Hunter Greene got his 1st win after six hitless innings

CHICAGO – The time may come when young Reds starting pitcher Hunter Green goes the distance and completes his own no-hitter. Friday wasn’t that day, but the flirtation with him happened again.

For the second time in his big league career, Green pitched six innings and finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts in Cincinnati’s 9-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“Going the distance is great. When you hit a lot of guys, it’s tough. It increases the pitch count,” said Green, who threw 110 pitches. “I like to go nine innings. That’s not normal. I’m focused on the moment.”

The 23-year-old Green, who picked up his first win in 2023, allowed two walks in his only starts on the day. The Cubs put the ball in the air three times and punted it twice — the last two possessions of the game.

Green’s fastball was in good shape this afternoon. He threw it 67 times and averaged 98.3 mph at 100.5 mph. It was his pitch for all eight matches.

“He had a different gear today,” catcher Curt Casali said. “Every time I looked up, it seemed like 99 or 100. It was tough to catch. When he’s in the zone with him at the top of the zone, he’s better.”

There were 28 foul balls among the 67 shots that the clubs Green had to prevent from ending the game.

“0-2, it’s great to get two bad balls, can I try to finish this guy at third? I’m working towards it,” Green said. “Trying to cut the plates.”

Greeney’s only inning was a scoreless sixth, when Tucker Barnhart grounded out and Nico Horner and Dansby Swanson each struck out.

“His most efficient inning was the sixth. It was great. To get him through six and not give up any runs, that’s a good start,” Reds manager David Bell said.

This season was Greeny’s first time working with Casali.

“We got to know each other pretty well throwing the bullpen together in spring training,” said Greeney, who is 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 11 starts. “Also, I’ve worked with him a few times in the offseason. That’s where our relationship started. … He does a great job. He’s got experience. He’s got a lot of positive vibes with him. That helps a lot, especially trying to figure out the league early when a guy is still young.”

Rookie reliever Eduardo Salazar kept a man alive with three outs in the seventh inning, but gave up his first hit on Christopher Morrell’s leadoff line-drive single to center field in the bottom of the eighth.

“At the end of the day, the no-hitter was great,” Casali said. “Close conversations are great. I’m very proud of those. It definitely helps me sleep at night.”

On May 15, 2022, at Pittsburgh, Greene threw 7 1/3 hitless innings but allowed five walks. Art Warren pitched the other two outs, but not before the Pirates took a 1-0 loss in eight innings, short of the official no-hitter.

Green, who signed a six-year, $53 million contract in April, had an inconsistent second major league season.

“I’m early in my career. I’m giving myself a chance,” Green said. “People understand in the early stages that there are going to be growing pains. I’m trying to figure things out. We have young players who are figuring things out. We’re working hard to put the pieces together every day. And it’s really going to pay off soon.”

The young Reds line-up played an important role in attacking and supporting Green.

Spencer Steer hit an RBI triple off Justin Steele in the first inning and scored on Tyler Stephenson’s RBI single to give Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Steer finished with three hits and was a homer shy of a hit for the cycle.

Stephenson also tripled and added an RBI single in the fourth inning to give Cincinnati a 6-0 lead. Matt McClain, who made his big league debut on May 15, added a three-hit effort of his own to extend his hitting streak to five games.

His big lead allowed Green to stay on the offensive side of the strike zone.

“He seemed to have a lot of purpose on the pitches today. He wasn’t bullied today,” Casali said. “Just dare them to hit him. I think it’s a positive step for him, for sure.”


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