The Cincinnati Reds saw Hunter Greene return to the mound on Sunday afternoon after a brief stint on the COVID-19 IL. While much of the fan's attention following Cincinnati's 7-1 win will focus on the return of Jonathan India and Joey Votto, it was Greene who set the tone.
It wasn't the right-hander's best performance, but Greene was able to piece together a six-inning effort and allowed just one run on one hit while striking out nine batters.
Curiously, despite Buck Farmer warming up in the Reds bullpen during the tail-end of the fifth inning, Greene reemerged to take the hill for the sixth. Perhaps George Kirby could take some lessons from Greene's tenacity and willingness to go back out to the mound.
Hunter Greene's defiant start stands out even more after George Kirby's comments.
For those who aren't aware, Seattle Mariners pitcher George Kirby had some postgame comments after his last start that did not sit well with most baseball fans. The right-hander has caught plenty of flack on social media from a lot of retired pitchers as well.
Kirby told reporters after his last start that he wished he, "wasn't out there for the seventh to be honest...I was at 90 pitches." Click here to listen to Kirby's comments via King 5 News reporter Jake Garcia.
Now, while Hunter Greene's outing wasn't efficient enough to make it to the seventh inning, the flamethrower was sitting at 97 pitches after striking out St. Louis Cardinals outfiedler Alec Burleson in the fifth inning.
With the Reds clinging to a one-run lead, Greene went back out for the sixth inning and induced a pop fly out from Nolan Arenado, a ground out from Tyler O'Neill, and struck out Luken Baker on eight pitches. The Reds rallied in the bottom of the inning and handed reliever Buck Farmer a 5-1 lead.
A lot has been made about pitch count, and how pitchers today don't go as deep into games as they did back in the 1980s and 1990s, but Hunter Greene defiantly dealt a blow to that argument with his 109-pitch effort on Sunday afternoon that helped seal the victory for the Cincinnati Reds.
George Kirby has since apologized for his comments, but he's still catching some welll-deserved heat. Reds fans don't have to worry about questioning Greene's commitment. In fact, if you were to ask him, Greene probably would have gone back out for the seventh inning.
Greene has surpassed 100 pitches in eight of his 18 starts this season, and only three times this year has the 24-year-old been pulled from a game before hitting the 90-pitch mark.
Hunter Greene's performance on Sunday may well be what helps to keep the Reds in the playoff conversation for another week. A loss on Sunday would have really put the postseason in doubt, but as it stands right now, Cincinnati is just 1.5 games back in the NL Wild Card race.