By HAL McCOY
There was big news emanating out of Great American Ball Park Friday night. And it had nothing to do with another noteworthy start by out-of-nowhere pitcher Tim Adleman.
The big event was the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. It did not give up a run. Repeat. No runs.
After giving up at least one run in a major-league record 23 straight games, the bullpen not only didn’t give up a run, it went four innings of near perfection.
The bullpen protected a four-run lead over those four innings to preserve a 5-1 victory over the moribund and mundane Milwaukee Brewers.
AND IT WAS needed. The Reds had only one base runner in their final five innings and that came on a walk after Brewers pitchers retired 14 straight.
Fortunately for the home team they scored five runs for Adleman in the first three innings and the 28-year-old Adleman held the Brewers to one run and four hits over five innings in his second major league start and his first vicory.
Caleb Cotham (two innings), Blake Wood (one-third of an inning) and Tony Cingrani (1 2/3 innings) held the Brewers at bay and Cingrani recorded his first major-league save. The Brewers stranded 11 runners and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
ADLEMAN, THOUGH, continues to be the feel good story of the year. Over the winter, to make some money, Adleman was slicing and packaging salami and sliced turkey in the deli of the Village Market in Wilton, Conn.
He made his major league debut last week in Pittsburgh, one of many Reds emergency starters so far this year. And he held the Pirates to two runs and three hits over six innings.
A couple of days later, Adleman was still in a fog over what he did and said, “It still hasn’t sunk in. But it is a cool feeling to know that you started for the Reds in a game. It is a dream come true to get that opportunity to be part of a winning effort.”
Adleman earned a second start and faces the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night. Was his goal to earn a second start?
“I’d be lying if I said that was my goal before I even stepped on the field for my first one,” he said. “I just wanted to attack the strike zone and keep my pitch-count down to give the team a chance to win.”
ADELEMAN ORIGINALLY WAS drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012 but was released and nobody called his cell phone. So rather than give up, he signed on with independent league teams for two years. His last teams in 2014 was the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association, where meal money was $20 a day (It is $125 in the majors) and he rode buses for as long as eight hours. And that’s where the Reds found him.
“It was a long road, a long road, is the best phrase,” he said. “It was a lot of hard work with a lot of ups and downs. That makes it very gratifying to have an organization like the Reds believe in you and give you and give you an opportunity and to be able to take advantage of it.”
Did he ever think about giving it up and move on with his life. You bet.
“I thought about it a couple of times,” he said. “But I love the game and decided to keep going until there was nowhere else to go.”
IN PAVING THEIR way to a third straight win, the Reds scored one in the first, one in the second and three in the third against Milwaukee’s emergency starter Tyler Cravy, a stand-in for scheduled starter Wily Peralta, who was home on maternity leave.
Joey Votto started the scoring with a two-out home run in the first, his fourth homer. Jay Bruce’s infield single and Adam Duvall’s double made it 2-0 in the second and Brandon Phillips hit a three-run home run in the third, his third home run in three games.
Adleman stranded three runners in the second, two in the third and two in the fourth. The only run he gave up was a solo home run by Alex Presley in the fifth. And Cingrani gave everybody a fright by pitching out of a bases loaded mess in the eighth and he gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Chris Carter, then picked him off base and retired the final two on fly balls to end the ugliest bullpen streak in major-league history.l