By HAL McCOY
Joe Garagiola spent a lifetime behind a microphone, including several years as broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks and he wrote a book entitled, “Baseball is a Funny Game.”
Never was it more true on Memorial Day in Chase Park, although the Cincinnati Reds found no humor in the 12-5 whipping they took from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamonds have been struggling mightily since they started the season 21-and-8. When the Reds hit Phoenix the D-Backs had lost 15 of their last 17 and toppled off a cliff and out of first place in the National League West.
And the D-Backs were not only having trouble scoring runs, they were scrambling to find base hits. Their batting order was littered with players on the interstate, batting averages in the 100s.
But they strapped on their hitting shoes Monday and stomped all over the Reds, spicing their 11-hit attack with three home runs. Their 12 runs are a season-high.
What was so funny about this game. The Reds had 16 hits. They had runners on base in every inning but the sixth and scored in only two of those innings. They only struck out once the entire game.
And they lost by seven runs.
The misery came from another frightful start by Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, although his infield didn’t help him by committing three errors. With 27 miscues, the Reds infield leads the National League in errors.
Bailey’s line was an ugly four innings, eight runs, six hits, two home runs and one walk, all adding up to a 1-and-7 record and a 6.68 earned run average.
After the Reds gave Bailey a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the D-Backs scored four in the bottom of the second when they should have scored none.
With two outs and a runner on first, Socrates Brito grounded one near second base, right at shortstop Jose Peraza, a sure-fire inning-ending double play. But the ball glanced off Peraza’s glove into left field.
Bailey turned to Peraza and gave him a couple of ‘thumbs-up’ encouragement gestures. Bailey then went after No. 8 hitter Nick Ahmed. He fooled him completely with a hard-breaking slider to go 0-and-2. The next pitch was a hanging slider and Ahmed launched it into the left field bleachers, a three-run home run.
Bailey pitched a 1-2-3 third, but Arizona catcher John Ryan Murphy opened the fourth with a home run, the 15th home run off Bailey this year. An error by third baseman Eugenio Suarez led to another run that inning and the D-Backs led, 6-1, after four innings.
The Reds had two innings of mirror-image failure, the second and the fourth. Both times the Reds had runners on first and third with one out. Both times Bailey was batting and sacrifice bunted, both times putting runners on third and second with two outs for Billy Hamilton.
Hamilton popped to third in the second and grounded out to first in the fourth.
The Reds scuffled their way back into the game in the fifth with four runs, highlighted by Adam Duvall’s three-run double that cut it to 6-5. Bailey then singled off the third baseman’s glove and Duvall tried to score from second and was thrown out at home.
End of the scoring for the Reds and the D-Backs just kept slugging.
Bailey gave up two singles to start the bottom of the fifth and was replaced by Jackson Stephens. He retired the first two, one out from escaping, but Chris Owings, hitting .180, lined a three-run home run into the left field seats.
That made it 9-5 and the D-Backs played add-on from there and the Reds were kept off the scoreboard.
The Reds put their leadoff batter on base in three of the first four innings and salvaged one run out of it.
While the Reds had 16 hits, 14 were singles. Eugenio Suarez had four hits, Scooter Gennett had three, Jose Peraza had two and Adam Duvall had two and drove in four of the five runs.