By Hal McCoy
CINCINNATI — If there was a film production company assigned to Great American Ball Park Sunday afternoon to film good starting pitching, both Cincinnati Reds starter John Lamb and Oakland A’s starter Kendall Graveman ended up on the cutting room floor.
Neither pitcher was around long enough to make the second reel. And neither pitcher displayed any endearing moments to preserve for posterity.
When it mercifully ended on a hot Sunday afternoon, it was Oakland 6, Cincinnati 1 and the only thing to be said about it is that it tore another page off the schedule with nothing memorable to remember it.
In the process the Reds helped the A’s shed a seven-game losing streak.
LAMB, WHO HAD PITCHED admirably recently, gave up four runs, seven hits and two walks in only four innings, including a pair of two-run home runs in the second inning to Marcus Semien and Jake Smolinski.
Graveman came in with a 2-and-6 record and a 5.49 earned run average and dared the Reds to score against him in nearly every one of his four innings but the Reds never accepted the dare.
After the starters departed, Oakland scored two runs on eight hits against Reds’ bull penners — a run against A.J. Morris and a run against J.C. Ramirez.
The Reds, though, could do little against the A’s bullpen and, in fact, one of the pitchers was Doolittle, Sean Doolittle. Over the final five innings the Reds had no runs, no hits and only one base runner. Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning.
To add ignominy to it all, Oakland closer Ryan Madson retired the Reds 1-2-3 in the ninth, two via strikeouts. Madson is the same Ryan Madson who spent one full year of a paid vacation with the Reds and never pitched an inning due to injury.
“They rarely get to the bullpen that early and the bullpen is one of the best strengths of their club,” said manager Bryan Price. “It was really hard after that to generate any offensive push.”
Hard? Impossible with no hits.
AGAINST GRAVEMAN THE REDS had hits in all four innings — two in the second and two in the third and had the bases loaded in the fourth but produced only one run.
Steve Selsky singled with two outs in the second and scored on Ramon Cabrera’s single for the only run off Graveman. But by then the Reds were already down by four runs.
The Reds had two singles in the third but after Zack Cozart led with a single he was caught stealing while Joey Votto struck out. Brandon Phillips singled but Jay Bruce struck out.
Graveman’s most egregious error was to walk pinch-hitter Kyle Waldrop to fill the bases with two outs in the fourth, forcing him to face Zack Cozart. He escaped that by getting Cozart on a ground ball to second.
Manager Bob Melvin sent Graveman back out for the fifth burt he was on the mound only long enough to give up a single to Joey Votto and that was it — four-plus innings, one run, seven hits, two walks. He was replaced by Fernando Rodriguez who retired Brandon Phillips on a fly ball to center and coaxed a ground ball double play out of Jay Bruce.
AS FOR LAMB, PRICE said, “He missed some locations and wasn’t behind the ball the way he was his last couple of outings. He wasn’t terrible. They got him early in the game with single, homer, single homer.”
Lamb, one of the clubhouse’s biggest tippers when it comes to tipping caps, said of his performance, “I tip my out to the other dugout, they just happen to beat us today. I was prepared mentally and physically and did everything I could to keep those guys off balance.
“I tip my hat to them on a couple of pitches they hit pretty hards and knocked them over the fence for a couple of runs,” he added. “That did some damage right there.”
The Reds won the first two games of this series, both by 2-1 scores, but scored only five runs in the three games. They finished the homestead with a 5-4 work sheet (2-1 against Washington, 1-2 against St. Louis). Now they embark on another long and winding road trip — nine games in 10 days with four in Atlanta, three in Houston and two in Texas.