By HAL McCOY
Sal Romano, wearing Johnny Cueto’s old No. 47 and with 47 relatives and friends in the Great American Ball Park stands for his major league debut on Easter Sunday, might have been better served throwing only 47 pitches in his three innings.
Unfortunately for him and the Cincinnati Reds, probably because the nervous bugs in his belly were as big as tarantulas, Romano used up 82 pitches, only 39 for strikes, to cover three innings.
It led to a 4-2 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers, a team also in rebuilding mode, and three losses in the four game series.
ROMANO GAVE UP ONLY three runs and three hits, while walking four and hitting a batter.
None of the walks or the hit batter produced a run. The three runs came in the third inning after Romano escaped the first two innings with two runners on base. The runs came on an error by second baseman Arismendy Alcantara, followed by back-to-back home runs by Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw, a son of former Reds closer Jeff Shaw.
Romano was called up from Triple-A Louisville to make Sunday’s start in place of Rookie Davis, placed a few days ago on the 10-day disabled list after he was hit on the forearm trying to bunt.
Romano was the third Reds rookie pitcher to make his major league debut in the first 13 games this season.
THE REDS, THOUGH, MADE a wise move. Perhaps fearing that Romano wouldn’t last long in his debut, they also called up Tim Adleman, who was in the Reds rotation the last half of last season.
Adleman replaced Romano in the fourth and retired the first eight Brewers before giving up a two-out single to opposing pitcher Wily Peralta.
But in his fourth inning, the seventh inning, he gave up a home run to The Incredible Hulk, first baseman Eric Thames, the fifth home run Thames has hit against the Reds in the four-game series and his sixth of the season to make it 4-2.
Adleman pitched four innings and gave up one run, two hits and struck out five.
THE REDS, THOUGH WERE not active offensively against righthander Wily Peralta. Over six innings he gave up only three hits while walking three and striking out one.
One of the three hits, though, was an upper deck two-run home run by Eugenio Suarez in the fourth after Peralta issued a two-out walk to Adam Duvall.
Joey Votto checked his swing and dribbled an infield hit to shortstop with two outs in the eighth inning, bringing Duvall to the plate as the potential tying run. But he popped to second and went hitless in the three games he played in the series and did not get the ball out of the infield.
Brewers closer Neftali Feliz blew away the Reds with a 1-2-3 ninth, including two strikeouts. The last out was a dubious called strike three by umpire Adrian Johnson on a full count to Zack Cozart, who was headed to first base when Johnson hooked his thumb for strike three.
It ended Cozart’s 10-game hitting streak to start his season.
THERE WERE TWO ABOVE-AND-BEYOND defensive plays in this game, one by each side.
The Reds had runners on third and first with one out in the first. Duvall drilled one and third baseman Shaw went to his knees to interrupt its route to left field. Shaw threw to second from his knees and the Brewers completed an inning-ending double play.
Billy Hamilton, who saves more runs than a philatelist saves stamps, saved another in the sixth.
The Brewers had a runner on first with two outs when Nick Franklin scorched a liner to deep center. Hamilton gave chase, turning the wrong way. But he and the man arrived at the same spot and Hamilton made a diving, sliding catch on the warning track.