By HAL McCOY
Is Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey snake-bit? No, he is not. It’s worse. He has a 25-foot anaconda wrapped around his mid-section.
After the Reds took another beating from the Chicago Cubs Sunday afternoon in Wrigley field, 9-0, Bailey is 1-and-12 and the Reds are 1-and-17 in his starts.
That’s not bad. It’s awful. It’s plug ugly.
If you are a proponent of the quality start (three or less runs in six or more innings), Bailey has six. And the Reds lost all six. Bailey has a complete game. And the Reds lost that one, too.
The game Sunday afternoon was a microcosm of the poor guy’s season.
The Cubs scored three runs in the first inning, all unearned. It started with Daniel Murphy squirting a dribbler up the third base line for an infield single. Javier Baez grounded to shortstop. Double play? No. Shortstop Jose Peraza’s throw to second pulled second baseman Scooter Gennett off the bag for an error.
Instead of two outs and nobody on, the Cubs had two on and nobody out. Willson Contreras hit another feeble tapper up the third base line for another infield hit and a run.
Jason Heyward lined hard to center and Billy Hamilton slipped on the grass and fell and Heyward had a run-scoring triple. David Bote singled to right field and it was 3-0, all unearned because of Peraza’s error.
Bailey struck out the first hitters in the third on six pitches and was 0-and-2 on Jason Heyward and he beat an infield hit to shortstop.
David Bote then hit one so far that Statcast has no measurement for it. When Bote swung and connected, Bailey immediately dropped his head. He knew it. The ball left The Friendly Confines and a fan in the middle of Waveland Avenue caught it and it was 5-0.
In the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo doubled off the vines in left field and Heyward broke his bat on a run-scoring blooper to center for a 6-0 lead.
Bailey was done after five innings. He gave up six runs (three unearned) and eight hits. Of those eight hits, three were infield hits and one was a broken bat blooper.
As usual when Bailey pitches the Reds put away their bats and seem to use wet toilet paper for bats. He has second lowest run support in the majors. On this day, when he was on he mound he Reds scored zero and collected two hits, both by Tucker Barnhart.
On this day it was soft-throwing Kyle Hendricks putting silencers on the Reds bats. He held the Reds to no runs and two hits over seven innings with a fastball that doesn’t reach 89 miles and hour and a strong change-up.
And with his win, Hendricks is 4-and-0 for his career against the Reds in Wrigley Field.
With the four-game sweep the Cubs extracted revenge for the four-game sweep the Reds put on them in mid-June at Great American Ball Park, the first Cubs four-game sweep of the Reds in Wrigley since 1945. In addition, the Reds are on a five-game losing streak.
Bailey is scheduled to make his next start Friday in St. Louis, but Saturday’s pitcher against the Cardinals is a so-called undecided. For now, according to manager Jim Riggleman, Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano have been relegated to the bullpen.
The Saturday starter could be Cody Reed or the Reds could recall Tyler Mahle from Louisville or Lucas Sims, acquired from Atlanta in the Adam Duvall trade.
Stephenson got his first does of the bullpen Sunday, entering in the seventh inning with the Reds down, 6-0. It was more of the same, He gave up a double to Anthony Rizzo, a single to Jason Heyward, his fourth hit, and then with two outs Stephenson balked a run home on an illegal pickoff move to first base.
Then Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber drilled a two-run home run into the right field bleachers for a 9-0 lead.
The Cubs have hit at least one home run in 11 straight games, 19 total, and in the four-game sweep the Cubs outscored the Reds, 29-9, and outhomered them 9 to 3.
Romano also pitched out of the bullpen, the eighth inning, and he fared far better. He gave up an infield hit to Javier Baez but struck out the other three.
Joey Votto was eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but it didn’t happen and there is some doubt he may come off Tuesday when the Reds open a three-game homestand against Milwaukee.