By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Somebody wanted to know why they scheduled a ‘B’ game during the regular season, or a ‘bee’ game?
The start of Monday afternoon’s Cincinnati Reds-San Francisco Giants game in Great American Ball Park was delayed 18 minutes when bees swarmed the screen behind home plate.
There was comedic relief when Cincinnati infielder Derek Dietrich ran onto the field in coveralls with a spray pack on his back, resembling a member of Ghostbusters.
Once the bee issue was resolved, the Reds swarmed all over the Giants, using the sting of the long ball to post a 12-4 victory.
Nick Senzel (or is it Nick Senzation?), batting leadoff for the first time, took aim at the right field seats in his first two at bats and reached them both times for home runs, his second and third in his four major league games.
The 23-year-old No. 1 draft pick became the first Reds player to hit three home runs in his first four games.
Senzel and Eugenio Suarez both homered during a five-run first inning by the Reds against San Francisco batting practice pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias, whose business card reads, “Great glove, OK bat,” tripled home a run during the five-run first and finished the game with a triple, double, single and four RBI. The only thing missing for the cycle was the home run and Iglesias admitted he thought about it when he batted in the seventh inning.
“I thought about it, a little bit, until I got to two strikes,” he said. “When I get to two strikes I just try to do my game, drive another run in.”
Asked about the bee delay, Iglesias smiled and said, “That was rare. It was worth the wait because we then had a great game all-around.”
Amazingly, Iglesias is hitting .310 with 11 RBI while batting in the lower portion of the order.
“He has great at bats,” said manager David Bell. “He can hit fast balls and he is not afraid of any situation, offensively or defensively. He has added a lot to our team.”
After two innings, the Reds had seven runs and nine hits. Safe? Fans wondered because the Reds blew an 8-0 lead Friday and lost, 12-11, and blew a 4-0 lead and lost Sunday, 6-4.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani protected a 7-1 lead until the sixth inning when he gave up a double, a two-out walk and a two-out three-run home run to Pablo Sandoval that trimmed Cincinnati’s lead to 7-4 and had folks wondering if this would be another scrappy Giants comeback.
It wasn’t going to happen this time, thanks to some help from San Francisco’s ambidextrous pitcher, Pat Venditte. He hit three batters in the sixth inning, helping the Reds to score five runs, punctuated by a two-run single off the left field wall by Jose Iglesias.
That gave Iglesias his triple, double and a single for four RBI. When Venditte left, his successor, Sam Dyson, hit Votto with a pitch with the bases loaded, the fourth Reds batter to get plunked in the inning.
Four hit batsmen in one inning tied a National League record that stood for 124 years. Four Boston Beaneaters batters were hit by Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers in one inning during the fifth inning of the first game of a doubleheader on August 19, 1893.
And the Reds tied a franchise record during their 2-2 split during their four-game series. They hit 15 home runs. They also hit 15 in Philadelphia from May 3 through May 5, 1998, but that was only a three-game series.
Infielder Pablo Sandoval came in to pitch the eighth inning and promptly hit Jose Peraza with a pitch. Peraza was plunk No. 5, tying a club record and tying a major league record for hit batsmen in one game, done five times.
Senzel likes batting leadoff and seems to like the right field seat with special fondness. All three of his home runs have gone that way.
“It isn’t easy,” said Senzel. “After my two home runs I struck out three times. I’m not too happy with my last few at bats.”
Despite the attention, the adoration and the home runs, Senzel is not pleased with his start and points to his .235 batting average.
“I honestly don’t feel that I’m doing that well and I feel I can go way better,” he said. “I’m still getting the feel of things and I’m not near where I want to be. There is a lot of room to grow.”
But as for having immediate impact with his homers, Senzel says, “Well, yeah, that’s why I’m here. I want to help this team win games and I feel we’re going to get real hot real soon and roll up a lot of wins in a row.
“I like the leadoff role, like it a lot,” he said. “It is a chance to be aggressive and get on base so the other guys can drive me home,” he added.
Indeed, it was a bee-zarre and un-bee-lievable series.