By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — This is how things are transpiring so far this season for the Cincinnati Reds — and none of it has a positive gloss on it.
With the score tied in the sixth inning Tuesday between the Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, manager David Bell summoned Michael Lorenzen from the bullpen.
Curious? Well, the batter was the No. 8 hitter and that No. 8 hitter, Orlando Arcia, was 0 for 16 this season.
Lorenzen’s second pitch to the right handed Arcia ended up over the right field fence near the corner, a three-run home run that lifted the Brewers to a 4-3 victory.
Lorenzen, a stand-up guy, took the heavy lifting of the defeat onto his muscular shoulders.
“A cutter that was supposed to be away that I didn’t execute,” he said. “A guy like him swings a ton, our stadium is tiny and all he has to do is put the ball in the air. . .but it was just a terrible pitch on my part.
“We scored a couple of runs after that so all I have to do is come in and get one out,” he added. “If I do my job, do what I’m supposed to do, we win tonight. So tonight is on me.
“All you try to do there is make him chase a bad pitch and it was terrible execution and a terrible game plan on my part,” Lorenzen added.
Lorernzen was acutely aware that first base was open, that the pitcher was due up next (unless a pinch-hitter was used) and he didn’t have to throw him a strike.
He did and he lost the battle and the Reds lost the war.
Zach Duke started the fateful inning and gave up a walk and a single before Lorenzen came on to deliver the home run package to Arcia.
The bullpen blow-up wiped out a glowing first start of the season by Anthony DeSclafani. After giving up a single and a walk in the first inning, but no runs, DeSclafani gave up a run, two hits and two walks over the next four innings, striking out seven.
But there is a disturbing trend with the Reds pitching staff, the same malady that has perplexed the Reds over the past few seasons.
Walks, walks and more walks.
The only run scored off DeSclafani came when he walked Les Cain with one out in the third and walked Travis Shaw with two outs. Jesus Aguilar poked a single to short right field for a 1-0 Milwaukee lead.
DeSclafani, injury-dogged the last few years, was making his first start in April since 2015 and made the most of it — five innings, one run, three hits, three walks, eight trikeouts.
“I was definitely satisfied tonight after working on so many things at (spring training) camp,” said DeSclafani. “I worked on stuff mechanically and it has carried over. I’ve progressed with my curveball and I used it effectively tonight and I hope it will be with me all year.”
Asked about how it felt to finally make a start in April, he said, “Yeah, no question. No question about that. Glad I was able to take the ball the first week of the season, for sure, instead of waiting two or three months. Absolutely. Glad to be here.”
Milwaukee starter Jhoulys Chacin retired the first ten Reds before he walked Joey Votto with one out in the fourth. Yasiel Puig lined a single to left and Eugenio Suarez lobbed a bloop double down the left line to tie it, 1-1. With runners on third and second and one out, Scott Schebler popped up and Derek Dietrich rolled a grounder to first.
And that’s the way it stayed until Duke walked Jesus Aguilar to open the sixth. With one out former Reds’ No. 1 draft pick and catcher Yasmani Grandal singled.
After Duke struck out Ben Gamel for the second out, Lorenzen arrived to be Arcia’s private server.
Oh, the walks?
During the first four games Reds pitchers have walked 26 batters.
The Brewers tempted fate, too. They twice walked Joey Votto (Joe, Joe, The Walking Show) and he scored both times after those walks.
The Reds didn’t need a walk to draw within one run in the eighth inning. Eugenio Suarez crushed his first home run, a two-out rip off relief pitcher Junior Guerra to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-3.
The ninth inning was Josh Hader Time, the tall, mop-haired left hander who came into the game with 46 pitches this year, all 46 fastballs. He mixed in a few off-speed pitches this time and began the inning by walking Jose Iglesias on a full count, placing the potential tying run on base.
Tucker Barnhart couldn’t lay down a bunt and went down swinging. Jose Peraza went down swinging on three pitches. Pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, the last man standing in the dugout, popped out to third base.
And the Reds trudged back to the clubhouse with their third straight loss and a 1-and-3 record to start the season.