By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — With Kris Bryant (sprained ankle), Kyle Schwarber (minor league demotion), Ben Zobrist (minor league rehab) and Miguel Montero (insensitive mouth) all absent, the Chicago Cubs were Silly Putty in the hands of Scott Feldman Friday night in Great American Ball Park.
There were 39,501 looking on, a majority dressed in Chicago blue, as Feldman flicked aside the underachieving Cubs. He painted seven shutout innings and gave up only two hits en route to a 5-0 victory.
Feldman took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and had two outs. Second baseman Jose Peraza booted a ground ball for an error and Ian Happ singled for the first hit. Feldman also gave up a one-out single to Addison Russell in the seventh, but that was it.
HIS STERLING SILVER PITCHING line was seven innings, no runs, two hits, two walks seven strikeouts.
The Reds signed the 34-year-old Feldman in the off-season as a possible fifth starter and now he stands atop the rotation with a team-best seven victories against five losses.
And he came out of the bargain bin. As recently as 2014 he was paid $12 million a year by the Houston Astros. The Reds, though, signed him for an incentive-filled $2.3 million, about what one might think a pitcher with an 83-87 career record is worth.
But he has been gold for the Reds, filling one of the rotation gaps vacant because of injuries to Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan.
WITH FELDMAN’S AGE and the Reds in a rebuild era, manager Bryan Price was asked if Feldman might be trade bait to a team looking for pitching help.
Price said that is an organizational decision, but he wants Feldman wearing a Reds uniform all year — and maybe beyond.
“I love Scott Feldman and think the world of him,” said Price. “And it isn’t just what he has done from a performance standpoint. He is great in the clubhouse and great with the younger guys and he is a gamer. You need guys like him for your young players to be around to sell the right way to play the game.”
ASKED IF FELDMAN IS a saving grace due to the rotation injuries, Price said, “When we signed him I thought, ‘Well, if he doesn’t make the team as a starter we can use him in the bullpen,’ But as soon as I saw him I said, ‘This guy is a starter.’ We are lucky to have him. You look at our rotation and look for one constant and it is the quality of Scott Feldman.”
FELDMAN SAID THE REASON he signed with the Reds, sifting through other offers, was because what has happened is what he hoped would happen — an opportunity in the rotation.
“Part of the reason I signed here is because after I talked to Price and the front office I believed there was an opportunity for me to start. They brought me in here to pitch and even though some people were uncertain about my role I knew they had a lot of confidence in me.
“It makes a huge different when the manager has confidence in you and runs you out there every five days,” he said.
Asked how many innings he has ever gone with a no-hitter, Feldman smiled and said, “Honestly, I have no idea. Probably not more than an inning. I knew about it (the no-hitter). I always glance out there to see what the score is and my pitch count. I knew after the first inning I hadn’t given up a hit.”
Feldman held the toothless Cubs at bat for four innings at 0-0 until Adam Duvall delivered a three-run home run in the fourth off left hander Mike Montgomery.
After Billy Hamilton doubled but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, Zack Cozart singled for his first hit since coming off the disabled list before the game. Joey Votto doubled over the first base bag to put runners on third and second and Duvall delivered his 19th home run, an opposite-field punch over the right fiield wall.
DUVALL WAS INVOLVED in the fourth run, too, leading the sixth with a walk. He stole second and scored on a safety squeeze bunt base hit by Jose Peraza.
Duvall said he was loving what he saw from Feldman while he stood in left field watching frustrated hitters.
“When a pitcher has three pitches he is throwing for strikes, like he was, it makes it tough on a hitter,” said Duvall. “He was throwing first-pitch breaking balls and sinkers on the corners. It was very fun to play behind him tonight. They were completing missing his sinkers.”