By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The major league debut of Cincinnari Reds rookie pitcher Rookie Davis went the way so many rookie debuts go — short, arduous and painful, although the Reds recovered and prevailed, 7-4, over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Davis Debut lasted only three innings, long enough for him to throw 74 pitches and give up four runs, five hits and two walks Thursday afternoon in front of about 1,500 weather-hardy fans in Great American Ball Park..
And two of the Phillies’ hits left the premises, a pair of home runs hit by left fielder Daniel Nava that accounted for the first three runs scored against Davis.
Nava, a non-roster free agent during spring training, made his Philadelphia debut one to remember by homering in his first two at bats as a member of the Phillies.
DAVIS, THOUGH, DID NOT absorb a loss even though he left with a three-run deficit. His teammates removed him as the pitcher of record by scoring three runs in the fourth inning to tie the game, 4-4.
Then, in the season’s biggest shocker so far, pitcher Michael Lorenzen was used as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and broke the tie with a home run to dead center, pushing the Reds ahead, 5-4, a lead they never relinquished.
It was his second career home run, the other coming the first game after he returned from bereavement leave following the death of his father last season. It was a three-run blast while he was in the game. This one was as a pinch-hitter because with only a four-man bench manager Bryan Price is forced into improvisation.
THAT WAS AN ASTOUNDING move. Incredibly, the Reds did not have a single pinch-hit home run all last season.
To Lorenzen, though, his home run was not a stunning, shocking, surprise event from a guy who pitched and played outfield at Cal-Fullerton in college.
“People don’t take me seriously when I say I can play both ways,” said Lorenzen. “It is something I believe I can do — be an all-around baseball player. I take pride in not just being a pitcher, a reliever, a starter. I’ve grown up playing the whole game, making the diving play, hitting, running the bases. The game of baseball is fun to me, I love it, all of it.”
ADAM DUVALL GAVE THE bullpen breathing space when he hit a two-run home run in the seventh.
For the third straight game, the Reds bullpen was in shutdown mode, although Cody Reed made it squirmy.
Reed pitched the fifth and sixth and in both innings he walked the first two batters and squimed out of it when the Reds turned double plays in both innings and rookie catcher Stuart Turner picked a runner off second after a missed bunt attempt.
The other relievers were picture perfect: Willy Peralta one inning and two strikeouts (no runs, no hits), Tony Cingrani one inning and one strikeouts (no runs, no hits), Blake Wood one inning and two strikeouts (no runs, no hits) and Drew Storen one inning, one strikeout (no runs, one hit). That’s no runs, one hit, four walks (all by Reed) and seven strikeouts from five bullpen guys over six innings.
AMAZINGLY, BECAUSE OF THE way baseball works, Reed was given the win because the Reds took the lead when he was in the game. The win was his career first after he began his creer last year 0-and-7 as a starter.
As manager Bryan Price said, “It was about time something went his way. He didn’t pitch to his ability today, however, he did have some things go his way.
“He had some struggles last year and he had to struggle to get by today. I want this to be a boost for Cody. He has wonderful stuff and he has to harness it, kind of like what Brandon Finnegan did from last year. He needs to put his delivery together to throw quality strikes,” Price added.
Reed, a starter all last year when he went 0-and-7, made his major league debut as a relief pitcher and laughed and said, “I think I was tired running in from the bullpen from left center. That’s a lot longer than running from the dugout. I had shortness of breath.
“I know last year was a struggle for me, I definitely was on The Struggle Bus,” Reed added. And it was a shaky situation in both innings today, but (pitching coach) Mack Jenkins told me, ‘You battled. You were erratic, but you got the two ground balls to get two outs with one pitch.’”
And Rookie Davis?
“It’s good to get the first one out of the way,” he said. “A coupe of pitches beat me early.” Those pitches were the home run balls to Nava in the first and third innings.
“I have to make better pitches, particularly on the second home run, the two-run home run that came on a 1-and-2 count. I have to make a better pitch than that. But the way the team stepped in, the way they rallied, that was special for me. Next time, maybe I can pick them up.”