By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — What do you say if you are a major league player and your team not only got waxed, 16-0, but the opposing pitcher threw a no-hitter?
After that happened to the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night, a no-hitter by Chicago’s Jake Arrieta, the clubhouse was as empty as a firehouse after a four-alarm call. You could have sprayed a fire hose in there and not got anybody wet.
There was an exception. Jay Bruce was seated in front of his locker, as he is after nearly every game. He is a stand-up guy, always available to the media in the good times and in the bad times.
AND HE WAS THERE Friday afternoon, a day after the debacle, and was asked about any lingering effects of a 16-0 no-hit loss.
“It’s a new day,” he said. “The best thing to have in baseball is a short memory.”
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE was asked the same question and had a ready-made answer based on past history.
“I’ll tell you this,” he said. “Homer Bailey no-hit the Pirates and no-hit the Giants after they won the 2012 World Series and they came out of it just fine. The Pirates went on to make the playoffs in 2013 and the Giants won the World Series in 2014. I think we’ll be fine.”
No, Price wasn’t saying that because the Reds had a no-hitter shoved down their throats that they’ll make the playoff this year and win the World Series next year. But the manager has to say something, put a positive flip on a truly ugly situation.
WHILE EVERYBODY, of course, aimed focus at Arrieta’s no-hitter, Cubs manager Joe Maddon added a valid observation about this game.
“I hate to switch gears, but our offense was pretty good today,” said Maddon. Pretty good? The Cubs had 16 runs, 18 hits and five home runs.
Make of this what you may — the Cubs did not take batting practice before the game. The Reds, who had no runs, no hits, no anything, did take batting practice. And Joey Votto took extra batting practice and went 0 for 4.
Votto is now 0 for 17, the longest hitless stretch of his career, and he has only one walk and six strikeouts in that five-game span.
“That’s something nobody has talked much about — our offense,” said Maddon. “You look at the board and our averages are relatively low (only one member of the Cubs lineup Thursday was hitting over .300). But we keep talking about the qualities of our at bats and eventually we’re going to start hitting the ball the way we’re capable.”
Eighteen hits in one game is fairly capable.
SPEAKING OF HOMER Bailey and his two no-hitters, Bailey pitched in Louisville Thursday night on his first rehab assignment — 3 2/3 innings, two runs, three hits, six strikeouts.
“I watched some video of his game and he looked great,” said Price. “He threw hard and clustered quality pitches in the zone. He made one mistake in his last inning and threw a high fastball on a 3-and-2 count with nobody on and it was hit for a home run.
“He had really good stuff,” Price added. “The velocity was good, the slider was very good with good shape and command. He threw a couple of good curveballs and a couple of nice splits. He is progressing even beyond what our expectations were for this point.”
After four days off, Bailey will pitch again for Class AA Pensacola and then five days later make another start for Louisville. . .and then, Cincinnati.
RELIEF PITCHER J.C. Ramirez had a court-side seat for Bailey’s performance because Ramirez was there, in Louisville’s bullpen. But he got a wake-up call from Louisville manager Delino DeShields this morning telling him to pack his bags and get to Cincinnati.
The Reds sent Tim Melville back to Louisville and called up Ramirez, a 27-year-old right hander from Nicaragua.
“Homer was impressive,” said Ramirez. “I’d never seen him throw before in person and he was throwing really hard and throwing strikes. He was really good.”
Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract last November and invited to Major League camp. He has been in professional ball for 11 years with brief major league stops in Philadelphia (2013), Arizona (2015) and Seattle (2015), without much success.
“He has some experience and he is another big arm,” Price said. “He is a hard thrower with a slider and one of the guys throwing well in Louisville. We’ve beat up the bullpen pretty good and we needed a fresh arm.
“When we signed him, we looked real hard at why he wasn’t having the big-league success that you would think he would have with his stuff,” said Price. “A lot of it was how he used his pitches, what sides of the plate he used and where he got in trouble We identified that and it was the challenge we gave him when he was sent to Louisville.
“Go make the changes,” said Price. “He didn’t have to change his delivery, he didn’t have to change his grip, but he did have to be aware that another good season in Triple-A and then coming up and struggling in the big leagues would be repeating his last several years and we want him to do something about that.”
Ramirez said he worked on what he was told to do, “To get ahead and throw strikes. I had to use my slider more, earlier in the count. And that’s what I was doing and I showed those guys that I can do that and that’s probably why I’m here right now.”