By Hal McCoy
The Cincinnati Reds clubbed four home runs Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park. . .and lost by 13 runs to the Chicago White Sox, 17-4.
That’s what happens when starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft and relief pitcher Casey Legumina give up 11 runs in one inning. . .yes, 11 runs.
The White Sox sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning and 11 scored runs, the most runs scored in one inning against a Reds since in 20 years, since the Philadelphia Phillies scored 13 in April of 2003.
And it all started so swimmingly for the Reds. Jonathan India opened the bottom of the first with his ninth career leadoff home run of White Sox starter Michael Kopech. The next two Reds reached base, but the next three made outs to leave it 1-0.
Ashcraft, 2-and-0 with a 2.00 earned run average when he started the game. And he pitched a one-two-three first inning with two strikes.
Then came the second inning and a slo-pitch softball game broke out. The Flying Pig Marathon was run outside the stadium before the game, then they moved inside it became a Flying Baseballs Marathon.
Four White Sox players reached base twice in the Chicago’s stupendous second inning.
The Anatomy of a Monster Inning:
Luis Robert Jr. walked. Hansler Alberto homered, only the second home run off Ashcraft this season, ending a 33-inning homerless streak. (2-1). Yasmani Grandal singled. With one out, Elvis Andrus singled. With two outs, Tim Anderson walked. Cincinnati native Andrew Benitendi, 2 for 17 for his career in GABP, singled home a run (3-1).
Andrew Vaughn tripled home two runs (5-1). Robert Jr. singled home a run (6-1). Ashcraft was removed and Legukmini replaced him. Alberto walked. Grandal poked his second single of the innin g for two runs (8-1). Gavin Sheets crusshed a three-run homel run (11-1).
Ashcraft: 1 2/3 innings, eight runs, six hits, two walks and his earned run average exploded from 2.00 to 3.82.
The White Sox scored three more off Legumina in the third. Legumina: 1 1/3 innings, six runs, five hits, three walks.
Ten of Chicago’s first 14 runs came with two outs.
After India’s home run, Sterling Steer, Tyler Stephenson and Wil Myers homered, all with the bases empty.
Once again, a struggling opposing pitcher received a ‘Get Well’ card from the Reds. Lance Lynn was 0-and-4 when he beat the Reds Friday, Kopech was 0-and-3 when he took the mound Sunday. He gave up the four home runs, but only four runs, eight hits and a walk for his six innings that earned him his first win.
The White Sox won the series, two games to one, their first road series win of the season and their first back-to-back series victory.
Robert Jr. reached base 11 times in his first 12 plate appearances in the series. On Sunday he had a double, single and two walks. Vaughn had two double, a sinhgle and a sacrifice fly and drove in four runs.
Benitendi had two doubles and a sacrifice fly and drove in two. Alberto had a home run, two doubles, a single and a walk and drove in three runs. Gavin Sheets had a home run and a single and drove in three runs.
As it turned out, the mosty effective Reds pitcher may have been catcher Luke Maile, who pitched a scoreless ninth and gave up just a single when the White Sox most likely were tired of running the bases.
Final postmortem was 17 runs and 18 hits for the White Sox and four runs the 10 hits for the Reds. Steer had three hits, India two and Myers two.
After an off day Monday, the Reds face a daunting task against an underachieving New York Mets. But for the first two of the three-game series the Reds will face Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.