By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Injuries to starting pitchers are a common denominator for the Cincinnati Reds and the pool from which manager Bryan Price plucks his pitchers is getting shallower and shallower.
The latest to fall by the wayside, joining Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Rookie Davis, is Brandon Finnegan.
Finnegan staggered through one inning Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park against the Milwaukee Brewers, giving up three walks, a hit and two runs, then left after the first inning with a strained left shoulder that will, for sure, knock him out of his next scheduled start.
THAT FORCED MANAGER BRYAN PRICE to run rampant through his bullpen, needing five operatives to complete the game and they were not particularly effective — three of them gave up solo home runs.
It was the offense that saved the day, even though the top three (Billy Hamilton, Jose Peraza, Joey Votto) went 1 for 13.
The bottom two-thirds put together an 11-hit attack, seven for extra bases, that enabled the Reds to shed a two-game losing streak, 7-5.
THE BIG BLOWS THIS DAY came from unexpected sources. Scooter Gennett extracted a pound-and-a-half of retribution flesh from his former team, a team that put him on waivers so the Reds could pick him up. Gennett’s run-scoring single in the sixth tied the game, 4-4.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t special (doing it against his former team),” said Gennett, playing left field while Adam Duvall took a day off. Asked if his former teammates aimed some barbs at him after his big hit, Gennett said, “They said a little bit, a little bit of some words I can’t repeat.”
Then it was Jesse Winker’s turn. He struck out Friday night in his major league debut. On Saturday? Retribution. He pushed a two-run pinch-hit double into left field, breaking the tie and providing the Reds with a 6-4 lead that they maintained.
AND WHAT WAS HIS REWARD from the Reds? “Thanks for the game-winning hit, kid, now here is your ticket to Louisville.” That’s right. Winker will be optioned back to Louisville so the Reds can call up pitcher Sal Romano to start Sunday’s game.
“I used Friday’s game to acclimate myself, to look around and soak up the atmosphere because you only get one first major-league at bat,” said Winker. “My grandmother, uncle and aunt drove from Buffalo to see the game and I caught their eyes as I went to the plate.
“But on Saturday I was locked into what I needed to do,” he said. “I was looking for a cutter and got it, but it jammed me and I was able to fight it off into left field. I just wanted to help my team win and was able to do it.”
Said Price of Winker, “That was fun and we’re all enjoying these young guys coming up and having their first appearance, their first hit, their first win. Shooting that double out in front of Ryan Braun and driving in two runs will be a big memory for Jesse.”
GENNETT WAS PICKED UP off waivers from the Brewers with one day remaining in spring training and is quickly making his presence important.
“Gennett has done a lot of things for us,” said Price. “We’ve had him at second, third, left and right and he just continues to swing a great bat. He is a gamer, a great addition to this ballclub and we’re happy to have him. He has been a hit in the clubhouse, I know that.”
Price said Finnegan has been fighting a sensation in his shoulder after his last start, “But he seemed fine. He did all his pre-start throwing progressions on the side and didn’t create any soreness. He was good to go, then it popped back up in the first inning. He won’t be making his next start. It is not a good omen right now and he’ll probably miss some time.”
—Robert Stephenson followed Finnegan and gave up one run and three hits in three innings, including a home run to Eric Thames.
—Raisel Iglesias followed Stephenson and gave up a run and two hit in two innings, including a home run to Hernan Perez.
—Tony Cingrani followed Iglesias and gave up a run and two hits in two-thirds of an inning, including the second home run of the game and third of the series by Thames.
—Drew Storen followed Cingrani and restored some semblance of order after walking the batter he faced and then retiring four straight, two via strikeouts.
—Michael Lorenzen pitched the ninth after he was battered and beaten for four runs in one inning during Friday’s 10-4 loss. This time he struck out the first batter, issued a walk, then retired the final two for his first save this season.
Amazingly, in 12 game this year eight different Reds pitchers have finished games.