By Hal McCoy
It was a night a guy named Ricky Karcher will have etched in his memory bank.
Ricky Karcher? He is a Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher who has sat in the bullpen for nearly a week after a call-up from Class AAA Louisville, waiting to make his major league debut.
It came Monday night in Kauffman Stadium in the 10th against the Kansas City Royals and despite some pitches that barely stayed in the area code he pitched a scoreless inning to preserve a 5-4 Reds victory.
Karcher’s fastballs never came close to home plate, so he went to sliders to pitch his way out of much trouble.
With the free runner on second base, Karcher walked Bobby Witt Jr. He retired Michael Massey on a fly ball to center field. The runners stole third and second, putting the potential tying run on third and the winning run on second.
He went to 3-and-0 on Edwaerd Olivares, went to 3-and-2 and coaxed a pop-up to third. He then went to 3-and-2 on Maikel Garcia before Garcia flied to left to end it.
That Karcher took a walk on the wild side was no shock. He came to the Reds lugging a 9.27 earned run average from Louisville with 34 walks in 22 inning.
Karcher never should have been put into dire straits in the first place.
The Reds broke a 3-3 tie in the ninth, scoring a run in the ninth on Tyler Stephenson’s single, Will Benson’s walk on four pitches, a sacrifice bunt by Stuart Fairchild and pinch-hitter Kevin Newman’s sacrifice fly.
And the Reds were one out away from a 4-3 victory with two outs in the ninth. Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez was battered and beaten after getting hit by foul tips six times. He took his frustration out on the baseball by launching a game-tying home run.
The Reds took a 5-4 lead in the 10th without a hit and a call reversal. TJ Friedl was the free runner on second and he took third on a ground ball. With the infield drawn in, Jonathan India grounded to short and Friedl was called ojt on the throw home.
The Reds challenged the out call and won. . .Friedl was ruled safe.
There was ample evidence Monday why the Royals are on a direct route to 120 losses this season. They are 19-50.
They have blown leads 23 times this season, most in the majors. They had a 3-0 lead this night. On the flip side, the Reds have come-from-behind to win games 21 times, second most in the majors.
They were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
Reds starter Luke Weaver was off his game and gave up three runs, five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. Two of the walks came around to score as the Royals constructed a 3-0 lead.
He threw changeups twice to Massey and he pulled two doubles into the right field corner, the first one scoring two runs.
The Reds had to work their way back against veteran Zack Greinke, who was fooling them with an assortment of slow pitch softball pitches.
Stuart Fairchild homered leading off the third. The Reds tied it 3-3 in the sixth and chased Greinke. Luke Maile led the inning with a double and scored on Friedl’s double. Fridel scored on India’s single.
There was drama in the eighth inning. Former Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, still throwing 100 and 101 miles an hour, struck out the side, including Elly De La Cruz on a 3-and-2 called strike three.
De La Cruz was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, but reached on a fielder’s choice in the and stole his fourth base in four tries.
Two Reds were thrown out at third base trying to stretch doubles into triples — Matt McLain in the first inning and Will Benson in the seventh inning.
The victory was the Reds eighth in 10 games with two more games scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday against the Royals. The Reds face Jordan Lyles Tuesday night, he of the 0-10 record.