McCoy: Red Sox Take The Series

By Hal McCoy

For most of this season, after the Cincinnati Reds lost a game, pitcher Nick Lodolo arrived in the Nick of time to put the team on a winning track.

When he started Sunday afternoon’s game against the Boston Red Sox, he was 5-1 after the Reds lost the previous case.

But on this day, it was not the case. Lodolo’s five-game winning streak over his last five starts came to an end, a 7-4 Red Sox victory.

Lodolo uncharacteristically walked four in 4 2/3 innings, all four on full counts, all four on close-call fastballs.

Why not curveballs, his best pitch?

Lodolo did not reveal the reason during his post-game media interview, but manager David Bell did during an interview with Bally Sports Ohio.

“I’m sure Nick didn’t say anything about it (he didn’t), but he began the game with a pretty good-sized blister on his index finger,” said Bell. “I thought he did a pretty good job considering he didn’t have his best pitch. And yes it is a bit of a concern.”

Lodolo pitched with a skin-toughener on the finger, approved by the umpires, and did throw some breaking pitches, but they didn’t have their normal bite.

The loss was Cincinnati’s sixth in their last eight games and Boston’s seventh win in eight games.
The Reds lost the series, two games to one after winning the first game and have lost three straight series. Boston has won four straight series, including against the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies and the powerhouse New York Yankees.

The Red Sox pasted four runs on Lodolo in a controversial fourth inning, puncuated by a two-run home run from Connor Wong that pushed his hitting streak to 13 games.

The inning began when Lodolo walked Rafael Devers on a close 3-and-2 pitch, a pitch both Lodolo Bell both thought was a strike.

Lodolo’s next pitch was to Wong was a 94 miles an hour misplace fastball and Wong drove it 395 feet into the left field seats.

Romy Gonzalez doubled and Dominic Smith also walked on a controversail full count. Bell expressed his displeasure to umpire Todd Tichenor and was ejected.

Ceddanne Rafaela grounded to shortstop, a double play ball. But the Reds got only the force at second because second baseman Jonathan India’s relay throw sailed high, wide and ugly over first baseman Jeimer Candelario’s head and Gonzalez scored.

Jarren Duran then doubled home Rafaela and it was 4-0 and the Reds were scrambling the rest of the way.

Of the close calls on his 3-and-2 walks, Lodolo said, “I thought I got him (Devers), but you still have to play the game. Was Wong’s home run the first pitch? Yeah, I kind of yanked the heater. He elevated it and yanked it.

“It was a rough inning,” he added. “There definitely were some walks that I thought were there (strikes). Stevie (catcher Tyler Stephenson) did as well. At the end of the day, you have to play the game still. I wish I had done a better job of that in the fourth.

It was a bullpen day for the Red Sox and relief pitcher Zack Kelly started. He came into the game with nine straight hitless innings and gave up no runs and one hit for his 2 2/3 innings.

Seven pitchers followed him and the Reds were able to score one run against the second pitcher, Brennan Bernardino in the fourth and three against the fiffh pitcher, Brad Keller in the sixth.

The Reds scored a run in the fourth on a double by Elly De La Cruz and a run-scoring single by Candelario. India doubled with two outs, putting runners on third and second. But slump-encased Will Benson flied meekly to right.

The Red Sox scored three runs in the sixth after Buck Farmer retired the first two. When David Hamilton doubled, stand-in manager Freddie Benavides brought in Brent Suter.

Jarred Duran singled and former Reds minor-leaguer Rob Refsnyder clubbed a home run and the Red Sox were in command, 7-1.

The Reds tried to get back in it with a three-run rally in their sixth. Stephenson produced a run-scoring single that scored Spencer Steer. Stephenson took third on India’s infield hit.

With runners on third and first and no outs, Benson struck out and is 0 for 21.
Benson acts as if he doesnt know the difference between the batter’s box and a cereal box. He might do just as well if they put a cardboard cutout of him at home plate. It might draw a walk.

Santiago Espinal kept the rally going with a run-scoring single and Stuart Fairchild singled home another run and it was 7-4.

But with runners on second and first and two outs, T.J. Friedl lined to center en route to a 0 for 5 day.

The Reds matched Boston in hits, 10 apiece, but Cincinnati couldn’t produce enough clutch hits when opportunities arose.

The Reds put a runner on with two outs in the eighth and De La Cruz singled with two outs in the ninth, his fifth hit in the last two games

But Boston closer Kenley Jansen ended it on a weak fly ball by Candelario, Jansen’s 15th save in 16 chances.

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