Stop if you heard this one, ‘The bullpen. . .’


CINCINNATI — The Seattle Mariners were, like most teams who play the Cincinnati Reds these days, a ticking time bomb that goes off as soon as the bullpen arrives on the scene.

It’s the same thing over and over and over again for the Reds, Groundhog Day to the extreme.

On a soggy Friday night in Great American Ball Park Reds starter Dan Straily pitched his posterior off, holding the Mariners scoreless for six innings despite putting runners on base in five of the six innings.

STRAGGLY, OUT OF PITCHS after throwing 110. turned over a two-run lead to the bullpen in the seventh and it disappeared faster than a speeding bullet. Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani gave up four runs and the Mariners triumphed, 8-3.

Wood didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced and walked in a run. Cingrani came on and hit Robinson Cano with his first pitch to force in the tying run. He struck out the next two but pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee poked a two-run single to right to push the Mariners in front.

“We’re all trying to do every thing we can to win a game,” said manager Bryan Price. “It is too much work right now, too much work to try to find the magic potion to finish a game, to get through nine innings. We have to pitch better or we have to find better, one of the two.”

SUCH IS LIFE THESE days with the Reds. And here is how the time bomb kept ticking:

—The Mariners put a runner on first with one out in the first inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on in the fourth inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on in the fifth inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on base for the fourth time in six innings when Straily hit Robinson Canoe with a pitch. This time the Mariners scored on Kyle Seager’s double. Then center fielder Billy Hamilton saved a run by outrunning Adam Lind’s long liner to left center and snagging it.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

THEN CAME THE bullpen and ka-boom and ka-blooey.

And Price defended the much-troubled Cingrani.

“I got nothing but praise for Tony Cingrani, coming into not an almost impossible situation but very difficult in trying to maintain the (3-2) lead, bases loaded and no outs,” said Price. “He threw a first-pitch back-up slider and hit Robinson Cano, certainly not what he wanted to do.”

That tied it, 3-3, then he struck out Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager and as Price said, “He made two great pitches on two big hitters in Cruz and Seager. Then Lee did a nice job of staying on a fastball and shooting it to right field (for two runs and a 5-3 lead). I got no complaints (about Cingrani) because he is coming in and attacking people.”

AFTER WOOD AND Cingrani gave up four in the seventh, J.C. Ramirez gave up another in the eighth just to make it even more difficult for the Reds’ offense to come back.

And to make it even more difficult, Jumbo Diaz joined the run-giving parade by throwing home run balls in the ninth to Nelson Cruz, who had struck out three straight times, and to Lee, who drove in three runs in two at bats after coming off the bench.

Incredibly, the Reds have given up 30 home runs after the seventh inning this season in their first 42 games.

THE REDS CONSTRUCTED a 3-0 lead after four innings against Seattle starter Hisahi Iwakuma. They scored one in the first on a two-out double by Brandon Phillips, one in the third on Zack Cozart’s leadoff home run and one in the third on Tucker Barnhart’s single.

Then, as happens so often after a bullpen blow-up, the offense turned off the ignition switch — no runs and three hits over the final five innings. Barnhart had two of those hits and one was a bunt single. And the Reds had eight hits for the night, three by Barnhart.

“We had the nice six-inning start from Straily, but he had 110 pitches and there was no chance to send him back out,” said Price. “We have to be able to get nine outs and it was very challenging to get there and we didn’t get there.”

STRAILY WAS DOWNon himself for not getting through seven innings instead of six.

“I have to find a way to get my pitch-count down early in games to take us deeper into games,” he said. “I knew my count was climbing and six was all I had tonight.”

After his team lost its fifth straight and ninth in its last 11 Straily said, “Every guy in this clubhouse feels it and not one person in here is happy with losing night after night. Everybody is coming in early to work. The clubhouse opens at 11 and there are guys here before that working on something. Everybody wants to get better and nobody enjoys losing. We’re finding a way to lose — some bad execution and some bad luck, a combination of both.”

3 thoughts on “Stop if you heard this one, ‘The bullpen. . .’”

  1. This is not getting any better – but it is not a pretty sight. One wonders if they will ever get it together.

  2. Scary to realize when all those pitchers come off the DL they aren’t exactly Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux.

  3. People are thinking when all these players the Reds got in the trades become stars the Reds will get back on top. Think again my friend, they will be up long enough for free agency, and the merry go round starts all over. Because they are a small market team they will have to trade away anyone who is good. It is hard for most to realize that with todays owner this team will never be great. Only hope the Reds will have is to start at the top and replace everyone on down including the owner.

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