By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds can score nine runs and lose a game, as they did Monday afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And the Cincinnati Reds can score three runs and win a game, as they did Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers.
Such are the vagaries of Major League Baseball.
After losing to the Dodgers, 18-9, in a game that was more boring to Reds fans than The Kardashians, the Reds pinned a 3-0 defeat on the Texas Rangers.
After giving up seven home runs to the Dodgers, the Reds faced a Rangers lineup that had five of its first six batters with 20 or more home runs. But a Reds pitching triumverate locked up the top five in the order with a combined 1 for 18 with two walks.
REDS STARTER DAN STRAILY AND relief pitchers Raisel Iglesias and Tony Cingrani made certain the Rangers bats were colder than frozen chicken in a freezer.
Straily pitched six scoreless innings and held Texas to three hits and two walks while striking out five. He was rewarded with his team-leading 10th victory. Since the All-Star break, Straily is 6-and-0 over eight starts and the Reds have won all eight.
Texas starter Derek Holland hadn’t pitch since late June due to shoulder problems, but came off the disabled list to hold the Reds scoreless for five innings.
The Reds broke through in the sixth when pinch-hitter Tyler Holt drew a full-count walk, moved to second on Billy Hamilton’s bunt and scored on Joey Vottos two-out single to right field for a 1-0 lead.
In addition to sharpness and control under duress, Straily received aid and comfort from his defense — two gorgeous plays in the sixth inning.
Carlos Beltran began the inning with a drive to deep left center, a sure double, except that’s where Billy Hamilton roams. As he seems to do in nearly every game, Hamilton bolted out of nowhere and snagged it while flopping on his belly across the warning track dirt.
With two outs and a runner on first, Jonathan Lucroy pulled a line drive toward left field, except that’s where Eugenio Suarez roams. He leaned to his left and snagged Lucroy’s double-bound bullet for the third out.
The Hamilton catch, though, was a thing of beauty, perhaps the best of the best in his long litany of stupendous catches — and so many of them come with Straily pitching.
“That was the first one all year that I thought there was no chance of him getting to it,” said the appreciative Straily. “I was getting ready to go back up third and it was just amazing. I really thought he was not going to get to that ball. Sure enough, he found a way.”
HAMILTON WAS SHADED TOWARD right and had to sprint 132 feet (according to StatCast) to left center to snare it and he said, “That was one of my best ones, I think. That was a long run, to be honest with you, but it was fun. It was something I did on a day when I didn’t get any hits so it was a day-saver. Now I can go home happy.”
With so many above-and-beyond catches for Straily, Hamilton said he’ll accept a gift, “But he hasn’t bought me anything. I’ve been waiting for a gift card and it can be from McDonald’s, nothing special. I’m simple. I don’t need no Jeff Ruby’s (steakhouse). Just give me a cheeseburger and I’m fine.”
Said Straily, “Yeah, he is going to get something, probably a Gold Glove out of it. It seems a lot of what her does comes when I’m pitching and I’m pretty grateful for it.”
AND ADDED MANAGER BRYAN Price, “If he doesn’t get a Gold Glove this year there is no justice.”
Hamilton loves playing behind Straily, “Because he throws strikes, doesn’t try to strike you out every single time and he lets them put the ball in play because he trusts the defense. That’s why I like it when he pitches. And he works quick.”
Of his pitching performance, Straily said he has familiarity with most of the Rangers from his days pitching in the American League for Oakland.
“We had a a great game plan and I have a pretty good history with a lot of those guys,” he said. “We had something to go watch (video) to find something to fall back on. Sometimes when you have a history with people you want to make sure you aren’t doing the same thing every time you face them. We had a back-up plan if they started to hit some of the pitches, but we never had to go to those.”
Iglesias replaced Straily in the seventh and was in an immediate tar pit when he gave up back-to-back singles to open the inning. But he pitched out of it by getting a fielder’s choice and striking out pinch-hitter Jurickson Profor and Ian Desmond.
The Reds pushed across an insuracne run in the eighth when Suarez drew a two-out walk and Tucker Barnhart doubled to right center for a 2-0 lead.
Iglesias pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and the Reds scored another run in the bottom of the eighth, an inning once again started by a walk to Tyler Holt, who scored on Votto’s sacrirfice fly to left.
“The unsung hero in this one was Tyler Holt,” said Price. “He grinds out two walks on a couple of two-strike counts and ends up scoring two runs.”
Cingrani walked two batters in the ninth, but with pinch-hitter Ryan Rua representing the tying run, Cingran retired him retired for his 16th save in 21 opportunities as the Reds won for the seventh time in their last 10.
(FOR A COMPLETE STORY ON how Joey Votto has turned his season around, go the Hal McCoy’s blog at daytondailyonews.com/sports.)