By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The occupancy of fourth place was a short term rental for the Cincinnati Reds — lasting just one day out of last place in the National League Central.
With their 7-1 loss Friday night to the Texas Rangers in Great American Ball Park and Pittsburgh’s 11-0 victory over the Miami Marlins, the Reds flopped back into last place with a resounding thud, .001 percentage point behind the Pirates.
Or make that a soft kerplunk because the Reds once again took bats to home plate for no apparent reason.
A bevy of Texas relief pitchers held the Reds to five meager hits, three singles, a double and Nick Senzel’s eighth-inning solo home run that prevented the Reds from getting shut out for the eighth time this season.
Yasiel Puig had three of the Reds five hits, all coming after the Reds trailed, 6-0.
For the first time this season, the Reds faced an ‘opener’ as the other team’s starting pitcher. Texas relief pitcher Jesse Chavez started the game and pitched three innings of no runs and one hit baseball.
He was followed by three more relief pitchers and the Reds could muster nothing of consequence.
Asked if facing a different pitcher nearly every at bat was a novel approach and a difficult assignment, Reds manager David Bell was not sympathetic.
“Usually you can expect to get two or three at bats against a regular starter,” said Bell. “It is a little bit different, but at the same time at the end of a game relievers have become a big part of the game and your last couple of at bats you are usually facing relief pitchers.”
About his hitters, Bell said, “I’m frustrated for them. Everybody is working hard to get more consistent offensively, but tonight we weren’t able to get it done.”
Unfortunately for the Reds, it wasn’t just Friday night. It is a constant and on this Friday night the Reds looked as engaged as a man with both hands tied behind his back and his legs anchored with cement blocks.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle left the game with one out and two on in the fifth inning, replaced by Wandy Peralta. The Reds trailed by just two runs. Peralta struck out the first hitter for the second out, but walked Asdrubel Cabrera, filling the bases.
That brought up Rougned Odor, owner of a .179 batter average. Peralta made him look like a .379 hitter. On a 2-and-2 count, Odor cranked a grand slam home run into the right field seat. With one swing of the bat, the score jumped from 2-0 to 6-0.
And once again the Reds lost a game after winning a game. The last 11 times they have won a game, they lost the next game 10 times.
Mahle wasn’t mauled, but he began raggedly, giving up two runs in the first inning.
It began with one out when Delino DeShields, Jr., son of Reds first base coach Delino DeShields, lined a single to center. Mahle hit Elvis Andrus with a pitch and both runners moved up a base on catcher Curt Casali’s passed ball.
DeShields scored on a ground ball for the second out but Mahle walked Rougned Odor, he of the .179 batting average.
Andrus broke for second on a pitch and Casali’s throw to second was cut off as Andrus sprinted homeward. Umpire Jerry Meals called him out, but replay/review reversed the call, a steal of home by Andrus and a 2-0 Rangers lead.
While Mahle (2-and-7) was not disturbed that he was removed from the game with one out in the fifth due to 96 pitches, he did indicate he might be a bit of a Mahle-content about some earlier quick hooks by Bell.
“I have been yanked out of some games where I think I’m having a real good game, or a decent game,” said Mahle. “I haven’t got the chance to battle through a game, battle through six innings.
“My last game I got pulled after 70-some pitches, you know,” he said. “I know this game I had 90-something. But in my opinion I at least deserve to get out of the fifth, or least get through the fifth. I’d like to see where that last batter goes. I’m usually one ground ball or one pop-up away and I get taken out of the game. It is getting pretty ridiculous at this point.”