By HAL McCOY
As advertised, Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer and Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg put on a chess-like pitching clinic.
For four innings.
Then it was a day for pitchers to pitch-and-duck, a 17-5 Washington beatdown of the Reds, losers of four straight.
It was 1-1 after four innings and Bauer had given up one run and one hit and seemingly had the Nationals at checkmate.
Then came the fifth inning.
Bauer turned into a human batting practice machine. When the fifth inning ended, after an eternity of hits and home runs, the Nationals had scored 10 runs.
Seven came with Bauer on the mound and nine were charged to his account, the most runs he has given up in an inning in his career.
In the inning, all nine Nationals scored a run and catcher Kurt Suzuki scored two.
Thus the Nationals completed a three-game sweep and most likely closed the 2019 book on the Reds making the playoffs.
The fifth began with a single by Asdrubel Cabrera. Bauer got an out on a fielder’s choice. Then he faced seven more batters and all seven reached base.
The gory details:
No. 8 hitter Victor Robles doubled to put runners on third and second. No. 9 hitter, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, punched a full-count single to right to break the 1-1 tie and give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.
Bauer had two strikes on Trea Turner, but he singled up the middle to make it 3-1. Springfield native Adam Eaton launched a 409-foot home run over the center field wall, a three-run bolt, and it was 6-1.
Anthony Rendon followed Eaton’s home run with one of his own and it was 7-1. Juan Soto singled, the sixth straight hit off Bauer. When he walked Matt Adams, his day was mercifully over.
Bauer was replace by Sal Romano and he gave up a double to Cabrera and it was 8-1. Then he gave up the third home run of the inning, the second three-run rip, this one by Kurt Suzuki. Two of those runs were added to Bauer’s line and the Nationals led, 11-1.
Bauer’s line: 4 1/3 innings, nine runs, eight hits, two walks, four strikeouts and a long, lonely walk to the dugout in the fifth inning.
Strasburg had given up only one run through five innings — and that scored on a strikeout-wild pitch — and four hits.
Blessed with a 10-run lead, he relaxed a bit and the Reds scored three in the sixth, including a two-run home run by Tucker Barnhart.
Amazingly, Strasburg didn’t survive the sixth. When he walked Jesse Winker on four pitches with two outs and nobody on, manager Dave Martinez said, “That’s enough,” and Strasburg joined Bauer as a former participant.
The respite for the Reds was short-lived.
All six batters Romano faced in the sixth reached base and all six scored and the Nationals constructed a 17-4 lead.
In the fifth and sixth innings, 24 Nationals reached base and 16 scored.
If there can be any positives on a totally negative day, Aristides Aquino hit his near-daily home run in the seventh, his ninth in 13 games this season. And Freddy Galvis, making his first start for the Reds, collected four hits, including a two-run home run in the ninth. That gives him five hits after his pinch-hit single Tuesday in his Reds debut.
The bottom portion of Washington’s lineup was particularly deadly to the Reds. Catcher Kurt Suzuki had three hits, drove in four and scored two. Asdrubel Cabrera had three hits, drove in three and scored two. No. 8 hitter Victor Robles had three hits, scored two and drove in one.
At the top of the order, Adam Eaton has two hits and drove in three. Anthony Rendon had two hits, drove in two and scored two. Trea Turner drove in two and scored two.
In other words, from Washington’s view, a good time was had by all. From Cincinnati’s perspective, the best thing about Washington was seeing it in the rear-view mirror.