By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The crowd was announced as 40,871, most of which came to see Pete Rose take his rightful place in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.
And there was punishment dealt out, too, for those who dared to sit under a blazing sun and watch a moribund baseball game.
They had to watch the Good Ship Cincinnati take on more water and continue sinking toward the bottom of the Ohio River via a 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.
It was Cincinnati’s third straight loss to San Diego on this homestead to the inhabitants of last place in the National League West.
THEY HAD TO WATCH a pitcher named Dean Pomeranz, who sounds like a partner in a law firm, hold the Reds to no runs and three hits over seven innings — and he struck out the side in his last inning.
THEY HAD TO WATCH the same Pomeranz, a pitcher, drive in two runs with a fifth-inning home run, the second of his career, and a run-scoring two-out single in the seventh.
THEY HAD TO WATCH San Diego’s first run score in the first inning when Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez fielded a ground ball and threw to first when he could have thrown home for an easy out.
“That was me, the whole decision to play the infield back,” said manager Bryan Price. “He was deeper because I wanted to prevent a bigger inning and avoid a big pitch-count inning. I think he made the right play, although the fans didn’t like it.”
THEY HAD TO WATCH Brandon Phillips lead the fourth with a double and then foolishly try to steal third with no outs. He didn’t make it. Jay Bruce then singled for what would have been a run.
“You never know those things are going to happen in the aftermath,” Price said of Bruce’s hit. “Brandon has been really good, really effective, at stealing third base the last couple of years. I didn’t think he got a great jump right there.”
THEY HAD TO WATCH Brandon Finnegan pitch another above-average game and get nothing for it except a big, fat ‘L’ next to his name. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, five hits, three walks while striking out eight. All it did was reduce his record to 3-and-6 with a 3.83 earned run average. Amazingly, the Reds have been shut out six times this year and Finnegan has started four of them.
“It happens and that’s what happens when you go up against the other team’s aces,” said Finnegan. “It is going to happen a lot in my career, I promise you that (face aces). Hopefully I’m around long enough for that.”
Of the home run and run-scoring single he gave up to Pomeranz, Finnegan said, “He just hit one up in the air and that’s what happens here when you get one up in the air in this small ball park. And then he got a hit up the middle. I’m not going to strike out every pitcher, but he did it all today.”
PRICE, HIMSELF A FORMER pitcher, knows the feeling of pitching your wheels off and finishing with nothing but four flat tires.
“Win or lose, Finnegan is pitching winning baseball,” said Price. “Sometimes you pitch winning baseball and you lose. Unfortunately. He is pitching winning baseball and he is not collecting the wins.”
Pomeranz came into the game with a 6-and-7 record but a solid 3.00 ERA and a 20-and-31 career major league record. But other than the Phillips double, no other Red reached second base against him.
“It was a well-pitched game by two starters,” said Price. “And Pomeranz has had a nice year. He has been sharp, getting ahead, using his cutter and his curve in on right handers. He didn’t give us a lot to get excited about.”
CATCHER RAMON CABRERA doubled with one out in the eighth against relief pitcher Ryan Buchter but pinch-hitter Tyler Holt struck out (and was thrown out of the game disputing the call) and Zack Cozart lined to center.
That was it. And did the Reds die meekly? Oh, yes. Seven of the last nine outs made by the Reds came on strikeouts.
Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Jose Rijo, in town for the Rose ceremonies, just shook his head and said, “I’ll tell you had bad it is. I made my 8-year-old son, Jose, watch a couple of Reds games on television and now he’s mad at me.”
He might stay mad for a long, long time.