Sonny Gray has been one of the majors' most successful pitchers thus far in this unique 2020 season -- except when he faced the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month.
The Cincinnati right-hander looks for a better outing against the Brewers on Wednesday night when the visiting Reds try to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive defeat.
Gray (4-1, 2.21 ERA) has fared relatively well in this shortened season, even while Cincinnati is playing sub-.500 baseball thus far. His ERA and 51 strikeouts rank among the major league leaders. However, his shortest outing of 2020 came at Milwaukee on Aug. 9.
Lasting 5 1/3 innings, Gray allowed four runs, six hits and three walks while fanning seven during a 9-3 loss to the Brewers. It's still the only blemish on his record.
"I knew there was something a little off," Gray told the Cincinnati Enquirer about that start. "It was just a battle from hitter one."
For his career, Gray is now 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers.
Gray was better in his most recent road start, at St. Louis on Thursday, but it was still a grind in his own mind. He allowed two runs, four hits and four walks, but left with Cincinnati leading 4-2 after six innings. However, the Cardinals scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Reds a frustrating 5-4 defeat.
Cincinnati is consumed by frustration at the moment, totaling just six runs in the last four games while going 2-6 on what's become a 10-game road trip. Mike Moustakas' two-run single in the fourth inning Tuesday was all Cincinnati could muster during a 3-2 loss to the Brewers.
That's Moustakas' only hit in 12 at-bats over his last four contests. Meanwhile, teammate Joey Votto is 0-for-18 in his last five games after striking out all four times on Tuesday.
Brewers star Christian Yelich is also struggling while hitting .200 overall this season. However, he's batting .350 during a six-game home winning streak for Milwaukee, which is two games below .500. But the Brewers won the first two of this four-game set after losing four in a row.
"These are our guys," manager Craig Counsell told the Brewers' official website. "We're counting on them. These are the guys we're going to go with, and I think these are the guys who ultimately can get it done."
Milwaukee's scheduled starter Adrian Houser (1-2, 3.72 ERA) allowed one run over 12 innings while going 1-0 in his first two 2020 starts. However, he's 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in the three he's made since then. The right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits over seven innings of a 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday.
Houser appeared in five games, two starts, in his career versus Cincinnati, both last year, posting a 4.50 ERA while not factoring in either decision. Votto and Eugenio Suarez are each 3-for-7 versus Houser, with Suarez homering twice. Teammate Jesse Winker is 2-for-6 with a home run against Houser.
Yelich is 3-for-7 with a home run and a triple against Gray.
--Field Level Media