By HAL McCOY
With no apologies to Clint Eastwood, it was the Good, the Bad & the Ugly for the Cincinnati Reds Saturday in Busch Stadium.
They dropped a day-night doubleheader to the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-6 and 3-2.
The Good? Sonny Gray was as good as it gets in Game 2, giving up no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
The Bad? Trevor Bauer was as bad as it gets in Game 1, giving up six runs and seven hits in four innings.
The Ugly? Raisel Iglesias. Again. He was plug ugly. Asked to protect a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, he retired nobody. He gave up a single, hit a batter and a single to blow the save. Then he was tagged with his 11th loss when Kevin Gausman replaced him and gave up a pinch-hit walk-off single to Matt Carpenter.
And the negative statistics keep piling up for the Reds. They are 26-40 on the road. They are 17-34 in day games. They are 19-29 in one-run games.
With the walk-off defeat, the Reds lead the majors by watching the other team walk them off with 10.
FIRST GAME (St. Louis 10, Cincinnati 6)
In a word: Abysmal. That’s the only word to apply to Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer. And it doesn’t just apply to what he did Saturday. It applies to most of his starts in a Reds uniform.
After Eugenio Suarez gave him a 2-0 lead with his 39th home run in the first inning, Bauer gave up four in the bottom of the first.
And he survived only four innings, giving up six runs, seven hits, three walks and two home runs.
That’s all St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson needed. After giving up two hits in the first inning, he gave up only two more through 7 2/3 innings. That sent the 24-year-old right hander on the way to his 14th victory.
Hudson took an 8-2 lead into the eighth inning and retired the first two. Then he walked the next two, his first two walks of the game.
John Brebbia replaced Hudson and Aristides Aquino singled home a run, his 33rd RBI in August, most in the majors. A third walk loaded the bases and Tucker Barnhart cleared them with a three-run double.
Now the Reds were interested, down 8-6, with a runner on second. But Phillip Ervin grounded out.
But the Reds were within two with another at bat coming. Unfortunately for them, Lucas Sims gave up two in the bottom of the eighth.
Amazingly, he went 0-and-2 on three hitters, fell behind 3-and-2, and all three reached base. He was 0-2, 3-2 on Harrison Bader and walked him. He was 0-2, 3-2 on Tommy Edman and gave up a single. He was 0-2, 3-2 on Kolten Wong and gave up a two-run double. That made it 10-6 and was the end-all.
Bauer was in trouble all afternoon, centering his breaking pitches, and the Cardinals beat on them like a hired maid beating rugs in the backyard.
In the first inning, Dexter Fowler beat an infield hit and took second on a wild pitch. Kolten Wong walked on four pitches. Paul Goldschmidt ripped a run-scoring single on a 0-2 pitch.
Paul DeJong pulled a double to the left field corner, the tying run scored and the go-ahead followed when Josh VanMeter picked up the ball and dropped it three times. Yadier Molina doubled hard to left field and it was 4-2.
Dexter Fowler homered in the second and Yadier Molina homered in the third, putting the Reds in a deep sinkhole in which they couldn’t extricate themselves.
Bauer’s assessment: “Poor execution, bad luck, good execution, bad luck.” The numbers are hideous since his Cincinnati arrival: 1-and-4 in six starts, 8.61 earned run average, 30 innings, 28 earned runs, 38 hits, six home runs.
“Maybe I should kick a wall, break a toe and try pitching hurt,” he told the media during his post-game interview session.
SECOND GAME (St. Louis 3, Cincinnati 2.
To say Sonny Gray is good is to say ice cream is good on a hot day. During August this year he has started six games and his earned run average is 0.74. He has given up six or less hits in all 29 of his starts. He has given up four or less runs in 29 straight starts, the longest streak since Gary Nolan went 31 in 1975.
And it looked as if the Reds would win his eighth straight start when he took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning.
The two runs came on a home run by Josh VanMeter on the first pitch of the game by St. Louis pitcher Michael Wacha. The second run also came on a home run by Joey Votto in the third.
Then the offensive spigot was turned off by Wacha and the Cardinals bullpen, the best in the National League.
Gray had given up only three hits when he began the seventh. Tommy Edman led with a single and Josh VanMeter dropped a routine fly ball for an error, putting runners on second and first with no outs.
Gray retired the next two, one on a fabulous wall-crashing catch by center fielder Nick Senzel. But with two outs, Dexter Fowler blooped a run-scoring single to center for an unearned run. That ended his night and Amir Garrett came in with two on and struck out Kolten Wong, leaving the Reds in front, 2-1.
Michael Lorenzen pitched a perfect 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts. Shouldn’t he pitch the ninth, too, knowing that Raisel Iglesias is in the deepest of deep funks.
But manager David Bell went to his closer and, once again, Iglesias was the Master of Disaster.
Tommy Edman singled to right, his third hit. Iglesias hit Yadier Molina with a 3-and-2 pitch. Harrison Bader, the No. 8 hitter, lined a game-tying single to left. Gausman came in to face Carpenter and he blooped the game-winner to right center.
Other than VanMeter’s dropped fly that led to an unearned run, Gray was supported with superlative defense. Right fielder Aristides Aquino chased down a long, long drive by Paul Goldschmidt and made a backhanded catch at full speed near the wall in the third inning. There was a runner on first at the time.
The next hitter, Marcel Ozuna, drilled one to left and VanMeter made the catch on the full run. And then there was Senzel’s wall-smacking catch on Harrison Bader with two on and no outs in the seventh.
Lots of defense, but no offense. Other than the two home runs by VanMeter and Votto, the Reds had only one other hit, a single by Votto in the first inning.
While leading 2-1 in the top of the ninth, they frittered away a chance to add runs. They had the bases loaded with one out, but Jose Iglesias swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-concluding double play.
The two teams play another day-night doubleheader Sunday, then the Reds play a day game Monday at home against Philadelphia. That’s five games in 50 hours.