By Hal McCoy
It is amazing how the fortunes of one baseball player can change in less than a day, eight little hours, from the the castle to a shanty.
That was the scenairo Saturday/Sunday for Cincinnati Reds pitcher David Hernandez and it definitely was the shanty for him Sunday afternoon in Oracle Park.
Hernandez gave up two runs in the eighth inninng Sunday, blowing a one-run lead and losing a 6-5 game to the San Francisco Giants.
On Saturday, Hernandez struck out the first four batters and five of the six he faced over two innings to protect a 5-4 victory.
Ironically, it was the same four Giants hitters to come to the plate to start the eighth inninng Sunday, the four guys he struck out.
Not this time.
Evan Longoria singled on the first pitch. Pablo Sandoval doubled. Mac Williamson grounded to short, but the tying run scored. After Hernandez struck out Brandon Crawford for the second out, Kevin Pillar blooped a single to center and Sandoval slid across with the go-ahead and, as it turned out, the winning run.
All that was left was for San Francisco closer Will Smith to retire the Reds 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 10th save.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle, run-starved all season, was given two runs in the first inning on a two-out, two-run single by Jose Iglesias.
Mahle, perhaps shocked by the sudden run support, gave those two runs right back in the bottom of the first on a double by Steven Duggar and an opposite-field home run down the left field line by Pablo Sandoval.
Mahle, who is 0-and-8 over his last 13 starts and winless since last July, steadied himself after Sandoval’s home run and the Reds constructed a 4-2 lead.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by Jose Peraza and Nick Senzel pushed the Reds in front, 3-2, in the second and Yasiel Puig’s leadoff home run in the sixth gave the Mahle a 4-2 margin.
Mahle hadn’t walked a batter until he walked Brandon Crawford leading off the seventh. Brandon Belt, who didn’t start the last two games after pulling a muscle in his leg, pinch-hit with one out and bounced one into McCovey Cover over the right field stands, a two-run game-tying blast.
That was the last pitch Mahle threw and his two mistakes turned into four runs, a pair of two-run homers.
The Reds took a 5-4 lead in the eighth by scoring a run — just one run when they had the bases loaded with no outs. And the run came on a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Tucker Barnhart.
But Kyle Farmer struck out, Curt Casali grounded into a force out at home and Jose Peraza lined hard to shortstop.
Then came Herandez, who wishes on this day he could have stayed in Hernando’s Hideaway.
The loss ended Cincinnati’s three-game winning streak and they finished the west coast trip 3-and-3 against two last place teams, Oakland (1-and-2 including a no-hitter by Mike Fires) and San Francisco (2-and-1).
After their first off day in 20 days Monday, the Reds are at home for six games against two first place teams, the Chicago Cubs for three and the Los Angeles Dodgers for three.