By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — What happened Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park was enough to push Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price into talking about how baseball players have to be tough s.o.b.’s to survive and succeed.
It was inevitable that when stretch came to tug that something had to snap. Price didn’t snap, but he almost did. And who could blame him.
The Arizona Diamondbacks arrived with a five-game losing streak. eight losses in their last nine games and the ugliest uniforms on the face of any baseball landscape.
The Cincinnati Reds began the game in front of several thousand empty seats on a four-game losing streak.
THE DIFFERENCE WAS THAT the Diamondbacks came to town with a 53-39 record and second place in the National League West. The Reds’ record was the direct opposite, 39-53, and they were sole possessors of last place in the National League Central.
When the rubber band snapped, the Diamondbacks held the long end and an 11-2 victory, ending their five-game losing streak and extending Cincinnati’s losing streak to five. Clearly, bad-looking clothes don’t matter.
AND PRICE WAS EXTREMELY animated after the game, almost on a rant.
“This has been a really difficult last three years,” he said. “Starting with the post All-Star segment of the 2014 season. We’ve really struggled to put together winning streaks and we’ve had several long and extended losing streaks.”
The Reds have lost five straight since the All-Star break and it is beginning to eerily resembled 2014. That year the Reds went into the All-Star break with a 51-44 record. They lost seven straight after the break and nine of 10 and an unstoppable flight didn’t land until the Reds finished 76-and-86 and in fourth place.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover in both the rotation and the bullpen,” Price added. “From a pitching standpoint for the young pitchers there is that added pressure of being the next guy to step up and give us a chance to win a ballgame.”
THEN HE GOT TO THE MEAT of it all and it involves mental toughness.
“That’s when you keep losing. There is added pressure on the players, staff and front office. The losing makes for an environment that makes it a lot more challenging. It is a lot easier to win, right? It is a lot easier to talk about a five-game losing streak when you are 15 or 18 games over .500 than it is when you are 10 or 12 games under .500.
“Keep in mind, this is a hard game and it takes tough people to play it,” he said. “We can’t create an environment that is covered in goose down and everything is going to be a beautiful wonderland. It’s not.
“It is an ugly game, a game that is hard to play, and it is hard to stay up here, hard to perform up here under the scrutiny and the pressure. But you have to be one tough s.o.b to stay up here,” he added. “We’re providing great opportunity for players to come up here and prove they are one tough s.o.b. This game will tell you what you are all about and it will tear you up from the inside out, if you let it. You have to be strong to survive. It’s a man’s game. You have to be one tough s.o.b. to be here and we’re finding that out.”
REDS ROOKIE STARTER SAL Romano was one tough s.o.b. for four innings and put together a nice evening through four innings and was tied, 2-2. He had given up only three hits and one was a dubious double off the glove of third baseman Eugenio Suarez
Then the fifth inning surfaced and it was ugly. Roman gave up two doubles a walk and a triple for three runs and his night was over. Tony Cingrani replaced him and it got worse — double, double and an eventual two-run home run by No. 8 hitter Chris Hermann.
When the inning finally concluded the Diamondbacks had scored six runs 9n six hits, all six for extra bases.
ON THE OTHER SIDE, the Reds had to face The Road Warrior, left hander Robbie Ray. He was 4-1 in road games with a 1.34 earned run average, best road ERA in the majors.
Now he is 5-and-1 on the road, 9-and-4 overall, after he held the Reds to two runs and four hits over six innings. And the man who batted for him in the seventh, Rey Fuentes, hit a pinch-hit three-run home run after relief pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla walked the two batters in front of him.
Zack Cozart homered in the bottom of the first and Cozart led the fourth with a double and scored on Eugenio Suarez’s double that made it 2-2. And of the six hits the Reds put on the board Cozart had three — the only two extra base hits.
Then came Arizona’s six-run barrage-deluge in the fifth and Roman’s line was four innings, six runs, six hits and five walks.
And the Diamondbacks? As if they didn’t already have enough offense, before Tuesday’s game they acquired hard-hitting J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers for a couple of minor league baubles. Martinez most likely will be in the D-Backs lineup Wednesday night when the Reds have to face Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.86).