By HAL McCOY
Whether it be the new supercharged analytics permeating baseball these days or whether it be a desperate effort to ignite a lethargic offense, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell came up with another eyebrow-raising batting order Tuesday night.
It didn’t work.
After batting catcher Curt Casali at leadoff Monday night, Bell put Joey Votto in the leadoff position Tuesday night. And he had Eugenio Suarez batting second, Jesse Winker batting third and Yasiel Puig batting fourth.
Those four went 2-for-16 and the Reds produced only four hits in a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.
And the rookie Reds manager made a curious decision in the fourth inning. The Reds, down three runs, filled the bases with two outs and pitcher Tyler Mahle due up.
Instead of using a pinch-hitter in an attempt to get back in the game, Bell permitted Mahle to bat and he struck out on three pitches.
It wasn’t as if Mahle was pitching lights-out, either. In the first three innings he gave up four runs and eight hits.
“I made the decision to send Mahle back out there,” Bell told the media after the game. “Looking at our pitching (bullpen), he had to go back. He did give us three good innings after that. It was a tough decision, but I had to do what is right for our pitching.”
Mahle righted himself and pitched six innings, but the offense was amoebic and anemic against LA starter Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers bullpen.
The Dodgers had three hits in the first inning, two of them infield hits, including one by Alex Verdugo that produced a run and a 1-0 lead.
The second inning was an unmitigated disaster as Mahle gave up three runs and five hits. Joc Pederson, who hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth Monday to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win, didn’t wait until the ninth on Tuesday. He unloaded a two-run home run in the second.
The Dodgers have hit at least one home run in 31 straight home games, one short of Colorado’s major league record.
The Reds scored a run in the third on back-to-back doubles by Mahle an Joey Votto, batting leadoff for only the second time in his career. And his RBI was only his third this season.
The Reds hung tight at 4-1 until left hander Zach Duke took over in the seventh to face three straight Dodger left handers. Two left handers stroked hits against Duke, on the team to face and retire left handers.
Lefty Max Muncy poked a two-out double, right hander Kike Hernandez was walked intentionally and left hander Alex Verdugo drilled a two-run double to make it 6-1.
Maeda pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up one run and four hits. Then the Dodgers bullpen of Scott Alexander, Joe Kelly and Yimi Garcia retired the final seven Reds in order. Garcia finished the game by retiring Jose Peraza, who is on a 0 for 21 skid.
Jesse Winker had a two-out single in the fifth, the last person wearing a Cincinnati uniform to reach base. The last 14 went down in order.
And the Reds are on a three-game losing streak, dropping them to 5-and-11 on the season.