By Hal McCoy
It was not a memorable Mother’s Day for Alan Busenitz.
Busenitz is the latest in a long gray line of pitchers the Cincinnati Reds signed to minor league contracts this year before spring training and have suddenly appeared on the big league roster.
He pitched the previous four years in Japan and hadn’t pitched in the majors since an appearance with the Minnesota Twins in 2018.
With the Reds pitching staff in disarray due to injuries and overuse the past few days. Busenitz was summoned from Triple-A Louisville before Sunday’s game in loanDepot Park against the Miami Marlins.
Before the game, starting pitcher Nick Lodolo and relief pitcher Casey Legumini were placed on the injured list.
The Reds lost, 3-1, and while Busenitz was the visible non-performer, heavy blame falls on the offense, which was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
Kevin Herget, also recalled from Louisville before the game, started the seventh inning with the score tied, 1-1. He gave up a leadoff double to number nine hitter Garrett Hampson, then retired Jon Breti on a ground ball that sent Hampson to third.
That’s when Busenitz was called from the bullpen in a difficult situation — the go-ahead run on third base with one out.
His second MLB pitch since 2018 was drilled up the right center gap for a double by Garrett Cooper to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. And his third pitch was punched into left field by Luis Arraez, moving Cooper to third.
Jorge Soler was walked intentionally, filling the bases, and Bryan De La Cruz blooped a run-scoring single to center to make it 3-1. So the first four hitters Busenitz faced in a Reds uniform went doubler, single, walk, single.
It wasn’t as if the Reds didn’t have opportunities.
They had runners on third and second with one out in the sixth when managere David Bell sent Jake Fraley up to pinch-hit. Miami manager Skip Schumaker, a former Reds player, was tired of watching Fraley hit three-run homers, as he had done in the previous two games in Miami. He walked Fraley intentionally, filling the bases.
It worked to perfect. Henry Ramos hit into an inning-ending double play.
And there was another chance in the eighth inning when the Reds put two on with two outs and Fraley at the plate. This time Schumaker brought in left-hander Steven Okert to face the left-handed Fraley.
There was no magic or lightning in Fraley’s bat this time. He flied to center field to leave it 3-1.
The Reds had one last gasp in the ninth against former teammate Dylan Floro, thrust into the closer’s role when closer A.J. Puk was placed on the injured list before the game.
Floro retired the first two, but walked Kevin Newman on four pitches. Luke Maile, the potential tying run, took a called third strike to end it.
And the Reds wonder if Miami’s starting pitcher, Braxton Garrett, was an impostor. Was that really Garrett on the mound, or an impersonator? Two starts ago, he gave up 11 runs, 14 hits, four home runs and two walks in 4 1/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves.
On Sunday against the Reds, the first six outs he recorded were strikeouts. He faced 19 hitters and had two strikes on 13.
He pitched five-plus innings and gave up one run and three hits while walking one and striking out eight. And the run charged to him didn’t score while he was on the mound.
He walked Jonathan India to open the sixth and Nick Senzel singled, putting runners on second and first with no outs. He was replaced by Bryan Hoeing, who quickly walked Spencer Steer to fill the bases with no outs.
A big inning? Nope. Tyler Stephenson grounded weakly to first, scoring India. That’s when Fraley was intentionally walked and Ramos hit into a double play.
The Marlins tied it, 1-1, in the bottom of the sixth on a double by De La Cruz and a singler by Jean Segura.
Reds starter Luke Weaver pitched well enough to win if he had received any offensive aid. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up one run, seven hits, walked one and struck out six.
The Reds received a leadoff double by Kevin Newman in the third, but Maile flied to right and both India and Senzel grounded to second.
Wil Myers doubled with one out in the fifth, but Newman grounded out and Maile flied out to deep center.
Newman singled with one out in the seventh, but Maile hit into a double play.
And that’s how it went on Mother’s Day for the Reds — one run, five hits, 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, eight runners left on base, 11 strikeouts.
The Reds won two of three in Miami and shift venues to Coors Field Monday night for the start of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.