By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — This was a game that should have belonged to Billy Hamilton and the Cincinnati Reds. Hands down.
Instead, after 12 innings that covered 4 hours and 36 minutes, it belonged to the Chicago White Sox, 12-8. The 12th inning? On the ugly meter with a scale of 1 to 10, the Reds recorded a 12.
Errors by Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez plus a walk issued by Jackson Stephens filled the bases with the scored tied, 8-8. And the ChiSox converted with a pair of ‘Y’s. Yoan Moncado cleared the bases with a three-run triple and Yomer Sanchez followed with another triple to make it 12-8. All four runs were unearned. And the two errors in the 12th double the night’s total to four for the Reds.
Reds manager Jim Riggleman had seen enough. He wanted to go home. After the second triple, he held up four fingers to signal an intentional walk to the next hitter. Umpire Eric Cooper didn’t see it and looked back to Riggleman and said, “Do your job.”
Riggleman charged Cooper and was immediately ejected, his 28th ejection as a manager and first with the Reds. “That (ejection) was probably just the product of the way the game went,” he said.
And why should this game have belonged to the Reds and Hamilton?
This needs to be set up.
Hamilton should play baseball while wearing a mask — Billy the Bandit. He steals second, he steals third and he sometimes steals games away from helpless foes. He almost did it Tuesday night.
Hamilton took one of his typical tours around the bases Tuesday in Great American Ball Park and it looked as if it might permit the Reds to steal a victory away from the White Sox.
The Reds blew an early 7-2 lead after six innings and it was 7-7 when Hamilton led off the eighth inning with a single to right field. Jose Peraza bunted him to second. Like the thief in the night that he is, Hamilton stole third.
Scooter Gennett grounded out to shortstop and Hamilton stayed at third – momentarily. As soon as White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson threw to first base Hamilton bolted for home as if fleeing the scene of a crime. He slid head first around catcher Kevan Smith’s sweep tag on the throw from first baseman Matt Davidson and the Reds led, 8-7. All they needed were three more outs.
Alas closer Raisel Iglesias couldn’t close the deal, giving up a one-out game-tying home run in the top of the ninth to Avisail Garcia, his second home run of the game, to re-knot it, 8-8. Then Hamilton did what he really does best in the thievery field — rob players of hits. With two outs, Kevan Smith lined one into the left field alley, a sure-fire double against most center fielders. Hamilton flagged it with a diving catch to end the inning.
Of Hamilton’s basepath belligerence and the homeward dash, Riggleman said, “That was unbelievable, that was a Jackie Robinson play. Just unbelievable what he did there.”
Then came the 10th, the 11th and the ugly duckling 12th.
The Reds hit three early home runs — Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall. But the ChiSox countered with four, two each by Avisail Garcia and Daniel Palka.
Of Avisail Garcia, Riggleman said, “I’ve seen that kid back in Toledo when I was in Louisville and he was some kind of hitter as a young kid. He’s tough to deal with. He was hurt early and he is just coming around and he is a bear to deal with.”
The ChiSox pitching staff is a roster full of batting practice pitching machines and the 4.77 team earned run average is the third worst in baseball. But once starter Lucas Giolito was gone, the White Sox bullpen held the Reds to Hamilton’s run over the final six innings.
Giolito (5-7, 6.93) recorded his first out of the game on his 22nd pitch. Jose Peraza led the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on Scooter Gennett’s 14th homer. Joey Votto walked on a full count and Eugenio Suarez cracked his 17th homer to make it 4-0. Jesse Winker doubled before Giolito finally recorded an out.
“I felt comfortable with that 4-0 lead and I thought we would add on,” said Riggleman. “And we did. We went up 7-2, but they kept coming at us. You never take anything for granted. You still have to do what you do. They came back at us pretty quick when it was 7-2. They made it 7-6 real quick.”
Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani, given the 4-0 running start, pitched three hitless, scoreless innings — one runner walked and one reached on an error. He weakened slightly in the fourth when Avisail Garcia singled and Daniel Palka homered, trimming Cincinnati’s lead to 4-2. Tim Anderson lined a one-out single but the Reds turned an inning-ending double play on Matt Davidson.
Giolito issued a one-out walk to Suarez and Winker singled. That earned Giolito a visit from pitching coach Don Cooper. Two pitches after Cooper departed the mound it was 7-2 — a three-run home run by Adam Duvall, the third of the night for the Reds.
While White Sox manager Rick Renteria was content to let Giolito take a beating, Reds manager Jim Riggleman displayed no such patience.
When DeSclafani gave up back-to-back home runs to Avisail Garcia and Palka, his second of he game, and an infield hit to Kevan Smith, DeSclafani’s evening was over and relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen’s had just begun.
With a 7-4 lead, Lorenzen gave up a single to Tim Anderson, a run-scoring double to Matt Davidson and a run-scoring ground ball out to Cincinnati native Adam Engel. Lorenzen finally retired pinch-hitter Charlie Tilson but the Sox had crept to within 7-6.
Chicago had a runner on first with two outs in the seventh with Palka at the plate, looking for his third straight home run. Riggleman stuffed that by bringing in left hander Amir Garrett and he struck out Palka on three pitches.
But David Hernandez could not protect the lead in the eighth. He gave up an infield hit, a walk and a pinch-hit run-scoring single to Leury Garcia to tie it, 7-7.
“We had a nice lead, due to big early hits. . .we did everything we could do, but they just beat us,” said Riggleman. “They beat us late. The errors were made late and it made the game sloppy. But we had a big enough lead that we should have been able to put the game away in nine.”
To recap the 12th: Tim Anderson led the inning with a ground ball to Scooter Gennett at second base and the ball kicked off his glove for an error. Anderson then stole second base.
Jackson Stephens walked Matt Davidson on a full count. Adam Engel put down a perfect bunt toward third. Eugenio Suarez fielded it and threw to first. The ball hit Engle, who appeared inside the base line and might have been called out. He wasn’t and was safe on Suarez’s throwing error to load the bases.
The play is not reviewable unless the umpires can be convinced to review it and Riggleman asked Cooper to check the other umpires. He refused.
“The only way for us to get something going our way was if any of the other umpires did take my suggestion for any umpire’s review,” said Riggleman. “But Cooper said, ‘That’s my call. I don’t need any help on it. That’s my call.’ I thought, ‘Hey, we have four umpires out here and I inquire, who knows.’”
It was a no-go and what followed were the triples by Moncado and Sanchez and four Chicago runs and a defeat for the Reds.