McCoy: Reds Sniffing Third Place

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

The Cincinnati Reds are so close to third place in the National League Central they can reach out and touch the St. Louis Cardinals.

Had the Cardinals lost Saturday night in Cleveland, the resrugent Reds would be in third place right now, but the Cardinals beat the Guardians, 2-1, in 10 innings.

While the Reds and Cardinals both are four games out of firstr place, St. Louis is 24-30, a .444 percentage, to Cincinnati’s 23-29, a .442 percentage.

As it is, the Reds climbed over the Chicago Cubs Saturday in Wrigley Field with an 8-5 victory, claiming fourth place and knocking the Cubs to last place. The Cubs have lost 10 of their last 13, including the first two games of this series to the Reds.

And there is no doubt that the National League Central is MLB’s weakest division, a division that is there for the taking to any of the five teams, including the Reds, whom most prognosticators predicted to finish last.

Manager David Bell’s recent decision to drop leadoff hitter Jonathan India to third in the order was a judicious move. India cranked two home runs and drove in five runs as part of Cincinnati’s 12-hit attack.

India’s first home, which he dropped into the basket that protudes in front of the right field wall, lifted the Reds from a 4-3 deficit to a 5-4 lead that they never relinquished.

His second was a long-distance explosion deep into the left field bleachers, a two-run rip that pushed the Reds in front, 8-4.

The Cubs hadn’t scored in 17 inning when they scored a run in the first and constructed a 4-1 lead against Reds starter Brandon Williamson after two innings.

But struggling pitcher Jameson Taillon, 0-3 with an 8.10 earned run average, was not up to holding that lead, even though he was 32-2 for his career when his team gave him at least a thraee-run lead.

After Williamson gave up four runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings, the Reds bullpen of Buck Farmer, Ian Gibaut, Alex Young and Alex Diaz gave up one run and two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.

The Reds staged their comeback with a high degree of difficulty. Their first six runs came with two outs.

The first run came in the second inning on Tyler Stephenson’s double and Nick Senzel’s two-out single.

The second run came in the third TJ Friedl’s double and India’s two-out single, the first of his five RBIs.

Taillon retired the first two Reds in the fifth and walked Friedl. He stole second and scored on Matt McLain’s single. Indian then unloaded his first home run and it was 5-4 for the Reds.

And the sixth run came with two outs in the sixth. After walks Spencer Steer and Senzel, catcher Curt Casali, 1 for 24, poked a run-scoring single up the middle.

The Reds top three batters in the order combined for seven hits, six runs scored and six RBIs. Friedl was 2 for 4 with two run, McLain was 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI and India was 3 for 5 with two runs and five RBI.

The ultra-aggressive Reds made a couple of baserunning blunders that didn’t hurt them. India tried to stretch his run-scoring single in the third to a double and was thrown out at second, ending the inning. Jake Fraley had third base stolen in the seventh but overslid the bag and was tagged out.

Aggressiveness by Friedl in the first inning nearly cost him a dislocated shouler. He ran full speed, left shoulder first, into the brick wall in left center trying to catch Dansby Swanson’s triple. But he not only stayed in the game, he doubled, walked and beat out a bunt for a single.

And Friedl helped slap the faux pas play of the on the Cubs. With Christopher Morel on first and one out, Patrick Wisdom lifed a fly ball to center. Friedl acted as if he lost the ball in the lights and Morel broke for second. Friedl caught the ball easily and fired to first base to double off Morel.

McCoy: Greene, Reds Muzzle Cubs, 9-0

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Hunter Greene felt like a Stranger in Paradise during Friday’s matinee in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.

When he looked at the mammoth green manual scoreboard in center field after the fifth inning, there was a ‘7’ on the Cincinnati Reds’ runs line.

In seven of his previous 10 starts, the Reds scored one or fewer runs.

And while his teammates took care of the offense en route to a 9-0 rout, Greene was an impossible task for the Cubs.

Greene pitched six no-hit innings, walked two and tied his caree best with 11 strikeouts.

How good was he? For five innings, he didn’t even need an outfielder as no balls left the infield. It ended when Nico Hoerner lined out to left leading off the sixth.

And why was Greene lifted after six innings? It was his usual bugaboo. . .his pitch count. He threw 110 pitches. He went to 3-and-2 counts on six batters. But he struck out four of them.

“Filling up the (strike) zone was super important today,” said Greene during his post-game media interview. “And I continued to be aggressive.”

Greene was more interested in thanking the offense for its 19-hit assault while he helped stick the Cubs with their first shutout loss of the season.

“That put me in a better mentality,” he said. “I could just fill up the zone and compete. To feel that support early (two runs in the first) and to continue to hit throughout the game, not just that first inning, was great.”

For the first time, Greene’s catcher was veteran Curt Casali, who guided his way. The Reds own three shutouts and Casali has caught all three. And the Reds are 7-and-0 when Casali starts behind the plate.

Before the game, the Reds wondered which Justin Steele would they see? Steele was 6-and-1 with a 2.20 earned run average this season. But in four starts for his career against the Reds his earned run average was 7.31.

And exactly a year ago, Steele started a game in Cincinnati that the Reds won, 20-5.

It was the ‘old’ Steele, The Reds ripped him for six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings. He fooled nobody. Even Cincinnati’s outs echoed loudly in ‘The Friendly Confines.’

For the game, none of the 19 hits were home runs, but seven were for extra bases. Matt McLain, Tyler Stephenson, Spencer Steer and Stuart Fairchild each contributed three hits. Steer had a single, double and triple.

Everbody in the starting lineup but Jonathan India had at least one hit and India produced a sacrifice fly.

Casali’s only hit came in the ninth inning, a two-run single, his first RBIs this season and he said of his offensive struggles, “It was a long, painful road. Sometimes those kinds of hits (a blooper to right) might turn things around for you. It’s no secret I’ve been struggling and I’m just trying to put all that behind me to make up for it.”

And Casali guided Greene to his first win of the season after four defeats. Of catching all three Reds shutouts, Casali said, “Yeah, I’m really proud of those zeros.”

For the Cubs, it was a repeat performance after they were crunched Thursday by the New York Mets, 10-1. For the Reds it was a reverberating and resounding bounceback from a 2-1 loss Thursday to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Eduardo Salazar, just called up from Class AAA Louisville, maintained the no-hitter with a 1-2-3 seventh, but gave up a pair of singles in the eighth to Christopher Morel and Miles Mastrobuoni.

Chicago starter Steele had given up two total runs in the first innings in his first 10 starts. The Reds, though jumped on him for two in the first on four hits, including McLain’s infield hit, a triple by Steer and a single by Stephenson.

They added one in the third on Stephenson’s two-out double and Nick Senzel’s single. Three more came across in the fourth on India’s sacrifice fly and run-scoring singles by Steer and Stephenson.

Of the run explosion when he seldom sees runs crossing the plate, Greene said, “It is out of my control and I trust these guys to the fullest because they work super hard.

“I’m at the beginning of my career so to get caught up in that would be foolish,” he added. “It is just baseball and not everything works.”

About the bombardment of Steele, Greene said, “It shows the mentality our hitters have no matter who is on the mound or what the stats are. They are going out there swinging and believing in our team.”

McCoy: Reds Waste Weaver’s Gem

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Luke Weaver did the best any pitcher can do while trying to beat the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday afternoon in Great American Ball Park — no runs, three hits in 6 1/3 innings of masterful pitching.

On most days, perhaps 99 per cent of the time, that means a victor for you and a victory for your team.

But his Cincinnati Reds teammates could do nothing offensively to help him against St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas.

He matched Weaver zero-for-zero — no runs, five hits in seven inning of equally masterful pitching.

So it came down to a bullpen match-up and the Reds lost that battle and the game, 2-1.

The teams split the four-game series, but Cincinnati’s loss knocked it back into last place in the National League Center.

The fatal inning for the Reds was the eighth with Lucas Sims on the mound trying to protect a 0-0 tie.

He easily retired the first two Cardinals, but came apart after that when two hits, two wild pitches and a stolen base enabled St. Louis to score its two runs.

With two outs, Lars Nootbaar singled and took second on a wild pitch. Nolan Gorman doubled to break the 0-0 tie. Gorman then stole third and came home on another wild pitch to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The Reds had a myriad of chances to score in the first eight inning and broke through in the ninth for a run and left the potential tying run on first base.

With one out, Spencer Steer doubled off St. Louis relief pitcher Giovany Gallegos. Nick Senzel struck out for the second out, but Stuart Fairchld ripped the next pitch into left fielde to score Steer. The game ended when Luke Maile struck out on three pitches.

The first Reds’ opportunity surfaced in the first when they had runners on third and first with one out, but Jake Fraley hit into a double play.

The next opportunity came in the fifth when Steer led with a single, but the next three Reds made routine outs.

The best chance surfaced in the sixth when TJ Friedl and Matt McLain opened with singles, putting runners on third and first with no outs.

Friedl was over-aggressive and tried to score from third on a grounder to third by Jonathan India and was throw out at home. Fraley flied to left and Tyler Stephenson grounded into an inning-concluding fielder’s choice.

Another opportunity came in the eighth whewn Cardinals relief pitcher Drew VerHagen issued back-to-back one-out walks to Friedl and McLain, but India popped up and Gallegos came in to retire Fraley.

India, batting third for the second time in his career, stranded four runners in his last two at bats. Friedl, batting leadoff, was on base all four times he batted via error, two singles and a walk, but didn’t score. Steer had two hits and scored the Reds’ only run.

The Reds were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. After banging 18 hits Wednesday in a 10-3 win, the Reds scored one run on seven hits Thursday.

Weaver bobbed and weaved out of the few problems that surfaced. The Cardinals never had more than one baserunner in an inning until the seventh.

With one out in the seventh, Alec Burleson singled and Juan Yepez was hit with a 3-and-2 pitch. Sims replaced Weaver and Yepez took a nap and was picked off first. Sims then struck out Tommy Edman.

Weaver issued his only walk with one out in the first on a full cout to Gorman. Nothing came of it.

Yepez doubled with one out in the second and reached third on a ground ball. Nothing came of it.

Weaver retired 10 straight until Andrew Knizer doubled with two outs in the fifth. Nothing came of it.

The Cardinals were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol decided it was a good day to give his two best hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, a day of rest. He got away with it. . .barely. The Cardinals had only six hits, two by catcher and number eight hitter Knizner, neither of which did any damage.

The Reds, losers in eight of their last 11 games, open a three-game series Friday afternoon in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, losers in seven of their last 10 before playing the New York Mets Thursday night.


McCoy: Wainwright Finally Wins at GABP

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

For 41-year-old St. Louis Cardinals best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, Great American Ball Park has been a personal house of horrors.

In seven previous starts in GABP, the Cincinnati Reds have taken him to the woodshed — 0-and-5 with a 6.35 earned run average.

And he was not on his best pitching behavior Tuesday night in GABP, giving up five runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.

But his offense put him in a comfort zone by assaulting struggling Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft, who gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.

It added up to an 8-5 St. Louis victory and Wainwright had his long awaited win. It was the 12th win in 15 games for the Cardinals and the seventh loss in nine games for the Reds.

The never-quit Reds put a fright into the Cardinals in the ninth. Down, 8-5, the first two Reds made outs and they were down to their last out against Ryan Helsley.
Kevin Newman singled, TJ Friedl walked and Matt McLain walked to load the bases.

That brought up Jonathan India, batting third in the order for the first time in a Reds uniform. TJ Friedl, fresh off the injured list, took India’s normal leadoff spot.

And this situation was exactly why manager David Bell placed the hot-hitting India in the three-hole. But he grounded into a game-ending force play.

Among the ten hits given up by Ashcraft were two home runs by Paul Goldschmit, who came into the game 1-for-21 with nine strikeouts.

Goldschmidt homered to left in the first inning to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. The Reds struck back with a run in the bottom of the first.

With two outs, India singled and Jake Fraley ripped a run-scoring double to left. India scored in the first inning for the 15th time this season.

The Cardinals scored one in the first, two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth, all against Ashcraft.

St. Louis took a 3-1 lead in the second when the Cardinals easily stole second against the unattentive Ashcraft. That put both in scoring position for a single Brendan Donovan and a sacrifice fly by Tommy Edman.

Goldschmidt’s second home run, a blast to right, made it 4-1 in the third.

The Reds drew to within 4-3 in the bottom of the third on rookie Matt McLain’s first major league home run, a two-run jolt to right field.

The Cardinals put distance between them in the Reds with three runs in the fourth, punctuated by Edmon’s two-run triple. Edman, a switch-hitter, opted to bat right-handed against the right-handed Ashcraft because Ashcraft has been more effective against left handers.

The Reds scored runs in the fifth and sixth on Friedl’s run-scoring double, his second double of the game, and Nick Senzel’s run-producing double.

That cut the Cardinals lead to 7-5 and it stayed that way until St. Louis added a big run in the ninth against Alan Busenitz. Once again Edman batted right-handed against the right-handed Busenitz and shot a double up the left-center gap. He scored on a Lars Nootbar single to make it 8-5.

Before trudging to the GABP mound, Wainwright told the St. Louis media, “For me, this place is a disaster. I don’t know how to explain. There is no excuee for it.”

After giving up 11 runs in 10 1/3 innings in two appearances in GABP last year, he was somewhat better, just enough to claim a victory.

There was added spice in the third inning provided by a frustrated Nolan Arenado. He was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts Monday and was angry with fist base umpire Will Little, who called him out on a checked swing.

Little, behind the plate Tuesday, called Arenado out on strikes in the first inning. When he hit into a double play to end the third, an 0 for 7 start with four strikeouts to start the series, he erupted at the umpires and was ejected. And St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol went with him.

McCoy: Yankees Complete Sweep, 4-1

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

When Hunter Greene pitches for the Cincinnati Reds, the offense goes into deep hibernation and Greene has to be thinking, “I wonder where the offense went?”

He was victimized again Sunday morning/afternoon and has grounds for a non-support charge.

The New York Yankees beat him, 4-1, Greene’s 10th start this season and the seventh time the Reds have scored one run or less when he was on the mound. That’s the least run support for any starting pitcher in the National League.

Greene’s one flaw, though, is the home run ball and he gave up two Sunday that paved the way to his fourth defeat without a victory.

For once, Yankees superstars Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo contributed nothing to the outcome of a game against the Reds.

It didn’t matter. The Yankees completed a three-game sweep with their sixth win in seven games.

New York manager Aaron Boone did the Reds a gigantic favor by giving Judge the day off, even though he went 4-for-4 with three RBI Saturday and hit a home runs Friday.

And Rizzo, who hit two-run home runs Friday and Saturday, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Home runs, though, are the Yankees modus operandi and the two Sunday played big as the Reds lost for the sixth time in seven games and droppped back into last place in the National League Central.

Harrison Bader turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead with a two-run home run in the fifth and Gleybar Torres homered in the sixth, the sixth and seventh home runs off Greene in his last four starts.

On the Yankees side, Luis Severino came off the injured list and made his first 2023 start. He held the Reds to one run, three hits, walked one and struck out five in 4 2/3 innings.

He struck out the first two in the fifth inning, then gave up a single to Luke Maile. That put him at his 75-pitch limit, leaving him one out short of qualifying for the win.

He began his coming-back party by walking the first batter he faced, Jonathan India, on four pitches. Then came controversy.

With two outs, Spencer Steer lobbed one down the right field line. Outfielder Jack Bauers tried to make a sliding catch, but the ball popped out of his glove near the line. Umpire Nestor Ceja ruled it a foul ball.

The Reds challenged and the ball was ruled fair. India kept running on the play and crossed the plate. It was ruled a double for Steer and the Reds were awarded India’s run.

New York manager Aaron Boone reacted vehemently, believing India should have only been awarded third base. It earned Boone an ejection.

Greene guarded that 1-0 lead through four innings, giving up one hit and a walk with five strikeouts.

But he walked Willie Calhoun on a full count to open the fifth and Harrison Bader drove a 2-and-2 change-up over the left field wall for a 2-1 New York lead.

Gleybar Torres made it 3-1 in the sixth with a first-pitch home run to right field. Home runs have been the one flaw in Greene’s repertoire — seven in his last four starts.

The Yankees added their fouurth run in the seventh when Greene walked Bauers. Greg Allen pinch-ran for Bauers and stole second, then scored on Anthony Volpe’s double.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s bats were deathly silent. After Maile’s single that ended Severino’s day, the New York bullpen retired 20 straight Reds.

That streak ended when the Reds threatened to rescue a win in the ninth inning against closer Clay Holmes, who blew a three-run ninth-inning Yankees lead against the Reds last season in Yankee Stadium.

This time he retired Matt McLain, then gave up back-to-back singles tp Jake Fraley and Spencer Steer. That put the potential tying run at home plate for two batters.

Nick Senzel struck out but Stuart Fairchild walked on four pitches, filling the bases. That brought up Will Benson, just called up from Class AAA Louisville to replacede injured Henry Ramos.

Could he hit a walk-off grand slam or a game-tying base clearing double? He could. But he didn’t. He grounded weakly back to the mound to end it.

Reds manager David Bell joined Boone on the ejected list, thrown out by plate umpire Emil Jimenez, Bell’s second ejection during the series. He thought New York pitcher Wandy Peralta quick-pitched Luke Maile in the eighth. His protestation gave him a quick thumb from Jimenez.

Bader, whose home run was the game-winner, was impressed with Greene.

“He is a guy with such good stuff, you have to respect his fastball,” Bader said during a post-game interview on Peacock-TV. “He has really electric stuff to a point where you take a funky swing, which I did multiple times, you have to shrug it off and reselt. Take a short swing.”

Bader’s reset button dialed up a home run.

Bader also said the Yankees had added incentive to play well for their manager. Boone played for the Reds and was in tears when the Reds traded him to the Yankees.

“When something like this gets entertwined, it put a little more juice and pep in our step,” said Bader. “We saw a highlight of Boonie before the series and that pumped us up. I forgot how good Boonie could swing it. That made this really special for us.”



McCoy: Williamson Pitches a Gem

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

The pitching-thin Cincinnati Reds could not have placed a pitcher making his major-league debut in a more difficult and precarious situation.

“Hey, kid. We’re calling you up and you’re pitching in Coors Field.”

Yes, Coors Field, where baseballs fly great distances and the ball bounces around the outfield expanse like a berserk pinball machine.

Brandon Willliamson, who pitched with moderate success this season at Class AAA Louisville, flicked that all aside.

The 6-foot-6 left-hander was nearly perfect in his debut Tuesday night in a 3-1 Reds victory over the Colorado Rockies.

And with the Reds win a Chicago Cubs loss, the Reds moved into a third-place tie with the Cubs in the National League Central, both at 19-and-23.


Williamson held the Rockies to no runs and one hit for 5 1/3 innings before giving up a one-out home run in the sixth inning, a homer hit by number nine hitter Ezequiel Tovar, who had struck out his five at bats of the series.

Unfortunately for Williamson, Colorado starter Chase Anderson was even more efficient in his first start for the Rockies.

He pitched five innings and gave up no runs and one hit. Anderson was with the Reds in spring training and was sold to the Tampa Bay Rays.

He made two relief appearances — five innings, no runs, two hits and his first career save. But Tampa Bay released him and pitching-thin Rockies signed him.

And since he hadn’t pitched much, Colorado manager Bud Black excused him after the five spotless innings and the Reds took advantage of the Rockies bullpen.

They grabbed a 2-1 lead in the seventh against Peter Lambert. He walked Tyler Stephenson on four pitches with two outs. Nick Senzel picked on the first pitch and whistled over the left-center wall, a two-run home run.

The Reds added a run in the eighth when Curt Casali walked, pinch-runner Kevin Newman took second on a ground ball and scored on Matt McLain’s single for his first major-league RBI. He had struck outg his first three at bats.

After Williamson left, the Reds bullpen kept the Rockies quiet. Derek Law replaced Williamson in the sixth and gave up a double to put runners on third and second with twoj outs, then struck out Randal Grichuk, whose 14-game hitting streak came to an 0-for-4 end.

Alex Young pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts, Ian Gibaut pitched a scoreless, one-hit eighth and Alexis Diaz went 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 10th save in ten opportunities.

Williamson encountered early difficulty in the first when Colorado leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon singled on an 0-and-2 pitch. Jurickson Profar hit into a double play and Williamson walked Elias Diaz on a full count. But he retired Grichuk on a fly to center field.

From there, Williamson, using pin-point precision on all his pitches, retired 14 straight, six on strikeouts, until Tovar homered in the sixth.

Anderson retired the first six Reds until Wil Myers singled to open the third. He took second on Stuart Fairchild’s sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a fly ball, but died there when Jonathan India grounded to shortstop.

Anderson retired nine of the last 10 he faced and the only base-runner was a one-out walk to Jake Fraley he in fouth. He stole second, but Spencer Steer and Stephenson both flied out.

While the Reds made good use of Colorado’s bullpen, the Rockies were shut down by Cincinnati’s bullpen, enablling the Reds to even the series at one win each. The series concludes Wednesday afternoon at 3:10.

McCoy: Fraley Ignites Reds Comeback

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

The Cincinnati Reds were down two runs entering the seventh inning Friday night in Miami. . .and judging by the way things have unfolded this season, they had the Miami Marlins right where they wanted them.

They scored two in the seventh to tie it and Jake Fraley unloaded a three-run home run in the ninth inning to grasp a 7-4 victory.

And why did they have the Marlins where they wanted them? The Reds have won 17 games and 11 times they came from behind to grab a win.

Fraley’s home run was his second of the game, the first multi-homer game of his career. His first home run broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.

“To keep the momentum going with twat we’ve been doing is awesome,” said Fraley in a post-game interview with Bally Sports after the Reds won for the fourth time in six games. “We don’t get overwhelmed in situations and I’m just really proud of this team.
This team is so fun. We just battle and we lean on everybody to play their part.”

They leaned on the bottom of the order to get things started in the ninth. Both Stuart Fairchild, batting eighth, and Jose Barrero. batting ninth, pushed opposite field singles to right field to open the ninth when it was 4-4.

Former Reds pitcher Dylan Floro struck out Jonathan India, ending India’s eight-game hitting streak. That brought up Fraley, batting second in the order in place of injured TJ Friedl.

“I knew I wanted to get him close to me (an inside pitch),” said Fraley. “He likes to go two-seamer away and four-seamer inside. I wanted to get him close to me and see him up.

“He threw two really good sliders, one of them I swung at, then the fastball was over the plate and I was able to get the barrel on it.”

Miami started 6-foot-8, 20-year-old Eury Perez, promoted from Double-A to make his major league debut. And he was impressive — 4 2/3 innings two runs, four hits, two walks, seven strikeouts.

Both Reds runs came on home runs, one by Tyler Stephenson and one by Fraley. Fraley worked a 10-pitch walk in the third, then picked on Perez’s first pitch to him in the fifth and drove it into the right fied seats.

“It helps to have an at bat like I did my second at bat,” said Fraley. “I got to see all of his pitches, see them over and over and over. He used his whole arsenal and I was able to squeeze him for a walk.

“Then (in the next at bat) I was standing on a fastball and he left one over the plate,” Fraley added.

The Reds survived despite some atrocious defense behind starter Graham Ashcraft that left them in the 4-2 hole.

Stephenson’s home run in the fourth gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. But in the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Wil Myers overthrew the cutoff man on Bryan de la Cruz’s double, enabling Luis Arraez to score from first.

Then in the fifth, Myers lost a fly ball hit by Joey Wendle, never saw it, and it landed behin him for a triple.

Stephenson then was charged with a passed ball that enabled Wendle to score. Stephenson’s throw to Ashcraft was in time and Wendle was called out. But replay-review revealed that Ashcraft bobbled the ball, didn’t have control, and Wendle was ruled safe.

It was a forgettable night for Myers. In addition to his two defensive gaffes, he struck out with a runner on third in the fourth, hit jnto a double play in the sixth and struck out again in the eighth.

A home run by Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the fifth inning and a home run by Peyton Burdick in the sixth gave Miami a 4-2 lead.

The Reds tied it in the seventh on a two-out, two-run double by Spencer Steer, whose last six hits have been for extra bases.

That set it up for Fraley’s heroics.

Alexis Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts, his eighth straight save this season and 13th straight going back to last season.




McCoy: Another Reds Bullpen Blow-up

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Nick Lodolo pitched the game of his life and suffered the disappointment of his baseball life Saturday afternoon in Citizens Bank Park.

But that’s life with the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. Alexis Diaz and Ian Gibaut gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth and the Philadelphia Phillies walked it off, 3-2, a heart-stabbing third straight Cincinnati defeat.

Beating the defending champion Phillies is like pulling teeth with bare hands for the Reds — eight losses in their last confrontations with Philadelphia, six straight in Citizens Bank Park.

Lodolo had the defending champion Phillies completely flummoxed and floundering for seven innings — no runs, three hits, two walks (one intentional) and a career-best 12 strikeouts.

He crushed the top three batters in the Phillies order, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto, holding them to 0 for 8 with six strikeouts.

But after 106 pitches, Reds manager David Bell turned it over to the bullpen, and he went with his best, bringing in closer Alexis Diaz in the eighth inning to face the top of the order.

That worked. He struck out all three, Turner, Schwarber and Realmuto.

Then he sent him back out for the ninth to protect a 2-0 lead. That didn’t work. The Phillies scored three runs, ending it with a walk-off single by Bryson Stott.

Diaz hadn’t pitched in five days and he sat for a long spell in the top of the ninth while the Reds scored what they thought was an insurance run.

Spencer Steer, the second batter of the game, gave Lodolo a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a 438-foot home run to dead center. It came on a big-bending curveball against lanky left-hander Bailey Falter.

And the Reds put two more runners on base in the first, but Falter didn’t falter and at one point retired 12 straight.

The Reds made it 2-0 in the ninth on a walk, TJ Friedl’s seemingly daily bunt hit and Jake Fraley’s sacrifice fly.

It was apparent quickly that the ninth-inning Diaz was not the eighth-inning Diaz. He walked Nick Castellanos and advance him to second with a wild pitch.

Alex Bohm singled to center, sending Castellanos to third. Pinch-hitter Brandon Marsh singled to right, scoring a run and sending Bohm to third.

Marsh stole second, putting the tying run on third and the winning run on second. That’s when Bell brought in Gibaut. On the first pitch, Edmundo Sosa flied to center, a sacrifice fly that tied it, 2-2.

Bryson Scott singled to right and Marsh sprinted home into a bevy of Phillies greeters with the winning run.

“I came into the ninth with the same mentality (as the eighth) and they just found some holes,” said Diaz through a translator during a post-game clubhouse interview. “They found holes where the ball couldn’t get caught.”

Of the long spell between the eighth and ninth, Diaz said, “I felt just as comfortable in the ninth as I did in the eighth. I was ready to pitch. My arm was warmed up and I was ready to go in the ninth. I didn’t feel any difference.

“I had the same plan for the ninth inning and they made their adjustments to the way they were attacking us,” he added. “They made their adjustments and got their hits and runs in the ninth.”

Bell said the plan was for Diaz to face the top of the order and to go back and finish the deal in the ninth. Instead, the Phillies finished him.

“He dominated in the eighth (three strikeouts) and it’s a tough ask for him to back out for the ninth,” said Bell. “He just didn’t have the same stuff in the ninth. The long wait between innings could have been (a factor). He was on a lot of rest, probably more than he’ll have the rest of the year.

“We started getting him ready in the seventh and to stay ready throug the top of the eighth,” Bell added. “The long top of the ninth caught up to him. Too many pitches (32), too much rest in between, but he was so good, really dominated in the eighth. We wanted him to at least get a couple of outs in the ninth.”

He got none, showing that a pitcher can go from hero to hobo with a couple of errant pitches.

Lodolo’s mastery was evident in the first inning when he struck out the side. He retired the first seven Phillies before Bryson Stott singled in the third.

Lodolo then committed a throwing error on Christian Pache’s bunt. A passed ball on catcher Tyler Stephenson put runners on third and second. Lodolo struck out Turner for the second out. Schwarber grounded to third and Steer made a diving lunge on Pache, who made a head first slide.

Pache was called safe and Stott trotted home. The Reds challenged and Pache was called out. The run didn’t count. It would have counted had Stott sprinted home and crossed the plate before Steer tagged Pache. But Stott trotted and didn’t touch home before the tag. No run.

That was Lodolo’s only inning of mischief by the Phillies.

“Lodolo dominated a really good lineup,” said Bell, although the Phillies are missing two of their best offensive parts, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins.

“He had it all working, threw his change-up, but mostly used his fastball and was really good with his breaking ball,” added Bell. “Those are really good hitters and he had complete control of the game. We got a tack-on run in the ninth with Fraley’s sacrifice fly. But that’s a really good team and we were unable to hold on to it.”

McCoy: Cubs End Reds’ Streak, 12-5

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

For the first four games of the 2023 season, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen was dead, solid and nearly perfect — three earned runs in 16 1//3 innngs and no damage done.

That all changed and evaporated Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park. The bullpen completely collapsed during a 12-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Reds starter Luis Cessa turned over a 3-1 lead to the bullpen with one out and a runner on second in the sixth inning.

Then came a tsunami of runs. Over the final 3 2/3 innings, four Cincinnati relief pitchers gave up 11 runs.

The Cubs scored a run in the sixth on Eric Hosmer’s single, cutting the Reds lead to 3-2.

The seventh was mass mayhem. Neither Buck Farmer nor Reiver Sanmartin retired a batter as the Cubs scored six times to put the game away and end Cincinnati’s three-game winning streak.

Farmer gave up a double to Nico Hoerner, walked Dansby Swanson, gave up a game-tying double to Ian Happ.

Sanmartin replaced Farmer and walked Cody Bellinger to fill the bases. Trey Mancini singled to push the Cubs ahead. Patrick Wisdom singled for two runs.

Another runner reached on second baseman Jonathan India’s error. That was seven straight Cubs to reach base. Joel Kuhnel came on and got two outs on one pitch, a double play, but another run scored.

Done? Not yet. With two outs, Myles Mastrobuoni singled for a run and stole second. That was it. . .six runs, five hits, two walks and an error and the Cubs led, 8-3.

Done? Not yet. The Cubs scored three more off Kuhnel in the eighth on a two-run double by Patrick Wisdom.

Done? Not yet. The Cubs added a run in the ninth on Hoerner’s single, stolen base and Happ’s single.

Done? Yes, the Reds were more than done.

The Cubs scored a run off Cessa in the first when they loaded the bases but scored only on Trey Mancini’s sacrifice fly.

The Reds matched it in the bottom of the first when Jonathan India led with a double, was bunted to third by TJ Friedl and scored on Spencer Steer’s single.

Then the Reds unveiled their best weapon so far this season, the long ball. Friedl broke the 1-1 tie with his second home run with one out in the second.

And what’s a Reds’ game without something big from Jason Vosler. He clubbed his third home run with one out in the fourth and that was the 3-1 lead the bulllpen couldn’t hold.

The Reds didn’t score again until the eighth when India singled and Stuart Fairchild hit a first-pitch pinch-hit home run. He was batted for Friedl who left the game with shoulder issues after running full-bore into the wall chasing Wisdom’s double in the seventh.

The Reds have hit 10 home runs in their first five games.

Three of the first four Cubs reached base in the first against Cessa, but he worked out of it and was solid the rest of the way, with some Gold Glove defense against by shortstop Kevin Newman, first baseman Jason Vosler and left fielder Will Benson.

Benson made a spectacular snag of a foul ball, bending over the wall to bring the ball back. His offense, though is lingering at 0 for 12 with nine strikeouts.

“Cessa pitched a really solid game,” said manager David Bell. “He definitely gave us an opportunity to win it. We just weren’t able to hold on to it. After the first four hitters, Cessa found his location, didn’t miss in the middle very often.

“He had a really good change-up and slider,” Bell added. “To get that deep in the game when he didn’t get built up much in spring training as our other starters. . .a really solid start.”

And the bullpen?

“A lot of those guys pitched yesterday (Farmer in four of the five games),” said Bell. “They’re getting into the demands of the early season. They have pitched well. And they’ve all pitched quite a bit and it is something we have to monitor.

After Cessa held the Cubs to two runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings, the Cubs finished with 16 hits. The Reds hit three home runs, the Cubs hit none. They didn’t need one.

Cody Bellinger, 1 for 15 when the night began, went 3 for 5. Wisdom had three hits and drove in three runs. Ian Happ, as always, was a severe pain to the Reds — four hits and two walks, reaching base five of six plate appearances. Wisdom had three hits and drove in three runs.