By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Giving up home runs is as common as a denominator for the Cincinnati Reds. Biff, bam, boom.
It doesn’t matter what team or what nickname, it doesn’t matter what position a player plays and it doesn’t matter where the player bats in the order.
Somebody at some point is going to hit one — or two or three — baseballs out of the ball park.
On Thursday night it was six. S-i-x. And it was ‘Homers by Homer.’
HOMER BAILEY, MAKING HIS second start of the season, gave up three home runs — one in each of the first three innings that launched the Milwaukee Brewers to an 11-3 victory Thursday night in Great American Ball Park during which they unleashed six home runs.
—Ryan Braun homered with two outs in the first inning, his 24th career home run in GABP, the most for any visiting player in stadium history. Braun broke the record held by Houston’s Lance Berkman.
—Manny Pina hit a one-out home run in the second and Jonathan Villar hit a leadoff homer in the third.
—After Villar led the third with a home run, the Brewers scored three more on a hit batsman and three straight two-out hits.
And midway through the inning manager Bryan Price was ejected by home plate umpire/crew chief Fieldin Culbreth for arguing a challenge that went against the Reds. Arguing a challenge is automatic ejection.
For those keeping count, it was Price’s 11th career thumb-job, second of the year and his third for arguing a replay decision.
IT WAS THE 22ND STRAIGHT game in which Reds pitchers have given up home runs. The Baltimore Orioles went into Thursday night’s game against Toronto with 26 straight games, tying the all-time major league record and it ended when the Orioles shut out the Blue Jays, 2-0.
Reds pitchers have given up 135 homers in 78 games and are marching relentlessly toward the Major League record of 258 for the season, set by the Reds last year.
Bailey was finished after three innings and despite giving up six runs and six hits his earned run average declined from 43.20 to 27.00.
WITH A SEAT IN HIS OFFICE after his ejection, Price had a TV view of the game and said of Bailey, “He is still getting his sea legs under him.
“I could see where pitches ended up and what quadrants they were in,” said Price. “I could see the bite of the pitch. He has made two starts and the two starts have not been very good. We are just going to have to keep giving him the ball every fifth day and let him work through, finding his way.
“He is getting good coaching, he had a good game plan, he has thrown to both catchers. There are no excuses. He just hasn’t been very sharp and his pitch quality certainly hasn’t been what we saw when he was healthy back in 2014,” Price added.
“From our reports and what I saw when he pitched in D.C. there is no reason to believe he won’t make a full recovery and give us quality innings again,” said Price.
Bailey believes, too.
“The action on my pitches look good, the velocity is there,” he said. “I just need to get back to the speed of the game and take my time and just be a little bit sharper. That little bit of sharpness is the difference between the home run and ground ball or the home run and the pop out. It is just going to take a little bit of time.”
BAILEY WAS REPLACED BY rookie Kevin Shackelford, the 12th rookie to make his major league debut with the Reds this season.
And the first batter he faced, Villar (need you guess), hit a home run. Then he gave up two singles and a three-run home run to Jesus Aguilar, playing first base in place of Eric Thames.
The sixth home run was hit by Domingo Santana, leading off the eighth inning against rookie Ariel Hernandez.
With the win the first place Brewers avoided a three-game sweep by the Reds and they ducked that indignity without power hitter Eric Thames in the lineup. He was given a mental day off after he struck out four straight times Wednesday, his second four-strikeout game in nine days.
MEANWHILE, WHILE THE Brewers were threatening to sink a few boats on the Ohio River, the Reds were hopeless and helpless against Jimmy Nelson.
He retired 10 of the first 11, issuing a walk to Joey Votto in the first. Then Votto ruined his no-hitter and his shutout in the fourth inning with Votto’s 22nd home run.
Nelson retired eight in a row after Votto’s home run, then Votto hit his second home run of the game, 23rd of the season, 13th career multi-homer game, the first this season.
Nelson went seven innings and gave up two runs, three hits, walked one and struck out 11. Only Votto bothered him and Votto bothers everybody.
HIS 23 HOME RUNS ARE the most he has ever had before the All-Star break and he has 10 more games before the break.
“I have never seen him on a power streak like this,” Price said of Votto. “It was about this time last year that his on-base percentage and hitting went crazy after he hit about .200 the first two months.
“All the damage started to come then,” Price added. “I’ve had the good fortune to see him really, really good. However, I have never seen this type of power display since I’ve been here.”
Unfortunately, watching his pitchers gave up home runs in bunches is not a new experience.