CHICAGO — There may come a time when Reds rookie Hunter Green will be able to go the distance and complete his hitless game. It was not Friday that day, but his flirtation was repeated again.
For the second time in his big league career, Green held an opponent hitless as he pulled off six innings and tied his career high with 11 hits during Cincinnati’s 9-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“It would be great to go the distance,” said Green, who threw 110 putts. “It’s hard when you’re hitting a lot of players. It just raises the number of pitches.” “I would like to go nine innings without a hitch. It’s not normal. I’m focusing on now.”
The 23-year-old Green, who also picked up his first win in 2023, allowed two walks for the team’s only baserunners that day. The Cubs only put the ball in the air three times and put the ball off the field twice—that was his last two hits of the game.
Greene’s fastball was at its best this afternoon. He threw it 67 times and averaged 98.3 mph while topping out at 100.5 mph. This was the pitch for eight of the strikeouts.
“He had different gear today,” said Curt Casale, who was working the fisherman. “It seemed like every time I looked, it was either 99 or 100. It was hard to catch up. When he’s in the area with it, over the area with it, it’s better.”
The Cubs had 28 foul balls included among 67 hits to prevent any chance for Greene to finish the game.
“It’s great if you get two foul balls 0-2, can I try to finish this guy on the third pitch? That’s what I’m working for,” Green said. “Attempt to cut pitches.”
Green’s only run without a penalty was the sixth, when Tucker Barnhart ground out and both Nico Horner and Dansby Swanson came out.
“The sixth inning was the most efficient. And that was amazing. To be able to knock him out six and not give up any runs is a good start,” said Reds coach David Bell.
It was the first time Green had worked with Casali this season as well.
“We really got used to spring training together throwing the hangars,” said Green, who is 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 11 starts. “I’ve also worked with him in the off-season a few times too. And that’s where our relationship started. … He’s doing a great job. He’s got experience. Lots of positive reinforcement with him. It helps a lot, especially when the guy’s still trying to figure out the league early on.” .
Rookie reliever Eduardo Salazar kept a no-hitter alive with three runs in the seventh inning, but gave up his first two hits on Christopher Morrell’s one-hit streak to center in the bottom of the eighth.
“At the end of the day, he would have been a great hitter,” Casale said. “Lockdowns are great. I really feel so queasy. They help me sleep at night, for sure.”
On May 15, 2022, in Pittsburgh, Green threw 7 1/3 hitless innings but allowed five walks. Art Warren struck out the other two wins, but not before the Pirates scored a run in a 1-0 loss in eight innings, falling short of official hitting.
Green, who signed a six-year, $53 million contract extension in April, has had an inconsistent second major league season.
“I’m at the very beginning of my career, and I’m giving myself a shot,” Green said. “People have to understand during the early stages that there will be growing pains. I try to figure things out. We have a young group of players who are going to figure things out. We work hard every day, put the pieces together and it will pay off soon.”
The young Reds line-up played a big role in supporting Green offensively.
Spencer Steer hit an RBI triple off Justin Steele in the first inning and scored on an RBI off of Tyler Stephenson to give Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Steer finished with three hits and a homer shy of being hit for the cycle.
Stevenson also had three hits and added an RBI single in the fourth to give Cincinnati a 6-0 lead. Matt McClain, who made his major league debut on May 15, added his own three-hit effort to extend the hitting streak to five games.
The big lead enabled Green to stay on offense in the strike zone.
“It looked like he had a lot of intention on his courts today,” Casale said. “He won’t be bothered today.” “Just dare to hit it. I think it was a positive move for him, for sure.”
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