The second half of the Cincinnati Reds’ season began in the most bizarre of fashions, with a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.
It was not so much the loss that caused the confusion and bewilderment, but rather how it came about. Playing in the most pitcher-friendly, hitter-opposed ballpark in the history of Major League Baseball, Petco Park played up to her dimensions on Monday night.
All winning streaks, no matter how small, must come to an end eventually. The Redlegs had rattled off five straight W’s on the road, but due to the slightest amount of sour luck, fell for only the second time on their 10-game road trip.
The first three innings would prove to be as opportunistic as any for the Reds, who failed to cash in a run on Padres’ starting pitcher Jesse Hahn. Starting with Mat Latos in the second inning, Hahn would strike out seven of the next eight batters, and nine of his final 11 in total.
Lifted after just five innings of marvelous work, Hahn came out on top to become the first Padres rookie starting pitcher to win four consecutive starts since Mat Latos accomplished that feat with the Friars in 2009.
After Homer Bailey flirted with no-hitter immortality on Sunday afternoon, Mat Latos’ one-hit effort barely registered on a monumental scale. Although Latos’ chance came off the board early–a second inning single by Tommy Medica–it would be the only hit he would allow.
Medica was the catalyst once again, drawing a walk to lead off the fifth inning, and then advancing down to second base on a wild pitch from Latos that just narrowly bounced away from catcher Devin Mesoraco. Playing the best version of small ball there can be, the Padres back-to-back fly balls to center field brought Medica in to score with what would be the game’s only run.
With as well as Hahn was throwing for San Diego, turning the game over to the bullpen seemed to be a blessing for the offense. Over the final four innings, only two hits would come to fruition, although, were it not for the vast size of the ballpark and some stellar defense, the outcome would have been dramatically different.
Sam LeCure’s mustache/goatee combination is beloved within the Queen City. It unfortunately pales in comparison to that of Dale Thayer’s full-on Rollie Fingers impersonation. Even with the power of the ‘stache behind him, Thayer could not muscle a fastball past Devin Mesoraco. Unleashing a low line drive that levitated in the air like a mind trick, Mesoraco would have to settle for a double when the hardest hit ball of the night went to the deepest part of the ballpark.
The only other set-up man/closer duo that can be mentioned within the same breath as Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman at the moment, would be that of Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street from San Diego. With the Padres clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Redlegs would be getting up close and personal with both men.
Skip Schumaker welcomed Benoit to the contest in the eighth inning with a rocket shot that was destined to be at least a double. Out of nowhere, Cameron Maybin came sprinting into the camera shot like a wide receiver going up to catch a touchdown. With a magnificent grab, Maybin averted crisis number one for Benoit in the eighth.
Whether or not Todd Frazier is selected to be a member of the Home Run Derby is still a question to be determined, but there should be no doubt who the most powerful man in the Cincinnati lineup is. Looking to knot the game back up at one, Frazier hammered a Benoit offering to center field. Surely gone in nearly every ballpark in baseball sans Petco, Frazier had to watch in stunned silence as Maybin settled under his smash without the ball so much as reaching the warning track.
For the 22nd consecutive time in 2014, Huston Street nailed down a save opportunity. Although Joey Votto led off the inning with a single, Street fanned Brandon Phillips, and then got Jay Bruce to bounce into a game-ending, 6-3 double play.
Mat Latos was stuck with the hard-luck loss, despite allowing only a single hit and one walk all evening. He would strike out four on his return to Petco Park, the place where he broke into the league.
A loss is rarely a welcomed commodity, but the defeat on Monday should not cause any caution flags to be raised. The Padres made some stellar defensive plays, and the cavernous dimensions of a park that closely resembles that of Yellowstone victimized the Redlegs.
Tuesday’s contest will be the last slated to begin beyond the 10 o’clock hour for the remainder of the season.