Phillips picks up 1st 'W' after 7-inning gem


Phillips picks up 1st ‘W’ after 7-inning gem

In a month marked by a makeshift rotation featuring rookies and various stand-ins, one of those rookies, Connor Phillips, delivered a standout performance for the Reds. Phillips, ranked as Cincinnati’s fourth-best prospect, provided the team with its first seven-inning outing in nearly a month, helping the Reds secure a crucial 7-3 victory against the Twins at Great American Ball Park.

As the Reds battle for postseason contention, Phillips’ strong performance came at a pivotal time. Cincinnati’s 79-73 record puts them in a tight race for a National League Wild Card spot, with the team trailing the Cubs by a slim margin. The Reds hold the tiebreaker over both the Cubs and the Diamondbacks due to favorable results in their season series. With only a handful of games remaining against the Twins, Pirates, Indians, and Cardinals, every matchup carries added significance as the Reds strive to secure a postseason berth.

First baseman Joey Votto, a veteran presence on the team, lauded the performance of young players like Connor Phillips, emphasizing the importance of their contributions in high-stakes games. Votto’s two-run single in the seventh inning played a pivotal role in Monday night’s victory.

“This season has felt special so far. Watching young players step up and perform in critical situations is enjoyable and exactly how it should be,” said Votto. “Connor is another example of a young prospect or call-up who has performed admirably and delivered a crucial performance in a meaningful game.

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Connor Phillips’ impressive start for the Reds marked a significant milestone, as it was the team’s first seven-inning start since Graham Ashcraft accomplished the feat on August 22. In September, which has been characterized by a patchwork rotation, Phillips’ performance was only the third start of at least six innings. He displayed remarkable control, allowing just two runs on three hits and a single walk, while recording seven strikeouts. Over the course of his 93 pitches, an impressive 62 were strikes.

Phillips himself attributed his success to a well-executed game plan, emphasizing the importance of getting ahead early in the count. This approach proved effective, leading to favorable outcomes throughout the game. Notably, Phillips consistently delivered first-pitch strikes to 18 out of the 26 batters he faced.

It’s worth noting that two of Minnesota’s hits against Phillips came in the form of solo home runs, with Royce Lewis connecting in the fourth inning and Alex Kirilloff replicating the feat in the seventh. Despite these homers, Phillips’ overall performance was a major positive for the Reds as they continue their push for a playoff spot.

Apart from the solo home runs, the rookie right-hander, Connor Phillips, demonstrated full control and command on the mound, receiving solid support from the Reds’ offense. In a commendable team effort, the Reds responded to both homers by scoring runs in the respective innings.

Phillips highlighted the camaraderie within the team, acknowledging that his teammates had his back, contributing to what he described as a fantastic team victory.

Monday marked a significant day for Phillips as he officially joined Cincinnati’s 40-man roster, having been recalled from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day. His previous two starts had come as a substitute player called up during the COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in six players being placed on the injured list earlier this month. It’s worth noting that neither of those outings extended beyond 4 2/3 innings. In Monday’s game, Phillips didn’t surrender his first hit until Royce Lewis launched a leadoff home run for Minnesota in the fourth inning.

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Reds manager David Bell emphasized the significance of these games, especially considering the formidable hitting abilities of the opposing team. He praised Connor Phillips for his extended performance on the mound, which not only secured the victory but also provided much-needed rest for the bullpen.

Cincinnati established a 2-0 lead during the second inning against Twins pitcher Joe Ryan. The scoring sequence began with Noelvi Marte’s one-out RBI single, driving in Tyler Stephenson. Subsequently, Will Benson launched a deep drive to center field that seemed destined for a three-run homer, but it was brilliantly snatched away by Michael A. Taylor, who made a leaping catch at the fence. Benson’s hit resulted in a sacrifice fly that brought home Joey Votto.

In the fourth inning with two outs, Benson exacted his revenge by smashing a first-pitch splitter from Ryan deep into the right-center-field seats for a two-run home run, extending the Reds’ lead to 4-1. The team added insurance runs in the seventh inning, courtesy of Spencer Steer’s RBI single and a two-out, two-run single contributed by Votto, ultimately sealing the game.

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The Reds have been on a winning streak, securing victories in five of their last seven games. As they approach the final two weeks of the regular season, they will primarily encounter teams with losing records, with the Twins being the only exception.

Cincinnati’s rotation has struggled this season, ranking 28th in Major League Baseball in ERA. Among their opening day starters, only Hunter Greene remains active. The team recently revealed that Graham Ashcraft, who hasn’t pitched since September 1, will undergo season-ending surgery on his right toe, further impacting their pitching staff.

Will Benson’s two-run homer (11) Sep 18, 2023 · 0:22 Will Benson’s two-run homer (11) Photo Cradit:

Over the remaining two weeks of the season, the Reds plan to rely on a rotation featuring Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, and the versatile Ben Lively. In Tuesday’s game, Lively is anticipated to handle the majority of the innings, following an opener role by Fernando Cruz.

Connor Phillips’ impressive performance raises the possibility of him earning another opportunity. Reds manager David Bell acknowledged the impact of Phillips’ strong outing on his confidence as a young player and stated that he would certainly be under consideration for another start.


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