McCoy: Reds Whitewashed, 1-0, By Cardinals

By Hal McCoy

It was inevitable. For the Cincinnati Reds it is like the clockwork of Big Ben.

They score a lot of runs during the first game of a series, then their bats go into cold storage in game two.

It happened again Thursday and Friday during the first two games of a four-game series in Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals.

This time, though, they took it to an extreme level.

On Thursday they scored 11 runs on 16 hits. On Friday? Zero runs. Four hits.

And they lost, 1-0. . .and the one run was dubious, spoiling an above-and-beyond start by Reds pitcher Frankie Montas.

The one-run numbers are ugly. The Reds are 9-16 in one-run games while the Cardinals are 15-11.

On this night, the Reds had opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, but couldn’t even open the door a crack. They stranded eight and were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. And that one hit only moved a runner from second to third.

The one run shouldn’t have scored. It happened in the third inning and began when Michael Siani, the Reds No. 4 draft choice in 2018 and batting ninth, opened the inning with a line drive double that put a dent in the right field wall.

He moved to third on a ground ball and Alec Burleson lifted a shallow pop fly just beyond second base. It was center fielder Stuart Fairchild’s ball.

But shortstop Elly De La Cruz raced out and caught the ball with his back to the infield. The speedy Siani tagged and fled home to score.

De La Cruz had to turn and hurry an errant throw home. Fairchild’s momentum was toward home plate, more in position to catch and throw. If he catches the ball, Siani probably would not have tried to score.

Reds manager David Bell agreed.

“If Stu (Fairchild) comes in to catch that ball, they probably don’t run right there. They did a good job of tagging up right there. We teach the same thing,” said Bell on Bally Sports Ohio

“For us, Elly is so good at going back on the ball and we want the ball in Elly’s hands,” Bell added. “It was a pop-up in the infield that drifted a little bit. . .but, yes, if Stu was able to read that and make the charge, they probably wouldn’t have run.”

The same situation surfaced fpr the Cardinals in the fifth. . .only the Cardinals did it right. Cincinnati’s Will Benson was on third with one out. Luke Maile popped one to shallow center, but deeper than the ball Burleson hit for the sacrifice fly.

Like De La Cruz, St. Louis shortstop Brandon Crawford chased after it. But center fielder Siani, charging in, called Crawford off and made the catch. Benson remained anchored at third.

The game ended dramatically, a near-miss game-tying home run by Fairchild.

St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley retired the first two in the ninth. Fairchild swung at the first pitch and drove one to left that was headsed for homerland.

But left fielder Brendon Donovan had other ideas. After a long run, he leaped above the wall and plucked the ball out of the air before it cleared the wall, ending the game.
Helslely, who blew his first save situation against the Los Angeles Dodgers, now has 29 straight saves to lead MLB.

“Yeah, I thought it had a chance, but this is a big ball park,” said Bell about Fairchild’s near game-tying homer. “Off the bat. . .a great swing by Stu. . .that’s all you can do is put a good swing on the ball.”

It looked so promising in the first inning when the Reds collected two hits. But they didn’t score and managed two more hits over the final eight innings.

Jonathan India, Mr. Get-On-Base, opened the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Spencer Steer singled with one out, but Nick Martini hit into a double play.

India doubled with twq outs in the third, pushing his mutli-hit games to seven straight, but De La Cruz grounded out.

They loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks, one to India, and a single by Fairchild, but once again De La Cruz grounded out.

The first two Reds reached base in the sixth and Donovan did another dirty deed. After Noelvi Marte flied meekly to left, Santiago Espinal pulled one toward the left field corner. After a long, long run, Donovan chased it down, robbing Espinal of a two-run double. Benson then struck out.

One last chance surfaced in the eighth when De La Cruz led with a full-count walk. The Cardinals slapped some more leather on the Reds. Spencer Steer lobbed one to short right and Burleson made a long run before making a diving, sliding catch.

Pinch-hitter Levi Jordan missed a bunt attempt and catcher Willson Contreras made a snap throw to first. Umpire Charlie Ramos called De La Cruz out. The Reds challenged and after a long, long delay New York reversed the call and called him safe.

De La Cruz stole second, his 39th, and took third on Jordan’s fly ball, but Marte struck out and that was it.

St. Louis starter Andre Pallante held the Reds to four hits over 5 1/3 innings and was credited with the win and is 5-and-0 for his career against the Reds.

Montas was even better — one dubious run and two hits over his six innings and his reward was a sixth loss in his last seven decisions.

“I thought it was a really good game on both sides,” said a magnanimous Montas. “I felt good with my stuff but the result wasn’t what I wanteed.”

Nor was it for the Reds.

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