Finnegan to finish his season in the rotation

By HAL McCOY

CINCINNNATI — The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t beat the New York Mets ‘B’ team on Monday, so how were they expected to beat the Mets ‘A’ team on Tuesday?

Well, they didn’t. They lost, 5-3, their 13th straight futile effort against the Mets, the longest losing streak by one team to another in the majors.

The Mets played a Sunday Night TV game and arrived in Cincinnati Monday morning at 3:30 a.m. for a 1:10 Monday afternoon game.

So Mets manager Terry Collins benched four regulars and didn’t use his two best relief pitchers. He didn’t play Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes. And he didn’t use relief pitchers Addison Reed (set-up) and Jeurys Familia (closer).

No matter. The Mets, behind 43-year-old right hander Bartolo Colon, shut down the Reds, 5-0. Rookie infielder Matt Reynolds spent Monday night on a red-eye flight, complete with connection flights, to get from his Las Vegas call-up to Cincinnati. So he didn’t sleep at all. And he homered in his first at-bat.

NOT ONLY WERE CESPEDES, Granderson, Cabrera and Reyes in Tuesday’s lineup, but Granderson and Reyes hit solo home runs off Reds starter Brandon Finnegan and Cespedes hit a two-run game-winning home run off Michael Lorenzen in the seventh. The two home runs off Finnegan were the 28th and 29th he has given up this season, tops in the National League.

The Reds thought they caught a break when scheduled starter Jacob deGrom couldn’t do it due to a sore elbow and rookie Rafael Montero (0-0, 3.68) took his place.

But the Reds collected only three hits off Montero over 4 1/3 innings, including a two-run home run by Adam Duvall in the third, his 30th, that gave the Reds a 3-2 lead — until Cespedes batted in the seventh.

Then Collins was able to use his two best bullpen operatives, the two guys who rested Monday. Addison Reed retired the first two in the eighth before Brandon Phillips ripped one off the left field wall, but he tried to stretch it into a double and left fielder Cespedes easily wiped him clean at second base to end the inning.

Closer Jeurys Familia cleaned it all up in the ninth for his 46th save this season. He struck out Scott Schebler on an 82 miles an hour change-up, Ivan DeJesus Jr. reached on an error, Tucker Barnhart flied to left and pinch-hitter Eugenio Suarez struck out — zip, zonk, zip, zip and good night and drive home safely.

THE ONE-RUN NEW YORK LEAD was extended to two in the top of the ninth by pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza. He led the inning with a home run off relief pitcher Blake Wood — the 26th time this season a Reds relief pitchr has given up a home run to the first batter he faced — extending the dubious club record

In addition to 30 home runs, only the fifth Reds left fielder in history with 30 or more homers, Duvall has 87 runs batted in.

“It has been a special year for Adam,” said manager Bryan Price. “He has had great run production, getting close to 90 RBIs, he has 30 home runs and a bunch of doubles and he is playing a pretty solid left field. It has been a breakout year for him.”

THERE WERE THOUGHTS EARLY this season that when Finnegan crept close to 175 innings that the Reds would shift him to the bullpen.

That’s no longer the plan. He has made 28 starts and pitched 159 2/3 innings. Price said the revised plan is for him to make 30 starts and pitched 170 to 175 innings and call it a season.

“We’ve come to terms with the fact that we want him to start until he’s done, then take him out and not use him as a reliever,” said Price. “It isn’t because he couldn’t do it, we could take him out of the rotation and use him for 10 innings in the bullpen, but he has had a nice year. If we can get him to 30 and to the 170-175-inning mark, he will have accomplished more than we anticipated in spring training.

“He has pitched well enough and competed well enough to hold a spot in the rotation all season and that’s what we hoped we would see, but we didn’t know, not with his background in the big leagues (with Kansas City) as a relief pitcher. He has answered a lot of questions. If we get him 30 starts and 175 innings, that would be a good workload for him.”

FINNEGAN SAID HE’LL PITCH IN the rotation, “Until they take me out. I’ve been starting all year and that’s what I want to do. We’re short on starters right now and I’ll keep going until they tell me to stop.

“I’m excited that they’re letting me stay in the rotation to finish the season,” he said of his 8-and-10 record with a 4.17 earned run average after giving up two runs and three hits with four walks and six strikeouts over five innings Tuesday. But it took him 105 pitches to cover those five innings.

“If he had been more pitch-efficient early this season he might have been able to go 200 innings,” said Price. “We’ll keep our eyes on him. If he gets more pitch-efficient he is going to be an innings guy because he competes well and does a lot of good things to keep himself in games.”

Said Finnegan, “I’ll throw as long as I’m still out there because I know there is still a lot of work to be done. This game (Tuesday) was actually one of those games where I really had to compete because I didn’t have my best stuff. But I go out there and compete regardless of what I have or don’t have.”

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