CHICAGO -– Going into the bottom of the fourth inning on Wednesday night, Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene had shown no signs of being worn out.
Greene’s fastball averaged nearly 100 mph, and he had hit 102. He had allowed a run, but he also struckout five batters. He was efficient, productive and looked like he was on his way to another solid outing.
But after Greene threw 33 pitches in the fourth inning, he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the fifth. Reds manager David Bell took Greene out of the game after only 80 pitches when the Chicago Cubs defeated the Reds 8-3 at Wrigley Field.
“You never want to throw that many pitches in an inning,” said Greene. “I spoke to (Bell) and that’s why he knocked me out. That was definitely hard, but being able to finish strong and get a strikeout at the end (of the fourth) was great instead of running or allowing another hit .”
It was the fewest pitches Greene had thrown at the start since June 1. But in all of the other short starts for Greene, he struggled with command, speed, or avoiding the home run ball.
Greene had none of those problems for most of the game on Wednesday, especially before the fourth inning. He walked two batters in the fourth and gave up an RBI double to Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner to give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
“There are certain nights where I let him throw in late in the game and do whatever it takes to win a match,” Bell said. “He needs that. We want him to do that. Tonight wasn’t the night for several reasons, mainly just the score, the number of pitches he had to throw, he threw four innings and how hard he worked.”
After that double, Greene retired the next three batters he faced and still threw 99 mph fastballs. He ended the inning by swinging and missing Cubs second baseman David Bote on an 88 mph slider on the 10th pitch of the at bat.
The key was probably the 33 pitches he needed to finish the inning. Bell has said that he would almost never want a pitcher to throw more than 40 pitches in an inning. While Greene pushed that number of pitches in the fourth, Luis Cessa began to warm up in the bullpen.
“It just wasn’t quite the night for Hunter to work really hard, get back out there and try deep into the game,” Bell said. “Luckily we got him out after four hours, he had only thrown 80 pitches. The reason for that was the at bats the Cubs had. (He) really had to work a little extra hard today.”
Bell’s decision to remove Greene early in the game came a day after Luis Castillo threw a career-high 123 pitches in a win over the Cubs. After Tuesday’s game, Bell made a related point about his decision to let Castillo throw as long as he did.
“I feel like over the years we make decisions where you try to hold them back and not allow them to throw too many pitches or too many innings in games that may not matter,” Bell said. “If you can, try to save up for nights like (Castillo’s start on Tuesday) to be able to let him go and have him thrown.”
On Wednesday, Greene had that game where he wasn’t allowed to throw many pitches. He gave up three runs and only two hits in four innings. Cessa entered the game in the fifth inning and gave up a two-run homerun, as the Cubs took a 5-0 lead.
“I walked two walks and one basehit (in the fourth) and she scored it,” said Greene. “I try to limit my running and make sure that doesn’t happen. It makes it a lot easier for the outcome not to come out of one hit like that. I felt really good with my body. There were times when I felt like I knocked over a bit, got a bit jumpy and didn’t try my best to double my pitches. That’s kind of the takeaway today.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Reds losing to Cubs and Hunter Greene withdrew after 80 pitches