By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — It wasn’t a matter of time, just a matter of when there would be a Bullpen Blow-up by the Cincinnati Reds.
No bullpen can sustain what the Reds bullpen was doing over the first 10 games of the 2017 season — a 1.13 earned run average (best in the National League) and a .163 opponents batting average (second in the National League).
The Milwaukee Brewers blew that apart with MOAB-like precision Friday night in Great American Ball Park, dissecting relief pitchers Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta and Michael Lorenzen. The Brewers scored four runs in the sixth inning against Wood and Peralta and four more in the seventh off Lorenzen to turn a one-run deficit into a 10-4 victory.
Those glossy and glittery bullpen numbers took a mammoth hit after it gave up eight runs and eight hits in four innings.
CINCINNATI STARTER Scott Feldman was given an early 3-0 lead and still led, 3-2, when his night was done after five innings (two runs, four hits, five walks, 99 pitches).
Wood started the sixth and struck out the first batter. Then came back-to-back two-strike singles by Manny Pina and Orlando Arcia. Wood balked the runners to second and third and the tying run scored on a ground ball, the second out.
But Jonathan Villar singled home the go-ahead run with two strikes to end Wood’s night and begin Peralta’s.
The first batter Peralta faced, Eric Thames, put a 1-and-2 pitch into the right field seats for a two-run home run and a 6-3 Brewers lead. The night was filled with two-strike counts for the Reds bullpen, but strike three was elusive.
THAMES, A FIRST-YEAR BREWER, played the last three years In Korea for the NC Dinos, where he averaged 40 home runs a season, was the MVP one season and is the only player in Korean League history to hit for the cycle twice in one season.
And he did that under the hardships of having no teammate speak English, having no batting cages and having no clubhouse (the team dressed in hotels and rode to the park in buses).
The Brewers turned the game into a Bullpen Massacre with four more runs in the seventh off Michael Lorenzen.
When last seen Lorenzen pitched three perfect innings in relief against Pittsburgh. But this time, in order, he hit a batter, gave up a double, a single and a triple and mixed in a wild pitch.
“Wood looked so good striking out Santana (his first batter) and then he hit Broxton and Pina gets a two-strike base-hit, as did Arcia, then Villar gets two sliders in then hits a double,” said manager Bryan Price, regurgitating a nightmarish night. “Wood attacked the zone and I can’t complain the way he went after them. He got into those two-strike counts and they got him.
“Wandy came in and got two strikes throwing sliders to Thames and then he tried to sneak a fastball past him and he hits the three-run homer,” Price added. “Our probabilities (of winning) certainly went down after that.”
A two-run home run by Zack Cozart in the second and a solo home run in the third by Joey Votto gave the Reds a 3-0 lead.
But the Brewers bullpen shut the Reds down on no earned runs (one unearned) and two hits (one walk, one hit batter) over the final four innings.
WHILE THE REDS LOST to the Brewers for the second straight night to fall to 7-and-4, the Brewers are 6-and-5 and above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season when they were 82-80. Since then they have played 334 games at .500 or below before popped above it Friday night.