By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — There are bizarre baseball games and then there are baseball games that are exceptionally bizarre.
Mark down Sunday afternoon’s 13-4 St. Louis Cardinals smokefest over the Cincinnati Reds under the exceptionally bizarre category.
Has there ever been a game where a pitcher took 39 pitches to get his first out of the game but his team won by nine runs?
How crazy is that?
IT TOOK ST. LOUIS STARTING pitcher Adam Wainwright 39 pitches to record his first out of the game.
By that time, the first six Reds batters had reached base and Joey Votto had banged a three-run home run. And the Reds had the bases loaded with no outs.
The Reds didn’t score any more runs in the first, but had a 3-0 lead after one inning.
THEN IT WAS REDS’ STARTER Homer Bailey’s turn.
He gave up five straight hits to the first five Cardinals batters in the second inning and four runs to fall behind, 4-3.
Then in the fourth he gave up a grand slam home run to Jose Martinez, the seventh grand slam given up by Reds pitchers this season.
And by the time the inning ended, Bailey was long gone and the Cardinals had scored nine runs to take a 13-3 lead.
THE NINE-RUN INNING LASTED longer than a David Letterman monologue and was the most runs given up by the Reds in one frame since July 25, 2015 when they gave up 10 in the third inning to the Colorado Rockies in Denver. Letterman, a life-long Reds fans, sat through the entire mess in the Diamond Seats behind home plate.
Bailey was charged with 10 runs on 10 hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings, pushing his earned run average to 8.81. The 10 runs he gave up are a career high.
“It was a little bit of everything for me today,” said Bailey. “I had no command, just one of those days when you don’t have it. Nothing felt good, didn’t execute many pitches, had a lot of misses. Some missed big, some just missed. Just one of those deals where I didn’t perform and it cost our team the game.”
BOTH BAILEY AND MANAGER BRYAN Price said there is nothing medically or physically wrong, that it was just something that could happen to a pitcher who has had three surgeries in the last three years.
“You hate to say that games like this are going to happen with Homer after his long layoff,” said Price. “His games have really been divided where he has really been sharp and been able to control the game. But on the days he hasn’t been sharp he has been vulnerable to big innings and that’s what happened today.
“I don’t think it is unusual, considering what he has been through the last three years, to get back on the mound and have inconsistencies,” Price added. “However you don’t want to concede and say this is just part of the post-surgery circumstances. I know he expects a lot more from himself.”
AMAZINGLY, WAINWRIGHT DIDN’T stick around to get the win. Even though the Cardinals had a 9-3 lead in the fourth when his turn came to bat, manager Mike Matheny pinch-hit for him.
So Wainwright didn’t pitch the necessary five innings to qualify for the win, which would have been his 12th. In three innings he gave up three runs, four hits and five walks and used up 88 pitches.
For some reason, although Wainwright is one of baseball’s best pitchers, his numbers against the Reds are curious. In 24 starts he is 9-and-11 with a 5.10 earned run average.
LOST IN THE MAYHEM WAS Joey Votto’s first-inning home run behind singles by Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart. It was the 250th homer of his career and the 135th at home, tying him with Jay Bruce for most in Great American Ball Park.
After Votto’s home run, Adam Duvall walked, Scooter Gennett blooped a single to right and Eugenio Suarez walked to fill the bases with no outs and a really big inning was pending.
But Jesse Winker grounded into a three unassisted-to-home plate double play. Tucker Barnhart was walked intentionally to re-fill the bases and Bailey struck out.
“Wainwright wasn’t nearly himself today,” said Price. “He was vulnerable, didn’t have his great stuff and great command. He did make a great breaking pitch in to Winker that he chopped to first for the double play. He dodged a big bullet there by making a pitch when he needed to make it.”
After Votto’s home run in the first, the Reds didn’t score again until the eighth when Eugenio Suarez hit his 18th home run, a 0-and-2 bolt over the center field wall to give what was left of 25,168 a chance to cheer — those that weren’t Cardinals fans that always invade GABP.
But even Letterman couldn’t overcome Bailey’s bad day and the Cardinals fans.