Reds still battling for playoff spot as they host White Sox

White Sox

While the Chicago White Sox already know they’re headed to the postseason, the Cincinnati Reds have been in playoff mode just trying to get there themselves.

After the White Sox ended the Reds’ longest winning streak of the season, the clubs conclude their series with the rubber game in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Cincinnati (26-27) had won six in a row and inserted itself as a serious postseason contender, amid this final stretch of a condensed regular season, before losing 5-0 to Chicago on Saturday night. The Reds are 15-10 since Aug. 27 and still have a chance to win their third straight series.

“We’re moving towards something,” first baseman Joey Votto said.

“We’re certainly not there yet. … We’re going to do everything we can to stay focused. … Not get ahead of ourselves, try to win the next game that’s in front of us.”

Cincinnati will attempt to do that behind the versatile Michael Lorenzen (2-1, 4.56 ERA), a regular in the Reds bullpen who has earned a second straight start that’s scheduled to come Sunday. In his first start since 2018, the right-hander gave up a run and four hits while striking out six without a walk over five innings of a 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Lorenzen is trying his best not to make too much about starting games, as opposed to coming out of the bullpen.

“It’s the same approach, same everything, I’m just going to throw more pitches,” Lorenzen told the Reds’ official website.

Lorenzen has made one start against the AL-leading White Sox during his career — back in 2015. Overall, he’s 0-0 in three appearances against the White Sox with a 2.35 ERA. He’ll try to keep the ball in the park against a Chicago club that hit five of its 88 home runs this season on Friday.

Tim Anderson, in the hunt for the batting title while hitting .366, clubbed two of those home runs and has 10 in 2020. Teammate Jose Abreu, an AL MVP candidate like Anderson, also went deep for the 18th time this season and third in four games. Abreu is 15-for-31 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last eight contests.

Together, Anderson and Abreu are a major reason why the White Sox have clinched their first postseason since 2008 and are looking to finish with the best record in the AL.

“These are just steps along the way,” Anderson told the White Sox’s official website. “What else can we do?

“We’re just having fun with it.”

Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.20 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the White Sox in the series finale. The right-hander has not gone more than 6 1/3 innings in any of his 10 starts this season. He lasted 4 2/3 innings during a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Monday, yielding five hits and five walks, but only one run.

He’ll try to contain Votto, who has five hits in the series, including his 10th home run. Votto has only faced White Sox pitching seven times during his stellar career, but is 10-for-28 during those games.

–Field Level Media

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