By HAL McCOY
If nothing else is proved by the Cincinnati Reds in this season of reconstruction, they have discovered a legitimate starting pitcher, one that fits right at the top of the rotation.
His name is Anthony DeSclafani and folks throughout baseball country are learning how to pronounce his name. And soon they’ll know how to spell it, too.
DeSclafani pushed his 2016 record to 5-and-0 Wednesday afternoon when the Reds defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-3.
ONLY THREE REDS PITCHERS this year have finished the eighth inning and DeSclafani now has done it twice after going eight innings Wednesday. The other is John Lamb, who is now trying to find himself at Class AAA Louisville.
DeSclafani fell behind, 2-0, early in Wednesday’s game, giving up a first-inning home run to Freddie Freeman, 1 for 19 at the time, and a run-scoring bloop single to Chase d’Arnaud in the fifth.
But he gave up nothing in his final three innings while the Reds finally popped the cork on their runs-scoring machine with four in the sixth and two in the seventh.
DeSclafani, acquired two years ago from Miami in a trade for Mat Latos (where is Latos now?), gave up two runs, eight hits, didn’t walk anybody and struck out three. And he got even with Freeman for hitting the home run. All three DeSclafani strikeouts were Freeman in his second, third and fourth at bats.
Over his last 41 2/3 innings, DeSclafani has issued only three walks while striking out 36.
THE REDS WERE HELD scoreless for five innings by Atlanta starter Lucas Harrell, but took him apart in the sixth.
It began with back-to-back singles by Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez. Both runners moved up on a deep fly to right by Brandon Phillips.
Jose Peraza, playing left field to give Adam Duvall a day off, singled sharply to center. Bruce scored easily and Suarez slid home on a bang-bang play. He was called safe by umpire Angel Hernandez.
The Braves asked for a review and replays seemed to indicate that Suarez was out. But the review from New York upheld the safe call and the game was tied, 2-2.
The next batter, catcher Tucker Barnhart, drilled a two-run home run into the right field stands for a 4-2 Reds lead, Barnhart’s 13th and 14th RBI in his last seven games. Barnhart continues to show he can be a No. 1 catcher, a back-up plan in case catcher Devin Mesoraco is unabled to catch next year after three surgeries in the last 13 months.
JOEY VOTTO EXTRACTED SOME revenge in the seventh inning.
Votto came to bat in the first inning with two on and nobody out and struck out. It ended a streak of him reaching base eight straight times. And the Reds didn’t score. He came to bat again in the fifth with the Reds down, 2-0. With two on and two out, Votto swung at a 3-and-0 pitch and flied meekly to left field.
Then came the seventh. Billy Hamilton led the inning with a single and Votto clubbed his 16th home run to push the lead to 6-2.
Ross Ohlendorf replaced DeSclafani in the ninth and gave up a leadoff home run to Adonys Garcia, the 18th time this season a Reds relief pitcher gave up a home run to the first batter he faced.
Ohlendorf quickly gathered his wits and struck out the next two before ending the game with a weak fly ball to center, enabling the Reds to take the series two games to one and they are 4-and-2 since the All-Star break.