By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Those weren’t the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals on the Great American Ball Park grass the last two nights.
The Cincinnati Reds just made them appear to be a world championship entourage. The Royals occupy last place in the American League Central, losers of 102 games, but for the last two nights they have put it to the Reds the way the ’15 World Champions would have.
After beating the Reds, 4-3, Tuesday night, the Royals completed the two-game sweep Wednesday with a 6-1 beating as the Reds continue to play out the string as if they can’t wait to find the nearest golf course and fishing dock.
Asked if his team is flat after a one-run, five-hit night, manager Jim Riggleman sort of agreed.
“It certainly looks flat,” he said. “When you don’t get hits, that’s called being flat because you don’t have base runners out there, no activity. So it has that look. We’re getting bad results and I don’t have much of an explanation for it.”
After two straight above-and-beyond starts against the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins during which he didn’t give up an earned run, Cody Reed sank back to earth Wednesday night.
He lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up three runs six hits and two walks against the team he really wanted to impress. It was the Royals who traded Reed to the Reds, along with fellow pitchers Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb, for pitcher Johnny Cueto,
On the opposite side, Kansas City rookie starter Heath Fillmyer, 3-and-2 with a 4.56 ERA when the night began, held the Reds to one run and four hits over 7 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out, of course, a career-high nine.
The Reds, losers of five straight and nine of their last 12, continued to swing bats that appear to be made from Auntie Anne’s pretzels. In their last 12 games they have scored 17 runs, more than three in a game only once — and that was four.
Kansas City scored in the top of the first on a double by Salvador Perez and the Reds quickly tied it, 1-1, in the bottom of the first on a one-out home run by Jose Peraza, his 14th. From there the Reds had only two more hits, one of them a sixth-inning single by Peraza. The other hits off Fillmyer was a pinch-hit single by Gabby Guerrero and a one-out single in the eighth by Billy Hamilton that ended Fillmyer’s night.
While the rest of the offense seems to be residing in a Norge freezer, Peraza continued to grind, with a goal in sight He has 181 hits, just four shy of Barry Larkin’s club record by a shortstop for a season (185).
“Jose is becoming a really good player, still progressing both offensively and defensively,” said Riggleman. “He is a guy who wants to be in there every day and pretty much leads our club in games played, plate appearances and at bats. He is finishing up strong and is a great example of what happens when you play hard from the beginning to the end of the season.”
From the 1-1 tie, the Royals scored a run in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. After Reed, the next four Reds pitchers all pitched one inning and all gave up one run — Sal Romano (1 1/3 innings), Matt Wisler and Wandy Peralta.
Reed put himself in trouble by failing to hold runners on, giving up four stolen bases — second and third by Adalberto Mondesi in the first and second and third by Whit Merrifield. Both scored.
“The two previous outings Reed threw, well, the results he was getting was because there were no baserunners,” said Riggleman. “Once they got on today he wasn’t able to slow down. They stole four in two innings and that creates no force outs at second and easy scoring opportunities. That’s part of his game he is going to have to tighten up.”
Of Reed’s pitching, Riggleman said, “He wasn’t as sharp as he has been. If he held the runners more he might have had better results — some ground balls and might have been double plays or force outs. You are not going to have your best stuff every time out. He was really sharp his last two times but today he wasn’t. He was allowing the wrong guys to get on base because Merrifield and Mondesi get on and go.”