McCoy: Reds Lose Another One-Run Game (8-19)

By Hal McCoy

It was a Battle of the Bullpens Saturday night in Nationals Park and the Cincinnati Reds came up unarmed.

Four Washington Nationals relief pitchers, including two former Reds, held the Reds to no runs and two hits over the final six innings in a 5-4 Washington victory.

On the other side, Reds relief pitchers Fernando Cruz and Justin Wilson gave up two late-inning runs as Cincinnati fell to 8-19 in one-run decisions,

And it ruined a good performance by Reds starter Nick Lodolo. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up six hits while walking one and striking out eight.

The Reds led, 4-3, after six innings, but number nine hitter Jacob Young singled to open the seventh. Manager David Bell permitted Lodolo to face left-handed CJ Abrams and he flied to left on Lodolo’s 104th pitch, the most he has thrown this season.

Bell brought in Fernando Cruz to face Lane Thomas and Young stole second. On a 3-and-2 count Thomas blooped a game-tying double down the right field line and it was 4-4.

Justin Wilson began the eighth and was greeted with a double to left Ildermaro Vargas. Rookie James Wood, 21, Washington’s version of Elly De La Cruz, moved the runner to third on a fundamentally sound grounder to the right side.

Trey Lipscomb grounded to the mound for the second out and Vargas had to hold third.

But it was that number nine hitter again. . .Young. He picked on Wilson’s first pitch and singled to left, driving home the winning run.

Washington closer Kyle Finnegan recorded hios 27th save with a 1-2-3 ninth that began with a strikeout of De La Cruz. Jeimer Candelario concluded a 0-for-5 night by lining out to center and it ended on Spencer Steer’s pop-up.

Former Red Dylan Floro pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth (one hit, one walk) and former Red Derek Law pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth (one hit, one walk).

It looked as if the Reds would run away with it early when Washington starter MacKenzie Gore had no idea where home plate was located. If there had been a quarter on top of the plate, he could have found it with a metal detector.

His first seven pitches of the game were balls and he walked both Jonathan India and De La Cruz. Both scored. India scored on Spencer Steer’s single and De La Cruz scored on Austin Slater’s sacrifice fly.

It took Gore a career-worst 48 pitches to get through the first, the most pitches he ever threw in one inning.

The Reds were on a streak of 19 straight games without giving up a run in the first inning. That ended with one swing of the bat.

Lodolo gave up a leadoff infield single to Abram and struck out the next two. But Harold Ramirez launched a 1-and-1 fastball 429 feet into the left-center stands to tie it, 2-2.

Gore’s miseries continued in the second after he retired the first two Reds. He walked India again and De La Cruz doubled him home.

Gore was done after two innings and the Reds scored another run in the third against relief pitcher Jordan Weems. It came off the bat of
Tyler Stephenson, a 426-foot homer to left, his 11th homer and fifth in eight games.

That made it 4-2, but the Reds hit the snooze button from there — no runs, two hits over the final six innings. They were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.

Washington scored its third run in the fourth inning, but Lodolo escaped when it could have been worse.

He walked Riley Adams to start the inning and Vargas singled. Wood forced Vargas at second as Adams took third. Lodolo struck out Lipscomb for the second out.

That brought up the pesky Young and Lodolo hit him with a pitch on a 1-and-2 count, filling the bases.

Abrams beat out a slow roller to first baseman Candelario, scoring Adams and the bases remained full. Lodolo kept it at 4-3 when he retired Thomas on a comebacker.

But the bullpen couldn’t hold it and the offense couldn’t add-on as the Reds lost to the Nationals for the second straight night.









McCoy: A Bad Start To Second Half For Reds

By Hal McCoy

It was not the way the Cincinnati Reds hoped to start the season after the All-Star break.

In fact, there was no hope for the Reds Friday night in Nationals Park, a should-be embarrassing 8-5 loss to the Washington Nationals.

The score is misleading. The Reds trailed, 8-1, after eight innings and staged one of their many ninth-inning rallies that falls short.

They scored four in the ninth and had two on with two outs and Elly De La Cruz at the plate. A home run would tie it. He grounded to second to end it.

The Reds faced left-hander Patrtick Corbin, who walked to the mound with a 1-9 record, the highest earned run average (5.57) of any MLB starter and the highest opponent’s batting average of any starter.

And the Reds scored one run and produced three meagre singles against Corbin during his six innings, helping him celebrate his 35th birthday.

Meanwhile, Reds manager David Bell started Frankie Montas, his starting pitcher with the worst record (4-7) and highest earned run average (4.38).

Corbin helped the Nationals start the second half with a win after they lost six of eight before the break. Entering the game Corbin was 17-33 over his last 82 starts over 3 1/2 seasons.

He probably wondered if maybe he should have stuck to basketball. In high school he could dunk effortlessly and set a school record with eight three-pointers in one game.

On Friday, he stuffed the Reds.

For three innings, Montas was in control — no runs, no hits and two walks.

The Reds gave him a 1-0 lead in the third on Stuart Fairchild’s single and stolen base (after he was picked off first, but made it to second) and a run-scoring single by Jonathan India.

After issuing back-to-back walks in the first, Montas retired nine straight. But he walked former Reds outfielder Jesse Winker on a full count. Juan Yepez singled and the runners took third and second on a wild pitch.

James Wood, a 21-year-old rookie, pushed a two-run single past first base and the Nationals led, 2-1.

It quickly became 4-1 when Keibert Ruiz pulled a two-run home run into the the right field seats.

The ugliness worsened in the fifth when Montas gave up a two-out, three-run home run to Yepez and it was 7-1.

The Reds handed the Nationals another run in the seventh. Jacob Young opened with a double off Buck Farmer. He stole third, his second theft of the night and 22nd of the season.

With two outs, Winker was walked intentionally, the fourth straight time he reached base. He stole second and continued to third on catcher Tyler Stephenson’s error that enabled Young to score Washington’s eighth run.

Winker, one of baseball’s slowest runners when he played for the Reds, shed 25 pounds and he has stolen 14 bases this season. Washington swiped five bases.

As so often happens with the Reds when they are getting their doors blown off, they staged an uprising in the ninth.

They scored a pair of runs on a two-run double by Austin Slater, his second hit in 14 at bats since the Reds acquired him in a trade with the San Francisco Giants.

After Slater’s double, the Nationals brought in former Reds relief pitcher Derek Law and he did the near-impossible. He walked Noelvi Marte, Marte’s second walk this season in 71 plate appearances.

With two on, Rece Hinds struck out. He doubled in the eighth, but he has cooled off — only 1 for his last 9.

Pinch-hitter Jake Fraley doubled for two more runs and it was 8-5, forcing Washington manager Dave Martinez to bring in his closer, Kyle Finnegan to face India with two outs and a runner on second.

Finnegan, an All-Star, walked India on a full count, bringing the potential tying run to the plate in De La Cruz. De La Cruz extended his hitting streak to seven games with an infield single in the sixth.

De La Cruz worked it to a full count before he grounded to second to end it, 8-5.

It was the first game of a nine-game trip through Washington, Atlanta and Tampa Bay that takes the Reds to the July 31 trade deadline.

The results probably will determine whether the Reds seek help with trades or dump players or remain status quo.

The awful start to the trip does not bode well for the Reds, now four games under .500 (47-51) and 8 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central.

OBSERVATIONS: Slow Down On Expectations For Hinds

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, waiting to see which Cincinnati Reds team shows up for the ‘second half’ and, actually, waiting to see which players show up.

—SOME HINDS-IGHT: Rece Hinds: The man, the myth, the legend.

In one week, the Cincinnati Reds outfielder is treating MLB as if he is playing Little League in Williamsport, PA.

In seven games he is hitting .423 with five homers, three doubles, a triple and 11 RBI. He also has two singles and a couple of stolen bases. And most of his home runs cover more air than United Flight 393.

Great stuff. . .and the kid is humble.

But everybdoy, take a large gulp of fresh air. It can’t continue. As the poet Yeats wrote, “Not a finish worth the start.” Let’s let this play out. He was only hitting .201 at Triple-A Louisville when he was an emergency call-up when Stuart Fairchild was injured.

Remember Aristides Aquino? When the Reds called him up in 2019, he tore it up for a month. But that was it. He was up-and-down between Louisville and Cincinnati the next three years, never making an impact.

This isn’t to say Hinds is another Aquino. It is just a reminder that high expectations and pressure can weight too heavily on young shoulders.

Let’s see how this plays out over the long haul, and a baseball season is a long, long, long haul.

—FINDING FUN: How did I fill an empty Wednesday night with no MLB on television except the fifth re-run of the MLB All-Star game, the eighth re-run of the Home Run Derby and the 10th re-run of the All-Star ‘Celebrity’ Softball Game?

Stumbled upon an WNBA game and, sure enough, it was the Indiana Fever and Caitlin Clark against the Dallas Wings. Clark scored 24 points, but once again displayed how much she is a team player with 19 assists. She accounted for 66 points, an all-time WNBA record.

Nineteen assists? Yep, a WNBA record. And she could have had 10 more, but teammates missed open shots after she passed to them. But it wasn’t enough to win the game. Dallas, with 6-foot-7 center Kalani Brown, won, 101-93.

And it is a poor taste joke that Clark is not included on the women’s U.S. Olympic basketball team. That’s like as if the U.S. Men’s team did not include Steph Curry.

THEN I STUMBLED upon an All-Star baseball game, one better than the MLB All-Star game. It was the West Coast League, a summer college league.

With the South leading, 2-1, in the bottom of ninth, the North had the bases loaded, two outs, 3-and-2 count on the batter. A grounder was hit to deep short. With a full count, everybody was running and the runner on third scored and a kid named Gavin Jones scored from second — a two-run walk-off infield single and a 3-2 North victory.

Some of the team names: Walla Walla Sweets, Portland Pickles, Dub Sea Fishsticks, Port Angeles Lefties, Santooth Sockeyes, Redmond Dudes, Kamloops NorthPaws, Bellingham Bells, Springfield Drifters.

—EXPRESS-LY SPEAKING: The Legend of Nolan Ryan is not a legend, it is as real as sore feet and maple syrup.

And I never get tired of finding unbelievable things Ryan did. . .as in a game in 1974 against the Boston Red Sox.

Ryan faced 54 batters in a 13-inning game and struck out 19 and walked 10. He struck out leadoff hitter Cecil Cooper six times. And he threw 278 pitches.

A 100-pitch limit? They didn’t even have a 200-pitch limit and probably not 300.

And he pitched again four days later.

—ROSE-Y OUTLOOK: The Legend of Pete Rose is not a legend, it is as real as back taxes and pork rinds.

Every baseball fan worth a called strike three knows The Hit King amassed 4,256 hits.

Some things you probably did not know about Rose’s 24-year career: 63 four-hit games, 107 times hit by pitch, 198 stolen bases and 149 times caught stealing, 56 sacrifice bunts, 79 sacrifice flies, intentionally walked 167 times and grounded into double plays 247 times.

And he hit .303 against 22 Hall of Fame pitchers.

—A BUNCH OF OH-FERS: Speaking of great hitters, there were periods when they weren’t so great. They all suffered a period of oh-fers.

The longest of Babe Ruth’s career was 0 for 21. Lou Gehrig’s was 0 for 20. Barry Bonds struggled through an 0 for 23 (while he played for Pittsburgh and before his PED episodes). Tony Gwynn’s was 0 for 19. Ty Cobb and Ted Williams endured 0 for 17s.

—THE FELTON FAILURE: A fellow named Terry Felton pitched from 1979 through 1982 and is still looking for his first major league win.

Felton, a right-hander who was a No. 2 draft pick, appeared in 49 games and ended his career 0-and-16 with a 5.53 earned run average.

He started10 games and pitched in relief 39 times. Total failure? Well, he did have five saves.

—TERRY THE TERRIFIC: Before manager Terry Francona led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series title in 2004, the Bosox had lost four straight World Series — 1946, 1967, 1975 (to the Cincinnati Reds) and 1986. There was a common denoninator. They lost all four in the seventh game.

Although I never covered one of his teams, Francona was one of my favorite baseball people.

The Reds and Cleveland Indians/Guardiansw share a spring training facility in Goodyear, Az. Even though I didn’t cover Cleveland, several mornings I would stop in at the then-Indians complex just to listen to Francona’s morning media sessions. They were always a hoot.

There was a game in which outfielder Oscar Gonzalez, thinking his catch was the third out, flipped the ball into the stands, enabling a runner to advance from second to third because it was only the second out.

At the end of the inning, when Gonzalez arrived in the dugout, Francona said to him, “I haven’t been to Triple-A in a while. Do they make you get three outs there?”

—JOEY’S OH-FER: For those wondering about Joey Votto’s progress. . .uh, not much.

In a low-Class A game last week, Votto had to take off his Dunedin Blue Jays cap and put on a golden sombero. He batted four times and struck out four times against the Tampa Tarpons. Tampa won, 10-0, as Dunedin got one hit. And Votto is hitting .211 with 14 strikeouts in 38 at bats.

—WRIGHT IS RIGHGT: From my favorite dead-pan comedian, Steven Wright: “My friend is an illiterate so he does judge a book by its cover.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 75: Onward and upward (and some even downward):

Trouble (Lindsey Buckingham), Somebody To Love (Jefferson Airplane), Light My Fire (The Doors), Hello, Good-Bye (The Beatles), Livin’ On A Prayer (Bon Jovi), Darlin’ (Frankie Miller).

Thank God I’m A Country Boy (John Denver), You’re No Good (Linda Ronstadt), I Started A Joke (BeeGees), Green, Green Grass Of Home (Tom Jones), Wicked Game (Chris Isaak), Every Day People (Sly & The Family Stone),

OBSERVATIONS: All-Star Game Not Kind To Hunter Greene

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, a sad and silent place for the next couple of days with no baseball.

—REMEMBER HIM?: Jarren Duran is no friend to Cincinnati Reds fans and actually is Public Enemy No. 1. When his Boston Red Sox were in town in mid-June he was a pain in the solar plexis.

First he hit a home run off Andrew Abbott. Then he leaped above the center field wall in the ninth inning to rob Stuart Fairchild of a two-run game-winning home run.

And on Tuesday night, he played the major part in knocking the ‘H’ out of Hunter Greene’s first name.

Greene entered the All-Star game in the fifth with the score 3-3. The first two American League batters hit wall-scraping fly ball outs. Then came a single and Duran’s 413-foot game-winning home run.

It stayed 5-3, making Greene the losing pitcher and Duran the MVP.

At least Elly De La Cruz stepped up. They had him playing third base. What? He led off the seventh with a sharp two-strike single to left. The TV announcers implored him to steal second, but he stayed put.

And he was the second batter in the ninth to face superb Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase. Strikeout? No, he grounded out.

—BOLD AND CONFIDENT: Rookie mega-sensation Paul Skenes started for the National League in the All-Star game and the plan was for one inning.

The baseball world wanted to see Skenes face Man Mountain Aaron Judge, but Judge was batting fourth, so one of the top three had to get on base for it to materialize.

New York Yankees teammate Juan Soto batted third and on the morning of the game during an interview on MLB-TV Soto said, “I’ll make sure Judge faces him.”

And he did, duiously. He took a 3-and-2 pitch that looked like a strike but was called ball four. As he ran to first base, he pointed to Judge in the batter’s circle.

Judge kind of shook his head then grounded out to third on the first pitch. If you half-blinked, you missed the ‘confrontation.’

—OH SAY CAN YOU HEAR?: So who won the Home Run Derby? Yeah, I know. I found out Tuesday morning on ESPN. . .Teoscar Hernandez, who batted eighth in the All-Star game.

I lost interest after the first round and joined Nadine in the sun room to watch Beverly Hills Cop-Axel F.

When my ‘hightlight’ is Gunnar Henderson’s imitation of Scooby Doo. . .well.

Hernandez received less attention than National Anthem ‘singer’ Ingrid Andress. Five Grammy Nominations? She never won, right?

It hasn’t been a good year for Francis Scott Key. First a ship knocked down his bridge in Baltimore and then Andress murdered his song.

Social media abounds with folks saying it was the worst rendition ever. Not to me. Andress is only No. 2.

I was in the press box at old San Diego-Jack Murphy Stadium for a Reds-Padres game. I heard Roseanne Barr’s effort. If she tried to make a mockery of it, she more than succeeded and she’s still No. 1.

Andress confessed that she was inebriated as she warbled and said she was checking herself into a rehab center.

—JUST PINCH ME: MLB players will tell you, without twisting their batting gloves, that pinch-hitting is the toughest assignment in the game.

They sit in the dugout for seven innings, doing not much of anything, then are told by the manager, “Grab a bat and win this game for us.”

When portly Gates Brown was a pinch-hitter for the Detroit Tigers, he ate hot dogs and sat in the clubhouse talking on the phone to friends.

The Tigers, for some inexplicable reason, put an outside line on their bullpen phone. So Brown would sit in the bullpen talking to friends on the outside line.

Once manager Mayo Smith instructed the pitching coach to call the bullpen and get a relief pitcher ready. When it was time to bring in a pitcher, Smith saw that nobody was warming up.

“Didn’t you call the bullpen?” Smith asked his coach.

“I kept trying, but the line was busy,” he said. The outside line was gone the next day.

How difficult is pinch-hitting for superstars? Ty Cobb, one of the greatest hitters ever, was 15 for 60 (.217) as a pinch-hitter. And Babe Ruth? He was 13 for 67 (.194).

—PICK AND CHOOSE: Is picking runners off first base an art form? For some, yes. Frank Robinson tells this story about managing in Puerto Rico.

His team was a run down with two outs in the ninth-inning and got a runner on against a left-handed pitcher named Frank Conger.

Suddenly one of Robby’s relief pitchers, Freddie Bean, ran in from the bullpen and told Robby, “This guy has the greatest pickoff move in history. I saw him pick off three guys in one inning last year in Triple-A.”

Said Robby, “OK, since you know this guy, go in and pinch-run.”

Bean took a modest lead. . .and Conger picked him off. End of game.

“I was laughing too hard to chew him out,” said Robinson.

—POTENTLY SPEAKING: Baseball, go figure. On the last day before the All-Star break, the last-place Oakland A’s (37-61) beat the first-place Philadelphia Phillies (62-34), 18-3, in Citizens Bank Park.

There has been only one team this season to score 18 or more runs. The Oakland A’s. And they have done it three times, scoring 20, 19 and 18.

And they even won those games.

—ONE LONELY GUY: Something to think about when it comes to baseball defense, something I never thought about, until now.

Defensively, in basketball it is five-on-five. In football it is 11-on-11. In hockey it is six-on-six. Baseball? It’s one-on-nine.

It is one batter against nine defenders. And nobody screens for him, nobody blocks for him and nobody checks for him. Hardly fair, is it?

Back in the ‘80s, the Chicago White Sox defense was horrendous. During one game, broadcaster and former outfield defensive wizard Jimmy Piersall said after one error-filled inning, “I’m surprised they don’t miss the dugout when they run in.”

—A ROSE IS A ROSE: One spring training day, when the Reds trained in Tampa, a fan kept yelling, “Pete Rose, you’re a bum.”

Suddenly, a large man behind the fan went Mike Tyson on him. It was the fan’s misfortune to sit behind David Rose, Pete’s brother who looks like him only 50 pounds heavier.

“Dave’s a paramedic and his ambulance was in the parking lot, so he knew how long to punch the guy and still get him to the hospital in time” said Pete.

—DRESS ‘EM UP: Somebody asked what my favorite uniform is and I know they meant baseball or maybe football.

But my favorite uniform is the University of Southern California marching band with their gold Trojan helmets and red plumes. . .especially when they appeared on stage with Fleetwood Mac doing ‘Tusk.’

—IS IT NOT?: One of my least favorite sayings that is meaningless: “It is what it is.” Well, what is it?

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 73: And I keep finding ‘em.

Straight From The Heart (Bryan Adams), You Gave Me A Mountain (Elvis Presley), Closer You Get (Alabama), Dream Weaver (Gary Wright), Mind Games (John Lennon). No Matter What (Boyzone), Stranger On The Short (Acker Bilk), Tears In Heaven (Eric Clapton).

I Swear (All-4-One), Nobody Knows (Tony Rich Project), Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good (Don Williams), If I Can’t Have You (Yvonne Elliman), Alone (Heart), Tusk (Fleetwood Mac), Bad Luck (Social Distortion).

ASK HAL: Boo Away, But I Don’t Endorse It

By Hal McCoy

Q: Do you endorse the practice of fans expressing their dissatisfaction with a player’s or a team’s poor performance through booing? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: I neither endorse political candidates nor commercial products. And I don’t endorse booing, although I realize it has been around since the Christians versus the Lions. Fans pay enough money for a week’ groceries to take their family to a game. So as long as they don’t throw a can or a bottle out of a grocery bag, booing is OK. If a player accepts cheers, he best be ready to accept boos.

Q: In your opinion, what member of the Big Red Machine was the key to Cincinnati’s success in the 1970s? — SCOTT, Jamestown, NY.
A: Of all the questions I’ve received all these years, this one is, without a doubt, the toughest I’ve ever received. And you know what? Even though I covered them and traveled with them, I don’t know know the answer. There wasn’t just a key, the BRM was a ring of keys. Pete Rose. Johnny Bench. Tony Perez. George Foster. Joe Morgan. Dave Concepcion. Ken Griffey Sr. They just can’t be separated and, to me,; it is impossible to point at one and say, “He was the key to the Big Red Machine.” Sorry, I just can’t.

Q: Should there be a time clock on the coach when he comes from the dugout to talk to his pitcher? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: Great idea. Most pitching coaches walk to the mound as if they are on their way to talk to the IRS. They can be timed with the sands through an hour glass. And most of the time they are just stalling for time so a relief pitcher can get ready. My solution would be, “No visits.” If a coach comes out, the pitcher comes out, too. No more social visits on the mound.

Q: How long can a player take on paternity leave and does he get paid? — KOZ, Springfield.
A: As of 2011, when it became part of baseball’s bargaining agreement, a player may take three days off when his wife gives birth. And, yes, they get paid. The team can replace him with any player on its 40-man roster. It hasn’t always been accepted by fringe observeres. One Boston radio guy said, “These guys work six months out of the year and they can take days off to stay home and tickle the baby.” Now there’s a guy who needs time off for sensitivity training.

Q: Before the Cincinnati. Reds bent over backwards to sign Greg Vaughn in 1999, they were to be clean-shaven and have a respectable hair style. Wouldn’t it be nice to get that rule reinstated? — MATT, Springfield.
A: Your definition of ‘respectable’ and the definition of the younger generation differ. Hair styles come and go and what has returned is major league pitchers looking like Civil War generals. Beards, mustaches and long stringy hair have nothing to do with hits and runs or balls and strikes. It is what’s under the hair that counts. If a pitcher can throw aa complete-game shutout, I don’t care if he looks like ZZ Top.

Q: Why do they only use two umpires in Class A baseball? — CONLEY, Warsaw, IN.
A: Because two guys missing calls is better than four guys missing calls? They will tell you it’s economics, yet they pay Class A umpires $2,000 a month while they use four umpires in MLB who are paid from $125,000 to $300,000 a year. Two umpires are traditional from Little League to high school, but they even use four umpires in Division I college baseball. It is also said that by using one umpire in Class A
on the bases, that umpire learns more. He has to pay rapt attention and cover all the different angles. But when it comes to checked swings, he has no clue. But sometimes MLB umpires have no cluse on that call, either.

Q: Reds manager David Bell often uses both his catchers in a game, so who is the team’s emergency catcher? — STEVE, Owensboro, KY.
A: Fortunately for Bell and the Reds, that dilemma hasn’t yet surfaced. But the way the Reds get hurt more often than a sparrow flying into a close window, it is bound to happen. It probably is Spencer Steer, who can play every position but left out. And it could be Stuart “Spiderman” Fairchild, who would be amazing climbing the backstop screen to snag foul pop-ups.

Q: Are the Reds on track to set a record for most batters hitting under .200? — DENNIS, Centerville.
A: While the Reds regularly have three or four ‘hitters’ in the lineup hitting below .200, so do many other teams this season. In recent series, the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers had that dubious distinction. Batting .250 nowadays is the new .300. The MLB average is around .240. What is amazing is that the 1962 New York Mets lost 120 games and didn’t have a batter in Casey Stengel’s regular lineup hitting below .236 and that was Elio Chacon. All the rest hit above .241.

Q: Ted Klusewski cut the sleeves off his uniform because they restricted his swing due to his bulging biceps, so what latitude do players have in altering their uniforms? — JERRY, Springfield.
A: Do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes? After Klu did that, the Reds began wearing sleevless uniforms to accommodate Big Klu. Uniforms mean just that. . .they have to be uniform. Everybody the same. But I wish they would put in a pants clause. Some players wear their pants above the knees and some wear them over their shoes dragging the dirt.

McCoy: Reds Fall One Run Short In ‘First Half’ Finale

By Hal McCoy

As bad as the bad as the Miami Marlins are (63 losses), it is not beneficial for an opposing team to get involved in one-run games with the National League East’s last-place team.

Of Miami’s 33 wins, almost half are by one run, the 15th coming Sunday afternoon, 3-2, over the Cincinnati Reds.

And the game could have ended like a scene out of ‘The Natural’ when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) hit a game-winning home run for the New York Knights with rain falling and lightning flashing.

With rain pelting Grand American Ball Park and lightning visible in the distance in the ninth inning, Tyler Stephenson was on first base with one out, representing the tying run.

And walking to the plate was Cincinnati’s own Roy Hobbs, Rece Hinds, owner of five home runs in his first six major league games.

This time there was no movie-like grand finale. Hinds grounded out to third, moving Stephenson to second.

Because of pinch-hitting and defensive swaps, the Reds lost their designated hitter.

So Miami manager Skip Schumaker made a daring move. He ordered Santiago Espinal intentionally walked, putting the potential winning run on base.

That’s because the next scheduled batter was pitcher Alexis Diaz. fprcing Reds manager David Bell to use his final available positiion player, Edwin Rios.

He was no match for Miami’s only All-Star, closer Tanner Scott. He struck out Rios on three pitches, the last one an 89 miles an hour slider that Rios swung and missed.

The defeat, after three straight wins, prevented the Reds from closing in on one game under .500. Instead, they take the All-Star break at 47-50, eight games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

All the action was after the fifth inning.

Reds starter Nick Lodolo took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, which should have boded well for the Reds. The Marlins were 5-28 against left-handed starters.

But Miami’s Trevor Rogers, 1-and-9 (and Miami was 3-15 for his 18 starts, giving him just two runs a game), also took a no-hitter into the sixth.

Rogers, though, walked three Reds in the fourth inning and escaped due to absent-minded base-running by Elly De La Cruz.

India and De La Cruz both walked to open the fourth. For some inexplicable reason, with India on second, De La Cruz broke for second and was tagged out in a rundown.

Home plate umpire Brennan Miller, a blister on Lodolo’s finger and Spencer Steer’s throwing error led to two runs in the Miami fifth.

Lodolo walked Xavier Edwards on a full count. Jesus Sanchez singled, putting runneers on second and first.

On a 1-and-2 pitch to Jonah Bride, Lodolo threw a breaking pitch that hooked right over home plate, an obvious strike.

But umpire Brennan, whose strike zone all day resembled a map of Alaska, called it a ball.

Bride, a .174 hitter, singled to left on the next pitch, scoring Edwards. And when Steer’s throw from left field was wild for an error, Sanchez also scored to give Miami a 2-0 lead.

India ended Rogers’ no-hitter in the sixth with a one-out double to left. De La Cruz made up for his base-running gaffe by depositing Rogers’ first pitch over the right-center wall.

The two-run homer, De La Cruz’s team-leading 17th, tied it, 2-2, and was Cincinnati’s 28th home run in July, with the month just half over.

The Marlins scored the run they needed to end their five-game losing streak after Fernando Cruz struck out the first two hitters in the eighth.

Jake Burger doubled to left. Instead of sticking with his devastating splitter, Cruz threw Edwards a first-pitch fastball and he punched it to left for a run-scoring single and the 3-2 score.

Tyler Stephenson opened the Reds seventh with a single when it was still 2-2. Austin Slater was due up, a perfect sacrifice bunt scenario.

Instead Bell sent up Will Benson to pinch-hit and he struck out looking, his 117th strikeout and he would make it 118 with a runner on first and no outs in the ninth.

After Benson struck out in the seventh, Hinds flied to center. Espinal singled to right, putting runners on second and first.

Bell sent Jake Farley up to pinch-hit, but when Schumaker brought in A.J. Puk, Bell took down Fraley and sent up Noelvi Marte. He popped out and it stayed 2-2.

Lodolo lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up just the two runs in the fifth and only three hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Once again, as he did during Saturday’s 10-6 win, Bell used his bullpen like playing cards and nearly used the entire deck. For the second straight day he used eight pitchers.

Tony Santillan, Nick Martinez, Sam Moll and Justin Wilson kept things quiet. Cruz gave up the winning run in the eighth and Diaz gave up a pair of hits in the ninth, but neither scored.

After collecting 11 and 15 hits and losing the first two games of the series, the Marlins punched eight hits Sunday and won.

The Reds collected 11 hits and 10 hits in the two wins, but only four Sunday.


Observations: Why Hasn’t Pat Kelly Managed The Reds?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if the red-hot Reds want the days off for the All-Star break. Rece Hinds said he doesn’t want it. No kidding?

—A ‘PAT’ ON THE BACK: When somebody asks for a photo of a ‘baseball lifer,’ they should be shown a picture of Pat Kelly.

The man has devoted most of his life to baseball, all of it in the minor leagues. That seems strange to me because the man has more baseball knowledge in his index finger than most major league managers.

And his players love him and he is one of the nicest guys I’ve run across in my 51 years of covering baseball.

Take a deep breath when you read what’s next because it is a list of the cities in which he has managed minor league teams and you’ll turn blue before you finish. Ready?

Charleston, SC, Reno, Wichita, Las Vegas, Rockford. Chattanooga, Harrisburg, Ottawa, Lynchburg, Billings, Bakersfield, Richmond, Syracuse, Indianapolis, Sarasota, Pensacola, Louisville.

Did you count ‘em? Seventeen, right. Mostly he rode buses. He should be at least executive vice president of Greyhound.

The list sounds like the song ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ by Johnny Cash.

He is managing now in Louisville, the Cincinnati Reds’ Class AAA affiliate. Last week he won his 2,000th minor-league game.

And you want to talk humble. During a celebration he said, “What nobody is saying is that I lost 2,000 before I won 2,000.”

He played in only three major league games as a catcher. And his only sniff of the majors as a coach came in July of 2007, when the Reds fired Jerry Narron. They named Pete Mackanin as interim manager. Kelly was the bench coach.

I thought they should have named Mackanin manager for the next season, but they named Dusty Baker and he brought in his own coaches.

So it was back to the bushes and buses for Kelly.

One question: Why have the Reds not given Kelly a chance to manage the big team? The man more than deserved the chance.

DOWNER FOR DARON: Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad news. DaRon Holmes II is out for the year. . .won’t play a game for the Denver Nuggets in his rookie season.

Holmes tore his Achilles tendon Friday night in Denver’s first summer league game.

It is a crusher to the young man, but knowing him, he’ll face it with a smile on his face and work hard to get back as quickly as medical science and the Almighty permits.

—OH, THAT MARGE: Loyal reader Will Terwort texted me a copy of a column written in 1991 by Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. I had forgotten about it, but I know it’s true.

As Daugherty wrote, Reds general manager Bob Quinn attended the General Managers meetings in Toronto, on a mission to trade for a starting pitcher.

Not only did he not find a pitcher, he had to pay his own way to Toronto for a business trip. Owner Marge Schott refused to reimburse his air fare, hotel bill and meals.

Quinn should have done an American Express credit card commercial: “Don’t leave home without it.”

—SHUT ‘EM DOWN: A sign of the times in baseball and what do these games, all played on the same day, have in common?

Arizona 1, Atlanta 0.
Seattle 11, LA Angels 0.
Boston 7, Oakland 0.
Chicago Cubs 8, Baltimore 0.
Pittsburgh 1, Milwaukee 0.

Yes, they are all shutouts, five of the 15 games played last Thursday.

But what is mind-boggling is that there was not a complete game among ‘em. And Pittsburgh’s Paul Skenes was pitching a no-hitter when he was yanked after seven innings.

Skenes needed only six pitches to cover the seventh inning and was at 99 pitches when manager Derek Shelton pulled him. Was it the dreaded, silly 100-pitch count?’

“He was tired,” said Shelton. “It really didn’t have anytning to do with the pitch count. Everybody makes it about pitch counts. It was about trusting your eyes.”

Shelton needs his eyes checked.

The Pirates have won four 1-0 games and Mitch Keller’s was the only complete game.

—WHY IS VADA EVADED?: Why is former Reds outfielder Vada Pinson treated like Darth Vader? He has Hall of Fame statistics and has a great first name.

Pinson had the sixth most hits before he was 30 in MLB history (1,881). Four of the guys ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame and one, Alex Rodriguez, isn’t because of his PED history.

The other four: Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, Rogers Hornsby and Henry Aaron.

—DRESSING DOWN: Both the National League and American League are wearing ugly and gross City Connect-like uniforms for the All-Star game.

Whose goofy idea was it? Wasn’t it better when the players wore their own team’s uniforms? I think so. . .and get off my devil strip (If you know what a devil strip is, you might be from Akron).

Innovative owner Charlie Finley came up with double-knit uniforms and advocated the sleeveless jersey. And he said this:

“The day that Custer lost at Little Big Horn (June 25, 1876), the Chicago White Stockings beat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2. Both teams wore knickers and they’ve still wearing ‘em today.”

—HOT CORNER HOTTIES: It is generally acknowledged that Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson, ‘The Human Hoover,’ was the best all-time defensive third baseman.

Just ask Johnny Bench, whose memory of the 1970 World Series is of Robinson the Robber taking away several base hits from the Cincinnati Reds catcher.

Fine. But do you know who holds the all-time record for most assists by a third baseman in a season? No, not Robinson. And not the current high water mark third baseman, Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The record goes back to 1971 and it is owned by New York Yankees third baseman Graig (Why not Greg or Craig) Nettles. He had 412 assists.

Nettles also holds the single-season record for for third basemen starting 5-4-3 around-the-horn double plays with 54 that same season.

Robinosn, though, holds the career record for the most 5-4-3 double plays started with 618. The National League’s best was Dayton-native Mike Schmidt with 450. Robinson, though, played five more years than Schmidt, 23 to 18.

—WHERE’S THE BUNT?: If you’ve seen an MLB player try to bunt, a rare sight, it’s like somebody trying to stab a hummingbird with a butter knife. It isn’t pretty.

Analytics tell managers that sacrifice bunts are for losers, so don’t do it.

Pete Rose on the subject: “Bunting’s gone from the easiest thing in the game to the hardest. When I came up everybody could do it. Now ain’t nobody can do it.”

And here’s one stunner. Harmon Killebrew batted 8,157 times. Sacrifice bunts? Zero.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 72: My dad played the guitar and sang country music, so I have a bit of a country flavor to me:

Please Come To Boston (Dave Loggins), Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley), Heard It In A Love Song (Marshall Tucker Band), Same Old Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg), I’m All Right (Kenng Loggins), Working My Way Back To You (The Spinners).

I Will Be There (The Scorpions), One More Day (Diamond Rio), Not A Day Goes By (Lonestar), Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Ronnie Milsap), In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins), Every Time You Go Away (Chris Young).

McCoy: The Legend of Rece Hinds Marches On

By Hal McCoy

It was Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Baseball Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, a virtual three-ring circus.

And the ringmaster was, of course, Rece Hinds, who makes history every time he puts his feet in the batter’s box, takes a big swing and smiles.

The Cincinnati Reds clobbered six home runs en route to an adventuesome 10-6 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Of those six home runs, two came off the bat of Hinds, enabling to him to do something no player has done in the modern era (1901), or any era.

In his first six MLB games, Hinds has nine extra base hits, five home runs. Nine extra base hits in a player’s first six MLB games is a first, an inconceivable first.

He was joined in the Reds’ version of Home Run Derby by four teammates in what clearly on a hot, muggy day was Great American Small Park. Spencer Steer, Elly De La Cruz, Jeimer Candelario and Santiago Espinal also required the umpire to give the pitcher a fresh baseball.

Bizarre? The Marlins collected 15 hits. . .and lost. They had 11 hits on Friday. . .and lost.

On Saturday they were 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 14 runners.

That helps explain why the Marlins have lost 10 of 12, five in a row, and are 32-63.

Meanwhile, the Reds are 7-4 in July and in those 11 games they’ve hit 28 homers, by far the most of any MLB team in July.

It’s Murderer’s Row incarnate

Reds starter Andrew Abbott was seeking his 10th win, his sixth in seven starts and it figured to be easy. The Marlins were 5-27 against left-handed starters.

Abbott, though, didn’t have it and lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs and seven hits, including back-to-back home runs in the third inning by Jake Burger and Josh Bell.

After Abbott departed, it was like a parade of elephants disguised as relief pitchers. Reds manager David Bell used eight pitchers and Miami manager Skip Schumaker used five.

Strange? Of the seven Reds pitchers, Sam Moll faced one hitter, a strikeout of Jazz Chisholm Jr. with two on and two outs in the fifth.

One hitter? Yep, and he was rewarded with the win.

Steer started the Trot Around The Bases day with a leadoff home run in the second.

After the Marlins hit back-to-backers in the top of the third, the Reds topped it with their own back-to-backers and added a third in the inning.

Hinds started it with one of his routine down-range missiles, a 430-footer into the upper deck. And he smiled as he completed his swing.

With one out, De La Cruz nearly matched Hinds but came up five feet short, a 425-footer to straight-away center. And Candelario followed with his, immediately tying De La Cruz for team leadership with 16 each.

The next inning, Miami pitcher Huascar Brazzoban hit Hinds on his left arm and the pro-Hinds fans, of which there are legions, booed lustily.

After the athletic trainer examined him, he stayed in the game and as he trotted to first base, Brazzoban apologized.

Did it affect him? Does a blow to the arm disturb Superman? His next time up, Hinds hit the upper deck facing in left field, this one 454 feet. And he smiled as he completed his swing.

He always smiles after his home run swing, six times this week.

“That’s just natural,” Hinds said about his smiles during a post-game interview on Bally Sports Ohio. “I mean, I’m a normally happy guy and I love to have fun and I love to smile around everything. It’s just natural, it just happens.”

But he hasn’t glanced at the pitchers to see the frowns and looks of dismay.

“It has been a wonderful week and we’re winning and have won a couple of series and I just want to keep it rolling,” he said.

“I’m clearly locked in,” he added. “I’m hunting one spot (pitch location) and once I get it I try to capitalize and don’t miss.”

He hasn’t missed yet.

The other homer came off the bat of Espinal in the sixth and he didn’t start the game. Second baseman Jonathan India left the game after suffering a knee contusion when Dan Myers slid into him stealing second in the second innings.

Espinal sinled in the fourth, driving in a run, and homered in the sixth.

Before the game, the Reds expanded their injured list, which is getting longer than a rich kid’s Christmas list.

With pitcher Carson Spiers and outfielder Nick Martini landing on the list and the recall of pitcher Tony Santillan, the Reds have made 25 roster manipulations in the last two weeks since July 1.

The Reds led MLB last season in games lost to injuries, 650 days, and are on their way to surpassing that this season.

The list:

60-Day: Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Nick Martini, Ian Gibaut, Tejay Antone, Emilio Pagan, Brandon Williamson.

15-Day: Graham Ashcraft, Carson Spiers.

10-Day: T.J. Friedl, Stuart Fairchild, Luke Maile.

Observations: Before Elly There Was Run Rickey, Run

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, something I usually finish as soon as I get out of bed, before I feed the dogs, before I feed myself and before I feed the cardinals in the backyard. Priorities, priorities, priorities.

—RUN RICKEY, RUN: Hall of Famer/broadcaster Barry Larkin recently chatted with Rickey Henderson and mentioned that Elly De La Cruz has 45 stolen bases before the All-Star break.

To that, Henderson said, “The year I stole 130 bases (1982) I had 79 before the All-Star break.”

Now that’s a real thief, but he didn’t mention that he was caught 42 times. And Henderson wasn’t a five-tool three-language player, was he?

De La Cruz speaks Spanish, just learned English and says he is learning Japanese so he can converse with Shohei Ohtani at the All-Star festivities.

Isn’t Japanese as hard to learn as eating miso soup with chopsticks?

—EYE YI EYE: On a recent visit to the eye doctor, the young man who had me read the eye chart (try), flashed up the 20/10 line and said, “Pete Rose could read this line easily.” I couldn’t even tell there were any letters on the screen.

Then I recalled witnessing the Cincinnati Reds getting their eyes tested during spring training and Ken Griffey Jr. read the 20/10 line as if it were the big ‘E’ at the top.

—BIRD WAS THE WORD: When Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych pitched for the Detroit Tigers, he would put the baseball in front of his mouth and talk to it before he threw it, telling it, “Behave and do what I want you to do.”

And while Fidrych might have kept the ball in stitches, it behaved. By the time he was 24, he was 27-13 with a 2.47 earned run average with 33 complete games in 43 starts.

But he destroyed his shoulder in the process, wrecked it completely. He tried a comeback but the baseball didn’t listen to him and in 1979 he was 0-3 in four starts with a 10.43 earned run average and he was done.
It is for certain that he talked to his shoulder about behaving, but all he got was the cold shoulder.

Fidrych tried to make a comeback in 1982 with the Boston Red Sox. During a spring training exhibition game, the New York Mets were tattooing him and fellow pitcher Tom Seaver felt empathy.

Several runs had scored and the bases were loaded with one out when Seaver came to bat. He turned to Bosox catcher Rich Gedman and said, “Just tell him to throw it outside and I’ll hit into a double play.”

Fidrych threw it outside and Seaver hit into a double play.

—EXPRESS-LY SPEAKING: Speaking of pitchers breaking down, you could hit Nolan Ryan in the shoulder with a sledge hammer and he’d still make his next start.

Ryan pitched an incredible 27 years in the majors and never had a sore arm or a sore anything.

And from my intrepid contributor, Jeff Singlegton, comes this enlightener: Ryan was 33 in 1980 when he struck out his 3,000th batter.

After that, he struck out 2,714 more batters, more than the entire careers of Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Juan Marichal, Tom Glavine and Don Drysdale — all Hall of Famers.

It is estimted that Ryan threw more than 101,000 pitches during his career. And as he put it, one pitch at a time, all with a purpose.

“I deal with one pitch at a time and make every one count,” said Ryan.

—BILLYBAWL: After the 1976 World Series, the one in which the Cincinnati Reds wiped out the New York Yankees in four straight, I stopped into manager Billy Martin’s office. He was crying and blaming the umpires for the catastrophe.

There was a sign hanging on the wall that read:

“Company Rules: Rule 1 — The boss is always right. Rule 2 —If the boss in wrong, see Rule 1.”

Somebody said that sign hung in the manager’s office of every team he managed, which helps explain why he was fired nine times, five times by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

In one span he was fired three times by three different times in five years. He was whisked out the door by Minnesota, Detroit, Texas and Oakland.

—SELF-PRESERVATION: From baseball writer Thomas Boswell’s book, ‘Why Time Begins on Opening Day:’

The 1981 Baltimore Orioles were struggling and manager Earl Weaver called a meeting and said, “Our next dozen games are against the worst teams in the league.”

From a far corner of the room came the voice of pitcher Scott McGregor: “You mean we get to play ourselves?”

—HE SAID THAT?: If one asks most baseball players to describe themselves, they say competitive or dedicated or hard-working.

When Washington Nationals pitcher Jake Irvin described himself during an appearance on MLB Central, he said, “Stoic.”

Must be his University of Oklahoma education where I thought the biggest word they use is gridiron.

—OVER AND OUT: Ran across some quotes from back when controversial umpire Angel Hernandez suddenly retired.

One person wrote, “It’s the first call he got right in 10 years.” Another wrote, “It is the end of an error.” And another wrote, “Since he called himself out, I’m not sure it will happen.”

After watching umpires this season, I’m not so certain Hernandez was the worst. With replay/review, I’m not sure umpires bear down on calls, knowing they have replay/review as a crutch.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 72: So you’d think I’d run out of songs after 750 of ‘em. I’m shooting for 1,000.

I Told You So (Randy Travis), In Case You Didn’t Know (Brett Young), Unbelievable (EMF), Main Street (Bob Seger), I Go Crazy (Paul Davis), Angels Among Us (Alabama), Operator (Jim Croce), Arthur’s
Theme (Christopher Cross).

Danny’s Song (Kenny Loggins), Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (The Shirelles), God Only Knows (Beach Boys), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2), Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band), Open Arms (Journey), Who Can It Be? (Men At Work), China Grove (Doobie Brothers).