By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Is it considered a moral victory when the Cincinnati Reds hold the Cleveland Indians to under 13 runs and under 16 hits in a baseball game?
The Reds are looking for any positives they can find, under any bed sheet or under any carpet, after losing two games in Cleveland by 15-6 and 13-1.
So when they held the Tribe to eight runs and ten hits Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park there was cause for a mini-celebration.
UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE Reds, Cleveland’s 10th hit was a home run banged by Francisco Lindor leading off the 12th inning, a blow struck against just recalled relief pitcher Keyvius Sampson, facing his first hitter.
That was enough to stun the Reds, 8-7, their ninth loss in 11 games and third straight to Cleveland.
So after 40 games, the Reds are 15-25 and dragging bottom in the National League Centeral.
A REAL CHANCE FOR a positive slipped away into the chill night because of another Bullpen Blunder.
Tony Cingrani was just two outs away from nailing down a Reds victory in the ninth inning. The Reds led, 7-5, and the Tribe had a runner on base, a left hander (Lonnie Chisenhall) that Cingrani walked. He didn’t stay on base long because Cingrani gave up a two-run homer run to Rajai Davis to tie the game, 7-7, and send it rumbling into overtime, just a delay tactics until they could lose. It was the second homer of the night by Davis.
REDS MANAGER BRYAN Price was noticably down mentally over recent events.
“It has been a rough first 40 and it won’t be like this all season,” he said “We have some components not working well (bullpen), but it will get better. It is miserable and we all feel it. Our guys are out there grinding it out but it hasn’t been a lot of fun.
“It is where we are right now,” he added. “We’re having a tough time rolling out consistent innings, both with our starters an from the relievers.”
PRICE TALKED ABOUT a good start Wednesday by Brandon Finnegan and some offensiver firepower by Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart’s three hits, but it just added up to another frustrating turn of events.
“We’re chasing wins right now,” he said. “We talk about rebuilding and wanting to do X, Y and Z, but we want to win games we should win. Period. And if we did we’re capable of being right up there with Pittsburgh and St. Louis if we could put some games away. It is maddening because everybody went into the season thinking we stink and I don’t think we stink. We’re a lot better than what we’re seeing and it is hard to watch when games get away.”
THE REDS FACED a pitcher making his major league debut, long and stringy-haired Mike Clevinger, and they scored only one run and collected only two hits over five innings.
Reds starter Brandon Finnegan gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits in 5 1/2 innings. But he didn’t walk anybody — another moral victory because in the first two games against the Tribe the Reds issued 15 walks. Hey, teams take their positives where they can find them.
“Finnegan threw the ball as well as he has all year from a stuff component and he didn’t walk anybody,” said Price. “He was in the zone with good stuff and his velocity played up and he got his breaking ball over and his change-up.”
Another possible positive surfaced in the sixth inning when the Reds were down, 4-1. A comeback?A comeback victory? Thanks to a two-run double by slump shrouded Joey Votto (.214) and a three-run home run by Eugenio Suarez the Reds took a 6-4 lead.
Cleveland scored a run off just recalled Jumbo Diaz in the seventh to move to within 6-5. But Jay Bruce provided something positive in the eighth, it looked like at the time. He hit his second home run of the night to push Cincinnati’s lead to 7-5.
Those were his 128th career home runs in Great American Ball Park, most by anyone, surpassing Adam Dunn, who played less time in GABP than Bruce has.
The Reds threatened another positive in the bottom of the 12th when Billy Hamilton poked a two-out single to left. The Tribe’s eighth pitcher of the night, Dan Otero, went to 3-and-0 on Votto, caught up at 3-and-2, and walked him.
The positive vibes were swirling around Great American when Brandon Phillips dug into the batter’s box, then flied to right to end it.
And once again, the negatives abounded.