By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — It is strange and mystifying the way baseball sometimes works. Or doesn’t work.
The pundits and the wise guys in Las Vegas would have labeled Wednesday’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants as a mismatch, an off-the-board type of game.
After all, the Giants are in first place in the National League West and the Reds are in last place in the National League Central, losers in eight of their previous 10 games.
And then there was the pitching match-up: San Francisco’s Jake Peavy against Cincinnati’s Dan Straily. Peavy’s paycheck for this season amounts to $15 million. Strailey’s amounts to $512,100, roughly 30 times less than Peavy’s. Peavy owned 148 major league wins. Straggly owned 13.
So who was the Master of the Mound on this dank and drizzly afternoon in Great American Ball Park?
Straily gave up two home runs over xxxx innings, but Peavy, flipping a bunch of cutters and breaking pitches homeward, gave up three home runs in one inning and four overall as the Reds rolled to a 7-4 victory.
The Reds committed public assault on Peavy in the second inning. Brandon Phillips led with a home run. Jay Bruce doubled. Eugenio Suarez homered. Adam Duvall walked. Then after catcher Ramon Cabrera and Straily struck out, Zack Cozart completed the home run trifecta with a blast into the left field seats. And former Giant Adam Duvall added a bases empty blast in the sixth inning.
Straily was long-ball prone, too, but of the ones he watched fly out of the park were solos, one in the second inning by Brandon Belt and one in the fourth by Conor Gillespie.
It is no trade secret that the 2016 Peavy is not the 2007 Peavy who won 19 games for the San Diego Padres. He is eligible for free agency again after this season and so far this season is 1-and-3 with a 9.00 earned run average. The higher his ERA goes the lower his salary numbers will sink.
The win-starved Reds, though, will take them as they come along, whether it be against The Best of Jake Peavy or The Over the Hill Jake Peavy.
Straily pitched into the seventh inning and gave up a pair of one-out singles and walked Denard Span with his 112th pitch, loading the bases. That forced manager Bryan Price to go to the bullpen and Tony Cingrani cleaned up the mess by giving up only a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Buster Posey with the bases loaded.
Straily ended up pitching 6 1/3 innings and giving up three runs (a quality start) and six hits while walking two, hitting one and striking out four.
The bullpen came within one out of stopping the streak of giving up at least one run in 21 straight games. There were two outs and nobody on in the ninth. One out away. But Mac Williamson doubled and Denard Span doubled to right for a run, stretching that dubious streak to 22 straight games the bullpen has given up at least one run.
It could have been worse, though. As Straily said, “Cingrani coming in there to face Busty Posey with the bases loaded and one out and giving up only one run was huge. We’ll take that all day, every day.”
Straily, of course, is one of the rotation plug-ins due to all the injuries and was signed the last week of spring training.
“It’s all about guys seizing opportunities and Dan Straily has found a place to pitch and get some opportunity, be it as a bullpen piece, be it as a starter. He has taken both opportunities and done extremely well with then,” said manager Bryan Price.”
Reds starters have now provided four straight quality starts, although due to bullpen sinkholes they have won only two of those games.
“For me, a quality start is to go six innings with two runs or less, even though I know a quality start is three runs or less,” said Straily. “I like to keep my standards higher. This way we get to use our bullpen the way it is designed instead of using them a lot of innings and tiring guys out.”
Stray’s favorite pitch, his slider, wasn’t succinct on this day, but his change-up shoveled him out of trouble.
“I followed our scouting report on those guys and developed a game plan a couple of days ago,” Straily added. “I tried to execute those pitches. I had a good change-up and was able to execute that a lot. They had a lot of lefties in the lineup and the fact my slider wasn’t working was OK because I was facing a lot of lefties and my change-up was effective.”
A week before the end of spring training, when Straily was released by the Houston Astros, he had to scramble for a job and was fortunate to land with the Reds.
“When I got here I was just thankful to have a job at the beginning of the season, the way the last week went down,” he said. “I just knew that at some point there would be a need for a long guy and at some point there would be a need to start a game. I was ready for that, to get as many outs as I could with as many bullets as they give me.”
With those five runs in the second, the Reds gave him major support. Eugenio Suarez started the season batting second and did well for a while. But he slumped and Price dropped him to sixth in the order. Price, though, insists it was not a demotion.
“Just so you know, so you don’t read the wrong message, I talked to Suarez about it,” said Price. “I like him in that position (sixth) for run production, not for being disappointed with him in the two-hole. I like him there when you think about being able to get from Votto to Phillips to Bruce to Suarerz.”
In addition to his two-run homer in the second, Suarez had three hits, including a run-scoring single in the third to give him three RBI.