By Hal McCoy
Any thoughts Wade Miley harbored of becoming the second left-handed Cincinnati Reds pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters vaporized in the blink of a misplaced change-up.
On Miley’s second pitch of Friday night’s game, his no-hitter was gone, a double by Colorado’s Garrett Hampson.
And the Rockies never stopped en route to a 9-6 victory. They assaulted Miley for eight runs and 11 hits in only three-plus innings.
Ten days ago, in his previous start, Miley pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, using 114 pitches to complete it.
And there was idle chatter about Cincinnati’s Johnny Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters in 1938, the only time it has been accomplished in MLB history.
This game, though, was played in Coors Field, where a no-hitter has never been pitched because baseballs fall in the expansive outfield like raindrops.
Because of the effort it took in that game and all the distractions afterward, the Reds moved Miley’s start back one day, giving him an extra day of rest.
Incredibly, Miley said he felt better physically than he did the night of the no-hitter.
“I felt better than I felt seven days ago, 100 per cent,” he said. “And it may be a little bit of my fault because I tried to do too much with my cutter. I could not command it.
“And the change-up wasn’t there,” he added. “The big thing for me tonight was that the change-up wasn’t there. I never really got a feel for it and I threw it in stupid counts. I didn’t locate it well. I tried to force this issue, but it just wasn’t a good pitch for me tonight. That’s a pitch I need.”
Miley gave up a run in the first, but the Reds scored two in the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Colorado then scored seven unanswered runs off Miley, four in the third and three more in the fourth.
The first five Rockies in the third reached base on a walk and four straight singles. The first four Rockies in the fourth reached base on two singles and two doubles.
Of the third and decisive inning, Miley said, “Yeah, it gets lonely out there. A couple of times I made some decent pitches, but they were finding holes. It is a humongous park. I’m not sure, but I’d say it’s the biggest outfield in baseball, the grass space.”
Actually, in square footage, it is second only to Kansas City’s Kaufmann Field, and only by a few square feet.
“I got a little bit frustrated because it was happening,” he said. “I should have put it on the back burner and go to the next guy. Maybe there were some ‘what ifs’ in my head and that can’t happen.”
And that was it for Miley with no oust in the fourth. His earned run average climbed from 2.00 to 3.60.
After scoring two runs off Colorado starter German Marquez, the Reds went silent through the sixth inning, punching three spread out singles.
Marquez, who was 1-4 with a 5.49 earned run average, held the Reds to two runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts over the first six innings.
They finally scuttled Marquez in the seventh when Shogo Akiyama singled and Jonathan India homered for the second straight night, cutting the lead in half to 8-4.
“He was good,” said manager David Bell. “He made it tough on us. We weren’t able to get much going early. That kind of sets the tempo for the game, so you have to give him credit. He stopped our offense.”
The Rockies retrieved one of those runs in the bottom of the seventh on a down-range home run to left field by Garrett Hampson, who also homered Thursday in Colorado’s 13-8 victory.
When pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson opened the eighth by getting hit by a pitch and Eugenio Suarez crushed one headed for Colorado Springs, a 450-foot home run, it was 9-6.
And there were murmurs about another eight-run eighth inning like the one the Reds perpetrated Thursday. But it didn’t materialize.
“Our offense continues to keep going, trying to score runs,” said Bell. “We made a little run like we did last night (Thursday). It just wasn’t enough. It is good that our offense continues to swing the balt well.”
Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos was given the night off, so Bell shifted Jesse Winker from his usual left field spot to right field. Shogo Akiyama played left and contributed a two-hit night, as did Tucker Barnhart and India.
Relief pitcher Art Warren made his Reds debut in the bottom of the eighth and pitched around two walks to keep the Rockies off the board. Warren, Napolean, Ohio native and University of Cincinnati product, was lifted off the taxi squad on Friday morning. Pitcher Sal Romano was designated for assignment.
Alex Blandino led the ninth inning with a walk against Colorado relief pitcher Daniel Bard, but Tyler Naquin hit into a double play and Winker grounded out to end it.
The Reds couldn’t overcome Miley’s off night and the Rockies 15-hit attack. Hampson, Charlie Blackmon and Yonathan Daza each collected three hits.
It was the second straight loss by the Reds to the Rockies, owner of the worst record in the National League. And it dipped the Reds to 17-19.
Mike Moustakas left in mid-game after suffering a heel contusion running to first base. Nick Senzel didn’t play due to a heel contusion he suffered running into the wall Thursday night.
Bell said a post-game examination of Moustakas’ heel came up negative on X-Rays, “And we’ll have to see how he is tomorrow. I don’t know if Senzel will start tomorrow, but he will be available off the bench.”