(Photo credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
When Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli returns from paternity leave, he might do a double-take when he sees the left side of his infield.
For the second game in a row since the Twins landed in Cincinnati, one of their infielders left with an injury on Tuesday. It's not something Minnesota wants to be worrying about while getting ready for the postseason.
The Twins' magic number for clinching the American League Central is three going into a Wednesday matinee, the rubber game of the series. The Twins blanked the Reds 7-0 on Tuesday after Cincinnati won the opener 7-3 on Monday.
The looming question for acting Minnesota manager Jayce Tingler after the Tuesday game was the status of third baseman Royce Lewis. The hot-hitting Lewis exited in the eighth inning after awkwardly following through on a foul ball he hit the opposite way down the right field line in the sixth. Tingler said Lewis was dealing with left hamstring tightness.
Earlier in the game, Lewis beat out an infield single and later appeared to pull up slightly as he crossed first base when he grounded into a double play. However, he gave no indication of being hurt, Tingler said.
"That was the first that he had told us, was during that swing. ... He let up a little bit, but he's been battling some bruised heels, things like that, so we didn't think much of it," Tingler said, adding that the rookie, who has a franchise-record four grand slams this season, is day-to-day.
"You're hoping for the best, but I think with these hamstrings and soft tissue, you don't really know 'til the next couple of days and see how he responds," Tingler said.
The Twins also learned Tuesday that they won't get shortstop Carlos Correa back until at least Friday after he aggravated plantar fasciitis in his left foot on Monday night.
Minnesota right-hander Bailey Ober (7-6, 3.67 ERA) will start the Wednesday game against Hunter Greene (4-6, 4.45), who will be trying to keep Cincinnati in wild-card contention.
Ober won his previous start, giving the host Chicago White Sox two runs on five hits while striking out six on Friday. He has made one previous start against Cincinnati, surrendering four runs on six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings on June 22, 2021.
Ober will be facing an offense that managed only four hits -- two in the ninth inning -- on Tuesday. It was the 10th time the Reds have been shut out this season, and only three contending teams have been blanked more: the Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers (12 each) and the San Francisco Giants (11).
"When you're not scoring, it's a lot of pressure," Cincinnati manager David Bell said. "We're a team, so there's been plenty of nights where the offense has come through. But tonight ... we just weren't able to score."
With Minnesota leading 2-0, Twins center fielder Willi Castro made a sliding catch to rob Tyler Stephenson of a two-run single in the fourth inning. In the seventh, with Reds down 6-0, Castro struck again, stealing a two-run home run from Stephenson.
The loss dropped the Reds (79-74) one game behind the Chicago Cubs (79-72) in the race for the third National League wild-card spot. Cincinnati also trails Miami (79-73) by a half-game.
Greene won his past two decisions but came away with a no-decision on Friday after giving up three runs -- a three-run homer to Pete Alonso -- on four hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings against the New York Mets. He has never faced the Twins.
--Field Level Media