against the NL East last season.
Overton, Sunday’s Reds starter, made his major-league debut with the Blue Jays last year after signing a minor-league deal with Toronto. He made four appearances with the Blue Jays before he was designated for assignment in September and picked up by Pittsburgh. The Reds have converted Overton to a starter this year and he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his four starts since being promoted from Triple-A Louisville on April 30.