By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Does anybody remember the last time Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey won a baseball game? Does it seems like it was back when Prince had that party in 1999?
In fact, when was the last time the Reds won a game that Bailey started?
Bailey last won a game in Los Angeles on May 12, and even in that one he gave up 10 hits in five innings. Bailey has given up 10 or more hits in five starts, including Monday night against the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe pecked away at Bailey for five innings and then dropped a wrecking ball on him and relief pitcher Amir Garrett for seven runs in the sixth inning en route to a 10-3 rout.
Other than that one victory in Chavez Ravine, the Reds have lost 15 of the 16 games Bailey has started and his personal record is 1-and-10 with a 6.33 earned run average.
There are a bulging bundle of negatives surrounding Bailey’s season, not all of his makings. Of all the starting pitchers in the National League with 12 or more starts, Bailey receives the second least run support, only 3.09 runs per game when he is on the mound. And, of course, he was provided just two over his five-plus innings Monday as the Reds stranded eight runners while he was in the lineup.
Manager Jim Riggleman was in an empathetic mood when talking about Bailey.
“I was really pleased that Homer battled through a lot of adversity,” he said. “We made him throw a lot of extra pitches. He really did a nice job and it’s too bad that he got charged with some of those runs (three charged to him came with Amir Garrett on the mound).”
Cleveland starter Mike Clevenger was as wild as a loose porcupine, walking six in five innings, but none of those runners scored. The Reds twice left the bases loaded.
They had to rely on the long ball. Tucker Barnhart struck first with a solo shot to the opposite field in the second inning to give Bailey a 1-0 lead.
After recording two strikeouts in the third, Bailey gave up a single to Michael Brantley and a fly ball home run directly down the right field line at the 325 marker, the 35th home run by Jose Ramirez for a 2-1 Indians lead.
It stayed that way until the fifth when Scooter Gennett led the inning with his 18th home run, a drive into the right field bleachers to tie it, 2-2.
Then came extended batting practice for the Tribe in the sixth, a seven-run explosion. Bailey had 90 pitches after five, but Riggleman didn’t consider taking him out and said, “No, 90 is nothing. He was throwing the ball very well. We tried to calm it down early in the inning, but the flood gates opened.”
Indeed, they did.
The Indians reclaimed the lead and put the Reds in their rear view mirror with some ear-scorching artillery of four doubles that led to a seven-run inning,
It began with a one-out single by Greg Allen, who stole second base, and a run-scoring double by Yandy Diaz, pinch-hitting for Clevenger. That made it 3-2 and after an intentional walk to Francisco Lindor Bailey was sent to the dugout with only three runs charged to him at the time.
Bailey was happy with his effort, until the sixth and said, “The last inning they got me. The ball came out of my hand bad on a 3-and-2 count (the double to pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz). The home run to Ramirez (in the third), well, the guy did a good job because I had him swing over the top of that same pitch at that at bat. I wanted to come back in for a strikeout but. . .how he kept that ball fair I don’t know. It’s a little short down the lines, but that is having a great season.”
Can he take anything good out of this one?
“It’s hard to say right now,” he said. “We had one walk that wasn’t intentional. I had a strikeout an inning (five in five innings), so you see some positives here and there. I had a couple of misfortunes but I was able to get through the them.”
Amir Garrett replaced Bailey and promptly gave up a run-scoring double to Michael Brantley and it was 4-2. Jose Ramirez was walked intentionally and Yonder Alonso struck out for the second out.
Then the sky collapsed around Garrett’s ears. Melky Cabrera singled for a run, Jason Kipnis doubled for two runs and Yan Gomes doubled for another run and the Tribe was in complete command, 9-2.
The assault and battery continued in the seventh against Wandy Peralta, three more singles for another run as the run total mounted to 10 and the hit total climbed to 18.
When the Indians quit wearing out the basepaths, Jose Ramirez had three hits,three RBI and two runs scored, Melky Cabrera had two hits and two RBI, Michael Brantley had three hits, an RBI and two runs scored, Jason Kipnis had two hits, two RBI and a run scored, Yan Gomes had three hits and an RBI.
If you played for the Indians and didn’t have a hit, an RBI or a run scored, you weren’t trying.
And once again, for the fourth time this season, a position player finished on the mound for the Reds. This time it was Brandon Dixon. To add a special twist, pitcher Michael Lorenzen finished the game playing right field.
Would it surprise you to learn that Dixon was the most effective pitcher of the night for the Reds — a one-two-three inning against Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez, finishing it off by striking out the high-powered Ramirez, who broke his bat in anger after striking out.
“I haven’t pitched since my freshman year in high school and this was fun,” said Dixon. “I was throwing as slow as I could — cutters and just trying to get it over the plate. It’s different for sure and you don’t want that to happen, you don’t want a game to get out of hand so you have to pitch.
“But to be in the moment on a big league mound is a pretty cool experience, for sure,” he added. “I wasn’t sure what to do or what to expect, I just wanted to throw strikes. And it worked out.”
The four position players to pitch for the Reds this year — Cliff Pennington, Alex Blandino, Phillip Ervin and Dixon — have a 2.70 earned run average on 3 1/3 innings, one run, no walks and four strikeouts.