C. Notes: Sweeps week concludes with domination of Reds by Detroit's Tarik Skubal

CINCINNATI — With a sweep on the line Sunday, probably the last person the Cincinnati Reds wanted to see was Detroit Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal.

Skubal was told before the game that he’d made his first All-Star team and then went out and pitched like he wanted to make a case to start the game for the American League.

The 27-year-old struck out 13 Reds batters, setting a career high. He struck out every single Reds batter he faced at least once.

All 10 Reds batters to play in the game, including pinch hitter Edwin Rios, struck out at least once, although Rios’ strikeout was against Tigers right-handed reliever Will Vest.

“He’s good — there’s no question — throwing 100 with good off-speed pitches made for tough at-bats today,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Making it worse, right-handed-hitting outfielder Stuart Fairchild was unavailable because of a back injury. Fairchild hopes it’s just day to day.

It was a weird contrast between the upbeat nature of the team’s sweep in New York and the desperation following the sweep at the hands of the Tigers that featured a game that saw the tying run barely get thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning of Friday’s loss, a blown save by the team’s best reliever Saturday and an inability to touch Skubal on Sunday.

The Reds do welcome the National League’s two worst teams this week, and a pair of sweeps could make all seem OK going into the break, but anything less pushes the team even closer to becoming a seller.

“Now we regroup and figure out how to get going again,” Bell said following Sunday’s loss. “We’re going to have to figure out how to get our energy back, and we’ll continue to do the things we do well and go from there.”

All-Star week on deck

While the All-Star Game is more than a week away (July 16), there are a couple of other events on deck before that.

Though Elly De La Cruz was the Reds’ only All-Star representative when full rosters were announced Sunday, there’s still a chance for more as position players and pitchers drop out.

If the Reds get another player in, it would likely be either second baseman Jonathan India or right-hander Hunter Greene. Neither has made an All-Star appearance.

India is third (2.2) in fWAR among National League second basemen, behind Arizona’s Ketel Marte (3.6) and Milwaukee’s Brice Turang (2.4). Marte was voted as the starter, while Turang did not make the team.

As far as pitchers, Greene is 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA. Greene is scheduled to start again Thursday against the Rockies, meaning he would be eligible to pitch if selected as a replacement.

There’s also the Futures Game on Saturday, featuring the Reds’ most recent first-round picks, right-hander Rhett Lowder and infielder Cam Collier.

After dominating in High A, Lowder, 22, is off to a rough start in Double A, going 1-4 with a 6.85 ERA in 10 starts. In 43 1/3 innings with the Lookouts, he’s struck out 48 batters and walked 11 while allowing 60 hits.

In his first season at High A, the 19-year-old Collier is hitting .230/.308/.406 with 13 home runs in 75 games.

Sunday, they’ll welcome another player into their club of first-rounders. The Reds select second, with their pick likely coming down to infielder/outfielder Charlie Condon of the University of Georgia, second baseman Travis Bazzana of Oregon State or Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns. Cleveland has the first pick.

Infield in

The Reds led 5-2 in the sixth inning of Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium when Anthony Volpe came to the plate with a runner on third.

Starter Frankie Montas had left after Alex Verdugo, the Yankees’ No. 4 hitter, doubled to lead off the inning. With right-hander Nick Martinez in, Verdugo tagged and went to third on Gleyber Torres’ liner to center, putting a runner on third with one out. Bell called to bring in the infield, despite the three-run lead.

“In the past — I’d say distant past — I would not have considered that, but playing in today’s game, the value of a run is so important, and playing to win, we’re playing to win, keeping another run off the board when we have the opportunity,” Bell said. “With no outs, no chance.”

One of the advantages that Bell has at his disposal is an athletic shortstop with a great arm. Volpe hit a grounder to the left side of the infield and De La Cruz picked it up and made a tough throw home, nabbing Verdugo at the plate.

“I took a shot there and we’ve done that in the past, not always, but it turned out to be a good play because Elly made an incredible play look relatively easy,” Bell said. “It was great. You just never know. They tack any more runs on and chip away a little bit, it can change the game. So keeping a run off the board is super important.”

The week that was

It was sweeps week — a sweep of the Yankees in New York and then a sweep by the Tigers at home. As much as the Reds’ sweep at New York looked good, the team hit just .174 on the week; its 34 hits were the fewest of any team. The difference is that the Reds hit nine homers, including seven in the series against the Yankees. It also helped that Reds pitchers put up a 3.67 ERA over the stretch, including a 3.03 ERA by the starters.

The week ahead

The National League’s two worst teams come to Great American Ball Park in the Rockies and Miami Marlins. The Reds swept a three-game series from the Rockies in Denver earlier this season and haven’t played the Marlins yet.

Injury updates

• OF Nick Martini (left thumb sprain) went on the IL before Sunday’s game. The Reds recalled infielder Livan Soto to take his place on the roster. Martini underwent an MRI during Sunday’s game against the Tigers, and Bell said it’s possible that Martini would be “out for a while.”

• OF Fairchild (back) is day to day and wasn’t available for Sunday’s game. Fairchild said he woke up feeling pain Saturday morning. He said he’s dealt with back issues in the past.

• LHP Nick Lodolo (left finger blister) is eligible to come off the IL on Tuesday and said Sunday he should be ready to go.

• OF Jake Fraley (no injury) was placed on the family medical emergency list. Fraley’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia last summer. Avery Fraley, 5, went into remission in January. Fraley had spent time with his family in Miami between the series in St. Louis and New York. The team used the list for Fraley to have more time with his family. “Avery’s fine,” Bell said Friday. Still, the team wanted Fraley to have the time with his family.

• C Luke Maile (herniated disk) was placed on the 10-day IL Friday. Maile grounded out to end the sixth inning in Thursday’s game in New York and appeared to tweak his back out of the box but stayed in the game for the bottom of the inning. He was replaced in the seventh after Tyler Stephenson pinch hit for Will Benson. The Reds put him on the IL and recalled Austin Wynns, who had been with the team earlier in the week when Stephenson went on paternity leave.

• OF TJ Friedl (right hamstring strain) has been playing catch and swinging off of a tee. He is scheduled to have another MRI this week.

• IF Matt McLain (left shoulder surgery) has been cleared for baseball activities, Bell told reporters Friday.

Minor-league roundup

• Triple-A Louisville (42-43): Saturday’s victory for the Bats was the 1,997th of manager Pat Kelly’s career. Only two other active minor-league managers have 2,000 career wins, Buddy Bailey (2,389) and former Bats manager Rick Sweet (2,321).

• Double-A Chattanooga (23-58): 1B Nick Northcut hit his fourth homer in seven games Saturday and leads the Southern League with 18 home runs. The Mason (Ohio) High grad is hitting .205/.260/.475 on the season.

• High-A Dayton (42-39): OF Hector Rodriguez had one of just two hits for the Dragons on Saturday and is hitting .294/.326/.439 with seven homers and nine steals. Although the Reds acquired Rodriguez in the deal that sent Tyler Naquin to the Mets at the 2022 trade deadline, he’s still only 20.

• Low-A Daytona (39-41): OF Yerlin Confidan’s on-base streak was at 13 games following Saturday after going 2-for-5 with a double. In that stretch dating back to June 21, he’s hit .396/.500/.729 with 13 of his 19 hits going for extra bases. On the season, he’s hitting .246/.332/.441. Before his hot streak, he had a total of 23 extra-base hits in 36 games.

• Rookie Arizona (25-22): IF Sheng-En Lin, signed last summer as a two-way player out of his native Taiwan, is hitting .320/.436/.438 with one homer and 11 steals so far this season. He also has 30 walks and 47 strikeouts.

(Photo of Tarik Skubal: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

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