By HAL McCOY
Few people were on this earth when the Cincinnati Reds last started a baseball season 2-and-12. In fact, it was 87 years ago, 1931, and the country was at the start of The Great Depression.
And there isn’t a baseball team in a bigger depression right now than the Reds, who were whipped Saturday afternoon by the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, Cincinnati’s seventh straight loss.
It was the much-heralded return from the disabled list by left hander Brandon Finnegan and it didn’t go well.
Finnegan walked the first two batters he faced and one scored and matters went downhill from there.
He pitched only 4 1/3 innings and gave up five runs, six hits, walked four and struck out four, needing 91 pitches to get that far.
His biggest nemesis was No. 8 hitter Greg Garcia, the only left handed hitter in the St. Louis lineup to face the left handed Finnegan.
Garcia homered into the right field seats his first two times at bat, the last one a two-run shot that gave St. Louis a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Until Garcia’s explosion, Finnegan had given up only eight home runs to left handers in his career. The Reds have given up 25 home runs in 14 games, by far the most in the majors. And the Cardinals have hit eight homers in the first three games of this series.
On the flip side, the Reds couldn’t handle St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas. He pitched for three years in Japan, where the Cardinals found him and signed him before this season to a two-year $15 million contract.
Reds pitchers would do well to study the tape on Mikolas’ Saturday start. He held the Reds to one run and four hits while walking only two and striking out four.
He pitched seven innings and while Finnegan needed 91 pitched to go 4 1/3, Mikolas needed only 83 to go seven.
Before the game, Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart received his Gold Glove trophy and fans were given a Tucker Barnhart Gold Glove bobblehead. The first 20,000 fans were to be given the bobbleheads, but the announced attendance was 19,213, but many who paid stayed away due to rain threat and poor performance by the Reds, so there are several thousand Barnhart bobbleheads still available.
On his day, Barnhart banged a home run to lead off the fifth, the only run the Reds gathered against Mikolas.
The Cardinals stole three bases, including one of third base, but it wasn’t Barnhart’s fault. All three came against Finnegan, who is slow to home plate, giving his catchers no chance to throw runners out.
Garcia also doubled after his two home runs and drove in three runs and scored three. Leadoff hitter Tommy Pham had three hits, drove in one and scored two.
Garcia and Pham had six of the eight hits the Cardinals collected.
Scooter Gennett had three singles, three of the Reds seven hits, extending his hitting streak to six games.
The other positive note on the Cincinnati side was the Reds debut of pitcher Dylan Floro, called up Friday from Louisville. When he took the mound Saturday he was the 17th different pitcher used by the Reds already this season — and so far the best.
He pitched two perfect innings, six up and six down.