By HAL McCOY
It is as clear as a perfect diamond that sending Homer Bailey to the pitching mound this year is a fool’s errand.
Each and every time, in some way, shape or form, Bailey gets his brains scrambled.
It happened again Friday night in Busch Stadium III, a game the Cincinnati Reds lost, 12-5 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
So Bailey is now 1-and-13 and the Reds are 1-and-18 in his 19 starts, the worst team record in baseball history for a pitcher with 19 starts.
While it is true that Bailey has the second lowest run support by his offense in the National League (he has six quality starts and the Reds lost all six and he pitched a complete game that the Reds lost), that was no excuse Friday night.
The Reds scored two runs in the top of the first against St. Louis left hander Austin Gomber, but that lead was gone by the second inning and the game was long gone by the third inning.
Bailey gave up four runs on four hits in the second inning. The first two, that tied the game, came on a two-out line drive double by opposing pitcher Austin Gomber, a ball center fielder Billy Hamilton miscalculated and the ball whizzed over his head.
Then came Matt Carpenter, the National League’s home run leader and to the Reds a James Bond villain dressed in a baseball uniform.
He crushed his 35th home run, a rip down the right field line to make it 4-2.
It was more of the same in the third inning — two singles and a one-out three-run home run by Paul DeJong into the Reds bullpen in left center for a 7-2 lead for the Cardinals. The home runs were the 21st and 22nd given up by Bailey this season.
Bailey gave up no runs in the fourth and fifth, but did give up hits in each inning, and his night was over. For his five innings he gave up seven runs and nine hits. And to show how bad he has been, his earned run average actually dropped from 6.17 to 6.13.
It is beyond comprehension that the Reds keep sending him to his doom. True, he is a veteran who has earned some respect, but it is without saying that if any young pitcher on the staff was 1-and-13 they would be pitching at Class AAA Louisville.
And like Matt Harvey, who won’t be with the Reds next season, Bailey is occupying a spot that could be used by one of the young pitchers the Reds need to find out about during this long, long, long rebuilding era.
The Reds, of course, can’t send Bailey to Louisville without his permission. If they designate him for assignment and no team claims him and the Reds can’t make a trade for him and release him, they owe him $48 million.
He is being paid $21 million this year for his one win and he is under contract next year for $23 million and for 2020 at $25 million.
He originally signed a six-year deal in 2014 for $105 million after pitching two no-hitters, but three different surgeries laid him up for more than two years
An article in Bleacher Report called Bailey’s deal, “The worst contract for a pitcher in major league history.” And that was written when Bailey was 1-and-7.
When Bailey signed, Walt Jocketty was general manager and he said, “Homer is home grown. He was drafted, signed and developed by our organization. It is important to our organization that we reward our players who have earned this type of respect to keep them as part of our organization for a long time. And hopefully he’ll finish his career here.”
At the time he signed, Bailey was an even .500 at 49-49. Since signing he is 18-and-24 and over the last four seasons he is 9-and-25.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who have won 10 straight series under new manager Mike Shildt, are doing it with young pitchers.
Austin Gomber, Bailey’s opponent Friday night, was called up from Triple-A in July and is now 5-and-0 with a 2.77 earned run average.
After giving up four straight singles in the first inning to Jose Peraza, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett for two runs , Gomber gave up six more hits but no runs. His line was seven innings, two runs, 10 hits, no walks and three strikeouts.
Brett Cecil replaced Gomber in the eighth and issued a walk and a long home run by Scott Schebler to make it 7-4.
After Schebler’s home run, the Reds loaded the bases with one out against fire-throwing Jordan Hicks. Jose Peraza hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 7-5. That brought up Joey Votto and Hicks threw him 103, 102, 103, 104 and 103 miles an hour fast balls to get to 3-and-2 and walked him on a 102 miles an hour fastball, reloading the bases for Eugenio Suarez.
He went to 3-and-2 on Suarez with nothing but 100-plus pitches before Suarez grounded to second to end the uprising.
Any hope of a late-game comeback by the Reds was made nearly impossible when Jackson Stephens gave up three runs in the eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff home run to another of the Cardinals’ many prospects, Patrick Wisdom. Stephens has given up seven home runs in only 30 innings.
Then he gave up a bunt single to Matt Carpenter, Carpenter’s 11th bunt hit this season against the shift, two walks and a two-run single by Paul DeJong. That gave DeJong five RBI on the night.
And the St. Louis parade around the bases continued when Stephens hit a batter to reload the bases and Yairo Munoz banged a two-run single to right to make it 12-5.
That forced manager Jim Riggleman to bring in a position player to pitch, Brandon Dixon’s second mound appearance this season. He retired Wisdom on a fly to right on a 58 miles an hour pitch.
On the plus side, newly acquired Matt Wisler, obtained in the trade for Adam Duvall, was called up from Class AAA Louisville before Friday’s game. He pitched two innings and gave up no runs, one hit and one walk and recorded all three outs on strikeouts.