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Reds in last place despite positive run differential

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The Reds salvaged their three-game series in Oakland, winning Thursday afternoon’s game 3-0. The first two games didn’t go well, as Mike Fiers no-hit them on Tuesday and they suffered their fourth walk-off loss of the season on Wednesday. Despite a +23 run differential, the 16-22 Reds are in last place in the NL Central.

There are just seven teams with a better run differential than the Reds: the Rays (+59), Cubs (+57), Dodgers (+51), Astros (+47), Twins (+44), Yankees (+32), and Phillies (+31). They are all first- or second-place teams. The Reds’ Pythagorean record — their expected record based on run differential — is 22-16, a five-game difference.

It’s been a brutal week and a half in particular for the Reds. On April 30, the Reds came back to tie the Mets at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning only to suffer a walk-off loss on a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly. Exactly one week ago, Noah Syndergaard single-handedly beat them 1-0 with a home run and nine shutout innings. The next day, the Reds lost a 12-11, 11-inning slugfest with the Giants, as Evan Longoria struck the decisive blow with a solo homer. The Reds again fell apart late on Sunday against the Giants, surrendering a tie-breaking two-run home run to Brandon Crawford in the top of the ninth. Following that loss, closer Raisel Iglesias blamed the way the Reds were using him for his struggles. Then there was Tuesday’s no-no and Wednesday’s walk-off loss against the A’s.

Fortunately for the Reds, it’s a long season. They will, at some point, have a stretch of good luck. And they’re a better team than many people gave them credit for being at the beginning of the season.

Yankees, Astros lineups for ALCS Game 6

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Things haven’t gone quite according to plan for the Astros, who missed the opportunity to clinch the American League Championship Series after losing 4-1 to the Yankees in Game 5 on Friday. Still just one win away from a World Series invitation, they’ll try their luck again on Saturday night.

Neither lineup has been significantly altered for Game 6. The Yankees will try to push the series to a final Game 7 with right-hander Chad Green, backed by this configuration:

1. DJ LeMahieu (R) 1B
2. Aaron Judge (R) RF
3. Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
4. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
5. Edwin Encarnación (R) DH
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Gary Sánchez (R) C
8. Gio Urshela (R) 3B
9. Brett Gardner (L) LF

The Astros, meanwhile, will send Brad Peacock to the mound in what figures to be a bullpen game for both sides, marking the righty’s first official postseason start since the 2017 ALDS. Martín Maldonado is back in the lineup, as is Josh Reddick, while both Robinson Chirinos and Jack Marisnick will be available off the bench.

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. José Altuve (R) 2B
3. Michael Brantley (L) LF
4. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
6. Carlos Correa (R) SS
7. Yordan Álvarez (L) DH
8. Martín Maldonado (R) C
9. Josh Reddick (L) RF

Starting tonight, the ALCS returns to Houston for Game 6 and a potential Game 7. Game time is set for 8:08 PM EDT.