By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — When an American League team comes calling to a National League park and there is no designated hitter, meaning the pitcher has to bat, it should be time for rejoicing by the NL team.
But there was no rejoicing by the NL Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Tim Adleman when the AL Texas Rangers sent pitcher Yu Darvish to bat Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park.
It was the fifth inning and the Reds trailed by a run when Yarvish took his place in the batter’s box, owner of no home runs in his career. Adleman delivered a two-out 1-and-2 pitch and Darvish mangled it over the center field wall.
The rattled Adleman then gave up another home run to the next batter, leadoff hitter Ian Desmond. Mix those two with a three-run two-out home run in the second inning by Nomar Mazara and it added up to a 6-5 Texas victory.
AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT pitchers hitting home runs against the Reds? Darvish’s was the fifth hit by a pitcher against the Reds this year, but the first by an American League pitcher.
And what is it about back-to-back home runs against the Reds? When Darvish and Desmond went back-to-back, it was the eighth time this season a team has hit back-to-backers against the Reds.
It was enough to make those 300 dogs in the stands for Bark in the Park Night howl.
The stacked Texas lineup’s first five batters all owned 20 or more home runs, but it was No. 9 Darvish and No. 7 Mazara that did in Adleman.
AND WHILE DARVISH WAS NO whirling dervish this night, he only gave up four hits in six innings, but he walked five and hit one to keep himself in trouble.
He had a 5-3 lead, but the Reds tied it in the sixth with a pair of runs, only to lose the lead and the game when Blake Wood gave up a run in the eighth. He hit Desmond with a pitch, Desmond stole second and Adrian Beltre belted him home with a double, his 2,900th career hit.
“Any time you have a guy with a bat there is always a chance that something can happen,” said manager Bryan Price about Darvish’s home run. “Tim left a fastball out over the plate and he hit it well. You don’t know much about American League pitchers and how they swing the bat. You don’t expect something like that to happen but he showed he is capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark.
“With the next hitter (Desmond) homering as well, it hurts,” Price added. “He was trying to get Darvish out to end the inning and it just didn’t work out.”
ADLEMAN WENT FIVE INNINGS and gave up only five hits, but three were homers that produced all five runs.
“It was just a really bad pitch,” said Adleman about the misplaced fastball to Darvish that Darvish displaced. “I gave him something he could handle and obviously he took advantage of it. Not my best.”
Asked if the Darvish home run distracted him enough that he quickly gave up another one to Desmond, Adleman said, “I think so. It’s a big blow when you give up a two-out home run when you are one pitch away from getting out of it. Then after that it was another bad pitch with two strikes (to Desmond).”
Despite losing this very winnable game, the Reds finished 6-and-4 on the homestand against wild card-contending Miami (3 games to 1), first place Los Angeles (2-and-2 split) and first place Texas (1-and-1 split).
NOW THEY PACK THEIR GEAR and head west to face two downtroddens, last place Arizona and last place Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, two teams with worse records than the Reds.
Manager Bryan Price is taking nothing for granted, though. When somebody mentioned something about the Reds possibly having a couple of breathers ahead, Price deflected it.
“No breathers and we know that,” he said. “Everyone looked at the Reds as a breather and we’re not a breather any more. We’re a good team and we’re playing hard and we’re playing well.
“There are no breathers,” he added. “A.J. Pollock is coming back for Arizona and we know that Anaheim is capable of doing a lot of good things. We’ll go out there and continue to play our hearts out and hopefull have a good trip.”
They’ll have to face pitchers in the batter’s box in Arizona — just a warning — but they won’t in Anaheim. The designated hitter rule will be in play in Anaheim.