By HAL McCOY
The season is a wreck for the fourth straight season, the Good Ship Cincinnati is beached on a distant sandbar. There is nothing left for the Reds to achieve.
The last 20 games are reduced to personal achievements and playing for whatever pride is left.
Despite another shoddy performance by a starting pitcher, the second straight short and bad outing by Anthony DeSclafani, the Reds ripped the San Diego Padres Friday night, 12-6.
And there was an achievement. Scott Schebler broke the game wide open in the sixth inning with a grand slam home run, the 10th grand slam hit by the Reds this season, a franchise record.
And Phillip Ervin put together a big night with two home runs, a successful suicide squeeze bunt and four RBI.
DeSclafani, though, lasted only four innings and gave up four runs and eight hits.
The Reds’ game now is Trivial Pursuit. So what can fans watch that isn’t bad baseball?
—Will Scooter Gennett win the National League batting title, something nobody wearing a Cincinnati uniform has done since Pete Rose in 1973? What an accomplishment it would be after the Milwaukee Brewers tossed him onto the scrap heap two years ago and the Reds signed him for virtually nothing. It might be the best signing the Reds have made in 50 years?
—Will Eugenio Suarez win the National League RBI title? That’s another incredible acquisition. The Reds acquired him for practically nothing, a trade with the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Alfredo Simon.
He was a shortstop and the Reds converted him to third base and he took to it like a baby to milk. And the Reds locked him up for seven years with a contract extension — finally a long-term contract that might pay off.
Yes, signing Joey Votto long-term was advisable, but $225 million? Up until this year he has been worth it, but he is having a down season by his own standards and the Reds pray he isn’t beginning the decline of an aging player.
In fact, while the Reds rolled Friday, Votto struck out three times after a first-inning single.
Strangely, while the Reds scored 12 runs, Gennett didn’t have a hit and Suarez didn’t drive in a run.
—Will Reds pitchers gave up the most home runs in the majors, something they seem to accomplish every year. They lead baseball with 206 so far, three more than the 203 given up by the Baltimore Orioles, the worst baseball team in the universe.
—Will the Reds finish last in the National League Central for the fourth straight year? It is 99 44/100ths certain. With 20 games remaining, they are 10 ½ games behind the fourth-place Pittsburgh Pirates. The only question is how many games will they lose and 90-something, again, is a certainty.
—Will Billy Hamilton finally win the Gold Glove he justly deserves? He is, without debate, the best center fielder in the game without a Gold Glove on his mantel. The voting is done by opposing managers and coaches and one wonders what they don’t see when Hamilton almost nightly performs splendor in the grass. All they need to do is ask Matt Carpenter.
—Will Homer Bailey ever win another game for the Reds? Probably not this season. He was removed from the rotation Friday and he won’t pitch in the bullpen. Unless there is an emergency, he will spend the rest of the season working on things. He is 1-and-14 and the team is 1-and-19 in his 20 starts and his earned run average is 6.09.
His name is David DeWitt Bailey Jr., but he goes by Homer to honor his grandfather. Homer is not a good name for a pitcher, is it? Maybe he should go by D.D. Bailey or David Bailey. Anything but Homer.
—Will the Reds lead baseball in position players used as pitchers? They’ve done it four times with Phillip Ervin, Alex Blandino and Brandon Dixon (twice). Dixon has a 0.00 earned run average for his two appearances. Heck, why not let him start on the mound during the last homestand against Kansas City or Pittsburgh?
—Will catcher Tucker Barnhart win the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award as the Reds’ nominee? He is a top-shelf candidate as a leader and a media go-to guy in the clubhouse and does great work in the Cincinnati community and for his hometown of Brownsburg, Ind.
The game Friday started 2 hours and 37 minutes late due to rain and DeSclafani quickly fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning by giving up four straight one-out singles.
But San Diego starter Brett Kennedy is a guy whose trump card is not throwing strikes. The Reds scored four runs on one hit in the second inning because Kennedy walked four.
DeSclafani couldn’ hold the 4-2 lead, giving up a home run to Hunter Renfroe in the third and two doubles in the fourth to tie it, 4-4.
Phillip Ervin put the Reds in front, 5-4, with a home run in the in the fourth and the Reds scored five in the sixth on Ervin’s perfect suicide squeeze bunt and Schebler’s grand slam. The Reds own the most grand slams of any team in the majors this season.
Ervin’s second home run came in the seventh, giving him four RBI and the Reds a 12-4 lead.
Michael Lorenzen did what DeSclafani couldn’t do — three innings, no runs, one hit.
Amazingly, while the Reds scored 12 runs and collected 11 hits, they also struck out 14 times.